Pop Analysis: The Miyazaki Decline

At NSK, one of our favorites is AKB Team B member Miyazaki Miho. Although for slightly different reasons, the three of us have been have been quite fond of her for some time and it was pretty evident during the 2011 Draft. We’re all disappointed in her recent slide in popularity and I wanted to take some time to look into possible explanations why.

I can’t say for sure why Miyazaki got the initial push that she did. Obviously she was a fresh new face and being on the always spotlighted Team A must have helped at least a little. I always liked Miho for her youth. Not because she was young but because she did things out of character for a new member. The youthful rebellion carried into playfully calling out senior members and make quite a few memorable moments for me.

I personally think that is why she was eye catching initially. But then as we got to know her, we found more traces of girlishness in her. She led on that she was more timid and we saw Miyazaki talk a big game but often time fail at backing it up.

People like winners and confidence. We’re drawn to those qualities because we want to associate with feelings of success. Who doesn’t want to be successful? But where problems arise is when there’s too much confidence. Generally we don’t like people who are full or themselves or narcissistic. Some individuals are able to walk that fine line. We give them a pass and refer to them as cocky. Because for all their loud, brash, and obnoxious behavior, they find a way win.

I think ultimately Miho’s slide began when fans started seeing her as a sheep in wolves’ clothing. She was great on the mic but that was about it. While personally, I find her girlish personality endearing, I could see how it would wear on other’s.  Maybe those fans saw it as a deception. Couple with the constant addition of new fresh faced members, it’s a lot to overcome.

In the end Miyazaki is at a loss. Maybe it’s her fault for biting off more than she could chew, but I still find the way she presents herself a quality that’s lacking in a lot of people these days. She’s an entertainer so I’d like to see more people, girls especially, with those colorful personalities.

I’ve been drawn to characters like Kushieda Minori from Toradora and Hirayawa Yui from K-On! so I see Miyazaki more as a human personification of those characters. Loud and over the top, but really just a sweet person inside.

David

About David Liao

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10 comments

  1. I see the classic character-actor syndrome in action with Miyazaki Miho that I also see with Minegishi; not that they have similar personalities, but they both have pretty extreme characteristics that can threaten to steal the show.

    But I would say the main factor is AKB’s growth in popularity and huge increase in casual fans. Miho and Minegishi’s naturally loud and boisterous tendencies have appeal, but not enough to beat the mainstream, not to mention that their looks also have unique appeal (but are also not “mainstream”). However, Minegishi has the advantage of being an AKB veteran; while Miho was initially very popular, it was before AKB really took off and grew into the giant it is today.

    So as more members are added to the pot, the newer members that can appeal to the mass audience are going to get ahead of Miho. I also think that the absence of Ono Erena could have played a part as well, since they used to be featured many times as a set and had great chemistry. Now that she’s more of a one-man show, it’s harder to get on screen and have a partner in crime that will complement her.

    I don’t necessarily think the sheep-in-wolf-skin was that much of a detractor because that “tough on the outside, gooey on the inside” archetype is more cherished by pop culture than seen as a disappointing weakness. I think that a girl with a bark that’s worse than her bite is preferred more than the other way around; but I’ll say that being part of that archetype is more limiting than someone with an overall ‘pleasant’ personality with traditionally charming looks (anime is a different story with “tsundere” n’ all that).

    • I pretty much agree with this analysis. I love Miho but I can totally recognise that the things that I like about her wouldn’t necessarily appeal to your casual AKB fan. It’s understandable that her personality and looks aren’t to everyone’s tastes but it also really sucks that her popularity seems to be taking a substantial hit because of it..

      I don’t really know what I’d expect her to do to regain that initial popularity that she had but I’d really hate if she made any drastic changes to her character in order to appeal to the more mainstream tastes of the casual fan. I like it when my idols have their quirks.

  2. I don’t really follow myao that often, so what are the specifics of how her transition in character may have affected her drop in popularity? Do you have a particular example of how her girliness comes off as deceptive?

  3. I thought Myao’s personality was the type that was popular so I don’t understand why it can turn people off. I mean the whole “bark is worse than bite” is all over Japanese television such as in the anime you mentioned.

    Although, I don’t know much about her (I have no idea where the ketchup thing came from), I like her a lot. She is insanely cute in everyway. Cute face. Cute size. Cute voice. Cute personality. She is just one of the cutest members. I mean other members are loud and boisterousness and they can still pretty popular. So what’s wrong with her?

  4. I agree with the analyst and its explanation of her popularity decrease. However, with that said I sure don’t agree with it being a legitament reason for it.

    Miho isn’t one of my favorites, she’s just “there” for me. B-tier for me. However, what I do like about her is how tough she acts. “acts”. I enjoy the fact and the irony that the tough girl is the most easily scared in the whole of AKB.

    I enjoy that she’s rough with her words and talks game she can’t live up to. She’s a Tsundere. She lives up to the definition well. To your face, she’s cold, mean, rough and tough.. but really, she’s girly and soft on the inside and by defualt you won’t see it.

    If her fan’s would accept her as a Tsundere they’d like her all the better. Tsundere are my favorite type of girls. If I were a Miho fan, I wouldn’t see it as she’s not living up to her image, or anything of the sort. I’d actually see it the opposite.. I think as you get to know a person there’s many stages. First you see what they’re trying to show you, then eventually you see them for what they are.

    When trying to get to know somebody, you should only judge their personality after you’ve gotten to know them. Seems her fans saw 2-3 episodes of AKBINGO and misunderstood her. imo, Miho is doing nothing wrong, its her fans that probably misjudged her character as straight tsun and 0% dere.

    As for me, I’m not a big fan or follower of her. What I see from AKBINGO or Shukan, is really all I know of her. But from that I can say I really do like her personality.

    Fantastic artical though, great work writing it. Felt smooth and I really enjoyed it.

    • And more props to her, is that out of all the girls who claim to be Tsundere (like Ota, who’s by far one of my top tier favorites), she is definitely more representative of the term Tsundere.

      That’s why hearing that her popularity is dying is strange, because Japan loves the Tsundere. She’s the epitome of the word and it doesn’t seem like an “act”. People misconstrued her personality as fake, its just the polar opposite traits (hard and soft, nice and mean, etc) that being a tsundere entail.

      • Many anime otaku idealize the character of a “tsundere”, but I wouldn’t say that AKB fans necessarily do, and casual fans even less; and seeing how there are far more casual fans than hardcore at this point, the casual fan is king.

  5. The comparison to Minegishi is very, very apt. In one of the profiling episodes it was also revealed that Miho had previous dance experience as well, although I don’t know if that experience was referring to AKB48 or not. Regardless, she didn’t fall behind the no3b members at all in the locking-fest that was Renai kinshi jourei. But Minegishi appears to have more athletic ability that lets her back up her sass in the humiliating games AKBINGO! loves.

    Also, I feel like Jurina might have stolen the spotlight that Miho had been slowly building, and NSK has noted before that Jurina NEVER loses. Next to that, Miho really would come off as a poser. Perhaps if Miho had then taken the Takamina track and made “all talk, but fail in execution” into her gimmick, it wouldn’t have made her seem so desperate in her boisterousness. But the girl has some fire in her blood, as shown by how hard she worked to conduct her korean interview with Supernova. Probably playing Butt Monkey, the way Sayaka has been forced to do, wouldn’t sit well with her, so Miho stuck with swagger that hasn’t held up.

  6. This might sound a bit shallow, but it’s probably because she’s gotten a bit pudgier.

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