The Grand Reformation – WrapUp staff impressions

  March 2, 2014
Daisokaku Matsuri - AKB48WrapUp Staff Impressions

The Daisokaku Matsuri had a lot of surprises for us. There were times when my Twitter feed was nothing but a long line of “Whaaaa…?” (a good number of them from me). Some of us cheered on our favourite members as they were promoted to captain or vice-captain status,  others roared in outrage as our favourite teams were torn apart. And for all Aki-P’s claims that this would be a happy, tear-free shuffle (ha!), there were some pretty painful separations.

You can find the full 48G member list for the transfers, promotions & concurrencies. These are the thoughts of the AKB48WrapUp authors on what we feel are the biggest and most important changes, each discussing the group they’re most familiar with.

AKB48 (Neve)

Even after getting over the slightly bewildering appointment of Costume-san, Shinobu Kayano, to AKB48 Group Manager, replacing the no-longer-eternal Togasaki, I was surprised from the very start of the member announcements (her recent policy speech shows that she was pretty confused, too).

Reinstating Takamina as Team A captain seems to go against both management’s policy of starting to hand AKB48 over to the younger generation and Takamina’s desire to become a solo singer independent of the ‘48 Group. I know that Team A is in need of strong leadership, but as Yuihan proved, Takamina isn’t the only person in the group who could fill that role.

Takahashi Minami - AKB48 Team A Captain

Besides that announcement, there were only minor surprises in Team A’s line-up. Losing Mayuyu in favour of Paruru seems like a strange choice – I don’t feel that Paruru fits Team A’s character at all. On the other hand, I was glad to see Komari given recognition, and with her mothering personality, I expect her to do a great job as vice-captain. Chori’s full transfer from HKT48 will be hard on her (Tokyo’s not an easy city to get used to – I speak from experience), but I’m sure it will also be a great growth experience for her.

Team K was definitely the one that was hurting the most at the time of the shuffle, having lost Sayaka and Tomochin in quick succession, and being just about to lose Yuko, so we could expect a lot of changes. I still don’t like that the prestige of the Team A leadership was taken away from Yuihan, given that she’s been talked about as the strongest candidate to replace Takamina for a while. Perhaps I’m just bitter that this tears apart the cute-as-hell Yuihan-Ricchan friendship. On the other hand, bringing back Team K from the ashes with a fresh set of faces seems like it will be a good challenge for her, and will definitely help her improve her own leadership skills.


There were too many other transfers to comment on all of them individually. Moechan (‘Tomochin reincarnated‘) was an obvious move from Team 4 to Team K, but I question the wisdom of taking Team 4’s ace, Kojimako, out of a place where she could really shine and putting her amongst a lot of other older and more experienced members. On the other hand, besides the concurrent Jurina and Sayanee, there aren’t a whole lot of regular Senbatsu members in Team K – perhaps Kojimako will indeed be expected to take up the center position there. On a personal note, I was particularly pleased to see my favourite 15th Generation trainee, the acrobatic Yuami, promoted into Team K. Many congratulations!

Team B is the one that most obviously maintains its image as a team of fluffy, idol-like girls. Mocchi had very little notice over the year leading up to the previous election, but remains an important member of the group, and I hope that her well-deserved captaincy gives her a little more recognition. The much talked-about Naanya is also a great fit for her promotion into this team, even if she isn’t a candidate for the most important center positions with Mayuyu’s return and Yukirin’s eternal presence in the team. Yukirin’s NMB48 concurrency is an interesting choice. I wonder if the hope is that, like Sasshi and Miichan, with her long history as an idol,  she’ll be able to help teach and coordinate the girls in Team N.

Kuramochi Asuka - AKB48 Team B Captain

In spite of all of these great things, the Team B announcement was by far the most depressing for me. I should probably confess at this point to being a Miichan and (new) Team 4 oshi, and I considered Nakkii, Hikari and Umetan essential parts of the flavour of Team 4. All three of them are great fits for Team B (Nakkii is practically a walking ball of fluffy, smiley idolness). Still, I can’t help but feel that even more than Kojimako, whose center position can competently be taken over by Naachan or Mikichan, losing those three from the team will deaden the lively character and increasingly amazing theatre performances that Team 4 have been putting on up until now.


