So how did I come up with the idea of a Franchise Four? Well...I didn’t. During this year’s MLB All-Star Game, the Franchise Four of every team was revealed. The Franchise Four are the four best players of respective teams, and when you think of these players, you think of the franchise. For example, the San Francisco Giants have Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Buster Posey as their Franchise Four. Other sports fans tried to find their Franchise Four for teams in other sports, such as the NFL and NBA.
But as both a sports fan and a fan of the 48 groups, who would be in the Franchise Four of AKB48 and their current sister groups?
AKB48 and their sister groups have had their history throughout the years, and many, many members have came and went. But every group has those four members who set the foundation for their respective franchises. This article points out who I might think make the Franchise Four for 5 groups in particular: AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, and Nogizaka46.
I won’t include groups such as SDN48, JKT48 or SNH48, as I am not too familiar with any of those groups. So if you are a fan of those respective groups, I am sorry. As for the newly announced NGT48 and Keyakizaka46, I cannot include a Franchise Four for any of those groups since they are both brand new and we don’t know a lot about all of the members and who would stand out (though Kitahara Rie would be a lock for NGT48’s Franchise Four).
Also, keep in mind this is an opinion piece, so if you don’t feel right with my selections, my apologies in advance. Without further ado, here are my Franchise Four picks for AKB48 and their sister groups.
AKB48: Maeda Atsuko, Oshima Yuko, Takahashi Minami, Watanabe Mayu
Maeda Atsuko and Oshima Yuko are locks for the Franchise Four if you ask any AKB48 fan. Both of them won Sousenkyo elections and were center selections for countless AKB48 singles before they graduated. Takahashi Minami is also a lock because of just how much work she put in to bring AKB48 to where it is now. If there was a heart and soul of the AKB48 franchise, it’s Takamina. As for the last spot, this decision was somewhat difficult but having Watanabe Mayu as the fourth member of the AKB48 Franchise Four makes sense. The idol cyborg herself was the 3rd member of AKB48 to win Sousenkyo and has never ranked less than 5th on the election. Once Takamina graduates, the face of the franchise may belong to Mayuyu.
There were a lot of members who had the chance to make the AKB48 Franchise Four: Shinoda Mariko, Kojima Haruna, Itano Tomomi, Matsui Jurina, Shimazaki Haruka, Miyazawa Sae, Akimoto Sayaka, and especially Kashiwagi Yuki. Overall, the four members I selected seem about right, unless someone plans to edge Mayuyu in the next three or four years.
SKE48: Matsui Jurina, Matsui Rena, Suda Akari, Takayanagi Akane
Obviously the WMatsui duo of Matsui Jurina and Matsui Rena are a lock for the Franchise Four. These two members are the faces of the SKE48 franchise, which makes Rena’s graduation all that more painful…but hopefully the SKE48 franchise does well with Jurina as the lead. Either way, both have to be included on the SKE48 Franchise Four.
I had to go with Suda Akari as a member of the Franchise Four for a few reasons. She is the first SKE48 member to make Sousenkyo senbatsu without the surname Matsui. Now that Rena is graduating, she’s the new face of Team E. And yes, I will point out that she did drop a little bit during this year’s Sousenkyo, but when I think of SKE48, usually Akarin’s name comes up. Same thing goes with Takayanagi Akane, who I am selecting as the fourth member of the Franchise Four. She made Sousenkyo senbatsu this year and has always ranked pretty high during elections. Plus, she was also granted a kennin with NMB48, which means management probably wants to push you.
Honestly, deciding the last two spots for the SKE48 Franchise Four was challenging. There were so many other members who I could have selected for the last two spots: Kizaki Yuria, Oya Masana, Shibata Aya, Matsumura Kaori and Furukawa Airi just to name a few. Like AKB48, someone new could climb up the ranks and possibly make it on here.
NMB48: Yamamoto Sayaka, Watanabe Miyuki, Yamada Nana, Shiroma Miru
It was really easy to select three members for the NMB48 Franchise Four. Obviously, just like the WMatsui duo, Yamamoto Sayaka and Watanabe Miyuki are obvious choices. Both have centered several songs, both sell out handshake tickets like mad, and both have made Sousenkyo senbatsu. As for Yamada Nana, she was always the 3rd most popular member of NMB48 (at least according to Sousenkyo votes) before she graduated, which means she will make this list. She was also allowed her very own single in “Don’t Look Back”, so that helps her case.
The last spot could be anybody: Jonishi Kei, Sutou Ririka, Kinoshita Momoka, Yagura Fuuko, Shibuya Nagisa, or even Jo Eriko. But I am selecting Shiroma Miru as the last member of the Franchise Four. The only reason why I am picking Shiroma Miru over everyone else is because she is getting pushed like crazy from management. All the gravure, the AKB48 kennin, and the center position for “Rashikunai” help her case. Her push hasn’t stopped yet, and NMB48 management may rely on her should Sayanee or Milky graduate (let’s hope that doesn’t happen soon!). That last spot is wide open for anybody, but as of now, I believe Shiroma Miru takes the spot.
HKT48: Sashihara Rino, Miyawaki Sakura, Kodama Haruka, Tomonaga Mio
Even though HKT48 has been around for a little over 4 years, there is already a solidified Franchise Four. You can’t go wrong with selecting Sashihara Rino, Miyawaki Sakura and Kodama Haruka as three members of the HKT48 Franchise Four. Look at the handshake numbers and Sousenkyo vote numbers for proof.
As for the last spot, I was kind of torn between Tomonaga Mio and Tashima Meru. I went with Mio since she has the management push (she is also a member of AKB48 Team 4) and has been center for several HKT48 singles. You could say the same thing about Tashima Meru, since she too has a management push. But I am going to lean with Mio for now, unless Meru surprises us in the next few years.
If this were a Franchise Five, both Mio and Meru would be here. But since this is the Franchise Four, one member got the short end of the stick. Sorry Meru…
Nogizaka46: Ikoma Rina, Shiraishi Mai, Nishino Nanase, Ikuta Erika
No real challenge here. When you think of Nogizaka46, these four ladies come to mind. Every single member here has been center for at least one single and every member here has handshake results that sell out quickly (no idea about Ikoma Rina however).
Even if I do have second thoughts about putting someone else here, like Hashimoto Nanami, Sakurai Reika, Hori Miona or Hoshino Minami, I don’t think any of them can edge this Franchise Four. There’s really nothing wrong with this selection.
In closing, those are my selections for the Franchise Four of AKB48 and its sister/rival groups. I will admit that I am more knowledgeable with some groups over others, such as Nogizaka46 over SKE48. Thus, my picks may be a little problematic. If you disagree with my selections and have a more suitable Franchise Four, let me know in the comments below.
◆ Rin Rigoni