AKB0048 Next Stage Episode 8: Center Nova
“I must become Center Nova. I must stand at Position 0…even if that means being alone!”
Yuuko continues working extra hard with her Center Nova goal always in mind, which excites and inspires the kenkyuusei. When Chieri’s father mobilizes DES and launches a mass attack on Akibastar, the idols rush to protect their beloved stage yet ultimately fail to do so, leading Tsubasa to call for a retreat from the planet for the time being. However, Yuuko decides to blatantly disobey and turns back towards Akibastar to protect it by herself, triggering the Kirara to recognize Yuuko as a Center Nova and open up the dimensional gate, pulling her in the same way it did Acchan.
Now that was really intense. I hadn’t expected Chieri’s father and DES to attempt attacking Akibastar immediately, which turned out to be a planet with quite a tragic past – it’s surface was completely laid waste by war, and its inhabitants decided to retreat underground and build a massive city there (complete with artificial weather ceilings and all), as a way of showing the continued hope they would hold throughout their lives. Everyone that gathers at “dumb old Akibastar” loves entertainment as a result, and I suppose the daily concerts at the AKB concert are held to maintain that radiance and hope in the planet. It’s understandable that Yuuko wanted to attend more guerilla live concerts though, being the ambitious person she is.
Even now, Yuuko’s ambition is something to be admired – the kenkyuusei (including Nagisa x Chieri) as well as the recently promoted Mariko-sama are all growing, but anyone can see that Yuuko’s pushing herself harder than everyone else, aiming for even greater heights despite coming 1st in the General Elections. She’s even running off during practice claiming that Ushiyama’s lessons are too easy, and practising by herself with a strange ferocity to the point that she fell over after trying too hard. I’m kinda getting what Takamina and Kojiharu said about Yuuko’s “aura” – that she’s a friendly person that laughs and smiles with everyone else, but there’s always something that makes it uncomfortable to approach or talk to her. I suppose it’s like a solitary mission that Yuuko’s devoted herself to, and despite AKB being very team-centric, Yuuko’s taken it upon herself to carve out her own path – all by herself, which is the price for greatness. It’s funny that Tsubasa ended up thinking they were talking about the 13th Acchan, who had the same qualities and met the same fate as the rest of the Center Nova (apart from Mii-chan) did.
It was pretty painful seeing Akibastar get destroyed completely like that – now the bright and lively underground city looks identical to the ruined wasteland on the surface. We’ve seen DES attacks many times before, but Akibastar’s always been the one safe haven for entertainment where it’s legally allowed – DES have kept off attacking Akibastar in the past, only focusing on driving out the idols on planets which have the entertainment ban set up. It’s as if they’ve violated some sort of unspoken rule by being the ones to instigate an attack, breaking through Akibastar’s defences and just trashing the underground city without any warning. Well, Mii-chan could have told them if she’d wanted to, but hey, she got double-crossed anyway, as DES went towards the Kirara dualium cave with Sensei-sensei’s temple at the very back of it – which is what Zodiac and Chieri’s father have been after all along. While we still don’t know who (or what) Sensei-sensei is exactly, his integral role of composing new songs and influencing both succession and the Center Nova position is enough to warrant protecting at all costs. With a concert on Akibastar involving combat during stormy weather, all the conditions for a Center Nova appearance have been set – as orchestrated by Chieri’s father.
So the latest Center Nova is Yuuko. Or, I suppose it’s better to say that the Center Nova WAS Yuuko, for that brief period of time. It was pretty evident what was going to happen (with Korogaru Ishi Ni Nare fitting very well with the episode’s events) once Tsubasa called for a mass retreat, and Yuuko alone stood against her in “Position 0” and decided to head straight back into the fray. In that sense, she paid the price of loneliness, standing by herself in order to protect Akibastar and receiving the divine protection of the Kirara in exchange. It was interesting how Mii-chan described Position 0 as obtaining freedom – presumably, the world beyond the mysterious gate that opens up every time the radiance of the Kirara hits critical mass. I’m assuming Yuuko’s gone there now, despite her claims to become Center Nova and not disappear, which doesn’t really seem to be something they can control. I mean, Mii-chan had intentions all along to somehow retrieve Acchan from beyond the gate, but it doesn’t seem as easy as that. I admit I did consider the possibility that something would happen to Nagisa, especially once she saw everything – the concert hall, the town – set alight and destroyed, and it’s likely that now either Nagisa or Chieri will aspire towards becoming Center Novae with hopes of retrieval as well, perhaps obtaining answers to some of their questions along the way.