Hello! Project 2009 Winter Kettei! Halo Pro Award 2009 / Elder Club Sotsugyou Kinen Special : 4 of 5
Although I had already seen this concert, I just had to buy it on DVD since it's such an important event in the history of Hello! Project. There's never been (and probably will won't be again) a mass graduation like this one! The concert is nearly three hours long and was held in the giant Yokohama arena, and I totally enjoyed the whole thing (maybe even more than the 2009 Winter concert). The show opens on an emotional note with everyone singing Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Aisenai Darou, and Nacchi starts crying almost right away! I could do without the silly fake award show format, but Makoto and Yaguchi are fine MCs as always. This concert is just full of amazing moments and "last time ever" appearances that make it so special, showcasing everyone from Ongaku Gatas to Tanpopo (it's so touching to see Mari and Kaori crying to be wearing those plaid outfits again). There are some great solo performances from Ayaya (who really shows how incredibly comfortable and confident she is) and Yuko Nakazawa, who is so moved by the applause that she yanks out her ear monitors to soak up the experience (probably the last time she will sing for a crowd that huge). I really enjoyed the 1st generation trio singing Morning Coffee (they can still get the harmonies just right), and it was so cool to see Saukura Gumi and Otome Gumi do their songs in their classic costumes also! Finally the graduation ceremony itself is held, which is short but really meaningful (the symbolism of Yuko hugging Ai-chan to "pass the torch" is totally moving), and I enjoyed the girls' tearful statements that they read (especially from Saki and Ai). Of course, throughout the show there are a few numbers by the current Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou and C-ute, but this event is all about the graduating members, and I'm glad they gave them such an awesome send off! The DVD also includes over an hour of bonus backstage material which is pretty fun, but mostly I'm just glad to have the concert itself in my collection, since the efforts of these performers paved the way for the current members that I enjoy so much today.