The long-awaited return of Pour Lui's misfit idol unit is finally upon us! A mere two years after the disbandment of BiS at Yokohama Arena, the group has returned (albeit with an all-new lineup) to give this thing another go. The biggest question burning in the minds of longtime fans has been "will this new iteration of BiS live up to the BiS legacy?"
I hate to break it to you, but no. At least, not yet. Save your hate messages until the end, please.
June 30th 2002. That’s when Momoko Tsugunaga joined Hello! Project as a Hello! Project Kid. Almost 15 years later, she’s announced that she will graduate from Hello! Project and Country Girls on June 30th 2017. She will be able to go out on her 15th year anniversary being in the business.
Momoko has grown into being an integral part of Hello! Project over the years. A couple years after she joined H!P, she was part of the formation of Berryz Kobo. For many years she ended up being a lead vocalist in the group as they moved forward with a lot of amazing music and projects. In 2007 she became a part of Buono!, who had a very special reunion concert this past August. Throughout the years she always gave her all as an idol and never faltered in delivering to her fans or having fun with her character.
Unfortunately, though, all good things must come to an end. The main group she was involved in, Berryz Kobo, went on indefinite hiatus in 2015. We thought we would lose Momoko in the world of idols but she surprised us all with an announcement of her being Playing Manager for the reboot of Country Musume。as Country Girls. Her goal was to teach the new girls all she could and get them molded into the best idol group they could be. It was an odd role, especially in the world of H!P, but she pulled it off with flying colors. We knew this wouldn’t last though, since she said from the beginning that she wouldn’t be sticking around for long. She just wanted to help these girls shine for a couple years and then leave and let them spread their wings.
That time has finally come, with the announcement of Momoko’s graduation. She’s stated that she is going to leave the entertainment industry altogether. She’s found her calling: as a teacher. She wishes to be an elementary or kindergarten teacher, which is a noble sentiment. With teaching license already in hand, she’s bound to be able to bring all her wonderful experiences in her life into the classroom.
Momoko will be the last remnant of the Hello! Project Kids, since °C-ute will be graduating earlier that same month. It’ll be the end of an era, but let’s not forget what she worked so hard to cultivate, and continue to support these groups (namely, Country Girls) into the future. Let’s wish her all the best in her future endeavors, and cheer extra loud for her in these upcoming few months.
KOTO is definitely a favorite of us here at A-To-J Connections and we’ve covered her several times. We’ve interviewed her once before in Japan (HERE for interview. HERE for live report.), during her first overseas live in Taiwan (HERE and HERE), and we recently interviewed her again during our recent trip to Japan! This was a video interview and due to various issues has so far only been released in Japanese (found below) but a subtitled version will be released soon!
The following interview was on the eve of a special live featuring KOTO and Sasaki Kissa’s band, Recoride; the interview taking place literally hours before. It was also a few weeks before both her birthday and oneman lives. It followed the release of her single “Butoh Yugi” and her appearance at Tokyo Idol Festival so these are all topics that we covered. Keep an eye on A-To-J Connections for more about her and please follow the links at the end of the article (and those above) for more information!
◆ Rin Rigoni