All of SDN48 To Graduate In March 2012

All current SDN48 to graduate – MELOS no Michi
SDN48 To Disband Next Year – IXA Ready
SDN48′s entire roster to graduate in March 2012 – Tokyograph
SDN48 fuckery – idol love

In a move that caught everyone by surprise, SDN48 captain Noro Kayo announced that all three current generations of the group will be saying their goodbyes at a final concert on March 31, 2012. From there, apparently, the members will go their separate ways to, um, pursue their dreams. (I guess just so long as their dreams don’t include being part of a popular idol franchise or anything.)

The wotasphere is pretty much shocked and aghast at this decision. Melos is especially shocked, having just seen them perform in Singapore with no hints of any such turmoil lurking beneath. It doesn’t seem like anyone is buying the idea that the members all got together and decided this was the best course of action for them – of course, this is a decision being handed down to them. As Cat explains in Aitakatta!, a staffer is claiming that the breakup was decided because the girls were being promoted so heavily (what?) and as a result “became lazy and took everything for granted, so he decided to graduate all of them so that they would work harder for their dreams”. I… what? Seriously? Cat sums up her disbelief on this, as well.

The AKB bloggers agree that SDN48 is: a) not as strong a seller as the other AKB franchises, but did well enough on its own terms; b) followed a different, more mature, approach than the more youthfully-oriented other franchises; c) had a loyal following of its own which emphasized a greater maturity and even a bit of risque entertainment. Lord knows, I have had many a joke at SDN48’s expense, but they have become a key part of the AKB franchise, a welcome alternative that let these idol women perform as women, and breaking them up in such an unceremonious fashion is baffling and frustrating. Danielle of idol love sums it up quite nicely in her rage-fueled, all-caps rant – it may look like incoherent anger, but sums up all the things AKB loses by giving up on SDN.

Of course, what this most brings to mind for wota would be the mass Elder Club graduation of Hello! Project a few years back, though for AKB fans the mass graduation of Team A members may be a more resonant analog. IXA Ready wonders what will happen to the different members, especially those who were beloved members of AKB48 before being moved to SDN. Being re-integrated to AKB48 proper doesn’t seem likely, but surely management isn’t simply going to throw away ALL that talent and all that time and money spent developing these young women into able performers, right? Except… the huge amount of idols coming into the AKB grinder makes the possibility of an en masse disposal seem that much more likely. When you’re working in huge volumes of product (or idols), you wind up losing the forest for the trees.

I’m sure more details will surface over time, and individual reactions from the SDN members as well. (Though how much will be honest expressions of emotion or opinion and how much of it will be boilerplate happytalk to please the management would be highly suspect.) Maybe this is an elaborate ruse to re-introduce SDN48? Maybe a new unit of some sort will rise from its ashes? Maybe some of the girls are now dropping off resumes for Tsunku’s new idol cafe down the street? As always, only time will tell.