Miyabi appointed sub-Captain and the panic that follows

SakiMiyabi

Berryz Koubou Captain Shimizu Saki made an unexpected and equally shocking announcement on her blog that fellow Berryz member Natsuyaki Miyabi will helping her lead the group as Sub-Captain. In her blog post, which you can read translated here, Saki said her reasoning behind appointing Miyabi was because she feels that she’s not doing a proper job of leading them since C-ute is holding concerts in the Budokan and Berryz has yet to hold concerts there themselves. And has now personally said she’s aiming for Berryz to perform at the Budokan this year or next year.

Now when I first read her blog post I was overcome with two emotions. The first was sadness for Saki because she, and the rest of Berryz, have been trying their best and still there’s no result. Not only that but you see how the idol themselves are painfully aware of how unpopular they are which is a whole other kind of empathetic pain I feel for idols. And I also feel sad because Berryz are losing to a younger group. Which has got to make them feel bad about themselves. The second emotion I was feeling was admiration for Saki. Here’s a leader who sees what’s wrong and really wants to fix it. And also an idol that has such love for their group that they want everyone else to know how great their group is. As a fan I’m touched and get slightly choked up thinking of her love for Berryz being so genuine and caring so much about the fans that she says she’s also doing this so the fans see the best Berryz that’s possible. 

I have to say I am not entirely surprised that C-ute are getting to perform Budokan. Tsunku did say either in the beginning of the year, or maybe the end of last year, that 2013 was going to be C-ute’s year. And that fact that C-ute are performing at the Budokan and having their first overseas concert means that Tsunku wasn’t kidding. But it is obviously sad for the other groups in H!P who would love to have a year as good as C-ute’s.

That being said, in my second paragraph I did say those were the emotions I was feeling when I read her blog post because when I first heard the news I certainly has different feelings. When I first heard this news I was completely confused. And the one though that I kept having was simply why. “Why now after all these years without one? And why at all?” Sure, I guess it could make sense that Saki feels that she’s incapable of leading the group on her own and really does need help. But let’s be honest, leaders in idol groups don’t really do anything. Sure they make sure the girls are actually working and not goofing off, and they gather the girls all together. But beyond that there’s really nothing else. They don’t choreograph the song or teach the girls the dance. They don’t write the lyrics or give the girls vocal lessons. And they certainty aren’t in charge of line distribution or how much promotions the group gets. Captain or leader is a fancy name and some honor, but it’s really nothing more than that. Because honestly the only time a group needs a leader is when new girls join the group. But Berryz has never had new members.

So, after realizing that Saki doesn’t really need help to do a virtually nonexistent job, what was the point in announcing this at all? And then it hit me and came over me as one fell swoop of fear and panic. This seems like it’s only being done because Saki plans to graduate soon. I honestly wouldn’t blame her or be too surprised. For one, Saki is the oldest member so I always figured she would leave the group first. And secondly, 2014 will mark her 12th year as an idol. 10 years in Berrys and 2 years in H!P Kids. That also marks nearly half of her life. Not many idols out there have started off so young and been an idol for so long. And this announcement does make it seem like Saki wants to graduate on a high note after accomplishing something big.

All of this just seems way too convenient. In nearly 10 years Berryz has never felt the need to have a sub-Captain, but now all of a sudden they do. It seems way too perfect if you ask me. Because the first question that would be asked if Captain graduated  would obviously be who’s the Captain now? And the answer to that question should have been Momoko. As the second oldest she’s the most logical choice. Miyabi actually makes no sense. There are 3 members older than her who should have been picked instead. Which either makes me think that some of those girls might want to graduate too or perhaps Saki really did have the final say in choosing.

I have to say the thought of Saki graduating does frighten me. Not because she’s my favorite member, which she isn’t. I don’t dislike her, she’s just floating somewhere in the middle to me. No, it frightens me because this would be the sobering realization that Berryz Koubou and C-ute eventually aren’t going to exist anymore.

Yes, one day when the girls are too old they are either going to drop like flies one by one or just graduate the entire group. The girls in Berryz Koubou are starting to reach that “too old to be an idol” age. This year the girls will be 19-22. Which doesn’t seem old, but in means some of the girls only have 2-3 more years as idols tops. I said on twitter recently, “what if Berryz announce their disbandment during their 10th anniversary?” I said it during one of my half serious “what if?” scenarios. But now I’m starting to think about it more seriously because honestly they could. They could seriously announce next year that 2015 is going to be their final year. Or they could just simply announce that a member is leaving. But having been members for so long in an almost unchanged line-up, wouldn’t one member leaving feel like the end of the group?

This whole station has put me on high Berryz alert. I love Berryz and consider Berryz to be my 3rd favorite H!P group. I guess now I’m going to treasure them even more just in case someone is leaving or the group is going to disband. Because honestly, even if it isn’t this year or next year, it’s going to happen eventually. And probably sooner than you realize or are prepared for. I really don’t want to be in one of those I didn’t care about them enough and now they’re gone situations.

I’m going to end this blog post with a cryptic piece of advise: Enjoy every idol moment like it’s their last because for all you know it’s going to be.

Recent thoughts about Johnny’s

In my opinion one of the most fun things to do when you’re an idol is to overanalyze and speculate about every detail of idols. Since my over-analyzations /predictions usually turn out to accurate it fuels the fire and makes me want to overanalyze things even more. Sure, there have been a few times I actually wish I wasn’t right. Like when I said Yamapi leaving wouldn’t be the end of NEWS, or when I said something wasn’t right with Arihara Kanna missing so many C-ute activities she had to be leaving soon. But just the same, it’s still fun to try to figure what’s going on, or to just think about what you wish would happen.

Lately I’ve been really thinking about things going on with Johnny’s. They were seemingly small little thoughts that I’ve just tweeted or posted on tumblr. Nothing really major. But writing my yearly ranking posts really sparked some new ideas that I wanted to talk about. None of them are big enough to get their own blog post alone, so I’m going to compile them together in one post.

1. The curious case of Nakayama Yuma:

It seems they never really knew what to do with Yuma from day 1. Nakayama Yuma was the most popular Kansai Junior, one of the most popular Juniors overall, and one of the most talented Juniors at singing. So, it was pretty obvious to the people that pulls the strings at Johnny’s that they didn’t want to waste him and could make money off of him. But it seems like they never had a clear image of what to do with him exactly. Which is why the whole Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow and NYC Boys fiasco happened in the first place.

Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow immediately says that Yuma is a solo artist and the other members are just singing with him. Kind of like Diana Ross & The Supremes. Because Yuma got all the lines and B.I. Shadow sang harmonies. So, why not just make him a solo artist to begin with? Or why didn’t they have Yuma and B.I. Shadow form a group with a new name and equal lines? If they did that I feel like Yuma would be in a better less confusing place right now. Obviously we all know that NYC dropped the Boys, shafting poor B.I. Shadow completely, and have been releasing singles since. Which is fine no big deal. Get all that gravy money from a group made up from one of the most popular Juniors and the 2 of the most popular Hey! Say! JUMP members.

But lately another confusing piece of the puzzle came into place, Yuma made his solo debut. Yuma sang the theme for his drama Piece and released the song as a single. Does this mean they are priming Yuma up to be a solo artist? They did release his solo song, Glassno Mahou, as another A-side with NYC’s Wonderful Cupid single. So, this could mean this was the plan for Yuma all along. Because right now since he’s only part of a sub-group and not an official group. He’s in the awkward situation of having nothing to do when NYC isn’t releasing anything. He’s in that Henry and Zhoumi from Super Junior M postion. (Yeah, it’s a Kpop reference, but I’m sure most of you get it.) And if he did go solo where does that leave NYC? Sure Yuma could handle being both solo and being in NYC. But I’m unsure if Ryosuke could handle it.
Which brings me to my next point,

2. Is the most popular member’s inevitable departure the new norm?:

As you’re all aware Hey! Say! JUMP member Yamada Ryosuke is making his solo debut by releasing the theme for his drama, Mystery Virgin, as a single. This makes me both very confused and worried about Hey! Say! JUMP. For the longest time if you were a Johnny’s idol in a drama or movie your group would 9/10 times sing the theme. Regardless if you were the most popular or least popular member. Mostly because Johnny’s uses their popularity and/or exposure as pretty much free extra promotion for the group they’re in. This format added countless of single sales to groups like NEWS and KAT-TUN. And helped Arashi’s popularity skyrocket.

