On August 27th, Maeda Atsuko (21) appeared at the AKB48 Theater in Akihabara as a member for the final time, officially graduating from the group.
Maeda joined AKB48 as a first generation member when she was 14-years-old, and has led the group as its “immovable ace” since then.
At Maeda’s graduation performance, 28 members said their farewells to Maeda. Maeda then said toward the members, “I know we all have been through some tough times over the past 7 years. There was a time when all of us said nothing but that we wanted to quit. However, the reason why we were able to overcome the hardships is that we had each other, and we pursued one dream together.”
Then she looked out over to her members, and said, “Today, I can tell you this with a smile. Thank you very much for everything up until now.” She continued, “I love this theater, the members I danced together with on this stage, and the people who have supported me, so much. I’m not sure if this past 7 years was long or short, but I can say that it was the best 7 years. Everybody, thank you very much. This is from AKB48 team A’s Maeda Atsuko. Thank you very much,” bowing deeply at the end of her speech. After that, the members performed the last song “Sakura no Hanabira tachi“.
At the end of the event, Maeda stood on the stage alone, where she said to the fans, “I’m happy to be able to come back here to you fans on the day after the Tokyo Dome concert. This made me realize again that this is AKB48, and that I was able to stay in a very wonderful place. It was the happiness that was too good for me. I’m really happy that I was able to meet the members, the staff members, and of course, all of you fans. Thank you so much, everybody. Thanks to you guys, I was able to graduate without any trouble. I will try my best from here on out. Thank you very much.” Maeda then gave a deep bow once again, and left the stage with a smile.
As we reported, Maeda Atsuko’s last performance as an AKB48 member at the AKB48 Theater in Akihabara ended not too long ago. However, a numerous amount of fans who weren’t able to get a ticket for the performance have been gathering around the theater since long before the actual performance and were hoping to catch a glimpse of Maeda in public despite the canceled parade.
The police and the theater’s security had a lot of trouble keeping the people away from the street and the entrance, since they excitedly approached every large car that was entering the theater’s proximity with the hope that some of the members – or even Maeda herself – could be inside one of them. The security kept on telling the fans that every member was already inside the theater and that there hasty actions would be futile.
However, 30 minutes after the performance, Maeda really made a surprise appearance at the balcony of the theater with a megaphone and thanked all of them for their support. The now over 500 fans became ecstatic, waved their hands and shouted her name in response. She has only been up there for around two minutes, but the excitement of her fans already reached its climax. Before disappearing again, she called out to them, “Please be safe on your way home!”
Of course the 500 fans didn’t just dissolve after her surprise appearance on the balcony and the security continued to have their hands full urging them to go back home. Many fans simply ignored them and continued to cheer for their idol.
Source: Tokyohive 1 and 2, Mantan Web 1 and 2