On September 8, Tsunku officially announced that he had resigned from his post as General Producer for Hello! Project. He said that Morning Musume '14's performance in New York last October was the last time he participated officially in H!P. This means he's actually stepped down since then. Most fans who have been following H!P in the last couple years or so likely already knew this. Tsunku had announced that he had laryngeal cancer and he had slowed down on his activities significantly. What was the catalyst that led to his resignation?
The surgery. He had finally decided to go through with a surgery to remove his vocal cords, since the cancer (it seemed) had not spread beyond that quite yet. The fact that he waited until MM'14 performed in NYC is actually quite significant. MM is the reason H!P exists, and is his original idol concoction. He has a really close bond and emotional ties to MM. Being able to see his children, as he often refers to the girls in H!P, perform for their first time in a solo concert in the USA was the most loving sendoff he could have possibly given them (despite his growing illness, he saw it through). The way I see it, it was similar to how a parent watches their child go off to college, and essentially begins their lives as independent adults (or graduating from college and getting a career, whatever analogy is more culturally relevant to you). He got to see the fruits of his and their labors before stepping aside, and letting others take over for him.
I mentioned that fans already knew this was happening, even if it wasn't officially announced until now. This was seen by the fact that almost all content produced out of H!P after October was not lead by him. In fact, seeing the 'Produced by Tsunku' stamp was hardly being seen on anything. That's not to say that fantastic talent hasn't been working in his stead, but the fact is that people started to freak out a little that he was slowly disappearing from H!P affairs. Now we know why. While the transition has been smooth and gentle, it doesn't hurt any less for long-time fans of Hello! Project.
Tsunku began work as lead vocalist with his band: Sharam Q. He worked together with them for a long time and still does; though since he can't sing anymore his performances are nigh impossible. During his early days with Sharam Q, they sought a female vocalist for the group. Among the auditions, he was only allowed to pick one person. He had a handful of runner-ups though who were so amazing, that he felt it was an absolute shame to not give them a chance at some form of stardom. Instead, he challenged this group of girls to sell 50,000 copies of a song they recorded within a certain amount of time: Ai no Tane. If they were able to do this, Tsunku would help them form into a legitimate group. They managed to do this through their own promoting, and impressed him. From them, the first generation of Morning Musume was born.
Having drawn his influence from previous idol groups like Pink Lady and The Peanuts, he had a grand game plan for turning Morning Musume into a brilliant modern idol sensation. Through hard work and perseverance (from him, the ladies and the staff he employed) they managed to pull it off. By the time they released Love Machine (the biggest hit from the group ever), Morning Musume had officially become a household name. Taking inspiration from concepts like the Jazz Messengers, he decided to have a cyclical unit. This concept continued, and expanded, and eventually he created a conglomeration of groups within a header of Hello! Project, containing groups like Berryz Kobo, C-ute and Melon Kinenbi (each representing its own style and theme). Since 1997 he kept at it, and molded Hello! Project into one of the most successful idol sets ever, alongside later groups like Stardust and 48G.
So why did I tell this story, when most people who will read this will likely have known this already? To emphasize his importance. He's done a lot not just for Morning Musume, or for Hello! Project, but for the idol scene in general. How he was able to manage so many idols at the same time and produce so much music so often is beyond my comprehension (this goes for all Idol conglomeration managers), but he certainly pulled it off with flying colors. Whether some of his songs were hits or misses with you, there's no denying that he managed to cover a relatively wide variety of genres with the music he produced (within the confines of pop idol groups, of course).
His official announcement of stepping down comes as a difficult blow for Hello! Project fans to wrestle with. On the one hand, we all already knew this. On the other hand, it being official cements the whole thing and doesn't allow us to try to continue in denial of the facts right in front of us.
That being said, he hasn't retired, exactly. He is still going to be working on projects, where he can. In fact, he's been working with some older stars lately, which is really nice. That being said, this means he can finally allow himself to spend some proper, quality time with his family, which is well-deserved considering how much of himself he has put into both Sharam Q and Hello! Project.
Don't fret though! He's no fool, and has certainly left Hello! Project in good hands, which can be clearly seen through all the content that has been released since October from last year. While Tsunku will still produce some music here and there for H!P, for all intents and purposes he's not a real driving force behind it anymore. During all this, he's been working on a book called 'Dakara, Ikiru', which officially released on September 10. A lot of the information on his endeavors and his decisions are reportedly contained within.
It's a pity that it took him losing his vocal cords to finally be able to slow down and focus on his family and other projects, but at least it wasn't worse. He’s been the inspiration and love of most of us H!P fans. Let's wish him the best in all his future endeavors, and may he have a healthy and fulfilling life with his family and any other future projects he decides to pursue. He certainly deserves it.
This is the end of a beautiful era for Hello! Project, and the start of an exciting new one.
- Teepu (Bowser05)
Tsunku’s Official Site: http://www.tsunku.net/
Tsunku’s Official Blog: http://ameblo.jp/tsunku-blog
Tsunku’s Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/boy.tsunku
Tsunku’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/tsunkuboy/
Tsunku’s Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/tsunkuboy/
Below is a link to information on his book:
Below is a link to a rough translation of Tsunku's post by 910 Percent, and below that is his actual post: