Maeda Atsuko to graduate from AKB, everyone’s panties in a tizzy


Well well well, what do we have here. This weekend has been so eventful that I don’t even know how to begin.

So let’s start off with the normal:

Team 4 was filled with kks: Kato Rena (ugh), Tano Yuka, Iwata Karen, Takahashi Juri, Kawaei Rina. I basically know nothing about these girls other than Iwata is a fantastic singer and Kato Rena is the most boring idol on the face of the earth and its surroundings, oh, and she has no fans but the management keeps trying to make her happen lol whatever.

Then let’s move on to the weird:

Matsui Jurina is going to be a member of Team K and Watanabe Miyuki is going to be a member of Team B. These are supposed to be “student exchange programs” and aren’t going to be permanent. The girls will still be officially part of their respective sister groups.

matsuiwatanabe

According to the management, who could barely contain the hordes of fans coming after their asses for this idea, Jurina’s health is their first priority (ofc, that’s why she collapsed during KataFai promotions with a shaking injured leg) so they want her to stop working so much, and now that her HS is in Tokyo then she can stay there for most of the time and commute less to Nagoya. They also spewed a lot of crap about how there was going to be a chemical reaction with the DNA of SKE and the DNA of AKB together now (so, basically, the two groups are going to fuck each other?). Jurina was really heartbroken and cried like crazy, poor kid, she can’t really catch a break.

I want to believe in the management though. I don’t like seeing these girls overworking themselves until they basically collapse left and right, but especially not if we’re talking about a young teen, that’s just sick.

About Miyuki, Akimoto said that she has a huge ego and basically is always whining about not being in AKB singles while Sayanee is, so she’s going ot have to learn a lesson of charisma from Mayu and Yukirin. lol so Milky is a bitch, basically, which makes sense if you’ve heard the rumors about her fall out with Queen Nana. That reason is fine, I guess, except it sounds like a very dickish move to throw her under the bus like that. And I can’t help but wonder if the reason is that Milky is a fan magnet and a great idol, but with the scandal her likability went down a bit. They want to keep her at the front, and to do so they need to keep her away from Kaito in Osaka and it would be a good idea to put a bit of distance between the fans and her while things cool off.

I don’t even know what to think of this, it’s really weird. I guess Jurina getting into AKB was something we all saw coming from a long time ago, but we never thought Akimoto would have the balls to do it because what about SKE’s future? I think she’ll probably just skip a few Team S theater shows and participate more actively in promoting new AKB singles, because I can’t really see her in Yonechan’s crummy position of K6 as much as I can’t see Milky playing second fiddle to Kitarie and everyone else in Nacchan’s position in B5; I wonder if they want her to learn how to be humble? but that wouldn’t make sense for Jurina who is basically perfect (and I won’t be told otherwise, so don’t even try).

And now, the tragic? Maeda Atsuko is going to graduate AKB.

maedagraduation

The ultimate ace. The face of AKB. She’s leaving the group this year, we don’t know when, but since a Tokyo Dome concert was announced everyone is betting on that one being her last performance so that she can leave with a bang. Apparently, she’s been thinking about this for like a year now, and even though Akimoto and Takamina tried to talk her out of this, she decided that she wants to walk on her own because she feels that being a part of AKB has made her too sheltered and she knows that the real world is way harsher and wants to stand up to the challenge (so wise, this girl!). So yeah. There’s that.

I feel like I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this, but then I feel like nothing I can say can be possibly original or even emotional. Still, I’ll try.

I’m happy for her, and I think it’s great that she’s going to take better care of herself because she’s been neglecting her health for a long time and I hated seeing her collapse and such from being so overworked. I really respect her for everything she did for AKB, she gave it her all even though she had a lot of antis and she was incredibly tired from her taxing job as an actress, she still tried to keep up as much as she could with the group, and that is just admirable.

