|Akimoto Yasushi in duck form.|
I mean, wow. I just... I am at a loss for words. Just when I thought that Aki-P and the rest of AKS wasn't desperate enough to cling to that goddamn million streak, this comes up. What am I talking about? Why, the Senbatsu Elections for the 32nd single, of course! Okay, I know the news about the Senbatsu Elections has been out for several days now but I wanted to cool off to a point where I could re-assess the announcement with a cool and rational mind. So a few days ago, an announcement was made that the 5th annual Senbatsu Elections this year would be different from the elections of the past four years. How so? Well, unlike the last four elections, in which every girl was automatically eligible for votes in the election regardless of her popularity in the group, now anyone who wants to participate in this year's elections has to apply to management be a candidate. From then on, management will decide the "candidates" for this year's elections and the fans will vote from the pool of candidates selected. The members eligible to apply for candidacy are anyone from AKB48, SKE48, NMB48 and HKT48. Members who transferred from one of these four groups into an overseas group (JKT48 or SNH48) are also allowed to apply for candidacy.
And then there's one more little twist to this completely twisted Senbatsu Election. One more group of idols can apply for candidacy in this year's elections: any member of the group that has been in it for more than four years. Which means yes, graduated members can participate in this year's elections. I think my initial reaction to this news was... well, I may have grabbed a dictionary and banged my head against it, but my memory's a little fuzzy so who knows what the hell I did! Now, I have a combination of disbelief and disgust towards AKB48's management. I can't believe how blatant of an attempt this is to milk more money out of the fanbase and up the slowly dipping singles sales. I mean, it's so obvious why AKS is allowing graduated members a chance to participate in the elections. We all know that when they say members who've been in the group for more than four years, they're referring to one member in particular.
Maeda Atsuko, former ace of AKB48, now graduated and doing her own thing with acting and maintaining relevance despite being out of the group. We all know that Acchan's graduation was for better or worse, the end of an era and a huge turning point for AKB48. Ever since then, management's been floundering around and whipping out one gimmick after another to keep the post-Acchan singles sales afloat. Acchan's graduation had a huge affect on the group and has led to talks about AKB48 being on a decline. What a better way to keep AKB48 relevant than to bring back the ace that lead them through an era of prosperity and ridiculously high-selling singles? I think this aspect of the new election policy is what infuriates me the most; it's not that I don't like Acchan but come on, AKS. The girl graduated out of her own free will and she hasn't looked back since then! Trying to bring her back through some thinly veiled loophole you whipped up for this year's Senbatsu Elections is a desperate and pathetic grab for more money. Luckily Acchan, being the independent and amazing person she is, announced that she would not be applying for candidacy in the Senbatsu Elections. And you know what? Good for her! Good for her to unintentionally stick it to Aki-P and the rest of management and their pathetic attempt to lure her back into AKB48!
Nito Moeno, Masuda Yuka, Nakaya Sayaka, Yonezawa Rumi, and Ono Erena and have also announced that they won't be applying for candidacy in this year's elections. In fact, the only two graduated members so far that have announced that they'll be participating are Urano Kazumi and Noro Kayo from SDN48. I guess I can kind of see why those two would want to since they got booted out of AKB48 into a group that only lasted for five singles. But I can't think they're going to rank very high if they even make it past the candidate selection. I'm hoping that most of the graduated members see past the bullshit of this new policy for Senbatsu Elections; the whole idea has just been leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know, I feel like my disdain towards the new rules for the Senbatsu Elections partially stems from my own descent into the "disillusioned fan" phase of AKB48. I feel like everything they've been doing lately hasn't been boding well with me, from their music to their scandals to their graduations and now this.