This isn’t to say that Team 4 made no gains from the reformation. As well as keeping Miichan as captain (an obvious choice, but of course I was still worried), they picked up the incredible Yuria as their new vice-captain, who will be a great asset to MCing and performing, as well as a great fit for the character of the team. Good luck with making the transition to Tokyo to you, too, Yuria!

They also picked up Miion, arguably the most prominent of the trainees besides Naanya, and retained the hilarious super-weirdo Mogi and the super-sexy Ayanan. I had originally thought that the post-shuffle Team 4 was going to have to work very hard to be taken as seriously as the other three teams, but with Yuurin‘s rejection of her transfer, Team 4 will get to keep her incredible MCs. Before the shuffle, Yuko, Umechan and Miichan all agreed that Team 4 gave the best theatre performances. I hope and expect their new incarnation to maintain the same high standard!

In spite of all my complaining and criticising, as a whole, after getting over the shock of the change to Team 4, I’m pretty happy with the results of this reshuffle, at least as far as AKB48 is concerned. The teams may not be exactly how I’d want them, but they do feel much more balanced than they were before, especially where Team K is concerned. Of course, it’ll take some time for everyone to adjust, but once the girls get used to the change and their new teams, I think this incarnation of AKB48 will be stronger than ever.


SKE48 (Eshtar)

This is going to be hard for me, but please bear with me.
Also please do trust me that I am trying to be as objective as I can be.

Overall goals that I can see from the shuffle is that the management try to balance the dance-skilled team S, super MC-skilled KII, new-gen heavy E, and spread out the dancing and MC abilities between the three teams equally while at the same time, trying to keep the nuance of old team (S with first gens, KII with Furuyanagi, E with NonMei + Umechan).


The biggest change for SKE48 must be Sae‘s captaincy and also Yuria‘s transfer.
For Sae’s captaincy, rather than the issue of capability (in which we all know she possesses amazing leadership and personality) more to the fact that she is concurrent to overseas team thus giving a question of how she could have a presence in the team as a captain, not to mention Team S is also the core team of SKE, in which Team S captain is SKE’s overall Captain. Also, there need to be a time for her to adapt and know SKE as a whole, it is a big hurdle as not only she has to get acquainted with the members, she also have to know them properly, being the captain. I am worried with the burden imposed on her, also to her overall health. Miepi, though, as a vice-captain will surely be able to support as a back up, so will Yuka. These two first generations has always been known for their leadership skill, support skill, and wisdom. However, we might have to see how much Sae influence will be in SKE, how much presence she can give, and how SKE will remain with its color.

Yuria’s transfer is a very big change in SKE. If I were to quote what Rena said, Third Generation member is the core of SKE and Yuria is one of them, a big part of them. She isn’t only a “face” figure, given her popularity and skill, but also a seed that may be the leading figure off stage as well. With her gone, SKE has lost one big future–a talent and also a leader, a supposed pillar in the future.

Rena‘s concurrency however, I am not really worried if it will affect overall SKE but instead I am ultimately worried for Rena’s health. She is SKE48 center, AKB48 senbatsu, has personal job, and now she has to concurrent to NGZK46 as well.
Let us just hope the best for her and pray for her health.


Overall, Team S, known as the “dance team” has their dance power depleted as the prominent SKE dancers are scattered over the three team so as to balance them. However, they seem to remain a powerful dance team with Piyosu, Mai, and Ranran. Team KII remains a team with many members with strong personalities and I have expectations in their MC, given the many MC-skilled (and talkative) members. If I were to make a joke, I shall say congratulations to KII since it seems their average member age has gone down with some young members in and Mieko out (hahaha). Doom for S though (Mieko + Akisun + Yuka).

For E, seems like they are trying to get back old E colors with many old E members who has strong E essences in (like Ayachan, Koami, and Kyon), but it is clear they are trying to balance out the MC, seniors, and dance skills because in the last shuffle E was a bit left behind from the two other team in this department (with too many fresh, inexperienced members). Young members are spread out over the three teams evenly, a good move that may let them all learn from their seniors.


