I may as well just put all this recent AKB48 news into one hodgepodge post. None of them warrant individual posts, and all are upcoming events that I may or may not write further upon in the future.
So let's start with the biggest news: Team 8! Yes, Aki-P has finally decided to complete AKB48 by adding a Team 8. Not only that, this Team 8 will consist of one girl from each of the 47 prefectures in Japan, making it the biggest team in the group. Team 8 will also be sponsored by Toyota, the first team to do so. As with any big AKB48 announcement, this one has been met with mixed opinions. I am honestly not that surprised about Team 8, not as much as I was for Team 4. Besides, didn't Aki-P imply at some point that he had plans to make a Team 8? I think that was before the original Team 4 folded, but I can't remember specifics. But so much has happened since the first formation of Team 4, no wonder I've forgotten about the possibility of Team 8. But now it's coming, and hopefully Team 8 will actually last this time, along with Team 4. Like with Team 4, reactions to creation of a Team 8 have been thoroughly mixed. Honestly, I don't care that much about Team 8.
The problem with AKB48 is that anytime they add new members, it's not a big deal the same way it is in smaller groups. Because we're probably gonna hear about only two of the forty-something girls being added to Team 8, because there is no way in hell every single one of those team members is making it to Senbatsu. In a weird way, AKB48's size is both its defining trait and its weakness, because they'll always be seen as a giant product, never really for the individual members that make up the group. Or maybe that's just me being partial to smaller groups. Either way, I could care less about the new Team 8 or the girls who get into it. What I do think is kind of strange is having a company sponsor the team. Like will Team 8's songs have blatant product placement in them or...? I don't know, very likely the partnership with Toyota is for one thing: MONEY! Money, money, money, it is the reason we exist and the reason Aki-P is going to keep milking every penny (or should I say yen?) out of AKB48 until the general public is absolutely sick of them! Toyota will make money, Team 8 will make money, AKS will make money, wotas will spend more money, everybody wins!
Speaking of lineup changes AKB48 is having another team shuffle later this month, their third one overall. The group's last team shuffle was in August of 2012, putting over a year between that one and the upcoming one. Admittedly, the last one took me by surprise; I wasn't a fan around the time of the 2009 shuffle so the 2012 shuffle was my first. And I recall not being very happy about it, mainly because of the entire surreality of the event. This time though, I am actually... looking forward to the shuffle. I guess because so many members have left that I'm legitimately curious to see who's going to what team. Like will the captains remain the same or will new girls be promoted? Yui was promoted to Team A captain fairly recently, and it seems odd to shove her out of that position so quickly. Same goes for Miichan in Team 4. Then again, Yuko's leaving so Team K will need a captain to fill her void. Actually, AKS might need more than just a captain to fill the void Yuko's leaving behind, but we'll see. Team K does need more Senbatsu members; Yuko's pretty much the only member representing Team K in Senbatsu as of now. Every other popular member either transferred or graduated; it's kind of sad.
I think the lack of recognizable faces in Team K is one of the reasons for this team shuffle. After all, it's much easier for AKS to put already popular members in Team K than actually, pfft, promote members of Team K. That would be way too much effort! But yeah, I think most of the team shuffle is going to be conveniently switching all the popular girls out into different teams to even the Senbatsu representation out. Team A and Team B are getting a little crowded... Even that is the case, I'm still looking forward to the shuffle. Because I'm bored with AKB48. So very bored. And the team shuffle will provide for a blissful distraction from the group's bland music and excessive graduations. Maybe the shuffle will even freshen AKB48 up a bit! It'll at least be interesting to see different members performing the team songs and being in different team PVs.
And then there's Oshima Yuko. The news of Yuko's graduation is old news by now, but AKB48's upcoming Sakura single has been revealed as Yuko's last. Furthermore, she will graduate on March 30 at AKB48's concert in the National Olympic Stadium. Seems pretty appropriate for Yuko. I always expected her to graduate with a bang, and the National Olympic Stadium is just about as banging as an idol concert can get. Mae Shika Mukanee, Yuko's graduation song, also has a decent amount of bang to it, much more than So Long! did at least. In fact, this is the first AKB48 song I've actually enjoyed in... awhile. It isn't amazing, oh no, there are many parts of this song that still need fixing. Like the awkward male background vocals and the subdued chorus, just to name a few. But Mae Shika Mukanee still feels like a song where a little more effort was put into than AKB48's past few A-sides. At least it's energetic! I'll talk more about the song when I actually write a review for the PV. Anyways, I wouldn't have liked to see Yuko go out on a downer of a song; it just wouldn't fit the image she had in AKB48.
To me, Yuko's signature song will always be Heavy Rotation, but Mae Shika Mukanee still suits her nicely. In fact, it has a pretty similar sound to Heavy Rotation; both songs teeter on bland, but have enough spark and energy to avoid boring me. A PV preview has also been released for Mae Shika Mukanee, but who knows when the full PV will actually be released. At least we know it's before the end of the month! From the forty-five second preview on AKB48's Youtube channel, I am not impressed with this PV so far. The background looks way too dark for such a bright, peppy song, and why does it look like a dumpster? It doesn't help the the girls are wearing outfits that look like they were constructed out of Capri Sun juice pouches. I guess they look kind of cool, but I still hope there's more to the PV than just the dance. Preferably not a cliched drama storyline about graduation either. I always wonder why anyone can't get a graduation single like Acchan did for Manatsu no Sounds good! How cool would that be?
So in summary, a graduation is happening, a single is getting released, and a group is getting shuffled. You know, nothing new for AKB48. Or is it? I don't know why, but I get the feeling that this is the year that AKB48 is finally going to start declining. I know I probably said that last year, but something about this year makes me think that it really is going to start happening. By no means do I think their sales will plummet overnight or anything, but I think after Yuko leaves, the fall of AKB48 is going to be a slow one. It'll be slow, subtle, and no one will realize for quite some time that it's happening. And then one day we'll all wake up, as if from a dream, and see that AKB48 is no more. Won't that be surreal? I've never really thought about what the idol industry will be like when AKB48 is no longer around. I haven't thought about that much for any idol groups I follow actually... After all, things can't last forever. There will be a time when all the groups I blog about will be gone. Eugh, what a bleak thought. This was just supposed to be a little news post about random AKB48 stuff, not an existential revelation about the necessity for things to come to an end. Eh... what was I talking about again? Ah yes! Graduations! Singles! Idols! Yeah! Clearly, I need sleep...