October 17th is Oshima Yuko’s birthday.
It is also my birthday.
I’m David Chang, and this is an idol birthday post.
More than 2 years have passed since the graduation of Maeda Atsuko and 4 months since the graduation of Oshima Yuko. AKB48 is wildly different from what it was years ago. I’ve done something like this before and it was a post about Oshima Yuko on our birthday.
To continue the “story” where I left off, I actually did get to meet Yuko in person. It was actually on October 19th, 2013, in Japan. What was supposed to be 10 seconds was probably much more like less than five, but the aura and presence I felt when walking into Yuko’s booth was unparalleled by any of the other girls. For a physically small person, she definitely had a strong presence. I did get to tell her I am from #AMERICA and that our birthdays are the same. That was pretty much it. Her responses were “thank you” and “oh, the same [birthday]?”
To think that was the maximum extent of our interaction and yet I was quite satisfied. Yuko as a person and as an idol had that appeal to her. I think just seeing her in person was enough for me. She was shining very brightly that day. (Whoa buddy let’s not go supernova so soon, shall we?) Yuko was a very significant part of AKB48 and I felt that impact when I met her.
Yuko’s dominance in AKB48 post-Acchan was very real. She was a larger than life character whose face led the new AKB48 to the future. In the 4th General Elections, Yuko was an extremely uncontested #1. When I think of Yuko-centered songs, there’s a certain fun personality to them that I can get behind. Gingham Check was a fun throwback style song that grew on me slowly (with a badass PV made by Joseph Kahn). She was fantastically fierce and sharp in UZA, albeit she got the worst-looking lipstick (yes, I am semi-excluding Matsui Jurina hhhehehe #OogoeDiamondNeverForget). Mae shika Mukanee really captured the spirit of Yuko as a member of AKB48 and was a fitting graduation song for her. I will of course never forget Heavy Rotation, since it actually is my favorite song (LOL WAT I KNOW RIGHT?).
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s strange not having her around anymore. I’ve read that Yuko leaving AKB48 has had a greater impact than even Acchan leaving AKB48. I can see why that’s the case because Yuko is everything Acchan is not, and vice versa. Acchan was the perfect face. Yuko was the all-rounder to support that face. The two complemented each other pretty well, but if we were talking all business who would you pick when it came to variety, sports festivals, singing, dancing, etc? A few of us have joked that Yuko would even be the best wing man.
She is like that girl next door who’s practically perfect in every way, but she ends up being your best friend. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and clearly this is coming from a guy who watches a ton of anime. Imagine going deep sea fishing with Yuko. It would be chill. The two of you would bro out, maybe drink a Kirin or two. I was actually chatting with a friend about taking girls fishing. Not very many girls we’ve met like to go fishing, but you know who does? Yuko does. Or at least she appears to. This is all beside the point.
Yuko was an irreplaceable member of AKB48, just as Acchan was an “immovable center.” As much as I like to get super nostalgic all the time (ah, natsukashii~), we (and especially I) have to accept that Yuko is gone. Well, there’s still Team Surprise right? Anyway, besides dirty pachinko money, Yuko is no longer with AKB48 and it’s a bit unsettling, but at the same time it’s exciting. Sashihara Rino already took the center spot last year and this year Watanabe Mayu was crowned in an amazing upset. The group itself is moving in a different direction and there’s tons of new girls to be promoted, new marketing gimmicks to dump our money into, and many more TV shows to showcase the talent that might have been overshadowed by Yuko.
With all that said, I would like to offer a toast to one of the legendary chibis of AKB48. As an outstanding founding member of Team K, a role model to fellow members and the Japanese youth, and an individual who has captured many of our hearts, today is the day to celebrate Oshima Yuko’s birthday. I still miss her, but I look forward to what she brings to the table as Oshima Yuko the actress, the entertainer, the individual, and I wish her the best in all her future endeavors
After all, we can only face forward. Mae shika Mukanee
BONUS: Heavy Rotation always makes me go ham, like this guy: