“What’s wrong with that?
We all care about those girls.
But your dream is what matters above all.”
-Yuuko Ooshima the Ninth
It would be far easier if the fifth successor to Minami Takahashi had the attitude expressed above by Yuuko Ooshima the Ninth. After all, to have a dream is inherently selfish. It’s the rare person who doesn’t stop and think on who their dream may be hurting; but, if it is truly their dream, then it’s equally rare for said individual to halt the pursuit of their dream altogether. Takamina the Fifth’s perspective, however, is a bit different thanks to her personality, or rather, the essence of her personality that put her in the position of being a successor.
Takamina the Fifth and the Role of a Captain
In AKB0048, Takamina the Fifth is the fifth successor to Minami Takahashi of the original “AKB0048.” Viewers learn that this fifth Takamina was chosen for this position partially due to supernatural means based on how close her soul or essence was to her AKB0048 namesake. To become a Takamina, the team captain, being a natural leader and a consistently hard worker are part and parcel of being her successor specifically. A Takamina embodies these traits, but to have a soul close to the original it would naturally follow that they are also character traits inherent to her line of successors.
It is precisely because of her character that Takamina the Fifth is so rattled by learning that the new successor has already been chosen, the very person whose talent and character she was going to champion: Kanata of the 75th Generation. It doesn’t help that Kanata worships the ground Takamina the Fifth walks on, now beginning to see the captain of AKB0048 as a guide and mentor. For every question that Kanata asks, every time Kanata excels, stands out, or congratulates her, the knife twists in a little deeper for Takamina the Fifth. Her very being would seemingly want to mentor and help Kanata achieve her dreams, even while knowing that she, Takamina the Fifth, is the only person standing between Kanata’s succession to AKB0048 as Takamina the Sixth. She cannot brush aside her concerns as easily as her group mate Yuuko because of the very character traits that made her a Takamina.
The Duality of Characterization in AKB0048: Development by Proxy
Characterization in this series becomes especially interesting when we, as an audience, examine how exactly we know Takamina the Fifth’s personality so well in spite of her not having all that much screen time. She is held up as the ideal leader, the captain of AKB0048, exactly like the original Minami Takahashi. However, we learn more about these character traits themselves not through throwaway lines about the original, or even Takamina the Fifth herself, but rather, through her successor Kanata.
Kanata, who we don’t know as Takamina the Sixth (even though it is apparent that this is who she will become), but were introduced to as Sonata’s hard-working and somewhat downtrodden older sister. A member of the cursed 75th Generation, Kanata benefits from the breath of fresh air that accompanies the series’s protagonists, the 77th Generation. After a few tears are shed, Kanata immerses herself in her role as captain of the understudies, taking the 77th Generation under her wing with ease. In the same episode we watch Kanata grow into her role magnificently, culminating in her pep talk to 77th Generation member Chieri, as we watch Takamina the Fifth discover that her role as a Takamina and the leader of AKB0048 has already been partially supplanted.
In other words, we’ve learned more about the essence of Minami Takahashi, and Takamina the Fifth, through Kanata’s actions and development rather than learning through Takamina the Fifth herself. It’s character development by proxy, more than suitable for a series that examines succession and the dream of becoming another person.
12 responses to “The Succession of Takamina the Sixth: A Captain’s Role and Character”
To be honest AKB0048 is quite interesting in comparison to other shoujo “live your dream” series. The example again coming to mind is Glass Mask (also about showbiz), where the main character has to constantly re-evaluate her dream. Is it to simply emulate her mentor by playing her most famous role, or to surpass it by giving the role her own “something” – the innate but hidden talent to be expected of a shoujo heroine?
To contextualise that; in Glass Mask, the protagonist is given her “break” in showbiz by an old, retired actress who now runs a stage school. Said actress sees potential in the protagonist and grooms her to play her most famous role, presenting this performance of a rarely-performed play as a goal at some point in the future. How the protagonist responds is interesting; in the latest episode I watched she encounters an old man who remembers seeing the play the first time, and asks him how she can best emulate her mentor’s performance.
It’s the same thing of dramatic and performance legacies, and it’s interesting how a show which I thought was not going to be anything like it (AKB) is covering similar themes in a far more literal and almost frightening way (with its conditioning and themes of physical replacement rather than just maintaining a legacy).
What I’m getting, first and foremost, from your comments is that I *really* need to see Glass Mask. ^ ^
AKB0048 is treading a very fine and interesting line. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how far it wants to poke and prod at the idea of succession. The last series to do this was The Idolm@ster and that ended up being far less insidious as the series progressed and the girls became more and more popular. Where The Idolm@ster chose to focus on the mundane and routine (see: dull, boring) aspects of an idol’s life, AKB0048 is directly addressing conflict from competition through the idea of succession. The latter, I feel, lends itself to far darker things to come as the AKB girls become more popular (which should happen with the 75th and 77th Generations. In fact, it’s happening already).
I love the point you’ve brought up from Glass Mask, where the student must decide how much or little to emulate their master’s performance. How much of “her” should she put into playing the same role, and how much should she try to “make it her own?” These things are fascinating within the context of AKB0048. The series even goes as far as to have a member (Itano Tomomi or Tomochin) whose family purposefully breeds their daughters to look and act exactly like the original.
It’s especially frightening when one considers that Minami Takahashi is a real live person today.
Also, my apologies for the late reply. I’ve been out of town for a week. Thank you very much for the comment!
