Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let's Speculate: 2nd Senbatsu Elections

Three months ago, in, I said, "I think another Senbatsu election would be stressful for the girls. Maeda may get depressed if she doesn't get #1, and it's too predictable if she does, so maybe we shouldn't have one for another few years when there are already a lot of new girls in the roster, or until Acchan graduates, which, although I am not a big Maeda Atsuko fan, is not something I'm looking forward too either."

But a few days ago, at the March Yokohama concert, they did announce there would be a second Senbatsu elections. The top 21 girls voted on by the fans will do the recording for the next single after Ponytail to Shou Shou, while those ranked 22 to 40 will record an accompanying track as Undergirls. The new single Ponytail to Shou Shou will contain a voting ticket, although there are a few other voters as well like paid members of the AKB48 fanclub.

Running total of votes cast will be revealed on May 26 and June 5, while the announcement of the winners will be on June 9. Eligible for the election are members of AKB, SKE and Kenkyuuseis, but unfortunately, no SDN members are included. I think AKB management does not like the idea of mixing SDN with AKB in a single, and perhaps the age gap affects them also, as management may want a more youthful image. I would have loved it if SDN were eligible, but I don't doubt AKB management's decision with this.

It should be interesting if Acchan can stay on the top position. Most likely, she will, but we can never tell. She actually has good competition with Mariko Shinoda, Yuko Oshima, and maybe Mayu Watanabe. Last year, I would have thought her biggest competition would be Jurina Matsui, but her low rank last year proves otherwise.

For Senbatsus, there will be some predictable, Acchan, Mariko, Yuko, Mayuyu, and then there's also Yukirin, Haruna, Takamina, Tomochin, Sae, Sayaka, and even Jurina. It should be interesting to see if Amina can hold on to her high rank from last year (#8). I'm also curious as to whether certain girls who made it last year can still hold on, like Tomo~mi, Erepyon, and Miichan, who were all non-Senbatsu in the most recent single for the first time in their careers (except Mii if you count Skirt Hirari), and possibly "losing" some popularity compared to other members. Former Kenkyuuseis Kitarie and Myao may still make it this time, but we can never tell, but I'm guessing they will too, as well as everyone else I have already mentioned. Low rankers Lovetan and Mocchi may have a hard time retaining their Senbatsu status this elections, that should be interesting, I really can't guess if they will still make it this year, mostly because there are so many girls whose popularity have risen within the past year. And since current SDN members CinDy and Yukarin are no longer eligible, we are guaranteed at least 2 new Senbatsus elected this year. My guess is Rena would almost surely be elected Senbatsu. Not sure about who the second one would be. I would guess either Akicha, Yuttan, Sasshi, or maybe even Nacchan. Most likely, I would guess it would be Sasshi, but it would be great if it would be Nacchan, as she was the only AKB original who wasn't voted Senbatsu last year (she was undergirl).

A great thing about this year's elections though is that this time instead of just 9 undergirls, there will be 19, so at least there are more girls who would get that great opportunity. My guesses are: the Undergirls from the last election (minus SDN Meetan), Yonechan, Haachan, Natsumi, and whoever doesn't make Senbatsu among those I've already mentioned. But those are all old names, from the old election, how about the 10 new undergirls, plus 3 new slots for the now fully SDN girls? Here are my guesses, I believe it's a safe bet that these seven girls will make it in this year: Moeno (I was surprised she didn't make it last year), Kumi (from Team S, whose popularity I believe has greatly risen), Manatsu (center of Team KII), Harugon (who has been getting a lot of push lately, also with the success of Watarirouka Hashiritai), Umechan (Team K original whose over 1 year absence due to injury has affected her popularity), Nacchi (another popular girl in her early days and Team K original who wasn't able to make it in last year), and even Ayarin (controversial girl who had lots of fans in her early days). The last six spots are hard, I'll guess only five: Maachan, Komori, Chikarina, Krisu and Reinyan; the last one would be an unexpected girl. The only long time members I haven't mentioned are Nakayan and Tanamin, but with a lack of push from AKB management, it may be hard for them to get in, but one of them might be a pleasant surprise. It's hard to guess, I expect a lot of surprises actually. And no, I don't expect some of my favorites to make it, like Team S' Haruka Ono, or Team KII's Anna Ishida, although of course I'd be very happy if they could. Popular SKE48 girls Rina Shinkai and Sayuki Mori stepping down recently to become Kenkyuuseis to focus more on studies may hurt their chances as well, although their hardcore fans may rally more because of it, although even if they didn't step down, it would be hard for them to make it as well because of tough competition, even if I do adore Shinkai. The strongest AKB Kenkyuusei today would be Haruka Shimazaki, and if there's only one AKB Kenkyuusei who could make it, that would be her, but I doubt any Kenkyuuseis would make it again this year.

Fans again are up in arms about the thought that some fans will buy multiple copies of the single to cast more votes for their favorites, but even if this was true, I suppose it does make sense for management to listen to people who throw more money at AKB. I doubt it makes that huge of a difference, but we can't really tell, I, for one, don't believe that this is the reason why Amina ranked very high last year, I frown on the unproven suggestion that she has rich fans who were able to buy multiple singles and cast multiple votes for her, as if none of the others wouldn't have rich fans. I happen to like Amina and she is one of my favorites, and I can easily understand why many fans would like her so much and vote for her. Some even theorize this is fixed, which I seriously doubt; if Management were to fix them, they would have ranked Jurina much higher, for example, among other interesting rankings.

I believe this is very stressful for them, but I've given up trying to guess how the girls feel about this and why some of the girls were even crying last year. Were they crying because they didn't make it, or were they happy for the success of some of their friends? I can certainly understand why CinDy's friends would cry for her. The girls now could be nervous, or they may think this a great and fun challenge. At least, if this will become yearly, as it's starting to seem, if they don't make it this year, they can have the drive to try harder to try to make it next year.

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