Morning Musume 20th Anniversary Review

I’d been to 4 concerts in the past (not to mention a couple mini-lives or shows they only did a few songs on), but I hadn’t seen Morning Musume all year. In that time, they’d gained three new members: two from the Kenshuusei juniors program and one from the sort-of-disbanding Country Girls. But my second-favorite member – Haruka Kudo – is also graduating after the fall tour, so I want to see her while I still can. 

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This was not a typical show. The normal fall tour actually doesn’t start for a couple weeks. Instead, this was celebrating 20 years of Morning Musume. In 1997, I had only been out of high school a year. Okay, that’s making me feel old so moving on…

I bought my ticket off Ticket Camp, which I use a lot. My Hello! Project fan club membership lapsed; I’m not sure if tickets were sold to the public. However, instead of the web pages showing what seat the ticket is for, they gave a number range (ex. 790-890). I’m used to that for mini-lives/events – numbers are given via lotto system rather than first-come, first served – but not for a legit concert. It takes much longer to load everyone in; picture Southwest Airlines but 10x the people. The reason this was, I’d come to find, is because all but those in the way back were standing. Oh!

Also, there was no merch booth in the lobby. Later, I found out it was in a separate room. Sure would’ve liked to know that earlier to buy the one t-shirt they had for sale. The only other goods were photographs (a very idol/Japanese thing). Of course almost everything was sold out after the show. 

But I didn’t go home empty handed! For reasons I don’t know (aren’t I such a naive, dim-witted gaijin?), a bunch of people were hanging out free t-shirts. Modeled after the most recent single’s costume (Brand New Morning), it also featured a kind of commemorative patch on the sleeve and listed the names of all members past and present on the back. It’s kind of a workout shirt fabric. I saw a girl walking opposite me in the station with one on, and I thought it was cosplay. When a dude handed me one, I kinda double-taked. I might have said something very Japanese like, “Eh?! Honto?!”

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Front of the free shirt. BNM stands for “Brand New Morning”

Much of the set was based on rankings from online requests. Some songs I love like Shabondama and Resonant Blue were played, as well as some high-ranking ones I may have never heard before. 

I stood pretty well center, right near the divider between the pit (nobody moshed). So maybe 8 people-rows or so? I’m tall in this country so I saw everything – save the times when energetic dude on other side of pit divider decided to jump, jump around. In fact, my favorite member Maa-chan kind of defaulted to right in front of me. That’s always nice. Kept my penlight her color except during the secret guests. 

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Shirt’s. Color-coding on names denotes duration. Era perhaps?

Reina Tanaka and Sayumi Michishige showed up! They did a pair song, then a song I really like that has minimal vocals from other members, then one of their famous “Rokkis MCs.” They’re the Rokkis because they’re sixth generation (six is roku in Japanese), and MCs are talking sections – something the pair became known for. Reina is kinda punk and Sayu is kinda princessy, but they worked so well together, shared the Momusu spotlight, and shaped the group after its era of peak popularity. 

Reina was also the one I was drawn to when I first heard of Morning Musume (I saw an ad for the single “One Two Three” on a YouTube Japanese commercial compilations video). But when I first saw the group (NYC, 3 years ago), she’d graduated. I downloaded then later bought her graduation concert – my first Momusu DVD – and watched it a lot. So I was stoked to see her. Sayu is a charming performer as well. 

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Faux-patch. All print is infused into the stretchy material.

Not just songs, but also mini units were ranked. First the two girls with variations of purple as their color – best singer Sakura Oda and English-speaking Miki Nonoka – did a duet that I like. It was originally for Oda and former Momusu ace Riho Sayashi. But then!!!

My two favorite members, Masaki Sato and Haruka Kudo, are collectively known as MaaDuu. They have an Ernie & Bert chemistry – the former being rambunctious and the latter being a little strict. They did a song together once very early on called ROBOKISS, and it’s just about the cutest. Well, they performed it tonight, too. I was elated! Seriously. Never thought I’d see that song done live. 

As usual, the group had great choreography and cool costumes. Nothing too revealing, thankfully. They sing live, unlike a lot of acts in this country. I really enjoy watching them onstage. I favor Maa-chan, but enjoy looking at everyone for a bit. I’ve been following them a long time, so even members who I’m not really fans of make me smile. The three new girls did well; they seemed better suited for Momusu than the four girls from 12th generation, who took quite a while to find any kind of footing or niche. 

So that’s my story. I’m very glad I went to the show! It may be my favorite idol concert yet! I really hope to see them at least once more this year, and perhaps meet Kudo again at an event. And also check out the limited-time Morning Musume-themed cafe I just found out will be opening later this year!

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