When one mentions Morning Musume., they think of their recent work as ambassadors of the “Nippon! Call Project(※)” which is part of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and the song that they are performing in support of Japan's athletes. With that in mind, the 10,000 fans gathered at the Nippon Budokan were also asked to open the group's performance with shouts of “Nippon!”
(※ The Nippon! Call Project was a promotional bid which filmed people from all over Japan shouting “Nippon!”, to be given to Japan's athletes using the “Nippon! Call” smartphone app.)
Led by Riho Sayashi, first the crowd practiced. “We would like to bring the Nippon Call from all of you gathered here at the Budokan to our athletes!” Then, in time to a countdown broadcast on the big venue screens, all 10,000 audience members shouted together. However, the flame that appeared to grow stronger on the screen at first began to die down a bit. This was added to by the group members themselves, making fun of the crowd, saying, “You're so quiet! It looks like you don't have enough spirit yet. Give us your big Nippon Call one more time!”
Then, after they were satisfied with the yell from the crowd, it was time for the real thing. Bringing everyone's voices together, the recording this time went without a hitch, and the flame on the screens blazed to life.
The show itself, which began with “Wakutaka Take a chance(updated)” was centered around their newest album “The Best！～Updated Morning Musume.～” which offers a number of updated versions of the group's past hits. In addition to “Ai no Gundan” and “Wagamama Ki no mama Ai no Joke” from their latest single, the performance included a total of 28 songs such as “I WISH (updated)” and “Aruiteru (updated)” as well as Smileage's “Ee ka!?” and “Ijiwaru Shinai de Dakishimete yo” from Juice=Juice.
For the encore, the group began with their new song “What is LOVE” (featured as the ending theme for NHK World's “J-MERO” program and also as a commemorative song for its 400th broadcast) and announced that they would show the music video at the same time as the performance. Sayumi Michishige introduced the tune, saying, “Lose yourselves so much that fans of the AKB groups would think that Morning Musume.'s fans are really intense!” Though it was unclear if her words, or the aggressive song itself, was responsible, this solicited a huge, ardent response from the audience seating.
The enthusiastic response for this tour is enough to think that perhaps it is a record high in attendance for the group. At this Nippon Budokan final, the 10,000 spectators remained passionate and followed the girls as they approached the last leg of a long series of performances.
During the final MC, the group members called for the fans to layer over the tour t-shirts on their way home due to the cold (met with a customary surprised response), but a few members had personal messages.
“When Tanasatan [Reina Tanka] graduated, there was a time when I was thinking to myself, 'Maa-chan, what should you do now?”, commented Masaki Sato, also pointing out that she had become a little stronger during the course of this tour.
“From now on, I want to give you all the best performance the ten of us can.” Sayashi added, looking toward the future. Erina Ikuta shared her sentiments, saying, “The legend of Erina Ikuta continues from today!”
Finally, group leader Sayumi Michishige smiled to the crowd. “This was my first tour without any senior members above me. Honestly, I wondered if it would turn out okay...but, it was okay after all!”
Her slightly self-deprecating speech charmed the audience, who met her words with cheers and smiles. However, Michishige continued.
“Why do I think it turned out like this? That's because I could always rely on my senior members from the start.”
In the next moment, the 10,000 people gathered in Nippon Budokan let out an earth-shaking cheer. On stage, Ayumi Ishida and Haruka Kudo had tears streaming down their faces. Certainly, the other members also took Michishige's words to heart, as their eyes too were brimming with tears.
Morning Musume. will next be appearing along with other Hello! Project trainees and group members at their first New Years' Eve Countdown Live, “Hello！Project COUNTDOWN PARTY 2013 ～ GOOD BYE & HELLO ! ～” on Dec. 31 at Nakano Sunplaza.
In addition, Nakano Sunplaza will also be the host for Hello! Project's New Years' performances beginning on Jan. 2, 2014.
text and photo by ytsuji a.k.a. Tsu (editing department)