My thoughts on AKB48’s 5th Senbatsu election

AKB48By now I’m sure everyone is aware that a few days ago AKB48 announced their 5th Senbatsu elections. Most of the announcement was pretty similar to past Senbatsus. This year’s Senbatsu will take on June 8th during AKB48’s Super Festival concert. This Senbatsu is set to decide the lineup for AKB48’s 32nd single. However, even though this years’s election seems like more of the same a surprising , and equally shocking, twist was added, and that twist is incorporating a new candidacy system.

So, what exactly is this candidacy system all about? I’m glad you asked. This new system basically means that instead of every member of AKB48 and it’s sister groups automatically being included in the Senbatsu this year ant girl that wasnts to participate needs to submit a written notice to the election committee. Now, if that twist wasn’t enough for you there’s more. Beyond that they are also changing which members can participate. Along with the current members os AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, and HKT48 they are also including the girls who were moved to overseas sister groups. And in the biggest shock of all graduated members of AKB48 who were members for 4 years or more are now eligible to participate in this Senbatsu. Another small surprise is as of yet they haven’t made it clear if the Kenkyuusei can participate. So, it seems like Mii-chan fans might not be able to vote for her even if they wanted to. Unless they counter her as an AKB48 member of 4 years or more. But since she technically hasn’t graduated from AKB48, does it still count? I’m a little confused by that. And of course they also means other Kenkyuusei in general might not be about to participate.

Now that the facts are out of the way I can finally vent my feelings about this. When I first heard that graduated members are able to participate in the Senbatsu I was shocked to say the least. I literally gasped and said, “what?” in a genuinely stunned matter. But the initial shock wore off and was almost immediately replaced with anger. Not so much of rage filled anger, but more like anger out of annoyance. I guess I am more annoyed by this situation than anything else. I don’t understand the reason for including graduated members other than a cheap ploy to ensure that their 31st and 32nd singles sell a lot. I can see this latest gimmick maybe being record breaking sales, and in a big way.

Now, I’m usually a big fan of AKB48’s gimmicks. I usually marvel in the PR geniuses that are behind AKB48. But this latest gimmick doesn’t sit well with me, honestly it just seems desperate. And it makes me think I was right when I said AKB48 are going to reach their peak soon. And it seems like the people behind AKB48 are aware of that and are trying desperately to hold onto their high sales with more and more gimmicks lately. Why else did Eien Pressure come with B-sides for each sister group and not just the usual Team or Undergirls format? And why did So Long come with Team dramas? AKB48 is still selling over a million copies of each single so it seems almost far-fetched to say they are declining. But juts sit for a minute and ask yourself, without all the gimmicks how well would they really sell? Of course most idol groups use some gimmicks to sell. We see that with Morning Musume coming out with like 6 editions of singles and like 4 different B-sides lately. But AKB48’s gimmicks have always gone above and beyond that.

This current tactic is to just bleed wotas dry even more by enticing them with the chance to let their former favorite be in just 1 more single, and maybe even for the chance for them to be center. And I do admit it is a brilliant tactic because I know I would jump at the chance for Ryo-chan or Kusano to be in just one more NEWS single. Or to see KonKon, Koharu, Eri, Aika, or LinLin be a member of Morning Musume one last time. I might admit, and see, how much of a brilliant business tactic it is, but to me it’s still seems like AKB48 are really grasping at straws. And as much as I’d loved to see my beloved Ryo-chan or Kusano as a part of NEWS, it would probably cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Another interesting point to make is that it’s going to be extremely hard for the 100+ girls to battle it out for the measly 64 available positions in this single. And to make matters worse they now have to compete with former members. I’m sure it’s still going to be fairly easy for the extremely popular girls. But now it’s going to be near impossible for the unpopular members. It’ll even be difficult now for the secondary popular members. Former members had their chance to shine and now it’s the current girls chance/time. And even if former members didn’t get a proper chance to shine it still doesn’t make sense to steal the spotlight from the other girls. Which is probably why Acchan and other members have announced that they aren’t taking part. But so far 2 former members have confirmed their participating and members still have until April 7th to write in their candidacy. But I still question what was the point of graduating if you are just going to jump into a single again? I can accept members like Meetan trying again because of how quickly SDN48 was disbanded.

They only good aspect coming from this new candidacy system is that participation isn’t automatic. But even that is still a double edged sword. The Senbatsu is just heartache, pain, and disappointment to the unpopular girls. Those girls end up feeling worthless and feel like they let fans down for not ranking high enough or not ranking at all. At least now the girls can opt out of the pain. Because after all you can’t be hurt by ranking low if you’re not included at all. But at the same time I’m willing to bet the girls who feel like they aren’t worthy, good enough, or popular enough won’t even bother sending in their candidacy. And that’s juts incredibly sad. And the fans probably won’t let the girls who don’t participate live it down. Just last week Shinohara Kanna announced her graduation from NMB48 because during handshake events some fans questioned why she was a member of Team N and said that she was the reason N wasn’t moving forward. Which is just incredibly rough.

