In my final post for my Duupreciation series, it's time to talk about the girl you love and adore. No reviews, no songs. Just our memories, and beautiful pictures of Kudo Haruka. It's time to appreciate the Idol we will all surely miss...
On September 29th, 2011, Iikubo Haruna, Ishida Ayumi, Sato Masaki and Kudo Haruka were revealed to be the 10th generation. At the time, I was a huge fan of Morning Musume, anticipating the newest generation who would become a part of a group I enjoyed the most. I was excited to see these girls join the group, and to have Kudo Haruka - an egg with some experience under her belt, a husky voice and charm to boot - seemed to be a dream come true for some. From Egg to Morning Musume, Duu was a fan favourite, and even until the day she leaves the entertainment industry, she will continue to hold a place in many people's hearts.
It's hard to think that now, a few days on, she has officially graduated from Morning Musume '17 and Hello! Project, and will forge a new path for herself hereon. Until the next single and music videos come along, I don't think I'll be able to process the fact she is well and truly gone from a group so many people adore.
A cute and cool girl, Kudo Haruka charmed us all with her shining smile, brutal honesty and her endearing, up-front nature. From her first full-length single where she couldn't believe she had to dress as a freakin' chick, when she wanted to enter the 'cool Morning Musume' she had admired so, we came to know a girl who was frank about what she liked, and didn't hold back. This side of her was only furthered in TV show appearances where she proceeded to kick comedians, cry on-camera about a game of musical chairs, and more. Duu became a class act, someone we could rely on to make us laugh.
But it wasn't just her personality that won people over. For those who could not understand Japanese or gain access to Duu's TV appearances, there was also her camera presence, her singing ability, and her prowess in dancing that won everyone over. Plus, Duu was gifted with stage presence, an ability few Idols come to possess in such a short span of time. Thankfully, this was what Duu could do - she could win over a crowd, and claim a stage for her own, even in a sea of other members.
No matter where she stood, Duu shined, and we noticed her whether she was in the front or the back.
I honestly didn't pay as much attention to Duu as I would have liked. Though I found her to be a gorgeous, endearing young member, she never caught my eye like Ikuta Erina or Suzuki Kanon did. Sure, I liked her enough - I once collected a few pictures of Duu because she appealed to me. But, she had never claimed Oshi or Queen status with me, despite her being rather deserving of it.
Still, I liked her enough to adore her more than others. I don't doubt she would have ranked quite high in any Top so-many lists. After all, Duu is incredible.
No, she wasn't my favourite, but she was someone I considered to be great. A top-tier member if ever there was one, I regarded Duu's talent in singing highly, and I adored seeing her on-screen. She was always eye-catching, a beautiful young girl that could portray both cool and cute well, as well as throw maturity around as if it were candy. She possessed a lot of what other members didn't have, which was expression. Where the other members generally failed at looking cool and sexy, Duu was one of few who could pull it off, with only a few videos where it felt forced. I suppose that's where her ability to act has come in - it has allowed Duu to grow as a performer on-camera beautifully, and shown us just how extensive her expressions can be.
Of course, acting is another area where I truly appreciated Duu - she was truly good at it. I might argue that she is amazing, but that might be a bit, ah, False (aha), because at times even Duu suffered from over-acting, but it was genuinely hilarious to watch and entertaining, to boot. Still, I think that Duu was one of the stronger, more capable actresses within Morning Musume, showcasing her talent whenever she could, and even obtaining lead roles that ranged from leading lady, to the motivated and calculating bad guy. Duu's been able to show off her abilities as an actress since she was an Egg, and over these past 6 years, she has grown.
It's a good thing that this is what she wants to do in the future, because it's a career path I do not doubt Duu would be amazing at.
Now, I must be honest: I was never a fan of the 'Ikemen' type people slapped onto Duu. I felt like it was off, as if it had been forced onto the girl before she could even develop a character or personality for herself in Morning Musume. Right after getting her hair cut - just after the release of Ren'ai Hunter, right? - Duu was suddenly thrown into an 'ikemen' role, despite being a young girl who, despite what people might say, had a cute side to her. Of course, this is all debatable, I suppose - we all see our Idols differently, after all.
