Beyond Entertainment: Understanding the Significance of Japanese Idol Group Member Graduations

Graduation of a member can change a group's dynamics, image, and lead to loss of fans, but also create opportunities, making or breaking a member's career. It's significant in idol culture.

In recent years, Japanese idol groups have gained immense popularity and have become an integral part of Japanese pop culture. These groups consist of young, talented members who sing, dance, and perform various other activities to entertain their fans. While fans enjoy the group’s performances and the idol’s talent, there is another aspect of Japanese idol culture that is just as important – the graduation of idol group members.

What is a graduation from an idol group?

Idol group member graduations refer to the departure of a member from the group, which can happen for various reasons. These reasons may include completing their contracts, pursuing individual careers, or even personal reasons. While it may seem like a regular occurrence, member graduations have a significant impact on both the idol group and the fans.

Firstly, the departure of a member can change the group’s dynamics and affect its image. Japanese idol groups often have a strict image and concept that they maintain, and each member plays a crucial role in bringing this image to life. Losing a member can disrupt this balance and even alter the group’s sound and performance style. For example, when two members of the idol group AKB48 graduated in 2012, the group’s image shifted from a bubbly, happy-go-lucky group to a more mature and serious one.

Additionally, member graduations can lead to a loss of fans, which can affect the group’s popularity and revenue. Fans may leave the fandom or support the departing member’s solo career instead of the group, resulting in a decline in ticket and merchandise sales. However, on the other hand, member graduations can also create new opportunities for the group to attract new fans who may prefer the group’s new sound and image.

Furthermore, idol group member graduations can also have a significant impact on the departing member’s career. In Japan, being a part of an idol group can provide a significant platform for future opportunities. Leaving the group can either make or break a member’s career, depending on how they handle their departure and what they choose to do next. Some members have gone on to become successful solo artists, actors, or even started their businesses, while others have struggled to make an impact outside the group.

What idols do after the graduation?

Here are some examples from the history of idols.

Haruka Shimazaki

Haruka Shimazaki (AKB48): Haruka Shimazaki was a popular member of the Japanese idol group, AKB48. She graduated in 2016 and pursued a career in acting. She appeared in various TV dramas and movies.

Yurina Hirate

Yurina Hirate (Keyakizaka46): Yurina Hirate was a member of the popular Japanese idol group, Keyakizaka46, which was later renamed Sakurazaka46. She graduated in 2020 and pursued a solo career as a singer and actress. She released her first solo single, “Dance no Riyuu,” in 2021.

Kanna Hashimoto

Kanna Hashimoto (Rev. from DVL): Kanna Hashimoto was a member of the Japanese idol group, Rev. from DVL. She left the group in 2017 and pursued a career in acting. She became a popular actress in Japan and starred in various TV dramas and films.

In conclusion, Japanese idol group member graduations may seem like a minor event, but they hold great significance in the idol culture. The departure of a member can change the group’s dynamics and affect its popularity and revenue. It can also provide new opportunities for the group to attract new fans or create a challenge for the departing member’s career. Fans must understand and respect the importance of member graduations and support both the group and the departing member as they move forward in their respective careers.

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