On February 23rd, 2013, Erina Mano graduated from Hello! Project. Maimi Yajima and Momoko Tsugunaga paid a visit to read their goodbye messages and send the soloist off on her way.
Two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d actually be a little saddened by her departure. I’ve been around for all of Mano’s solo career and I’ve seen it all. When her solo activities were first announced, all I remember saying is, “Who?” I was familiar with Ongaku Gatas at the time, but I only recognized about 4 members–Erina Mano was not one of them. I wasn’t impressed. Sure, she played the piano and she was pretty cute, but was she really worth a whole solo career?
Eventually, I got tired of her. She wasn’t that important to me. Her music wasn’t anything special and I thought she was too vanilla for my taste. She had noting to give herself an edge over other girls in Hello! Project. When Onegai Dakara… released, I warmed up a little. I absolutely loved the song and Mano looked like she actually had emotion other than that repetitive smile. Once My Days For You released, I realized the change in Mano. She started to become someone more womanly, more her age. She was starting to grow out of that standard genki idol phase; Erina was on her way to becoming someone that I actually enjoyed watching and possibly even relate to.
Then the perfection called Song for the DATE hit the shelves and I had never been so impressed with Mano in my life. She finally became what I always wanted her to be–herself. She was womanly, she was unique, she was actually appealing. Of course, I don’t mean to say that Mano was manipulated into being something only to make money off of. I just felt as though she was restricted to this youthful, lively idol persona that we’ve seen so many times before. It’s about time that Mano was able to break out of that shell.
I consider Erina a “Blossomed Idol.” She started off small with her itty bitty role in Hello! Project Eggs and Ongaku Gatas. She was able to get a big break in 2008 when she was awarded a solo career. Her indies singles were a bit dull and slow, but they kicked off her happy, energetic major debut barely a year later in 2009. She was a quiet success. She didn’t sell hundreds of thousands of copies, but Erina Mano put in work and was enjoyable to watch despite being a little bland. Over time, her inner Mano was able to break through her been-there-done-that idol persona.
Erina was able to grow from a small girl to a lovely adult. I’m amazed how much she’s grown and how much she’s improved… She can now move on from her sugary-pop to something so much more. She blossomed. And now I can finally see how perfect Tsunku’s decision was to create a soloist out of her.
Mano will hold a fanclub birthday event in early April–her first appearance without Hello! Project attached to her name. Her last photobook also released today, entitled Manonano. Hopefully all the Mano fans can enjoy her last Hello! Project-related releases. I’m honestly contemplating buying her best-of album…
Let’s finish this post with a few of my favorite Erina Mano songs~
Sotsugyou Omedetou, Mano. Good luck in the future.