When most people think of AKB48, I’m sure it’s the front girls that come to mind. If you’re unfamiliar with the group and have only hear one or two of their songs, seen a few promotional things of them out there (a PV, a commercial, whatever it may be), there are probably a few girls that you might be able to picture. The first one that comes to mind is probably Maeda Atsuko, AKB48’s prized daughter. You’d probably also know Takahashi Minami, another front girl in the group. All the rest is up for grabs. A particular girl might’ve caught your eye in a PV and you may have looked up her name– say, Kojima Haruna, Oshima Yuko, Oshima Mai, or Shinoda Mariko. All get pretty consistent screen time in the PVs. All depends on your preferences, anyway. Maybe you’ve checked out Aitakatta! An AKB48 Blog to learn more about some of the girls. You could’ve gone a few paths from there– became an AKB48 of varying degrees, or, you know, were just content with the knowledge you’d gained about the group as it was and became a casual listener, or even forgot about AKB48 for the most part.

I could spend about a week straight just blogging about all the girls and I’d still probably have more to say, so I’m going to really focus in on one aspect of AKB48 that most people overlook right now. Even among fans– lots of people know Teams A and K, but Team B remains a bit of a mystery. You see their pictures, you hear the occasional fan talk about their favorite Team B members, you may have spotted a Team B member in a PV! But for the most part, Team B remains very misunderstood. A good portion of AKB48 fans know and have come to love Team B, but it’s just not enough in my eyes. So I’m going to try my hand at correcting that. Why? Because they deserve it, simply enough! Too many assumptions are made about this Team because people are too focused on the other two teams. Now, I’m not saying that you all should just give up your favorites and love Team B forever and ever, but just give them a chance! I definitely have favorites on Teams A and K myself and think they’re both wonderful parts of AKB48– the group, quite literally, wouldn’t be the same without them. Each team has their merits, each team has their own style. Even Team B. It’s called AKB48, not AKandthoseotherpeople48.

Disclaimer: I just want to note that this entry is lengthy. This was on purpose. Don’t feel bad about skimming the entry or just reading one or two profiles. If you want to read the whole thing, you’ve definitely got my admiration! But my whole purpose here was just getting out as much information as possible about these underloved girls in hopes of them getting a bit more attention in the fan world. But seriously, even if you just learn about one or two members, I’d be thrilled! 

I just want to clear up a few fairly common misconceptions before I dive right in and introduce you all to the wonder that is Team B, because I think they’re really important distinctions to make from the start.

Myth 1: Team B is a filler group. — I’ve heard people assuming that girls from Team B would be used to replace girls from the other two teams when they graduate. This is not the case. Team B was created after Teams A and K, obviously, but they are their own legitimate team with their own permanent members. Now, I’m a little wary about the word permanent, so don’t write that down– only because Akimoto Yasushi has shown us in the past that he’s willing to shuffle around some members if needed. The one time this happened was when Team B was being created; Watanabe Shiho, Hirajima Natsumi, and Urano Kazumi, all originally Team A members, were chosen to be on Team B. Originally, Masuyama Kayano was also going to be switched around to Team B, but when Orii Ayumi graduated from the group, it was decided that Masuyama Kayano would stay with Team A. Ever since Team B’s formation round December 2006, no Team B members have been moved to other teams. The only changes to Team B’s roster was the graduation of Watanabe Shiho from the group in November 2007, and the addition of Saeki Mika, a former AKB48 SEED, to Team B in February 2008. The SEED group is probably the closest thing to a “filler” group that AKB48 has. These SEEDs regularly perform at the group’s Himawari shows, where Teams A and K perform together (Team B has its own separate stages at the moment). And, as mentioned, Saeki Mika was the first SEED to be promoted to an actual Team.

Myth #2: Watanabe Shiho, Urano Kazumi, and Hirajima Natsumi got “demoted” to Team B. — While these members were decided to be moved to Team B, saying that they were “demoted” to Team B is both an insult to them and an insult to the Team itself. Being assigned to Team B was not a punishment for these girls. Yes, Team B is the newest official Team, but the entire unit is still a good group of talented girls. I’ll get to the specifics there later on, but please, make no mistake– Team B is not some troupe of flunkies basking undeservedly in the light of Teams A and K.

So, now that we’ve got those misconceptions out of the way, what else is interesting about Team B, in general? Team B is currently the largest Team in AKB48! With 16 total members, Team B outnumbers Teams A and K (both of which have 14 members). The ages of the members range from 13 (Oota Aika, Watanabe Mayu) to 22 (Urano Kazumi). Team B has performed two total stages so far– their first was ‘Seishun Girls,’ which you may have known to be Team K’s 2nd Stage previously. AKB48 has a bit of a tradition of having the new team do their own versions of previous stages. When Team K was created, their first stage was ‘Party ga Hajimaru yo,’ which was also Team A’s first stage. After this, they got their own original songs. Team B ended up performing one more “recycled” stage– “Aitakatta,” which was originally Team A’s second stage. But finally, it was announced that Team B will be getting their own original stage (called ‘Pajama Drive,’ for anyone curious). In fact, it debuts in just one day– March 1! Being the Team B fan that I am, I’m highly anticipating it; I can’t wait to see what kind of songs the Team gets and how the girls perform now that things have been tailored to them specifically.

Some other basic information about Team B– the audition for Team B was announced in October 2006, and in December 2006, the chosen members were announced. In April 2007, Team B began performing their First Stage, ‘Seishun Girls.’ Ever since, the girls have been regularly performing, and at the moment, they are the only team with their own individual stage currently running. (Teams A and K regularly perform in their combined stages, ‘Himawari’.)

And now, finally– just exactly who are these girls that make up Team B, and why should you love them, anyway?! Before I jump right in here, I just want to note that everything is, of course, highly subjective. I’ve watched enough Team B footage to feel comfortable with many of the girls’ personalities, and I’ve seen a good amount of performance footage to judge their performing, but my word is definitely not law here. I have my favorites just like in any other team, so, at the very least, this is just intended to give you a peek at who these girls are.

Watanabe Mayu, “The Fragile One”

If you’ve watched AKB48’s latest PVs (from BINGO! and on), you have probably spotted this girl. Her PV debut was BINGO!, where she was scheduled to debut with two other Team B members– Kashiwagi Yuki and Hirajima Natsumi. Mayu was the only one of the three to get a lead part in the PV, and ever since, she’s been a very visible part of AKB48. Mayu is one of the youngest girls of the Team– she will be turning 14 on March 26. (I have to personally admit that Mayu is one of the few idols whose age has surprised me. In recent pictures, she looks her age, but when she debuted in the BINGO! PV, I thought she was around 17.) Anyway, Mayu strikes me as one of the sweetest, most innocent members of the entire group. Her mannerisms are really gentle– that’s really the only way to describe them; after watching ab episode of AKB48 +10!, where some of the girls from Team B competed in a cooking challenge– it was just amusing watching this girl approach something as simple as stirring some ingredients in a bowl with care. One of the professional chefs had to come over and show her how to properly stir. She’s a little goofy, but in a more subdued way than some of the girls; she’ll joke around with the other girls and speak in a squeaky voice at times, but she certainly doesn’t go overboard. Physically, she is very, strikingly small. You really can’t appreciate just how tiny this girl is until you see her on a stage, side-by-side and dancing with the other girls. Just last year, she was absent from many performances because of a broken wrist. She explained that she broke it by falling asleep on it while she was on a train. (Hence my “fragile” description!)

Mayu is a pretty good dancer; she has really precise footwork, which comes across really well on stage. She keeps her movements very close to the body, however, which might give one the impression that she isn’t putting a lot of effort into it, but I do believe that she really does try and puts energy into her dancing, she just naturally seems to keep things small. Her voice, on the other hand… well, I’d call it one of the weaker ones in Team B. Again, this one is totally a matter of preference, however. Sometimes her voice works well with a song and I really like it, and other times I just have to cringe. If you want a sample of how her voice sounds, take a look at this preview for ‘Nagisa no CHERRY,’ off of the official website: here. This is from their second stage, ‘Aitakatta.’ This song was sung by Maeda Atsuko in the original stage– so that may even give you a sense of Mayu’s role in Team B. She’s the most popular member in the Team.

