Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rock! Paper! Scissors! Conspiracy!

Everything is all a conspiracy! The Senbatsu Election! The Kenkyuusei auditions! In fact...could it be my own blog is a conspiracy too!? NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS GUYS. Or at least that's what you'd think if you popped by an idol forum. I swear to god the reason I barely go on forums anymore is because of all the bull shit theories that seem to fly around left and right. Nothing against you if you happen to be active on forums, I just don't have the patience or tolerance for them, ludicrous fan theories being one of the many reasons why. Then again, I do find a hilariously ridiculous fan theory every now and then...

With such a gargantuan group like AKB48, you're bound to get a hefty amount of delusional theories. But I've noticed that there are usually two times when these fan theories start getting particularly outlandish: when a member is caught in a dating scandal or after the Janken Tournament. Especially after the Janken Tournament. I swear, every effing year I see this tournament, I read on the Internet cries of foul play and "This was totally rigged!" comments from fans. I might take these comments more seriously if there were more physical evidence to back up such claims, but there's not. I think there are too many unknown variables to really know as to just what happens behind the scenes in the idol industry, especially in AKB48.

As long as none of us are actually in AKB48, I don't think we'll ever be able to fully know the politics and dynamic of how the entire group is managed. And even if we were in AKB48, I doubt management would let us really talk about the shadier aspects of being an idol what with a public image to maintain and millions of fans to appease. So the Janken tournament, a creative concept at first that has slowly lost its charm on me because of shit like this that goes down along with the Janken songs generally sucking, has happened again. And once again, everyone's going ballistic over the final results. Now I'm a practical idol blogger, one that tries to take every tidbit of news she obtains with a grain of salt. The pop music industry is a place where lies and rumors run rampant (and can end up ruining careers), and AKB48 is by no means exempt from this rule.

But... it is awful convenient that the the last three centers for AKB48's Janken singles have all been favored by management.


I'm not trying to insinuate anything. Even though I may hate all the fan conspiracy theories on forums, for every twenty of them, there's always one that actually sounds plausible. Two popular/pushed members winning consecutive Janken tournaments? I'd call that a fluke. But I also hold a belief that when things happen in threes, that's something to look into. And seeing this is the third time in a row that the Janken tournament has ended with an already popular victor... I have to at least raise an eyebrow. But in order to obtain a slightly better understanding into just why the circumstances surrounding this Janken tournament are so suspicious, I think I need to go over the first Janken tournament, and the single that accompanied it. Chance no Juban, the epitome of a bland AKB48 song, was the first Janken single to be released all the way back in 2010 before I'd even gotten into AKB48. The sales for Beginner, the single before the Janken single, were 826,989, the highest first-week sales at the time for AKB48.

Now let's take a look at the sales for Chance no Juban, the follow-up Janken single: 596,769. Not bad first-week sales at all but it's still a drop from Beginner's sales. And then Sakura no Ki ni Narou, the single after Chance no Juban hopped right back up selling 942,479 copies in its first week. Now what was different about that Janken single and those other two singles? The Senbatsu. More specifically, the center of each Senbatsu. Beginner and Sakura no Ki ni Narou had Maeda Atsuko, the most popular member of AKB48 before graduating, as center. But Chance no Juban? Uchida Mayumi, one of the members at the bottom of the AKB48 popularity hierarchy, centered that single. It didn't matter that Kojima Haruna and Maeda Atsuko were still in the Senbatsu for Chance no Juban; the single, in terms of proportions, still was a drop in sales for AKB48. Fast-forward to next year's Janken single, Ue Kara Mariko. That single sold a whopping 1,198,864 copies. And who was center for that single again? Definitely not Fujie Reina! Shinoda Mariko, highly popular member of AKB48, was.

Maybe Mariko's win really was just a very, very lucky chance. But what if her win and the success of Ue Kara Mariko gave management an idea? The idea of having a set winner for the Janken Tournament. Every other position would be determined by chance except for the center spot. Whoever management wanted to promote would be the lucky girl to win the tournament. Hence the reason Shimazaki Haruka won last year at such a convenient time, and probably why Jurina won this year. But how, you say, can you rig a rock-paper-scissors tournament. Isn't it all just chance? In a way it is. But remember that all Paruru did last year was throw scissors. Every round she threw scissors. And this year Jurina just threw paper for every round. So apparently no one going up against her thought "Oh, so if I just throw scissors, then I'll probably have a really good chance of winning, won't I?" Or maybe management just told the girls competing against Jurina not to throw scissors.

