The hot news in the idol world is that Hello!Project has announced the “graduation” of every member over the age of 22. Some of them have outside careers that have been providing most of their work for a while (Yuuko Nakazawa, Mari Yaguchi, Mai Satoda, Miki Fujimoto), two of them were semi-retired into motherhood (Kaori Iida, Nozomi Tsuji), two of them were just spun off into their own, hideously-dressed (even by H!P standards) group that will be part of H!P’s parent agency (Rika Ishikawa, Hitomi Yoshizawa), and as I mentioned yesterday, the only one of the grown-ups they were actively promoting just turned up in Hollywood (Natsumi Abe).
The other fifteen or so? Pretty much doomed. Not only are most of them poorly-equipped for solo careers, but the agency owns their music, image, band names, and every picture taken of them since about age 14. No more fan club, no more merchandise, no more occasional appearances to remind fans that they exist, etc.
The oldest remaining member is just-turned-22 Ai Takahashi, who by a strange coincidence just got a lead role in a tv drama series. Good call, Ai-chan; this is not a good time to rest on your laurelsgiant pile of photobooks.