Before I begin, let me explain a bit of terminology. Amongst AKB48, their sister groups and idols in general, “oshimen” is used to describe the member you want to support the most out of the whole group. You want this member to get a push from the management, and everything this member does puts a smile on your face, whether it be from their blog or Google Plus posts or seeing them during a live concert. Another term is “oshihen”, which is when you switch your original oshimen out for somebody else for a variety of reasons. This is generally frowned upon in the 48G community.
When your oshimen announces graduation, it is a very sinking feeling. That one member you have supported for quite some time and that one member you cheer for whenever she is on screen, suddenly announces graduation and will leave her group in a matter of time. I wrote earlier on how there were a slew of graduations announced with some of the biggest names leaving their respective groups, such as Yamada Nana and Furukawa Airi. But that is not why I am writing this.
As you may have guessed from the title, Yamagishi Natsumi has just announced graduation and will have her graduation concert March 12th. If you don’t know who Yamagishi Natsumi is, she’s a member of NMB48’s Team N. She is known for being the strawberry girl, akin to Ichikawa Miori’s love for lemons, albeit not to that degree. Natsumin has made senbatsu only once during her tenure at NMB48 for the “Oh My God!” single. Her closest friends among NMB48 are Jonishi Kei and Kawakami Rena. But she’s graduating from NMB48 to pursue a career as a magazine model.
I know a lot about Yamagishi Natsumi as she was one of my favorite members among NMB48. She was not exactly as popular as Yamamoto Sayaka or Watanabe Miyuki, but she had her fair share of fans and Twitter/Google Plus followers. She was an amazing idol to follow if you ever got the chance to. However…that is not why her graduation announcement hurts more than it should.
Let me tell you a story. Throughout the latter half of 2014, I will admit that I was kind of growing bored with whatever Natsumin was up to. The only times I did get to see her were on her Google Plus page or if NMB48 had posted a video of Natsumin and other members doing something, like translating a word or what not. Simply put, it was kind of hard to have her around as an oshimen, since she did not get the recognition that other members had. Someone did, and this someone caught my eye.
There was this girl in NMB48 who got pushed by management. She had gravure photos left, right and center and she even made AKB48’s senbatsu for their single, “Kibouteki Refrain”. NMB48 Management even made her the center alongside Yagura Fuuko for their single, “Rashikunai”. This girl caught my attention and I didn’t even know why at the time, other than that she’s beautiful, flirtatious, and her birthday was one day before mine. She also drank ketchup out of a bottle! Who does that?
Simply put, this new girl I started to like somewhat made me forget about what Natsumin was doing. I was thinking about this new girl literally every time I played something by NMB48, and she was easy to follow due to her push from management. Don’t get me wrong; I paid attention to whatever Natsumin was up to scrolling down Google Plus or what now. But I was slowly losing sight on what she was doing because of the new girl and her antics. It became to the point where I smacked the “oshihen” button and moved Natsumin out of the way for this new girl.
Then the announcement came. No one really saw it coming and now Natsumin is out of NMB48 by next week. Simply put, I feel bad that I oshihened from Natsumin to the new girl. I feel bad that I never paid that much attention to Natsumin in the latter half of 2014, and I feel bad that I essentially took her for granted. I don’t know if a whole lot of fans will miss Natsumin, but I know I will.
The only thing I can do now is support her down the line in her modeling career and future goals. Maybe I may see her again on the cover of Larme Magazine with Triendl Reina or something. But for now, I have to support her in NMB48, at least until the 12th.
I’m basically writing this to say that I’m sorry for oshihening. It’s almost a proverbial sin among the 48G to do it, and when the idol you oshihened from announces graduation, it hits you like a slap in the face. I still like that new girl I mentioned and still have her as my NMB48 oshimen. I’ll still support what the new girl does given how the she is going to be the face of the NMB48 franchise should Yamamoto Sayaka or Watanabe Miyuki announce graduation. But this post is not about the new girl; this post is about Natsumin.
The lesson learned here today is that you probably shouldn’t oshihen. You should support a member through thick and thin and not bandwagon to somebody else, just because they seem to be more popular. The temptation is there with management pushing certain members with gravure and senbatsu selections. But lead yourself not into temptation, because you never know when a graduation announcement will happen.
If I wanted to leave one last message to Yamagishi Natsumi, it would be that I’m sorry for oshihening. I enjoyed everything you did to help NMB48, I enjoyed your Google Plus posts, and I wish you the very best in the future!
◆ Rin Rigoni