Just when people were accepting the absence of Ogawa Saki in Smileage, another member is taking her leave; again, with no previous indication or warning. This time, it’s Maeda Yuuka. She will be leaving on the last day of this year, December 31st, 2011.
It was said that she will be graduating to focus on studies and getting into a university, and no statement has yet been made by Tsunku as of this post. To make things more interesting, rumors are floating around that there is to be another Smileage audition coming up as soon as next year.
Since no other information has been released on this matter, let’s get into some speculation. Could this be an act of dissatisfaction? Not even a year ago the four members seemed like a group with wild ambitions, telling everyone on television that they wanted to become the freshest idol group in the market. Surely, something had broken between then and now.
Maybe it was the announcement of a new audition. I could see the original Smileage thinking they were the next C-ute or Berryz, in that their line up was rock solid with no additions; that they alone would work together and climb to the top. But here comes Tsunku, announcing a new Smileage audition—something unheard of in H!P outside of Morning Musume.
What does that mean for the girls? Are they not selling enough? Working hard enough? Surely, it could have caused friction and stress within the group. Being eggs together for quite some time before becoming Smileage, they were an extremely tight group, and now they’re going to grow to practically double their size? Are more auditions on the way? All of a sudden, the game changed.
It’s no longer C-ute or Berryz. Smileage has become a revolving door like Morning Musume—members in, members out. Their places just became that much more vulnerable, and shook their unity. One can’t fault Tsunku for wanting to do that; I even think that it makes a lot of business sense. Smileage would become the fresher large idol group, without the name of ‘Morning Musume’ holding it down. But maybe that wasn’t what Ogawa or Yuuka signed up for. The fire that drove the core of Smileage a year ago now seems barely lit.
Leaving Smileage and studying for a University is fine, but leaving the group BECAUSE she wants to study? Whether or not my totally fabricated story has any weight to it, I can tell you with full confidence that it wasn’t in her plan book to leave barely two years into her Smileage career. So just what could it be? Whatever it is, it’s clear that something made Yuuka and Ogawa think that leaving was their best option.
My dramatic fabrications aside, it just sucks that my Smileage oshimen is leaving. Like Hayami Akari leaving Momoiro Clover, it’ll be a while until I regain interest in the group and even longer until I find another favorite member.