Haruka Nakagawa vs Aki Takajo, who had more successful career as JKT48 member?

  March 3, 2014

It has been more than a year after the formation of AKB48’s team Kaigai. How successful is  the career of team Kaigai members abroad? Do they career abroad have significant impact to their popularity as teen idol in Japan? To answer this question, I try to do some research and try to compare AKB48’s Team Kaigai member who joined JKT48, Aki Takajo and Haruka Nakagawa.

Both Harugon and Akicha started to work with JKT48’s Team J in December 2012. After joining JKT48 for approximately 14 months, it is decided that Haruka would retain her membership as JKT48’s member, meanwhile Akicha returned to AKB48’s Team B. By looking at this fact, we can conclude that Haruka’s career at JKT48 is more successful than Akicha. However, in order to be more sure, I want to make quantitative comparisons between Harugon’s and Akicha’s before, during, and after joining JKT48. I tried to make the comparisons as objective as possible, based on the data collected in February 2014.

JKT48 Nakagawa Haruka & Takajo Aki

Popularity based on Senbatsu Sousenkyo ranking

Highest ranking ever achived

Aki Takajo: 12 (3rd Senbatsu Sousenkyo in 2011)
Haruka Nakagawa: 20 (2nd Senbatsu Sousenkyo in 2010)

Based on their ranking in the General Election, it is certain that Akicha is more popular than Haruka Nakagawa in AKB48. Out of the five Senbatsu that she participated, Akicha was twice elected as Senbatsu members and three times elected as Undergirls. Her General Election ranking before joining JKT48 was on the 17th place. After joining JKT48 for about six months, her ranking in the Senbatsu Sousenkyo dropped to 20th place.

Out of the four Senbatsu that she participated, Haruka Nakagawa was elected as once as Senbatsu member, once as Under Girls, once as Next Girls, and once when she didn’t rank. Prior to joining JKT48, she was on 44th ranking, 20 place lower than her ranking in the previous Senbatsu Sousenkyo. After six months joining JKT48, Haruka decided not to participate in the 5th Senbatsu Sousenkyo in order to be more focus working at JKT48.

The number of appearances as Senbatsu member in AKB48's major singles

Aki Takajo: 11 singles
Haruka Nakagawa: 2 singles

Based on the number of appearances in AKB48’s major singles as Senbatsu members, we can conclude that Aki Takajo had more successful career as an AKB48 member compared to Haruka Nakagawa. She participated in 11 AKB48 singles, including some of the best and popular AKB48 singles such as “Heavy Rotation,” “Beginner,” and “RIVER.”

In contrast to Aki Takajo, Haruka only participated as a Senbatsu member in two singles, Heavy Rotation and Chance no Junban. Her chance to appear in Chance no Junban was obtained through Janken Tournament in 2011.

Performance in AKB48's sub-unit

JKT48 Nakagawa Haruka & Takajo Aki - performance in AKB48 Sub Unit

Aki Takajo: French Kiss (released 5 singles)

Haruka Nakagawa: Watarirouka Hashiritai (released 10 singles and 2 albums)

Based on their sub-units, we can conclude that Haruka and Akicha have different characteristics as a teen-idol. Akicha is a member of “French Kiss,” a sub-unit in which she works with Kuramochi Asuka and Yuki Kashiwagi. French Kiss has cool and sexy impressions and they present their songs in elegant way.

In the contrary, Haruka was part of Watarirouka Hashiritai, a sub-unit that consists of members with cute, innocent impressions. Compared to French Kiss, Watarirouka Hashiritai seems more childish in terms of songs, costumes, and the images of the members.

Although Watarirouka Hashiritai released more singles, Aki Takajo’s performance in her sub-units is much more prominent than Haruka Nakagawa. In French Kiss, Akicha receives equal exposure as Yukirin and Asuka Kuramochi. Along with French Kiss, she also had a lot of chances to appear in various media, commercials and photo shoots.

As a Watarirouka Hashiritai member, Haruka Nakagawa was somehow mediocre. It seems that she was under the shadow of Mayu Watanabe, who is very dominant in most of the sub-unit singles.

The number of appearances as a Senbatsu member in JKT48 major (A-sides) singles

Aki Takajo: 3 singles

Haruka Nakagawa: 5 singles

The number of appearances as a center in JKT48 singles and coupling songs

Aki Takajo: 1 (in one coupling song)

Haruka Nakagawa: 2 (1 major single and 1 coupling song)

If we compare their performances as JKT48’s member, it clearly shows that Haruka Nakagawa is better than Aki Takajo. Harugon was elected as a center in JKT48’s major single, “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” and also in the coupling song “Fortune Cookie in Love.” This is definitely better than Aki Takajo, where she only acted as a center in one coupling song, “Nagai Hikari.”

Not only that, Haruka seems more enthusiastic in working with JKT48 compared to Aki Takajo. She learned a lot of words in Indonesian languages (recently her Indonesian becomes more and more fluent) and because of her hardwork, she is greatly loved and respected by JKT48’s fans. Compared to Aki Takajo, Haruka also had more chance to be featured on various variety shows in Indonesia.

Social media popularity

This is an important indicator to quantitatively measure Haruka Nakagawa’s and Aki Takajo’s popularity after joining JKT48.

Table 3

And the following is a graph showing the number of interest over time towards the queries “Aki Takajo” and “Haruka Nakagawa” on the internet, analyzed by using Google Trends (Note: Using the keywords “Takajo Aki” and “Nakagawa Haruka” produce more or less same graph):

Table 1

Google Trends graph based on the  queries written in Japanese characters ( Takajo Aki : Blue, Nakagawa Haruka : Red )

Table 2

Based on the comparison, we can conclude that Haruka Nakagawa is more popular than Aki Takajo in Indonesia. This is shown from her higher average number of searches per month in Indonesia and the numbers of followers in Twitter and Google+. This is probably because Haruka really gave it up all for JKT48 and she had more time to stay in Indonesia. On the other hand, Akicha had to divide her concentration between her role as JKT48 member and her jobs in Japan (this is probably the main reason she spent less time in Indonesia as she had to frequently go to Japan to do her jobs).

However, if we consider the number of average monthly search and the interest over time in Japan, Aki Takajo is still far more popular than Haruka Nakagawa.


Being popular in the foreign sister group doesn’t always mean that a member’s popularity in Japanese entertainment world would increase. Being transferred to foreign sister group could be very harmful for a member’s career, especially if she fails to gain popularity abroad. Even if she gains more popularity in the sister group, there is still a chance that she would be less popular in Japan.

I’m new to this fandom. Please let me know if there is flaws in my analysis method. Feedback and critcisms are warmly welcomed.