In the fast moving entertainment industry, maintaining the same members in a large group can be quite a difficult task. Some members move on to bigger things, while others inevitable find that being an idol wasn’t quite what they expected. Older members are also urged by the management to leave, if only to maintain the youthful image of the group.
This last post in the series of AKB48 member introductions covers the girls that have left in the past 4 years with revelations of what they are doing now.
1. Usami Yuki
26 year old Usami Yuki was a founding member of AKB48’s first team. She appeared on the group’s first single performances.
Usami was the first member to graduate on the 31st of March 2006, barely 3 months after their debut. Since then, she has dabbled in some gravure work but to only minor success. She is currently still working as a talent but is not signed to any agency.
Usami is known for being friends with fellow AKB48 graduated Oshima Mai. They occasionally appear on each others blogs. Usami Yuki’s personal blog can be found here.
2. Uemura Ayako
In 2005, Uemura Ayako took part in the Dream Factory and 2nd generation AKB auditions simultaneously. She failed the Dream Factory but managed to debut as part of the newly formed AKB48’s Team K in April 2006. Uemura did not stay around long enough to be featured in their stage performances, she left after only two months to fulfill her dream of becoming a seiyuu (anime voice actress)
Since then, Uemura has voiced a couple of educational shorts. She also held her own radio show between 2007 and 2008. Last year, she signed up with Office Watanabe, an agency that represents a handful of other seiyuu.
You can find Uemura Ayako’s blog over here.
3. Orii Ayumi
Orii Ayumi was one of the older original members of AKB’s Team A and was referred to as Ayunee (big sister Ayu) by fans.
She graduated in January 2007 to pursue a career in acting. Prior to her graduation Orii played an active role during theater performances. She was the only Team A girl to sign to the office48 agency, which she still retains.
Since leaving, Orii has been taking part in stage productions. She has also landed a number of small roles in dramas and movies.
Orii was the 2008 face for Tokyo Tower. During this time she worked as the DJ at the tower’s Club333. The Tokyo Tower image girl title and DJ gig has since been relinquished to Team K’s Umeda Ayaka.
Orii shared a now defunct blog together with Hoshino Michiru whom she was close to. Her new blog can be found here. Orii is also known for being friends with AAA’s Uno Misako.
4. Hoshino Michiru
Hoshino Michiru was another member of AKB48’s founding Team A. During her stay in AKB48, she rivaled Maeda Atsuko as the member with the most successful solo careers. Hoshino is best known for her passion for composing, she even auditioned to join the group with an original song of her own.
While she was still in AKB48, Hoshino worked composed the song “Ganbare!” which was used as the theme song for a drama starring AKB48. The song was later adopted by the Fuji News Network for use as the background music of their weather segment and later as the theme for the award winning Cinderella Formula, an art film starring Toyohara Kosuke.
Hoshino left the group a short time after Orii in June with aim of becoming a singer/songwriter. Under the alias of Goi Michiko, Hoshino provided the theme song for Densen Uta, a horror movie starring AKB48. She released her first album last April featuring songs that she composed herself with lyrics contributed by other AKB48 members as well as Akimoto Yasushi.
Hoshino currently performs at various live events featuring lesser known artists. She also makes appearances during larger AKB48 performances such as the yearly top 100 countdown. She is currently signed up with AR Relations, a small agency handling indie artists. Her blog can be found here.
5. Imai Yu
Imai Yu was a member of AKB48’s Team K. While still in Team K, Imai was a relatively active member and was one of the 5 girls chosen to provide the voice acting and theme song for the anime ICE.
She graduated at the same time as Hoshino Michiru and Takada Ayana, with the intention of pursuing a career in acting. However, she has had little success in this area so far. She most recently appeared as a extra in Kamen Rider Decade.
6. Takada Ayana
Takada Ayana was a rather unpopular member from Team K. Takada inflated wildly between the time she auditioned and the group’s debut and was one of the only members notably left out from AKB48’s 3rd single, Aitakatta. Despite that, Takada took part in the group’s theater performances through which she attracted a few loyal followers that supported her for her kind treatment toward otaku.
After graduating, Takada returned to Nagoya to work. Interestingly, her younger sister is now part of the Nagoya based SKE48.
7. Watanabe Shiho
Watanabe Shiho was an original member of AKB48’s Team A before she was transferred to support the creation of the new Team B. She left shortly after that in October 2007 to become a model/actress. Since then, she has landed small roles in various television dramas and variety shows.
