I didn't think it would still be this hard.
Almost a year after Tegoshi has left, NEWS finally - and I mean it when I say finally
- managed to finish off Story. I think most of us agreed that it was not the wisest decision for J&A to take, what with this pandemic still raging in Japan and prompting a minimum of two state of emergencies - but now that it's finally all over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I have not been closely following the updates since the tour started, but there have been some slight issues, like some governor trying to shed a negative light on the fact that NEWS was going to hold a concert in their prefecture, for one.
I have been trying not to be disappointed all over again because Story had been cancelled twice
at this point (first due to the initial COVID outbreak, and second due to Koyashige being infected), and I could not dare hope that everything was going to be alright. Some weeks ago, there was another major SoE declaration and Aichi was included, so we all held our breath and thought it was going to be postponed yet again, or worse, entirely cancelled (like some stage plays at this point.
I am still terribly upset and mad about how Haisute ended
Still, by some miracle, Story managed to pull through, and was able to finish off safely without any outrageous incidents. We should be thankful, but ... there's no helping it; someone has to address the biggest elephant in the room. It's supposed to be a closure, but it still doesn't seem to be one.
This tour was not entirely Story without Tegoshi.
I wish - and I really truly
wish - that I am wrong, and that this is all just a bad dream that I could wake up from. But no - I am still bitter, I am still frustrated, I am still upset even after all this time. Yesterday I realized the reason behind all the negativity I felt.
Tegoshi's absence in their music is glaringly obvious, and there was no way to ignore it.
What drew me to NEWS in the first place was their music, and not their camaraderie, history, or background. I came into the fandom in 2011, when I was barely still adjusting to their vocals as 6nin, when Ryopi announced their departure. Looking back, I think my rage about them leaving was shallow, because I didn't actually build an inner connection with the group at that point back then. I have only been listening to their music, and although I struggled with finding translations, their songs thoroughly clicked and drew me further in. Discovering the men and the personalities behind the voices was secondary. And even as a new fan, I could tell that Tegomasu's voices was at the heart of NEWS's music, and didn't feel any deeper connection to Ryopi's voices (and embarrassingly, even to KoyaShige's).
This was probably why when Ryopi announced their departure, I couldn't understand why everyone thought NEWS disbanding was something that "couldn't be helped". Why?
I thought. There are only two voices leaving. The ones who are actually carrying the core of NEWS's music are still there. They are bound to make it even better, so why grieve? I knew they could make it through, and I knew it was not impossible for them to overcome this hurdle. Which was why Utsucon felt like a huge sigh of relief. See
, I told you. They sound even better now. Sure, we'll miss the former voices, but the ones who stayed were truly able to make up for it.
But then of course, this was entirely everything on my side, and this perspective was solely my own, and not the fans who were with them even back to the 9-nin days.
We got NEWS, then White, then Quartetto, and then Neverland. Each album further solidified my belief that 4-nin NEWS was their best shape, and their voices grew in ways I couldn't even imagine. There were unique harmonies I never thought they would explore. There were songs I didn't think I would like at first, but then grew on me simply because it was them singing. There were songs that were cheesy and ridiculous, it made me laugh and slightly doubt my judgment on idols. There were songs that were filled with meaning which took time to explore, simply because of my limited Japanese. And then there were songs that just straightaway proved why NEWS truly is my favorite artist.
Around Epcotia, when it was revealed that we were halfway through a four-part project, a thought and a possibility crept into my mind - something that was born out of my unstable mental state back then: what would happen when this project is through? Was there a reason why they had thought this up?
And I unconsciously thought of reasons, and simultaneously thought of justifications. They are probably thinking of letting Tegomasu resurface for a moment after this project is over. They're not doing this because of someone's plans of leaving, right? Or they're not doing this because they needed to prove to the higher ups that they are still relevant, right?
And then.... this.
Story definitely felt like a rewind of Utsucon, but as I kept on watching the stream, a feeling of dread grew bigger and bigger inside me, and it took me until the MC to figure out why I felt so uneasy.
It was just not the same as before.
Please don't get me wrong. I truly, really, and honestly feel proud that 3nin NEWS pushed through with Story despite Tegoshi's absence, and I recognize the enormous amount of courage it took to actually continue a project that was not supposed to lose anyone. I am proud, because I know that more than our feelings of disappointment, hatred, and sadness, the remaining members should be feeling more of this than anyone else, and are still deciding to give us stuff that they "owe" us. Not that they actually owe us anything, but I bet that they feel like they had to continue this for our sake as well as theirs, and that leaving the existence of Story up in the air is something that cannot be done. They needed to close the curtains on it, and put an end to what is considered their best era.
I rationally understand all of this, but my other self who has been struggling for so long and has been relying on 4nin NEWS's music for strength, is in a fit of rage and is utterly inconsolable.What has happened to all those harmonies? Where is the one who was supposed to sing this line? What do you mean by this line? How dare you say it when you couldn't keep your promise! How dare you leave them in this state! How dare you make them cry like this and relive that pain they felt in 2011?! No, I don't want this voice to belong there! Why is it like this?! Why are you even trying??? Please stop trying! It hurts to listen! I don't want to listen anymore! Where is the NEWS that I have truly fallen in love with?! Give them back to us! I will never forgive you! Give them back to me!
Such thoughts were just painful to say, and are truly illogical and inexcusable. Yet, I know I am not the only one who feel this way. I had thought it was immature when fans of other groups would lament about members leaving and rant about how the musical repertoire has changed, complaining that it ruined their experience, and that they want to leave for good. I never thought I would feel the same.
It hurts. It still hurts. It hurts like hell, but there is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can do when the group I love is suffering more than I do, more than what they have shown to us. I have no right to yell or scream or throw a tantrum just because their new shape is something that I cannot bear to look at for now. I have no right to hurt other fans' feelings too, especially when they have opposing views, and when they truly love the people who had left for good."If change is part of life,
then.... it's such a cruel kindness."
At this point I am reminded of this line from Fruits Basket, and I cannot agree more. We shouldn't have thought that it was going to be the same forever. To some extent, circumstances, people, and even feelings would change, and all we can truly do is to accept the reality that not everything is going to change in the way we want them to. There will be good changes. There will be irreversible ones. There will be sudden ones that will catch you unaware and will turn your world upside down. And then there will be gradual changes that let you gently ease into acceptance.
I know I am still in the middle of the grieving stage, and still unable to move on. But I can only hope and pray that this will all pass soon, and that one day, I will look back and see that this point was truly for the best, and that everyone will eventually reach a level of happiness that is truly meant for them. It may take months. It may take years. But hopefully, eventually..... soon. Soon