Shinoda Mariko appeared on Kayou Kyoku for a last time this week and a special segment was aired to “celebrate” her graduation. In this segment, Shinoda Mariko was asked about her relationship with fellow members Takahashi Minami, Kojima Haruna and Itano Tomomi, all of whom are first generation members who has been with her the past 8 years.
“We fought recently.It’s the only time we fought these 8 years. As leaders of AKB, Takamina tends to reprimand the juniors in a roundabout way, but i prefer to be direct about it. Because of our differences, there was a week when we didn’t talk, except for greeting each other in the morning.”
On best friend Kojiharu:
“We always argue. Haruna is kinda cold. I always pester her and when she replies me with ‘You’re noisy’, i’m shocked and feel like giving up on her.”
“I think my prior departure is unforgivable, given that she had intended to graduate first. I always feel sorry to her. Later, i received a mail from her, saying she wanted to enjoy the remaining time we had together. Even though she had wanted me to send her off, she said that she’ll send me off instead. Tomo is very mature in this way.”
Besides the relationship talk, Yokoyama Yui also wrote a letter and read it to Mariko.
“Shinoda san, congratulations on your graduation. The first time i encountered Mariko was during the preparations for a new stage at the AKB theater. At that time, Shinoda san was too busy to attend the dance lessons. On behalf of Shinoda san, i learnt the choreography and prepared to teach Shinoda san. I was very worried about it, but when i taught Shinoda san for the first time, my worries disappeared. Shinoda san had already memorised the dance steps, all i had to do was to tell you your stage position. When i thought about how you memorised the choreography, and how you slept despite having no time, i became shocked by your professionalism. When i was promoted to Team K, you and Takamina san introduced me to the seniors in Team K. I am still thankful up till now. Because you were there, i am the me now. I will treasure AKB48 and work hard with what i learnt from Shinoda san. Thank you.”
Shinoda’s parting words and final performance:
“I was able to enter AKB48 because of the fans.Your presence has been my greatest support. If not for the fans, i wouldn’t be who I am now, I wouldn’t have met my fellow members, and i wouldn’t have the chance to appear on TV. I may be graduating, but pls continue to support AKB48.”
Namida no Sei Jyan Nai/ Ue Kara Mariko [Watch her farewell stage on Music Station]
Sniffing as i watch this…Mariko is like a Cinderella who was saved by thousands of fans. 8 years ago, she moved to Tokyo to try and make a living. At that time, she was just earning 40,000 Yen a month, of which 10,000 Yen had to be set aside for rental. She failed the 1st generation auditions for AKB48, but fans noticed her as she worked as a waitress at AKB48’s cafe in Akihabara. During a popularity poll amongst the fans, Akimoto Yasushi noticed her name being nominated even though she wasn’t a member. He offered her a chance to join as a member if she could memorise 10+ songs and its choreographies within a week. Mariko made it and her fans have never abandoned her since.
If i were asked which member i admire most in AKB, it’d be Mariko in a second. She’s actually my age, but she’s achieved so much more than me! Model, actress, host, fashion producer, CM Queen…she’s got so much in her life on top of AKB, but her presence is still deeply felt by the members. When Jurina was selected to be center of Oogoe Diamond, Mariko was the first to welcome her. When Yuko lost to Maeda in the 3rd General Elections, she offered Yuko her shoulder to cry on. When Paruru was promoting Eien Pressure alone and the senbatsu members suddenly showed up, Mariko was also the first to give Paruru a shoulder to cry on. There are just so many great scenes of Mariko that i’ve seen..scenes which show her love of AKB. Mariko could continue to sing after graduation, but shes knows better than to force her voice on the audience(unlike so many other idols), so she prepared a separate career in fashion prior to graduation. She probably didn’t sleep more than 5hrs everyday,yet we’ve never seen fatigue on her face during broadcasts. Mariko has sacrificed 8 years of her youth standing by the rules of an idol, standing by her fans even when others were calling her to quit. Till today, she still remembers the fans who turned her life around. If i were one of those fans who nominated her into AKB 8 years ago, i would be proud and happy to send her off now.