Kikuchi Ayaka, “The Nervous Nelly”

Kikuchi Ayaka is one of the girls who has remained a bit of a mystery to me. Watching the AKB48 +10 episodes that she’s been in and other footage hasn’t given me a solid sense of her personality, but the most striking thing about her personality to me so far is this girl’s nervousness. I downloaded a fan’s video recording of Team B’s performance in China last year, and the video included a segment where Ayaka was doing an MC portion, and she just drew a blank on the words she was supposed to remember. I felt really awful for her– seeing her up there and stuttering her way through, trying to take little cues from the other girls, until Watanabe Shiho stepped in and saved the day. Ayaka seems like one of the more shy members of the Team; she’s differs from Mayu in a sense of fragility– it has more to do with her personality than her physical characteristics. Nevertheless, she still seems like a very sweet girl, and she seems to liven up when she’s hanging around with the other girls of the team.

Ayaka has always reminded me of Miori from SweetS. Just throwing that out there now for the fun of it. Anyway, moving on, the fact that she’s a bit anxious and shy definitely does not show in this girl’s performance style. When some of the longer preview clips were aired from Team B’s 1st Stage, I was really taken aback by her stage presence. Her dancing is quite good– very energetic, and she’s always, always smiling. She’s got one of the prettiest smiles in the whole group, and this girl really shines when she’s on stage.

Katayama Haruka, “Team B’s Big Sister”

Many fans are quick to point out just how mature for her age Haruka is. At only 17, she acts like a big sister or a ‘den mother’ as some fans have phrased it, to the other girls, and I’d definitely have to agree with at assessment. Haruka is very composed and calm most of the time, but she’s certainly no pushover. In one of the AKB48 +10, many of the girls from Team B compete in a ninja challenge; the girls were separated into teams, and the girls from each team usually competed once in a competition. Haruka’s team won each time, and at the very end, she and the two other girls from her team competed for the “ninja champion” title, so to speak. Haruka surprised everyone in that episode when she came out on top! With limited fanfare, Haruka tried her best and won. In the very last challenge against her teammate Kashiwagi Yuki, Yuki ended up losing to Haruka when she fell in the water on a challenge. When Haruka crossed the finish line in the challenge, she even stood by at the end to help Yuki out of the water (though Yuki wasn’t too kind to her– and ended up beating on Haruka in the end!) Haruka did a little dance for herself when she won, but her modesty was much more striking when she didn’t make a big show out of the whole thing. Anyway, that whole story was just to share a little bit on how I admire this girl, and to give you a sense of her mature personality.

Haruka also has a wonderful voice. I honestly believe that she’s one of the best singers in AKB48. She wasn’t given any huge parts in ‘Seishun Girls,’ which is where I’m basing the majority of my judgments on, but on the lines she was given, Haruka is a star. Her voice is very, very pleasant to listen to– very pretty. In Team B’s second stage, Haruka was given more parts, and was even one of the Sukahira Seven (‘Skirt, Hirari’ is one of the songs included in that stage). I’ve only been able to hear a little of her in the previews, but she sounds as great as ever. Her dancing doesn’t stand out to me so much, but she’s not a bad dancer, and her voice more than makes up for whatever she may be lacking!

I recommend watching this performance of ‘Seishun Girls,’ here– not only do you get to hear Haruka’s beautiful voice in a solo line here and there, but you get to finally see a preview of Team B in action!

Tanabe Miku, “The Weird One”

Now, before people get all pissed at me because I called this girl weird– let me assure you that I say it 100% lovingly. Weird is GOOD. Miku is one of my personal favorites from Team B, because she is just so… different! On stage, she is really elegant. She’s one of my favorite dancers because her moves are really distinct, and she really stands out among the other girls. She just carries herself really well. I remember reading that she’s had training in classical ballet, which would definitely help explain how she looks just so graceful up on stage. More recently, I’ve noticed Miku dancing with a lot of attitude. A clip from AKB48’s Shibuya AX concert, and in the ‘Romance, Irane’ performance, all the girls are on stage– the girls who aren’t in the actual song are backdancing, and Miku caught my eye right away. You can spot her right in front of the camera at 01:53; she’s wearing the red outfit with a cropped top. And just… damn! Miku totally rocks in this dance!

Also, she just has really striking looks; when I was first learning the names of the Team B members, Miku had one of the easiest faces to remember. Unfortunately, Miku gets really shafted in most of the stages, so I’m not familiar at all with what her singing voice sounds like. Here’s hoping she gets a bigger part in Pajama Drive!

