AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo 2016 Analysis: Upcoming Girls
While the bulk of the press attention during the AKB48 45th Single Senbatsu Sousenkyo focused on the top 16 members, there were a lot of interesting developments happening from #17 to #80. If history manages to repeat itself again, AKB48’s 45th single will probably be something similar to “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie”, “Kokoro no Placard”, or “Halloween Night”. While senbatsu is the goal to reach for, a song by Undergirls like “Dakishimechaikenai” has the potential to reach comparable levels of greatness in the hearts of fans. Our analysis of what might have lead to the results announced at Hard Off Eco Stadium Niigata on June 18, 2016 begins with the Upcoming Girls, those ranked from 80th to 65th.
65 Ami Miyamae – SKE48 Team S – 15,716 votes
Despite announcing her graduation to pursue her dreams of an actress in March, Ami decided to run one last time. While she experienced a huge fall from 45th place in 2015, she was fortunate to secure the center position of Upcoming Girls. Despite being pushed heavily as one of the double centers of “12-Gatsu Kangaroo”, she was spirited away just as quickly she had appeared and has been sidelined with injuries. What could this mean for the Upcoming Girls song and MV?
66 Rika Kishino NMB48 Team N – 15,697 vote
How “Rikanyan” has never ranked is a mystery (although there must be people out there who know the reasons). Her dance ability was recognized by her appearance in the senbatsu for “Must Be Now”. Then there’s her comedy, singing, and gravure skills. Were fans that bothered by her broad shoulders? It’s a good thing the preliminary standings were extended to 100 in 2016 otherwise her fans might have given up hope as she was right on the outside looking in at 83rd place.
67 Haruka Kumazaki – SKE48 Team E – 15,600 votes
Building on her 73rd place finish in 2015, “Kuma-chan” jumped up 6 slots. With a role in an NHK drama, a spot in senbatsu for “Chicken LINE”, an ambassador for the 45th anniversary of TOS, and the opening her Twitter account in April (after graduating from high school?), it seems like another star from Team E is making her move up the charts. Despite placing lower than the previous year in the preliminaries, it seems that her fans could not bear to let her down and rose to the occasion.
68 Kanon Kimoto SKE48 Team E – 15,057 votes
Dropping 20 spots from 2015’s 48th place ranking, “Non” experienced her lowest ranking to date, unable to capitalize on the absence of fellow 4th gen. and Team E member Aya Shibata. The Internet was abuzz over some pictures which were allegedly her at karaoke with a male idol in late 2015 so it’s not that unusual that “Non” would drop due to backlash from fans. If she really wants to show the “real SKE48” and retain her place as the original ace of Team E, she will have to work hard to climb back up the mountain. Her opening a Twitter account in April and maintaining a steady stream of tweets may hold some promise for her 2017 campaign.
69 Megu Taniguchi – AKB48 Team A – 14,950 votes ☆
Just as she mentioned in her appeal comment video, “Omegu” was given many chances leading up to the Senbatsu Sousenkyo: spots in Team A’s “M.T. ni Sasagu”, and the “Dounaru?! Dousuru?!” special stage, a role in Majisuka Gakuen 5. She also started using Instagram in late May, grabbing a pretty decent-sized following as well. Claiming to be the “New M.T.”, only time will tell if she can follow through with her declaration.
70 Nagisa Sakaguchi – AKB48 Team 8/AKB48 Team B – 14,913 votes
A big push beginning in 2015 with her inclusion on “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”, a concurrent position in Team B, and a voice acting role opposite General Manager Yui Yokoyama in the McDonald’s Japan recruiting anime commercial for her native Hokkaido, definitely helped “Nagi” get her first Senbatsu Sousenkyo ranking. On top of that, her appeal comment video was like something out of a dating sim or popular school life anime.
71 Suzuran Yamauchi – SKE48 Team S – 14,550 votes
Dropping 8 places after enjoying what seemed like the beginning of an upward swing in 2015 with a 63rd place finish, “Ranran” managed to keep from “going out of bounds” (yes another golf pun) in 2016. Receiving some harsh criticism for not being able to live up to the expectations of SKE48 members for being exceptional dancers and even some competition in regards to her specialty of golf, it probably also didn’t help that she was left out of senbatsu for “Chicken LINE” and thus removed as a blogger on SKE48’s Ameba blog. Hopefully she won’t have to wear the outfit from “12-Gatsu Kangaroo” again in the 2017 appeal comment video and poster.
