Japan has voted, and the results are in.
No, not for prime minister – we’re talking about the sixth annual AKB48 elections, in which fans trade yen for votes by buying AKB’s latest single, each copy of which contains one ballot used to vote for that fan’s favorite member.
It’s a slick business model which encourages fans to buy multiple copies of the same CD – often dozens or even hundreds – and does some serious damage to the credibility of pop charts.
This year’s AKB election took place in the shadow of the serious incident two weeks ago in which AKB48 Team A members Rika Kawaei and Anna Iriyama were attacked at a handshake event by a man wielding a folding saw. Since then, AKB has canceled all handshake events, and has heightened security at its theater in Akihabara.
But let’s get down to it: what were the results? The winner, with 159,854 votes, is Mayu Watanabe, who ranked second last year. Bumped down to second is Sashihara Rino, last year’s first place winner.
Who’s Mayu Watanabe? Watanabe, aka Mayuyu, joined AKB in 2006 and has appeared on most of the group’s singles. She collects polkadotted things. She played Chieri Sono in the AKB anime series AKB0048.
Speaking of anime, SKE48 member Rena Matsui, who came in 5th, campaigned with a Kill la Kill-inspired poster – the secret of her success, no doubt.
A side note: Rina Kawaei and Anna Iriyama, who were attacked two weeks ago, came in 16th and 20th, respectively, after showing 45th and 77th in the preliminary results published before the attack. Make of that what you will.