I guess there’s just nothing I like about this year’s Senbatsu. Which actually seems like an unpopular opinion because I see a lot of fans flipping out over this. But I’m just not one of them. Perhaps because I’m just a casual member. But it’s things like this that keep me casual. AKB48 has a lot of good points, but at the same time they have equal amount of bad points. No idol group is perfect, obviously. But like I said before I think once the main hype of AKB48 dies. down and some of the gimmicks fade, I might be able to appreciate the group more for what it is. Once they only sell around 500,000 copies I think the whole fandom, and the whole experience of AKB48, will be a lot more chill.

9 thoughts on “My thoughts on AKB48’s 5th Senbatsu election”

  1. I agree, but somehow I don’t think akb can ever be chill. I also think…I just don’t get including graduated members at all. But I do like how they let the girls decide if they want to participate or not, and I feel like the lack of kenkyusei is probably related to them not knowing what to do with meru and micchan.

    1. I really do think they can be chill. Once they aren’t at the top anymore I think fans will cool down considerably. I don’t really get why they are adding graduated members either. From a business standpoint yes, but in general it doesn’t work. It messes up the whole flow of the single and is rough on the girls.
      That’s true about not knowing what to do with Miichan. As for Meru, I don’t know how the fans feel about her. But then what about Hirajima Natsumi? She was a member for the allotted amount of time. I wonder if they’ll hold her back because of her scandal?

  2. I’ve been a fan since 2007 and of course is this a sales tactic, what makes AKB interesting is stuff like that where fans talk and express enjoyment and anger.

    It gives the girls who were moved to SDN who didn’t get a chance to be part of election after the first one was held. SDN wasn’t included at any AKB48 single election so I’m happy about the graduated rule. Just imagine how elections would of been if SDN was included. I think it would of shifted senbatsu in part (seeing Cindy, Yukarin and Ohori easily being ranked.) Watching all those Anniversary or Request Hour shows, you can tell the fans cherish the graduated members and would probably jump at a chance to bring them back if they could.

    I just don’t like the whole “4 years+” thing, obviously this rule was made so that Rinatin couldn’t apply. Just imagine if Oshima Mai could apply, she’d win by a landslide.

    I really dont thikn Sato Natsuki would apply, she didn’t rank at all so why apply now?

    1. I’m not saying anything negative about it being a sales tactic, all idol groups use sale tactics especially female idols. If they didn’t they wouldn’t exist. But I’ve personally never really liked the idea of the Senbatsu too many idols get hurt by it after they aren’t included. Sure, it’s fun for the fans but at what cost to the girls?

      I understand SND48 wanting to be apart of it since they were graduated as a whole rather suddenly. I’m not a big enough fan to know how much SDN48 being part of the Senbatus would have shifted it, so I can’t really comment on that aspect.

      That’s true. But I do think if they made it less than a minimum of 4 years a lot of really old and possibly irrelevant people would write in their candidacy.

      Makes sense. But I wonder what the incentive to harcore Natsuki wota would be to see her as an AKB48 member one last time. her graduation was recent enough for it to still really upset her dedicated fans.

  3. Even if I am not an AKB48 fan, I must admit that they have a great marketing strategy this past years. But I kind of agree with you, this new rules in their senbatsu thingy is like a desperate measure… And even I don’t care much about akb girls, I do feel bad for the unpopular girls too, I thought that when their popular members leave, the less popular gets a chance to shine too…. but oh well, at the end of the day it is still business…

    1. They completely do. Whoever, if behind their marketing is juts brilliant.

      It really does seem like a desperate measure, but I’ve only seen a few people think it is also. But understandably so, because of course die hard fans miss the graduated members.

      Honestly the unpopular members never really get a chance to shine. Sure, on occasion they’ll be thrown a magazine spread or some odd work outside normal AKB48 activities. But only because they are using the AKB48 name. Honestly, the unpopular members never really get a chance to shine. And now it’s gonna be even harder for them to shine the little bit they do. This is why I like the Janken tournament over the Senbatsu. At least that’s an even playing field.

  4. What I don’t understand is that they let the current members choose whether to participate or not. With lots of ex-members-to-be withdrawing, they’ll lose a huge amount of votes from wotas who would do their best in buying CDs to nicely send their oshimen off.

    1. I get why they let members choose. As awful as it seems their agency doesn’t need every single girl to participate to still make the same amount of money from this year’s election. And with less girls participating that means more money and incentive to the girls who are participating. Their wota are going to think less girls this year means a better chance for their oshi to rank high.

      And it is sad to not give graduating members a proper send off. I’m pretty sure Akmioto Sayaka isn’t participating. TOT

      Also, I just counted every single member participating in this year’s election and there’s an astonishing 254 girls participating. I have no idea how many people decided to opt out, but could you imagine the number of girls if every single eligible current and past member participated?

      So, I don’t see them losing many votes this year. Especially because of the added graduated members.

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