Morning Musume singing about the Earth.
Ikuta dont like glasses
Young Jump (2014.11.06)
Morning Musume '14 Concert Tour Spring ~Evolution~ : Watashi no Dekkai Hana (10th Generation)
I’m sorry I took a while respond! I was busy and it became quite lengthy… I don’t know if Eripon being my oshi makes me an expert on her behaviour, but I’ll try my best to talk about it. Eripon has really worked hard to put herself forward and get noticed.
I think the first year or so after she joined, Eripon was on shaky ground. Wotas found out from Eripon’s old twitter that she was a AKB48 and Kojima Haruna fan, which antis were quick to comment that they weren’t happy about an AKB-fan joining, and Eripon has never mentioned it since she joined the group. Even though it’s quite pathetic why, Eripon was quick to gain “haters” (which hopefully none of them still hold grudges against her for it).
Also, compared to her genmates, Eripon clearly was the worst singer of the four when they joined. She has improved, but she is still definitely not one of the best in the group. In regards to dancing, I believe the group as a whole have become amazing and hardworking dancers, with Riho and Daaishi as the stars. So, as Eripon lacks in singing and isn’t one of the group’s lead dancers, she has no other way in promoting herself other than with her personality.
Eripon is known for being kuuki yomenai (KY), meaning someone who can’t read the atmosphere. This made her a target for her senpais’ teasing, also because she was sensitive and a crybaby when she first joined. One example of this teasing was during a promotion event for the single Only you, when Sayumi was sharing the good sides of the new members but intentionally left Eripon out as joke. This only made her cry, and Sayumi got on her knees and apologized for it, lol. Recently, Eripon and Daaishi have also become known for being suberi-gei, non-literally meaning bombing/failing at jokes, which seems to go hand-in-hand with Eripon being KY. I think her senpais’ teasing has been good for her, as Eripon has learned a lot from it and has become a lot more resilient because of it. This was beneficial for future TV appearances with hosts who aren’t afraid of making guests the butt of their jokes. Sayumi still teases her, but Eripon has become a lot more receptive and usually laughs it off saying “no way!”
Eripon was fortunate to have been chosen as an Oha Girl for the childrens’ TV show Oha Suta, taking over for Ogawa Saki, who graduated from S/mileage. Being on the show allowed her to show off her character a bit more (although she was reading from a script most of the time) and gain more TV experience.
Months before Niigaki Risa announced her graduation and during the Reborn ~Inochi no Audition~ stageplay, Eripon became really attached to Gaki-san and started stanning her. Eripon becoming a Niigaki-fangirl gained a lot of attention from fans, especially when she went on the fanclub bus tour. There are of course skeptics who call Eripon’s love for Gaki-san fake, but regardless of what people think of it, I think the positive response from Japanese fans really brought out her natural forwardness and outgoing personality.
After Niigaki and Mitsui Aika graduated from Morning Musume, I think Eripon started to gain a cool image (her arm muscles from golfing are hard to ignore xD), although she tries to act cute. On TV she tried to get noticed for doing her magical girl gimmick, which has kind of died down recently. At one point she started introducing herself as wanting to become “the world’s number one idol”. Recently, she has been speaking up recently about want to become center or receiving more lines. This behaviour funnily reminds me of Sayumi during the Platinum Era, when she complained about only getting ‘ah!’ and ‘uh!’ lines in songs.
Eripon has also been becoming a lot more of a good senpai. I remember Sakura said in an interview when she joined that Eripon was very friendly and welcoming towards her, but later was pretty strict. Also, at a release event for their 56th single Eripon let Sakura win a game when Eripon could have won, which surprised fans. Then on one of Morning Musume’s radio shows, Maa-chan talked about how Eripon has become more “adult-like” and was “thinking more and more about the others around her instead”.
I’m not sure many people know about it, but I remember back in early 2012, Eripon’s mic audio was ripped from backstage and a clip was released with her crying. After the tenth gen joined Eripon was pushed back and as a result I think she struggled to find a place in the group where she could be noticed. In the audio she says she lacks confidence, has no specialties, and that she’s omoishiroikunai (not interesting/funny) and kawaiikunai (not cute) and has been told so, and that she knows she’s tone deaf. However, Sayumi was there to comfort her by telling Eripon that she’s cute and to look at herself in the mirror and say to herself “I’m cute.” Eventually Eripon says that she’ll do her best.
As her fan, I’m proud and amazed that she has turned around in the way she saw herself since then. She probably still worries about her singing or what people think of her; however, she seems even more positive and outgoing than before. Eripon really doesn’t let herself go unnoticed from the back by being vocal about her position in the group and speaking up whenever she has the chance during TV appearances. In a recent interview at their 57th single release event, Harunan is asked who will take over Sayumi in charge of being cute, and Eripon is quick to answer herself. Sayu has really taught her too well… In her promo video for the single Eripon says, “It doesn’t matter where you stand. As long as it is the place where everyone is looking, that’s where the center is,” (translation credit to estrea) and it really shows how much her confidence has changed compared to that audio clip.
I’m sorry if my response was way longer and drawn out than you were expecting, but there is a lot of development involved in Eripon’s behaviour. For the most part, I hope this was the answer your were looking for!
TL;DR: Eripon isn’t talented in singing or dancing (sort of), but has matured a lot from her senpais’ teasing and developed a very strong personality, which she isn’t afraid to speak up in order to promote herself.
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