Idols You Should Meet: Morning Musume (Part 4)



Name: Ikuta Erina
Born: July 17th, 1997 in Fukuoka Prefecture
Group: Morning Musume
Nickname: Eripon, KY Ikuta, Eri-chan, Namata
Blog: Ameba Blog
Hobbies: Dancing, golf
Talent: Ability to sleep anywhere, fast at texting, handsprings

Joined Hello!Project and Morning Musume in 2011 as part of the 9th generation.
She is also a member of the Satoyama/Satoumi Movement units Harvest and HI-FIN.
Her motto is “Determination is key!”
Her favorite colors are white, black, red and yellow.
Her favorite foods are strawberries and ham.
Her least favorite foods are vegetables.
Claims no one can beat her at being high spirited.
She looks up to Niigaki Risa, Takahashi Ai, Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, Tanaka Reina, Maeda Yuuka, Maeda Atsuko, Takahashi Minami and Kojima Haruna.
She has wanted to be an idol since she was young and aims to be the “Number 1 idol”.
She has a younger brother.
Her cousin is gravure idol and stage actress Takigawa Aya.
She is part of the PonPon pairing with fellow Morning Musume member Fukumura Mizuki.
She is a Niigaki Risa wota and if she could become any other Hello!Project member it would be her.




The first thing one should know about Ikuta Erina is her birthday. Eripon was born on July 7, 1997 and for this reason associates herself with the number 777. Eripon lives up to her number by being extremely lucky. Actually, she makes herself lucky by brilliantly putting herself into enviable positions. You can trace this luck this all the way back to Eripon’s audition for the ninth generation of Morning Musume. Ikuta Erina was not the talented one (this was Sayashi Riho), the charismatic one (this was Suzuki Kanon), nor the pretty one (this was Fukumura Mizuki). But, as the girl from Fukuoka flailed her arms to “Get Up Rapper/Crazy for You” during her audition, one got a sense that her enthusiasm would be rewarded with a spot in the group. Ikuta Erina exhibited an innocent aura throughout her audition that won me over immediately despite her lack of polish.

When S/mileage’s Ogawa Saki abruptly left Hello!Project, Ikuta Erina’s “luck” brought her into Oha Star as Saki’s replacement. I remember seeing the silhouette teaser image of the new Oha Girl Maple member and excitedly reasoned that only Eripon fit the picture’s short hair. Eripon’s time as a member of the morning show trained her as a professional entertainer with a grueling morning TV schedule (followed by regular middle school), limited rehearsal time (meaning lots of improvisation), and the perils of live television. For Eripon fans, Oha Girl gave us a chance to see our girl regularly and watch her grow as an entertainer. Although she was able to show off her tumbling skills with a handspring or two, Erina initially failed at the important Oha Girl baton twirling. As she stomped her feet in frustration I felt bad because I wanted her to succeed, and I empathized as I reflected on my personal failures. Even though she improved at baton twirling, the real lasting gift of Erina’s Oha Girl stint is her knack for finding and shining for the camera. Watch any live performance of Morning Musume and you will see Ikuta Erina find the tally light on the live camera.

I relate to Ikuta Erina because she is a well-documented wota. Early in her public life, a video of pre-Morning Musume Eripon crying joyfully after an AKB event drew criticism from the Hello! fandom. Then, as the talk of her Kojima Haruna fandom died down, Erina’s Niigaki Risa fandom sprung up. Video upon video showed Erina displaying her Niigaki photo collection, wearing Niigaki gear, and fan-girling over Niigaki. Eripon went as far as participating in Niigaki’s farewell bus tour … as a fan. Imagine being a Niigaki wota on a bus tour and looking over to find yourself next to another Morning Musume member! The companion DVD shows Eripon nervously boarding the bus, befriending her fellow wota, and eventually letting her Niigaki flag fly high (almost literally). As luck would have it, Niigaki’s wota took to Eripon and announced her as the Niigaki fan club “kaichou”. This led to (so far) two “Niigaki-san wo Ouensuru Kai” (NOK, or Cheering for Niigaki-san Party) events. In ultimate tribute to her beloved senpai, Eripon switched her member color from purple to Niigaki’s yellow-green in Fall 2012.

Although she started as the Morning Musume “KY” character, most people acknowledge Ikuta Erina as Morning Musume’s Ikemen character. With her short hair and lean, athletic build, Eripon foils her partners’ femininity nicely (aside: my favorite Ikuta pairing is still the “PonPon” pair with Mizupon (Fukumura Mizuki) hatched during the early days of Ustream Musume). There are plenty of “athletic Eripon” stories to go around. In “Hello! Channel DVD vol.6”, Eripon played a round of indoor virtual golf against Suzuki Airi (whose parents are professional golfers) and absolutely crushed the golf balls with her practiced swing. In “Morning Musume DVD Magazine Vol. 39”, Eripon smashes her microphone into the ground as if she was at the CBGB and then humiliates Takahashi Ai in an arm wrestling match. To top it off, Eripon unveiled her six-pack abs during “Morning Musume Alo! Hello 6 DVD”.

As for me, I was entranced the moment I saw Ikuta Erina in the ninth generation auditions. The unlikely 13 year-old girl made herself into an idol with little more than her good looks, determination, and her winning smile. I absolutely adore when Eripon uncontrollably smiles with her whole face, a crooked corner of her front tooth exposed. This genuine smile heals me after a stressful day and puts the smile back on my face. My heart swells when I see and hear wota participate in her “collaboration” pose. Ultimately I love Eripon because underneath her cuteness is a wota who worked hard to be in her position. No matter how many lines she sings in the singles, Ikuta Erina keeps getting one step closer to becoming “the world’s number one idol”.

Huge thanks to @thenumber244 for the write-up. Make sure you check out their blog for more great idol articles!

Biography and trivia courtesy of Hello!Project Wiki

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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