Team E Leader’s retrospective on SKE48’s recent growth
from Nikkei Entertainment August 2013
Matsui Rena who ranked 7th in last June General Elections, entering the sacrosanct “Kami 7”. At the same time, a large number of SKE48 members ranked in the elections, ensuring the group to gain fame of national scale. Looking one year back, as a first generation member and core existence of the group, she tells us what have been the major events that punctuated this year.
Rena - With Maeda Atsuko graduating last year, chances for young AKB48 members have multiplied and they’ve been gradually advancing toward the spotlight. While AKB48 was going through this transformation and SKE48, NMB48 and HKT48 attacking, I think this year clearly revealed what kind of group each of us is.
One of the most important event in this regard for SKE48 was when in April, during Budokan concert, we showed a more powerful visage than ever by singing 31 songs in a row without MC. When we got all together to plan the concert, we were very glad to hear from the staff 「SKE48 is the only one that could pull something like that」, all the members got really enthusiasts. *smiling from ear to ear* If I had to word it very simply, I’d say performing 31 songs in a row was fun.
Looking at the audience I could tell that once the 「When is there gonna be an MC」bewilderment washed away, replaced by 「They ain’t gonna stop!」 they were even more fire up than usual.
I still vividly remember last summer, when we performed in the large scale female idols festival 「IDOL NATION」. After our performance on the first stage had ended, unfortunately, I felt the audience didn’t quite enjoy it. I think that’s because we lacked experience in this kind of environment, where the audience isn’t composed of our fans only like in the theater, but people who were there to see other idols. We faced different way of cheering and had to forget what we thought were common practices, so much that when the members met during the break, we all changed our MCs. For the second stage, we changed our approach 「I’ve confidence in how powerful our performances are, what would you say about we see who of you or us have the more energy? (tln : talking to the audience)」. Doing so it felt the live was a much bigger success. Until then we had been going forth by leaning on AKB48’s legacy, but it felt we had just opened a new path for SKE48 to walk, and I could see the difference in responses.
I think we also managed to display our own charm during SKE48 first solo apparition in last year 「NHK Kouhaku Utagasen」. At first murmurs in the venue were something like 「It’s the turn of one of AKB48 spawn」and the applause was scarce too. But with Akarin (Suda Akari) doing ballet moves, the now graduated Fujimoto Miki doing back-flips, cheers arose from the audience and when it was over we got wrapped in strong applause and acclamations. I took it as the proof we had been approved of.
Her attachment to SKE48
On March 2012 it was announced that Matsui Jurina would hold concurrent position with AKB48’s Team K. Matsui Jurina being even more absent from Nagoya, something switched in Matsui Rena’s heart who had been hauling SKE48 as part of WMatsui.
Rena - The biggest change I experienced this year was the full bloom of my profound attachment to SKE48. I think the apparition of kennin members has been a stimulus and a plus for AKB48 group as a whole. But as someone entrusted with the duty to guide SKE48 forward, I can’t let go of my conviction that 「SKE48 is number one」. Sometimes fans will tell me during handshake events 「I hope Rena-chan will be in concurrent position someday」, but I always answer them 「SKE48 is where I belong」.
In her speech during this year General Elections, she announced 「This year I’ll go all out」, showing a confidence in herself unheard of before.
Rena - This year my solo works have increased, fans reported 「I’ve seen you on TV in this CM!」 and overall I can feel there are more people aware of my existence. I think it played a major role that I was finally able to tell my fans openly, related to last year elections, 「I was disappointed with my rank. I want to stand at the top.」. In response, everyone push me up and bestowed me this chance. I want to make all my possible so that one year after it will appear to have been the right choice to give me this 7th position.
In AKB48 Group, teams remodeling in called 「Shuffle」. On April SKE48 went through its first shuffle and Matsui Rena went from Team S to Team E, where she took the function of Leader.
Rena - With so many S members graduating, I think the shuffle was necessary so that everyone would be ready to give it’s best once again.
There are a lot of young, 5th generation members in Team E, so I’m looking forward to see how they’ll grow from now on. SKE48 new era starts with the 5th generation, or so is the image they have attached to them. Looking at the elections, ranking members go as far as the 4th generation however, meaning SKE48’s alternation of generation is still ahead.
I was extremely surprised as I didn’t imagine to become Team E Leader. Fans tell me 「Do your best as leader」, but I don’t think it should be about me, rather I think my role is to create an environment where I can tell members with confidence 「Let’s go forth all together」. There are members in E who are still hesitant to step forward during recording with their seniors. There I tell them 「You can moderate your reserve 」.
SKE48 12th single to be released on July 17th 「Utsukushii Inazuma」is a striking title, which marks the start of a new, reborn, SKE48.
Rena - I was expecting a cute, cheerful summer idol song, so i was dumbfound when I first heard the demo. It’s the most adult music SKE48 ever had. We also have serious expressions in the video, I think it’s perfect to introduce the new SKE48.