entertainment

Atsuko Maeda 'graduates' from AKB48

46 Comments

AKB48 member Atsuko Maeda, 20, on Sunday night announced her retirement from the mega-popular group (or "graduation," as Japanese media refer to such announcements).

A teary Maeda made the announcement to 25,000 fans during a concert at Saitama Super Arena. "I am very anxious about the future but I have to move on and make way for younger members," she said.

One of the more popular members of the group, Maeda stunned fans by saying, "I have something to tell you.” She closed her eyes, put her hands on her chest, and started to talk slowly. There was a silence among the fans who sensed something unusual was going on.

Maeda said, “I auditioned for AKB48 when I was 14 years old. That was my first and biggest decision in my life. And, today, I would like you to allow me to make the second biggest decision here. I am going to graduate from the group.”

Minami Takahashi, 20, was the only member of the group to know beforehand, she said. “Please accept her decision. AKB48 is not the ultimate goal in life," Takahashi told the audience.

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46 Comments
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"AKB48 is not the ultimate goal in life,"

Thank the gods for that. Anyway, congrats on 'graduating', I guess.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

In bad economic times a couple years ago, several employees "graduated" from our company as well.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Now to go out and make some real money. Working for AKB48 is probably like doing volunteer work.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

11 years to graduate?? Must have been a Ph.D

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Correction: Atsuko announced her graduation, but the date is still undecided. She remains a member of AKB until her graduation concert.

Correction #2: Acchan is THE MOST popular member as the last senbatsu sousenkyo had her placed at #1 with nearly 140,000 votes.

Based on current demands Atsuko is also reported to have only 5 days off from work this year, that seems a bit much... Ganbatte Acchan I wish her the best in her future endeavors.

Minami Takahashi, 20, was the only member of he group to know beforehand, she said. “Please accept her decision. AKB48 is not the ultimate goal in life,” Takahashi told the audience.

The whole concept of AKB was for members to develop a fan base that would support them in whatever field they go on to after, whether actress, singer, seiyuu, or so on, and was never meant to be the ultimate goal for the girls. It is supposed to be a proving ground for girls who want to be involved in the entertainment industry. Akimoto Yasushi has talked about this in depth.

Takahashi Minami, aka Takamina, is coming to Washington DC in two days and my sister and I are excited to see her in person.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Hm? AKB48 hasn't even been around for 11 years and Atsuko was apparently born in 1991.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think these girl groups are cute. I do not like though how they are used and do not profit from it at all.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Excellent and uplifting news not just for japan but for the world.

This type of event should be recognised by the government and the anniversary made a national holiday. Three cheers to Atsuko, the world salutes you.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

is this spot the error day on JT? see if you can find the two errors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It feels like only yesterday when she won her spot ...... omedetoh. i guess we'll be seeing more of her on ramen eating shows???

1 ( +1 / -0 )

does that mean she graduated to be " talent " ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

speculation is that she was overworked and tired and needed a break. She will easily pick up again either being a talento or actress. Good luck to her.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am curious to see if there will be a dramatic popularity change of AKB48 after her departure. She has always been up front and center....more like the face of this group. I know there are other popular girls in the group, but Atsuko was definitely the stand out.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Ohh, I'm so happy for her! She has worked so hard. I think girl groups like AKB48 bring a lot of happiness to the world!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Graduated or pushed?

Looking for someone to get hitched with or already pregnant?

Finally trying to make her own big money off her popularity or talent?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

FINALLY. I can watch AKB without cringing whenever I see her mug.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Another stunt to get the otaku-fans of AKB into a frenzy...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Goodbye my dear Atsuko Maeda :(

Now I know I will get a ton of thumbs down here because I seem to be the only AKB fan but oh well.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I have to move on and make way for younger members

The fans crave a fresh virgin.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Maybe she wanted a relationship (banned under current rules)?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No photo?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Well, it was just a matter of time being the most popular member and having to deal with the "great" fanbase that the AKB48 have. She probably wants to go completely into cinema and doramas getting almost all the profit for herself without having to share it with another 47 people from which only a quarter of them are really famous.

But lets be honest, this is not the end for AKB48, they will probably have to look for another cuttie girl and to put somebody else as the "leader", but they will keep selling and annoying people 24/7 with their voices and postures. ..unfortunately.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I was going to say how one less AKB48 in the world can only be a good thing, then remembered that they'll find a replacement. Zero sum.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Thank you, Atsuko, for your 6 fantastic years with AKB48! Good luck in your future endeavors!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Wonder if she has a boyfriend and has had to step down?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is this the gal with the weird lips and three red fingers?????

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This "graduate" stuff is just nonsense.

It's designed to suit the men (Akimoto Yasushi) who control them.

They can kick out members whenever they like, get in new younger members, pay them less (if at all) and allow these creepy men to just keep the whole thing ticking over and making them money.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

She did not graduate, but she did 卒業する。 There are literal translations (which you are referring to) and cultural nuances that are often used too, the latter has importance here, as it refers to just moving on from current state "一つの事業を完了すること". Look it up if interested.