But to fully appreciate Tanamin, you need to know about her personality. She likes ninjas (and seemed really excited about that AKB48 +10 episode with the ninja challenge– too bad she didn’t end up winning!), knows some of the most random words (I THINK she often says “Jambo!” which is Swahili for ‘Hello!’, and for some reason, she picked up the word ‘bohemian’ and has used it around the other girls– much to their confusion), lists “wild ideas” as one of her hobbies, and, well, she’s unique, to say the least!

Saotome Miki, “Miss Energy”

And we’ve arrived again at another one of my favorites from Team B (in case you’re curious, the order these girls in is based on a random integer generator because I’m dorky like that– except for three that are in specific places for certain reasons). Anyway, Miki is one of the most energetic dancers I’ve seen. It’s just really enertaining watching this girl, just because she really throws her all into dancing. Whenever I think of the end of the ‘Seishun Girls’ dance, I always picture Miki leaping up and down singing, ‘Love love love we are crazy girls!’ In the fan video of the performance in China, Miki totally shined in that song, it just really sticks in my mind.

Another interesting thing to note about Miki is that she may be a bit of a tomboy. She’s a fan of soccer and talked about sports in her introduction video from an AKB48 +10 episode. Other than that, I know very little about this girl. She seems really, really genuine and laid-back, which I totally love, but unfortunately, Miki isn’t one of the popular members, so we don’t get to see very much of her. I demand more Miki! She’s such a gorgeous girl, and I want to see more of her talents on stage!

Noguchi Reina, “The Airhead”

Again, the nickname is 100% loving. I haven’t seen enough of Reina to judge her much myself, but these comments about her come from what I’ve heard from other fans. She’s been described as Team B’s version of Kojima Haruna, in terms of, um, brains. A quote from her Wiki.theppn article reads, “There is said to be a ‘Noguchi disease’ at her junior high school, where people forget what they are talking about while they are talking.” Another one– “Wants to try riding on a cloud.” What I particularly like about her is that she seems to be a carefree girl who’s off in her own world– and, well, the world needs more people like that, haha! She’s also a big fan of Berryz Koubou, which gets her some points in my book. But she seems like a fun girl to be around– she’s totally out there.

As for her performances, I think they’re okay. I’m not particularly disappointed by her or anything, but she doesn’t normally stand out to me. She’s not a bad dancer at all, and as for her singing voice– I can’t say on that one, she’s been one of the unfortunate ones not to get many solo lines at all.

Matsuoka Yuki, “The Power!”

Yuki is probably one of my favorite performers in the whole group. She’s right up there with Saotome Miki in terms of her energy– in fact, she probably exceeds Miki’s energy. When she puts her heart into dancing (which is… all the time), she very easily outshines the other girls on stage. It’s quite a feat to watch! She puts on one of these huge smiles and goes out there and dances to her very limit, and even so… she never seems to run out of energy! I love watching this girl. Sometimes she can overdo the dance moves a little, but I end up far too mesmerized by her energy to even notice. As for her voice, Yuki has a surprisingly cute voice. The first time I heard her singing, I was taken aback by how cute and higher-pitched her voice was. It’s not really grating on the nerves at all, though, it’s a nice, melodic-cheerful compromise.

Not only is this girl energetic while she’s dancing, she’s energetic in her MCs, too. She’s got a very cheerful-sounding voice, and in the MC segments I’ve seen, she’s been pretty lively. Also, fans who have seen Team B shows always report that Yuki studies English, and she throws out random English phrases from time to time during the MCs (my favorite: “Empire State Building!”)

If you need some evidence of this girl’s energy– check out the video posted under Haruka’s entry above, as well as this– a performance of the song ‘Virgin love,’ again from Team B’s first stage. Yuki is just a fantastic performer in both of these.

Hirajima Natsumi, “The LOL”

I realize the nickname I gave her makes no grammatical sense, but I figured it would be most fitting for Natsumi. If you like wacky characters, then Natsumi is your girl. There have been numerous reports of this girl bouncing around on stage, twirling the wrong way in dance moves, and, well– just saying some of the most random things. What I like about Natsumi is that she never seems to take things too seriously; she seems a little more grounded than say, Reina or Miku, but she’s still totally wacky. Definitely seems to be one of the funniest members. She records videos for AKB48’s little vlog feature on their official website, and they’re always a blast. Recently, I think she was secretly filming a few of the other Team B members or something to that effect. Weird, but funny!

