Now, onto the reaction for the top 16 spots!
#16: Muto Tomu
Predicted: Takayanagi Akane
Muto Tomu takes the #16 spot! This was a HUGE surprise. I didn't even see Tomu as a strong enough candidate to enter the top 16. Her fans really pulled through for her and I'm happy to see her in the top 16. I personally quite like Tomu, so I'm happy for her and her fans~
#15: Shibata Aya
Predicted: Kodama Haruka
Haruppi didn't make it into the top 16, but we have Shibata Aya from SKE48 holding on tight to her #15 spot. To be honest, Aya seems like she might stagnate there, having placed 15 for 2 years now. Unfortunately, this means she's in danger of dropping out of the top 16 altogether within the next year or two. I like Aya, I think she's a pretty good entertainer, so I'm happy with her rank.
#14: Takayanagi Akane
Predicted: Miyazawa Sae
I am so so so happy that Akane (Churi) ranked higher than I predicted. I've been wanting this girl to get into the top 16 since forever. I'm so happy it has finally happened! Her tears of joy were just too much; I hope this means many more opportunities for outside work for this amazing girl.
#13: Matsumura Kaori
Predicted: Shibata Aya
Hey, Matsumura didn't rise as much as I thought she might. She has very loyal fans so I had no doubt she would rank in the top 16. Matsumura is another member I don't particularly like. If it were up to me, she wouldn't be in the top 16 at all, but I would rather have Matsumura than Tani, to be honest. Matsumura seemed super surprised when her name was called she seemed so lost for a few moments, haha. She's sure to bring a new flavor to senbatsu so I will be looking out for that.
#12: Watanabe Miyuki
Predicted: Matsumura Kaori
So Miyuki didn't make it quite to the #11 spot I was hoping, but OH EM GEE~~ SHE RANKED BACK INTO THE TOP 16! I was super ecstatic when her name was called. She seemed so truly happy and thankful and I was like, "Yes Miyuki! Congrats! I voted twice for you!" Yeah, I realize she couldn't hear me, but I was so happy to see her rank so high. What a comeback for my NMB fave. The first member to drop out of the top 16 and make it back in~ :)
#11: Kitahara Rie
Predicted: Watanabe Miyuki
KitaRie is the second person to break the curse! KitaRie spent two years out of the top 16 and this year, she made a strong comeback ranking at #11! Previously, the highest rank she had achieved was #13. KitaRie is really interesting and funny, I'm quite glad to see her back into the top 16 even though I'll admit I doubted her fans. Nice job at proving me wrong1
#10: Yokoyama Yui
Predicted: Yokoyama Yui
My first correct prediction! Lol, I was so so soooooooooooooooooooo happy to see Yui rank up!! I could tell she really couldn't believe it herself either! Her speech was hilarious, lol. She does need to work on keeping her composure during these sort of things but do I really care? Nope. Because YUI RANKED AT #10 YASSSSS!!! This was my main goal this election and I'm super happy I helped to contribute to it. Have a great year Yui and hopefully next year we can get you a rank in the single digits!!!
#9: Shimazaki Haruka
Predicted: Suda Akari
SHOCKER! I really expected Shimazaki to rise. She did great on her drama and had great exposure during the year. Her vote count did go up but it was just not enough. I do feel that her character pushes fans away because I hear that during events, she hardly looks at her fans; she just takes the picture and on to the next one. I know some say it's part of her charm, but I have to disagree. It comes off as unprofessional. Even though I like her performances and her acting, I think she does need to grow up and face the fact that she needs to learn to talk in front of a camera and appeal to people. It's not just something she needs to do as an idol, but as a person, or else she will find it difficult to be successful in many areas of her life. Hopefully she takes this drop as a lesson and starts opening up.
#8: Miyazawa Sae
Predicted: Miyawaki Sakura
Sae shocked me in a good way. I have always felt that she is an uncrowned Kami7 member. She may not have made it to the top 7 this year, but she definitely deserves to be treated as a member of the top 7. She has ranked in the top 16 in every single election, despite transferring to other groups. She has very loyal fans, is a great singer and dancer, and an absolute sweetheart. If she decides to graduate soon, I hope she will find tons of outside work. She is truly an ace of the 2nd generation and I would have loved to see her shock us all further by placing 7th or 6th. Still, Sae totally deserves this #8 spot!
#7: Miyawaki Sakura
Predicted: Yamamoto Sayaka
I'll be honest, I did not see Sakura breaking into the top 7. I just felt that girls like Haruka Shimazaki and Suda Akari were too strong for her to overcome. Boy was I wrong. I like Sakura. I'm not sure she has what it takes to be a top member yet, but she's still really young. With some more growing up and improving on her skill set, she could very well lead the 48group in the future. I think she is still too raw though. Through her speech, I kind of got the feeling that she feels she's ready to lead the group, that she has what it takes, but I have to disagree with her. Yes, she's cute and entertaining, but she is not a leader. Not yet. She can stand in the center and shine, but she can't lead. I hope she realizes this soon and works on that which she lacks. If she doesn't, she may soon face what Shimazaki faced this year.