I’m guessing she’ll keep pursuing an acting career, and here’s where it gets kind of iffy. She’s been in movies that haven’t flopped AFAIK and even managed to scoop up some awards last year, but she hasn’t had the same luck with dramas, sadly. Q10 wasn’t anything special, but nobody was expecting much out of her back then anyway, and she performed well, the first big hurdle came with HanaKimi, which was hyped to hell and back and ended up flopping really hard instead of being her breakout role like everyone had predicted. Then there’s the funeral thing, that even with Yamapi and her didn’t do too well either.

It doesn’t look very good, but I think part of the problem is that in dramas she could only get parts that were really vanilla because of her connection with AKB. There’s no way an actor can grow and become better if they never get a chance to challenge themselves, and maybe this is what she is aiming for losing the security blanket of AKB. Sure, she won’t land as many roles at first, but maybe if she moves out of her comfort zone she can improve her range and become a really respected actress, I certainly hope so.

I don’t think she’ll keep singing though, she never seemed too into it, but we’ll see what happens.

I’m a bit upset about her fans though, people are just going CRAY CRAY around the internet spouting things like “Congratulations haters, you won” or “Why didn’t Takamina force her to stay?” or the more popular “AKB is going downhill now”. While I acknowledge that everybody is entitled to their own opinion, I respectfully suggest for people to look further ahead of the path. What is Acchan supposed to do? Stay in AKB forever? She has said many times that her goal is acting, and we all know that AKB is just a temporary thing, a stepping stone. Girls have been growing complacent in their positions because they are safe in the most successful music group in Japan right now, so obviously they don’t want to dabble on the unknown, but that just makes me admire Acchan more.

Besides, it’s her choice, and all of you have to respect it. We can speculate that Akimoto or somebody in the management gave her the boot (some people are already doing it lol) but let’s be real here, do you really think they’d kill off their biggest cash cow? It wouldn’t make any sense at all.

The more likely option is that she made up her mind and decided to move forward. Will AKB meet its downfall after she leaves? That’s a lot harder to predict, but I personally think that the group has long outgrown its need of a single girl or even several in order to survive if they play their cards right.

Right now AKB isn’t at its peak, it’s obviously very hard to say because their single sales have been rather consistent, but it seems like after KazeFui they hit a plateau. It’s hard to tell if they’ll be hovering around that level for a while or start declining, but that’s what we know right now. Her graduation announcement comes nicely timed with the announcement of the 26th single “Manatsu no Feels Good” and obviously the elections, this might have been decided by the management, because her fans will certainly want to mass vote for her in the elections to send her off being numer one again (not even going to lie, my first thought when I read that she was graduating was “Oh crap, Yuko will never be number one again”) so this election single might overthrow all the records if she actually participates in them (which I’m 99% sure she will).

I don’t think Acchan’s leave will mean the demise of AKB. For every Acchan, Yuko, Tomochin, Haruna, Takamina, Mariko that leaves Akimoto is already grooming a Sashihara, Mayu, Yui, Kato Rena, Paruru, Jurina et al. We can all scream and get all worked up and claim that they are ~special~ and irreplaceable but it would be naive of us, honestly. This is a business and the show must go on, and I’m sure that Acchan or not, it will.

I always had a soft spot for the ace of AKB, even though I was never placed in the two camps in the fandom: Haters or die hard fans. I just thought that she was a great girl, and that while people wrote her off as boring she was probably one of the most driven and determined AKB members underneath it all, and I respect her for it and really appreciate everything she did for the group. I wish her all the best in the next phase of her life, and I hope that she’s happy in everything she does from now on.

As for the future of AKB, it’s anyone’s guess at this point, but at least they’ve managed to spark my interest again when I was already halfway out of the fandom, so I guess that’s a win for Akimoto. I’m just super glad that 2011 is over because it was the most boring year ever and now we get a fresh start and the chance to reform the group to prevent it from going stale. I’m looking forward to what the future might bring for the group.

Coda: It’s weird how I didn’t cry and felt strangely detached about this whole thing even though I like Acchan very much. Hmmm.

13 Comments

  1. Comment by Mina on March 25, 2012 10:59 pm

    This was a lovely post about her graduation. I’ve been trying to figure out, for a while now, how they will handle Acchan. Will they just put someone else in her spot or rotate various members to the center. I didn’t know Jurina’s high school is in Tokyo. They said the transfer is only temporary, but do you think they’ll make it permanent?

