It’s that time of the year again, where fans from far and wide (but mostly in Japan) vote in their favorite members to rank in the senbatsu lineup for the upcoming AKB48 summer single. Yes, it’s Sousenkyo season once again!
Now, as you can see from the title, this is a prediction post for the upcoming senbatsu (#1-16) lineup. That means that this is an opinion piece based on my observation of these 16 members throughout the latter half of 2014 up to now, and yes, there are members on this 16 member list I do not follow on a daily basis. Based on these predictions, your favorite member(s) may or may not make my senbatsu prediction lineup, so if you get mad at my predictions, I apologize in advance. Let me reiterate: this is an opinion piece.
You ready? Well here we go.
For my picks, I am going to go from #16 down to #1 at the end. This time, four senbatsu spots are open for new members, as Kojima Haruna, Matsui Rena, Ikoma Rina and Kawaei Rina sit this one out due to personal choice, ineligibility, or for missing the deadline to turn in the application. Regardless, here are my picks. I will also list the amount of times said member made senbatsu in previous elections.
#16: Kizaki Yuria (AKB48 Team B, 0x Senbatsu)
A year ago today, the 48G fandom was shocked to see Kizaki Yuria permanently transferred to AKB48. Over a year has passed and Yuria has carved out a nice niche among the AKB48 lineup. Team B is hers to lead, she recently released a photobook, and she has had starring roles in Majisuka Gakuen 4 and Tatakau! Shoten Girl. She got a lot done this past year or so, which very likely translates to more votes and the 16th seed. If she does not make senbatsu this time around, she will have plenty of opportunities.
I do predict that Kizaki Yuria will barely edge out Shibata Aya for the last sousenkyo spot, as Shibata Aya falls to Undergirls center.
#15: Kodama Haruka (HKT48 Team H/AKB48 Team K, 0x Senbatsu)
Yes, this is the first time Kodama Haruka will make senbatsu. Basically I am looking at this year’s Sousenkyo in this standpoint: HKT48 is rising tremendously, as last year’s Sousenkyo showing proved just that (several members jumped some 10-40+ spots in the rankings, and 2 HKT48 members made senbatsu). This trend will continue this year, and the arguably third face of the HKT48 franchise makes senbatsu. It also helps if you have centered the last 2 HKT48 singles.
#14: Watanabe Miyuki (NMB48 Team BII/AKB48 Team B, 1x Senbatsu)
Last time Watanabe Miyuki made senbatsu was in 2013, where she placed 15th. Then in 2014, a scandal somewhat weighed her down and she fell three spots to undergirls. This year, she has a clear shot to come back to senbatsu. She was the winner of the 2014 Janken Tournament, defeating Kojima Haruna to claim her very own single. There is not a lot that can stop Milky this time around unless she gets into another scandal. Besides, NMB48 needs one more member in senbatsu to represent the group, and no, Kashiwagi Yuki didn’t really count.
#13: Matsumura Kaori (SKE48 Team KII, 0x Senbatsu)
Last year’s surprise showing to give Matsumura Kaori the Undergirls center position was nothing short of…well, surprising. This time around, now that there are four spots available for members to move in, this trend may continue again and we may see the “forever 17”, “honorary Kenkyuusei” Matsumura Kaori in senbatsu. Whether you love her or hate her, I don’t see a lot stopping her from making senbatsu, especially when there are photos circulating around the interwebs of Kaotan fans and their stockpiles of CDs used for voting.
Perhaps she will bring her camcorder with her again…
#12: Miyazawa Sae (SKE48 Team S/SNH48 Team SII, 6x Senbatsu)
Yes, Miyazawa Sae will make it for the 7th straight time. While I do not follow Miyazawa Sae (or SNH48 for that matter…) as much as I should, I am well aware of how big the Miyazawa Sae fanbase is, and it does not look like it will let up this year either. There is a reason Sae has never dropped out of senbatsu, and she will not drop out this time around either. She did release a photobook which will help out with votes as well.
#11: Kitahara Rie (NGT48 Team NIII, 4x Senbatsu)
Some of you may think that this ranking is way too high, but I have Kitahara Rie to clinch the 11th seed. I say that because of how much she is willing to offer to AKB48. After an emotional confession, revealing that she may not have a lot to offer to the franchise anymore, she was given the opportunity to move to the next sister group in NGT48. Basically, she is doing what Sashihara Rino is doing with HKT48 (albeit without a scandal). She is the leader of the franchise and will lead her fellow Niigata girls into the spotlight. Perhaps Niigata-based 48G fans can help vote her into senbatsu?
