**Vote for your favorite Graduation Dress at the end of the article!!**
Sayonara de Owaru Wake Janai (サヨナラで終わるわけじゃない) By Watanabe Mayu (2017)
Mayu Watanabe is the former AKB48 member who prompted us to make this list. Recent headlines in Japanese media note the disappearance of the former starlet, and her sudden announcement of her resignation from the industry. Lets look back on her Graduation song, Sayonara de Owaru Wake Janai. The song (titled “Goodbye doesn’t mean the end” in English) speaks of Mayu’s uncertainness of what the future holds and what she wants to achieve after she says goodbye. Mayu’s voice flows beautifully in this song, making it one of 48GroupWest’s favorite 48 Group Ballads.
Click here to watch the full music video. Below you’ll find her singing the song live at her graduation concert in her white, feathery, graduation dress (shown on the right in the 3 part profile picture for Mayu above). The song begins at the 5-minute mark of the video.
Sayonara De Owaru Wake Janai was released as a B-side to AKB48’s 50th single, 11Gatsu no Anklet. This A-side is also Mayu’s last A-side center for the group. Because of this, 11Gatsu no Anklet is considered to be a second graduation song of Mayu’s. Watch the music video below.
The choreography of the song greatly encapsulates the traditional idol concept Mayu adopted in her latter years with the group. Pretty from head to toe, Mayu prances around her colleagues as they sing about an anklet acquired the previous summer that they never take off. The song ends with Mayu sitting her microphone down on the floor and walking away.
2. Eien no Legacy (永遠のレガシー) By Oya Masana (2017)
Oya Masana was an original first generation SKE48 member whose graduation came as a deep wave of sadness to fans and members of the group. Masana was the second to last 1st generation member to announce her leave (the last being Matsui Jurina, whose graduation is currently pending). Above, to the left, you can see Masana in her lace Graduation Dress hugging her longtime friend and colleague, Matsumura Kaori, also covered in this article.
Her graduation song, released as a b-side to SKE48’s 21st single, speaks of leaving behind a hole for someone else to fill with their dreams. Watch her full graduation concert by clicking here!
3. Better by AKB48’s 9th Generation (2016)
Shimazaki Haruka, more commonly known as Paruru, is the face of a peculiar time in AKB48. Her popularity reached its peak after the departure of many of our original “Golden Age” members and she graduated before many people knew the names of many of the AKB48 idols we love today. Above to the right you can see her in her graduation dress, after taking her photo down for the final time in the AKB48 Theater. Below, you’ll find her graduation song Better, in which all remaining 9th Generation members participated.
Follow this link for the full music video. Fellow 9th Generation member Takeuchi Miyu, later covered the song on her youtube channel:
And the song was also released in Indonesia by JKT48, to commemorate the simultaneous graduations of 9 of their members.
The song Better was released as a B-side of AKB48’s 46th single, High Tension, a well known song that also boasts the last appearance of Haruka on an A-side single. Watch her farewell Center position below:
Enjoy a live version of the song below!
4. Acting Tough by Ota Yuuri (2019)
Ota Yuuri’s graduation came as quite the shock to many fans. After the departure of Yamamoto Sayaka, Yuuri was quickly rising to become one of the new centers of NMB48. She was placed as the center for Team N, and with every passing release, her position in Senbatsu performance lineups was moving ever so closely to the front. Her sub-unit, Queentet, was also gaining momentum at this time. After declaring that she personally felt she could do better without NMB48, she announced her graduation. Below you can see her graduation song, a solo called Acting Tough.
The graduation song was released in conjunction with her first and only A-side center, NMB48’s 22nd single: Hatsukoi Shijo Shugi, which can be seen below.
Although we at 48GroupWest are unhappy with the conditions of Yuuri’s graduation (So close to being the group’s Ace!), we will proclaim that she had one of the most unique graduation dresses, shown both on the right in her profile picture uploaded in this article, and below in the live performance of Hatsukoi Shijo Shugi at her Graduation Conert.
5. Mata Aeru Hi Made (また会える日まで) By Minegishi Team 4 (2020)
We very recently covered Minami in our article AKB48 Members Aged 25 Years or Older (Part 2). Below you’ll find her graduation song, performed by the now older and wiser members that made up the original Minegishi Team 4, formed in 2013.
[Backstory for new fans: After being demoted to kenkyuusei for being caught dating, Minami was promoted as captain to a reborn Team 4. The team is later shuffled in 2015, and Minegishi transfers to Team K]
Unlike many graduation songs released under the 48 group umbrella which speak of hope for the future, Minami’s take a more sad route. The song laments in her failures but puts stress on saying “See you later” rather than “goodbye”.
As Minami’s Graduation Concert has been postponed due to the international pandemic that is COVID-19, we have yet to see her graduation dress.
6. Namida no Sei Janai (涙のせいじゃない) by AKB48 Senbatsu (2013)
Pictured in the header to this article, Shinoda Mariko arguably had the most beautiful graduation dress in 48 Group history. Accentuating her model-like figure, the dress could have been worn by no one else but her. The music video for Namida no Sei Janai is rather hard to find online, but you can watch it in its entirety here. Watch a live version performed at her graduation concert (in the beautiful graduation dress) below.
Like many graduation songs before it, her song placed in Request Hour the following year. Watch as AKB48 performs it in her stead:
7. 2588 Days (2588日) by Matsui Rena (2015)
Serving as one half of SKE48’s power center group, Matsui Rena didn’t really surprise anyone with her graduation announcement, though fans were sad just the same. Her tearful graduation song compares Rena to that of a flower starting as a seed and growing through the earth and to the sky. Her graduation dress (shown above on the right) personifies this metaphor, with flowers delicately dotting the skirt.
The full version of the music video can be found here. Watch her perform the song below in her graduation dress at her beautiful graduation concert.
2588 Days was released as a b-side to Rena’s last Centered SKE48 single, Maenomeri, who’s full music video can be watched by clicking here.
Below, SKE48 performs the song in the theater at Rena’s graduation stage.
8. Arigatou wa Iitakunai (ありがとうは言いたくない) by Matsumura Kaori (2018)
Kaori did not surprise anyone with her graduation announcement, as she was 29 years old at time of announcement (All members so far have graduated before hitting the 30 milestone). Always being a funny member, however, her polished mid-tempo ballad-like graduation song surprised everyone. Watch below!
Kaori’s graduation dress was, true to Kaori fashion, very flashy with a unique pattern. Watch her perform the song at her graduation concert below.