Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ue Kara Sashiko!

Well. This is an odd turnout.

Most of you are aware that a few days ago, AKB48's summer single, Sayonara Crawl, hit stores all over Japan and with it the chance to elect girls for the upcoming Senbatsu election. As per traditional summer singles, already Sayonara Crawl has sold millions of copies despite being a very shitty song, and the single has established itself as yet another million-seller for AKB48. Whoop dee freaking doo. Yeah, you all know I'm not exactly on good terms with AKB48 right now, especially regarding their musical output. But I'm going to refrain from talking about that again; I've been regurgitating that complaint for all my past AKB48-related posts lately! Besides, we're here to talk about the most nerve-wracking, nail-biting, rage-inducing annual event that always rocks the AKS fandom: the Senbatsu Elections. You all know the shtick by now: by buying an AKB48 single (in this case, Sayonara Crawl), fans have the opportunity to vote for a member of any of the 48 groups so she has a chance be in the Senbatsu for the group's next single. The girls who get the most votes make it to Senbatsu, leaving all the other girls to linger on the benches crying and questioning their self-worth! Ah, sometimes I forget just how much it would suck to participate in an election like this! Kind of like running for student government only it's mandatory and your votes are ranked and broadcasted for all of the student body to see! Well, as morally questionable and traumatizing and potentially stressful as the annual Senbatsu Election most likely is to our lovely AKB girls, it has always been a spectacle for fans. Why not? Even I can acknowledge that it's one of the most clever marketing strategies Aki-P came up with. What a better way to appeal to a fanbase than by giving them a little say in what goes on in the group's singles? Especially in a group so big, the Senbatsu elections were a genius idea. So back to the news: the preliminary results were announced a few days ago, a tally of the first-day votes for the girls who decided to participate in the election this year. Now there's a little saying I've learned to repeat whenever discussions about the prelims pops up and that saying is this:


I mean god damn do I see some people that flip their shit over the effing preliminary results. Said people are partially why I avoid forums and the comment sections of review sites around this time. It's like suddenly everyone begins theorizing and worrying and making sacrifices to imaginary idol gods as if to ensure their oshi will indeed get more votes. I mean seriously. Guys. Don't we have more dignity than this? Well, I will admit even I have gotten a little nervous in the past upon reading the preliminaries. While really that one day of results is only a small fraction of the time allotted to submit votes, it does give you an initial idea of where each girl stands. And it lets you know if your favorite even has a remote chance of making it into the single at all as well. But beyond that I've never really seen the preliminaries as nothing more than another pandering move to stir the fanbase up and convince fans that they need to buy more singles so they can gain more votes for their oshi. I have to admit, this year in particular I've been rather apathetic towards the Senbatsu election. Why the hell not? Akimoto Sayaka isn't participating, Minegishi Minami is screwed, and Masuda Yuka has long flown the coop. I know Mayuyu is going to rank high in Senbatsu so there's not really much left for me to get worked up about. This being my third Senbatsu election to follow, I thought I was pretty prepared for whatever shit went down once the prelims were out. Little did I know about the surprise that would be waiting for me when I woke up the next morning and saw the preliminary results had been posted. Who had ranked #1 on the first day? Not Yuko, not Mayuyu, not even Jurina but Sashihara Rino. I just... come again? Have I finally been transported to some parallel universe? Even now, I'm still scratching my head over the idea that Sasshi, the idol who had such an overblown scandal that she was booted to another group, managed to get the top spot on the first day. Even then, I wouldn't be so surprised if the other girls weren't too far behind, but no, Sasshi's votes are nearly double the amount Mayuyu has. As of the first day, Sasshi has roughly 28,000 votes and Mayuyu has 14,000.

Because accurate GIFs need to be shared.

So in order for say, Yuko or Mayuyu's wotas to even catch up to Sasshi's votes, they'd really have to haul ass to get those numbers, wouldn't they? Which knowing how devoted the fanbases of some idols can get, I'm more than certain is pretty possible. But for now, I've been mildly entertaining the thought of a Sasshi-centered single. I've never been a huge Sasshi fan but I feel like if I had paid more attention to her when she was actually getting a push I would have really liked her. Even though I think her solo song Soredemo Suki da yo is a horrendously bland and corny idol song, I can't help but admire her enthusiasm for idols. How enthusiastic is Sasshi towards idols? Well, she attended Tanaka Reina's graduation concert for one thing! I can always appreciate an idol when you can tell that visibly she enjoys what she does and Sasshi is the epitome of that, even after her scandal. Speaking of which, the fact that she managed to rank #1 in the prelims shows just how much she's bounced back from that alleged dating scandal of last year. Not only has Sasshi been spreading herself in HKT48 (being promoted to General Manager of the group) but she's even branched out to producing some SKE48 member for her solo debut. You can't deny that Sasshi's managed to handle the crap that's been thrown at her pretty well. What makes her prelim results even more astounding is the fact that after her scandal, she really wasn't that promoted Senbatsu-wise in AKB48. Sure, she was still there but compared to say, Shimazaki Haruka or Watanabe Mayu, Sasshi kind of got the shaft in some of AKB48's previous singles. Yet despite that, by either a fluke or a miracle, Sasshi's votes didn't go down for this election; they went up. As in 20,000 votes up. Personally, I wouldn't be more interested in Sasshi went on to win the election; not that I'm saying she will but if she did, it would be a pleasant surprise. I'm tired of the constant onslaught of Mayuyu and Paruru in the center; frankly, a new center would be refreshing. And maybe a song with a different center would get a song that doesn't suck so much...

Beyond Sasshi's surprising number of votes, there are a few other curveballs in the preliminary results this year. Mainly the fact that some of the most popular girls in AKB48 have fantastically low prelim numbers. Maybe their fanbases just have lazy voters who wait until the last minute to submit their votes? And I'm not talking about mildly popular members like Kitahara Rie and Miyazawa Sae, I'm talking Takahashi Minami and Shinoda Mariko. Members who have been staples of the group since its formation had astonishingly low first-day rankings this year. Again, did I wake up in a parallel universe where Mariko jumps from #6 to #15 and Takamina plummets from #5 to #18? And don't even get me started on Miichan, Kitarie and Akicha's votes. I know it's only the first-day results but I still can't believe how fantastically low the first-day results were for such popular members of AKB48. Something's up. Maybe the wotas just got too comfortable with when to vote but still... something about these results are a little unsettling. I mean, compare the prelims and final results of the 3rd and 4th elections. Notice how yes, some of the positions of certain girls did change, but for the most part, there weren't any drastic climbs or downfalls, especially in the actual Senbatsu. So the big question is if the results for the 5th elections are going to mirror the prelims. Because if so... this is going to be one strange Senbatsu. A Sashihara Rino-center flanked by Mayuyu and Yuko along with a handful of girls from groups outside of AKB48? It definitely sounds interesting. Of course, not all the popular girls took such a hard downfall; Yuko and Mayuyu and still going strong and as I predicted, Paruru and Jurina's votes went up as well. I'm not particularly surprised since they were all getting a painfully obvious push; I do wonder what their final results will be though and how much they'll have changed though.

Then there are the other surprising girls who did rank higher in Senbatsu; notice how half the girls who ranked in the top 16 for prelims aren't even from AKB48. I'm still not sure how I feel about this; I still kind of wish the Senbatsu was reserved only for AKB48 since it does feel really overcrowded now. Why not just give the sister groups their own separate Senbatsu elections? Oh right, because the cash cow gets more milk from one giant-ass Senbatsu featuring a bajillion girls from other groups that I don't know or care about. One of the most head-scratching ranks for me was Shibata Aya from SKE48, who managed to rank at #8 in the prelims. The weird thing is... when I looked up this chick, I saw that she'd never been in the Senbatsu for SKE48. So what on earth did she do to garner so many votes on the first day? I can understand Kizaki Yuria and Suda Akari; those two girls are at least part of the regular Senbatsu for SKE48. But how in the hell did Shibata Aya, this chick who hasn't been featured in Senbatsu period, rank higher than the both of them? How? Am I just missing something? Granted, I don't follow the girls of SKE48 that well so is this Shibata Aya chick just insanely popular among the fandom? Is she like the Sato Amina of SKE48? I don't want to dwell on it too long, but I do wonder if this chick's going to fall too far from her prelim results. Oh well, in the end all this prelim-related media is based mostly around speculation. There are still plenty more days of voting to come and plenty of more time for the ranks to change. Who knows? Maybe Yuko will climb back up to number 1 and order shall be (mostly) restored in the AKB48 fandom. I don't know; all I want is an AKB48 single that doesn't sound like some regurgitated crap I'd hear on a Janken song. And if Sasshi is the center that can give me a non-bland song well... let's just say I wouldn't be complaining. For now, here are my predictions for the final results of the 5th Senbatsu election:

