I’m at the point where I’m sick of scandals. Yeah, they’re pretty interesting and add a lot of gossip to the idol world, but it’s at the point where it’s been ridiculous. My personal theory as to why so many scandals have been popping up in the recent months is just because AKB girls have had so many years on top that stress is at an all time high for many of the girls, which leads to them wanting either an easy out or some semblance of normality. That, and it pays the bills of the Shukan Bunshun staff.
If you follow AKB48 news at all, you’ve likely seen that Minegishi Minami was recently photographed after spending the night at a presumed boyfriend’s house, and has since been demoted to kenkyuusei and shaved her head.
From what I’ve seen, this has lead many people to wonder about the severity of this assumed punishment. Which is an interesting question, really. If at this point we’re assuming that the dating rule is here to stay, there are really a few things that could happen.
1. It gets brushed under the rug and no one pays attention to the scandal (i.e. pics of Oshima Yuko)
2. There is some punishment but the girl ultimately stays in the 48 family (i.e. Sashihara Rino, Minegishi Minami, Akimoto Sayaka, Watanabe Miyuki, etc.)
3. The girl has to leave the 48 family. (i.e. Masuda Yuka, HKT48 members).
There seem to be a lot of factors on why different punishments happen. The first is really the “severity,” or rather publicity. The NMB48 girls who were a part of scandal pretty much completely recovered, because there was zero photographic evidence, which wasn’t really the case with most of these other publicized scandals. They all got a bit of punishment, but have left it mostly unscathed.
Another big factor (possibly the biggest?) is the popularity of the girl. Losing a bunch of unknown HKT48 girls could be seen as not a big loss, in the grand scheme of things, to the 48 groups. Oshima Yuko, though, would be a huge blow to popularity of the group, being the current most popular member, so not acknowledging the photos with guys is a plus.
However, the one factor I don’t think gets enough credit, personally, is the personal choice of the girls. One of my slightly controversial opinions has been that Masuda Yuka left the group on her own volition, because she was already one foot out the door with AKB48 (she even skipped the Tokyo Dome concert to focus on her own solo work). With Miichan’s scandal, when I saw that her head was shaved it seemed almost clear that this was her own doing, as was possibly the video. Perhaps this is a big reason that punishments vary so much over the various girls.
At this point I wish that, if we still have to have a dating rule, that there would be consistency. However, considering all the variables, it seems near impossible.
In any case, I’m sad to see Miichan leave the incredible Team B for the kenkyuusei. Being one of the original AKB48 members, she’s a very valuable member to the makeup of the group. However, that being said, I can really see her bouncing back quickly and returning to her team in no time.