“The Junior High School Second Year Theory” –What is the Prime Age for Idols? (Part1)

最強の学年とは何か? 前編 : 中2最強説/ネクストサブカルリーダー・岡島紳士のTokyo Idols' Update 第3回
“The Junior High School Second Year Theory” –What is the Prime Age for Idols? (Part1)


Happy New Year!
What age is prime when it comes to being an idol? It’s a question that’s come up between any idol otaku, and is the first one I’d like to tackle this year with the first installment of this series.

When it comes to general popularity, from high school onward is considered the prime age

Elementary school students, junior high school students, senior high school students, and even adults make up the current idol scene, which is full of different ages and grades. But when it comes to “the best age for idols to shine”, “the cutest, prettiest, and most charming age”, or “the age where idols really catch their big break”, at what age are idols in their prime?

Before trying to come up with a theory, let me first go into a little detail about ages and grades in Japan. In Japan, generally elementary school is made up of six years, junior high school three years, and senior high school another three years, for a total of 12 school years in total. Also, the Japanese school year itself begins in April and ends in March, so disregarding students that drop out or have to repeat a grade, the general breakdown of student ages in each grade looks like this.

Elementary school first grade: 6 or 7 years of age
Elementary school second grade: 7 or 8 years of age
Elementary school third grade: 8 or 9 years of age
Elementary school fourth grade: 9 or 10 years of age
Elementary school fifth grade: 10 or 11 years of age
Elementary school sixth grade: 11 or 12 years of age
Junior high school first grade: 12 or 13 years of age
Junior high school second grade: 13 or 14 years of age
Junior high school third grade: 14 or 15 years of age
Senior high school first year: 15 or 16 years of age
Senior high school second year: 16 or 17 years of age
Senior high school third year: 17 or 18 years of age

So, let’s get into it. First, I’ll throw out the specific ages of current idols that made their big break. For example in the AKB48 group, when it came to their most recent general election, the top 16 girls, with the exception of Sakura Miyawaki (HKT48, AKB48) in her third year of senior high school, everyone else had already graduated, and their average age was 22.31. For Nogizaka46, among the top 16 members during the release of their latest single, “Ima, Hanashitai Dareka ga Iru”, only two members, Asuka Saito in her second year of senior high school and Minami Hoshino in her third, were high school aged or younger, with the average age of the top members at 20.87.

The average of the members of Perfume is 26.66 years, while everyone in Momoiro Clover Z is above graduating age, with an age of 20.4. In Morning Musume., out of the group’s 12 members seven are in senior high school, two are in junior high school, and the average age of the girls in the group is 16.83. The three members of BABYMETAL are all in high school, and their combined age is 16.66. Additionally, except for Rika Mayama, all of the members of Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku are high school aged or younger, with an average member age of 16.75. Since hasn’t revealed their real ages, we couldn’t include the group’s average in with the count.




Momoiro Clover Z

Morning Musume.

Morning Musume.



Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku

Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku

These are the average ages of the groups that are currently in the public eye. Averaging all of these figures puts their average age at 20.06. Given that the lowest average age mentioned was 16.66, the prime age for these popular groups seems to be high school aged or older.

However quite a few idol otaku would likely disagree with this result. In fact, when I tried to question other idol otaku around me on the subject, those who answered high school aged or above were few and far between.

So what do actual idol otaku consider to be an idol’s prime age? Let’s hear their thoughts on the matter.

Idols are meant to be consumed by fans before their short expiration dates

The first person I’d like to introduce is Mr. Sakechi, a 37-year-old company worker. He’s an idol otaku that got into the scene through Berryz Kobo, and would attend AKB48 events during their early period. At the time, his favorite members were Chinami Tokunaga in Berryz Kobo, and Natsumi Hirajima in AKB. He’s one of the “legendary” otaku who attended the ultra premium AKB48 Theater Open 10th Anniversry Festival held last year in December, as well as the special memorial concert held at the AKB48 theater two days later. According to him, the prime age is the second year of junior high school.

…Hear the Otaku's real & passionate thought about the prime age...!

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Shinshi Okajima
Shinshi Okajima

Born in 1980. Idol writer. His works (includes joint works) : "Group Idol Shinka-ron" "AKB48 Saikou Kousatsu" "Idol Gakkyoku Disc Guide" and so on. Worked as a main adviser for "Media/Idol Museum" exhibition organized by Saitama prefecture. Manager of the idol contents website "IDOL NEWSING".

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