Otsuka san on mezamashi has also "graduated" from that show, he is in his 60's!!

I sympathise with the comments on their overuse in media, but the people persisting the popularity are the fans, annoying as that may be!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So on to a post greaduate life of a being a tarento, dating some other celebrity or two with plenty of news about the vacuity of it all, possibly some pink movies, bit of high class escorting and then obscurity.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

i like her, she give the other members to shine... well goodluck maida, stand your name by your own!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This "graduate" stuff is just nonsense. It's designed to suit the men (Akimoto Yasushi) who control them.

You must be one of those guys that think all Japanese women are subservient to men and don't have a mind of their own. Take it from a guy who has been married for 20 years - that stereotype has not caught up with reality. I'm not saying that a lot of women in Japan are likely to be enraged whenever a man acts chivalrous like so many feminists in the West, but I suspect that Maeda is capable of making her own decisions in life.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You must be one of those guys that think all Japanese women are subservient to men and don't have a mind of their own. Take it from a guy who has been married for 20 years - that stereotype has not caught up with reality

I think many people posting here, me included, have Japanese spouses so I don't think we need to 'take it' from you...

I think there are many different types of Japanese women, and of course some will be strong and assertive.

However, I think that in the case of AKB48, the members have no say at all in the running of things. When the management want to kick them out and get new members in, it is euphemistically called graduation. It suits the creepy men who run and control this group very well.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

off to the glue factory.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hm? AKB48 hasn't even been around for 11 years and Atsuko was apparently born in 1991.

She's 20 now and stated she auditioned at age 14. 20 - 14 = 6 years in the act. And here I thought Japan was so much better at arithmetic than America!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

wow gonna miss her! since あっちゃん made her announcement, the " GIVE ME FIVE" song makes sense now. I'm going to listen now just for her ;)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This music does have it uses evil grin my husband was being a bother. I wanted a pool heater and he said No. After 12 hours of playing AKB48 constantly he surrendered. Odd the cd disappeared in a crunching noise. No worries can make them by the dozen but do not tell him! So they call it "graduation" and not retirement. Just like the current generation to consider a women a oba-san at 24. Hopefully she can get new employment, somewhere.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Hopefully she can get new employment, somewhere.

Hear she's gonna be a dancer....................

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Does she get to keep the uniform? ..er...can I have it?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@NinjaDave totally agree with you the J gov need to make a national AKB48 holiday evertime a member graduates, they should also apply to have AKB48 listed as a "world heritage listing" Japanese national anthem needs to be modified to have AKB48 mentioned while its sung & the Japanese flag needs a AKB48 avatar placed at it center. & the law needs to be changed to make it compulsory for young girls to pledge allegiance to AKB48 every night before they go to bed. Without these drastic changes Japanese culture/economy will cease to exist period!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I think many people posting here, me included, have Japanese spouses so I don't think we need to 'take it' from you...

Okay, I'll 'take it' from you then... unless you think I shouldn't.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

She is 20, my bad and my husband got revenge. Did not hold out as long as him after 2 hours of the Chipmunks surrendered unconditionally. So what does she do now?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I guess she was too old for AKB48's middle aged men fanbase

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Never have I read so many stupid comments in one article :facepalm: No one "kicked" her out of the group. She left on her own accord because, well, she wanted to leave the group and establish a fanbase while she was still popular and AKB48 was still at the top of their charts. It's really the smart thing to do, and Akimoto knew this. You guys need to understand that her leaving is extremely bad for the group and has potentially resulted in them losing alot of fans. It caused a giant uproar at their concert. Akimoto would of never "kicked her out" because that's a huge loss for the group if the face leaves. She gained 140,000 votes in last years election, that's a huge number, and most of the fans who voted for her sadly, probably aren't even fans anymore due to her leaving.

No she wasn't too old either since she is only 20, and Mariko Shinoda a NO.4 senbatsu is 26 years old! As well as Kojima Haruna who is 24 and is also a senbatsu (NO.8), alot of the senbatsu members of AKB are older. Yuki Kashiwagi is 21 and she's NO.3 senbatsu. So please don't say stupidity like "too old" or "fresh virgin" nonsense. These girls are old enough to make their own decisions about their lives. Akimoto would never purposely kick out senbatsu members because those are the girls that bring in the most cash.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

googd bye atsuko maeda, Good bye my oshi. I will miss you. But you are right "AKB48 is not the ultimate goal in life" . akb48 now will lose you.

(I'm sad but I'm also proud of you) T.T

0 ( +1 / -1 )

like really they all need to grow up in japan. what the heck like she graduated from some music group? who cares. lol come on this is a joke. useless news JT lol nice. love japan but some things are out of wack over there.... -_-

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bob Sneider you're so right. these girl bands were formed for the old guys which is EXTREME TO THE MAX CREEPY! so once those chicks are "turning old" they have to graduate lol weird~~~

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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