After nearly a year of simmering, it finally got cooking. Since the new members of AKB were announced last October, they’ve more or less been benched when it came to media pushes. But since July there have been significant changes. Maeda Ami, Ooya Shizuka, Sato Sumire, Komori Mika, and Ishida Haruka are appearing more and more, finally participating and being featured in events on their flagship shows like ‘AKBingo’ and ‘Shukan AKB’ and getting plenty of appearances on other variety programs as well. And here I was worrying that the new girls wouldn’t get the opportunity to showcase themselves until it was too late.
In the back of my mind I’ve wondered about the future of AKB48. Sure it’s great and stable now, but what happens when the star original team members start graduating? The recent and sudden departure of Ono Erena only furthered the sense of urgency and anticipation of other possible graduations. Who would be next: Kojima Haruna? Oshima Yuko? Itano Tomomi?
When such prominent members leave, will the likes of Komori Mika or Sato Sumire be able to step up? The more attention the newbies are getting, the more my mind is eased. A few weeks ago Shukan dedicated an entire episode surrounding Komori Mika; something that even top billed members don’t get. Many of the members that will eventually have to step up to the plate have plenty to work on but when the times comes, I feel a bit more confident that these new personalities will find a great audience in the near future.
The Jankenpon Tournament that was held in September determined the members who would represent the 19th single, due in December; and it features quite a few members. Sato Sumire, Maeda Ami, and Ishida Haruka are among the media senbatsu in the top six, and they haven’t even been in AKB for a year. Sure, it’s unfair to use this single as a litmus test of some sort to see if they are front-girl material but I’m excited to see how this would turn out, and if I can see the potential in them.
Who knows when the shift will actually happen but it should be interesting to see what will become of AKB a few years down the line.