Originally, I was going to post just a Niigaki Risa tribute - however when the news came about that Mitsui Aika would also be graduating, I knew that I would need to do one on Aika as well. Here, I express my feelings and thoughts on Aika, why I like her, how I came to like her and so on so forth.
I pretty much woke up to the news that Aika was graduating - I got up, went online, went onto a forum that I spend most of my time on, and the first thing that caught my eye was something one of my online friends had put on the chat box. A simple little word and emote that read: 'Aikaaaa... TT____TT' and from that simple statement I knew it. Mitsui Aika was going to graduate Morning Musume. At that moment, I felt my whole body go cold. I felt like I was being drained of my happiness.
When I finally looked on Hello! SayuNii and saw that news, I ran straight down stairs and, the moment I saw my sister, I said 'Mitsui Aika is graduating'. I didn't know when or why at the time, but we were both shocked. Then, when I finally found out and told my sister, she was just as angry and unhappy as I was by this sudden decision. In all honesty, like a majority of fans, we thought that this was unfair. But, in the end, we have to accept that this is what will happen, no matter how much we dislike it.
Now, Mitsui Aika isn't my favourite member in Morning Musume - I do, however, adore the girl. I think that she is as cute as a button, and that she has a certain quirk about her which makes me really like her. I have actually only just realised what it is that makes me like her so much - it's the fact that, like Gaki, she adores Morning Musume and will do whatever she can for it. The whole reason why she hasn't decided to graduate until she had to was because she wanted to one day return to the group, fully healed, so that she could take up the activities again. Even during the period where she couldn't even walk she would do whatever she could to help out with the group. I finally realised that this was why I truly adored her as a member of Morning Musume. Just like Gaki, Aika loves and cherishes Morning Musume with all of her heart, and put the group before her health.
Though I didn't like her for that aspect at first - After the graduation of Koharu Kusumi back in 2009, I was ready to leave behind Morning Musume, but that never happened because I found love in Niigaki Risa. For a while I didn't really concern myself with any other members, but at some point during my early fandom of Morning Musume, I came to really like Aika. She was cute, different, and an Underdog. I liked her for those aspects, and I also liked her voice a whole lot. She was a darling member, and I came to really like her. I honestly never understood why people didn't like her, because she seemed so sweet and cute, and whilst she appeared to be a bit of a loner in the group, she tried so hard to be friends with everyone, and they all seemed to really like her. Slowly, I really started to fall for Aika's personality and her cuteness.
Then the new members came, and whilst Aika slowly was replaced by Zukki and Eripon, I still adored her. I then came to respect her and realised how grown up she was when she started to take charge with the 9th generation. It was at that time that I thought 'Wow, she is so leader-like!', and was amazed by how bad-ass this cute and darling girl could be. I didn't think that Aika would ever show this hard-edged side to herself I had always thought that she would be that little sister type character who took everything in a certain stride, but before I realised it, she was acting much like Niigaki Risa - she was acting like a leader, someone who could take charge and control with the new members and help them get into shape. This girl had suddenly turned around and put on a new front. t was weird, but so amazing, to see from someone everyone had considered 'Useless'.
After that I kind of anticipated the time that Aika would become a leader - she was good with control, she knew when she needed to harsh, and knew when she needed to be kind. Despite keeping to herself, she had that edge to her that Morning Musume needed. She had that certain quality that would keep the 9th generation in order, and would help them to become better than they already were.
Another aspect that I came to love about the girl was her love for her fans - One day, I read a post on Hello! Online by another user who had said that at a Hello! Project concert, Aika had become excited at seeing some fans who were wearing her colour, and was so excited she ran out to greet them, only to realise that they were Hagiwara Mai's fans. This was sad to read, but it also made me realise how much Aika appreciated every one of her fans. It's a known fact that Aika is not a popular member, but the devotion and adoration she has for the people who root for her is amazing, much like the love Fukumura Mizuki has for her fans. That made me realise how under-appreciated this girl is, and after reading that, I wanted to like her more and more, and it made me want to meet her one day and say to her that I really like her as a Morning Musume member and a person.
Sadly, I don't think that that day will ever come...
When it was announced that Aika had injured herself during a concert, I was sad, but also hopeful that she would recover soon. When the months passed, my sister and I were both concerned about it, and around September-October time, I wondered why the time hadn't come for Aika to graduate. She had been gone for so long, and whilst many fans were still hopeful, I did wish that she would graduate. I adored the girl so much, but when a PASSPO member and an SKE48 member both graduated in late 2011 due to injuries, it made me wish that Aika would do the same. But I didn't realise that she was staying in Morning Musume because she wanted to work hard and keep going. I didn't know that she was pushing herself to stay in a group that she loved so much.
And then she showed up to the Yomiura-Land MoBeKiMaSu event, and I cried. She was walking more, showing everyone that she was getting better. It was then that I started to gain a little more hope that she would be back in the group again, dancing and doing what she could.
And then Niigaki Risa's graduation was announced, and I wondered why it wasn't Aika's. But I still had hope for her, and realised that I wanted her to stay in the group. Then two more singles passed, and she still wasn't dancing. It was worrying, and I wondered when she would come back. My sister expressed her desire to see Aika dancing in the 50th single, because it was a big moment for Morning Musume. I of course agreed, because I wanted to see Aika dance again.
And then, the day before Aika's graduation was announced, I was talking with a friend of mine on Facebook, and she started to talk about how she couldn't wait for Aika's era of being a leader. When she said that, I knew then that wanted that era to come too, and forgot about how I wished Aika would gradate to focus on her health. And now, knowing that she is graduating, thinking about that conversation where we expressed our wanting of Aika to be leader makes me so sad, because this is something that fans were looking forward to. A lot of people, myself included, whole-heartedly wanted Aika to be a leader one day. Just like Gaki, she deserved that leader title - but she will never get it.
Aika is such a sweet and under-appreciated girl. She adores her fans, loves Morning Musume, and is an absolute trooper. Despite her injury, she stuck out until she had to leave the group that she loves so much. She put her career before her health, and it really makes me realise how much of a mature and wonderful girl she really is. Mitsui Aika deserves so much love and support from her fans when she graduates, because Morning Musume is losing such a wonderful member.
Honestly, I just wish she could have had her own graduation ceremony, or something a little more. If it was a shared graduation, then her departure should have been announced with Gaki's so that they could have had an equal amount of spotlight.
I will miss you, Boobs of Musume! You shall be sorely missed!