Once again this year, the throngs of AKB48 fans waited in anticipation as the results of the 2013 AKB48 General Elections were announced. This year’s most popular member came as a surprise to many. Is this the dawn of a new age in AKB48? The full results within.
#1. Sashihara Rino
Just when you thought that she couldn’t get any bigger. AKB48’s wota idol and hetare queen leaves the world shocked by taking the top spot at this year’s AKB48 sousenkyou elections. A lot has happened in the past year for the idol. She’s released a new single, appeared in many a variety show and even got to host a couple. The once underdog of AKB48 even got herself promoted to theater manager of HKT48, which we’re sure puts her only behind Takamina in the overall 48 monarchy.
It would seem Sashihara (previously 4th) has finally won the renai sousenkyou, with her votes having more than doubled since this year, giving her a significant lead. Sasshi’s victory means she will be taking the helm at a AKB48 single for the first time in her career and also marks this as the first time in history in which the election was not won by either Maeda Atsuko or Oshima.
#2. Oshima Yuko
Oshima Yuko put up a strong fight again this year, 2012 has the idol entertainer gradually abandoning her gravure career in favor of prominent roles in drama and film. Most impressive is the fact that she manages to do this while still keeping a strong presence at the AKB48 theater. While Oshima Yuko’s overall votes increases in count this year, they are not nearly enough to retain her place at the top.
#3. Watanabe Mayu
After last year’s results many were expecting a competition between Watanabe Mayu and Oshima. But the gap between both members remains almost unchanged since last year. While Mayu benefited from a good deal of hype in 2012’s elections thanks to the timely release of the Sabadol drama and both Watarirouka Hashiritai and solo singles, the pace seemed to had slowed down significantly this year.
#4. Kashiwagi Yuki
As with the other members above, Kashiwagi Yuki gets pushed down one place this year, due to being displaced by Sashihara Rino. Much has remained unchanged for Kashiwagi since the previous year since she’s still one of the group’s most prominent gravure models. For many sub-groups seemed to have come to a halt, but Yukirin has moved on to release her own solo single and had more recently held a second solo concert.
#5. Shinoda Mariko
Shinoda Mariko remains unfazed at number 5. While she has long been inactive on the 48 side of things save for the occasional concert, Shinoda strength lies in her numerous mainstream activities, putting her along the likes of the Maeda, Oshima and Sashihara as some of the most recognizable faces to the public. Though that’s not to say that she’s without her fair share of die hard fans. Mariko has definitely been keeping busy, with another year full of modelling jobs and even got to put out her own line of wedding dresses.
#6. Matsui Jurina
SKE48’s double Matsui team continue their steady climb up the 48 ladder, with Jurina taking the lead again this year. Both rise a full 3 spots this year, despite the sister group seeing decreased activity when compared to their Osakan counterpart. The young idol is certainly growing up fast and has come a long way since her debut. She continues to play a central role in both SKE48, while still finding the time to represent as an actual member of AKB48’s Team K. There’s a close fight among the members scrambling for the positions from here onward.
#7. Matsui Rena
Like Jurina, Matsui Rena moves up an admirable 3 positions this year despite the fierce competition at the top. While the other Matsui was away, Rena defended the home ground and has since been made leader of SKE48’s new Team E. On the career side of things, Rena has continued to make progress on the gravure side of things ever since the release of her photo book last year, whilst appearing in the occasional 48 backed drama and variety.
#8. Takahashi Minami
It’s been another busy year for Takahashi Minami, more so now that she’s been made General Manager of AKB48. A long time main vocalist for the group, Takahashi has finally managed to release a debut solo single in April. Other than this, she also continues to be a regular in a number of variety shows. Takamina’s votes have hardly changed since last year’s. Placing at number 8 puts her as the highest ranking original AKB48 member (and one of the only three to make senbatsu).
#9. Kojima Haruna
The Kojima-Minami rivalry continues again this year, with Kojima Haruna again trailing behind Takahashi. She’s managed to narrow the gap however from about 13,000 votes, to just 1,257 this year. Another main vocalist for the group, 2012 marked the first time in history where Kojima Haruna was not featured in a AKB48 single after failing to make the cut for last year’s Janken Senbatsu. With the unofficial death of sub-units, it would seem appear that Kojima hasn’t has much on her plate but she’s taken the time to make a return to dramas in Takuya Kimura’s PRICELESS. In recent times, Kojiharu has also been making an aggressive move away from her long gravure history toward fashion modelling, though for the lingerie brand Peach John no less. Kojima has moved toward a more glamorous image and has graced a great number of fashion magazines over the span of last year, joining the likes of Mariko and Tomochin as AKB48 members who’ve managed to break into mainstream modelling careers.
#10. Miyazawa Sae
AKB48’s ikemen idol earned a significant amount of new votes this year. Even with the increased competition, Miyazawa Sae has managed to move up one spot to number 10, claiming the position that would had been otherwise filled by Itano Tomomi. When not representing in SNH48, Miyazawa appears in the occasional drama and variety program. She also remains active at major AKB48 events.
