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Matsui Jurina wins AKB48 Jankan Tournament, becomes center of 34th single!

19 Sep

SKE48/AKB48 next generation ace Matsui Jurina clinched her first Janken Tournament title yesterday, making her the face of AKB48’s 34th single (to be released towards the end of this year).

The annual Janken Tournament is an event organised by the management of AKB48 to give an equal chance to all members to earn a spot in the single senbatsu. Rounds after rounds of “scissors, paper, stone” is played until the eventual winner is crowned. This year, Matsui Jurina faced off against NMB48’s Team B captain Emika Kameida, AKB48 Muto Tomu, NMB48 Yagura Fuuko, AKB48 Shimada Haruka, NMB48 KKS Uno Mizuki, AKB48 Tano Yuka and AKB48 Hirata Rina, winning all of them with simply “paper”. This is unbelievably similar to how Shimazaki Haruka won the Jankan Tournament last year, simply with “scissors”.

After realising she’d won, Jurina collapsed to the floor in happiness and cried.

“I can’t believe i actually won the center position!”
“I’ll work hard to be recognised as a true center, not just the janken center.”

Graduated members Shinoda Mariko and Maeda Atsuko also took to twitter to convey their congratulations.

Shinoda Mariko: “I received a call from Acchan. Congratulations Jurina! Because i couldn’t go, i gave you my janken power!”
Maeda Atsuko seems to have watched it live and tweeted “Good luck Jurina!” before congratulating her after she won.

Who says that Acchan and Jurina weren’t on good terms?!

Anyways, the rest of the senbatsu members are:

Uno Mizuki, Tano Yuka, Furuhata Nao, Abe Maria, Kitahara Rie, Tsuchiyasu Mizuki, Hirata Rina, Oya Shizuka, Oba Mina, Yumoto Ami, Sasaki Yukari, Natori Wakana, Kikuchi Ayaka, Fujie Reina,Kameida Emika

This lineup has several up-and-coming faces but i’m doubting how well the single can sell, since Jurina is the only “famous” face fronting the whole lineup. However, this is the chance for Jurina to shine and if she does well..lets just say that the top 3 of AKB48 will face another shakeup next year. I have high hopes for Jurina and i hope she shows Sasshi what a true center is all about!


And here’s the last portion of the Janken tournament with Jurina’s win.

Shinoda Mariko’s graduation footage: “I’ll still choose AKB48 in my next life”

23 Jul

Shinoda’s message from Fukuoka Yafuoku Dome:

“Graduation is something I decided, but i felt like staying on after enjoying the past month with everyone. I want to graduate in my own style. I will work hard to become someone whom my juniors can look up. AKB48 is still the best group out there and it has more to show. My time here has been very happy. To my parents, family, friends, members, staff and fans who have supported me the past years, thank you very much. I’ll still choose AKB48 in my next life.”

Sharing pictures and messages from the members’ SNS accounts:

Pic of the remaining 1st generation members (from Mariko’s Twitter)

2 Shot of Maeda Atsuko and Shinoda Mariko (From Mariko’s Twitter)

Acchan’s message: “You’ve worked hard Mari chan! Your graduation is firmly burned in my mind, cheers!” (From Acchan’s Twitter)

Another first generation pic (From Itano Tomomi’s twitter)

Itano Tomomi’s message: “Your graduation is so depressing..” (from Itano Tomomi’s twitter)


Jurina’s message: “I don’t want you to go! I can’t do anything without you.I want you to stop worrying about me, but i can’t bring myself to say it.”  (From Jurina’s blog)

Mariko at her last theater performance in Akihabara today.

Kojima Haruna’s message: “I went to the graduation performance of the Mari chan! It was a performance filled with smiles, just like Mari chan! Congratulations on your graduation ♪ love!”

Taking down her portrait from the AKB48 Theater.

Empty spot on the wall.

Saying her goodbyes to the fans outside Akihabara’s theater for the last time.

Watanabe Mayu’s message: “This is from Mariko sama’s graduation stage. Somehow, i can’t feel the reality it. I don’t want to believe that you aren’t here anymore. I’ll take what Mariko sama has left behind in AKB and use it to grow the group. Thank you for everything so far.”

