This post contains my own thoughts and views. Please respect them, and thank you.
*This is the final post in my [A Week with Sayu] series, and it is an Appreciation post, so I mostly reflect on thoughts and feelings for Sayumi that I have here. Thank you for being a part of this series with me, and for being a fan of Sayumi!
In 2009 when I came into the Morning Musume fandom I remember looking at Sayumi once and thinking to myself "Oh, she's cute! Maybe one day she'll become my favourite!". With Koharu's impending graduation coming up at the time, I believed in that thought.
Of course, Sayumi never did become my favourite. Instead I fell for Gaki, but no matter what I always found myself looking at Sayumi.
I never thought she was amazing or anything, because she wasn't; Michishige Sayumi was a weak singer who could never perform as well as others and, though she was cute, never really seemed to have any other qualities I cared much about. Once I started to watch subtitled videos however, I quickly came to realise how much Sayumi's personality stood out above the rest.
Unlike others Sayumi was exciting not only visually, but verbally as well - she was blunt, narcissistic and had a flare for insults. She didn't hesitate to say that someone like Koharu was annoying, or that she was cuter than everyone else. Even when admitting that she couldn't sing as well as the other members of Morning Musume she would somehow turn it around and say that it didn't matter because she was still the cutest Idol in the world. Because of these traits of hers, I realised that I actually really did like Michishige Sayumi, so I found myself endeared to her even more.
I knew that deep down, Sayu would never become my #1 Idol, but despite that I really appreciated her in Morning Musume thanks to her nature. Where Ai was bland and Reina rather annoying, Sayumi was funny and appealing in a dark way, her presence strong and recognisable in a group that held a lot of talent. This was how she stood out and, the more I realised that, the more I wanted to take notice of her and support Sayumi for both her cuteness and her witty nature. She was addictive and, surprisingly, the only personality I really wanted to witness outside of the PV's and music for a long time - no one could hold a candle to Sayumi's character in my eyes.
Up until 2012 I admit that I liked Sayumi solely for her character and cuteness, but after three graduations and eight new additions to Morning Musume, I began to truly admire her; at this point something had changed in Sayumi I realised, allowing her to grow more as a member, mentor and leader, and it was something that I had never really anticipated. Initially I had always thought that Sayumi would just stay the way she was: Narcissistic, blunt and cute, never really growing beyond this point in her career or even changing her ways. Yet with the new members it felt like suddenly she had become aware of her position in the group and found responsibility, knowing that she needed to take charge in order to form Morning Musume into something better than what it was, something that neither Ai nor Gaki could have done for the group before leaving.
From that point on since the joining of the new generations, it felt like Sayumi had truly begun to work for the group as a whole; rather than working for herself as an Idol outside of her regular group activities, Michishige Sayumi focused on the group, its members and its change. Through this, Michishige Sayumi the Leader had been born.
It was from 2012 onwards that I feel like we as the fans have watched her grow more and more. With the group becoming dependent on Sayumi as a leader, she managed to successfully lead them forward whilst also allwoing them to evolve into something new as she herself began to evolve in the process. From this growth I realised something; this was not the Michishige Sayumi I had once drooled over and wished to only look at, but a young woman I wanted to respect and admire for her dedication and hard work in Morning Musume those past few years since becoming a fan. She was someone who, to me, had always been fighting for Morning Musume, continuously promoting them and pulling the group along when others thought they would sink and fall indefinitely. Never once did she leave the group behind, always having faith in what she loved and eventually bringing them back into the light, a new light that she had created for them.
And when she became a Leader, Sayumi mentored the new members and allowed them to flourish under what could have been her own spotlight. Because of this, for what she has done for Morning Musume, I feel that she deserves the utmost respect, appreciation and so much more.
Looking back on Sayumi this week, from her beginning to the groups downfall and then to her end, I feel like my respect has only grown in great amounts for Sayumi, but so has my sadness for her departure. The more I watched videos that included her, listened to her solo songs, looked through photobook scans and read about her online, the more I realised that I will miss her so much more than I had expected. Where I thought I was prepared for her graduation, I know I'm actually not - deep down, I don't want her to leave! Why does she have to leave?
For five years now Sayumi's been a part of my Morning Musume fandom. She's been a part of it longer than Koharu or Gaki has, for one thing. She's always been there, a constant presence in my line of sight. In all the recent videos I have watched, Sayumi is there. In the songs, she is somewhere, even in the background or through distorted techno vocals. No matter what, she is someone I can rely on to be there, the one member that I always thought would never go away or leave Morning Musume, because she was an Idol that would last forever in my mind.
Well guess what? She's leaving. I can't rely on her presence any more.
Until now I never realised just how much Sayumi meant to me.
For 11 years she has been a part of Morning Musume, an Idol of Japan. Since her debut Michishige Sayumi has grown into a young woman who is both loved and disliked by many, an Idol we all recognise and the last of an era in a group who fell and made their way to the top again.
Tomorrow that era ends, and so does Sayumi's career.
I'm sad that tomorrow she will leave both Morning Musume and the Idol industry, but I'm happy too, don't get me wrong; Sayumi deserves rest and peace for her 11 years of hard work in the Idol Industry. She has been around more than a decade now, surpassing many Idols in tenure, and with her departure I know that she will take a break whilst also watching the Morning Musume she loves and cherishes from the sidelines, cheering them on as they continue to grow in their own way for the future.
Michishige Sayumi, I will miss you. Thank you for 11 amazing years as Japan's Ichiban Kawaii. You will never be forgotten.
Michishige Sayumi, Sotsugyou Omedetou! Forever Japan's Ichiban Kawaii! Usa-chan PEACE!!!