Last year, I'd probably have disregarded this theory but this year, I'm starting to see it as a little more plausible. Either it's the most convenient thing to ever happen or there's someone pulling the strings to assure that at least one position in the Janken Senbatsu is fixed. And if that is the case, that's really a shame. What I'd always found interesting about the Janken Tournament (other than the costumes) was the idea of a wild-card Senbatsu, where anyone had the chance to get in with the right luck. Now it just seems dull and predictable. What fun is a game of chance when your players are cheating? Does the center for a single matter that much anyways? Especially in a group like AKB48 where just being in the Senbatsu is a tooth-and-nail fight for the members of the group? If we were just going to go by the sales of Chance no Juban, Ue Kara Mariko, and Eien Pressure, you'd think that'd be the case. And maybe it is. However, there's not enough physical evidence beyond statistics to really explore this theory.

Rigging or not, Jurina's center for the Janken single this year and that's that. I actually like Jurina a lot, and think she's a very capable performer and center. She works great in SKE48 and she's proved over time she has what it takes to center AKB48 singles too. But I'd still rather her not have won the tournament for two reasons. First and most important is her health. The girl's only 16 and she's stretched thinner than an AP high school student. She's had a few health problems over the past, and I really wish management would let her take things a little easier. Centering the next AKB48 single along with inevitably centering the next SKE48 single is not something that she needs to be doing right now. I'm worried that she's wearing herself down too quickly; Jurina's a great performer but she's not a super idol. Another reason why I'm not that excited for a Jurina-centered single is... guys, we've had like twelve Jurina-centered singles before. This is nothing new.

I guess something I always liked about the Janken Tournament was the chance to see a member who normally wasn't center take a center position for once. Like with Mariko! And Paruru's first time as center was in the Janken single. And sure, she looked awkward as fuck and continued to do so for So Long! and Sayonara Crawl but there was something amusing about that. But Jurina's been center lots of times before, and don't get me wrong, she's been a great center, but I'm just not expecting much. I mean, the Janken song's gonna suck anyways, so there's no point in me getting excited over who gets center, be it Minegishi Minami or Walt freaking Disney. Aki-P has a song formula he sticks to like the Gospel for the AKB48 songs he writes, and the Janken single is going to just like it always is: bland an unoriginal. If that's your thing, then great, but I personally have kept my expectations low. Just like I did last year. And the year before. A true surprise would be a good Janken song.

In the meantime, how about we take a look and see if anyone else I remotely know about made it into the Janken Senbatsu? I get the feeling that it's going to be a lot like last year's...

16. Oya Shizuka - Well, I'm only at #16 at I already get the feeling that I'm going to know absolutely nothing about any of the girls in this Senbatsu! Not that that's a bad thing per say since it's nice to let other less popular girls of AKB48 get at least one chance to be in Senbatsu. So yeah, Oya Shizuka... Well, she was also in the Janken Senbatsu for Ue Kara Mariko! She must be lucky enough (or skilled enough) at rock-paper-scissors to make it into another Janken Senbatsu this year! Poor girl. According the AKB48 Wiki, she's been a member of the group since 2009 and only made Senbatsu for two singles. Oh well, good for her to make it to another Senbatsu!

15. Yumoto Ami (AKB48 KKS) - Unlike Shizuka, the next Senbatsu member for this Janken single has been in AKB48 for a very, very short amount of time. So short that she's not even officially a member of the group; this Yumoto Ami chick is still in Kenkyuusei. According to the wiki, Ami made it into AKB48's 15th Generation KKS on June of 2013. So as of now, she's only been in the group for around three and half months! A pretty big achievement for such a new girl to already get into Senbatsu for a single! True, it's just the Janken single, and her win was thanks to chance... Still, this girl may never ever make it into the real Senbatsu for any more AKB48 singles, so she should just enjoy being in Senbatsu while she can!

14. Sasaki Yukari - And here we have yet another girl that I know absolutely nothing about! Get used to this guys; I'm one of those fans that doesn't have the time or memory to learn every name and face in the gargantuan of an idol group that is AKB48. So yeah... how about this Yukari chick? I read that she's in Team A and that she debuted as a member in April of 2011. It also said on the Wiki that this is going to be her first single as a member of Senbatsu so hey, that's good! Always nice giving less popular girls a chance to shine in Senbatsu for what will probably the only opportunity they get all year! Yeah, that's all I got for Yukari. Congratulations to her though!

