What I can say about those graduation announcements (and my thoughts on Jonishi Kei)

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Fukagawai Mai, center, at her graduation concert. (Image from Nogizaka46 Club Twitter account @NogiClub)

A flurry of graduation news (and ceremonies)

I am a Jpop listener, but I admit I am not often updated with the happenings about AKB48, Nogizaka46, and other acts that I listen to. I am not a fanatic of singers or groups. I am just a fan of songs, but I stand behind the people who sing the songs that I like. And I also happen to be an admirer of beauty – Jpop beauty, that is.

Lately, I have been reading news items about some 48G and 46G members who had announced their intent to graduate: Nanami Hashimoto (Nogizaka46), Haruna Kojima (AKB48), Haruka Shimazaki (AKB48) and Jonishi Kei (NMB48). Hmm, pretty girls, aren’t they? Too bad they won’t be staying long with their respective groups, and their fans cannot help but feel sad over their looming departure. And while grieving over the news of Nanami’s graduation, I recalled some other members who have graduated this year: Takahashi Minami and Iwasa Misaki (AKB48), Shibata Aya (SKE48), Miyazawa Sae (AKB48, SKE48 and SNH48), Aki Takajo (AKB48 and JKT48), Miyuki Watanabe (NMB48), and Fukagawa Mai (Nogizaka46), among others. Wow, a lot of notable graduations this year. I wonder how many fans have committed or are contemplating suicide (just a jest).

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Rena Matsui announced her graduation from SKE48 during a radio broadcast last year. (Image from Twitter account of @mah48j38)

Well, we cannot stop our girls from departing. Who are we to stop them from pursuing a life and a career outside of 48G and 46G? Best we can do is to recall all the good times we had listening to them and watching them live, on TV or online, wish them luck, pray for their future success, and most importantly, make the most out of the time leading to their graduation. Now is the best time to hoard whatever products they promote or merchandises of their likeness to serve as a remembrance of our love and support for the girls.

The reason for graduation

If I remember right, Atsuko Maeda (AKB48), Rena Matsui (SKE48, AKB48 and Nogizaka46), and Aki Takajo graduated in 2012, 2015 and 2016, respectively, to take up acting. It is the same career path Miss Haruka will be taking once she graduate at the end of this year. Iwasa Misaki left this year to pursue the path of an enka singer. I even recalled one member who departed from her group in order to prepare herself for college.

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Atsuko Maeda, left, being comforted by Minami Takahashi as the former made her graduation announcement last year. (Image from http://mewmewhyorin.blogspot.com/)

Other girls want to live a normal life (a reason given by Nanami Hashimoto) or to pursue a new goal which they find while being active in their group (Nana Yamada of NMB48 and SKE48). Others want to make something new happen to her life and graduation from the group is that way to do that and it is unavoidable (as in the case of Fukagawa Mai). There are others who decide to graduate based on their assessment of their surrounding and situation (as what I can interpret in the case of Miyuki Watanabe).

Well, different girls, different reasons for their departure, but only one word and only one emotion: graduation and sadness.

As what one fan had noted in Facebook a few weeks ago, girls join AKB48 or any 48G/46G group for a number of reasons. They join to gain skills and build confidence in pursuing career paths in acting, singing, broadcasting, etc. Some girls join just to take a dare or because they have been rejected by other music groups. It is their launchpad for a career they want to pursue.

My thoughts on Jonishi Kei’s graduation announcement

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Jonishi Kei announced her graduation during NMB48’s 6th anniversary concert. (Image from http://fyp-kun.tumblr.com/)

I do not listen much to NMB48, though I like four songs from their discography, and I only know recognize two members of that group. While reading graduation announcements of certain 48G/46G members, I came up Jonishi Kei’s. She announced tearfully:

I have decided to take the next step. I became satisfied with my current position and environment. If I stay this way, my fans will grow distant, and I myself will end here. That’s why I have decided to take the next step.

Such an announcement struck me hard. I have been giving it a lot of thought since I first read it, even thinking about it when I go to sleep. Her statement pushed me to assess the course of my life, to think what I have done or accomplished so far in my career. I cannot compare myself to Miss Jonishi or my situation to her’s, but the gist, the thought or the message behind her graduation announcement is universal – it’s for everyone to bear it.

While pondering on Miss Jonishi’s graduation announcement, I recall two past events relating to my employment. Thrice I decided to leave employers on my own accord, not having them to terminate me. It was those times I felt something new or something better should happen in my life, and I was brave enough to take that step then. I was looking for new challenges, new opportunities, and new atmosphere or ambiance to awaken the sleeping giant in me, to realize my hidden potential. I’d love a good adventure.

I was not only looking for greener pastures but a field where I can plant and harvest the fruits of my labor. I’d love to see barren fields become verdant not only through my own efforts but also with the help of the people who did not give up on me.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the monetary aspects because I believe monetary rewards will come as I strive. I have always taken a pay cut into every new job, with the firm hope that I’d get an increase upon regularization. As long as my body can take it, as long as I can manage my time and finances well, I am willing and ready to sacrifice a bit.

I admit I always feel sad when I leave an employer for another employer and anxious when I depart from one job to another. but the saddest part is saying goodbye to workmates. So to take from Miss Jonishi:

I don’t know if I will be able to see everyone again. But if we get to see each other again someday, please tell me ‘okaeri’ (‘welcome back’).

Many times I wish employers who had terminated me would take me back. Many times I wish former workmates would contact me for sideline jobs or invite me to non-company outings with former workmates too. But I never have such opportunity, and former workmates are strangers now.

Listeners and fans of 48G and 46G could only wish their idols keep in touch with their former groups. We can pray for some sort of reunion to happen, where former members can perform together again and where they can connect with current members.

Like them, we should be strong enough in taking a big step in our personal and professional lives. We should learn from them.

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NMB48 will miss the beauty that is Jonishi Kei. (Image from http://stage48.net/)

It must have been hard for Miss Jonishi and other 1st generation members to depart from their groups, but graduation is unavoidable for both idol and fan, and it is a normal occurrence – something that serious and sentimental fans bear with sadness.

But hey, should not we be happy for them, for all the happiness they have given to us over all these years?

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