After the unexpected hit that was Sustainable, AKB48 announced their new center at the end of 2020 Request Hour (image depicted as 48Group West homepage header). Yamauchi Mizuki, newly promoted in December 2017, claimed the new title of AKB48’s Center to the delight of fans and members alike.
Shitsuren, Arigatou, the 57th AKB48 single, was a milestone in many ways. This is the last single in which a first generation member, Minegishi Minami, will participate. 3rd Generation Team B member, Kashiwagi Yuki, tied the most senbatsu appearances at 46 with her appearance here.
Below, we introduce you to the 5 members present in the first line of the Shitsuren, Arigatou choreography. Who knows? Maybe one of them will become your Oshi.
Yamauchi Mizuki (山内瑞葵) “Zukkii” (Team 4, 16th Generation)
Joining AKB48 as a kenkyuusei in December of 2016 and being promoted almost exactly a year later, Mizuki is relatively very new on the AKB48 scene (although not as new as the center of the last AKB48 single, Yahagi Moeka, who graduated shortly after the single’s release). In her short time in the group, she has already centered four songs across the discography, with Shitsuren, Arigatou being her first, and hopefully not last, A-Side center.
Above you can see a live performance of the song, “Dakitsukouka?” Mizuki’s first center position in this song was a shared double center with fellow 16th Generation member Asai Nanami. The song consisted of 16th Generation members alone, and being released on AKB48’s 49th single, all members were kenkyuusei at the time of release. At this moment Yamauchi Mizuki was solidified as one of the Aces of her generation.
Her second opportunity to be center came a little less than a year later, during AKB48’s 52nd single, with the B-Side, Neko Allergy (Music Video above). Neko Allergy was the representative Team 4 song of the single. At this point, Mizuki had gone from not just being one of the Aces of 16th Generation but to one of the Aces of Team 4 as well. Below you’ll find a performance at AKB48’s 2019 Request Hour.
Throughout the few years of her membership in AKB48, she has shown her talent many times onstage. From bewitching audiences at her Witch-themed solo concert in early 2020 to performing and centering many intense, dance focused performances, like Yaban no Kyuuai, shown below:
Mizuki’s most recent B-Side center was on AKB48’s previous single, Sustainable. As with her first B-side center, this was a double center as well. Umeyama Cocona (who is currently Centering her first NMB48 A-side with Datte Datte Datte) joins Mizuki in the dark and strong Monica, Yoake de. Watch below.
Now lets enjoy a couple of live performances of AKB48’s newest single, Shitsuren, Arigatou!
Murayama Yuiri (村山彩希) “Yuirii” (Team 4, 13th Generation)
Many international AKB48 fans are not very familiar with Murayama Yuiri, as she has frequently in the past turned down Senbatsu offers (and taking part in Senbatsu Elections!) to focus on her theater performances. Yuiri is a member who some consider the heart and soul of modern AKB. She has been very vocal and passionate about the importance of the theater, and the quality of the performances that go on there. Watch her perform the fan favorite, Omoide Ijou, a song originally from SKE48’s Team S 3rd Stage, that also ranked in 16 different Request Hour events.
A few years ago, during a theater stage performance, Yuiri made the infamous public declaration to devote her life to the AKB48 theater. Just recently, she managed to be the first in 48Group to reach the 1000 theater performances milestone, a month before 1st generation member Minegishi Minami (who joined the group 6 years prior). Below is Yuiri performing the oh-so-relevent Theater no Megami, a song from Team B’s 5th Stage meaning “Theater Goddess”.
In her 9 years with AKB48, Team 4 Captain Yuiri has centered one song in the promotional discography, a B-Side to AKB48’s 54th Single, whose music video you can watch below. The song, Soredemo Konojo wa proved to become very popular, ranking at #14 in Request Hour 2019 and ranking in again in Request Hour 2020.
Watch the live performance at Request Hour below!
Along with being famous for being the Theater Goddess of 48 Group, Yuiri is known to be one half of the YuuNa duo (to refer to her close partnership with fellow Team 4 member, Okada Nana). Doing multiple isolated performances together through the years, they finally held their first large scale joint concert in early 2020. Watch them perform Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou, another fan favorite from Team K’s 4th Stage, below:
Okada Nana (岡田奈々) “Naachan” (Team 4/STU48, 14th Generation)
From failing to rank in her first Senbatsu Election to coming in at #5 during AKB48’s 10th Election, Nana has consistently risen in popularity every year she has been with the group. She has become the most notable AKB48 new generation frontgirl, being the highest ranked AKB48 member in the most recent election. Her first A-side center came in early 2018 with AKB48’s 51st single, Jabaja. Watch the music video below!