13. Fujie Reina - At lucky number thirteen in this Senbatsu is a face I'm actually familiar with! What a relief that I'll recognize at least one person in the Janken single this year. I've kinda noticed that Reina gets very on-again, off-again promotion in singles. Like she's been in Senbatsu for a handful of singles going as far back as 10nen Zakura, but then it's like management just forgets about her for some time then just up and decides to throw her back in another Senbatsu! Very spotty luck she has with management... Well, even if this ranking in the Janken Senbatsu isn't as high up as she got with Ue Kara Mariko, it's nice seeing Reina having another chance to participate in Senbatsu!

12. Tsuchiyasu Mizuki (AKB48 KKS) - Wow, another Kenkyuusei made it into the Janken Senbatsu! Man, how many KKS made it into the tournament anyways? I thought that they had to like go through a preliminary tournament, the select KKS girls who won that could participate in the Janken Tournament. I could be wrong, but if I am right, then that's pretty awesome that these KKS girls were able to fight their way through not just one but two tournaments to get into Senbatsu! Even if I know absolutely nothing about this Mizuki chick... Um... by her picture, she looks all right! Very... idol-y. Yeah, I didn't know about any of the past KKS, so there's no point in me trying to BS an opinion about current KKS.

11. Kitahara Rie - All right, here's a member of AKB48 I can recognize! When I first read the list of winners, I was beginning to wonder if any other well-known member besides Jurina made it into the Senbatsu before I saw Rie's name. So most of you casual fans will probably also recognize this name! Rie's been a regular in Senbatsu since Oogoe Diamond, although she did drop into Undergirls for Koisuru Fortune Cookie. And with being dropped out of Senbatsu for Heart Ereki, their next single, I wonder if management's going to phase her out of regular Senbatsu entirely... For now, at least Rie gets to be in the Senbatsu for the Janken single!

10. Furuhata Nao (SKE48 Team E/AKB48 Team K) - Oh, she's in AKB48 too? Well, that shows just how closely I follow all the member of AKB48. I'd never heard of this chick until now, and even now, I don't know that much about her. She was in the Senbatsu for Utsukushii Inazuma, and that was the first time being in Senbatsu for an SKE48 single. And it looks like this is the first time she'll be in Senbatsu for an AKB48 single! Seriously, why is she a concurrent member if she's barely in any of AKB48's material? Ah well, I'm not terribly learned in the logistics of AKS and how they manage their idols. Anyways, this Nao chick looks like a decent idol. Congrats to her!

9. Uno Mizuki (NMB48 KKS) - Damn, another Kenkyuusei!? And this one isn't even from AKB48! As a result, I know nothing about her. Except for the fact that her surname happens to also mean "one" in Spanish. And I guess that's pretty cool. I'll just have to rely on my handy-dandy Wiki 48 to see if I can find anything interesting about this girl! So I did look her up like I did with everyone else and I didn't find anything terribly fascinating about her. She's been in a lot of B-sides for NMB48 singles. It makes me wonder if she's going to get promoted to member-status soon. The wiki also says she's from a city where there are a lot of deer. Eh... interesting? Oh well, happy to see her get into Senbatsu for a single!

8. Natori Wakana - You know, something just occurred to me. Even though I probably know mostly nothing about many of the girls in this Janken Senbatsu, this can at least be a learning experience for me. It can at least give me an introduction to some of the lesser-known girls in the group, even if I never want to learn more about them! Like this Wakana chick. Right now, all I know is that she's in Team B. But who knows? Maybe in the future I'll just wake up one day and be like "I want to learn more about Natori Wakana!" But still, that day is not today. I know nothing about Wakana and I got too much other stuff to cover to spend all day finding more about her.

7. Kikuchi Ayaka - My level of familiarity with Kikuchi Ayaka is about on the same level as my familiarity with Fujie Reina. I like her a lot, and would love if she were featured in Senbatsu more. Still, if she's not, then I won't exactly be torn apart about it. I've always found her backstory to be interesting. She got fired from AKB48 for having a boyfriend only to re-audition for the group and be let back in as KKS. Then she had to work her way back to actual member status. Ever since then, she's been an on-again, off-again member of Senbatsu. So it's nice that she'll be able to be in a Janken Senbatsu! I believe this is her first time, non? If so, it's great she was able to rank so high!

