I can’t write a school essay, but I can write this. – Hanachan’s Spontaneous LiveJournal
I have to admit: while I’ve followed Hanachan’s Spontaneous Livejournal for years now, it rarely makes Intl Wota since it doesn’t discuss idols in a way that suits the site. As a result, this post made me stop and take sudden notice: not only does it deal with a perennial hot-button topic – the popularity of AKB48’s number one idol, Atsuko Maeda – it does so in a very articulate, thoughtful, and sensitive manner. Hanachan, why don’t you give the wotasphere more like this? Even the title of the post makes it seem like a throwaway piece when it is far from that at all.
Personally, I’m not a fan of Acchan’s, but I don’t have a raging hatred for her, either. I’m more baffled than angered at the great boon Aki-P has bestowed upon her, making her the center and defining face of AKB48. So if anything, I guess I’m neutral with a mild tendency towards dislike. As a result, I guess I’m especially sympathetic to Hanachan puzzling over the appeal of Acchan – like her, I just don’t get it, and would LIKE to get it.
It’s interesting that Hanachan uses the drama Majisuka Gakuen to get to the heart of the matter. On the one hand, Acchan is portraying a fictional character – on the other, it’s really not that different from the persona she depicts throughout her idol career. From there, she finds that Acchan fits a certain type, albeit one not seen often in the idol world (and probably not terribly suited for the idol world, in my opinion) – and even then, she continues to give Acchan the benefit of the doubt. What Hanachan ultimately takes issue with isn’t how atypical Acchan seems to be as an idol, but that she doesn’t pull that role off as well as she could.
There’s some great details along the way, especially the way she contrasts Numbah One with Numbah Two – namely, Oshima Yuko. It’s another great insight, another way to consider AKB and the dynamics involved.
I don’t know if hanachan’s essay will change anyone’s minds on where they stand with Acchan, but I think it’s very helpful in clarifying the role Acchan seems to fill in AKB48 – and nn doing so, maybe give us a better idea of how AKB48 works conceptually. Certainly, I’ve gotten a great deak out of this, I’m looking at AKB a little differently – this doesn’t make me like Acchan any more or less, but how she fits into the AKB puzzle makes a lot more sense to me.
So I definitely encourage all AKB fans to give this essay a read, and do so with an open mind. Hanachan is clearly trying her best to understand and appreciate Acchan – she says so, quite explicitly – so if you can help her do that, I’m sure she’d be thankful.