I think another new aspect of the election that I'm 50/50 about is the new "candidacy" policy. When I first read about it, I didn't like it at all. But now I'm a little more split about it than before. On one hand, the idea that you have to apply for candidacy to be eligible for elections is a really good thing. Mainly because it sorts out the girls who don't want to participate in the elections, especially the more unpopular girls who know they're unpopular and don't want to sit through the humiliation or ranking low or not ranking at all. It makes the idea of running for Senbatsu optional so girls who don't want to take the time and effort into promoting themselves don't have to do so. But on the more negative side... a candidacy system basically allows AKS to do whatever the hell they want and stretch more control over the results of the elections. They can just reject the application of any girl they don't want ranking who applies for candidacy. They can hand-pick who they want to represent the Senbatsu and weed out anyone they don't think is going to rank well or anyone they just don't want to put the time and effort into promoting. The addition of the candidacy system makes the Senbatsu Elections rigged much more than it was before.
I don't know how far AKS is going to stretch control over who gets to be a candidate and who doesn't for this year's Senbatsu, but I hope they let mostly everyone who wants to run in. I think it's just cruel to reject an application of a girl who's hoping and dreaming that maybe, just maybe she'll have the chance to rank in Senbatsu. All in all, the twists in this years Senbatsu Election feel like petty attempts to stir up drama and more attention for AKB48. I guess I can't complain too much since at least it isn't another overblown dating scandal... Still, if I had to pick between the new election policies and the old election policies, I'd just go with the latter. I already hate that the Senbatsu was trimmed down to 16... For now, the results of the actual Senbatsu Election are far away (not until June 8th to be exact) and until then all fans can do is theorize about who's in and who's out. So keeping in tradition with my predictions from last year, here's a looser and more ambiguous prediction of how I think the 2013 Senbatsu is going to turn out:
Girls Who I Think Are Going Up
- Shimazaki Haruka
- Matsui Jurina
- Yamamoto Sayaka
- Watanabe Miyuki
- Yokoyama Yui
- Oota Aika
Let me just say that Paruru going up in Senbatsu is inevitable, no matter how many fans hate her guts. She's had a major push in regular Senbatsu this year and a lot of hype and promotion in general is surrounding her. The question is how much will she go up. Don't forget that there was a time when Yokoyama Yui was getting just as much of a push as Paruru was but she only ranked #19 in the 2011 Senbatsu and #16 in the 2012 Senbatsu. Then again, I think Paruru's push is a bit more forceful than Yui's; Paruru's position in this year's Senbatsu Election is pretty ambiguous. Not to mention that to even make it into the Kami 7 Paruru would have to jump sixteen spots; I'm not saying it's impossible but it would be impressive! I also think that Matsui Jurina is probably going up this year but not by too much, maybe one to three spots up. She's been getting more-or-less the same attention in AKB48's Senbatsu that Paruru's gotten and she has a pretty popular fanbase as center of SKE48. Yamamoto Sayaka and Watanabe Miyuki are going to go up for the same reasons that Jurina's going up too: their NMB48 fanbase. The two of them are pretty much the double centers of that sister group; hell, even in last year's election they ranked right beside each other.
Yokoyama Yui for more or less the same reasons will probably go up too but like Jurina, I don't think she'll got up by too much. For Lovetan, I do not think she's going to make it into Senbatsu but with a much better position in HKT48 than she ever had in AKB48, she has a pretty good chance of going up into Undergirls. Unlike her fellow AKB48 girls getting washed out in favor of a newer generation, I think Lovetan has a pretty good chance of at least ranking in some level of Senbatsu. Sasshi's position in HKT48 also could indicate her going up but when you also add that a scandal was the reason she ended up in the group, I think her position is probably gonna go down. Overall, I think the newer generations are going to go up in the election but not as much as some of the more pushed girls like Paruru and Jurina. Of course, that doesn't mean the older and popular girls are going down...