#10: Yokoyama Yui (AKB48 Team A, 4x Senbatsu)
Yokoyama Yui clinches the 10th seed. She got this far after years of hard work and determination, and time and time again such hard work has paid off. This will be Yuihan’s highest ranking in the Sousenkyo election, and it’s in part from a few things: having a major role in Majisuka Gakuen 4, releasing a photobook, and making every senbatsu lineup for every AKB48 single this past year.
It also helps your votes if you are named the AKB48 Soukantoku (General Manager) after Takahashi Minami graduates.
#9: Suda Akari (SKE48 Team E, 2x Senbatsu)
Suda Akari makes senbatsu once again. From what I hear, Dasu’s handshakes are some of the best in all of SKE48, as she has a ton of energy and character if you do meet her for a handshake event. This translated to a rise in voting, as Dasu’s rank has gone higher and higher with every Sousenkyo, and this year that trend is likely to continue.
Hopefully Suda Akari does not have an acceptance speech that is 30 minutes in duration…
#8: Miyawaki Sakura (HKT48 Team KIV/AKB48 Team A, 1x Senbatsu)
Oh boy, this is where the ranking will start to get difficult…but yes Miyawaki Sakura jumps up to the 8th seed. Think of all that Sakura has done this past year: she was a lead in Majisuka Gakuen 4, she was the first ever HKT48 member to dual center an AKB48-based single and she has a frequent line of gravure photos on your everyday Young Animal issue. Even with the impressive resume this past year, Sakura remains one spot shy of the Kami7 (#1-7 rankings). I say this because one could argue that any of the Kami7 members could win Sousenkyo, simply from their magnitude alone.
I will say this: Sakura is still young. At age 17, she will have plenty of opportunities to crack Kami7, or maybe even win. She is still developing as an idol and is already this high. The future is bright for this young lady.
#7: Shimazaki Haruka (AKB48 Team A, 2x Senbatsu)
Yes, one of the faces of the beloved 9th gen of AKB48 makes it into Kami7 at the 7th seed. Being the center of the single used to vote (“Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”) will help your cause, and being one of the leads for Majisuka Gakuen 4 helps as well. But we know that Paruru has her fair share of AKB48 fans, mainly because they have seen how she has grown from a rather shy and salty persona to someone who can open up to her fans and her fellow Team A members. She has become not only one of the faces of the 9th generation, but of AKB48 as a whole.
#6: Yamamoto Sayaka (NMB48 Team N/AKB48 Team K, 2x Senbatsu)
When I said this part of the predictions was difficult, this is what I had in mind. Yes, I have Yamamoto Sayaka at 6th. The truth is, I don’t even know where to put Sayanee…
Yes, she will make Kami7 and there is no doubt about that. You can say that she released an amazing photobook. You can say that she outsold her handshake tickets in a single day. You can say that Yamada Nana’s votes have to go somewhere. But at the end of the day, there is a rhyme or reason for the members ahead of Sayanee to rank as high as they can. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sayanee: I think she is a fantastic musician, one of the funniest idols in the business, and she has amazing gravure photos (even though I know she doesn’t feel comfortable with the gravure). But again, there is rhyme and reason behind the 5 remaining spots of Kami7.
I will say this: like Shimazaki Haruka, Yamamoto Sayaka could dark horse her way into the #1 seed, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she did win.
#5: Takahashi Minami (AKB48 Team A, 6x Senbatsu)
This is what I meant by “rhyme and reason to win Sousenkyo”. Yes, I have Takahashi Minami at the 5th seed. What more can be said of the current general manager of AKB48: she is the heart and soul of the franchise, she is one of the 3 remaining 1st generation members, and she shows support towards her fellow members whenever they need a helping hand. She is the true definition of a leader.
Why she ranks this high is because this is her last Sousenkyo, and she wants to end her final run with a center position. Normally she would be okay with a Kami7 spot while her fellow members all aim for the top, but this year is different. She is calling for her fans to help her out this one final time. However, Takamina has never ranked higher than 5th overall. Winning it all is going to be a challenge, but wouldn’t it be a perfect sendoff to one of the most powerful leaders of the franchise?