For me, however, I thought that Duu was quite a cutesy girl, someone who had to hide her true self in order to appeal to the fans and work with what they wanted, not what she wanted. Marketing is a funny thing, and whilst we don't want to believe it, Idols are a product that we buy into at the end of the day, and Duu's campaign was 'ikemen Duu!'. This sold well, and so she continued it, appealing to her fans with a boyish, cool look that created fangirls upon fangirls. It worked well with the rough side to Duu as well, of course, but for me, that emotional side was what furthered my own interest in Duu. The 'Shounen' fantasy wasn't really my cup of tea. I prefer other members in the Ikemen role.
Still, I did like Duu as a boy, sometimes. Contradictory, I know, but at times it worked. Mostly in acting, especially in Mr.Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band!~, but for things outside of acting and games, songs and what-not, it just felt too forced.
Well, it's all a farce, anyways. That's why she did it, I suppose.
So, I'm happy that Duu would like to grow out her hair and try for girly, cute roles in the acting industry. I am glad that now, she will be able to be her true self and allow her personality to shine more in a natural way. Of course I'll miss short-haired Duu; she looks incredible with a shortcut! But, hair changes, and so do styles, and with Duu growing up and becoming an adult, she is finally able to take into account the kinds of styles she wants, instead of having Management give her the yes or no to do something with her hair.
Of course, there will be acting roles that might require specific styles of hair for certain roles, but, Duu will have a lot more freedom. As long as she doesn't stick to a franchise, her hair will be hers to own, generally. Or at least, I hope it will.
... I am talking waaaaaay too much about hair. Case in point: I'll miss her shortcut style, but I'm excited for Duu to grow it out and show off this girly side to herself we have never truly seen. Let's anticipate this change!
It feels like I have watched Duu for a long time. Even when I didn't have much interest in Hello! Project or Morning Musume, I still found enjoyment in some videos, and I found Duu to be a delight. She has been, and always will be, an Idol to root for. A gorgeous, talented young girl, Kudo Haruka now has the world at her feet, and the fans and Morning Musume will always be behind her, even now after she has graduated, because that is how dedicated you are to her, and because she has made colleagues and friends with the other members.
Even when she steps out of the limelight on one stage, another light will follow Kudo Haruka, and she will shine bright even when she is sitting in the rafters. Though some people work with dedication behind the scenes, Kudo Haruka is someone that we can always see in front of us. There is no way that we could miss a star like her.
I'm not the only one who will miss Kudo Haruka, and I am not the only one who looks forward to her debut in the acting world a young actress with dreams. Though it can be a rocky road in the beginning, and though her roles may vary as she makes her start, I have no doubt that Duu will find her footing and become an incredible, memorable actress who makes her fans smile, whilst also creating new fans in this field she has chosen for herself.
From 2011 until now, as a member of Morning Musume she has made us happy. She has given us the best part of her childhood, and grown into an incredible young woman with the ability to deliver happiness. Now it is time to begin a new stage of her life, and open the doors to a sky of endless opportunities.
Not only has she graduated from Morning Musume, but I am sure that from here on, Kudo Haruka has also graduated from 'Duu', the Idol who gave us so much. Even though it will be hard to see a Morning Musume without her, let's continue to support this wonderful, delightful young woman who is ready to make a new name for herself.
Kudo Haruka, thank you so much. We will all miss you from the bottom of our hearts.
Kudo Haruka, おめでとう、さようなら！6 years ago, you brightened our lives. Now, this future is yours! Thank you for everything!
Though her time with us was shorter than other Idols, these past six years have been incredible. From Egg to full-fledged member, Kudo Haruka has done what she can to make us smile. And now, it's time to watch her from a new stage, and anticipate all that she brings in the future...
Thank you, and take care.