This post contains my thoughts and feelings on Niigaki Risa as an Idol and her graduation, why I like her, how I came to like her and what she means to me as a fan of Morning Musume in general. This is an Appreciation post - I wrote it to appreciate an Idol who I admire so much.
Niigaki Risa is, in many ways, a special Idol for most people - As a Morning Musume member, she is greatly respected by her fans for her love and dedication for Morning Musume as well as for her amazing voice and dancing skills. But the thing that made me adore her when I first got into Morning Musume was her passion for everything she did - her dancing, her singing, and most of all, her acting.
I have stated before why I like Niigaki and why she means so much to me - For me, she is the entire reason why I love Morning Musume. In 2009, when I became a fan, I found out that the Idol I liked from the anime Kirarin Revolution, Koharu Kusumi, was leaving this group I had just found out about. I had just started to listen to Morning Musume, but because the one I liked was going so quickly, I thought that it wasn't worth liking the group anymore. But then I found out that Morning Musume had done a stage play called 'Cinderella', and I adore fairytales, so I watched it, and there was a member to me who stood out during the entire play. At that time, I fell in love with Niigaki Risa as Prince Christopher rather than Niigaki Risa the Idol. But, after noticing how wonderful Niigaki was as an actress, I became more and more interested in her, and it was after that that I came to be a fan of Morning Musume and Niigaki Risa.
My love and admiration for Niigaki deepened after watching the concert of Koharu Kusumi's graduation - seeing her perform with Koharu, and seeing how close they were and the sort of connection that they had was so beautiful. I wondered why these two were being torn apart then, and I became aware of how much I liked this duo despite barely knowing about either of them or Morning Musume as a whole. Then, when it came to the graduation speeches, I was in tears - the message that got to me the most was the one that Gaki wrote to Koharu, and I cried so much during Niigaki's heartfelt speech. Watching and listening to the speech made me like Niigaki more and more as a member of Morning Musume, and seeing that my favourite Idol at the time was so close to this person kind of made me want to support this girl, despite the fact that I barely knew much about her as an Idol. It was after the concert video that I wanted to fully support Niigaki Risa and become her fan.
After that, not much changed - I learned more about the group, and my love for Morning Musume deepened. Gaki was pretty much my number 1, and I grew a few more favourites. It wasn't until the addition of the 9th gen that I started to gain more and more favourites, with Ikuta Erina surpassing Niigaki as my number 1 member. However even then I still idolised and adored Gaki. She may not have been my Number 1 anymore, but to me, she was still important, I still held her dear to me as someone I liked and wanted to potentially meet one day.
But, after the new members came in I started to realise more how much of a Leader Niigaki was - despite being the sub-leader, she had a lot more control over the newer members than what Ai had, and she helped out with so much. I became more aware of how strong this young woman was, and how much she deserved to be a leader in Morning Musume. I really wanted her to become a leader, so when Takahashi Ai's own graduation was announced, I was pleased. It would finally be Gaki's time to reign over Morning Musume.
So when her graduation was announced so soon after the first single that represented her as a Leader came out, I was pretty shocked and also very sad. I had hoped that Niigaki would stay on for at least another year as Morning Musume's leader, but the reality was that she had wanted to go with Takahashi Ai. I had been waiting for Niigaki to become a leader since the early 2011, anticipating how she would shine as Morning Musume's longest serving member and 7th leader. When it did finally happen, the news that she would soon be leaving was extremely sad, but it was something that I had to accept. Yes, as a fan I wanted her to stay on as a leader for a longer period of time, but there is nothing that the fans can do to stop this from happening. We are merely there to support the idols that we love, rather than to dictate what they can and can't do.
After that announcement was made that she would graduate, I really didn't think much else to it, other than that I knew that I would probably cherish this graduation and support it a great deal more than I did with Takahashi Ai's. There is a vast difference in how much I like and support Niigaki and Ai, and it's pretty apparent how I feel towards them both. But I already had a feeling that Gaki's graduation would hold a higher importance as opposed to the graduation of Koharu Kusumi and Takahashi Ai put together. I was barely a fan of Morning Musume when I loved and adored Koharu, and whilst I was a fan of Morning Musume during the departure of Ai-butt, I had no interest in the back-then Leader, so of course I was going to support Gaki's more than any of the other members who meant something to me, because for me, Niigaki Risa represents so much more.
Long story short, Gaki basically represents Morning Musume for me. She is the embodiment of the group, and is basically the entire reason why I continued to watch Morning Musume even after Koharu had graduated from the group entirely. Even though the new members have helped my love to grow for Morning Musume more and more, Gaki is the sole reason why I wanted to continue watching and supporting this group, and the reason why I have come to love the Morning Musume that stands now. I have such high respect and love (as a fan) for Niigaki, and I am, in a way, deeply grateful to her that she has helped me fall in love with a group that she holds so dear to her.
Ever since Koharu's graduation concert, Niigaki has been someone I have respected and admired. She is a hard-working and strong member who is so diligent and caring, and those aspects of her make me adore and idolise her even more. For me, she is 'Morning Musume' - She is the reason I wanted to keep watching Morning Musume, and because of that I cherish her, just like the rest of her fans do. For everyone who loves Niigaki Risa, she is one of the most important members of such a good group.
I truly do idolise this girl - she is such an amazing and beautiful person, one who I am happy to have watched as a fan. From falling in love with the character 'Prince Christopher' to falling in love with Niigaki as a singer, I am truly glad that I was able to have seen her as a Leader and a member of Morning Musume. Yes, her life as a Leader for the group that she loved for so long was so short, but for the short while that she was a leader, I do think that she certainly made an impact and made Morning Musume stronger for the New Generations.
And with this, Niigaki is now my #1 Idol. Impact pays off.
Au Revoir, Lord Gaki! You are Morning Musume's Ultimate Member!