#4: Kashiwagi Yuki (AKB48 Team B/NGT48 Team NIII, 6x Senbatsu)
The “idol of idols” makes the 4th seed on this year’s Sousenkyo, dropping one spot from last year. Yes, every year, Kashiwagi Yuki ranks high and sells out handshake events with a drop of a hat. Management may not like her, but the fans sure do. She has had a few solo concerts, she has amazing gravure photoshoots, I mean, what’s not to like?
I do find the NGT48 kennin rather questionable, but that’s just me. Like Kitahara Rie, maybe the Niigata-based AKB48 faithful may chip in a few votes? More votes do not hurt especially how Yukirin is likely to receive over 100,000 votes like last year.
#3: Watanabe Mayu (AKB48 Team B, 6x Senbatsu)
It pains me to put Watanabe Mayu this low on my prediction list, because she is one of my favorite AKB48 members (third to only Minegishi Minami and Shiroma Miru). But I have a specific reason why Mayuyu ranks at 3rd.
Simply put, she won already. She took down the metaphorical Goliath in Sashihara Rino last year, and Mayuyu really doesn’t have much to prove with Sousenkyo anymore. She could win again and that would be fine and dandy with me, but I have a very strong feeling that her fans have accomplished what they wanted to accomplish: seeing Mayuyu clinch the center spot. Yes, she has had an exhausting, busy past few months, with her Tatakau! Shoten Girl drama and with her AKB48 based activities (such as handshakes). There’s also the fact that no one has ever repeated as winner of Sousenkyo, so Mayuyu has odds to defy. Because of this, her votes may be lower than what they were last year, but she’ll still crack 100,000.
#2: Matsui Jurina (SKE48 Team S/AKB48 Team K, 6x Senbatsu)
Originally I had Matsui Jurina to win the whole thing this year, but due to what I have seen from the last member, I could not do that. Simply put, those of you who were used to seeing WMatsui (Matsui Jurina and Matsui Rena) in the Sousenkyo lineup will be disappointed, as Matsui Rena decided to sit this year’s election out. Thus, a surplus of votes is available, and SKE48 fans may go with the other Matsui of that lineup in Jurina.
She holds the record for most Senbatsu appearances across AKB48 and SKE48 singles, her Janken single got #1 in the 1035-song request hour, and she is still only 18. Even though she is a veteran of SKE48/AKB48 for some 6.5 years, she still has a bright future ahead. She will crack at least 130,000 votes this year, and like every member I named in my Kami7, it would not surprise me if she clinched the #1 seed.
#1: Sashihara Rino (HKT48 Team H, 5x Senbatsu)
So you might be wondering, why do I have Sashihara Rino as the potential #1 seed? One simple reason:
This is a revenge year for Sashihara Rino and her fans.
Why I say that is because, well, Sasshi lost to Mayuyu by a margin of 10,000 votes. Given that I predicted Mayuyu’s votes to drop off a little bit compared to last year, all Sasshi needs now are over 140,000 votes to secure the #1 seed. You might see a Mayuyu/Sasshi rivalry spring in the future (much like how Maeda Atsuko and Oshima Yuko went back and forth during past Sousenkyo elections). I have Sasshi beating Jurina by a large margin of votes (about 5-6,000) to secure the Sousenkyo pennant. Plus, it also helps that Sasshi would do a concert in a bikini should she win this year.
These are my predictions. By the time you read this, the preliminary results for voting should be out, and while those results will give us a good indication on who will make senbatsu, it does not mean that the #1 seed in the prelims will be the #1 seed when all is said and done. Last year, Sasshi went over 10,000 votes over Mayuyu in the preliminary round. Look what happened there.
Overall, these are predictions I made that are rather safe and free from oshi-tinted glasses. Because if I really wanted to make predictions, I would have Minegishi Minami and Shiroma Miru in senbatsu, Ichikawa Miori and Tani Marika in undergirls, and Watanabe Mayu winning it all with 250,000 votes. It is likely that none of this will happen.
So who do you predict will make senbatsu? What are your thoughts on my predictions? Let us know in the comments below.
See y’all June 6th!
◆ Rin Rigoni