But having 1 member of the group promote the single puts 3/4 of the attention and exposure to that individual alone. Besides the special group Shuji to Akira (and The Monsters), to my knowledge they’ve only done this once before and that was with Akanishi Jin’s Bandage single. Yes, they’ve also done this when Yamapi’s Daite Senorita was the theme for Kurosagi, but that obviously does not count since NEWS was on hiatus at the time. And if you recall when NEWS was off hiatus NEWS’s Taiyou no Namida was used as the theme for the Kurosagi movie.

But what’s the point of having Ryosuke release this solo single? Why isn’t it a Hey! Say! JUMP single? Especially since Hey! Say! JUMP released one single in 2012 all the way back in February. Sure maybe they want to gain more money since he’s the most popular member. But isn’t it enough extra money with him being in both NYC and Hey! Say! JUMP? And they would actually make more money releasing it as a Hey! Say! JUMP, or even NYC, single. Obviously mostly Ryosuke fans are going to buy a Ryosuke single. But fans of the other 8 members of Hey! Say! JUMP, or fans of the other 2 members of NYC, are going to buy the group’s single. Which would be an increase of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 copies. So, what’s the point of him releasing a solo single? Surely this is stretching Ryosuke really thin. Being in 2 groups at once and releasing a solo single.

This is also going scarily into NEWS and Kanjani8 territory. If you’re an idol in 2 groups at once one of the groups always suffers. One group has to be more active than the other group so the idol who is in 2 groups isn’t too tired. NEWS seemed to always be on the short end of the stick. And this year Hey! Say! JUMP is. 3 NYC singles, 1 Yamada Ryosuke single announcement, (so close to being 2012) and 1 Hey! Say! JUMP single. And please don’t say, “well they were active because they released 1 single, 1 album, and 1 concert DVD.” That is not active, that’s a bad NEWS flashback. Before Ryo and Yamapi skedaddled from NEWS they released 1 single, 1 album, and 1 DVD that year. It’s so similar it’s creepy.

So, does this mean it’s simply the most popular member’s fate anymore to leave the group and go solo? Jin and Yamapi both did it. And Jin was the only one to decide on his own. Ryosuke said his solo single came as a surprise even to him, and Johnny set up Yamapi’s meeting with Warner Music while he was still in NEWS. While I don’t see Ryosuke, or even Chinen for that matter, leaving anytime soon I do still think it’s in the cards. Because don’t forget Ryo was a member of 2 groups for 7 years before he threw in the towel. Chinen and Ryosuke have only been doing it for 3 years. And it is slightly easier on them because NYC doesn’t have their own TV shows or concerts like Kanjani8 did. At least for now anyway.

3. What’s up with Bakaleya6?:

I’ve been wondering what’s up with Bakaleya6 for a while now. Bakaleya6 is obviously made up of the Johnny’s members, minus Takaki, who were in the Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou drama. It made sense to temporarily have these guys perform together on Shounen Club or appear together on variety shows while they are promoting the drama and movie. But the drama and movie came and went, but the group doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. They perform pretty much on every episode of Shounen Club, occasionally on Yan Yan JUMP, are lumped together in all the idol magazines, appear on more variety shows, half of them were in a Baskin Robins commercial, and some of the members are getting additional drama work. Drama work while you’re still a Junior is pretty rare. You either only get extremely small roles, or you have to be an extremely popular Junior to get a lead role. Bakaleya6 also has their own special performance at Hey! Say! JUMP’s Jump World concert and introduced Hey! Say! JUMP in the beginning of the concert. They even headlined their own summary concerts.

