It's true you guys, Ai-chan (MM's current leader) is graduating from Morning Musume AND Hello!Project, Fall 2011 (this year).
Announcement on H!P's official website
(Pics from Tsunku's twitter of Ai-chan's announcement):
I'm personally not all that sad about this, because she's been in MM for 10 years (that's a damn long time), which is longer than anyone has ever lasted in MM, and well, because she ain't one of my favs (She's always come off to me as a bit.. boring? *Don't hate me Ai-chan fans* xD)... but I am sad that her graduation is kinda gonna leave MM (and Hello!Project) vocal-wise, a bit weak... MM only has 2 singers now in the group currently that I consider to be good or really great singers (Reina, and to a certain extend, Gaki), the others are well, not so good (I'm not sure about the 9th gen members yet, from what I've heard so far, they seem like nothing special (They're a bit better than Sayu, but that's not much of an accomplishment since Sayu's vocals are known to be pretty bad :P), they could grow to be quite good though given time and practice). I'm thinking Reina is going take Ai-chan's position as the main vocalist of MM, and as MM & Hello! Project's best singer (someone has to fill the position!! xD), either Reina or Gaki. :P
Morning Musume's popularity, is definitely going to drop, MM losing their most popular and well known member is just not good (even if it is time for her to graduate), Ai-chan is the most popular & well known member of Hello! Project too, so her graduation is going to negatively effect H!P a bit as well (I'm starting to think graduating Ai-chan this year was a bad move... i think she needs a bit more time... XD). :P
I hope Ai-chan goes solo, after she leaves H!P and MM, because I think she could be successful (If UFA doesn't give her all ballads and promotes her correctly, that is), since she's definitely got the looks, and the talent, she could work on her personality a little, but I think her looks and talent sort of overshadow that part of her :)
I wish Ai the best of luck though on whatever she decides to do after MM ^^
I've got a new poll up today (Don't worry I'm gonna post the poll results to my last 3 polls later on today), I sort of got my new poll idea from Ai-chan (since she's graduating, I'm wondering who's going to take her place as the best singer of H!P (Tsunku, and even Aya Matsuura, have stated Ai is the best singer, so please don't argue with me over that topic.. :P)), the poll is asking everyone who they think the TOP 10 best singers of H!P are (Yes, we're continuing this topic about vocals), I've included everyone in the poll except Ai-chan (because she's graduating, and because I know she would own the poll if I put her in it! xD), and the 9th gen members (because we haven't heard enough of them to really judge them yet :P), you can choose a total of 10 members (makes sense, right?), so please choose 10 (or at least close to 10! XD)... And ummmm... yeah, so vote wisely.
Gotta go, bye bye! XD