Watanabe is known for being good friends with Team A’s Shinoda Mariko and the two often appear on each others’ blogs. Here’s a link to her more recent blog.
8. Masuyama Kayano
Masuyama Kayano was formerly the youngest member of AKB48 until Oku Manami joined during the introduction of Team K. She debut with Team A in 2005 at the age of 11. The two young girls were affectionately called AKB48’s angels by the other members.
Prior to joining AKB, Masuyama participated in the musical, Annie. She is also responsible for the original rendition of the infamous Kewpie Tarako song.
Masuyama film debut was a starring role in a 2007 drama called ChocoMimi based upon a kids manga. She graduated in November the same year to continue her acting career. Since then she has played a minor part in Maou and more prominent supporting role in the more recent Shokojo Seira.
Masuyama is part of the Parfit Production. The small production company is more famous for T.M. Revolution.
9. Inoue Naru
Inoue Naru joined AKB48 during the creation of Team B. Prior to the team’s debut though, she toured with AKB48 as Akimoto Sayaka’s replacement. Because Akimoto was the captain of Team K, Inoue played a significant role on stage. After the debut of Team B, Inoue contributed as one of the most prominent members. However, she had to leave in September 2009 due to her deteriorating health.
10. Ohe Tomomi
Ohe Tomomi was one of the original girls chosen for the formation of the original lineup. She participated in Team A up until her graduation in October 2008.
Ohe is known for being good friends with Team A’s Tojima Hana and Nakanishi Rina. She often meets up with other current or former AKB48 members as well. Ohe hosts her adventures at one of the most updated blogs here.
After leaving AKB48, Ohe joined New Gate Production, a company responsible for many low profile actors and has landed a number of supporting roles in dramas. She has also been most seen in modeling and gravure work.
In March this year, Ohe joined a new idol group called DokiDoki Dream Campus.
11. Komatani Hitomi
Komatani was originally part of the still active pop group “Feam”, but left the group in 2005 to join the newly formed AKB48. There she was part of AKB48’s Team A, where she was closest to Team A teammate Kojima Haruna. Komatani played an active role in the team’s live shows up until the team’s mass graduation in October 2008.
Komatani is now listed as one of Sun Music Group’s brand idols. The company is responsible for a large pool of actors and comedians. Since leaving AKB48, Komatani has dabbled in a variety of roles. She has appeared in miscellaneous variety shows, radio and theater performances. She also returns to take part in larger AKB48 concerts. Komatani is scheduled to appear in the upcoming 3rd season of Hancho.
Komatani’s blog here. She is also a self confessed Morning Musume fan.
12. Tojima Hana
Tojima Hana was one of 5 Team A girls to graduate in October 2008. Like some of the other girls, she had been given a decreasing amount of coverage since the introduction of the new teams and had appeared in a handful of the group’s singles by the time she graduated.
Tojima was best known for being closed friends with Ohe Tomomi who graduated at the same time. The two were collectively referred to as Oh-Toji.
After the graduation, Tojima joined a couple of companies but is no longer part of any agency. Strangely, she now appears the most often as a Go (the board game) player.
13. Nakanishi Rina
Nakanishi Rina started out as one of Team A’s most focal members. She was featured prominently together with the lead singers during singles and was part of the Chocolove subgroup together with Akimoto Sayaka and Miyazawa Sae. She was also among the girls to appear most often on television and radio programs. Nakanishi graduated in October 2008 due to her poor health.
Apart from releasing a gravure album last year, Nakanishi has been relatively inactive since leaving AKB48. She was notably absent from this year’s top 100 countdown. She confirmed her retirement from showbiz early this month.
However, just yesterday Nakanishi shocked the country with the release of some nude photos in the infamous FRIDAY magazine together with the announcement that she has since been filming adult videos under the name of Yamaguchi Riko. While her debut video is slated for release only in August, it is likely that Akihabara will start seeing a increase in suicides already.
Fans have flooded her blog and it has now been taken down.
14. Narita Risa
Up until their 3rd single, Narita Risa had been a leading member of AKB48’s Team A. She was featured prominently as one of the 7 leading members in Skirt Hirari where she sang the main lines building up to the chorus. She is more easily identified though by her abnormally huge eyes.
Unfortunately for Narita, the introduction of Shinoda Mariko through special circumstances cost the former her place in the group. After being completely phased out from singles, Narita saw only moderate popularity.
As one of the most endowed members, Narita Risa has been the most active in gravure work since leaving the group in October 2008. She will release her 4th gravure DVD next month.
You can reach Narita Risa’s blog by clicking here.