While I think all that is obviously awesome for them, I still can’t help but wonder what the plans for this group are. Bakaleya6 is made up of some of the most popular current Juniors, so it makes sense to keep them together as long as possible. But then why not have them debut, or at the very least make them an official Johnny’s Junior group? Currently none of them are in Junior groups. Juri and Jesse used to be in Hip Hop Jump before they disbanded. Taiga hasn’t been in a group since Kitty Jr, Shintaro hasn’t been in a group since he was in Snow Prince Gasshoudan, and Hokuto and Yugo were left groupless after Sexy Zone’s formation completely broke up B.I. Shadow. So, it makes perfect sense for them to make one. In idol magazines you have seen Bakaleya Gumi written under their names, but you never see anything written on Shounen Club.

I honestly don’t see why they are keeping them together unless they have something planned for them. In a perfect world that would be a major debut. Personally that’s what I’m hoping for. A lot of fans say that it’s impossible because the group is too new. And I honestly think that’s ridiculous. Just because groups like KAT-TUN and Kis-My-Ft2 were Junior groups for like 6 years before debuting doesn’t mean that’s the norm. Most of these Juniors have been members of Johnny’s since the members of Hey! Say! JUMP joined Johnny’s. And sometimes that doesn’t even matter. Tegoshi was only a Junior for something like 8 months before his debut and Marius wasn’t a Junior for that long either. (I have no idea the actual amount of time though. XD)

I actually think having the members debut as a group makes sense since they are well known and popular members. It would be a much more calculated debut than Sexy Zone. Besides Fuma and Kento the members of Sexy Zone were pretty unheard of before the group was announced.

Thoughts on, and expectations for, Momusu’s 11th gen

By now absolutely everyone in the Hello!Project fandom is well aware of the 11th generation auditions. But I’ve been in such a blogging funk lately that I am unbelievably behind in everything idol related. Well, my blog is anyway. I’ve actually still been keeping up with it 100%. My funk is mostly due to the fact that PVs keep piling up and I’m still being pretty bummed out about Aika. Yes, still. Also, I always feel the need to let my beloved readers know that I’m not dead and why I’ve been MIA.

Know let’s regurgitate the facts about the audition now, because I’m so OCD and have to always lay out all the facts of the news before I post about my opinion on the matter. Seriously I do. Read back on all of my posts, there’s always a cheesy opening paragraph or at least a line or two.

During the May 18th joint graduation of Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika, Tsunku came out on stage and made a surrpsie announcement. Tsukunu announced that once again Morning Musume would be searching for new members, and announced the 11th Generation ~Suppin Utahime~ Auditions. (Which I thought translated to makeup-less song princess. Which just shows why I seriously need to study Japanese.) The dealine for the audition is June 25th and is open to ages 10-17. You can go to the official site by clicking here.

Now, when I first heard about the 11th gen auditions I was absolutely thrilled, just completely ecstatic. Mostly because when Risa announced her graduation I realzied they needed to bring in an 11th gen shortly. But I really wasn’t expecting the auditions to be announced this quickly. And of course when any sort of unexpected change happens in H!P there are always those fans who are apprehensive to the whole situation. The S/mileage auditions are the best example to date. I mean, there were fans who were really aggressively against them and thought it was going to be one of the worst mistakes in H!P ever. They never actually said that, but some of them certainly acted like it was going to be. I think it’s really funny to look back at the S/mileage auditions because, even though us fans didn’t know it at the time, if they never took place there’s a good chance that S/mileage wouldn’t even be around right now. But as you may recall, I was 100% for them. I am 100% for any change. Shaking things about a bit is one of the most exciting experiences of being a fan of idol music. Right now if they announced 2nd generations for C-ute and Berryz Koubou I wouldn’t even bat an eye. But that’s probably just me.

