Dissolution of teams marks end of 18-year era for Japan’s biggest idol singer group.

On Saturday, Japanese idol singer supergroup AKB48 held the first of its Spring Concert 2023 performances at Pia Arena MM in Yokohama. As the first concert by the group in roughly three years to allow full cheering from fans in attendance and a total of three dozen songs performed, there was plenty for fans in attendance to be excited about, but there was also a big surprise, as an announcement was made that all of the AKB48 “teams” are being abolished.

Because of the huge size of AKB48, which has a total of 85 members, the group is subdivided into five teams: Team A, Team K, Team B, Team 4, and Team 8. While AKB48 also performs together as a whole, the teams each have their own segments within the group’s concerts, individual promotional events, image colors, and even captains.

But during the April 29 concert, Team A captain Mion Mukaichi, who also holds the position of “General Manager” of AKB48, told the crowd that the team system is being done away with.

▼ Mion Kukaichi

The team system has been part of AKB48’s structure since the group’s debut in 2005, so this marks a major change in how the idols will perform and operate. In addressing the fans, Mukaichi said she was sad to see the system ending, but added “I think this is good timing for AKB to be united as a whole and kick things up a notch.” Former Team B captain Yuki Kashiwagi, who joined AKB48 in 2006 and at 31 years old is its oldest member, added “Everyone will keep doing their best as members of AKB. I hope people will cheer for and support the group as a whole.”

▼ Yuki Kashiwagi

Of the five teams, Team 8 (whose members all concurrently hold positions with other teams as well) is the first to cease operations, with the second day of the Spring Concert 2023 on April 30 its last team event. The remaining four teams, A,K, B, and 4, will be disbanded this fall, with each holding “sayonara concerts” between August 4 and 6.

On the bright side, the dissolution of the teams doesn’t mean their members are being dismissed, as they’ll remain members of AKB48. And in a crowd-pleasing move, the number of on-stage performers at the permanent AKB48 Theater in Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood is being doubled, from 8 to 16, as pandemic protocols are scaled back. Still, for fans who were devoted to not just AKB48, but to a particular team, this is the end of an era.

Source: Daily via Hachima Kiko, San Sports
Top image: Pakutaso
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