As for her performance, I’m generally pretty impressed with the girl. Other than the occasional mess up, she puts a lot of energy into her dancing, and as for her voice– it could be perceived as some as a bit grating, but I generally don’t mind it. It’s higher-pitched, even a little nasal, but it’s really not too bad at all. Natsumi was one of the girls who was switched from Team A to Team B, and I think she fits in just wonderfully.

Nakaya Sayaka, “The Glasses Girl”

I can’t possibly talk about Sayaka without mentioning her glasses. Sayaka’s big claim to fame is the fact that she’s the only member who wears glasses all the time (other girls wear glasses in their personal lives, or just for fashion, but Sayaka here is never seen without her glasses). But don’t focus only on her glasses! Sayaka is a really beautiful girl. I remember watching one of the AKB48 +10 episodes– that ninja competition one, in fact, and I remember being completely taken aback at how pretty she was. She had her hair pulled up, and she was just really pretty. She seems like the glamour type. Team B recently participated in a fashion show, and I think Sayaka handled herself really well there; she was a little timid on the runway, but she was definitely better than some of the other girls at handling that show. Speaking of Sayaka’s timidness, she also strikes me as probably one of the more sensitive members of the group. During the ninja competition AKB48 +10 episode, she ended up competing against Kashiwagi Yuki in a challenge– she ended up falling in the water she was trying to navigate herself over, and she screamed and shouted– understandably, when she fell in. When she climbed out, though, she just started bawling, and the other girls tried to come over and comfort her– but she was either really cold, or really upset about losing. I haven’t seen very much of her personality other than that; in candid pictures, she usually seems to be laughing and fooling around with the other girls, so she may be in the same vein as Ayaka– she’s a bit shy for the most part, but when she’s only around the other girls, she loosens up.

In Team B’s first stage, Sayaka and Kashiwagi Yuki were the two selected for the duet, ‘Kinjirareta Futari.’ The preview of that song from the official website is the only good quality sample of her voice that I have, so if you’re curious about what she sounds like, check it out here. Her voice sounds pretty nice– nice enough for a duet, definitely. I think a few of the other Team B girls rank higher in terms of their voices (namely Kashiwagi Yuki, Naru, and Katayama Haruka), but Sayaka certainly doesn’t have a bad voice. It has a very dreamy quality to it. And as for her dancing, Sayaka’s not bad there either. Her one dancing fault seems to be that she tires herself out pretty easily, but at least that lets you see that she puts a lot of effort into her dancing!

Urano Kazumi, “The Charismatic Powerhouse”

Just an FYI– I’ll be calling Kazumi ‘Cindy.’ It’s one of her nicknames, and it just feels… awkward to call this girl Kazumi, I’m just so used to using Cindy. Anyway, this girl may look sweet and cute, but folks, do NOT dismiss this girl. She’s my second favorite girl in Team B because she’s so damn impressive. On stage, she’s a good performer– a decent voice (which is actually somewhat deeper, but she has quite a good range, she can handle songs from the upbeat ‘Koi no PLAN’ to the rock-themed ‘Blue Rose’), and really strong dancing skills– but she is absolutely an explosive personality off-stage. Cindy is just… not afraid to be Cindy, and I adore it. She’s constantly wearing tiaras, is very direct, and has no qualms about waving her own flag. She has an absolutely hilarious character. Over at Stage48, Tatami Mats posted a review of a handshake event he went to, where Cindy came right out and asked him, “Why do you like Miichan and not me?” She was joking around, of course, but I just love her for picking fun at the fans and asking questions like that. I get a kick out of her attitude every time. I’ve been searching Youtube for this particular clip of Cindy absolutely shooting down a TV show host with her razor-sharp wit– it was just a fantastic sight, but unfortunately, you’ll just have to use your imagination on that one!

Cindy REALLY struck me when I was watching an (you guessed it) episode of AKB48 +10– it was a cooking challenge, an Cindy absolutely stole the entire show. The girls were separated into teams, and I have no doubt in my mind that Cindy absolutely masterminded the entire theme of her group– which was basically a giggly… maid-type concept, and that’s just… so Cindy. In the entire span of the show, she managed to take control of her team, makes the other girls call her “onee-sama,” convinces Inoue Naru to give her a massage while she was working, and picks on the other teams. She was always, always 100% with it throughout the entire span of time in that episode– it’s really amazing just how… overpowering her presence is! This is one girl who just wins at LIFE.

