On September 17th 2017, Michishige Saho announced via her official Twitter account that she will be demoted as a member of Houkago Princess, and continue as a Houkago Princess YOUTH member from September 27th, on-wards. Staff have yet to release a statement on the matter, but the decision seems final.
From June 3rd, Michishige Saho had been undergoing a 'Study Period' as a member of Houkago Princess, where she would only attend various events subject to availability. She would attend all Team Miracle events that were planned out, however, her performance as a Regular member was very sporadic, to say the least.
This decision was made by both Saho and staff members to try and maximise her abilities, and to improve herself so that she could keep up with the other Regular members. However, due to what may staff's interpretation of a lack in progress, it has now been decided that Michishige Saho will be demoted, and no longer perform as a Regular member of Houkago Princess.
Her final performance as a Regular member will be on September 26th, which is also the Birthday LIVE for Kojima Mayumi, who will turn 22 years of age. Saho has expressed that it is a good occasion to spend her last live as a Regular member, as it is a stage of celebrations.
Here is Sahochi's announcement in her own words, with a very rough translation by myself. I apologise for any mistakes made.
"I was demoted, and will now act as a member of Houkago Princess YOUTH.
I did not meet everyone's expectations, even though you have all cheered me on. I am so sorry. While I am grateful that I have been given this chance to work hard to keep my Tiara, my current position can not be tolerated. I will work hard from here on, and look forward to the future. Thank you.
And now, here is the last stage I will stand on as a Regular member.
9/26, it is Kojima Mayumi's Birthday performance!
Though it is also Mayumi's birthday LIVE, I hope that the form of me as a Princess will be burned into your memory!"
I have a theory of my own regarding this sudden development, but first, I'll get my feelings out of the way.
Naturally, I am pissed. I am annoyed at the sudden demotion of one of my beloved HouPri members, sad that she's no longer considered a Regular member, and I'm about ready to punch Management. Thankfully, I'm weak as heck and don't like hitting people anyway, so the punching part wouldn't come to fruition, but I am still so damn mad. This is not the news you want to find when you're ill and your emotions are all over the place. Gawd damnit!
And I didn't think the new single fiasco could get any worse, but actually, it makes a lot more sense now. We'll get into that later, however.
So, yeah. I'm sad, and I am annoyed beyond all belief, because Sahochi's extra training and lack of activity has simply amounted to her being demoted. Management most likely feels that she hasn't improved at all, and therefore, they don't want her in the Regular group when she can't perform like others, or when she's not as popular. That's pretty disheartening, if you ask me, and as my friend Franky put it 'a slap in the face'.
I just want to hug Sahochi, I really do );
Thankfully, I'm not the only one feeling this way. Fans on Twitter have expressed their sadness at the sudden news, whilst others are voicing the optimisitic side of it all; this gives Sahochi a chance to teach the YOUTH members new things, and allow them to understand the seriousness of being a member of Houkago Princess. After all, she is going to be the only member of them all who has prior experience of being both a full member, and a Candidate / Apprentice. She also watched HouPri in both their Indies and Major phase, so she is well aware of what is expected of the new members right now. Fans think that she will be the perfect member, and have expressed their wishes for her to become the YOUTH center. It's really quite nice, how positive everyone is.
And yeah, I agree with them. It's a bad situation to be in, but it gives Sahochi an opportunity to both improve herself, and to show off her skills as a mentor / teacher to all the new girls. With such a big group of YOUTH members now (20, going on 21) it actually makes sense to appoint someone to them so that they can keep in line and try to be the best Idols they can be. But, I didn't expect them to fully demote Sahochi (or any other member) in order to achieve this.
This is a sad outcome, but after reading the fans comments and thinking it over, I can see that the situation is still bad, but there is a decent, almost positive line of thinking, mostly for the concerns of YOUTH. It will hopefully work well, because after all the losses in the little-sister unit in the past, and very few promotions, it really does make sense to put in that mentor system to try and keep the current lot there for a future debut.
In short, it sucks that this has happened, but there's a small light at the end of the tunnel, because this gives our Sahochi a chance to prove herself, and to show the new members why they need to stay in the group, and why they are in YOUTH to begin with.
And now, onto my random theory; I have a feeling that, with the up-coming release, Team Miracle is going to end. Right now, the up-coming single is set for an 8-versions release, with only five solo version including the members Odagiri Nana, Maika, Yamaguchi Miran, Kizuki Saori and Sekine Sasara. This means that Shirosaki Himari and Kojima Mayumi will not have a solo cover. As Sahochi's contract as a Regular member ends on September 26th, I can only assume she wouldn't be classed as a part of the main line-up of the single, period. If she is, I will be surprised.
There are three other editions for this single, however. The typical Regular and Limited editions, and, a special Team Miracle version, with a bonus track that includes a Team Miracle feat. YOUTH song on only the Limited and Miracle ver. of the single release. So, I think something is going on, and here's why.
Team Twinkle and Team Miracle were created just last year to basically show off which members were better, and who needed improvement in specific areas. Team Twinkle are the 'Ace' Team, comprised of Nana, Maika, Miran, Saori and Sasara. Team Twinkle included Mayumi, Himari, Sahochi, Marichu before her graduation, and the YOUTH members before their respective points of leave in February and June this year.
Because of this sudden development though, with Sahochi's demotion, and now the Team Miracle feat. YOUTH exclusive track and cover, I can only assume that the Teams will be dissolved, and that both Himari and Mayumi have successfully cleared whatever obstacles Management set out to put them through, whilst Sahochi didn't, meaning that she would be the remaining Miracle member left, which would be both a little lonely, and would mean she'd have to do lives a lone, and HouPri do not do solo live shows. It's just not how they work.
So, if this is how I think it is, Miracle will be dissolved completely, and this single will feature them one last time, which delights me in a way because, YAY, we finally have a Team Miracle song, but boo, because Sahochi is being demoted.
It's a damn conflicting time to be a fan, yo.
*Please don't take this as fact, these are all conspiracy theories right now. Chii-spiracy theories.
So, there we go. I am a sad human right now, and very conflicted as well. I still love Houkago Princess, of course, and I won't stop being a fan just because of this sudden wave of disappointment and disaster, because that's not how being a fan works. We see the shit that happens, and for better or for worse, we stick through it, until something really big happens that makes us want to up and leave. This is not that time, not yet.
Yes, my loyalty probably swayed earlier, but after thinking it through and having a little cry about it, I realised that there are positives to the outcome. They are not the positives we expected, nor are they as clear as we would like them to be, but I think that this chance to join YOUTH and become their mentor will help Sahochi. She will grow from it, and she will become a stronger Idol because of it. I only hope that she sticks it out, and returns to us soon.
I wish my Sahochi all the best, and hope that my Idol takes her Tiara back and sweeps us away, one day. Everyone, please support Michishige Saho of Houkago Princess YOUTH from September 26th on-wards, and await her return. Thank you.
Until next time, folks.