What does the reshuffling of AKB48′s Teams portend for the rest of humankind? Will the seas run red with blood, will the great Leviathan rise from the depths, will the awful horror reign for 1290 days? (For comparison purposes, remember that George W. Bush was President of the United States for 2922 days.) Has the downfall of Japanese civilization, marked by declining population growth and two decades of economic malaise, entered its final stages?
If there is one thing I have learned from working at a major Japanese corporation (albeit its US division), it is that they love to make managerial moves for the sake of making managerial moves. Not that this accomplishes anything, but it sure looks like you’re “doing something” when people get shuffled around. Of course, plenty of other corporations around the world also do this, but it is Japan that has raised these corporate shenanigans to the level of art, where you can be Product Manager one month and then suddenly be moved to Engineering Manager (even if the last time you “engineered” something was for a senior year college project) and if they really don’t like you, you get exiled to Sales.
What I see right now is a lot of idols being exiled to Sales.
Who put them there? Yasushi Akimoto, you think? Of course not! When a paradigm shift of this magnitude occurs, it can only be the invisible blue hand of INBOU.
Team A (“The A is for Atsuko”)
AKB48 attention wh0re Atsuko Maeda pretty much gets to be the front girl for the rest of her life, assuming that her life is tragically cut short on her 22nd birthday when she dies in a car accident. Because, let’s face it, every idol has an expiration date, and Atsuko had better enjoy her elite status while she can because she’s not going to be 18 forever. Remember what happened to Maki Goto? (“Wait, what did happen to Maki Goto?” you reply. Which is my point exactly.)
In that respect, Nyan Nyan Kojiharu had better watch her back, because at the age of 21, she is still possessed of delicious curves and creamy thighs but may have to start thinking of new gravure options when the twentysomething pounds start packing. (Seriously, still no photobook?) Similarly, Team A grandma Mariko Shinoda, whose Pendulum is still eminently fappable, may have to find something else to do besides indignantly fighting back on AKBingo!‘s “Phrasemuseum” segment.
Among the new arrivals, a lot of intrigue surrounds the low-ranking senbatsu candidates Aika Ohta (#20) and Asuka Kuramochi (#21), who are kind of on that level where they’re charming enough to be noticed but haven’t quite pushed the way into Main Girl status yet. (You don’t suppose that the whole Mocchi episode where she meets her favorite pro wrestler and turns into a glob of fangirl goo was a calculated move to improve her moe factor?) It’s like when you’re the best player on the Triple-A minor league baseball team and then they finally give you a shot in the Majors and then you realize, Holy crap, there are tons of players who are better than you. By being promoted to Team A, a certain level of expectation is now being placed upon them. Will they meet it?
Perhaps the greatest mystery, however, is the ethereal permanence of High Castle Sub Timber-Trees Aki Takajyou, who seems to have held her spot simply by virtue of having a hot older sister.
Team K (“Middle Management”)
If you wanted any further proof that INBOU is going around Inbou-ing the entire idol universe, just look at the purgatory known as Team K, and WHAT THE HELL IS MY WIFE DOING THERE. I mean. I told you. I told you there were sinister forces at work regarding My Wife Minami Minegishi, and the fact that she has been spirited away to Team K BY VAMPIRES just proves it. (Also … something about the Catholic Church. Probably.) There is some small comfort, however, in knowing that she will be joined by fellow ex-Team-A member Tomomi Itano, who probably woke up on the morning of August 23rd with her snaggletooth mysteriously straightened and a dead horse’s head on her pillow. If that’s not an “OH SHI—” moment I don’t know what is.
Some things never change though, like S&M queen Sayaka Akimoto retaining her status as Team K Captain, probably because she threatened grevious bodily harm to the entire AKB management if they messed her around, and they also get to keep Resident Evil Loli and known Manami-Oku-kneecap-smasher Erena Ono.
Team B (“Official Team of Morning Musume Rejects”)
Speaking of Manami Oku‘s kneecaps, it seems that Maachan’s tendency to fall ill has cost her a spot in her old team, and she can now spend next couple of weeks recovering from flu while thinking about her new position in Team B. Her descent is not nearly as far of a distance to fall, however, as that of Miho Miyazaki, who just weeks ago seemed poised to steal the Loli Crown from Erena Ono by appearing NOT ONLY in the Bikini Surprise! issue of Weekly Playboy BUT ALSO getting a solo photoshoot all to herself so we could further admire her delicious cakey-ness.
But the real story of this team, of course, is the culmination of the arduous journey of Sumire Sat0rrrrrrrr, who just three years ago was beat out by Aika Mitsui’s chin and two goddamn pandas for a spot in Morning Musume. (We can only wonder why Youtube hottie Chelsea [AmerikaJinMusume] didn’t get in as well.) Safe to say many of those who witnessed the MM 8th gen auditions held a little flickering flame in their hearts for Sumire, hoping that her showbiz dreams would someday come true, following her auditions for the Freddie the Leaf musical on her personal blog (Hello! Island was doing translations long before it was cool), feeling that flame leap when she got into AKB48 Research Students, and then finally erupt into a roaring blaze of idol RABU-RABU when sweet little Suu-chan, who had captured our hearts at the tender age of 12 (or possibly 13), could finally stand on stage and say, “Look at me, I’m an idol now!”
She will be joining another 8th-gen audition failure, Oak Tree Wherefore Chronicle Yuki Kashiwagi, who got kicked in the penultimate round but gets the last laugh because she will officially be releasing her first solo photobook before Mitsui does. Which is not to say that Mitsui is not deserving of a photobook herself, but it’s hard to get one in the pipeline when the entire Hello! Project photobook schedule goes something like Takahashi, Takahashi, Tanaka, Suzuki, Takahashi, Yajima, Takahashi, Suzuki, Suzuki, Takahashi … you get the point. In any case, Yukirin still wins:
SDN48 (“Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting Club”)
Like I could give a rat’s ass.
Tags: Aika Mitsui, Aika Ohta, AKB48, Aki Takajyou, Asuka Kuramochi, Atsuko Maeda, Erena Ono, Haruna Kojima, Inbou, Manami Oku, Mariko Shinoda, Microsoft Excel, Minami Minegishi, Sayaka Akimoto, Sumire Sato, Tomomi Itano, Yuki Kashiwagi