Message from Miyazawa Sae: “Congrats on your graduation! Thanks for your love and smiles! I might never be as professional as you, but you’ve given me much push so i’ll work hard. Lets be good friends forever!”

Message from Kashiwagi Yuki: “Mariko sama, i really respect you and like you! Maybe this was not expressed to you clearly, but thanks for taking care of me! (From Yukirin’s Google+)

Sato Sumire’s message : “I’ll still follow you even though you’ve graduated!” (from Sato Sumire’s Twitter)

Party shot of members who turned up at Akihabara Theater today. (From Shinoda Mariko’s Twitter)

If you’re interested in the last theater performance of Shinoda Mariko in Akihabara, pls click here.

Shinoda Mariko’s tearful farewell on Kayou Kyoku

20 Jul


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.

On Takamina:
“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.”

On Tomochin:
“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.

Maeda Atsuko to make a comeback with AKB48 in Sapporo Dome Concert

17 Jun

It has been announced in one of AKB48’s handshake sessions that Maeda Atsuko will be reuniting with the group for a one-night concert in Sapporo Dome on 31st July 2013. As she will be releasing her 3rd solo single in September, the new song will also be revealed in the concert. This is the first time Acchan will be performing with the group ever since her graduation, and the news was met with fans’ loud cheers.

Acchan has been concentrating on acting work so far but she has always shown concern for AKB48’s activities. Despite having just returned from overseas, she visited Nissan Stadium during the AKB48 5th General Elections this year to show support for the group. When asked about her upcoming performance with the group, she said “I’m looking forward to it.”.

In addition, graduation dates for Shinoda Mariko, Akimoto Sayaka and Itano Tomomi were officially announced. Shinoda Mariko will be graduating in Fukuoka Dome on 21st July, while Akimoto Sayaka and Itano Tomomi will be graduating in Tokyo Dome on the 22nd and 25th August respectively. This also means that the Sapporo Dome concert will be the last time Itano, Akimoto and Acchan will stand on stage together.



Netizen Reactions

“I can accept it if it’s Maeda. Just don’t call Kasai.”
“Its better for her not to get involved with AKB!”
“Maeda is so cute. Her fashion sense is good too!”
“She’s so glamorous! On the other hand, if you compare her to the one who got No.1 a few days back..”
“I want to go to Sapporo!”

AKB48 post election talk: Member reactions and Mariko/Tomochin graduation dates

12 Jun

MC Nakai: I was overseas when the elections were going on. But i heard the news just now..about Shinoda, and Sashihara…
Sashihara: What is that kind of troubled expression?!
MC Nakai: Did Sashihara really get No.1? What do you guys think?
MC Makiko: I thought Mayuyu or Oshima were going to win…but i was shocked at the results.
-Recap of scenes from this year’s elections-
-Flashback to Oshima Yuko’s talk after last year’s elections:If Sashihara gets No.1, there will be a new AKB48. BUT,NO WAY!-
MC Nakai: What do you think Sashihara?
Sashihara: After the elections,i thought someone was pulling a prank on me.
Oshima: Even though i said “No way” last year, we have no choice this time.
Shinoda: This is like a present from the fans, so there must be some appeal about Sashihara.
MC Nakai: Do you think you can graduate happily like that?
Shinoda: But this is my last single so..
MC Nakai: Do you have anything to say to Sashihara?
Shinoda: I’m abit worried about the next single, but i think she’ll work hard.
MC Nakai: What about you Takamina?
Takamina: I was shocked. When Mayuyu’s ranked was announced, i was like “It can’t be…”. I thought Mayuyu or Oshima will be the last contenders.
Mayuyu: I had worked hard for the past year aiming for 1st, but when my rank was announced, i also thought “It can’t be Sashihara..”. I was thinking “What is this?”.
Oshima: When Mayuyu was announced to be 3rd, i was thinking “What’s this?”. But Sashihara’s win will making things interesting for AKB.
MC Nakai: It’s interesting that fans are the ones who create a drama for AKB. Sashihara, have you taken center position before?
Sashihara: Nope, only in photoshoots so far.
-MC Nakai asks them to arrange themselves in formation with Sasshi as center, and dance to Gingham Check-
Sashihara: Stop please! I think this scene looks untrendy!

