Mitsui joined. Yoshizawa graduated. The pandas showed up. Fujimoto slunk out the back door.
And just like that, we were left with the longest-running, most stable lineup in Morning Musume history (years after most normal people had given up on the group because it was too confusing trying to keep up with all the changes). But now, with Koharu Kusumi packing her bags and getting ready to go, we look back and ponder the mysteries of the era from “Onna ni Sachi Are” to “Kimagure Princess.” Why didn’t they audition for any new generations? (Part of the INBOU theorist in me believes that after all H!P programming on TV got canned, there was no longer an outlet through which auditions could be held and publicized.) Why didn’t anyone graduate?* (Probably because all the current members realized that there was no hope for them elsewhere in the entertainment industry.) Was this truly the best chemistry that MM ever had, or had fans just come to believe that because they’d gotten used to the same lineup for so long?
*Supplementary research tells me that this is because management was trying to keep the lineup stable so that Japan could re-learn who the girls are. Yeah, how’s that working for you guys?
And what if you tried to recreate the Nine Smile Morning Musume with members of AKB48?