Continuing on from my last post, I will share my reaction and general thoughts on the results of the 2016 AKBGroup Election. Undergirls is a group that SKE48 has dominated for a number of years. I fully expected the same to happen this year (and actually expected quite a few SKE girls to rise into senbatsu itself as well) but SKE didn't dominate nearly as much as they had before. Neverthless, it was nice to see Souda Sarina (SKE), my favorite draft member rank so high. Churi dropping out of senbatsu was sad, but I kind of expected it. Nao dropping in rank rather than rising into senbatsu like I had hoped just sucked. Nao is a younger member of SKE and will be one of the members to support Jurina as a front girl in the years to come - SKE really needs some of these younger girls in senbatsu or at least high Undergirls. *sigh* But hey, Takeuchi Saki ranking so high was a definite plus in SKE's ranks - maybe the fans are hinting that they want Saki to take the center lead rather than Ryoha?
NMB having two members rank in Undergirls is definitely an improvement but they really need a second name in senbatsu. Shiroma Miru may be the best bet for next year. Nako ranking in was nice, poor girl works so hard (and she's super young still!). Mio dropping was meh for me. I knew she didn't have a good year and I don't like her, but I was a bit surprised to not see her higher. Her fans seem to be extremely loyal to her. Regardless, I was pretty ok to see where she was. It's not a terrible position, but it was clear from her speech that she expected a higher rank for sure. Undergirls overall though, was a win for AKB in my opinion. Oshima Ryoka, Kawamoto Saya, and especially Komiyama Haruka show that they're definitely the future of the group, jumping straight into Undergirls. Kato Rena rises - just a bit - but she keeps her position as a lead member of the group. Iriyama Anna, although this is her last election, managed to rank at #18, her highest yet and Kojima Mako gracefully took the #19 spot showing that she is poised to enter senbatsu by next year. Overall, I was satisfied with Undergirls and so happy that this shows that the main group's girls may not be as overshadowed by sister group members after all.
Ah, the top 16 ranks. Oh jeez. What to say, what to say. Well, first thing first - AKB WON BIG!! It was about time that homegrown AKB talent was acknowledged and here we go - three newcomers to senbatsu are homegrown AKB members! Takahashi Juri has been knocking on senbatsu's door since two years ago. I knew this girl would eventually make it to senbatsu the question was just when, and here she is - at #15! I can definitely see her being touted as the 3rd general manager of the group in the years to come and (I love you Yui, I really do but...) I can see Juri being an amazing general manager. Okada Nana comes in at #14. Of the 14th generation, Nana is also a member that was knocking at senbatsu's door, especially with her exploding popularity. During her speech, she admitted to being bulimic, and it being the reason why she had to take a leave of absence for her health. I felt so bad for the girl - clearly it took lots of courage to talk about her struggles and I hope that she is able to overcome this and come back stronger than ever. Finally - Mukaichi Mion. She is a true next generation ace, jumping all the way to senbatsu from Next Girls and at #13! I definitely see all 3 girls gaining much from their positions and possibly making their way into the legendary kami-7 in the years to come.
Kitahara Rie at #12 maintains her status as the highest ranked NGT member. I have to say - Rie's fans really came through. I really expected her to drop out of senbatsu but I like her, so I'm glad she's there. The general manager Yokoyama Yui dropped a spot to #11. Yui is difficult for me. She's my kamioshi. I think she's amazing, but I don't think the role of general manager was one that should have gone to her. She is more motherly toward the other girls and while she can give excellent advice, I think that the full weight of the role is crushing her at the moment. I hope she can become stronger and truly lead the group, but at the moment, I'm not sure she will be successful in this role. Interestingly, I didn't vote for her. I knew she would make senbatsu. But, I didn't see much resolve or passion from her to rank higher. She never really claims, "I want #1". It's more like she pushes the other girls forward. The issue with that is, the other girls will not only move forward, they will surpass her. Yui is still trying to consolidate her role as a general manner and for that reason alone, it's far too early for the younger members to use her as a stepping stone.
Muto Tomu at #10 was a super happy surprise! I know many expected her to fall out of senbatsu but nope, Tomu is here to stay! Haruppi at #9 surprised the heck out of me. I expected her to make senbatsu but not so high! Well, I suppose it'll be harder for management to ignore her and keep her out of the AKB senbatsu then. I still believe that sister group members should be limited to 2 representatives though. So -- I say kick Sashi out because she doesn't need the extra promotion and finally let HKT be led by its true first generation aces - Haruppi and Sakura. Paruru at #9 was stunning and absolutely graceful. I really wanted her in kami7. T__T Dasu at #8. Honestly, I couldn't care less about Dasu right now. She works hard and she definitely deserves it, I just find her annoying. Sakura taking #7 cracked me up. I recall saying last year that Sakura was rising in ranks but not actually doing much growing up at all. I foresaw a stall or drop in ranks and a tearful breakdown. Boy, was I right. Sakura right now is at a point in her career where she'll have to work really hard to overtake the members above her. It's probably the first true reality check she has had in a while.
Kashiwagi Yuki at #5 was a big wtf moment for me. Like, I had an inkling she would drop to #5, but I was still surprised when it happened. Especially since she lost a HUGE amount of votes. Sayaka at #4 was meh. I expected her there when Yukirin was called so it wasn't a big surprise. If Sayaka doesn't join the next election however, NMB will really need to step up their game. For the top 3 spots my heart was honestly beating like crazy. On the one hand, I knew it was going to be Jurina, hands down. On the other, I couldn't help thinking if SKE hadn't done so great because all these extra votes were pulled for Jurina to enter the top 2. But nope, Jurina made #3 and she also declared she wouldn't graduate in the next 5 years. So much for a new era in SKE~ lol.
The top 2 was horrible. I didn't want to get my hopes up but I totally did and was crushed. I actually stopped streaming as soon as #2 was called. Meh. I'm glad it's Mayuyu's last election. If she opts out of the election, I hope Sasshi finally decides to leave and stops talking about being/becoming a legend. She already was. After her first win, I really respected her - making such a huge comeback! She won an election - only two other girls had been able to do that at that point! When Mayuyu won, I was like, "Yes! Another legend!" And Sashi was all like, "Imma win next time!" And I was like, "Yeah, it's probably gonna happen. You don't need to win because you're plenty popular on your own but whatever." And she did win. And then she's like, "I want back-to-back wins!" and I dipped out. Like I totally stopped respecting her. At this point, it wasn't an underdog story for me anymore, it was a story of someone that had become overly ambitious. I honestly cannot wait until her overwhelming presence leaves the 48Groups.
The final comments I have are about Nyan Nyan Kamen. Okay Kojiharu, I get that you wanted to make the election fun, but that was super anticlimactic. In her last election, she ranked 16. From an original kami7, that's the worst rank ever. Announcing her graduation? Expected. I was not surprised. I laughed at Yuko being the Wan Wan police though, that was funny. Kojiharu never took on a leadership role like Minegishi and Takamina, she was still in the group to more or less bring face recognition to it. It's high time she graduates and the extra stunt was more amusing and slightly embarrassing rather than truly impactful. Oh well.
Well, that wraps it up! If all the girls who said this will be their last election do truly sit out for next year, that means that we'll have 5 new spots in senbatsu up for grabs and I couldn't be more excited to see who will make it in! I'm banking on Komiharu, Kojimako, and Shiroma Miru for sure making their way in but whatever the case, it's sure to be another interesting event!