AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo 2016 Analysis: Kami 7

AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo 2016 Analysis: Kami 7

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Once again, the AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo went even bigger than the previous year, defying logic and expectations, making it one of the biggest media spectacles of 2016 and selling over 2.3 million copies of “Tsubasa wa Iranai”. On top of SHOWROOM live streaming added to the campaigning process, the 30,000 fans who attended the group live at Hard Off Eco Stadium Niigata before the results were announced were each given a chance to cast one final vote, adding an extra element of unpredictability and chaos. What else would you call 200+ idols scrambling to appeal to fans during the middle of a concert?

Despite it all, we have attempted to analyze what may have lead to the results of the top members.

01. Rino SashiharaHKT48 Team H (243,011)


With her landslide victory over Mayu Watanabe on June 18, 2016, Rino Sashihara secured her place in idol history. Jessica Veranda (JKT48 Team J) may have been the first to win back to back elections in 2015 and 2016 but, there is no denying the overwhelming landslide that elevated Sashihara to the throne for a second year in a row. With 243,011 votes, she received the most votes in any 48 group election, 48,962 votes more than the 194,049 which carried her in 2015. This unprecedented number is also more than twice as many votes as she received in her first 4 elections combined (120,440)

With no disrespect intended to JKT48, the 67,388 votes that separated “Sasshi” and “Mayuyu” was more than Veranda received in the 2 years that she stood above all others in her group (64,409). That same number is also more than all 30 members received in the first AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo in 2009 (54,026) as well as more than the number of votes cast for Atsuko Maeda and Yuko Oshima in 2010 (62,299).


While the preliminary results are usually a fair indicator of who will win the center position, with #1 and #2 sometimes flip-flopping by the time the final numbers are tallied, Sashihara winning with such overwhelming numbers is unprecedented. Perhaps after she graduates from being an idol, she can start a religion, run for prime minister (or governor of Tokyo?), or become the greatest talk show host in the history of Japan?

02. Mayu WatanabeAKB48 Team B (175,613)


Despite leading in the preliminaries, the “present” that Mayu Watanabe received during her birthday performance at the AKB48 Theater on June 1st could not get over the “wall” of Sashihara. “Mayuyu” may have achieved a personal best, receiving 10,430 more votes than she did in 2015 but, as mentioned in our predictions, the magic number would have to at least be in the neighborhood of 200,000. She was righteous in her disappointment when she took the podium but perhaps the most significant part of her speech was when she warned the younger members of the dangerous situation that AKB48 was facing as they proceed into their next chapter.

03. Jurina MatsuiSKE48 Team S (112,341)


One of the most vocal contenders for the crown, Jurina also recorded a new personal best, adding 7,052 more votes than in 2015 but as she commented during her acceptance speech, “the mountain was just too tall”. Declaring that she would not graduate from the 48 groups until at least 2021, Jurina’s day in the spotlight where she lives up to her Majisuka Gakuen nickname “Center” will be sure to come even if it was not to be in 2016. Perhaps her starring role in the upcoming drama “DEATH CASH” and her recent adoption of Twitter will give her more visibility for her 2017 campaign?

04. Sayaka YamamotoNMB48 Team N (111,411)


“Sayanee” broke through to the 100,000 vote tier, collecting 12,545 more votes than in 2015. Even with the massive push as the center of “365 Nichi no Kamihikouki”, the cancellation of her concurrency in AKB48, and the graduation announcement of Miyuki Watanabe, the “takeover” was not all it was hyped up to be. Having shifted her focus to NMB48, the group with the second least number of members who ranked in, it would not be surprising if this was the final year for her fans to feel the “amore”.

05. Yuki KashiwagiAKB48 Team B/NGT48 Team NIII (92,110)


One of the biggest drops in all of the top 16, “Yukirin” fell from her miraculous 2nd place ranking in 2015 with 75,073 less votes. She may have claimed that her 5th finish was not a shock but, her irritation as the MC indirectly bringing up the incident which cast doubt on her pure idol image told a different story. Having a 5 city solo tour with 2 days at NHK Hall that ended right before “Tsubasa wa Iranai” may have also played a factor in her fans not having as much economic power at their disposal. One does not simply sell out such large music halls and expect to win the AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo.

06. Sakura MiyawakiHKT48 Team KIV/AKB48 Team A (78,279)


One of the rare examples of a member moving up in rank despite receiving less votes than the previous year, Sakura’s tearful acceptance speech full of doubts revealed the unimaginable pressures she has been put under as the touted “next generation ace” of the 48 groups. While self-deprecation is one of the strengths of fellow HKT48 member Rino Sashihara, when Sakura speaks poorly of herself, it doesn’t quite seem to have the same unifying effect on fans.

07. Akari SudaSKE48 Team E (69,159)


After her devastating drop out of senbatsu and hard to watch acceptance speech in 2015, “Akarin” roared back with a vengeance as she tallied a personal best, 20,977 more votes than her previous best of #10 with 48,182 in 2014. As one of the members renowned for her interactions with fans at handshake events, and possessing a smile that could “save lives”, according to one of our writers, it was reassuring to see Akari smile so brightly and win a spot in “Kami 7”. How much longer someone who “wears their heart on their sleeve” as visibly as she does can keep it up is of concern though. Regardless, it was one of the best storylines of the event.

There were so many other interesting observations to be made about the AKB48 45th single Senbatsu Sousenkyo but it has already gotten this long and we’ve only mentioned Kami 7! With 19 members ranking in for the first time and 8 members returning after missing the cut or not participating in 2015, there is still much more to look at. Perhaps there will be a part 2 coming soon?

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Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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