Girls Who I Think Will More or Less Stay in the Same Spots
- Oshima Yuko
- Watanabe Mayu
- Kashiwagi Yuki
- Shinoda Mariko
- Takahashi Minami
- Matsui Rena
- Kitahara Rie
...because a majority of the girls who I think are going to stay in the same spots are the older and popular girls! Notice how absolutely none of the girls in this list have been affected by scandals! I think it's pretty obvious that Yuko is going to be the one who takes #1 again in this year's Senbatsu. The votes between her and Mayuyu last year were in the tens of thousands and no matter how much Mayuyu's been pushed this year, that ain't changing. It's almost sad how easy it's going to be for Yuko to win without Acchan... it makes me miss Acchan again... Anyways! Of course, there's also the possibility that Yuko won't decide to run for Senbatsu. But I think even if she didn't want to, management would confront her in a darkly lit room and pressure her into running anyways, talking about "an offer you can't refuse." Funny how I've been picturing AKS as the mafia lately... I'd put Mayuyu in the list of girls who I think are going up but since she's already been at #2 it's kind of hard to go any further up unless Yuko pulls out of Senbatsu Elections. Should Yuko by some miraculous means decide not to run in the Senbatsu this year, I think Mayuyu has a pretty good chance of ranking first in the elections, especially with her push to a more center role lately. But since that's likely not going to happen, I say Mayuyu stays at #2.
I also think that Yukirin has a pretty good chance of staying at #3, especially since I'm certain the release of her solo single probably helped gain a few fans. I've always kind of noticed that Yukirin never gets much of a push in AKB48 singles yet somehow she still has a pretty strong fanbase despite having the personality of a Trefoil Girl Scout cookie. I don't know, her popularity just bamboozles me. Takamina and Mariko are absolutely staying in the same spots for pretty much the reasons that they're older members and they both have pretty strong presences in AKB48. With Takamina as captain of the whole group and Mariko as captain of Team A and their long-standing popularity, I think this year's Senbatsu will keep them in pretty much the same spots as last year. Then again, Takamina's solo single might help her get a few more votes... Rena and Kitarie have always had pretty steady positions in Senbatsu so I don't think their positions will change too much either.
Girls Who I think Are Going Down
- Umeda Ayaka
- Akimoto Sayaka
- Itano Tomomi
- Kojima Haruka
- Kasai Tomomi
- Minegishi Minami
- Sashihara Rino
- Miyazawa Sae
And then there are the unlucky girls who I think are going down. It doesn't mean that they will go down in spots for this year's Senbatsu Elections, but if they did, I wouldn't be surprised. I just want to say that overall, I think that with this year's elections, a lot of the older and less popular members of AKB48 are going down or just flat-out not ranking at all in this year's elections. With many more sisters groups participating in the elections and the flooding of more popular girls from those groups, it's a lot harder to rank in the Senbatsu Elections than it used to be. In the place of the older generation, I think the younger generation is going to take up a lot more spots; even last year, Undergirls was dominated by SKE48 members! I guess I'm not as upset as I used to be about the merging of other group members into AKB48 activities but I kind of wish sometimes that AKB48's Senbatsu Elections were restricted to only AKB48 members, especially with the staggering numbers of girls in sister groups. Still, that's never happening as long as the inclusion of SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, JKT48, WTF48, and SNH48 make AKS money.
So yeah, I could make a much longer list of girls that I think are going down and/or out of the Elections but since I don't even know half the names/faces of the girls in AKB48, I'm just gonna stick to the girls who rank in the Senbatsu Elections more regularly. And as much as I hate to admit it, three of my favorite members are probably going down: Umechan, Sayaka, and Miichan. I kind of expected Akimoto Sayaka to go down since management doesn't give a shit about her anymore but I really don't want Umechan or Miichan to go down. My hope is that all three of them will at least get to stay in Undergirls and that Undergirls will get an awesome song that's completely and totally better than the Senbatsu song! But I can only dream. As for Miichan, I'm just hoping that she'll be able to participate this year after being demoted to Kenkyuusei. Speaking of scandal's I think Sasshi's is going to make her go down a little bit, but not by much. She'll probably at least stay in the top ten! Kasai Tomomi's probably going to plummet... just like her career! Tomochin, Harunyan and Sae are probably going down just because they haven't really been doing much; even Sae got booted out of the regular Senbatsu.
Now watch me be completely wrong about all these predictions! Well, the Senbatsu Elections are a long ways away and there's a whole lot more to go on in-between now and the time of the elections. There's a whole summer PV I'm gonna