When Idols Get Pissed: Kurohara Yu-ri Bites Back

Updated for clarity from cleaner translation

There’s not really a polite way to describe what started to blow up in the idolverse the other day when former PassCode leader Kurohara Yu-ri (Twitter) absolutely went off:

Here’s the translation (thanks as always to Phillter):

This is Yu-ri Kurohara.
Fans that always cheer me on, I’m sorry.

Today, I am withdrawing from [my] current agency, and temporarily retiring from performance activities.

I am well. I’m not sick, I’m not injured, nothing like that. I’ll soon stand on stage again. I can sing.

“Well, why then?”, you ask?

I love performing and singing. My feelings towards that have not changed. The truth is I have always wanted to continue [performing].

However, due to moral harassment and treachery by the office’s managers, I am unable to continue [performing].

I am sad. I am furious. I am miserable.

The planned acoustic live performance on the 18th, the August and September stage performances, even though many [performances] have already been decided upon, I am miserable, miserable, miserable.

I am truly sorry.
I am already unable to be where I am now. [I have reached my] limit.

I wanted to stand on stage more. I wanted to perform. Because I’m not yet good at stage combat, I was pursuing that with all my heart. I wanted to be able to say that it was my specialty.
Songs. I thought I could finally start, I felt that there were so many people that also carried my songs for me. Even though [everyone] came to see me [this is still happening].
I am sorry. I am sorry.
If nothing else, around this time, while being frantic I practiced guitar. I lamented all the while, “My fingers hurt! They are like barcodes…” It is regrettable.

I, Yu-Ri Kurohara, will depart from the world of performing for a short time.
Everyone that has supported me up to now, I truly want to thank you all. And I appologize. It has only been about 8 months since [my] second start. [All of this in spite of having] a ways still to go.

But perhaps [I] will return, maybe. Assuming I am able to return, I will want to go on stage. I will want to sings songs.
May I come back?

I honestly do not understand what I mentioned before.
I don’t know how many months it will be, but maybe I will come back to the performing world, maybe I will return to being a regular person. I can’t see [what will happen], I can’t think [about what will happen].

These are poor words, please forgive [me].
My dreams have been broken. Trampled on, made to sob, I am made unable to stand.
I will never forgive these things.

But, being in the performing world, being able to act, being in a position where I can sing songs, because I do not regret any of these things, I think this is the correct road to take.
Even as people deny this, I do not want to deny myself. Even if it is an example of ego, it’s OK. I want to recognize it myself.

Now I will be returning to my family origins, and with their support be putting my efforts towards problem solving.
There and many people around me now to look after me. Therefore, please do not worry. I am OK.

I have nothing but feelings of thanks for the fans who have shown me sunlight up to now.
[They] are my beloved sunflowers. From those sunflowers, I was able to face the day and be positive.
If the sunflowers can still bloom, if all the sunny people are there for me, I might be able to be positive after this.
In order for such a time to come to pass, please love me still. Please nurture me.

Truthfully, thank you for everything up to now.

Still hope that [we will] be able to meet.

July 13th, Heisei 28 [2016] Yu-ri Kurohara

I gather that the sunflowers thing has its roots here, from the previous day:

Now that is a hell of a statement. We are often led to believe that idols are approximately the indentured servants of their agencies, and that any unhappiness is publicly masked behind smiles and dealt with, if at all, behind closed doors.

Yu-ri’s departure from PassCode is a good example: For one reason or another, she suddenly wasn’t coming to work one day, and that was that. The official explanation was illness, and we all got to feel badly for her; it gave the performer, management and the fans a clean break, no hard feelings. And not only did Yu-ri not (to my knowledge) point any fingers, she moved on with her acting and singing career, even going so far as to take in PassCode performance.

No big deal. The gears of idol grind on.

Not to show my ass too much, but Day Job’s general focus is on career development for people who have significant barriers to employment. Our materials stress professional behavior, including the old canard about leaving a job the right way, not burning bridges — you know, being professional.

I imagine that the same standard governs the above-observed across the idol industry: If you value your career, keep your personal feelings within the family. Yu-ri took that notion and burned it to the ground.

“Miserable.” “Treachery.” “Moral harassment.” These aren’t light accusations. And it’s juicy news — so juicy that PassCode’s management had to issue a statement that Yu-ri was not referring to them (we-B Studios) but to her current/former agency, A-Live. PassCode’s current members tweeted out messages of internal solidarity — not our managers.

Some agencies have better reputations than others. Some big agencies (Amuse, for example) are regarded well; some indie companies like A.M. Records wear a supportive heart on their sleeves. At the same time, there are Big Bads in the idol world, the most notorious example probably being Minegishi Minami’s shaved head and how that shaped perceptions of AKB48 and the industry at large (no comment any deeper than that now). But, for all of that, Minami is still a prominent member of AKB48. It’s the business.

So for Yu-ri to go full honeybadger in this situation is notable. There’s no reason to believe that her stated reasons and feelings, powerful-albeit-vague as they are, are untrue. That some idol managers and agents are shady as hell is pretty much accepted (it’s probably no different from the international fashion industry). It’s just that most idols either quietly endure or even more quietly graduate and move on with their lives. Even the big Alice Project blow-up a little while back didn’t yield this kind of acrimony. Just for the sake of the record, A-Live’s response on Yu-ri’s website blames Yu-ri for everything, which is about as surprising as a sunrise in the eastern sky implies that the person directly responsible may be in a bit of trouble, and the company is pursuing action.

About your report of Yuri Kurobaru retirement

Kyukei 2016 July 13, regarding your reporting of our talent Yuri Kurobaru retired, officials, deeply apologize that we apologize worry to everyone of the fans.

Regrettably, Niokimashite responsible manager, discovered the mobbing over a half a year for the Yuri Kurobaru, activity continued became difficult.
This deeply receiving the, we are proceeding in a way that takes the legal means Nitaishimashite current managers.
There is exceedingly simple, but hasten to apologize scandals of our staff.

2016 July 13
Alive Agency Tachikawa Mayu
Translated by Google, clarified by Phillter

What Yu-ri did was brave. Best of luck to her. I hope her career is able to continue, and I hope that other young women in intolerable situations are able to take her message as inspiration.

Logistically, I’ll give a nickel to anybody who can tell me who’s driving which ship right now. Yu-ri’s diatribe is still on her official Twitter, which still lists her as being with A-Live, and the most recent tweets are about refunds for all of the shows that are now canceled, referring to agency staff. More importantly, there’s a tweet directing people to Yu-ri’s official website for the agency’s statement on her retirement. I don’t know who owns what or which parties are responsible or if there are contract terms just being met for the sake of it, but it’s kind of weird to see all lined up together like that.

I think this makes more sense now: Yu-ri finally popped after a long stretch of potentially abusive behavior by her direct manager, and the company is dealing with it internally while effectively managing the logistics of her remaining affairs until such a time as her contract expires, but she’s “retired” until that resolves. Basically a no-compete kind of thing, I’m guessing. That’s the right response now from A-Live, though there are of course questions about whether there were reported and un-acted-upon issues before. Nonetheless, a positive sign.


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