Last time I posted a transcript of my chat with a Manofure at Hello! Tribe. At the end of that article, I promised to go over my conversation with a former Berryz Koubou wota who I’ve known for a few years. So here we are.
A little background information before we get started. This wota is a former Kumaicho fan, from here on forward, he will be referred to as Enjoy-san. I first met him, along with a big group of Japanese Berryz wotas, at an after party dinner after Berryz Koubou’s concert at Sakura Con in 2011. We met again when Berryz went to New Jersey to perform at AnimeNEXT. Since then we have been keeping contact via twitter and we’d run into each other from time to time when I visit Japan. However, in my most recent trip to Japan, I was surprised to run into him at a Morning Musume event. Since New Jersey, he has given up on Kumaicho and moved on to following Oda-chan as his oshimen. We were at a Morning Musume Handshake/Autograph/Cheki event for TIKI BUN in Nagoya on 10/28. This was our conversation while we waited for the our sessions to begin.
T: Long time no see!
E: Long time no see! It’s been a while. How long have you been in Japan this time?
T: I landed only a few days ago
E: Staying for how long?
T: About a month.
E: What do you have for today?
T: I had a few handshakes, waiting for cheki now, all with Iikubo-san, yourself?
E: Got an autograph next with Sakura-chan
T: How does the autograph here work?
E: Pretty much they just write your name and draw their autograph while you get to talk to them at the same time
T: That sounds a lot better than the handshakes (Handshake ticket = cost of 1 CD, Autograph or Cheki ticket = cost of 1 CD box set [6 CDs or so])
E: Yeah, it’s worth the price
T: At the handshake just now, staff asked me if I wanted to use a few tickets at once, so I used two together, the time didn’t feel that much longer than just using one ticket
E: Well, you still have the cheki
T: That’s true
T: Enjoy-san, are you here by yourself?
E: Nah, my friends are waiting over there (Points to the other end of the lobby)
T: Oh, my group is downstairs
E: I see, all Morning Musume fans?
T: Yeah, you’re one too now. When that did happen?
E: Um let’s see, you know I pay attention to the Kenshuusei too. After New Jersey, I began losing interest in Berryz and then Sakura-chan joined MM.
T: Ahhh, how about the others who were in the USA with us?
E: Most of them have moved on too. Of the 5, 6 guys you’ve met, I think only 1 is still a Berryz wota.
T: Ehh, what, really? Who are they supporting now?
E: A few switched to other H!P groups, while the rest ventured out to other idols, etc
T: Oh I see. How come everyone left Berryz?
E: They weren’t doing anything different in particular these last couple of years, so we slowly lost interest
T: I guess so
E: Well, we’re been following Berryz since their formation. So we’ve pretty much watched them grow up to be adults. It seemed like it’s time for us to let them go
T: Ahh, so that’s why. Are you going to see Berryz off?
E: They still have a few months, I’ll go see them when I can.
T: How do you and the others think about their hiatus?
E: It’s too bad they’re breaking up, but also feels like it’s about time they’ve done so
E: They’ve been at it for so long, doing the same thing over and over. You could see the members weren’t enjoying it
T: Now that you mention it
E: It’s giving us a very complicated feeling. We’re sad since we’ve liked them for so long, but also relieved that it’s coming to an end
T: You’re not in gear today
E: I’m just doing autograph today, regular clothes is fine. I wear wota t-shirts to concerts
T: It’s so hard to get member colors t-shirts now, everything is Cool Hello!
E: Hahaha, yeah, everything is black
T: How are people here handling this?
E: A lot of guys now just print their own
E: Some DIY, others order off t-shirt printing websites, just submit the design
E: Here, like these (Takes out phone, photos of custom t-shirts appears on the screen)
T: So many yellow shirts
E: You know, like the Kenshuusei ones with their surnames on it
T: Wow…..wait, that one says Kumai
E: Oh, you know, the Berryz Budokan concert
T: When they pretended to be Kenshuusei?
E: Yeah, it’s based on that
T: Printed on both side?
E: Yup, just like the official ones
T: That’s awesome
E: Here’s a good one (Scroll to a photo of two purple t-shirts)
E: Yeah, her birthday shirt
E: It’s the wrong purple
E: So I had one made in the correct shade (points to lighter hue one in the photo)
T: Eh? How did you do that?
E: I scanned the design off the official shirt, inverted the colors, then had it printed on a lavender shirt
T: Wow, it looks just like the official one
E: Had it done the first few days after the shirt was released, then I wore it to show her. She was like, “Wow, you got this made so fast!”
T: OMG, that’s win
E: Yeah, everyone makes their own wota shirts now
T: I’m going to have to look into that myself, they don’t even sell member t-shirts for the current concert tour (GMML)
E: Right, I bet they didn’t even bother since no one was buying the black shirts
So there you have it. Although Enjoy-san’s views are not a complete representation of all wotas in Japan, it’s a good generalization of how fans there feel about what’s happening lately within Hello! Project. After years of no changes and stale releases, Berryz fans were abandoning the group since they’ve hit the ten years mark. Ten year is a long time to follow a group around, especially when these guys attend events almost every weekend. Can’t blame them for moving on, with all the fresh and new faces popping up everywhere. As for the t-shirts, it makes you wonder WTF are the higher-ups in Up-Front are thinking doesn’t it?
PS: I noticed there are some confusion when I mention “Cool Hello!” I’m not talking about the 2013 Hello! Project Summer concerts, what I’m referring to is the style that Hello! Project is doing now, especially for their t-shirts. Another Up-Front fxxk up, don’t use the same term for multiple things! To this company, apparently the color black = cool.