This pursue your dream theme can be interpreted two-fold: one may pursue her dream or one may pursue the dream. Kanata may pursue Takamina because Kanata wants to become the Takamina or Kanata may pursue Takamina for sake of Takamina. The former attitude is futile, since there will always be a future person with a better ability to pursue Takamina as AKB0048 gives evidence. Takamina the Fifth seems to want to be the Takamina. Kanata, I think, is pursuing Takamina for the sake of Takamina. No wonder one is happier than the other.
That’s an excellent point with “her dream” versus “the dream,” and it becomes especially dicey depending on which Takamina you’re referring to: Takamina the Fifth, or Takamina the First, the Concept. In the quote, I believe that Yuuko is referring to Takamina the Fifth’s own dream, the dream of performing as Takamina the Concept, which is, as you say, futile in the end, since there will always be a new Takamina who will usurp your position, no matter how hard you practice or perform.
Not only does it appear that Kanata is *not* dreaming of being Takamina the Concept, she definitely seems to be the happier one, pursuing the more abstract concept of “an AKB0048 successor” so she can sing, dance, and perform with the group.
One has to wonder, based on Takamina the Fifth’s own admissions at the end of this episode, if the girl who came before the title of Takamina the Fifth had the same dream as Kanata now does, but the years of playing the role of Takamina the Fifth have morphed her dream into becoming Takamina the Concept.
Phew! Too many Takamina the _____s to get through. Hopefully that makes sense. I really liked your point. Thank you for the comment!
THIS EPISODE! OH MAAAANN!! I thought they were about to kill someone off, but nawwww just more die-o-rama for us to chew on of course I think everyone loved it xD
Anyway Takamina sure has it rough she wants to continue being an Idol forever, but she is about to graduate which is almost a automatic pass for Kanata right? And she has to basically act like everything is alright in front of the 75th generation and 77th…all that pressure I was waiting for the emotion to break out sooner later.
We need more info on the idols of the past or the “souls” It is interesting to see who inherits which old soul from the past idols? I wonder if personality plays a factor in who becomes whom or nothing like that at all? Damn those glowing floating creatures…
I do love it, because this kind of drama is the *best* kind of drama. ^ ^
Considering that this is a 13-episode series, I’m definitely curious to see where the kirara and the mysterious “Sensei-Sensei” fit in. If you’ll allow me to make a daring/bold prediction, I’m thinking that the 77th Generation may be the generation to bring the house down, so-to-speak, in terms of revealing some of the truths behind the development of AKB0048.
Either that, or these mysteries will completely remain in the background, with only the character focus to display the ups and downs of idolhood. Whichever the series chooses, I’ll watch regardless. ^ ^ Thanks for the comment!
This was the best episode of AKB0048! I really like Takamina’s character. Usually the leader is seen as the one who’s right, someone to admire and follow wholeheartedly. But in this case, we see the fears that pierce through her heart. It’s conflicting to choose your happiness above one’s. I’m just happy that episode 13 gave her the ending that she deserved. :)
The series brings it up again with Yuuko in the 11th episode (I think) where Yuuko momentarily freaks out as to whether she’s acting like “herself” in terms of her own personality, or whether she’s acting like “herself” in terms of Yuuko the Ninth. More so than fear, it’s a complete loss of self. Takamina the Fifth’s entire characterization is a bit odd since, as mentioned, it occurs more through what we’ve been told, and also what we’ve been shown through Kanata.
I actually didn’t like that the kirara were able to change their minds on who is a successor and why, since it opens up a whole other can of worms in terms of what exactly the kirara are looking for/what in your personality decides a successor. Seemingly, as soon as Takamina the Fifth gave up on her “personal dream” of being The Takamina and decided to “take one for the team” she reverted to that personality that is closest to the original Minami Takahashi. I’m certainly curious as to where the series will go with it’s views on succession in the second season.
Thanks for the comment!
I’ve been thinking about this minor impasse that is a natural part of the Takamina tradition, that give and take between shining in the spotlight and stepping back to support the rest of your team as a captain. In a way, it reminds me of a point guard for a basketball team. Because they handle the ball for the majority of a game, the point guard is responsible for setting up the rest of the team through passes and distracting the defense through dribbling. In a single play, there’s a decision that’s always in play for the point guard, whether to shoot the ball or to pass it.
There are only two choices, but making the correct choice 100% of the time without messing things up (either by missing the shot or turning the ball over) is the mark of good point guard play, and that’s what I see in 00. A Takamina naturally knows when to shoot and when to pass, and is deft at both. There’s always going to be the star on the team (sometimes the point guard is the star, but not on most teams and especially not on AKB), but when they can’t do their job (it happens), the Takamina has to step in to either give them better opportunities to shine, or to shoulder the load.
Kanata was really good at this with regards to Nagisa and Chieri, and I’m led to believe that her succession at the time was because of the opportunity to be the captain for Nagisa and Chieri despite being an also-ran from the cursed generation. If you’re on a team with Nagisa and Chieri, passing is almost always the good play, but if you’re Takamina the sixth, you have to run your team your own way in order to succeed, which she eventually does. That’s what makes the dichotomy really interesting for me, because at the Captain level, the group itself presents the circumstances through which she can shine.
I don’t have much further to add to this, I love your comparison and agree.
There’s an interesting side commentary to your conclusion; that Kanata wasn’t able to fully develop her “Takamina qualities” with only Mimori by her side. One could even say, taking a look at her backstory, that she initially joined for the wrong reasons – desiring revenge for her father’s death. With the 75th generation perhaps Kanata was still too young/vengeful to allow her captain-like qualities to emerge. It’s only after the 77th generation appears, which includes her own younger sister, that she begins to reach anything close to her full potential.
Thanks for the comment! ^ ^
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