15. Kawasaki Nozomi
Kawasaki Nozomi was another founding member of AKB48’s Team A. She was best known for her “my pace” personality and though she joined in the group’s theater shows, she did not appear for their CD releases.
It was only during Baby! Baby! Baby! in 2008 that Kawasaki started taking part in the group’s singles. She also started to sideline as a fashion and gravure model.
Kawasaki has had one of the more succesful careers after AKB48. She graduated in February 2009 to open her own fashion label, Antiminss. Apart from handling the business expects of the company, she also also serves as the brand’s model. The Antiminss shop can be found at Ginza.
Kawasaki is also signed to Sky Corporation (the same company that manages Leah Dizon) through which she continues to further her acting and modeling career.
Finally, she also has a blog for MARON, a manicure studio she has recently opened in Shibuya.
16. Noguchi Reina
Noguchi Reina was a low profile member of AKB48’s Team B that was best known for being kind of strange. She graduated in February 2009 to focus on her high school studies and has not been heard from since.
17. Matsuoka Yuki
At 23 this year, Matsukoka Yuki was the oldest girl recruited into Team B. She left in February last year to pursue a solo career.
Matsuoka recently played a supporting role in the second season of Jyouou. Jyouou is a midnight drama better known for its adult stars and rampant nudity. She will also appear in an upcoming art film called Onichan no Hanabi.
Matsuoka keeps a personal blog that she updates frequently in a combination of Japanese and English. It can be found here but fans are required to sign up and are subject to her approval.
18. Oshima Mai
Oshima Mai is the most popular member to leave AKB48 to date. She was a original member of AKB48 that had been featured in a leading role in all of the group’s singles prior to her graduation in April 2009. Thanks to her outspoken personality, the older Mai often took charge as the voice of AKB48 during their television appearances.
Hokkaido born Mai was initially part of a lesser known idol unit by JMO. She left the company group to join during the creation of AKB48’s Team A and soon signed with the HoriPro. In exchange for playing in the Xanadu loves NHC futsal team with other Itano and Kasai Tomomi, the company spared no effort in promoting her career.
Mai was also the most active blogger among all of the girls in AKB48 and part of her popularity was also attributed to this fact. While in AKB48, the number of solo works in her resume put even the group’s cover girl Meada Atsuko to shame.
Mai has landed a number of MC roles and often appears in variety shows. She has also works as an image girl for various companies at live events, commercials and in media. Mai has also played supporting roles in dramas and appears in this year’s taiga drama, Ryoma den.
Though she still remains with HoriPro, Oshima Mai signed up with avex last month to release her first solo single Mendokusai Aijou.
19. Hayano Kaoru
As a child, Hayano Kaoru was part of Tokyo Mets, a group that focused on musicals. She later joined AKB48 during the formation of Team K. Because she had to balance schooling, Hayano was one of the members sidelined in the group and didn’t get to appear in any of the group’s singles. She does however, receive outstanding results in her tests.
Last February, Hayano announced her resignation and transfer to Toyota Office, but she continued to participate in live performances until April. Apart from the famous Yada Akiko, Toyoto Office handles a number of younger aspiring actresses. Hayano has since returned to musicals with roles in last year’s Christmas Fantasy and the more recent Kunpou no Uta.
Hayano keeps a daily updated blog about her life in school and work here.
20. Saotome Miki
Former Team B’s Saotome Miki deserves special mention as the only AKB48 member that was ever directly demoted to a Research Student. After lackluster performances in Team B for 2 years, Saotome returned to the research team in January 2009. Many have speculated about the reason for this demotion.
Since the research students did have their own stage shows at this point, Saotome returned to perform on stage. But after a long unexplained absence, she was graduated in April last year.
21. Naruse Risa
Even as a research student, Naruse Risa appeared alongside the rest of the lead members during the temporarily merged Himawari group She was later promoted to the main teams together with Saeki Mika and Kuramochi Asuka.
Naruse performed as part of Team K and also as a backup for Team B. Unfortunately, she suffered from a serious slipped disk last April and was rendered unable to perform. She graduated the next month to continue her recovery. Since then, Naruse has made guest appearances in larger concerts.
22. Saeki Mika
Saeki Mika was another research student that took part in the Himawari stages. After the girls returned to their teams, Saeki was promoted to AKB48’s Team B in February 2008.
Last January, Saeki injured her foot during one of the group’s performances. After a brief period of rest, she returned to perform but suffered a relapse in July. Her graduation was eventually announced during AKB48’s Budokan concert last August. She has been inactive since.