However, I shall say I do not welcome the over 16 members in one team formation. If I were to quote Kaotan, it will be: “if I cannot under in E again, you will never stop hearing me (complaining of it)” because it ultimately bode ill omen to Research students who want to under since the main team itself can under one another. Also, what does “full member” stage mean anymore, it kinda lost the meaning with them taking turn doing stages (and I presume will affect overall team feeling). Also, if research student really is handicapped in undering the regular members, it will be a wall that decrease the interaction between generations. I see this as a huge down point since SKE’s strong color also exist in its strong bonds between members regardless of teams or generations.

Not only that, I just realized that the Research Student doesn’t even have enough number of members to perform a single stage now (14 members). I don’t know what management plans with this but seeing the good the old team formation gives, this is really worrying. I hope this doesn’t put Research Student in a bad position because above all members, Research Student is the future of the group and they need nurturing and recognition. It is a jump to a death pit for SKE if Research Students 1) can’t under 2) can’t have their own stage. SKE will have no future.

They also changed the seat of general manager again, (into Imamura Etsuro) who perhaps someone who has never known SKE before so we have to go all over again to introduce SKE colors or “spirit” and also the members to the general manager,副キャプテン and I think this is a huge handicap and may ultimately change SKE’s color completely because this affects decision making. SKE has many hako-oshi fans, wrong decisions that wound SKE colors will ultimately lead to very very bad result in fans side. However, he seems to have a long history of good achievements so it is also not unreasonable to assign him for it.

Overall, I do not see this as “good” for SKE, and if I can, I would have wanted it to not happen. The teams are overall balanced out, I think it is good, but the many uncertainties that it poses (mostly in the management and technical side) is very worrisome and risky. It is also too fast (since SKE has just had its shuffles, so it’s like destroying what had just been created), though it is a “minor” drawback compared with other problems. I shall say SKE was “damaged” and we may have to see if SKE will retain its signature color or if it will change. I shall say SKE is now threading a thin dangerous line to the future.

Sorry for being long or perhaps being biased.


NMB48 (Jo)

The Grand Reformation has created many questionable decisions. Some of the obvious change are the permanent transfer of Lemon ( Ichikawa Miori) to team BII; Sayanee’s (Sayaka Yamamoto) concurrency position with team K; or other concurrency such as of Ayaka Umeda, Maachun (Mayu Ogasawara). As a NMB48 fan, I want to discuss the how these change will affect each team. Throughout this, I will stay as objectively as possible by only talking about the teams and their essence. I am sure that for each member, you guys will have a completely different opinion than my.

Team N

The Grand Reformation has very messed up team N because more than half of Team N’s members are scattered throughout the 48G. Milky ( Watanabe Miyuki) is now part of team BII. This marks the destruction of Sayamilky combi in the theater. It is not much of a big matter because they are likely to appear together when NMB appears on TV, so no fear. Milky’s position is now open and , I think, will be for Yukirin (Kashiwagi Yuki) because she will be the 2nd most popular member in team N. This also means that Yukirin will take the center in “Zipper”. Now, will Yukirin be suitable? Yukirin has performed Heart no Gater, along side with Milky, which was a great performance. The dance choreography for “Zipper” is not particularly difficult, so the different between the dance skill of Yukirin and Milku won’t likely to make a difference.

Maachun is the most noticeable variety member of team N, there are others as well but less obvious or well known. Macchun’s leave put this variety position open to other members, but for who is not very obvious with the current formation. Annya’s (Murashige Anna) concurrency hints that she is likely to take that spot. I can say that because both Annya and Maachun are the type that like to push themselves in front of everyone. Their jokes can be bad (very much so for Annya XD) but they are willing to take a chance to promote themselves. Though not very likely, but Annya can very well take the center in “Nandomo nerae!”. This is less likely than Yukirin’s case because Ripopo (Kotani Riho) can just move up to the center easily, which is more logical. With that say, because Lemon is not in team N anymore, Annya can also take Lemon’s former position in “ONEW no uwabaki”. Regardless, team N’s new formation is quite fitting for its essence and , under Sayanee’s leadership and love, team N is in a good spot, mostly because of Sayanee.

Well lastly, the change has made Team N’s effort for their original stage has been cast aside by the management. It is quite upsetting to see the management keeps delaying team N’s 3rd stage only to let the members perform it in less than a year, which has never happen to any other team before. But with that said, this prevent team N

Team M

Team M probably took the least damage from the Grand Reformation. As far as I can see, most of team M’s members remain. There are several internal transfers, but they are for the best. A change in stage can help bring out the new members’ personalities. On the same note, this means that Reina Fujie is on an even field to compete. In team B, Reina has less opportunity to promote herself unless you are either Paruru or Yukirin. Also, Reina’s transfer can very well bring a couple of her fans over to team M and in turn helps team M gains for publicity.