The 11th gen auditions of course weren’t free from backlash. While I was on twitter talking about it I saw a bunch of people who were against it or warry of it. And I don’t really get that. Obviously we need an 11th gen ASAP. Sayumi and Reina only have 2-3 more years in them max. Maybe even less because apparently Sayumi said she wants to gradute after experiencing being the leader for a bit. So, that possibly means Sayumi will graduate in a 1-1 1/2 years. Now, personally I won’t see it as a great lose because I am nowhere near a Sayumi fan. But that would be a great loss for Morning Musume. Not only is Sayumi currently the most popular member within Morning Musume, she’s also arguably the most popular member in all of Hello!Project. As she gets the most work outside of H!P. Now, her graduation will probably be a pretty decent blow to sales. But that’s not what this post is about. Now that means in, give or take 2 years time, 9th and 10th would have make up the entire group if the 11th gen wasn’t announced now. So, anyone against the 11th gen, do you see how ridiculous that sounds? And honestly how boring that would be. I also have worries if the 9th-11th (and possibly more gens) will be able to carry the group when the 6th gens leave. There’s no doubt in my mind that vocally they will be. I think 2 more years will be plenty of time for the girls to really polish their voices, and work out their kinks. But I do wonder if these girls will be built up enough, and given enough time to shine, that after the 6th gen is gone they will be able to keep the sales at a steady number or even increase them.

I really do hope that Morning Musume keeps up with this pace and holds an audition once a year, you know like they did back in the day. Morning Musume absolutely cannot take another stagnant lineup. Look how much life the 9th and 10th gen have breathed into the group. And I seriously want Morning Musume to be on their 13th gen by the time Reina leaves. Maybe it’s a somewhat unrealistic wish, but it would be the best thing for the group in the long run.

Now, moving along with that type of thinking I want to talk a little bit about my personal hopes and expectations for the 11th gen. First off, the number of girls. I’m going to say it right now I absoultely want four girls. To be perfectly honest, I always want four girls. One or two is completely boring. Three would actually work too, but I’d prefer four because it’s the maximum number that’s ever been let in, and I like to go for the gusto. Now, I really don’t want to hear in the comments that four is too many because I’m going to shoot that down right now. 1: Tsunku did at one time say that Momusu shouldn’t be larger than 9. But that theory was shot to hell when the 10th gen joined and made Momusu 12. And if Aika didn’t have to leave they’d be at 11. And if Aika didn’t leave and they added even 1 more 11th gen they’d be at 12 again. Which means “Momusu not being larger than 9” doesn’t seem like something he really takes to heart. Besides during auditions Tsunku has said a couple of times that he picks whoever he feels deserves to get in, regardless of how many that is. And that’s even if he actually  adds any more girls at all. You never know with Tsunku. He’s constantly doing what you least expect. And 2: Morning Musume needs to compensate for their current loss and future loss. Morning Musume obviously announced these auditions to replace the members they lost. Which is why I’m expecting at least 2 new members. And honestly it seems like the amount of 11th gen girls get in depends on when the 12th gen gets added. Go with me on this one. If  he doesn’t audition for the 12th gen next year we’ll probably see more 11th gen girls to compansate for Sayumi and/or Reina’s impending graduation. But if he keeps up with the yearly audition pace he might add less girls for the 11th gen because he knows that he’s going to add more girls shortly in the 12th gen. Now, if that seems a bit outlandish or over analyzed, need I remind you that Tsunku himself has Momusu’s next few years already planned out. And if Tsunku is thinking that far in the future why can’t I?

On a Hello!Project forum I expressed that I wanted 4 girls for the 10th gen, but people came out with their matter-of-fact logic and shot me down saying: “Tsunku won’t allow such a large Momusu again,” or, “the girls themselves hated when Momusu was that large.” And I have to laugh a bit in retrospect since we all know what happened in the end. Am I confident that we’ll get 4 girls again? Honestly I’m not. This time it feels like it could go either way. But it seems pretty obvious that we’re going to get a least two 11th gen girls.

Now, for the girls themselves I want 90% of it to be based on vocals. I think Momusu right now has plenty of personality. But they’re not really overflowing with singing ability. Yes, in a few years they will be, but not today. So here are the types of girls I personaly would love to see in Momusu: (I promise I won’t whine about how I want Miyamoto Karin to get in so bad yet again.)

