Brief Memoir Of Atsuko Maeda

  May 3, 2012

Maeda, Let’s High Touch Together

On 25th Mar, Astuko Maeda announced her graduation from AKB. Moments later, it headlined online news, and the next day, every newspaper and television news reported this news as the biggest surprise.

I was asked by many, “Why only one member of an idol group resign the group makes such a huge buzz?”. My answer to this question was always like this, “Whole nation sympathized with the decision made by one little girl.”

She is a 1st generation member of AKB, which started in 2005. She has been an undeniable ace of the group since then, leading the group standing in the center of whole sensation. Nobody expected she would graduate at this moment of AKB and her life.

“You’d better stay in AKB for a little more.” I guess many people advised her like this. But I bet she already had thought the same thing hundreds of times. The reason, I guess, her decision to graduate the group is not based on whether it advantages her or disadvantages her, but rather it’s “Pressure of being Ace” that drives her to this big decision.

0 to 7, there are numbers painted on the stage floor of AKB theatre. “0” is the number what every member of AKB is aiming at. Once you stand on the number, you’ll know from this point, you only can see audience….

If you stand in back or side of the center, you have at least one member you can follow, the girl who are standing in the center. But a girl in the center has no one to follow. Maeda has been in this solitary position since she was 14 y/o. She has dedicated to this enormous responsibility as she has been always fighting huge pressure that there’re no means for her to have way to know whether she is collect or wrong.

She is shy and not so good at communicating with other people, which all the more drove her into severe frustration. But her frustrated face (often reported by gossip magazines) was not directing at other people but it’s all towards herself, who couldn’t do things perfect in her self-evaluation. I was thinking maybe she couldn’t take it anymore… I had been thinking like this since about 2 years ago. “Can we go with you as a center for next single?” I asked her whenever we released our singles. “I can.” I always felt her determination from her short answer like this.

In the end of the last year, I sent email just like as usual. After a little longer time than previous emails, I got her reply. “I let you decide.”

It’s like in baseball game, a pitching coach asked “Can you pitch more?” to an exhausted pitcher and got an answer “I let you decide, coach.” So I said to her “You have done a great job. I let you decide when to leave the pitcher’s mound (metaphor of the center position of AKB).”

On 25th Mar, I was thinking if she is going to announce it, it may be during the encore on the last day, the 3rd day of the concert. I saw her left hand touched her chest as Minami Takahashi was about to introduce the last song. She looked taking a deep breath. I thought she is going to announce…

It’s the moment she was released from the pressure of ‘No.0’. I wanted to tell her, “You’ve done a great job.”

Yasuhi Akimoto

Give Me Five

My friend, rather than cherish our memories,  let’s believe our bright tomorrow!
You know, Graduation is not an exit but it’s an entrance!
My friend, we are gonna walk our own path
Don’t say good bye, we can meet again soon, so for now let’s high-touch together!!