Fans of SKE48 are restless since 9 members of the group, which just happened to appear by itself at the end of the year in Kouhaku Utagassen, announced their simultaneous graduations.
After a regular stage performance in their own theater in Nagoya, it was announced that this spring the following members were going to graduate : 3rd generation and regular senbatsu member Ogiso Shiori, 1st generation Kuwabara Mizuki, Hiramatsu Kanako, Takada Shiori and Yagami Kumi who had already announced her intention to graduate in November, 2nd generation Akaeda Ririna and 4th generation Kobayashi Emiri, for a total of 9 names. Each of them explained their choice to graduate with comments such as 「After a long reflexion, this is the best option for my future 」「I want to expand my horizon」「I want to focus on my studies」.
Sister groups, who nowadays play a central role in AKB48, have paid a heavy toll already, with 5 members from HKT48 graduating at once last summer and members graduating from NMB48 in succession since this autumn, but never had 9 members graduated at once like today and the shock received by fans is immeasurable.
Especially for Ogiso who enjoys a great popularity or Takada who was rumoured to have enter the favors of their theater manager, those abrupt graduations came as a considerable surprise. However, those 「graduation announcements」were all planned since last year.
「Truth is those announcements were planned to be made last year but because things were bad enough already with someone leaving NMB every week or so, thus the decision to delay them. Only Yagami pulled ahead by making an early announcement of her graduation in November.The theater manager himself made it clear that 「Those are not sudden decisions. I was informed of their intentions since last summer」and added 「SKE’s 2nd chapter is starting now」. There is no scandal behind all this.
But if AKB and SKE are sold as a “step to get closer from granting your wishes”, once you’ve enrolled in the group handshake events and stage performances in the theater take priority over everything else and it becomes extremely hard to pick up activities directly connected to your personal “dream”.
Kuwabara wrote on her personal blog 「As long as I remained with SKE, I was forbidden from passing auditions for roles」, handshake events and other publicity stunt jobs becoming their main activity, the girls are facing a dilemma as they are put in a position which won’t allow them to step up as an artist. As a matter of fact most members, to various degree, are growing impatient and anxious as this status quo doesn’t allow them to see any future for themselves.」(Industry insider)
So, will those young ladies pursue an artistic career once they graduate from the group? Actually, for some of the members who announced their graduation this time around, arrangements have already started to prepare their return to the business.
「Approximately one year after her graduation, it is said that Yagami Kumi will join an agency which will have been newly created by the top brass of some public entertainment major company. It is also planned than AKB’s top ranking members in the General Elections will transfer to this agency, and possibly some girls who have or will have graduated by then.
Also, Sugamoto Yuuko who left HKT last year and who will graduate from high school this spring, is in contact with several big agencies. She decided to enroll in a vocational school in Tokyo to study cooking seriously but it would seem that at the same time her re-debut has been planned. A “big breasts-loli who can cook” personality, it wouldn’t be surprising if she did well in swimsuit gravures and variety right?
It’s said she has been actively seeking a new agency by visiting them in person. If her outward appearance gives the impression of a soft and docile girl, she actually burns with an ardent desire of succeeding and, unexpectedly, she might succeed better as a personality than her sempai in AKB.」(same source)
Certainly, rather than remaining forever in an idols group where you’ll eventually grow tired of being「Just another face in the crowd」, following your own route as an actress or a personality might be a much shorter and effective way to reach your “dream”.
But as SKE performed in Kouhaku its popularity and attention conceded to the group by the public have made a considerable tuck and HKT is also planned to release its debut CD in March, so we will soon witness both groups’ full-blown breaks. Let us witness who, of those who left or those who decided to stay, will first take the crown.
Men's Cyzo article translated by sakaeandfrog tmblr
Kuwabara Mizuki mentioned in her blog how she was forbidden from taking audition for role:
I’ve cut auditions ads from magazines and newspapers and brought them with me countless times, asking if I could take them.
However, I’ve always been told “As long as you’re in SKE, you can’t”. So I realized I’d prefer to work in an enviroment that would allow me to challenge myself freely. (translated by mahoushoujoari tumblr)