MC Nakai: Pls give some advice to Sashihara as the next center.
Oshima: It’s best to enjoy it.
Mayuyu: There’s alot of responsibility to live up to, but the best thing to do is just to enjoy it with everyone.
Paruru: Do it in a cute manner!
-Talk about Shinoda Mariko’s graduation-
MC Nakai: When did you decide?
Shinoda: On that day itself. I had discussed with Akimoto san since a year ago and he said i could do it anytime, but there’s a timing. He said it’s best to do it when everyone is around. Actually i think about graduating every year during the elections, but this time i think it’s the right time.
MC Makiko: So you didn’t inform the rest of the members?
Shinoda: Not everyone. I discussed with Takamina 1 year ago. Kojima is my good friend and i told her i could be graduating on that day.
MC Nakai: So everyone is surprised? When are you graduating?
Shinoda: Fukuoka concert on 21st July.
MC Nakai: So what are you going to do about the next single?
Shinoda: We’ll be shooting the PV this month, so i will take part in all the promotions prior to 21st July.
MC Nakai: So you won’t be appearing on TV after the 21st?
Shinoda: Not for singing related activities.
MC Nakai: What are you going to do in future?
Shinoda: I have been in AKB for 8 years, and my ambitions have changed along the way. Even thought i love AKB, i want to pursue my interests. I like fashion and have had opportunities to model. I’m still a newbie in that field, so it’d be good to go further in that area.
MC Nakai: So you’re not going to sing anymore?
Shinoda: Nope….laughs. Nakai san would probably tell me not to sing too.
MC Nakai: You really understand me. What about Itano? When are you going to graduate?
Itano: For me, around August.

For more details on Itano/Shinoda’s graduation dates, pls visit this link.

Shinoda Mariko talks about marriage and upcoming elections

9 Apr

AKB48’s Shinoda Mariko appeared at a press conference earlier today to unveil her self-designed wedding dresses, titled “Love Mary 3rd Collection”. The theme this time is “Airy & Lovely”, and she used ribbons and lace to deliver the European Princess look. Here are my favorites from her collection.


When asked about her marriage plans,  she said, “I can’t find a partner whilst in AKB48, so i’ll look for one in my 30s. I probably won’t be in AKB at that time.”

Although she hopes to wear her own designs first, she also wants to design something for Takamina to celebrate her recent solo debut.

When asked about Akimoto Sayaka’s graduation, she mentioned that Akimoto had talked about graduation with her several times, but she didn’t know when the announcement was going to be. However, the deadline to nomination of candidacy was approaching so it was probably the only time for Akimoto to do it. Considering Akimoto’s future plans, Mariko could understand her need to graduate.

“Like me, she was waiting for the next generation to crush us, so i wanted her to stay on. But there were things she wanted to do and was unable to, so i think about her graduation as a positive thing. She’s a strong-willed person and i’m not worried, so i’ll cheer for her as she strives to become an actress,”said Mariko.

On the topic of the 5th General Elections, she said Sashihara Rino was the most likely member to crush the seniors, as she saw on TV that Sashihara was aiming to be No.1 and seemed serious about it. Personally, she hopes to improve her rankings this year, but she’s also looking forward for a shakeup in the Senbatsu lineup.

“For example, Paruru or Mayuyu…if they are able to bring forth a revolutionary change, i’d be really happy,” said Mariko, revealing her expectations for the girls known as the next generation aces.

I just want to express my admiration for Mariko cos she’s not only a great leader of AKB, she’s also found time to launch her own fashion brand, appear on TV, model for magazines, design wedding dresses etc. How does she juggle all these activities at once?!!!  She’s definitely ready to graduate AKB, but she’d rather stay on to nurture the next generation, which makes her all the more respectable.

How many fans recognize this attribute in her?

Her wedding dress collection:
Her recently launched fashion brand:

NTV airs special drama for AKB48 “So Long” single & who wins the best actress award?

