It was reported on the official AKB48 blog that Oku Manami, an original Team K member, is graduating this May.
She was pretty popular at first, but it dwindled to nearly nothing in the past 2 years, most likely from her weight gain and her uncanny ability to become a wallflower wherever she went.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Oku, but I always thought she was cute and had hope for her. I always believed that she would eventually get motivated, lose weight, and rise above her current slump with a great comeback. In Oku’s situation, it’s impossible to be deaf to criticism about her weight; I’m sure she gets shit all the time about it, from fans and management.
I guess I’ve always wanted her to succeed because I had a large weight gain phase when I was younger and was able to lose it through exercise, so I knew Manami could do the same.
… I also wanted her to succeed so I could rub it in everyone’s faces when they realize how cute she could be. I think Akimoto Yasushi(the producer) shared the same sentiment; he’s said before that he saw Oku as a potential “ace” girl for AKB, and she’s always been chosen for Undergirls, despite being largely unpopular.
Anyway, it’s a severe disappointment that I won’t be able to see her grand comeback, but it’s also just saddening to see her go as another original Team K member, following Ono Erena.