A large segment of the entertainment industry in Japan consists of none other than what we call “idols.” Idols in Japan, whether performing by group or individually, gain attention and reaches out to fans from both inside the country and across the globe through their work which mostly focuses on music.
Here in Japan, majority of the people who are following the entertainment industry or the idol fanbase, in particular, are familiar with one of the most popular idol groups, AKB48. They are the largest idol group there is in terms of number of members. The group currently has approximately 120 members from Teams A, K, B, 4, 8, and the Kenkyuusei or research student members. Now, this figure is only for AKB48 alone and does not yet include any of its sister groups.
Among the 4 current sister groups of AKB48 present in Japan, one particular group has surely stood out among the rest ever since which is SKE48. Now for those who are not much familiar with SKE48, let me give you a walkthrough of the group and as well as the details of what makes them stand out among the rest of the sister groups.
SKE48 is the first-ever sister group of AKB48 which was established on July 30th, 2008 when the first batch or the so-called “generation” members were announced. And if AKB48 is an abbreviation for Akihabara48, SKE48 stands for Sakae48. The group’s theater is located in Sunshine Sakae (栄) in Nagoya (名古屋) where the name was actually coined from. Three months after the group was established, the members of the first generation finally made their much-awaited stage debut on October 5th, 2008.
SKE48 currently consists of teams S, KII, E, and the Kenkyuuseis. As of this writing, SKE48 has a total number of 48 members across its teams and with 13 Kenkyuusei members including those who have recently announced their graduation.
Starting off with the pioneer team, Team S was the first group that was established in SKE48. During that time in 2008, the team consisted of 23 members and it included Nakanishi Yuka (中西優香) who was formerly a Kenkyuusei that had just transferred from AKB48 after a few months of their debut.
Currently with 17 members, still including Miyamae Ami (宮前杏実) who had announced her graduation last March 2016, there are now only 2 original members left in the team from the original first generation members which are Matsui Jurina (松井珠理奈) and Oya Masana (大矢真那). These two members have been with the group since the day it was established and they have faced all the ups and downs that had happened not only with the group but even with the individual members of SKE48.
Each and every group of the 48 family uses the word “Captain” for those heading the team. However, SKE48 uses the term “Leader.” Before graduating from the group, Miyazawa Sae (宮澤佐江) was the one who held on to the Leader position of Team S. Now, Yakata Miki (矢方美紀) and Matsumoto Chikako (松本慈子) are the Leader and Co-Leader, respectively.
Next up is Team KII. Team KII was the second team formed after Team S in March of 2009. For those who are not familiar with the team’s naming system, KII is pronounced as “K-2” and the “II” is a distinction that separates it from AKB48’s Team K, and the same follows suit for HKT48’s KIII.
Also with 17 current members, Team KII is headed by their Leader Oba Mina (大場美奈) who was originally a member of AKB48’s 9th generation and who had a concurrent position with the team before being fully transferred to SKE48. Alongside her is Uchiyama Mikoto (内山命) as the Co-Leader. The team still currently has 3 out of the 4 original members of the 2nd generation Team KII which consists of Ishida Anna (石田安奈), Uchiyama Mikoto, and Takayanagi Akane (高柳明音).
Team E is currently the team with the least number of members with only 14. Team E used to have one of the top centers, Matsui Rena (松井玲奈), alongside Matsui Jurina before she graduated from the group last 2015.
Team E may be lesser in member count but the team has quite the prominent names such as the Leader Suda Akari (須田亜香里), Kimoto Kanon (木本花音), Saito Makiko (斉藤真木子) (1 of the 4 remaining original members of the 2nd generation Team KII), Sato Sumire (佐藤すみれ) (a former member of AKB48’s 7th generation), Tani Marika (谷真理佳), and lastly Goto Rara (後藤楽々) who gained quite an attention for being the first member of SKE48’s 7th generation to land a senbatsu position (selected members featured in a single) during her time of being a kenkyuusei. She also has been consistently part of the senbatsu singles ever since joining “Chicken LINE” and the newest single “Kin no Ai, Gin no Ai.”
And the last of the members are the kenkyuuseis who are currently composed of 13 members in total. There are 10 kenkyuuseis from the last 7th generation auditions, while the 3 other members are the ones who got drafted during the 2nd AKB48 Group Draft Kaigi last 2015.
Each and every team of SKE48, except for the Kenkyuusei students, also have their own respective team colors. The team color for Team S is orange, red for Team KII, and light sea green for Team E.
