work hard, play hard

the one and only sato amina

sato amina.  her high-pitched voice and soul-piercing eyes can be picked out from anywhere.  reportedly a big fan of idol groups herself, she would get in line to watch akb48 perform in the theater often.  later she would audition and become a kenkyuusei, to be chosen as a full member of team A by early 2008.

i read a great article(again) recently about the senbatsu election that took place in 2009.  this is the underdog story of sato amina.  how dedication and effort won out against seemingly impossible odds.  click to start!

..Election result now only left with the Best 10

There was one member in the corner who was looking down, sobbing.

「 will be the 10th girl…」

The place was surrounded by heat
In that member’s ear, Togasaki’s(the announcer’s) voice seemed very low as if she was far, far away from him.

That member’s name is Sato Amina

「I knew that I was not that popular like the other girls…
Like in handshake line would stop faster, and my fan letters were fewer compared to other girls.

But even if they were little, I was happy to see fans cheering for me, and I really enjoyed singing in the AKB48 Theater,

so at first, I tried not to care about it too much..

But from Oogoe Diamond, 5th Gens, who were in AKB shorter than me, started to get chosen for senbatsu…

so I started thinking that I should appeal myself more.
But I did not have much chance for TVs nor Magazine I pondered how I should appeal myself.

I started out from borrowing K 4th – Saishuu Bell Ga Naru Stage DVD.  I borrowed the lesson room and started memorizing dance moves by myself.

At first, I started out one by one. Stage performances usually starts out with everyone singing 4 songs, then next comes the self introduction.

So, if I memorize 4 songs, I can stand in stage until the introduction.  and if I memorize until the middle of the stage setlist, I can participate in MCs.

By doing that, I gained more and more time to stand in stages, one song by one song.  So, those fans who come often would see that ” Hey, Amina memorized the set till this song “

I didn’t want to let them think “ah It’s same as last performance”  Plus, I wanted to stay on stage as long as I I memorized it desperately.」

In conclusion, she learned all Team A,K,B, RS, G Rosso’s stages dances/songs by herself
and continued to participate in all those stages.

Of Course, in all the 50-ish members, No one knew all team’s stages
except Sato Amina.

「That day..I was in G Rosso performance. It seems like I stressed myself out..I got hyperventilation tetany.
So the Staff was nursing me in the back stage.

While I was suffering with excessive breathing, one staff came, running, then gave me a paper which was Early-result notice.」

There was “15th Sato Amina” on it
A name of a girl who was never on Senbatsu before.

「I rested thinking nothing. Then I realized.
“Hey..I’m actually doing okay!”

After that, Mocchi(kuramochi asuka), who was the same gen, sent me a message saying “I’m in 14th! We are next to each other! Let’s be in senbatsu together!”

That message made me realize that many people actually voted for me」

Sato Amina tried not to look at the Mid-Result.

「If I didn’t see my name in the Mid-Result, I knew I would hesitate on everything, so I wanted to enter the election without looking, except early notices.

Before I went to Paris, I talked to my mom saying stuff like ” If I get chosen in Senbatsu, everyone will be surprised right?”…well that being a surprise would be kinda sad too (laughs).

But even in the flight back to Japan, I was like “I’ll do something big!!” 」

Then the day of Election came.
And The first one to be called, 21st, Kuramochi Asuka was called upon.

「The Early notice said I was I thought I’d be able to join Senbatsu.

But Asuka was called I was like “huh?..”

When I looked at Asuka’s face, she also looked confused.
After that I got confused more and kept thinking “What was my rank in early notice??”

“Asuka chan sent me message saying Amina is next to me……so I’m lower than 21st, okay so I’ll be Undergirls..”」

After call for 21st and 13th, the 9 girls for Undergirls were also called out.
But even in Undergirls, Sato Amina’s name was not called.

After that, Sato could not look up straight.
Only thing she was looking at was her skirt, and fist.
Her tears starts to drop down to her hands.

「No one notices me after all…..people only notice girls on TV…」

….The thought : “I’ll do something big!!” which she had on flight back home disappeared at that point.

「How long has this election been going on?..I wish this would end as soon as possible..」

When Sato was thinking this, one voice had arisen.

「8th… Sato Amina」

As soon as Togasaki called her up, Sato Amina stood up.
The place was full of applause which was the loudest one of that day.

She couldn’t walk properly. Even when she cried a lot before the call,
As soon as she stood in stage, even more tears came out in her eyes.
While crying, she started her speech:

「I….decided to become AKB48 not as a step for becoming an actress nor singer..

I joined because I really liked AKB48…and I really wanted to be AKB48..

Because I wanted to participate be in different stage performances, I learned different team’s dance by myself..
I was not shining like the those AKB48 girls whose shown in TV/ I thought I was not helpful to AKB48..
But…I’m very happy that I was able to join Senbatsu…」

From the Mid Result to Final Result, Votes Sato received was 1,423.
the most amount gained after mid-result.

This result taught us that something ‘People trying their best even in place where spotlight isn’t hit, will always be noticed by someone’ would come true.

(translation credit goes to whiteyuri)

I found this story to show a unique aspect of being a member in a group with so many girls.  sure, the article reveals amina to be naive, but it also shows absolute dedication and a work ethic i didn’t think anyone who wasn’t a front-girl would have.

challenging herself to memorize every team stage’s dance routines and songs, something no one asked her to do, to gain loyalty is simply brilliant.  so what if she wasn’t featured or showcased on television?  she didn’t let that victimize her into thinking all that effort was futile, and it paid off in spades.  sato amina, i applaud you.

amina performing in the song ‘confession’.

amina accepting the 8th position in the senbatsu selection.

just because.

About Dae Lee

-Dae, aka Mizu -Writer, broadcaster, and podcaster on New School Kaidan

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