AKB0048 Next Stage Episode 3: The Idols’ Dark Before Dawn
“Tell my father this: I refuse to let him have his way. Even if it costs me my dream!”
With the General Election looming close, the successors are all restlessly pondering over their chances at being elected while the kenkyuusei share less of that excitement. Meanwhile, Chieri arranges a meeting with her former butler after catching wind of a shabby commercial featuring her that she didn’t participate in, and realizes that her father is using her success to his advantage.
“What’s the deal with the Elections, anyway?”
It’s understandable that the kenkyuusei are unsure of why the General Election is such a big deal for the successor members. While it may not be on the same scale as it is in real-life (with only 10 Senbatsu chosen and no Future Girls/Under Girls) it’s still sure to affect position within the group, future job offers and even self-esteem. In the eyes of the kenkyuusei, they don’t stand much of a chance in being in the top ten in the first place. I oppose that pessimism – it’s that kind of attitude that will hamper their actual chances of being ranked. The popularity and skill of the kenkyuusei are growing, despite how slowly Yuuka or Makoto might think that growth is – their variety show, concerts and events have all increased their fanbase, and even Tsubasa acknowledges that they deserve their own individual lanes in a handshake event. Positive conviction pushes you forward; Mimori is the best example of that. Perhaps she doesn’t receive as much attention as some of the other kenkyuusei, but it’s the small gestures of appreciation towards a fan -like personally replying to their letters- that captured their hearts in the end and got her ranked in the Senbatsu, while still being a kenkyuusei! That’s definitely impressive.
“I am no longer opposed to your membership in 0048. I will…no, the Zodiac Group will support you with all its resources.”
Aitakatta, yes! …Oh wait. I felt it was rather insignificant at first that a noodle advert was mentioned, even if it was by a fan. Cherry’s clearly not just blindly basking in her popularity, and is very aware that the Zodiac Group are on the move – that fan mentioned that she was AKB’s next pioneer, and that’s exactly why Chieri’s father – no, the CEO of Zodiac Group is taking advantage of her. It’s ridiculous – I can’t believe they’d shamelessly take footage from the trial and stick on a picture of a fake Cherry eating branded pot noodles at the end. It’s not even a good commercial – wouldn’t you usually have an idol clearly promote the brand instead of having her back faced towards the camera like that? Oh, and that’s a spade you’ve got there in Chieri’s hair *facepalms* I was hoping that at least her butler might have been sympathetic to her cause, but nooooo, that’s not the case at all. Her father is riding on her success in whatever Kirara experiment he’s doing, and clearly enjoying every moment of it. He’ll be a future obstacle for sure, and may even be connected to Tsubasa’s own investigation into Kiraras.
The pre-results performances were pretty cool, and everyone noted the intensity the Kirara burned with – they were literally on fire with the passion radiated by the current Senbatsu members. It does slightly worry me that Tsubasa’s whole motive behind re-igniting the elections was to amplify the Kirara glow of the idols through competition, and bring herself closer to solving the mystery behind the disappearance of the 13th Acchan. I wonder how the rest of the elections will go? If Mimori, who wasn’t ranked before obtained 10th in the real deal, how is Chieri faring in comparison to that – presumably with increased positive publicity? And with many successors including Sayaka and Takamina feeling restless, the competitive yet tense vibes are sure to be in the air next week. Most importantly, I find myself caring more and more each episode about Yuuko’s ambitions and whether she’ll manage to earn the Center Nova spot after coming 2nd in the early results – she’s worked so hard, and really deserves to stand in the position where her old rival once stood.