A girl like Fujimoto Miki: This one actually has nothing to do with the 11th gen. But it has to do with H!P so I’m sneaking it in here anyway. Remember when Miki auditioned for the 4th gen, but didn’t get in and become a soloist instead? Yeah, I want that to happen again. Except I don’t want them to rip her out of her solo career to join Momusu in a later generation. I’ve said it before it’s really boring only having one solo act in H!P. I miss when H!P had a handful of them. Besides that ManoEri, only has about 4 more years before she starts to be too old to be an idol.

A girl like Yoshizawa Hitomi: Now, I want everything that Yossie was in a new girl. Meaning I want a tomboy with a deep voice. Right now all the girls in Morning Musume have very fluffy, pretty, idol personalities. (Except my baby Zukki) Which is fine, but I think we need a bit more variety in Momusu. This is why I wanted Otsuka Aina for the 9th gen. She was tomboyish and had a good voice. Now, the voice: Morning Musume really needs that just to keep the balance. With both Risa and Aika graduating Morning Musume lost all their deep voices. Who is going to rap now? And please do not tell me one of the current members. Listen to W’s Miss Love Tantei and tell me that’s perfectly acceptable. I love(d) W and the cutest worked for them, it was their theme, but not in my Momusu.

A girl like Goto Maki: Now this has nothing to do with personality. Morning Musume just needs another member like Gocchin who was just an amazing singer immediately. Listen to her audition, she was absolutely flawless without coaching. And she was only 13. It’s really unexpected to find someone like her.

A girl who is a mix of Tanaka Reina and Michishige Sayumi: I really wanted to put a rocker chick, but with Reina’s old yankee image this works too. Now this one is really based on personality. Back in the day Reina really had this tough sort of, “don’t mess with me” image. And she did say a lot of things that annoyed me and made me think she was arrogant. But I really want a member who is totally blunt. A girl with Sayumi’s poison tongue, but without her overbearing, narcissistic, and sugary sweet idol persona that comes along with it. Reina used to have an image like this, but she’s softened over the years. I just want a girl to be like Reina or Miki to say something catty just to keep the other members on their toes. I never really liked any of these members because of their sour personalities, but even I have to admit they are entertaining at times. In small doses.

Has AKB48 reached their tipping point?

The other day I was watching a documentary on Netflix, and in this documentary this guy was talking about peak oil. Now, I’m not sure if everyone is familiar with this term, and if you’re not I’ll just give you the basics of it now. Right now the world’s oil reserves are at 100 billion barrerls. It might even be closer to 1 trillion. But I honestly have no idea, I’m no expert on this. I run an idol blog not an oil blog. Anyway, peak oil is when we reach the peak of oil production. Meaning we’ve used exactly half of the world’s oil supply and are left with the dwindling second half. Now, that got me thinking. Are we then in peak AKB48?

Looking back you can see the exact moment Morning Musume was at their peak. Mostly because we’ve seen the rise and the fall. But it’s a lot trickier with AKB48. It’s a lot harder to spot a peak in present time when it’s all happening. There are so many variables you cannot account for. That any sudden rise in popularity or dramatic full in popularity can happen at any moment for any reason. It’s especially hard to predict with a group like AKB48. A group that shows no signs of slowing down and seems to keep topping itself with each release. But I’m stil inclined to believe that we are in peak AKB48. But don’t quote me on this. This is just more of a personal hunch or feeling. As I said, absolutely anything can happen at any moment. And I’m no precog.

Right now AKB48 is in a extremely good place. They could sell ice to an Eskimo if they wanted to. I mean, they endorsed men’s suits. Mens. When’s the last time you’ve seen a commercial of a girl wearing and selling men’s clothing? I know I’ve never seen one before. It really is astounding, and no one out there can deny their draw and pull. But there is still a peak. A peak of love and tolerance the general public has for something. The closest examples are flashes in the pan. And since the general public is Japan, there’s not really much we can do about it my friends. Sure we can increase sales, but most of us don’t live in Japan we can’t effect TV ratings. And variety shows are how idol groups gain and increase popularity, and inturn fans, to begin with. The minute no one watches your variety show anymore, it’s the beginning of the end. We see that again with Morning Musume.