14 Feb

To commemorate the release of their 30th single “So Long”, each team in AKB48 took part in a 3-episode drama special, which aired during midnight from 11-13th February on Nihon TV. To make it more exciting, viewers are asked to vote for the best drama and best actress after watching the series. Now this is one big opportunity for those aspiring actresses in the group to showcase their talent, but unfortunately, only the rising stars and the senior members got major parts in the drama, which is not a bad thing cos we now get to see how much talent these girls got aside from singing and dancing!

Check out the 3 episodes below and let me know what you think!

Leads: Team A- Watanabe Mayu(18) & Shinoda Mariko(26)
Plot: Watanabe Mayu discovers a cassette tape recorder in her school’s broadcasting room which somehow transmits voice messages from a boy living in the era of 1995. After they get over the surrealism of this cassette tape recorder, they start communicating regularly, talking about life in 2013 and the people they know in common, for example the teacher who forced them into participating in broadcasting club. Friendship grew into love and Mayuyu eventually gathers the courage to record her confession for him. Just as she was about to send this tape into his world, the boy sends her a tape of his own, telling her he’s fallen for a girl in his era(Shinoda Mariko) who is also a ballerina like Mayuyu.(In 2013, Shinoda Mariko is actually Mayuyu’s ballet teacher.) He asks her for advice on how to ask Shinoda out. Mayuyu became disappointed and stopped communicating with him for awhile. One day, she discovers that the boy had actually died years ago due to an accident while going out with Mariko. She hurries to send a msg to warn him about the accident, but somehow he interprets it as a warning that Mariko is going to die and hence sacrifices himself to save her. After that fateful day, Mayuyu passes Mariko a tape from the boy which contained his confession for Mariko, and Mariko ends up crying after listening to the tape.

I personally like this plot the best.As cliche as this time travelling thing may be, the plot succeeded in catching my attention throughout. Only bad thing is Mayuyu’s acting. She needs to show more expressions….other than her standard smile and standard frown!

Leads: Team K – Matsui Jurina (15) & Oshima Yuko(24)
Plot: Yuko is a music major who wants to give up piano and start looking for a proper job. Her sister, Matsui Jurina, visits her one day and starts poking her nose into Yuko’s life. She tries to stop Yuko from giving up piano, turns up at her job interview and spills ice-cream on her clothes, knocks into her friend in school, goes on secret dates with her boyfriend etc. Yuko has this impression that Jurina is trying to steal everything from her and gets into an argument with her. Jurina left the apartment after that and gets into an accident. Yuko hurries to the hospital and discovers that Jurina has a degenerative eye disease, which meant she was almost blind already, thus resulting in those incidents which Yuko thought was part of Jurina’s plan to turn her life upside down. She tearfully makes up with Jurina, who revealed that she wanted Yuko to continue playing the piano since that was what makes her happy when they were younger. Hearing this, Yuko decided to take part in a piano competition and played the song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as a tribute to their memories.

I don’t think this plot matches up to Team A’s drama but Jurina & Yuko’s acting are very impressive indeed! We already know that Yuko has something to show since she has acted in dramas before, but Jurina is really good as well  for someone so young!

Leads: Team B – Shimazaki Haruka(18) & Kojima Haruna(24)
Plot: Kojima Haruna is the form teacher of Paruru’s class and she announced one day that she has tendered her resignation, 2 months before their graduation ceremony. Her students talk about her behind her back, not knowing that Haruna actually quit because she only had 2 months left to live. Paruru came up from behind, told them about the truth and chided them for being so mean especially when Haruna really cared for them despite her “aloof” and “irresponsible” demeanor. One by one, the students think back on incidents when Haruna saved them from embarrassment/loneliness by secretly helping them out, sometimes at the expense of creating a negative image for herself. They finally come to sense and decided to hold their graduation right outside Haruna’s hospital. While Haruna shied away from them, she was able to hear her students’ words of appreciation from her hospital bed. And as her students sang a last graduation song, tears rolled down her cheek.

Plot-wise, i think this wins hands down. This is as cliche as the drama for Team A’s, but somehow more realistic and moving. People had said that Paruru is bad at acting, but i think she’s a natural. Kojiharu can improve though…i’d expect more tears when she was lying in that hospital bed.

P/S: The votes are in for best drama and best actress, look out for it in my next post!