With the recent waves of graduation announcements here and there, especially on the AKB48 side (Nagao Mariya, Iwata Karen), surely Nogizaka46 would not feel the same, right?
That sadly is not the case. Fukagawa Mai has officially announced graduation. The former model will graduate from the group on March 26, after Nogizaka46 releases their 14th single.
What makes this graduation announcement important? One simple reason: Nogizaka46 has not had a graduation announcement of this magnitude in their history. Sure, you could say that members such as Ito Nene and Hatanaka Seira were pretty big graduation announcements at the time, but this is the first time a perennial senbatsu member has announced graduation. Fukagawa Mai has not missed a senbatsu lineup since “Hashire! Bicycle” which was almost four years ago.
One thing to note as well is that Maimai is one of the most supportive members in all of Nogizaka46. Whenever a member has a birthday, she would write them a card of sorts. I remember that she did this when my Nogizaka46 oshi, Wada Maaya, had her birthday celebration.
Maimai is also a fan favorite among the Nogizaka46 faithful. Because of her calm, supportive, and otherwise “saint-like” demeanor, she was given the nickname “Holy Mother” among the fan base. She even announced her official leave after the release of the 14th single, giving her fans a little bit of time to support her as much as they can.
We have had one pretty big graduation announcement with Nagashima Seira announcing her graduation last month. Now that Fukagawa Mai announced hers, it may take some time to get over the feeling that both are leaving by March.
As for my opinion, yes I am saddened to see both of them go. Yes, I will admit that I did like Fukagawa Mai an awful lot and viewed her much like an older sister of sorts. She does have some big plans after her tenure in Nogizaka46, as do a lot of the members in the group, but I wholeheartedly support her and her future goals! Same thing with Nagashima Seira; while I did not exactly know her that well in the group, she has a clear path outside of Nogizaka46, and it is best to appreciate her presence in the group for as long as I, and many other fans, can. But I digress.
Let us pray to the holy mother, for she can support us through the tough times.
◆ Rin Rigoni