Now AKB48 has probably the best PR/marketing team I’ve ever seen. Constantly making an already established brand fresh and exciting. But for every victory they make they are also sabatoshing themselves, whether they relaize it or not. Once you reach the top you tend to get cocky and think you’ll never be beaten. Well, that’s probably more of how the fans think then the girls themselves. But every former child star will surely tell you what goes up must come down. And I think the people behind AKB48 probably have a similar mindset as the fans. The biggest and most blatantly obvious mistake is over saturation of the market. Now, I’ve already mentioned this a couple of times before, but that’s because it’s such a huge deal. It seems every 5 minutes there is either a new sub-group or soloist. But the absolute worst oversaturation is the creation, and future creation of, Teams 4 and 8. Which are nothing more than trying to squeeze more money and attention. And nothing to do with having too many great Kenkyuusei and not enough room or Teams. Which is fine. I get that it’s just business as usual. But do you realize that upon completion AKB48 will have 70 members. Wrap your mind around that for a second. As a jaded idol fan 70 members doesn’t phase me nearly as much as it should. I just though, “Oh, AKB48.” But then I imagined trying to explain them to a non-fan. And they would honestly say either, “Why bother?,” or, “How how do you keep up?” Which is the same conclusion I made. I found  myself saying, “70 members and I’m expected to know all of their names? Are you kidding me with this?” There are probably people out there who know all past, present, and trainees’ name for every 48 group. And you know what good for them. But I doubt there’s really a fan out there who knows absolutely everything about every girl, there are just too many. And if the sister groups completely follow AKB48’s footsteps adding 5 teams there will really be too many. And to know everything about AKB48 I’d probably have to give up every other idol group for a few months. And I’d honestly rather cut my own ear off. Which is obviously an overdramatic statement, but that goes to show to what extent that I can’t be bothered to catch up because of how time consuming it would be. I’ll just stick to my AKB48 noob posts while I slowly and gradually catch up. Well, eventually anyway, when I get around to seriously putting effort into it.

And let’s be honest anyway, the Senbatsu pretty much proves they only need 20-30 members. The other 35 members are just gravy. And that is a bit heartless, but that’s business. Now, maybe AKB48 fans will never get sick of seeing the girls, but obviously Japan doesn’t want to be constantly bombarded with them forever. That alone is enough to make them falter, but couple that with what made Morning Musume fall from grace and you have a bad situation indeed.

It’s pretty obvious that Momusu’s fall from grace happened when their beloved and popular members graduated. They were the members that made Morning Musume, Morning Musume. Not only that but it is extremely hard for new members to have the personality and the dynamic that the old members shared. With Acchan graduating it is a sobering fact that popular members are eventually going to start dropping like flies. Maybe even sooner rather than later. AKB48 is in such a seemingly good place right now. The group is 7 years old already and haven’t really lost any substantial members to graduations. And even if they did AKB48 was nowhere near as popular as they are now, so it didn’t really effect them as much as it would now. And we have girls in AKB48 who have either been there from the beginning or close to it. They are either starting to get too old or starting to think it’s been too long and are ready to move on. And you can’t really rule anyone out either. Idols frequently graduate years before they really have to. Kago Ai, Tsuji Nozomi, LinLin, Konno Asami, Sakuma Kaho, Akita Eri, Hayami Akari, etc. Idols also leave because of injuries or medical reasons Kameri Eri, Mitsui Aika, Kosuga Fuyuka, Imade Mai, Matsushita Yui, etc. And you can’t rule out idols being picked off from scandals as in the cases of Kago Ai, Murakami Megumi, Arihara Kanna, and Kato Rubi. Not to mention close to home scandals in the cases of Hirajima Natsumi, Yonezawa Rumi, Ishiguro Atsuki, and Kikuchi Ayaka. (Which obviously worked out for her in the end.) The next few years are probably going to be devestating in the terms of graduations. But even if these things do bring them down, I do still see hope for them. And they can do so by pulling an Arashi.