1. Oshima Yuko
2. Sashihara Rino
3. Watanabe Mayu
4. Matsui Jurina
5. Shinoda Mariko
6. Kashiwagi Yuki
7. Takahashi Minami
8. Shimazaki Haruka
9. Itano Tomomi
10. Yokoyama Yui
11. Matsui Reina
12. Kojima Haruna
13. Watanabe Miyuki
14. Miyazawa Sae
15. Yamamoto Sayaka
16. Shibata Aya

More or less, you guys all know how I suck at making intentional predictions so I'd take mine with a grain of salt. I know I am! Now in a parallel universe where everything Nia wants in the idol industry happens (and Perfume is a critically acclaimed worldwide phenomenon) this is what I would want the Senbatsu to look like. Not that I'm saying it would in real life, but if I could elect the entire Senbatsu for the next single, these are the girls what I would want in it:

1. Minegishi Minami
2. Umeda Ayaka
3. Watanabe Mayu
4. Iwasa Misaki
5. Sashihara Rino
6. Kawei Rina
7. Takahashi Minami
8. Fujie Reina
9. Matsui Jurina
10. Yokoyama Yui
11. Oota Aika
12. Oshima Yuko
13. Sato Sumire
14. Ichikawa Miori
15. Yamamoto Sayaka
16. Matsui Sakiko

That's just me but hey, are there any particular girls you guys would want in Senbatsu despite their actual chances of getting in being incredibly slim? Any girls you don't want in Senbatsu that will probably get in? I feel like this could be a poll, but it'd be way too big and complicated so I'll just leave this as an open-ended question!


  1. Shibata Aya is an ex-Team E member.
    Since the SKE management team has considered Team E as useless and less popular than Team S and K2, they are completely changing to group's formation to balance the popularity of 3 teams.
    The decision made many Team E fans furious since the management consider Team E as a useless team, therefore they vote hard and many E members has appeared on the chart.

    1. Ouch. That kind of sucks for Team E members, doesn't it? Reminds of that whole Team 4 fiasco... I gotta say though, the Team E fans must be pretty hardcore to be able to boost Shibata Aya's rank so highly...

  2. I'd be quite happy if Sashihara Rino won the election. Yuko is center or shares said position in almost every single. Mayu has already been center in so long! and also gets a lot of screentime in the PVs. Sashihara is popular but still has that refreshing quality that the previous two lack perhaps because she's never been center.
    I really do hope there will be significant changes in the senbatsu, otherwise it'll be dead boring like 4th senbatsu election was. As much as I like the 1st gen members, I think it's past time they graduate

    1. I agree with exactly what you're talking about. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of this stagnant Senbatsu with all these stagnant centers and stagnant songs. Maybe a new center for the elected Senbatsu is what AKB48 needs right now to bring some life back to them. I don't know if Sasshi can be that center but I'd just be happy for a change. Still, time will tell just who gets what position for this year's Senbatsu election.

  3. Although the Senbatsu is long over, I just want to ease up my emotions a little-


    Sh*it just got real, Nia! I mean, can you believe that Sashi won against Mayuyu and Yuko?! And Takamina and Kojiharu got kicked out of Kami7!!! And Paruru got in! I mean THAT Paruru!! I'm not against her or anything; though I know she'll rank high, I did not even think that she can break Senbatsu (though I thought that she be Center for UG or something)...

    Mariko-sama graduating... I can't even...

    I've expected this but it's still really sad...

    And Mii-chan got kicked out of Senbatsu...

    *drowns in my ocean of feels*

    To Nia: I'm sorry to use the comment box in such a way... but I really need to let this out, y'know?

    P.S. In a Perfume Note, Handy Man was frikkin' AWESOME!

    1. GO SASHIKO!!!

      The election this year was CRAZY. Totally, flipping, did-I-wake-up-in-an-alternate-dimension crazy! There were so many surprises about who went up and who went down and just... egads, this election blew my mind!

      So much craziness...

      It's okay! You can use the comment box in whatever way you want! Well, I'd prefer you not post anything inflammatory or perverted but- eh, you know what I mean!

      Oh man, just mentioning Handy Man makes me want to listen to that awesome song again...