AKB48 2014 General Election: Thoughts + Analysis

Hey everyone! This morning I got up at the bright hour of 3 AM to watch the AKB48 senbatsu election live. Even as my AKB48 fandom has changed and shifted (I really haven’t been into AKB’s music much lately, for example) this is still a huge event that I love staying up for year after year.

If you haven’t seen the results yet, THIS is where I’m looking at, though most of my thoughts are coming from what I saw at the livestream.

Last Night’s Winners: HKT48

Now, this might be odd; Watanabe Mayu is the new AKB48 center, not Sashihara Rino. However, HKT48 did VERY well. On Fuji TV there was a running counter of how many members ranked from each group. Usually this number goes sequentially from when the group was formed; AKB, SKE, NMB and HKT. However, this year more HKT48 members ranked than NMB48. Girls like Murashige Anna ranked for the first time (a fact that thrilled everyone) and Miyawaki Sakura had a huge leap in rankings.

One thing I noticed, however, was that HKT had a really big sense of community. Murashige went straight to Sashihara after she ranked to celebrate. The girls seemed genuinely all thrilled whenever someone ranked. I think HKT48 has really proved themselves to be a great group, and they were really enjoyable to watch.

Last night’s Losers: NMB48 (and Watanabe Miyuki)

NMB48 didn’t do terribly, not at all. However, being outstripped by HKT48 has to be significant. Further, there were some drops. I was surprised to see Ogasawara Mayu ranked fairly low in the Up Coming Girls (the new added ranking) and I was very disappointed to see Watanabe Miyuki’s ranking drop out of senbatsu. Yamamoto Sayaka did well, but that’s the biggest gain that NMB had.

Winners: New(er) girls

The senbatsu lineup is usually girls that are well-known. However, FOUR new faces entered the senbatsu. The old guard has generally been graduating, but it’s interesting to see who’s entering senbatsu. It makes sense; new girls generally get a lot of press. But those climbing the ranks tend to be members who are newer.

Losers: Old(er) girls

A couple of us tweeting the senbatsu noticed some disappointment. Kuramochi Asuka, for one, mentioned in her speech that she kept dropping in categories. Kobayashi Kana didn’t rank. Nakagawa Haruka didn’t rank. Miyazaki Miho ranked again, but she was low in the Up Coming Girls (which was noted to be pretty funny, considering).

This makes sense; as management is promoting the newer, fresher girls, the girls that never got a big push (or got a small push) are falling. Still, it’s something I noticed.

Winner: Matsumura Kaori, Undergirls center?

Kaotan being popular isn’t that new. It’s just that I’m really looking forward to what a Kaotan center song will look like.

Winner: Nogizaka46 and Ikoma Rina

I thought that Ikoma would rank highly. I mean, she’s a popular Nogizaka46 member, once the center of the group, and Nogizaka fans would want to vote for her even if they weren’t particularly into Ikoma. However, ranking in the senbatsu is really significant, and does a lot to show Nogizaka46’s power in relation to AKB. Well done.

Winner: Kawaei Rina, Iriyama Anna (and all the members)

The live event started (notably) with Gamushara Ouendan cheering on the 48 members. It was a bit silly, and I know a lot of foreign fans (including myself) were wondering what was going on. However, this was for the girls. This is the first really major 48 event since the incident, and I imagine every single one of them is a little afraid.

However, the most memorable and emotional moment of the night was Kawaei Rina appearing on stage. She’s my favorite AKB member, so it was already going to be emotional. However, she outshone everything else. The fact that she had the courage to appear was remarkable. The hosts asked her if she was scared, a few times, and Ricchan just said “I’m not afraid at all, I’m fine.”

The incident was hard on AKB48, all 48 groups, and the fans. This is a sizable step that people are moving beyond it.

Winner: Watanabe Mayu

You know, because she actually won it. Seriously, it was an unsurprising turn of events, but not unwelcome. CG Revolution!

All in all, it was a really solid election; some surprises, a lot of really expected things, but overall an enjoyable year.

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