6. Abe Maria - Oh hey, I remember this name. Didn't she make it to last year's Janken Senbatsu as well? According to the wiki, she did! I do vaguely remember talking about her... For last year, she was #8 in the Janken Tournament; it's pretty amazing she climbed up two spots from last year! Even if that is amazing, I still know little to nothing about her. I'm sure she's fine and all that, but I just don't have any ambition to learn much about her. Something I did find interesting about Maria is that she's a fan of Ichikawa Miori. You know, that member who's always rambling about how she's going to become a fresh lemon or something like that... Maybe Maria really likes lemons!

5. Tano Yuka - I have no idea why, but this girl's name sounds really familiar. I'm not sure why, since she hasn't been in any other Janken Senbatsus so I haven't written about her. I do know that she was one of the original members of Team 4 but now she's in Team A. Other than that, it looks like she hasn't been in the Senbatsu for any other AKB48 singles, but she's participated in a lot of the B-sides. I'm sure it'll be nice for to finally experience being in the Senbatsu for a single! The wiki also said that she's a huge fan of Miyazawa Sae, and if there's any cool person to be a fan of, it'd be Miyazawa Sae. Or Akimoto Sayaka. If she were still in AKB48... Back on topic, congrats to Yuka!

4. Oba Mina (AKB48 Team B/SKE48 Team KII) - Okay, here's another girl I actually do know a little about. I probably wouldn't recognize her face, but I do recognize the name! Oba Mina was captain of the original Team 4 before it folded. And she was suspended for underage drinking, a little different from your typical "boyfriend scandal." I didn't know she was a concurrent member of SKE48 though. Or that she was in the Senbatsu for Utuskushii Inazuma! Man, if anything shows you how closely I pay attention to the member of SKE48, that does. I think it's kind of funny how Mina's been in Senbatsu for an SKE48 single before this AKB48 single! Just amusing for me I suppose.

3. Hirata Rina - So this is the bilingual member of AKB48! I heard someone say that there was a member of AKB48 who could speak English, but I couldn't remember the name mentioned. So it's Hirata Rina, or Hillary, as her nickname says. I think it's pretty cool AKB48 has an English-speaking member- wait a minute. If she speaks English then... I sure hope she doesn't find my blog! I'm kidding, there's no way my little blog makes enough of a dent to get many people's attention! Anyways, back on Hirata Rina, she seems pretty cool to me. Maybe that's just because she's bilingual and I admire anyone who is fluent in two or more languages but still! Congrats to her for making it into Janken Senbatsu!

2. Kamieda Erika (NMB48) - And here we have the girl that came so close to winning the Janken Tournament, but ended up playing the wrong hand. Although, if she'd just thrown scissors, that would have been a safe bet considering all Jurina did was throw paper throughout the whole tournament... But anyways, apparently this Erika chick is captain of Team BII in NMB48. So yeah. I didn't even know Team BII had a captain yet. All I know is Yamamoto Sayaka's captain of Team N and that is a wonderful thing. I almost think that Erika must be one of those captains that doesn't make it to Senbatsu very often, kind of like Umeda Ayaka. At least now she finally gets a chance!

1. Matsui Jurina (SKE48) - I think I've pretty much stretched out everything I can say about Jurina's win of this year's Janken Tournament. Well, I haven't said yet that I think I'm comfortable with her being a center over Shimazaki Haruka! At least she won't look as awkward anyways... Like I said, she's centered both AKB48 and SKE48 singles plenty of times before; I have complete faith that she'll be fine centering this Janken single. Who knows? Maybe she'll be able to act like it's not a sucky song, the true challenge of performing a Janken single! I just hope that healthwise she's up for performing in another single, but only time will tell.

Before I go back to waiting for Level3, I should probably touch on AKB48's next single. Next on the AKB48 calendar of releases is their fall single or their "cool" single. I know I haven't talked about Koisuru Fortune Cookie (and I swear I'm getting there), but I actually really liked that song. I thought it was nice and funky with a really catchy tune. So their cool single is titled Heart Ereki or Heart Electric (I think I'll probably refer to it as the latter title; it just makes more sense in my language). What I find to be the most interesting bit of news about Heart Electric is the center; it's not Paruru, it's not Jurina, it's not Sasshi, it's... Kojima Haruna! Bet you all saw that coming with all the crazy promotion Harunyan's been getting lately, haven't you? Yeah, I'm sure I'm not the only person tilting my head in confusion towards Harunyan's position as center for Heart Electric, especially since she the only single she's centered is Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka? and that was a dual-center with Maeda Atsuko. I smell a graduation.

