First generation and most popular member Atsuko Maeda yesterday announced her graduation from AKB48. Since she was 14 years old in 2005, Acchan has been a key member of AKB and a major facet in the ...48 company. Coming 1st in the 2009 and 2011 senbatsu elections; Acchan is popular with wota and non-wota alike.
The exact date has not been announced yet but this is a major shock to all AKB48 fans. Turning on the computer this morning, I was not expecting this at ALL. Will this be a new era for AKB48? Will Acchan be voted 1st one last time? Along with the doubling announcement for members Jurina Matsui (who now is in Team S from SKE48 and Team K from AKB48) and Miyuki Watanabe (Team N from NMB48 and Team B from AKB48) and the new voting system, it seems the rest of 2012 will be a very different year from previous.
I for one will miss Acchan very much and am very sad she is leaving, but considering the work she is doing lately, and mentioning on her blog that she only gets 5 hours sleep per night, it probably shouldn't come as that much of a surprise for bigger fans who perhaps know her routine better. I hope to see her in many drama's in the future and maybe with a few more solo singles.
Natalie.mu - More information (in Japanese)
[Thanks to H!O for the link]
We will miss you Acchan! AKB48 will never be the same!!