January 2nd in Japan, on the one year anniversary of 9th generation members joining Morning Musume, it has been announced that leader Niigaki Risa will be graduating from Hello!Project and Morning Musume at the end of their spring 2012 tour Ultra Smart.
This is definitely a shock for all of us, considering that it's barely the new year, and already we get news of someone leaving. I had strong hopes for at least a solid year of Risa being leader, but it seems that she had other things in mind. She's rapidly following in the footsteps of her fellow 5th generation member Aichan, and leaving the group. There will be no more 5th gen after her departure.
This being said, that would indicate that Sayumi would become the new leader. I do not know exactly how I feel about this, seeing as she was never the one to take on serious responsibilities. With Gaki gone, who is going to be our vocal powerhouse? I also find this whole idea rather displeasing at the moment.
It almost feels as if Gaki never really wanted the position as leader, and is rapidly passing down the baton that was handed to her from Aichan right into Sayumi's hands.
Things are changing in the H!P world rather quickly. Among all this, it's been rumored that C-ute will be holding auditions for new members, and Shimizu Saki is going to graduate as well. Gaki's graduation is 99% confirmed; the other two are not...so don't freak out just yet...