  2. Comment by Cat on March 26, 2012 5:34 am

    Thanks! Well, I really don’t know, but for the sake of my own sanity, I hope they don’t make ir permanent. I love Jurina, and I know that SKE means the world to her, taking that away from her sounds really mean, but with Maeda leaving maybe Akimoto wants Jurina for center, it’s really hard to say. We’ll have to wait and see.

  3. Comment by Lauren on March 26, 2012 6:22 am

    Hi – just a thought, you forgot to mention that Rina Kawaei has also been added to Team 4, now they have a full 16 member team.

  4. Comment by Cat on March 26, 2012 8:34 am

    Oh, I’ll edit it right now. Thanks for the heads up! I know nothing about kks so I just tried to find the info in a forum xD

  5. Comment by Shaun on March 26, 2012 10:15 am

    Well, it’s needless for me to express anymore than I should.. Besides, you’ve seen my comments all over the place already. All I can add is that this post is a very well done representation of what I think. I can’t express anymore how proud I am to be an Acchan oshi. From one who disliked her for some unknown reason only to follow her as a top about a week and less after. She’s made a very noble choice, and I will follow her regardless of her actions. Also, there’s that hope or dream of meeting her one day; that hasn’t and will not die out just yet.

  6. Comment by choco on March 27, 2012 11:55 pm

    I saw this coming, Acchan was gonna be independent. That’s what I’ve been thinking since Flower.
    Thanks for the great article. And Good Luck Acchan.

  7. Pingback by Recommended Reading – Catching Up, Part One | Idolminded on March 28, 2012 6:01 am

    […] Maeda Atsuko to graduate from AKB, everyone’s panties in a tizzy – Aitakatta! Cat does a great job looking at all the big announcements in AKB, as well as placing Acchan’s departure in a larger frame of reference for AKB’s future. […]

  8. Comment by Megan on March 29, 2012 12:57 am

    OMFG. YES! I am so ready for this, negl. I have never liked Maeda- she always came off as snobby and pompous to me. Let me throw in pretentious while I’m at it, too. Plus she’s boring, and doesn’t even try to hide it. I have no respect whatsoever for her as a performer. I’m so glad that I can now embrace AKB without having to cringe inwardly whenever I see her face. I’m sorry but this is just my honest opinion, and I know that I’m certainly not alone in thinking this.

    Time for the glorious Queen Yuko’s reign!

  9. Comment by Dan on March 29, 2012 5:12 am

    Although I just followed the group for less then a year, I will feel something is missing when Acchan is gone. I will probably get used to it after a while but Acchan did her fair share to contribute to AKB. Thats what I feel, after just following them for a year. She is not my Oshimen but unlike you Megan, I respect her. I think she has some of the heaviest workload out of all the girls and she does what she can to fulfill the centre role that has been pushed onto her. I like it when she is simling and dancing in the centre even though she is not the best singer or performer, I am not even sure why I like her but I just do. I hope she find success after AKB.

  10. Comment by Shaun on April 1, 2012 6:59 am

    Megan, a little too straight, don’t you think? lol.

  11. Comment by Megan on April 1, 2012 7:25 am

    Shaun, I know not what you mean by that. However it seems you are a fan of Maeda so I apologise if there are any hurt feelings.

  12. Comment by Cat on April 3, 2012 10:04 am

    @Megan: As much as I wish Yuko was next in line I have a feeling Akimoto and the management in general don’t feel that way about her 🙁 Ever since I read that interview when she said that Akimoto had made her center in Team K because she was the oldest but he didn’t really have any expectations for her their relationship has rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t think it’s ever going to be Yuko, sadly, which is why I’m going to try and vote for her as much as I can in these elections which might be her last…

    @Dan: I have major respect for Acchan too, especially after her graduation announcement. Wow.

  13. Comment by Shaun on April 4, 2012 12:09 pm

    @Megan Nah, I’m fine because I’m used to this kind of anti-Maeda reception. I won’t say the same for others, so I thought I’d let you know. I hope we’re all clear. xD

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