1. Sashihara Rino (150,570) (#4) (67,339)
2. Oshima Yuko (136,503) (#1) (108,837)
3. Watanabe Mayu (101,210) (#2) (72,574)
4. Kashiwagi Yuki (96,905) (#3) (71,076)
5. Shinoda Mariko (92,599) (#5) (67,017)
6. Matsui Jurina (77,170) (#9) (45,747)
7. Matsui Rena (73,173) (#10) (42,030)
8. Takahashi Minami (68,681) (#6) (65,480)
9. Kojima Haruna (67,424) (#7) (54,483)
10. Miyazawa Sae (65,867) (#11) (40,261)
11. Itano Tomomi (63,547) (#8) (50,483)
12. Shimazaki Haruka (57,275) (#23) (14,633)
13. Yokoyama Yui (53,903) (#15) (25,541)
14. Yamamoto Sayaka (51,793) (#18) (23,020)
15. Watanabe Miyuki (44,116) (#19) (19,159)
16. Suda Akari (43,252) (#29) (11,323)
17. Shibata Aya (39,739)
18. Minegishi Minami (38,985) (#14) (26,038)
19. Umeda Aya (36,282) (#16) (24,522)
20. Takajo Aki (33,129) (#17) (23,083)
21. Kitahara Rie (33,121) (#13) (26,038)
22. Yuria Kizaki (30,307) (#31) (10,554)
23. Takayanagi Akane (29,199) (#24) (14,111)
24. Matsumura Kaori (27,566) (#34) (9,030)
25. Kawaei Rina (26,764)
26. Miyawaki Sakura (25,760) (#47) (6,635)
27. Furukawa Airi (24,990) (#30) (11,179)
28. Yamada Nana (23,950) (#46) (6,683)
29. Oya Masana (23,588) (#27) (12,142)
30. Iriyama Anna (22,869
31. Kimoto Kanon (21,385) (#56) (5,982)
32. Fujie Reina (21,324) (#40) (7,782)
33. Sato Amina (19,569) (#21) (17,009)
34. Katayama Haruka (19,158) (#48) (6,602)
35. Nagao Mariya (18,979) (#39) (7,809)
36. Kuramochi Asuka (18,435) (#22) (14,852)
37. Kodama Haruka (18,145)
38. Tano Yuka (18,125) (#45) (6,694)
39. Umemoto Madoka (17,819)
40. Jonishi Kei (17,381)
41. Matsumoto Rina (16,715)
42. Saito Makiko (16,508)
43. Ota Aika (16,401) (#52) (6,140)
44. Yagura Fuuko (16,281)
45. Muto Tomu (16,221) (#49) (6,424)
46. Ishida Haruka (16,072) (#50) (6,333)
47. Kobayashi Ami (15,533)
48. Oba Mina (15,064) (#57) (5,969)
49. Yabushita Shu (14,745)
50. Yoshida Akari (14,684)
51. Kikuchi Ayaka (13,944) (#51) (6,185)
52. Sato Sumire (13,692) (#61) (5,706)
53. Maeda Ami (13,613) (#42) (7,168)
54. Ogasawara Mayu (13,442) (#60) (5,919)
55. Tashima Meru (13,246)
56. Iwasa Misaki (12,638) (#33) (9,297)
57. Ichikawa Miori (12,616) (#58) (5,963)
58. Isohara Kyoka (12,319)
59. Tomonaga Mio (12,126)
60. Matsui Sakiko (11,961) (#53) (6,058)
61. Yamauchi Suzuran (11,888) (#54) (6,027)
62. Hirajima Natsumi (11,806
63. Kaneko Shiori (11,620)
64. Nakanishi Yuka (11,602) (#63) (5,592)
And there you have it. Apart from the large gaps between the top 3 positions and again between 5th and 6th place, the rest of this year’s votes are a steady decline showing the stiff competition.
Sashihara Rino’s win, and a significant one that is, will come as a surprise to many. Especially when considering that she was involved in a scandal just after last year’s sousenkyou. Her win is not an unwarranted one though, with Sasshi being one of the most active member in the entire 48 family in recent time. The fact that fans have managed to overlook last year’s mishap proves of her staying power or perhaps her unrivalled mainstream appeal as an entertainer.
While CD sales for the election single did increase in sales slightly this year (from 1.7 million to 1.8 million), this did not account for the sheer increase in votes among the ranked members. In fact, all the votes leading up to the senbatsu have almost doubled this year. This is of course in spite of the continual expanding of the number of eligible group members. Take note that election participation was optional this year, though it did not seem to affect the overall trend in greatly.
This year’s results enforce the idea that the popularity of 48 still lies within a handful of members. But as votes are spread thinner, the disparity between these members have lessened in recent time.
While not nearly as high as some may have predicted, Acchan 2.0 Shimazaki Haruka’s votes have nearly quadrupled. The rest of AKB48 did not fare as well, allowing for the sister groups to claim many of the spots for the elections. If 2012 wasn’t, then 2013 is definitely the year for sister groups. Out of the 64 positions, approximately only half were occupied by AKB48 members. SKE48 takes 17 spots, NMB48 another 8, and 6 more (including the most important one) goes to HKT48. If this were a real election, AKB48 would be losing.
Other notable rises include Shibata Aya, who came out of nowhere to secure nearly 40,000 votes and the position of undergirls’ center. With NMB48’s Yabushita Shu also taking the Future Girls’ center spot, that leaves AKB48 with only Sato Amina as center for Next Girls.
NMB48’s two centers make their way into the senbatsu too, though not nearly as highly as some may have feared given the attention on NMB48 in Japan now. Other significant risers include Suda Akari, whose votes have also quadrupled this year putting her at 16 place among the senbatsu. It’s no surprise that many of the most drastic jumps in popularity go to the members who are most active on social media such as the AKB48 Google+ initiative. Finally, it’s nice to see Hirajima Natsumi make a return after missing last year’s election, making her the only graduated member to have taken advantage of the new election ruling to earn a spot in one of the songs.
Share your reactions to this year’s AKB48 election results in the comments below.