Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On: Miyuki Watanabe: Confessions of a Fan

I'm a pretty big idol fan. If you look through my blog, I'm sure you'll realize this to be true. The groups I primarily follow are those from the 48Group and Hello!Project. So, as an idol fan, I've experienced a fair share of graduations. However, there are certain girls that I've grown to like so much, that when they leave, I feel like the entire group has changed completely for me because I've grown to care more for this one girl than I have the rest of the group: my definition of a kamioshi. One of these girls is NMB48's Watanabe Miyuki.

Miyuki or "Milky" as she is affectionately called by fans, is a first generation member of the group NMB48 based in Osaka, Japan. She is the original center of the group, and co-centered many singles with Yamamoto Sayaka. Together they were SayaMilky, NMB's 2top representatives and the first (and so far only) members of NMB to rank in the top 16 in the 48Group election. Milky didn't originally stand out to me. To be quite honest, I didn't care much for NMB when they were first formed. I enjoyed their songs, but I couldn't find a reason to like them. When NMB's top began to participate in AKB singles and tv shows, I began to learn more about them. I remember my first impression of Milky was that she was far too flirtatious. However, as I got to know her more, I realized that I LOVED this side of her.

Milky is one of those girls that can be easily dismissed as vain; she smiles A LOT and is completely comfortable showing off her body in her photobooks. She "fishes" fans during handshakes by holding both of their hands, giving them a final squeeze before they leave and making flirtatious comments. But Milky has never exclusively fished male fans, she also does the same for female fans (ok, maybe not the flirtatious comments, but she definitely smiles at them a lot and give them that final squeeze - at least from the footage I've seen. I have never, and will never it seems, had the fortune to attend a handshake event with her). So as I saw and learned more about her, I finally realized it, THIS GIRL IS A GENIUS!

Milky knows how to market herself in a manner that will appeal not only to male fans, but female fans as well. Her smile is so genuine (that twinkle in her eyes when she smiles yo!), that you can't help but think, "Wow, this girl is gorgeous!" What's more, instead of being jealous of her level of comfort with her own body, I find it empowering. She isn't the sort of girl that will put herself down in the way of "I'm not that good looking." Instead, she actively refers to herself as being kawaii and owns the fact that she's freakin' gorgeous. And when I realized how her self-confidence shines and her personality is one of a kind, I realized that I really admired Milky. My admiration for her soared to kamioshi levels when she unexpectedly fell out of senbatsu in the 2014 election (largely due to a scandal she had, which I frankly didn't care about at all.) While she cried her heart out, she didn't say she was frustrated with her rank, as if her hard work hadn't been acknowledged. Instead, she thanked her fans, told them that she could continue in her work at her own pace and asked for their continued support. So of course, OF COURSE, fans voted her back into senbatsu the following year.

But it was this fall from senbatsu that would affect the rest of her career in the 48Groups. Her fall to the 18th spot meant that she was no longer chosen for AKB senbatsu making Sayaka the sole representative. In the later half of 2014, she won the Janken tournament and released her solo single, which I reviewed here, Yasashiku Suru Yori Kiss o Shite. However, she was given less exposure as a whole and even her comeback did little to change her situation. The majority of Milky fans believe that for these reasons, she chose to graduate. And I can't say I blame her - if your career seemed to be taking off again but management doesn't give you the backing you need, wouldn't you leave as well? But her graduation will leave a gaping hole in NMB. Idol groups change and evolve of course, and I expect that Shiroma Miru will move on to being the second most popular member in NMB. And while I still have another member I care for in the group - Yagura Fuuko, I can't see myself caring for the group anymore at all. I will likely only follow Fuuko and hold out on seeing Milky return to the entertainment business as a talent or a model! :o

2014 Janken Winner
This is my farewell to the idol Miyuki. You were absolutely AMAZING. Thank you for brimming with self-confidence. Believe it or not, your self-confidence helped me to start looking at myself in the mirror and focus on all the things I liked, rather than the things I hated. Thank you for centering a single that talked about the beauty of black hair and teaching me to appreciate what I once hated. Even though you did decide to dye your hair, I don't hold it against you because you did it for you and that's all that matters. Thank you being girly and spunky at the same time; for smiling flirtatiously but still showing off your kickass dance moves. And more than anything, thank you for not being afraid to move forward. Thank you for graduating in a manner so befitting you, by cutting off your hair and announcing loud and proud that this is who you are now and not caring about what management may or may not want, but pushing forward. Many fans feel like your graduation stage did not do justice to your status as a member, but I don't think you really cared about the extravagance of your final farewell did you Milky? Because you didn't care what management wanted. To the end, you cared about you wanted and needed and that was a timely exit from NMB. And for all of these reasons and countless more that I probably can't remember right at this moment, I will always admire you.

Sayonara idol Milky and I wish you the best in whatever you choose to do from here. Thank you.

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