Ganabre, Marippe.

The Sexy Beam has left the building.

Mari Yaguchi left Morning Musume yesterday morning. No formal sotsogyou (graduation) like Kaori Iida had earlier this year and Rika Ishikawa will be having at the end of the month, just a format statement on Hello! Project's website. (Original Japanese statement here, and a clear translation from a JPopMusic.com mod here). She's hinting at solo work and a possible Japanese TV show in the future for her; no mention of her leaving Hello! Projecct, so its safe to say she will continue to record under the H!P, presumably through the Zetima label. Mari had taken over the leader role from Kaori Iida after the latter's graduation, but I guess it was too much for her to handle, and at 22 years old she figured that a change was in order.

It was a rather sudden and shocking development in the eyes of MoMusu/Hello! Project fans like myself. All of the MoMusu/H!P communities on LiveJournal are abuzz over this news, and everyone's got an opinion on the subject - everything from pregnancy to H!P frowning on MoMusu members having public relationships to whatever you can think of. Of course, the old rumor of a "'Love Machine' curse" has been bandided about yet again (With Mari's departure, all eight of the participants on the original, now-classic MoMusu single have graduated from the band).

Mari's tenure in MoMusu started with their second single "Summer Night Town" in 1998; she was also a founding member of two MoMusu subgroups, Tampopo (who sang mine and Tara's theme song) and MiniMoni (where she got the nickname "Marippe"). She's also been in two other short-lived H!P side projects, ROMANS (with fellow MoMusu/Tampopo Rika Ishikawa and members of Coconuts Musume, Country Musume and Melon Kinebi) and ZYX (with a few then-future members of Berryz Koubou) - not a bad song in the bunch from any of those groups either.

For someone that is 145cm tall, she's leaving a big void in MoMusu. Hopefully, this won't be the last we hear from her.


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