There’s no doubt that right now Arashi is the top idol group in Japan right now. Yes, the top. AKB48 might sometimes sell twice as much as Arashi does, but Arashi has been on top far longer than AKB48 has. AKB48 didn’t start selling Arashi numbers until 2010. Now, AKB48 is just like Arashi in the aspect that everyone loves them despite their age or gender. Both groups are variety royality with multiple shows and appear on multiple others. Despite the level that Arashi is now, the group wasn’t always on top. Arashi initially was doing good. Their debut single A.RA.SHI. sold over 900,000 copies. Arashi didn’t exactly keep up that pace though. Their next 5-7 singles only sold over 300,000 copies. And then after that their sales took a complete nosedive and their singles for the next few years only sold somewhere between 150,000 and 250,000. So what helped Arashi return from their fall from grace to reach the top? It was 2 things really. Gaining the success and completely striking when the iron is hot and making the most out of their success. Arashi regained their popularity because of Matsumoto Jun’s drama Hana Yori Dango 2. Arashi’s Love So Sweet single was used as the theme. And obviously since the drama was so popular the theme song sold well over 400,000 copies. Personally I don’t know what was so great about Hana Yori Dango 2 for Love So Sweet to sell so much. Arashi did the theme for the first season of Hana Yori Dango as well, but Wish only sold a little over 100,000 copies. And personally I thought the first season of Hana Yori Dango was much better. And their next theme song, Happiness, for the drama Yamada Taro Monogatari sold over 300,000 copies.

Shortly after that Arashi released One Love which was used as the theme song for the Hana Yori Dango movie. Which sold over 500,000 copies. And then that is where Arashi used their regained popularity to their advantage to stay relevant. At the time Arashi did 2 tours. One for their Dream “A” Live album and one Asian Tour. Coming off the popularity of One Love one month after it’s release they released their next single Truth. And the next single after that was Beautiful Days which was used as the theme for the drama Riyusei no Kizuna. And while all of this was going on Arashi also debuted 2  varitey shows that are still airing today, Himitsu no Arashi-chan and VS Arashi. But not only did they debut 2 variety shows the 2 shows premiered in a 2 day spand. Himitsu no Arashi-chan on April 10th and VS Arashi on April 12th. Further solidifying their popularity.

Now this might have seemed like way too much to read about Arashi in an AKB48 related post, but I felt it was important to go through exactly how Arashi regained their popularity. Because it really shows how AKB48 could also rebuild their image when they face their decline. A big chunk of AKB48’s popularity started from dramas to begin with. Oogoe Diamond which was the first big jump in AKB48 sales was most likely due to the fact that it was used as the ending theme to Mendol. Maybe the switch to King Records also helped too, I don’t Know. But AKB48 did start selling Arashi numbers because the theme song to Majisuka Gakuen was included in their Sakura no Shiori single. And then after that the rest is pretty much history. Which goes to show that the right drama can really make or break an idol group. Perhaps that was one of the reasons that Morning Musume never regained their popularity. Until recently the girls never acted in dramas.

So, what was the conclusion of this whole post? For one I absolutely do think AKB48 is in their peak. I don’t see AKB48 really being able to rise that much more above the level they are at now. I mean what really is above their current level? Really, think about it. Another variety show? Even more commercials? Selling 2 million copies? Even if they do achieve that, I think the public will be so fed up with AKB48 at that point. Even though hardcore AKB48 fans will want to see them constantly forever, casual Japanese fans, and non-fans alike, will think enough is enough already. I know it’s certaintly like that in the US. Like Lady Gaga for example. A couple years ago Americans, the media, and to some extent myself, could not get enough of her. But then you started hearing articles of people being sick of seeing her and hearing about her. And after Judas didn’t go as well as expected you didn’t hear from her nearly as much as you used to. Yes, You and I did have slim popularity, but that’s about it. Personally I thought You and I was a let down of a song and I didn’t even bother listening to Marry the Night. To this day I’ve only heard bits and pieces of it the number of odd times it’s been played. And that’s mostly due to the fact that it was her least popular song in the US. So, if someone like Lady Gaga can fade here, what’s stopping AKB48 from fading there?