Matsui to Matsui: My Story About Jurina and Rena

Initially when I began my foray into the world of SKE48, I was indifferent about Matsui Jurina, who is not related to Matsui Rena by the way. She had gotten placed front and center on the AKB single Oogoe Diamond and even got her own covers. She didn’t make much of an impression on me until I found out later that she was only eleven or so years old. As most people probably were, I was surprised because she didn’t look her age. I still find it hard to believe she’s currently only fourteen. I do however feel that it’s a possibility that her age played into my eventual dislike of her, but I can’t be 100% sure about that.

Now I said dislike, but maybe dislike is the wrong choice of words. I didn’t hate Jurina but I really can’t think of another way to describe the overkill. Jurina was always there, even in my AKB. She was the recognizable member of the newly promoted group. She was being built as the center. She never lost. Her teeth were always shown as yellowish. And she had that kind of weird Cheshire Cat Smile. I could possibly understand her appeal. I just couldn’t understand her appeal as the center.

On the other side of the coin, I first took notice of Matsui Rena during a fashion section of AKBingo. The participants were given the theme of dressing for an introduction to the boyfriends parents. Rena won with her skinny frame and unmistakable Nagoya style. I remember thinking to myself, I’d like it if I dated a person who dressed like that.

It wasn’t until later when I went back to watch the first season of Majisuka Gakuen that I really started to take notice. Her portrayal of psychotic character Gekikara opened many fans eyes as well as mine. She grew to become one of my favorite Idols even to the point where I would say she is in my All Time Top 5 List.

As I watched Rena rise in popularity, I was ecstatic. Not often is there a member that I support who also matches up with the preferences of others. I’m trying to stay away from making this a post about why I love Matsui Rena, but it was good to be part of that rise. As she was making her way up the ranks, I found myself looking out the corner of my eye at Jurina. In the midst of all this, she seemed pretty unshaken. Not that I would expect her to break down and cry. But maybe I thought her youth would cause her to show some sort of momentary weakness while being passed in the rankings.

Instead I was surprised to see Jurina just being herself. Cool calm, just like my mom. The pillar of a family. I started seeing a grown up side to her and not as some kid who was thrust into the spotlight. I’m still currently trying to figure out what is the cause for this new found love for Jurina, but for sure, I definitely have begun to appreciate what she brings to SKE. There’s a solidity to SKE because of her. She’s the center, but not in the way like Maeda Atsuko. She’s not nearly the leader that Takahashi Minami is, but I could see her managing the criticisms. A role I don’t see Rena being to fill.

So it it that together, the two create a well working balance in SKE? Not quite polar opposites but different enough to fill two necessary roles. A two headed dragon? A duo like no other. Even AKB doesn’t have that kind of pairing. Maeda & Oshima are some what rivals, as are Miyzawa and Aikomoto. The closest I could compare to a similarly leathal One-Two Punch is something like Watanabe and Kashiwagi but even then they’re never sold exclusively as a set like the Matsuis. The only other alternative is Itano and Kasai but they’re not headliners for their group.

The question is, what is in store for the future? Will the two break out of their dynamic pairing? Will that lead to other members finally being able to come out from behind the Matsui vortex of popularity? It’s all up in the air, but for now, I just want to enjoy the best combination in the business.


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