Remember that official AKB48 rival group, named Nogizaka46? Yes, well, a few months ago the first sister group to Nogizaka46 was announced. This is Keyakizaka46. They seem like a good up and coming idol group, similar to what NGT48 is going through right now. However, Keyakizaka46 is running into a few problems, and the members have only been around for about three months now.
What are those problems? For starters, some involve immediate resignations, a name change without warning, and illegal activity. I’ll do the best I can to explain these three problems in detail. Let’s begin.
One: The Name Change
When Keyakizaka46 was announced, they were not called Keyakizaka46. This group was originally named Toriizaka46, which references one of the steepest hills in Roppongi Hills. This is similar to how Nogizaka46 is a reference to the Sony Music Entertainment building (aptly named SME Nogizaka Building) as well as a reference to a subway station in Tokyo. While Keyakizaka46 is a reference to a street in Roppongi Hills, the name change was way too sudden to just happen like that. Yes, by now I, as well as plenty of other fans, are used to the new name, but Toriizaka46, in my opinion, had a bit of a better ring to it.
I still think of Keyakizaka46 as “Kentucky46”. I’m guessing their first single will be called “Oide Fried Chicken”, huh?
Two: The Resignation of Suzuki Mizuho
When Keyakizaka46 was announced, there were 22 members who would take the stage as the 1st generation. A few days later, that number dropped to 21. For some unknown reason, according to AKB48 Daily, Suzuki Mizuho mysteriously graduated from Keyakizaka46. Why?
There is so much mystery behind Suzuki Mizuho’s case that I may just reach for ridiculous reasons. Maybe the training to become an idol was too much to overcome. Maybe she had academic obligations. Maybe her family never wanted her to become an idol. Who knows? All I know is that, as a fan of Nogizaka46 and as someone trying to become a Keyakizaka46 fan, I wish her the best on her future endeavors, whatever they may be.
Three: Harada Mayu
The first two reasons that Keyakizaka46 is going through a rocky start are not exactly that major. It is easy to get used to the new name and it is easy to find a potential successor for Suzuki Mizuho. This last one, however, is not acceptable.
According to Arama! Japan, Harada Mayu was revealed to be dating her middle school teacher. Not only does this violate the infamous “no dating” clause held strictly by management, there is a problem with the age difference. Specifically, Harada Mayu is a 17 year old girl, dating a 20-or-30-something grown man.
What makes all of this worse is that there is one photo of the middle school teacher groping Harada Mayu in a purikura-like photo. If you feel like you will get nauseous after that sentence alone, look away now.
Yes, that reads “boobs-“on the bottom if you aren’t familiar with hiragana.
Of course, this makes me think of the same issues that got Yamato Rina kicked out of Nogizaka46: breaking the “no dating” clause, underage drinking, etc. Not only will Harada Mayu likely experience the same fate as Yamato Rina, her middle school teacher boyfriend is likely going to prison, especially for the groping photo. I don’t by any means hate on Harada Mayu nor do I wish any ill will on her. But her boyfriend deserves all the negative consequences he will likely experience.
Isn’t it illegal to grope a minor? Even if Mayu was okay with it, she still wasn’t and isn’t of the legal age to consent without parent approval. Hell, what parent would be okay to see their 17-year-old daughter get groped by a grown adult male? Damn, we’re reaching Jared Fogle-level stuff here and this instance involved an underage idol. Let’s hope that Harada Mayu, and her boyfriend, don’t cause the Keyakizaka46 idol group to break down and disband. At least that’s what I hope.
Keyakizaka46, as of now, is crumbling before anything is built. All these things have happened and this squad hasn’t even released a single yet.
While things are not looking good so far, that does not mean I am giving up on this lineup. Even if we forget about Harada Mayu and the dating scandal, there is still untapped potential in this group. I still have faith in this group like I did with Nogizaka46, and I believe the remaining 20 members are going to do great things. They may possibly give Nogizaka46 a run for their money! Anything can happen, and while Keyakizaka46 may be stumbling out of the gate, there is still plenty, and I mean plenty of time for this group to recover.
They get knocked down, but they’ll get back up again.
Yes, Keyakizaka46 is making me think of Chumbawamba. They’ll be singing when they’re winning.
◆ Rin Rigoni