Update: On 17th Feb 2018, Rei held a talk show hosted by Tsukasa Kobayashi. There is a ban on revealing what they said but it is safe to say they confirmed this article about Rei and Rie. Kobayashi-san’s support at the talk show effectively made the story official. He is the organiser of the Miss ID competition which was where Rie first became known and he was the co-creator of Ladybaby.
On November 17th it was announced that Rei Kuromiya was leaving Ladybaby. All upcoming gigs and tour dates were cancelled. Rie Kaneko is deciding whether there is a future for her with Ladybaby.
The Official Story
Rei has developed acute laryngitis, a throat condition brought on from her singing, and she has to take a break from singing or risk damaging her voice. The official story is that when she considered the situation, Rei decided she didn’t actually want to be an idol and so she quit Ladybaby so she could have more freedom.
Six weeks earlier Rei’s rock band Brats had already mentioned Rei’s throat condition and cancelled their gigs. However, Rei continued a demanding schedule with Ladybaby despite the risk to her voice. Ladybaby’s final gig was the one-man live on October 28th 2017.
In late summer 2017 the close relationship between Rei Kuromiya and Rie Kaneko came to a sudden end. They are no longer friends.
The two girls were openly intimate in public and on social media for months. They wrote Instagram stories of love to each other almost daily in August as well as sending regular pictures and posts of friendship. Then it stopped, suddenly and completely. From that time until now there has not been a single post where Rei or Rie mention each other, even indirectly. This is totally out of character from the previous months and years.
Lady Baby Blue was the song that celebrated their friendship. They would sing it close together and end up hugging and often crying. However, the next time they played it, they stood at opposite ends of the stage and didn’t look at each other even once. Again, this is hard to understand if they are good friends; the intimacy was the highlight of that song, what all the fans wanted to see.
When Rei’s throat condition and inability to sing was announced in October people felt sorry for her and wrote words of sympathy. However, Rie made no comment at all on her social media, instead posting other things. Once more this is nothing like their earlier friendship. They had both endured difficulties in the past and always wrote long messages of support to each other. At the Pinky Pinky release event in Toyosu, Rei was even crying because she was struggling to sing, yet her “best friend” was not showing any support.
The whole premise of Ladybaby was the beauty of Rei and Rie’s friendship, but by the end there was simply no friendship to see. The girls did what was necessary to perform as a duo, but there was no connection, no communication, nothing at all beyond that.
What could be the cause? At the time Rei wrote Instagram posts that suggested she felt betrayed by someone close (although she didn’t say who). But that doesn’t tell us the reason and it is unclear what made them fall out. However, they are young and had a stressful schedule so perhaps it is not too surprising. This may not be connected but during these final months Rie seemed to become distracted from her work, not engaging much during the final live and even giving up dancing during two of their Tokyo Idol Festival stages. I do not know if that is related or not, but it seemed strange at the time.
Rei has a damaged voice but was made to sing at events long after the doctor told her not to. Her friendship with Rie is broken. It is no surprise that she quit Ladybaby.