Way back when on August 17th, Iikubo Haruna announced that she would be graduating Morning Musume '18 and Hello! Project at the end of the groups Fall tour in December. With this decision, Haruna has cited that her reasons to graduate include the desire to pursue acting, radio, as well as focus on manga and fashion a little more.
With the groups 20th Anniversary being celebrated this year and last, Haruna began to think more about the future of the group, as well as her own future. Currently, Haruna acts as a sub-leader within the group beside Ikuta Erina, and is also the oldest member at 23. With her 24th birthday approaching, Haruna feels like it is time to step down from her position within the group and try new things in order to further her career within the entertainment industry whilst also challenging herself further.
Originally debuting in 2007 as a talent, Iikubo Haruna started out in acting and modelling for Love Berry before graduating in 2011 to pursue a career as a member of Morning Musume. Since then Haruna has performed live and in studio, acted on stage and for tV, participated in variety programs, MC'ed for live performances, released two solo photobooks, had a brief voice acting stint, appeared on radio as well as participated in commercials. Haruna has also been a member of the short-lived SATOYAMA sub-unit DIY♡, and is known for her fashion, speaking voice and complimentary nature. As of 2013, Iikubo Haruna is the longest serving sub-leader in Morning Musume's history at 5 years and 4 months (thus far).
It's been almost a month - almost - since the announcement was made, and so far I have made no move to comment on Haruna's decision to graduate. I did plan to talk about it as soon as I could, however after the announcement that three members of Houkago Princess would graduate from the group this October I knew that that specific post would take priority. The only other post that would top HouPri's graduation announcements would be Eripon's decision to graduate, and thank goodness we've not hit that time just yet.
Regarding Haruna's graduation though, I can't say I'm too surprised. I wasn't thrown for a loop like I was with Wada, and it's certainly not shocking in my mind, but that's probably because I'm at a point in my fandom with H!P where I just expect everyone to go at any point unless it's, say, Ogata Haruna or Duu. You know, the members you really don't expect to leave because of their age or shorter tenure. With Iikubo though, it makes a little to a lot more sense that she'd eventually go. I mean, she said it best herself: This year she turns 24, and she wants to challenge herself by going solo and pursuing other things within the entertainment industry.
I don't blame Harunan one bit for making this decision, and I am honestly delighted that she's decided to leave the group to better herself.