2012 marks the 15th year of Morning Musume’s existence. If you’ve heard the tale, you would know that 5 girls put in all their effort promoting and successfully selling over 50,000 copies of their indie single “Ai no Tane”. They were then officially signed under Tsunku to have him watch over their lasting future career in the music industry. It all happened a long time ago. Back in 1997, movies only cost $4.59 to enter and you can fill up your car for just $1.22 per gallon of gas. For those of us who weren’t around at the time, we would sometimes lose context of how long ago it was since the legendary name Morning Musume began, especially since the current line-up and images of the girls are completely different from before as well.
So let’s take some time and have a look back into 1997 and other things happening around the world. We will remind ourselves of the things that also began in 1997 and give ourselves a better perspective of what was going on 15 years ago, when Morning Musume kick-started this legacy with their own hands.
1. Pokemon Anime
15 years ago, a young boy named Satoshi, some others may know him as Ash Ketchum, left his hometown with his new best friend Pikachu with nothing more than a backpack, an iconic red cap and a heart-full of ambition to becoming the Pokemon master. Through all the years, he travelled beyond the Kanto region and encountered and befriended more monsters than he ever thought existed. 15 years later, he is still going at his journey with no end in sight, still looking as youthful as ever and still aiming to become the very best that no one ever was. I wonder if Ash ever expect for such an epic and long-lasting journey when he got his starter Pokemon, waved his mom good bye and stepped out of Palette town. And I wonder if the 5 starting members of Morning Musume back then realized that they were starting something way bigger than just their own careers, but also the careers of tens of girls to come, bringing happiness to tens of thousands of people all over the world.
2. Harry Potter Novels
15 years ago, the chosen boy who lived in the closet space of his nasty relatives received an invitation letter from an owl to follow his destiny and attend the wizard school. From a boy with a scar who had no friends and no idea that magic was a thing, Harry Potter slowly learned that his life was meant for more, way more. Throughout the years, he encountered and fought the Dark Lord several times, revealed many secrets behind the wizard school of Hogwarts, learned a whole lot more about the death of his parents, and wooed his best friend’s little sister. 15 years later, the world is saved, Harry Potter and his gang have graduated from the wizard school and are living a much more peaceful future. While the original gang of Morning Musume have all long graduated, it is onto the new young generations now to cast their magic and save the idol world from the domination of dark magic from The Group Who Must Not Be Named.
3. Awesome Video Game Franchises
15 years ago, we started playing a bunch of well-known video game franchises in their first iterations. The first Grand Theft Auto game came out for the PS1 when it was still a top-down action game. A racing simulator titled Gran Turismo came out and impressed the entire racing genre, giving car fans something huge and hardcore to look forward to on the Sony platforms. The first Age of Empires was released that year as well, getting a lot of strategy gamers to sink dozens of hours into it. Dynasty Warriors came out and crowd-brawling with awesome weapons and multiple characters to choose from was taken to a whole new level. Ultima Online began in 1997 as well, which drew a lot of people into the whole MMORPG craze. Fun fact, the infamous Duke Nukem Forever that was released last year began its development in 1997. 15 years later, we have been playing multiple entries of these franchises over the years, and Morning Musume’s line up has gone through even more evolutions than any of them.
4. Titanic the Movie
15 years ago, the movie Titanic went on the big screens at movie theaters all over the world, and hundreds of millions of people watched a sinking ship and loved it. Whether it is because of how attractive Leonardo Dicaprio is, or maybe because of the fascinating plot about what happened on that ship during the disaster, because of an incredible director that continued to prove himself after this movie that made his name, or because of the nude scene. Nonetheless, Titanic has made a gross income of over 2.1 billion dollars and snatched up multiple world-wide awards and recognitions the year it was released. Interesting fact, Morning Musume’s indie debut single was released 2 days after Titanic made its world-wide debut at Tokyo International Film Festival. 15 years later, some people compare Morning Musume to the Titanic, not so much for the sales but more as a metaphor for a sinking ship. However, many more understand why Morning Musume is still awesome even after a decade and a half and will continue to stay on deck to support them.
5. Hong Kong
15 years ago, Britain returned a colony city back to its original owner after ruling it for 156 years. As China received back the then-populated-and-developed city, Hong Kong, the city also became China’s first special administrative region, letting its systems to continue running exactly the same as how things were run under the British government. Having said that, many who were born and grew up in Hong Kong initially feared that the Chinese government was going to change the city to be just like any other developed city in China. The feared scenario didn’t immediately happen, but some would argue that China is gradually inputting its influences into the city. 15 years later, while many citizens of Hong Kong continue to fear and rebel against the ideas and persuasions from the Chinese government, the world gladly did and will continue to welcome the supremacy of Morning Musume with open arms.
6. One Piece Manga
15 years ago, a little manga called One Piece began serializing in Shounen Jump. The story about this straw-hat-wearing silly boy setting sail ambitiously into the sea with a brain of nothing but a heart full of courage officially took off on his naval path to becoming one of the most popular manga series ever created. With his rubbery body from eating the Devil’s fruit, Luffy went on an adventure to find the One Piece as millions of fans around the world eagerly follow this popular pirate manga on a weekly basis. 15 years later, Luffy is still out on his adventure to become the next Pirate King, and Morning Musume now has a little adorable girl who is a huge fan and would post about One Piece on the 10th gen blog whenever she can.
7. Sayashi Riho
14 years ago, Sayashi Riho was born on May 28th of 1998. She is the new ace of Morning Musume and no doubt the best item on this list. Just look at her smile and it says it all! Now you might be questioning, “hold on, she’s only 14 years old as of this year, she arrived a year after Morning Musume started.” However, if you count the months…… let’s just say that Riho’s parents were working hard on conceptualizing their little new-born project, and their effort of shuwa-shuwa-ponning was a success o/ Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Sayashi!
While these things pass through their 15th year in 2012, we celebrate Morning Musume’s 15th anniversary with great sales on their latest singles. Compared to 15 years ago, the group resembles little to nothing of the initial 5 girls that began the legacy. The current Morning Musume is bigger, younger, closer and noisier. Regardless of which you prefer, the past or the present, the group has gone through a lot since 1997. Let us continue looking forward to the group’s future and more evolutions with all the generations to come.
Are you a huge fan of anything that’s above (besides number 7, which is obvious)? Or was there something else that began in 1997 you feel should be on the list but didn’t make it? Let us know at the comments section below.