Considering Harunyan's one of the oldest members of AKB48, I wouldn't be surprised if she were graduating soon either. She's spent a long time in the group, and maybe Heart Electric is supposed to be her final sendoff before departing to the land of graduated AKB48 members. Potential graduations aside, how does Heart Electric hold up? After all, UZA, last year's cool single bored me to death, even though the PV was effing amazing. I have to say, Heart Electric reminds me very much of a no3b song. It's not as dance-able as UZA was, and definitely a safe AKB48 A-side, but I don't think it's that bad. It probably won't make any of my best-of lists, but considering the other crap A-sides we've gotten from AKB48 this year, Heart Electric holds up pretty well. I'll have to hear a studio version before I give my final verdict, since I'm only going off the concert rip. Also I should mention for Heart Electric the girls have English nicknames, and I have absolutely no idea why. As with the Janken single, only time will tell.


  1. Kojiharu also double centered romance, irane ya know :P and yeah I was thinking graduation but she honestly sounded surprised in her statement about it. As for the janken issue... Yeah, I was about to call hacks when I saw a jurina center. Then I realised I had no freaking idea who most of the other senbatsu members were. 9 didn't even rank this year! Then I read a smart poat on stage48 saying 'If management were going to fix it, wouldn't they choose something less obvious than one throw the whole way?'. Another person pointed out that any one of jurina's opponents could, with the foreknowledge jurina was throwing paper, have thought 'Screw this! I WANNA BE SENBATSU/CENTER!' and thrown scissors. Plus a lot of girls that day did throw rock, so jurina said she decided beforehand as she noticed this to throw paper all the way. Since there were a lot of matches, it's totally feasible jurina's opponents for her six matches didn't notice.
    Ultimately... I don't know about the janken but I actually feel reassured by the senbatsu as to its honesty. Plus there's a maths equation to look at the expected ranking of the center. If 1= senbatsu, 2=ug 3=ng 4=fg and 5= unranked, you would expect an average of 3. Based on each janken winner's ranking in the pre-janken election, we're looking at 5+1+2+1. An average of 2.25. A little high perhaps, but not unreasonable. Admittedly if you rule out the first janken as an outlier, it's a different story. But then this is only a sample of 4 tournaments! Which is waaaay too small a sample space to be statistically reliable anyway. Whew. Damn I got value out of my maths a-level...
    Oh yeah, one last thing. Maybe rena could be center for ske's next single to give jurina something of a break? I think she could handle more responsibility than dual center max...

  2. Oh no, she's onto us! Next thing you know she'll find out about the Se-I've typed too much.

    1. Crapola, one of the AKB48 members has discovered the Wonderland! What am I supposed to do!? Now everyone in AKB48's going to know!

      Uh... I think AKB48's A-sides have been fantastic and original and totally not bland and boring at all! Completely disregard all my past reviews ranting about AKB48's A-sides!

  3. NAO!!!!!!! so happy she made it in

  4. hey, did you guys know that AKB just got another bilingual member, or i should say a trilingual member: Nozawa Rena. She nows 3 languages fluently: Japanese, English and Indonesian. She is also learning French.. as far as i know, she's also close with Hillary-chan, even before the management put her in team K (still in team mitei or anything like that).

    1. Now that is really cool! I can't help but admire anyone fluent in multiple languages, especially since Japanese and English are so different grammatically. I wonder if Hillary and Rena translate any English articles about AKB48 for the other members...

    2. ^-^Yeah that would be so cool. . Wow, now team K has 2 bilingual members.
      I'm glad to know that you admire her too. She'll always be one of my favorite members even though my oshi is Captain Kinal :D
      Now that she's back in Japan, sometimes i can't help but think that i really miss her performance here in Indonesia. as jkt48 fangirl, i'm kinda accustomed to saw Rena-chan here, as one of Jkt's top members. but yeah, that's her parents and the management's decision, so i just wish that she'll be able to survive in the "harsh competition" between Akb's member because i want to see her among Akb's future singles senbatsu members.