I’m not really sure when I first discovered °C-ute. I remember being led to their Tokaikko Junjou music video and at some point made it a personal goal to master the dance (FYI….really close). I also discovered one of their album songs, Disco Queen, had been included on a mix CD my high school’s Japanese Club had given out (After all, that’s how I found Morning Musume). By the time I caught up with their music, they were down to a five-member unit but a few of their older songs worked their way into my iTunes.
I think I caught up with them just before Kiss Me Aishiteru was released. Since then, every song they’ve released has been included in my collection with varying degrees of awesomeness. Coming across the song Gamusha LIFE, part of their first triple A-side single, I enjoyed the song very much, thinking it felt like an appropriate goodbye anthem (though they were nowhere near done at the time). Watching the video again after the death of a good friend, the lyrics suddenly made me cry (and still do) because I’d be thinking of him.
Back in 2015, fellow 10-year veteran group Berryz Koubou declared an indefinite hiatus and its members went their various ways. It did make me wonder how much longer °C-ute would continue. Sure, all the girls are still young enough to keep going. But like Berryz, they started when they were around 10 years old so they gave their childhoods to the entertainment industry.
Compared to Final Squall, this was a more happy type of goodbye song. This one was more about them expressing their gratitude for their fans’ love and support, and in a way, asking them to continuing watching over them in the future. The video features Hello!Project leaders and sub-leaders (with the exception Country Girls’ Risa Yamaki and five Hello!Project Kenshuunsei members) as backup dancers. I thought it was a really nice touch, like H!P’s way of saying goodbye to °C-ute.
Surprisingly, this song didn’t make me cry, maybe ’cause I was trying to identify some of the backup dancers. Instead of feeling sad, it gave me more of a warm feeling and kinda wanna go “Itterasshai~!” ^_^
First video posted for this single. In the spirit of one of their album songs, Iron Heart, this song is presented as a “live concert” music video. In January, a notice was posted online recruiting fanclub members as extras for one of ℃-ute’s last music videos that would be filmed on January 26. This was later revealed to be Final Squall. It certainly feels like a goodbye song with lyrics like “I’ll never forget you” and “I love you even when we’re apart.” In the final chorus, they mention a “cute flower” that will surely bloom again because the branch became strong. I kinda like that they said “cute” (キュート) rather “kawaii,” since it’s the phoenetic pronunciation of the group’s name, suggesting that the flower represents them.
Going into it, I was just looking forward to another °C-ute single. But partway through the final chorus, I remembered this was part of their final single and that’s when the feels hit me and I just started crying. I do feel like this song was the perfect farewell for °C-ute to give their fans.
With a title like The Curtain Rises, it certainly doesn’t feel like a goodbye but rather a slightly watered-down “Welcome to the Thunder Dome.” Although with lyrics like “There will be a new world waiting for me” and “Let’s sing to the end” do give it a sense of finality but still leaves a feeling of “This is where it gets real.” The video and music kinda give the girls an edgy look which we haven’t really seen from them since Aitte Motto Zanshin. It was kinda nice to see each girl get a mini dance solo during the bridge, so they all get a final turn in the spotlight.
Naturally when a group disbands or a member leaves, fans tends to wonder what they intend to do in the future. Miami Yajima and Saki Nakajima have decided to pursue acting. All five members have had their share of acting experience (most notably the 2012 drama Suugaku Joshi Gakuen), so it’ll be nice to see some of them continue down that path. Chisato Okai has decided to concentrate on appearing in variety shows, being most well known for sense of humor. Youngest member Mai Hagiwara announced that she will retire from the entertainment industry completely with the intention of traveling abroad to study English. She hasn’t had a center spot since Adam to Eve no Dilemma and I was hoping she would get more time in the center. Interestingly, only Airi Suzuki has chosen to continue singing, with her moving on to being a soloist. She’s always had a strong presence in °C-ute’s songs, so I know she’ll go far.
It’s been a long road for the girls and their fans, but it’s been very worth it. I do wish that they could keep going a few more years, but I suppose it’s good that this is happening now while they’re still young enough to pursue other interests. I am going to miss looking forward to their next single, but I will treasure every memory and do my part to keep their spirit alive (as clichéd as both those things sound). For those you yet to become fans, I hope you enjoy every moment of it. For those of you who already are fans, let’s keep the memory of °C-ute alive in our hearts, and cross our fingers for a reunion concert.