When Jo Eriko declines her promotion, I struck me very hard because I don’t understand why Jo would pass up such a good chance. Jo posted that her decision of coming back to NMB is to start completely over. She doesn’t want the management to push her in a way that she doesn’t earn it. Also, that can create a lot of back slashes because many kenkyuusei have not being promoted. After reading that, I very much respect her decision that she sticks to her gun very much to the end. Well, I wonder when is a good time for her to get a promotion. It is not something can be measured and Jo is the very first person to ever leave then come back. Jo can might very well become the 2nd eternal kenkyuusei.

Team BII

Team BII is another team I think don’t get much publicity. Milky’s transfer can bring a lots of fan to team BII, so I think it is good. Team’s BII consists many young members so Milky can be a very big help for the team. Now, the most questionable decision is probably Umeda’s permanent transfer, and even become the vice captain. I have no prior knowledge about Umeda’s leadership skill. Most of what I know from last year documentary, Umeda seems to be very capable at helping  team B members after being transferred from team K. Umeda’s transfer can be very well because team BII’s captain, Emika Kamieda, has little experience in leadership. So this can allow Umeda to spend some time teaching Emika.

Except very much messing up team N’s 3rd stage, the Grand Reformation is a good chance for NMB. I have very concerned how team M and BII can gain publicity recently because they don’t have that many popular members. The new formation can draw more fans to these teams in a way that don’t overwhelm the members. The new members won’t take as much spotlight as the amount of publicity they bring in, so it is good overall. I hope you find my rant somewhat interesting or informative and hope you guys can keep continue helping NMB in the future. Yoroshiku! ^_^


HKT48 (Neve)

Much of the HKT48 shuffle too place prior to the Grand Reformation, with only minor changes during the reformation itself, but the previous shuffle was a major change for the group, so I’ll discuss that here, too. It broke many of the pairings that had formed in the past, the biggest being, of course, MeruMio. Depending on your point of view, the idea of Meru and Mio each taking on the centre position of one of the two teams might be a great thing or it might be horrifying. Only time will tell whether this is the direction management intend to take teams H and KIV.

Team H

The other two big separations are SakuRuppi and NatsuMado. In spite of the crazy push behind Meru and Mio recently, I still always feel like Haruppi and Sakura are the heavyweights of HKT48, and having their experience and popularity on different teams feels much more balanced. As they discussed themselves in a recent interview, both are optimistic about the path forwards. Still, it’s important to remember that it’s possible for a team to be much more than or much less than the sum of its parts. HKT48’s initial spurt in popularity wasn’t because the members are particularly good at singing or dancing (most of the sister groups’ teams have much more skill in absolute terms), but because, thanks in part to Sasshi’s leadership, they have an amazing chemistry. I hope very much that, even with several of the most important friendships divided between the teams, they can maintain that chemistry.

On the other hand, I was glad to see Lovetan end up as Team KIV captain. Past experience has shown that having a senior member in charge of a team often produces great results, and while she isn’t a giant as far as popularity is concerned, Lovetan’s long history with the group will help her to guide and teach the less experienced Team KIV members.

Team KIV

The Grand Reformation itself gave us a few more promotions and a number of concurrencies. The concurrencies especially will be a great experience – one day, HKT48 will be as large as its older sisters, and its most prominent members will benefit from the experience of working in a larger group. HKT48 still isn’t anything like as large as AKB48, and there are problems that come with working with more members and a greater level of popularity that the sister groups are more experienced in dealing with. Hopefully the concurrent members can help Sasshi bring back some of those lessons to the young girls in HKT48.

To me, this shuffle is either a great balancing act that’s going to really push the group forward, or it’s going to irrecoverably break the wonderful chemistry that they’ve had up until now. Only time will tell which of those two results will emerge. It’s unfortunate that, with an original stage proposed for Team H, the first generation members who ended up on Team KIV aren’t going to be able to perform it. Still, I’m looking forward to more energetic performances and hilarious MCs from the girls, and I’m very optimistic about the future of HKT48!