Oota Aika, “Team B’s Little Cutie”

This kid is just so cute. Out of all the craziness that makes up Team B, Aika seems like just a normal little kid. She’s a welcome change of pace. Recently, Aika’s been climbing up my list of favorites– thanks a lot to recent AKB48 +10 episodes where we finally get to see a little more of her personality. She just seems like a sweet kid who’s having fun with this whole idol deal. In backstage footage with other Team B members, you can find her bouncing around the room and giggling, but fans have also commented on just how witty she is for being so young whenever she’s on stage, doing the MC segments. She impressed me on the latest AKB48 +10 episode where she handled a punishment game really well– she had to drink some nasty-tasting drink, but she barely hesitated on it– and even said she liked it in the end! A good sport!

And as for this girl’s dancing and singing abilities– well, her singing voice is exactly what I expected it to sound like. You can hear a bit of her singing in the ‘Nageki no Figure’ preview on the official website– here. She’s also a pretty good dancer!

Inoue Naru, “The Sweetie”

Naru is quite an interesting case in Team B. Naru is an amazing, amazing vocalist. Second, in my opinion, only to Kashiwagi Yuki (but, of course, I’m biased there). She’s got an incredibly good voice, and they really let her shine in ‘Blue Rose.’ There’s an upload of it on Youtube, but just before you watch– I want to warn you about something in particular about Naru. Her dancing is not very good. She definitely tries, but she just can’t move like the other three girls; unfortunately, it wasn’t just a one-time fluke, because she’s generally weak in the dancing department in most performances I’ve seen. But dear lord, this girl has amazing vocals to make up for it. Also, I haven’t seen much footage of Naru recently, so it’s entirely possible that her dancing has improved. But anyway, here it is, Team B’s performance of ‘Blue Rose’:

She blows all the rest out of the water vocally there, it’s really great.

As for Naru’s personality– it’s what really made me love this girl. She seems exuberantly friendly, but at the same time, she’s got a very chill personality. It sounds weird to say, but she just seems like a genuinely good person– I’ve seen a few pictures of her hanging around with the other girls backstage and just generally being the sweet Naru I’ve seen in videos. She just seems like a really caring soul, and I love how she always pays really seems to be paying attention to the other girls during MCs with this cheery little smile on her face.

Anyway, the least I can hope for with Naru is some more chances to show off vocally. I don’t remember seeing her a whole lot in the previews for ‘Aitakatta,’ so here’s hoping for more Naru in ‘Pajama Drive!’ Her voice is just too good to be ignored!

Nakagawa Haruka, “The Fighter”

Haruka is yet another energetic performer out of Team B; one of the favorite words I’ve seen used to describe this particular girl is “insane.” People have said she “dances like she’s fighting,” and she’s been pegged as a ball of energy. After seeing her perform, and even from TV shows, I’d definitely agree with that assessment. Harugon showed off her athleticism in a recent AKB48 +10 episode, and she really seemed to be enjoying herself there. She’s really adorable, and I love how massively expressive she is. It’s hard to describe until you’ve really seen her.

Here’s a little clip of her with Team K member Akimoto Sayaka on ‘Sasuka Mania!’ — just a little glimpse at how crazy this girl is:

Once again, I’m not familiar at all with this girl’s singing voice. She was chosen as one of the Sukahira Seven for ‘Aitakatta,’ so here’s hoping that we’ll all be able to see and hear more of her when that DVD is released! Fight on, Haruka!

Yonezawa Rumi, “The Happy One”

I do have to admit that Rumi just isn’t one of my favorites, but I’ll try to do this girl justice in my little review here and base my observations more off of what other fans have said about her. Rumi has this big, infectious smile, and has some great stage presence and appeals to the audience well. What I personally like about Rumi is how I’ve seen her acting in backstage footage; when the girls are practicing their dances, she seems to pick up the steps really quickly, and keeps really focused on the task at hand. One good place to look if you want to see Rumi in action is the performance of ‘Blue Rose’ listed up in my review of Naru. While I think that Rumi can sometimes really overdo the dances when she’s on stage (see ‘Virgin love’ for some evidence of that), I think she pulls of ‘Blue Rose’ pretty well!

