Thursday, 1 November 2018

Self-Reflection: Graduating The Hello! Project Fandom

Goodbye does not have to mean this is the end...

I opened this blog in 2010 as an outlet for a deep-rooted love affair that I had begun with Hello! Project, a love that started in August of 2009. A majority of my posts were dedicated to opinionated reviews of PV's and singles, views on up-coming e-Hello DVD's and more. I named my blog Okay! Musume Time as a homage to the group I adored, whilst the Okay! in the title originally represented a play-on-word of 'Okai' for my then-favourite member, Okai Chisato, and it was here that I became comfortable in my love of Hello! Project, idols and Japanese music.

Eight years on and my love for idols is still strong. I still want to write about them and share everything I can regarding the songs, the groups and the videos I love, but I need to say this now:

Hello! Project is no longer a company that I love and adore. The affection I once held for Hello! Project has well and truly gone, and now that affection I once held will be ingrained in this blog forever by name and past posts only. From here on out I will move forward as both an idol fan and an idol writer.

My thoughts about Hello! Project and my departure from this fandom has been building slowly but surely since the end of last year, but it wasn't until around a month ago that I realised I had well and truly drifted away from the very project I used to love years ago.

The attachment I once had is no longer there, but I only noticed it when I realised these things:

When Kobushi Factory and Tsubaki Factory debuted I never bothered to learn everyone's names. I still don't know all of their names aside from front members or girls I like. When the newly debuted groups were announced I couldn't care less who was in them, and when their group names were eventually announced after one years wait I couldn't even tell you what they were called, other than something with a hashtag in it for effect. When singles were announced and PV's released I never became excited to see what they produced, how it sounded or how it looked.

It's things like this - little, insignificant things to some - that have become a chore to do. Once upon a time I took pride in the knowledge I held regarding member names, group names, release dates and songs that people should hear, but the fun in that has died now. I see it as an unwanted obligation, something I have to do and don't want to do, and when you are the type of person who thrives on knowledge, research and writing for the idols you love and adore, I think you can imagine the pain it might cause when you force yourself to create content for the groups, idols and artists you don't particularly care about.

And it's even sadder and more painful to admit that I am so bored by Hello! Project that I can no longer bear to talk about them here unless they deliver something that I truly do care about. Right now that is very little.

It feels bitter-sweet when I say that I can recall a time where I anticipated everything Hello! Project did, a time where I religiously purchased their music and desired the merch I could not afford. Back then I wanted desperately to attend concerts and meet the members in-person, and despite having been able to do these kinds of things in more recent years, I now realise that I have no excitement for Hello! Project or what they deliver any more, whether it's in my country of their own.

But I know that I will still like things the members say in Twitter translations. I believe I will converse with people about members we like and songs we might enjoy. I am aware that I will still purchase music that I well and truly enjoy. I'm fairly sure that I will purchase anything Eripon produces that I can get my hands on. I am even certain that I will attend a Morning Musume concert if they ever come to Europe, because Ikuta Erina will probably be there and it's the group I loved first, but I would do it to meet friends old and new alike, as well. I will go because it is something I have wanted to do since I first fell in love with Morning Musume and Hello! Project. I am even aware that I may attend other concerts if they come to the UK or Europe, because I genuinely like going to live performances now.

I will not completely ignore or forget about Hello! Project just because I do not want to dedicate myself to it any more.

Yet I am also aware that I won't put Hello! Project or Morning Musume on a pedestal in the future. I won't glorify the groups or keep up to date with anything insignificant because it is no longer exciting or fresh. I doubt I will even keep up to date with their releases because, sad to say, most of the music (especially Morning Musume's) is recycled and worth only one listen from me, and I feel like there is no worth in what the groups do in terms of music any more.

I no longer care enough to follow them.

Yet this won't be my final goodbye. There is always a small chance that I will come back one day, a sliver of hope within myself that I will love the groups and the members again. Interest is a funny thing and, as I've pointed out here at least a little, tastes change, so there may be a day where the music piques my interest once again. Perhaps one day I will care enough, and maybe one day Hello! Project will stop recycling their music, outfits, ideas, choreography and single covers and do something different for a change. Until either day comes though I'll just be a casual listener, follower and viewer, one who won't learn their names, find out more about their personalities or even learn the names of specific groups. I will no longer be that person who sees themselves as a 'fan' any more, but simply an onlooker who will smile at the funny things they do if I happen to see it in passing.

There are so many reasons why I have begun to feel this way, reasons that will build and build until it turns into resentment for the company I once looked up to, but these are the reasons that I have an issue with and I do not expect you to take issue with them simply because I say it's this way. Nothing is black and white in this fandom or community and we will believe what we believe with or without the proof, and I want you to make your own judgement.

I do not want people to stop being fans, nor should you stop because I have fallen out of love. There are plenty of people right now who adore Hello! Project for what it is, people who have discovered the company either this year or last and find worth in everything it creates and the members it produces. I am aware that Hello! Project is continuing to grow its worldwide fandom with old and new fans alike, but I am aware that I am no longer a part of this. I just hope that those of you who read this - those that do love Hello! Project, its groups, members, songs and more - will continue to love Hello! Project wholeheartedly like I once did before now.