72 Yuka Akiyoshi – HKT48 Team H – 14,544 votes
One of the fresh young faces of HKT48’s 2nd gen., “Yuka-chan” was not going to be passed by her kouhai again in 2016. Despite ranking far lower in the preliminaries this year, she was able to rise up the ranks to claim her spot for the first time. Perhaps her long heartfelt Google+ posts thanking fans for their votes on the first day helped open their hearts (and wallets) to help push her to her first ranking. Hopefully, her accompaniment will play a factor in her returning to senbatsu for HKT48 singles as well.
73 Miyu Omori – AKB48 Team 4 – 14,177 votes
Despite another strong showing in the preliminaries (33rd with 7,715 votes), “Miyupon” fell 6 slots from her 67th place ranking in 2015. With her strong acapella performances entertaining during her appeal comment video and SHOWROOM broadcasts, she was definitely putting herself out there. Tears rolling down her face during her acceptance speech, she was poised and gracious, giving hope that she will be able to win more opportunities moving forward and join her fellow 12th gen. members Juri Takahashi, Tomu Muto, and Yukari Sasaki in the upper ranks.
74 Natsuki Kamata – SKE48 Team E – 13,882 votes
One of the several SKE48 members who opened Twitter accounts on New Year’s Day 2016, “Nakki” gave herself another platform to bless her fans with selfies. In spite of this, she received 633 less votes than she did in 2015 and dropped 4 spots from 70th. With HKT48 threatening SKE48 as the group with the second most members ranking and a 7th generation push taking place (most notably with Rara Goto), staying in Upcoming Girls or even moving up in 2017 will not be easy.
75 Sumire Sato – SKE48 Team E – 13,657 votes
With a leading role in the film “Match Shojo” and the opening of the 2016 run of Danganronpa The Stage play very close to the election, it seems like “Suu-chan” had a full plate keeping her busy. While it makes for a promising future, it’s not so good for pleasing idol fans. Despite falling 26 places from the center of Future Girls (2015), she said she had no regrets during her acceptance speech. Hopefully, she doesn’t have so many stage plays going on around election time in 2017 otherwise, like Yukirin’s fans this year, their financial resources might end up being spread too thin.
76 Minami Kato – NGT48 Team NIII – 13,571 votes
The acrobatic ace from Niigata, “Katomina” was head over heels when she ranked in as the first NGT48 member this year. While it might have been expected that the honors would go to Rika Nakai or Yuka Ogino, who had ranked in the top 100 during the preliminaries, it was “Katomina” who ended up the pioneer from the land of rice and snow.
77 Akari Yoshida – NMB48 Team N – 13,512 votes
Having recently added a YouTube channel to her social media palette, NMB48’s “Akarin” is justified to be dissatisfied with her lowest ranking so far despite working so hard to get herself out there in front of the people. While her alleged scandal which broke in late 2015 definitely took some wind out of her sails, it should only be a matter of time before she rises again.
78 Miho Miyazaki – AKB48 Team A – 13,366 votes
Seeing “Myao” match her 78th place ranking from 2014 after missing the cut in 2015, it seems that her resurgence is paying off dividends. Leading up to the election, she even made her return to an AKB48 single senbatsu, “Tsubasa wa Iranai” breaking a 5 year drought since 2011’s “Everyday Kachusha”. Her days of being in Undergirls or Next Girls may be impossible to return to at this point but, we haven’t seen the last of “Myao”!
79 Yuzuki Hidaka – SKE48 Team KII – 13,204 votes
Self-proclaimed Nagoya specialty Yuzuki may have ranked lower in the preliminaries compared to 2015 but, she was finally able to rank in via a “come from behind home-run”. Reported to possess incredible handshake event skills and athletic ability, her chances of making a return in 2017 are not out of the question.
80 Anna Murashige – HKT48 Team KIV – 13,058 votes
A far cry from her 67th place ranking (2014) that she was aiming to return to, “Annya” at least was able to do her “legendary” (in her mind) “Mentaiko” gag on the stage once again. While she seems to be coming back from her scandal (pictures of her with a male idol were published following the 2014 election), with the number of votes that will probably be required to even repeat at 80th, she has her work cut out for her.
AKB48 Official site: http://www.akb48.co.jp/
AKB48 Sousenkyo special page: http://sousenkyo.akb48.co.jp/
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