Moments ago at the 2023 Spring Concert, AKB48 have announced that they are scrapping the team structure that everybody has become familiar with, and that they have been using since 2005, opting to instead simplify things with a new system.
The exact details haven’t been revealed yet, but the systems mentioned are ones where there are basically two classes of members in those promoted and trainees.
Anyway, all this seems to fit in with their new era branding post-pandemic and their effort to pick themselves off the ground amidst falling sales and relevancy, even purposefully painting themselves (the whole article was a nice recap of their status) as fallen giants.
But in my eyes, the most important step was to admit defeat. Two of their new shows bluntly describe their downfall: “Surpassed by Nogizaka, AKB48. A lot of things happened, it’s time for great reversal on Tokyo TV” and “Lately, have you heard anything about AKB48? Let’s do something together?”.
AKB48 is portrayed as a defeated Goliath, ready to strike once again. It’s the Cinderella story all over again. “We’re at the rock bottom” is what AKB48 seems to say, but is the public ready to buy into the magic once again?
This feels like a part of that revival attempt, or at least a marketing pitch to fans that secures their new era and perhaps resets expectations for a longer run going forward.