Love it in a way that I no longer can, because I can no longer hold onto the past as I step towards my future as a writer for Idols.

But I will never forget my roots.

When we decide to let something go it becomes easy to forget why we loved it in first place, and despite my jaded views on the Hello! Project I know now I don't want to forget the things it gave me, the feelings I felt and the memories I have created through it. Already this blog is proof of the adoration I held for the company and its groups long ago, the name says it all, but I don't want to let my current distaste for the company ruin how I used to view it.

I have so much to be thankful for when it comes to the company and its groups, the first reason being that it was my love for Hello! Project and Morning Musume that created this blog. Without Hello! Project I would not have written on here for 8 years, found new idols to adore or groups to follow, or become a better person and writer. Because of Hello! Project I was able to learn so much, do so much and transform into the woman I am today.

Without Hello! Project there would be no ChiimaTime or react videos, so I am eternally grateful I was able to start something like that with my passion for idols as a reason for its birth.

Hello! Project allowed me to get into fan-dubbing and meet new people. It gave me a new outlet for showcasing this love I had for idols, music and video editing, and it was the first thing within the idol fandom that allowed me to find friends with similar interests who lived in other countries.

It is this very fandom that gave me the friends I consider family. Through this fandom I am able to meet those I may have never met under any other circumstances. If it wasn't for Hello! Project, I would not have found the chance to talk to you or meet those that I cherish so dearly now.

Without Hello! Project I would not be the fan I am today, the hobbies and passions I have now would be nothing but passing fancies from my childhood. Without everything it has given me over these past 9 years since I was introduced to Hello! Project I would not be Chiima, but Kelly-Mae, a woman who may have distanced herself from the idol world long ago.

So I am thankful for everything Hello! Project has given me to this day. I will never forget the joy Hello! Project gave me or the love I held for it since my first introduction to Morning Musume. Because of Hello! Project I am who I am. Without Hello! Project I would not be writing this, but there is nothing left for me in this fandom any more. Today I will step away and graduate the Hello! Project community.

Thank you for everything, Hello! Project, I will never forget the fan you made me all those years ago, but now it's time to say goodbye. As of today I will watch you from afar, forever thankful for what you gave me.

August 2009 - November 2018
~Thank You For The Memories~

Finally, to everyone who found me through Hello! Project all those years ago and to those who found me more recently: Thank you. Without everyone reading, commenting or clicking links I would not have met such a wonderful community of people or made such amazing friends, and it's because of you, your help and your love for Hello! Project and various idols that I was able to continue to have a desire to blog and share my thoughts, ideas and research.

It's true that this door I once opened to enter into this world of idols has now been closed, but a new one is beginning to open. It's time to walk towards a new path and introduce myself to even more amazing idols and acts that I haven't seen before and to further my growth as a lover of writing, idols and Japanese music.

Okay! Musume Time is still here. The name is still the same and my history is permanently a part of this space. It's just that I'm ready to evolve.

Let's have fun and talk about idols, okay~?

Lots of love,


  1. I may be an infrequent visitor at best, and I find myself disagreeing with you on some of the things you write, but thank you for sharing this part of yourself (your thoughts, feelings, words), with all of us out here in the Aether of the Internet.

    May you have good fortune in all that you do :)

    1. Thanks for your comment. I know I don't have an opinion that is universally agreeable, nor do I always say the right things, you know? But i accept that, however my opinions are what I believe in (even when overtime they change, I believe in how I used to feel). Thank you for your words though, they made me really happy.

      Thank you so much. May you have good fortune, also! <3

  2. I agree. I didn't bother getting to know them either. At least when we had shows like hello morning we were able to get to know the members better. mm'18 was is move and all but for me pounce they added the numbers it felt like a new group. I stayed for Haruka. Since she left I barely check in. As much as I like some of the members. I'll just check the music once in a while. Hope to hear from you though. Love reading the posts.

    1. I think those kind of shows helped us so much, but even when we have hello! Station Up-Front refuse to give subtitles, even though they are VERY aware of how many overseas fans watch them. and their own abilities to use translations for mV's and such and other things. I think their lack of communication is an issue here more than anything, translations aren't a big point... I think my reasons for not checking in are slightly to do with Tsunku, but even when he WAS there i was sick of his sound at that point, so it's not him. It truly is a change in musical taste. And yeah I'll check in every once in a while, but not much. It's just not within my interest any more.

  3. I understand how you feel. There was a time I wanted to know eversthing ebout every member. They where so important for me. But Hello! Project changed, The girls are sure still wonderfull but somehow it became boring. Because there are so many other interesting idols its difficult to focus on Hello! Pro. The music is always similuar. The outfits are mostly white. Its boring. Their live concerts are still amazing but not as party as it was in the past.

    1. I think Hello! Pro's issue is they try to promote everyone at once, and not every member individually. Even on something like older shows they had segments to individually showcase the joys of other members, but now they don't care, or it seems that way. I do agree there are so many interesting idols out there, but once upon a time for so many of us older fans Hello! Pro were the ONLY idols out there aside from AKB, Super*GiRLS or Idoling!!.

      I hope people who love them continue to adore them so much. Just because we can't, does not mean they can not. They will continue the fandom we cannot keep up with.