It might seem like a silly, petty thing to do, but I have honestly tried to dislike Koharu. Waves of that kind of feeling would come because of how much promotion she’s been getting in comparison to other members, and just simply how her talent– vocal quality, mainly– still left a lot to be desired.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Koharu was one of my first favorites. I just latched onto her when I started learning about Hello! Project. Since she was the newest member at that time, I wanted to learn more about her and root for her. In a way, I think I identified the most with her, if only on a distant level. She was relatively new to Morning Musume, I was new to learning about Morning Musume. So as she’d grow and progress through the group, I’d learn more about the group and be able to be there along the way watching the newest member to see how she turns out in the group.

Very gradually, I found myself slipping away from my dear Kusumi, the girl who made me giggle with her goofy smile, and made me cry when I watched her performing ‘Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT’ solo. (Hey, I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m pathetic. But I am honest.)

I think it must have happened earlier this year. I remember being super excited for “Balalaika,” and that was released at the end of last October. But I think with the excitement of the 8th Gen auditions and Aika being chosen for Morning Musume, my attention faded away from Koharu pretty quickly. Things were all about Aika after December. I just sort of lost interest in what Koharu was doing. I thought her solo album was pretty good, but I don’t really remember anticipating it as much as I had anticipated Balalaika. And then it must’ve been around the release of “Happy” that things went really downhill. I wasn’t a fan of the song at all, the vocals irritated the hell out of me, and I just wasn’t buying it anymore.

But I had to really put up a fight to not like Koharu. I could easily go and see some more news about Kirarin Revolution and grumble, but when I found myself watching Hello! Morning/Haromoni@, she could easily break me down all over again.

But I still resisted. I’m a stubborn person. Then there was originally rumors about Koharu teaming up with Aika to do a single. The inclusion of Aika was what got me excited; I figured if Aika was there, I could deal with Koharu. It was only a rumor at the time, and soon enough, it got altered to reveal the real news– Koharu would be teaming up with Hagiwara Mai to do a single. At that point, my interest in the unit totally plummeted. Mai is one of the few in H!P that I dislike. (It may seem like I dislike more, based on the ranting I do here, but honestly, there’s like… 3 people in H!P that I just really don’t like. I mentioned Tanaka Reina in the last post, and Mai in this, so there’s only one other, really). So that just totally killed things for me, and I’d make the assumption that it irritated me and caused me to try to dislike Koharu more as a kind of side-effect.

But then a huge challenge to my own stubbornness came along. The Alo-Hello 2 Morning Musume DVD. That was some dangerous stuff there. When I was watching it, I was all ready to start squealing in fangirlish delight at the random things Aika did, but it was Koharu that stole the show. Watching the Koharu/Eri dream team try to navigate their way around Hawaii made me crack up every time. From Koharu trying to talk to a machine, “BUS COME ON!” to dragging lots of locals into pictures using her limited English (usually “COME ON!” — I think they mentioned that somewhere around the end of the DVD)… just… I really, really found myself changing my mind about Koharu.

But I was still resistant. I still didn’t feel comfortable giving her the kind of attention I did when I first got into MM.

… but ever since then, every time I see the girl in action, I can’t stop myself from grinning like an idiot. And even in the times where I think I tried the most to dislike her– around the “Happy” release– I still ended up defending her. When my roommate last year got curious about what I was watching (I was making a big compilation of random J-pop videos for a class and wanted to include a little bit of Koharu performing Balalaika), and she started criticizing Koharu, I stepped up and tried to convince her to like Koharu, and went in search of a few less bizarre videos to show her. Every time I tried my hardest to dislike her, it just backfired.

The past few weeks have brought forth the very last vestiges of my futile battle. The PV for Koharu’s new single, “Chance!” was released. I avoided it for a little, but I finally watched it, and as much as I didn’t want to admit it before, it’s probably my favorite Koharu song yet. The PV, as simple as it is, is adorably entertaining. The look on Koharu’s face when she changes from the funky plastic-looking outfit to the long red dress and turns to the camera absolutely killed me.

And then pictures from Morning Musume’s travels and events in Korea and Taiwan have been surfacing, and… well, these just have to be seen to understand what I mean.

Those were the finishing blow.

I’ve currently got the Chance! PV on repeat, and I’m planning to relax a bit and watch the Alo Hello! 2 DVD again after I’m finished writing this post just to go through and giggle along again. Koharu’s new album is set to be released on December 19, and you can guess who’s going to be asking for it as a Christmas gift.

Congratulations Koharu, you’ve won.