As with any problems that occur in the entertainment industry, SKE48 had to face one of their biggest struggles as a whole group back in 2013. During that time, 9 of its members graduated at the same time and the downside is that it included some of the popular ones which led to a mass graduation.
Including those who graduated from the group are popular members Yagami Kumi (矢神久美), Ogiso Shiori (小木曽汐莉), Kuwabara Mizuki (桑原みずき), and Hiramatsu Kanako (平松 可奈子). The mass graduation occurred due to each member having their own reasons to move to something else, such as continuing studies or pursuing their individual careers.
The same went on in the following years with members deciding one after the other to graduate and that took a big chunk of their monthly rate. Fans, including myself, have seen the changes that happened within the group. The members of SKE48 also feared that there might come a day when they couldn’t perform for the year-end Kouhaku Uta Gassen program as their screen time has been depleting.
Many have also noticed the lack of attention by management to SKE48. Even with top batter, ace, and center, Matsui Jurina, the group certainly has lost the good old variety shows, like the Ebi series, with top members joining in. In terms of single releases, SKE48 used to bring out 3 singles in a year which eventually dropped to just 2 in 2015, and this is most likely to happen again this 2016.
Each and every group of the 48 family have their own distinct characteristics that represent them as a group. For SKE48, they have always brought out their energetic and fun character since the first single that they’ve released. Aside from that, one major distinction that sets the group aside is the huge impact that they have when it comes to their dynamic dancing.
SKE48 has quite a number of good dancers that are spread throughout different teams, and at the same time, the group has had some of the hardest fast-paced choreographies and performances brought onto them which outmatch the other groups. Take for example “Escape,” “Kiss Datte Hidarikiki,” and “Oki Doki” just to name a few of their songs.
SKE48 is also strong, especially during the Senbatsu Election. While no member has yet to reach the top spot, SKE48 has been the sister group with the largest number of members ranking in the top 80, second to AKB48 in the 2014 and 2016 elections. But last 2015, SKE48 dominated AKB48 having 26 members rank in the spots compared to the latter’s 23 members. SKE48 members have often made remarks during their speeches on how they want to be the group with the most number of members ranking in at the yearly election.
In 2016’s Senbatsu Election, SKE48 has finally broken through the top 3 spots with Jurina landing in at rank 3 with a total vote count of 112,341. This is a great feat since she dropped to rank 5 last 2015 despite Matsui Rena not joining in the election. Many of us fans have speculated that the votes for Rena would most likely be put to Jurina, but it was not the case. Eventually, it was in 2015 when SKE48 surpassed AKB48 in total number counts for the whole spot and it shows that fans have placed their votes on different members of the group to have more of the girls rank in.
Another SKE48 member who made it not only to the top 10 but to the ranks of the Kami 7 is none other than Team E Leader, Suda Akari. She got a huge boost being in rank 18 in 2015’s election, jumping 11 spots to where she is now. Suda even surpassed popular members such as Shimazaki Haruka (島崎 遥香) or “Paruru (ぱるる),” and the now Soukantoku (general manager), Yokoyama Yui (横山由依).
From August 10th to September 9th, 2016, SKE48 had their audition for the members of the 8th generation. Age requirements were from 11 years of age up to 22 years. And while it was only in 2015 that the latest set of members of the 7th generation were revealed, there might not have been much shine to the girls except for Goto Rara. But as such, deserving girls will get their time if selected for the audition, and who knows if there would be another diamond among them like Jurina.
The group released their newest single which is also the group’s 20th overall single called “Kin no Ai, Gin no Ai” on August 17th, 2016. The single consisted of 18 members for the singles’ senbatsu and it was centered by none other than Matsui Jurina.
The single was able to reach the first spot on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart ranking during the first week of its release, and at the same time, it also reached the number one spot on the Billboard Japan Hot 100. The new single was able to sell 251,639 copies in its first week as well.
While the group may have had members, especially prominent ones, come and go, the group is still keeping intact by passing on how SKE48 is as a group to its newest members. Keeping track of the group ever since, us fans have seen the numerous mishaps that happened not only to the group but even to the members as well.
Despite all that, SKE48 is still continuing on its track giving fans the best energetic performance they can that is sure to put a smile on the viewers’ faces. For me, SKE48 has its own unique power in their work that not even AKB48 can match up to.
There are so many promising things for this group that have not yet been shown and we, fans, surely do wish for management to give them what they deserve in due time as well. So what are your thoughts about AKB48’s first sister group? Are you also a fan of them? Make sure to check out their video performances. Or better yet, try to get the chance to watch them live onstage or in a concert to see how different this group is from the others when it comes to their dynamic performance!
SKE48 Official Website *Automatic translation available