It’s that time again: it’s time to shuffle the senbatsu for Nogizaka’s next single!
As you may have known, the last single, “Nandome no Aozora Ka?” has had the longest run at single since it was in the middle of promoting the album. The Ikuta Erika-centered single was well received for being in line with “Kimi no na wa Kibou” or “Kidzuitara Kataomoi”. Even Sashihara Rino covered it during AKB48’s Kouhaku Uta Gassen. But it’s time to move on to the next one. Who makes senbatsu this time around?
This is an 18-member senbatsu, which is the biggest lineup since “Natsu no Free and Easy”. Speaking of said song, Nishino Nanase has been chosen as center once again. Joining her in the front row include some of the Nogizaka46 fan favorites, such as Shiraishi Mai, Hashimoto Nanami and Ikuta Erika. But joining Naachan in the front row is SKE48’s very own Matsui Rena. Quite possibly the most surprising reveal of the senbatsu, but not the only surprising reveal.
How this senbatsu was revealed was that the second row was revealed first. The second row seems the easiest to predict, so that’s not where the suspense lies. We’re at that point where it’s near impossible to see Ikoma Rina, Fukagawa Mai or Sakurai Reika out of senbatsu, unless something happens to them (such as taking time off for schoolwork, etc.). Thus, the second row includes, Reika, Ikomachan, Maimai, Wakatsuki Yumi, and everyone’s favorite Nogizaka fisher, Akimoto Manatsu.
The first and second rows are called the Jyuu Fukujin, who will get the most screen time out of the main single, much like the Kami-7 of AKB48. This leaves 8 members awaiting their name called for the last remaining spots of senbatsu.
This is where some surprises took place. One thing to notice is that someone will get shuffled out of senbatsu in place of someone new. For “Nandome no Aozora Ka?”, that lucky member was Saito Chiharu. Now someone succeeds in her place, but whom? Here comes Sagara Iori, the late 2nd generation member who makes it to senbatsu; the third 2nd gen member to do so. Joining her as a 2nd gen member is Hori Miona, the only 2nd gen member to center a Nogizaka single, and the longest running senbatsu member of the 2nd gen. Other members of senbatsu have been regulars for for months, and show no signs of slowing down: Eto Misa, Takayama Kazumi and Hoshino Minami.
Albeit a predictable surprise, one of the senbatsu members who fell out of Jyuu Fukujin is Matsumura Sayuri. While her scandal may have affected her status in the higher parts of senbatsu, she still made it. Some could argue that she could have dropped to undergirls, but she’s worked to erase some of the wrongdoings of that scandal. She’ll be back to a higher spot next time.
The final two spots of the 3rd row were the last members to be called, and they are Ito Marika and Saito Asuka. Arguably the aces of the Nogizaka undergirls rotation since they’ve both centered undergirls songs, seeing them both shoot to senbatsu was the most surprising reveal of all. One could argue that one of them could make senbatsu while the other spot could have gone to another 2nd gen member, such as Shinuchi Mai or Terada Ranze. But Bebitan and Ash made it, leaving plenty of options for an undergirls center. Sasaki Kotoko? Inoue Sayuri? Nakamoto Himeka? The list can go on and on. But me personally, I’d like my oshimen, Wada Maaya, to center an undergirls song. That’d be pretty awesome.
There seems to be pressure riding on this single since this is the way Nogizaka46 can respond to being snubbed out of NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen due to unfortunate circumstances. But all Nogizaka46 has to do is keep doing what they were doing a year ago, since 2014 was so successful. They’ll get in this year.
What do you expect to see from this upcoming 11th single? Do you expect a powerful ballad that brings you to tears like “Kidzuitara Kataomoi”, or do you expect an upbeat, pop/rock-esque song like “Natsu no Free and Easy”? Only time will tell.
But big ups to Nishino Nanase for being selected as the 11th single center! You go girl!
-Written By L4verra [Nathan]
◆ Rin Rigoni