I haven't been writing a lot lately mainly because of my challenging semester and frankly because not a lot has been going on in the idol world lately. Well... technically that's not true. There are several new PVs I have to review, some Perfume news I can gush about, and now... this.
Maeda Atsuko of AKB48 is graduating.
Okay, let me make one thing clear. Acchan is not my favorite member of AKB48. Then again, it's not that I dislike her. I've stated before that she's one of the front girls I'm okay with. Actually, I should be thrilled she's graduating because Yuko can finally get the center position she deserves so much. So why do I feel so uneasy about this? Acchan is the center of AKB48 and has been ever since the group's formation. It'll be strange not to see her in the center of singles. But how will this affect the group as a whole?
One the pro side, I think graduating now is very beneficial to Acchan. It's a smart move to leave AKB while it's on the top of its game. That way she can still get exposure, jobs, promotion as an individual. She's stated again and again that she's wanted to be an actress and while she's no Meryl Streep I think she could manage. But first she needs to get rid of the dead-eye stare... Anyways, being the former ace of AKB48 will open up a lot of doors in her career for her. But how long will that last? Abe Natsumi and Goto Maki, the faces of Morning Musume, both left the group at the peak of its career. Sales dropped for the group and ever since then Maki's had debatable success as a solo artist but nothing nearly as successful when she was with H!P. Nacchi also had moderate success but was never able to shake off the image as "that girl from Morning Musume". Will the same fate be applied to Acchan?
On the con side, Acchan's graduation is definitely going to have a huge blow on AKB48. The good thing about the group is that they have several popular girls, mainly Yuko, Takamina, Mayuyu, Mariko, Tomochin, and others like Sasshi, Yui, and Yukirin are also rising in popularity. But will that be enough to hold the group? I think so. My theory is that the single before Acchan's graduation will sell ridiculously well. Maybe even more than Flying Get. That's usually how most graduation singles roll (i.e. Takahashi Ai's graduation single) and considering this is the first front girl from AKB to leave, I think Acchan's last single with the group will be huge. However, I think the single after that will drop in sales. For all of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, AKB's has been literally selling millions. Each song debuts at #1 and blows all the other artists (even Johnny's!) out of the water. But with Acchan's graduation, they'll still sell. Just not as well. I'm guessing their sales will be on par with Arashi or Smap or -Insert-Johnny's-Group-Here-. So they'll still be successful; they just have to start worrying when other popular girls start graduating. Do you remember that game where the wooden blocks are stacked on top of each other to make a huge tower? The object of the game was to slide each block away from the stack and try not to knock the whole thing over. The state of AKB is like that game; they can remain standing without a few blocks, but there is a point where the whole structure is going to collapse. And maybe that's what Aki-P planned; after all, he always said he planned to disband AKB48 after ten years. They've been around for what? 6 years now? Almost 7? Maybe this is how the fall of AKB will begin, like a stack of blocks slowly tumbling down.
Acchan's graduation does provide an explanation for another bit of shocking news about AKB...
It was also announced just a bit earlier that Matsui Jurina, the face of SKE48, and Watanabe Miyuki, a popular (but not as popular as Yamamoto Sayaka) member of NMB48 would be joining AKB48 while retaining activities in their other groups. When I first heard this, I was very angry. I didn't see why they had to be "officially" promoted to AKB considering they were pretty much members already, especially Jurina. Speaking of Jurina, the poor thing is 15 and it's very obvious that her busy schedule is getting to her. With the recent seizure, it's apparent that all the stress is taking a toll on her health. Is another group really the best thing she needs right now? I'm seriously worried what this is going to do to Jurina; when she found out she was also going to be in AKB she sounded hesitant. I really want her to take a rest and not just a 2-3 day break. She really needs it before she stretches herself too thin. As for Miyuki... I actually don't know a lot about her. Oh well? I'm sure she was also surprised but it was mainly Jurina I felt for. I hope she's able to manage okay. So how does this tie into Acchan's graduation? It makes perfect sense to me now: Jurina and Miyuki are popular in their respective groups. Aki-P's probably put them in AKB to make up for the lack of sales Acchan would have brought in if she stayed. It makes sense but don't they already pretty much participate in AKB's singles? I don't know; I just don't see how this is going to help the group.
This is definitely the end of an era. Whether the next era will be good or bad... only time will tell.