On March 26, AKB48 held a concert at the Saitama Super Arena which saw the fourth major team shuffle in the group’s history. I’ll only be reacting to a few bits of news. Truthfully, the makeup of the teams only means so much to me. I’m much more interested in the 48 groups as a whole and specific members.
For people that are commited to specific teams, shuffles like this can be really stressful or disappointing. I try to take it all in stride. I always liked the Hello!Project shuffles that happened between 2000 and 2005. This is obviously more permanent (although it’s starting to occur more and more), but I look at it as a fun way to mix things up.
Kawaei Rina Graduating
As most people know, last May, Kawaei Rina, Iriyama Anna, and a staff member were attacked during a handshake event. The attacker was arrested at the scene was recently sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty. After that attack, for a time at least, Rina and Anna returned to the group. That is until a few days ago when Kawaei Rina announced her graduation.
One reason that Rina has mentioned for graduating is being unable to “participate in handshake events with fans anymore.” It’s really sad news and I’m gutted for her. But hopefully, graduating from the group will be the best thing for her in her life. Hell, doing handshake events is strenuous and physically exhausting enough as it is. And then you are adding in the memories of that incident on top of that?
She is going to focus on her acting career and hopefully she does well.
I’ve only been a true AKB48 fan since October. I’ll have to watch back to see Rina’s best moments during her time in AKB48 since the only thing that I knew about Rina before the slashing incident was her “smelly feet” gimmick. Watching her perform Watanabe Mayu’s “Rappa Renshuchu”, she does have a charm and cuteness about her.
Kitahara Rie transfers to NGT48 as Captain. Kashiwagi Yuki concurrent NGT48 position.
This feels like it is good news for Rie. From my understanding, she is a popular member but that popularity was starting to wane. Despite 21 A-side appearances, she hasn’t been featured since “Labrador Retriever.” It’s a chance for her to take on a bigger role in the 48G world. Whether that works out or not, it can’t be all that different from the spot she was in.
As for Yuki, she stays in AKB48 but makes the concurrent switch from NMB48 to NGT48. I wonder what the Shrews Guy thinks of this.
Matsui Rena, Ikoma Rina concurrent positions cancelled.
I enjoyed this exchange so I’m a little disappointed to see it come to an end. Rena fit in well with Nogizaka46 and it was cool to see Nogizaka represented in AKB48. And while Matsui Rena will not be taking part in the election, Ikoma Rina will be eligible.
Matsumura Kaori promoted to Team KII.
First things first, I believe that it’s still unknown whether or not she is going to accept this promotion. I liked the idea of her being the “lifetime honorary Kenkyuusei,” especially since it was her idea. Even as a kenkyuusei, it was an idea/gimmick that worked and helped her stand out. Why change that?
A user, lordnoobs, at stage48 has an interesting theory:
I can’t help but have the feeling that with the recent graduations management feels like ske needs more experienced veteran members to provide leadership.
This would make some sense as SKE48 has seen a lot of graduations recently. And while Matsui Rena is not graduating, recent news of her not participating in the election makes you wonder if her time is coming. Still, couldn’t Kaori have done this as a kenkyuusei member?
Kitagawa Ryoha concurrent to Team 4, Mukaichi Mion to Team K.
For a brief moment in time, my two favorite 48G members were on the same team. The five minutes that I saw Ryoha was heading to Team 4 before I saw that Mion was heading to Team K was five minutes that I’ll never forget! I am not especially committed to any specific team or group in 48G but I did enjoy Team 4 the most. It would have been awesome to see these two interact more but I can wait until they are the two absolute centers of AKB48 in a couple of years!
Team 8 members in Teams A, K, and B
One last interesting development is the inclusion of Yamada Nanami (A), Nakano Ikumi (K), and Sakaguchi Nagisa (B) into the AKB48 teams. I’ve always wondered what the future really holds for Team 8. Are they a permanent fixture? Will the popular members of the team be moved into other sections of 48G? I guess I get the beginnings of an answer with this move.
You can read a full list of the changes over on the Stage48 message board.