Saeki Mika, “The Cool One”

Saeki Mika is a very unique case because she’s the first member from AKB48’s SEED group to officially join one of the three Teams. If that isn’t enough for you, well, just look at her! She’s another girl in AKB48 with massively striking looks. You just don’t forget a face like that. Unfortunately for me, Mika has yet to leave much of an impression on me. What I’ve noticed most about her is that… her face doesn’t change from photo to photo. She very rarely smiles in photos– but hey, I haven’t seen any footage of her performing before, so she could very well liven up. At the moment, this girl remains the most mysterious Team B member for me– just because she is so new to the Team, and so little is known about the SEEDs in general.

Now that she’s a permanent member, it will be interesting to observe where this girl heads in the group. I don’t know what her personality is like, but she’s due to appear on an upcoming episode of AKB48 +10 with some of her fellow Team B girls, so we’ll have to wait and see how she turns out there!

Kashiwagi Yuki, “The Italian”

Yes, folks, I saved the very best for last. Not only is Yuki my favorite girl in Team B, she’s my favorite girl in AKB48 entirely, and one of my very favorite idols. I ended up being very lucky when I picked my favorite, because Yuki is definitely one of the more popular members in Team B, and she’s one of the Team B front girls. But that spot isn’t an arbitrary thing– this girl is total front girl material.

Yuki’s claim to fame outside AKB48 is the fact that she auditioned for Morning Musume’s 8th Generation. That’s actually where I first spotted Yuki. She was my first favorite in the audition footage; when I saw her, I thought immediately, “Oh, this girl’s in!” I was shocked when she wasn’t picked to be one of the final six finalists (she got to the round right before the final six were picked), but I wasn’t dismayed for long, because she was picked up for AKB48’s Team B in December 2006! (And I’m definitely thinking that Yuki getting picked for AKB48 instead of Morning Musume has turned out to be a MUCH better deal after all…)

So anyway, this girl immediately captivated me with her voice. This video features a clip of her singing ‘Koi ING’ at the Morning Musume auditions. One listen, and I think you’ll appreciate why I’m raving about this girl’s voice. And even if that isn’t enough, I’ll point to this preview of ‘Kinjirareta Futari’ once more (her duet with Nakaya Sayaka), this preview of ‘Koi no PLAN,’ this preview of ‘Namida no Shounan,’ and even my rip of ‘Cinderella wa damasarenai’ from Team B’s performance in China– here (or if you’d rather download it, or if Putfile’s being screwy– here). Some of Yuki’s particular solo lines in ‘Cinderella’ are at 00:57 and 2:15. Convinced yet?

If that isn’t good enough, this girl has loads of stage presence. She’s just so entertaining to watch. I’ve previously complained about her dancing looking a little stiff at times, but from watching the performance in China, I’ve realized she’s improved TREMENDOUSLY in such a short time! Her moves could still use a little work, but she’s much better than she was at the Team’s debut. When she puts her heart into dancing, Yuki can totally rock out and really move. I just love it! Most of the time, she looks so cheerful up on stage– particularly in that ‘Koi no PLAN’ preview, she really shines there.

And, on the most shallow level… she’s just so cute! The big fringe is her trademark look, and she just looks so cute with it! And– let me clear up the bit about the nickname I gave Yuki. It was actually suggested by a friend, when we were talkig about how much this girl talks with her hands! So, no– for anyone who was excited that this girl had some Italian in her, as far as I know, she doesn’t– but hey, she does have those Italian mannerisms!

Want to see more Yukirin? I’m throwing in a shameless self-plug here of a little OPV I made of Yuki when I was bored a couple of weeks back. I made it in attempt to convert more people into Yukirin fans. It’s an entertaining watch just because her personality is SO fun. It’s hard to describe because the fangirl in me will just run on with a bunch of flattering adjectives… she’s funny, cute, energetic, pretty, silly, hilarious, mesmerizing– uh, yeah. All of those and more, pretty much.

 … and after all of that atrociously long post, I hope I’ve given at least some of you a better look into what Team B is really all about. This is a good group of talented girls, and it’s about time they got some good appreciation! Team B’s first DVD officially comes out on March 26! If any of you are interested in that– here’s a link to the DVD on YesAsia. Even if you’re not interested in purchasing the DVD, I still encourage you all to support Team B in any way you can!

A MASSIVE thank you goes out to everyone over at Stage48 for all the posts over there reviewing Team B and teaching us all more about these girls!