#6: Yamamoto Sayaka
Predicted: Takahashi Minami
NMB48's ace maintains her #6 rank. I think Sayanee is the complete package and it honestly surprises me that she can't seem to overtake Matsui Jurina. I believe it is largely because her fans in Osaka don't vote too much (thus the reason why I placed her at 7), but maybe she just needs to get more exposure beyond her gravure work. I see Sayaka as a definite leader of the 48group. If she sticks around for another 2 or so years, I wouldn't be surprised to see her rank in the top 3.
#5 Matsui Jurina
Predicted: Shimazaki Haruka
Jurina actually dropped a rank this year, despite increasing her vote count. She was clearly really upset by this because the girl has been in 7 elections and has never taken the #1. She consistently says she wants it but I don't know if she's ready to shoulder it. I know Jurina is extremely capable; a great singer, dancer, speaker and mentor. She is also very young, meaning she could lead for many years to come, but she also overextends herself. I would say she works herself too hard. If she were #1 she would pretty much collapse from exhaustion. I know she wants the glory, but I don't think she'll be able to pay for the high price that comes with being #1.
#4: Takahashi Minami
Predicted: Matsui Jurina
Takamina was so overwhelmed with the amount of support she received and the fact that she got over 130,000 votes! Acchan coming out to congratulate her was the highlight of the night, honestly! I know she was aiming for #1 but I also know many people (possibly including herself) doubted she could beat the top 3. Nevertheless, she made it back into the kami7 and will graduate with her highest ranking yet at #4!
#3: Watanabe Mayu
Predicted: Sashihara Rino
Oh how I truly wished Mayu didn't rank in at #3. I really wanted at least a #2 rank for her but just watching her reaction at ranking at #3, I felt relieved and with a sense of "I have to vote even more for her next year!" Why? Well, she was extremely graceful, thanking all of her supporters and noting that even though she fell in rank, her vote count increased. She was absolutely stunning and it would seem like she had won the crown by the way she presented herself and how she showed she was so grateful for the votes. She accepted her place gratefully and I could not want to support Mayuyu more after seeing this. I really do like girls that are ambitious without being overbearing. :)
#2: Kashiwagi Yuki
Oh, Yukirin. As soon as I heard Mayu called 3rd, I put all my faith into seeing a Yukirin center. Unfortunately, her fans were not able to cope with the monster that is Sashihara's fan base. But, she did increase her votes by like - 60,000?!! That's insane!! Yukirin has always had loyal fans and maybe next year, she may be able to take the crown :)
#1: Sashihara Rino
Predicted: Watanabe Mayu
Ok, before I get into this, let's get one thing straight: I don't hate Sasshi. I don't even dislike the girl, I actually quite like her. But I absolutely did not want her to win the election. Why? Well, here's the deal, Sashihara is REALLY popular. She gets tons of jobs outside of HKT48/AKB48 activities. She is funny and has a great personality. In fact, the only reason she seems to still be in HKT is because she is a mentor to the younger girls. Some of her fans will rage that she's not given the right amount of respect despite having won the election but c'mon, did anyone really expect the management to name Sasshi, who they moved from AKB to HKT on purpose, the next center of AKB? Heck, even I think that if Sayaka or Jurina won an election, it would NOT be a guarantee that they would become the center for more than one single of the flagship group.
So, taking all that into account, I didn't want Sasshi to win because she doesn't need to win. She won already once. The stars are lined up for her for a successful post-AKB/HKT career. She's already a legend in the group. She. Did. Not. Need. To. Win. Yukirin? Yeah, she's popular but she's not as recognized among the public as Haruna/Takamina/Sasshi. Mayu? Yeah, her recognition has risen but she hasn't reached the levels of Yuko and Acchan, therefore a second win would have further cemented her image. Heck, Paruru? Yeah, she could have done with winning the election, it would have brought her tons more recognition. Jurina too. But Sasshi? No, Sasshi did not need to win this election. Her vote count proves my point. Just like Acchan and girls like Shinoda and Kojima Haruna, Sasshi has reached the point where she is more popular than the group itself. I'm not downplaying Sashi's win, yes, she won fair and square. She demolished the competition actually. But this "wall" she is creating is hurting the group. I really respect members like Yuko, Acchan and Rena who decided to step back and get rid of that wall for younger generations. I can only hope that Sasshi does the same.
Well, that's all for this year's election! Lots of shockers, lots of downs, lots of ups, basically a roller coaster ride as always. Unless a lot of ranked girls decide not to participate next year again and/or graduate, I don't know if I'll be as excited about next year's election. It may become stale by then. We shall see :)