Credit to @metiys (tumblr) for the main picture.
I didn’t planned to talk much about this when the first article on bunshun was released, but the purikura (how the hell did they got their hand on that?) erase pretty much any doubts or denial fans could possibly have. But the question is, what now? Facts and hypothesis are as follow :
- Love ban rule does exist in Keyakizaka contract with the girls; Koike minami has mentioned it on Yuugata paradise, her radio show
- It’s indeed her and Management still decide how to deal with it. For the moment, all activities are suspended. (our situation)
- First case, the “through” technique (like Yukirin) : management let time brush this off and shida manaka fans decide if they keep supporting her or not
- Second case, she’s too popular to be asked to leave, and she strongly wish to remain in the group but is pushed in the back in order to temporize (Matsumura Sayuri case)
- Third case, management decide to send her off, and she accepts it.
Love ban rule struggle is eternal; people thinks it’s dumb to force people to not love as it’s a restriction to an human being freedom. Other thinks it’s part of the job, and someone who accept what’s in the contract need to keep their responsibilities. We’re not going to talk about that here (I wrote about it in this article)
Still, what’s happening raise a lot of questions, making the situation quite unstable. This uncertainty throw a shade to Keyakizaka momemtum and equilibrium. We can spend hours criticizing decisions made, but what can actually be done to fix it?
Shunkan bunshun use questionable ways to get juicy scoops about idols. It sells well. However, we can’t deny that they are most of the time accurate in their article.
Worst case. The situation becomes really awkward with fans and members. Let’s recall that manaka is a fragile person and had been said mean things by fans bad behavior. This situation will make handshake events even worse and she probably won’t do ever again to avoid interaction. I also say members. We don’t know for sure if every members in the group knew about this, nor accept it. Sugai Yuuka said that it’s impossible for everyone to move forward (concert rehearsal) as one and conflict appears. Official statement from management of manaka absence from their 3 day concert is health issue, but what would members think when she’s seeing friends while they are practicing hard? The group is working hard to have their name recognize, and some fans mind are clouded with those gossips? How they react, It’s hard to tell.
It can comes from within. Japanese culture overall is known for suppressing their feelings. To work hard in order to not disappoint. Even though no members blame her for messing with the group image, there’s a possibility she feels guilty. On her own. It can start a vicious circle where she can’t find the strength to perform as nothing happened in front of the members. But is it even possible to continue performing without her?
an irreplaceable existence, because it’s Keyakizaka. Precisely.
The title was intentionally provocative using the word clumsily because i do believe Manaka didn’t really thought about it. Consequence on management, business, sales aftereffects, goods. But to be honest, we don’t really give a damn.
What i see, is a young japanese girl who wanted to be an idol and have fun; by doing so she worked hard to the point it was hard to follow physically and went back to her hometown to recharge herself with her family, friends, and eventually boyfriend.
People see what they want to see.
It’s clumsy because it has all kind of effects on management who has to think their brains out for damage control. Those guys put money on the table to develop the group so we can’t blame them for trying to reduce risks, even if it means making a love ban rule. But you can say it’s some kind of shortcut to make things easier indeed.
Clumsy but very manaka-ish, in my opinion. When you look at her, she’s having fun during variety show and performance with the members. Manaka is a carefree person who wants to enjoy life, and it’s communicative with her distinctive laugh. Her love to the group is genuine; she is the hiraishin (rod of love) of techi after all. The manaka who enjoy life and the manaka who care about the group is the same person. I don’t think going back to Niigata makes her less of a different person.
What’s being complicated is precisely the point of being herself. Fans don’t really want to be lied about. From instance, Idols need to keep a pure, cute image for their fans in order to sells a lot. Having a boyfriend break this image and then fans are “being lied to”. Kito momona, who became soon after graduation Yua mikami (an AV actress), was having handshake events at the same time as dissing fans on a private twitter account. Everyone’s feeling are hurt and it’s probably what fans fear the most, being made a fool out of them. But what if…
What if we change the rules and say “this is me. The true me, without lie. Will you accept this me, even if it means me having a boyfriend?“
What if we want to support idols who are true to themselves (and we’re not being lied to), instead of idols who are keeping a certain image of what idol should be 20 years ago? It would be an extreme risk, exposing the idol business model and have the sales crunch. However, this is keyakizaka. A decent ratio of male-female fanbase. Songs and lyrics that target japanese youth who don’t want to be restricted or tamed. They have pushed idol boundaries their own way, and their fanbase is not the same as AKB48 ten years ago, who targets more middle aged men who seek affection (not all of course)
I’m not going to lie either, some things still bugs me. Why make a statement that “we’re not dating” on bunshun? Was Neru really with her in Niigata, and in that case was it an inconsiderate thing to expose two member at the same time?
Heart to heart.
About the worst case scenario, i lied. The worst case is that Manaka leaves the group, making everyone sad and unmotivated. Manaka is one of us, a comrade that shared a journey in all japan with keyaki members to connect with fans. This is something that can’t be taken away from her. Because it’s a strong bond, you just can’t throw it away because she didn’t meet our silent wish to see her as a potential girlfriend. Aren’t we the one delusional to ask her to fish us in handshake or remember our name? Is it really a mutual relationship of support?
This new mindset is unrealistic. There’s no way management will take such risk, and there’s no way the whole fandom will agree support idols with boyfriends. In between is horrible, with members dating and other who don’t. It would be such a mess.
All in all, it’s an hard decision for everyone. I guess the one who spend thousands of dollars in goods has more weight in deciding to support someone or not. In my case, i never thought of manaka faking laughs. It’s as real as it gets. If i want to express my selfish side, is to see manaka and techi side by side once again.
Careless, carefree, clumsy. Loveable, nonetheless.
Can we blame people for being human, too human? For being ourselves? I don’t have the answer.