23. Noro Kayo
Prior to joining AKB48, Noro Kayo was part of the Moon The Child group of child talents but joined AKB during the formation of Team K. She did not take part in all but Team K’s debut single Aitakatta but was a staple of theater performances.
She was an outspoken member that gone along well with many of the girls but was best known for being close with Sato Natsuki. The two formed the manzai comedy duo, Nachinon. Noro served as the Boke (comic) and Natsuki was the Tsukkomi (straight man). Though they do not sing, the two can be seen performing a gag during the introduction of the PV for Romance Irane.
Noro was initially set to transfer over to SKE48, during the creation of the group. However, she continued to stay with Team K. It was announced last August that Noro was one of 5 senior girls that would be transferred over to the company’s new group SDN48 (Saturday Night 48), a more mature themed group.
She continued to simultaneously perform with Team K up until this February when she became the captain of SDN48. A month later during the March Yokohama concert, Noro signed up with Ohta Pro, the same company that handles AKB48’s top members Maeda Atsuko and Oshima Yuko.
Recently, Noro has also been serving as the Monday night DJ for bayfm radio’s ON8 show.
Noro Kayo’s Gree blog can be found here.
24. Ohori Megumi
27 year old Ohori Megumi was AKB48’s oldest member to date. Ohori is a college graduate with a teaching license.
During her high school days, she struggled to find a career in the entertainment industry. She was most active as a gravure idol. Prior to joining AKB48, Ohori also worked as a waitress at the Don Quijote together with Shinoda Mariko. Like Shinoda, she was granted an additional audition and later joined the newly formed Team K.
She was a staple member of the group’s theater shows and performed most of the groups raunchier songs. However, she did not get to appear in any of the group’s singles except the bikini themed Baby! Baby! Baby!.
In October 2008, while still in AKB48, Ohori released her first solo single under the alias of Ohori Meshibe. The single “Amai Kokansetsu” was possible with the help of Akimoto Atsushi under the condition that Ohori quit AKB48 if it was unable to sell 10,000 copies within its first month. It sold 10,125 copies.
This February, Ohori fully transferred over to SDN48. She has joined HoriPro in March and now plays for the company’s Xanadu loves NHC futsal team. Outside of the group, she continues to be release gravure work.
Ohori keeps an updated blog over at Ameba. She is famous for sexually harassing the other members of AKB48.
25. Urano Kazumi
Urano Kazumi who was better known by the girls as Cindy, was a founding member of AKB48’s Team A that was sent over to support the creation of Team B. Urano is one of the members singed up to Production Ogi. The AKB48 girls are collectively referred to as Team Ogi.
Although she was rarely seen in singles, she was one of the group’s most active members on stage. The older Urano served as the group’s leader and adviser. She enjoyed equal popularity to many of the group’s other members, coming in at #17 during last year’s elections. However, Urano was shuffled over to SDN48 last August with the rest of the senior members. The change was effective this April.
A number of solo work has been credited to Urano. She appeared in a large number of popular mainstream films including Gokusen, Untouchable, the Trick 3 Movie and the spin-off Keibuho Yabe Kenzo series. Suspiciously, all of these show star Nakama Yukie. Urano also stars in the PV for the Aqua Timez single, Plumeria which was used as the Gokusen Movie’s theme song.
Urano keeps a blog called CinDy Syndrome here. She also hosts the bayfm radio show of the same name.
26. Kohara Haruka
Kohara Haruka was the slowest research student to find a place in a team at the time. She is also the research student above 20 to get promoted.
Originally, Kohara operated the cash register at the AKB48 theater’s cafe. After a year of working there, Kohara passed the auditions to become one of AKB48’s research students in December 2007. A a research student, Kohara appeared as a support during the main teams’ shows. But was only promoted to Team B in January 2009.
She was scheduled to join the new Team K during the reshuffle. However, it was announced during a show in September that she would move to SDN48 instead. She graduated together with Cindy on April 16th.
27. Sato Yukari
Sato Yukari was a popular founding member of AKB48’s Team A. While secondary to the groups leads, she was featured in most of the groups singles and played an active role during stage performances. While she came in at #15 during last year’s elections, it was announced that she would transfer to the SDN48.
Though she started performing as part of SDN48 since August, Sato continued work with AKB48 up until last month. At 22, Sato is currently the youngest member of the older SDN48 group.
Sato has one of he most successful gravure careers among the girls. She has launched 3 books, and her 9th solo DVD is schedule for release next month. More of Sato at her blog.