Jabaja has ranked in both Request Hours since its release. Watch the group perform the song in 2019:
Her accompliments in the group don’t stop with sheer popularity; she’s proven herself time and time again to be one of the better singers of the large amount of members. She came in top 5 in both AKB48 Singing Competitions held to date. Watch her perform the fan favorite, Mushi no Ballad (Originally sang by 2nd Generation Team K member Akimoto Sayaka), below:
Nana was also given her own solo song on AKB48’s 5th album, called Coin Toss. Watch the fiery performance below!
As mentioned before, Nana and Yuiri, both monsters of present day AKB48, are best of friends and are often paired together in performances and activities. Their duo concert held earlier this year was well received by all who watched and it put up great hope for future releases and events featuring the two. They currently share a joint YouTube channel with two other AKB48 members: General Manager Mukaichi Mion and Team K’s Shinobu Mogi, called YuuNaMogiOn. Watch the four of them dance to Namida no Hyomen Choryoku, a song from AKB48’s 6th album, on their channel below:
Okada Nana also serves as a member for the AKB48 sister group, STU48. To find out more about them, and see more about Okada Nana, check out our article 8 Reasons You Should Love STU48.
Oguri Yui (小栗有以) “Yuiyui” (Team A/Team 8)
If you are talking about frontgirls of 48Group, you cannot forget Team 8 Tokyo Representative, Oguri Yui. If Yui is in the performance at all, you can usually count on her being the Center. Joining AKB48 in 2014, Yui, being nothing like SKE48’s Jurina, has nevertheless developed a similar role to the SKE48 powerhouse. When in doubt, it seems the staff and members of the large girl group understand Yui to be a stable performer they can default to representing the group. She very quickly received her first A-side Center with 2018’s Teacher Teacher. Watch the mesmerizing music video below.
With the graduation of former Center, Nakano Ikumi, Yui has risen to the task of being the face of the vast Team 8, as well. Watch the music video for their most recent Team song, Sukida Sukida Sukida, released as a B-side to AKB48’s 56th single.
Yui has a very “pure idol” image. Time and time again the fans have witnessed Yui’s natural talent for being an idol. To cement that thought, she commonly sings songs originally centered by legendary “Born-to-be-idol” member, Team B’s Watanabe Mayu. Watch her perform Mayu’s solo song, Synchro Tokimeki below;
Below is AKB48 performing their 50th single, 11Gatsu no Anklet, which served as Mayu’s graduation song. Notice that Oguri Yui has been chosen as the new center for this song and many other Mayu centered singles. When it comes to the performance aspect of AKB48, it seems that Yui has become the spiritual successor to Mayu.
In 2018, Yui was chosen to portray the main character, Lily, in the reboot of AKB48’s infamous battle-centric television series, Majisuka Gakuen. Named, Majimura Gakuen, Yui carried on the the fighting spirit of the more “down-low” intricacies of the groups media. Watch some clips from her performance below:
Most recently, Yui was chosen to represent Team 8 once again as Center for Team 8’s B-side, Jitabata, released on Shitsuren, Arigatou. Below is the second music video released for the song, a “Stay-at-home” video, made in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Okabe Rin (岡部麟) “Rinrin” (Team A/Team 8)
Captain of Team A and AKB48 Group member of 6 years, Okabe Rin has yet to center a promotional song, however she has enjoyed some solid management push in the past couple of years. Starting with consistently appearing in the back of AKB48 Senbatsu in 2017, she was sent out on several Team 8 stages around Japan to represent the group. Watch her perform alongside Team 8 members Takaoka Kaoru and Yoshikawa Nanase below:
In recent years, Team 8 had something of a new wave come up, gaining a new foundation of fans called eitos. Whilst AKB48 were “Idols you go meet,” Team 8 were “Idols who go meet you.” Eitos quickly grew enamored with the girls, each of whom representing a different prefecture, and in 2019, Team 8 finally ranked #1 in Request Hour with the song 47 no Suteki na Machi e. Watch Okabe Rin center the song below.
Whilst only ranking once in Senbatsu Election, Okabe Rin’s small wave of fans slowly grew. Many people believed her to be a talented performer, increasing the amount of stages she performed. Watch her perform solo below!
Okabe Rin is one of few AKB48 members to have their own solo concerts. Watch her be surprised by Original 1st Generation Kami7 Team A Mother of Dragons (or Nyancats) member Kojima Haruna by CLICKING HERE. Rin is performing the song Heart Gata Virus, from Team A’s 5th Stage, also known to be a song Kojima Haruna commonly Centered.
Learn the dance to Shitsuren, Arigatou from Yuiri, Mizuki, and Nana!
Which member in this Senbatsu is your Oshi? Tell us in the comments below!