Trainee NSK member Quiana gives you the rundown of how she felt the AKS groups performed over the last month or so.
|(=)||There’s a lot going on with AKB recently, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. Halfway through March, things got interesting with the announcement of "Otona AKB", the joint project between AKB48 and Glico to induct one over-30 member into AKB as a promotional character for Glico’s newest ice cream product. The member, Tsukamoto Mariko, age 37, was met with positive responses and will certainly be the base of much talk about AKB.
A new drama titled "Sailor Zombie" starring Owada Nana, Takahashi Juri, and Kawaei Rina was also announced and premiered mid-April with the theme song being sung by Watanabe Mayu, Iwata Karen, and Yokoyama Yui. Additionally, during the National Olympic Stadium Concert in March, a new single was performed: "Labrador Retriever", 2014’s election single, will be released May 21st.
"Request Hour Setlist Best 200" finished up in April, with "Seijun Philosophy" being #1 and ending with the announcement of a new AKB48 documentary titled "The Time Has Come". Two additional tentative kenkyuusei were also introduced in April; Ino Miyabi and Taniguchi Megu will be the only two kenkyuusei in AKB48 until the next tentative kenkyuusei or audition is announced.
It doesn’t stop there: Team 8, consisting of girls from each of the 47 prefectures in Japan, also made their debut, though there have been no official activities for the girls yet.
To top it all off, DiVA and Not Yet made their comebacks with a cover song and a new original album respectively.
There are still some dark spots on the past few months though: Nonaka Misato of the 8th generation, Kikuchi Ayaka of the 7th generation and Katayama Haruka of the 3rd generation all announced their graduations from the group. As the first half of the year begins to draw closer to its end, AKB is still going strong with its wide variety of activities.
|(+2)||HKT’s release of "Sakura, Minna de Tabeta" kicked off March with a subtle bang; sales went up by a few thousand compared to Melon Juice. Team H also debuted their "new" stage, "Seishun Girls", in late April, joining the influx of new stages for every single national 48 team.
HKT also received three surprises during their "Kyushu Seven Prefecture Tour": the four kenkyuusei; Ui Mashiro, Ueno Haruka, Ito Raira, and Iwahana Shino were all promoted to full members, a nationwide tour was announced, and a new HKT show titled "HKT48 no Goboten" was announced as well.
With no graduations announced and a lot ahead of them, HKT48 is definitely marking their territory as a powerful idol group in Japan.
|(+2)||Nogizaka finally gets into the top three, and the group comes in with good reasons too. Early in March, Nogizaka started a limited-time cell phone message service with NTT Docomo, a big-name company that is bound to raise their popularity amongst the public population.
"Kidzuitara Kataomoi" was then released in early April, and first week sales beat both NMB48’s and SKE48’s last singles, an impressive feat since Nogizaka was announced almost a year after NMB made their debut and almost four after SKE. Ikoma Rina also made her theater debut with Team B in AKB48, and was met with positive responses as well as a good spot in the lineup for the theater performances.
Furthermore, Nogizaka’s own set of theater performances were renewed as "16nin no Principal Trois". In miscellaneous news, Nogizaka also released a CM for the large anime franchise "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" and received their first-ever Music Station performance in mid-April.
The only blemish on Nogizaka’s good past two months was ex-AKB-turned-Nogizaka member Nishikawa Nanami’s withdrawal. Other than that, however, Nogizaka has truly made their mark as the official rivals of AKB48 and are definitely on their way to the top of the idol industry.
|(-1)||NMB is falling slightly behind lately, with not as much good news as past months. "Takane no Ringo" was released in March and brought good sales with it, beating "Kamonegix" and overtaking SKE’s last single, "Mirai to wa?". Three new stages, though not original, had their debut as well: Team N performed "Koko ni Datte Tenshi wa Iru", Team M performed "RESET" and Team BII performed "Saka Agari".
Other than that, however, not much good has been going on for NMB. Three graduations were announced by Shimazaki Momoka, Akazawa Hono and Kobayashi Rikako. NMB can only hope for a big announcement or two in the future, or else their interest level as an idol group is going to fall sharply to the other AKS groups.
|(-3)||Things don’t look so good for SKE. The group’s 14th single, "Mirai to wa?", only sold just under 400k copies in the first week and lost to the younger sister group NMB’s "Takane no Ringo". This is a large drop from "Sansei Kawaii!", which sold almost 450k in its first week.
SKE’s teams also all had their new rerun stages debut: Team S performed "Seifuku no Me", Team KII performed "Ramune no Nomikata" and Team E performed "Te wo Tsunaginagara". Not much else has been going on with SKE other than the single release and the new stages, though Matsui Rena made her debut with Nogizaka46 and seems to have been accepted by members and fans alike.
However, sadly and similarly to last year, there was a large amount of graduations in SKE, though there isn’t a graduation song for this group: Yamamoto Yuka, Orito Aisa, Kito Momona, Iguchi Shiori, Kaneko Shiori and ex-AKB48-turned-SKE 1st generation’s Deguchi Aki all announced their graduations within March and April. The past two months have been very rough for SKE, and there can only be hope for the next few months to come.
How would you rank all of the AKS groups over the past month? Leave a comment and let us know!