Love yourself!

Keyakizaka members retrospective, 2016

2016 was definitively Keyakizaka’s year. They took the idol scene by storm with powerful songs, delivering strong messages within their lyrics. One performance after another, they turned all opportunities given to them into concrete visibility to curious fans over Japan. They are now known as the group who broke through kouhaku 8 month after their debut only.

What’s remarkable is, despite being a group that promote unity through intense and packed choregraphy, many fresh traits and personalities emerge from many of them. It’s time to update their profile after one year of growth.

Imaizumi Yui

Status : Royal guard 

Type : Cute 

Special skill : Singing

Youngest sister of 5, which 4 of them are boys, “Zuumin” has captured the heart of many fans thanks to her easy going character and natural and playful personality. She is probably the best singer of the group despite her small height, and show a lot of fighting spirit to not let it be a burden (most of keyaki member are tall in japanese standard). She is, according to many interviews, a very competitive member and aim for the zero position.

She is a very lovely and funny idol that warm the atmosphere up in variety show, and i’m sure she will continue to grow as Sony management put a lot of resources to develop the group. However her ambition is a double edged sword, as it is undeniably fuel for improvement but can also be a threat for Keyakizaka unity. Someone to absolutely follow.

Shida Manaka

Status : Royal Guard

Type : Cool

Special skill : Strongest in Arm wrestling

Her atypic beauty, height and calm aura helped Shida manaka build a cool character within a cool group. This is the most popular type among female fans but also appreciated by male fans by it’s originality. This cool side may look like she’s hard to approach, but variety shows allowed fans to see a softer side of her over the year, making her even more loveable. Thanks to Keyakizaka focus on cool song, this is where she truly shines, especially in “Kataru nara, Mirai wo”.

Manaka may be slightly below the group average in singing and dancing, but definitively has this potential in visual and modelling that reminds fan’s that Keyakizaka is still a sister group of Nogizaka. Also, Keyaki drama showed that Manaka fit the “bad girl” role perfectly and we can see it exploited in the future.

Sugai Yuuka

Status : Royal guard

Type : Elegant

Skill : Horsemanship

Yuuka surprised everyone when it was revealed in TV show that she usually spends her vacation in Karuizawa ( most luxuous location where rich people spend their holiday to) sealing her “oujou-sama” character (princess-like) for fans and member alike. Her elegant and gracious silhouette as well as a polite, soft way to talk to others makes her the unofficial captain of Keyakizaka. Don’t let her humble character fool you, as when it comes to efficiently introduce Keyaki to big music shows like Music Station, she is in total control, making her very reliable.

Adding to her Oujou-sama character ( which is a strength for sure) she has this slightly ponkotsu (fail) character, bringing a comical side to each of her appearance in Variety show. Unfortunately her quiet trait might be a burden to be qualified for the 0 position, but she has definitively become one of the pillar of this ever-growing group

Watanabe Rika

Status : Royal guard

Status : Ponkotsu (fail) god

Special skill : involuntarily create hilarious situations

Hands down the most awkward member of Keyakizaka, this feeling is enhanced as you realize she is also the oldest of the group. In fact, she might be a child trapped in a adult body. But this is also this extreme clumsiness that makes her attractive, and is literally a goldmine for MC hosts to tease her on everything, starting a laughter in the group each time. Airhead is an understatement, but she also showed to be very sensitive and kind-hearted, winning the support of many fans.

Her unique personality make up for her lack of dancing and singing ability. Her presence in Keyakizaka is necessary to keep a wide range of character. Diversity is wealth, and Rika is probably one of the member remembered the most by fans. But because her personality is extreme, it might also means she’s the least capable to change.

Kobayashi Yui

Status : Royal guard

Type : Quiet

Special skill : Instrumentals

Along with Imaizumi Yui she forms Yuichanzu, a talented duo who show great chemistry in soft song and ballad. She is a very good singer, and perhaps the best musician of Keyakizaka. Her peaceful character oppose her teammate zuumin cheerful personality, making the duo quite complementary. She express her feeling best in music, something rare in idol entertainment these days. Being quiet in variety show might look like a weakness, but only her and Zuumin are able to create songs like Bob dylan wo kaesanai and Shibuyagawa, indispensable to develop a different side from Keyaki cool image.

She is a force to be reckoned with. the power to make B-sides great.

Moriya Akane

Status : Candidate to Royal guard

Type : Gachi ( Serious)

Special skill : fastest of the group

I have to admit i noticed Akane only recently thanks to Keyakitte, Kakenai? sports episodes. Very competitive, she cried after having lost to track and field challenge even though it was her specialty. However, her upset doesn’t come from being beaten, but more because her team victory relied on her performance and she failed to live up expectation. She actually has a noble character, showed many times like when cheering for her teammates during rope pulling as well

While the idol genre promoted in essence cute and clumsy girl, Moriyak Akane show the complete opposite being confident in variety show and expressing lot of willpower and determination, earning the member and fan respect. Oh, and she has a beautiful smile.

Oda Nana

Status : Promising member

Type : Funny

Special skill : comfortable in Variety

Oda Nana probably isn’t the cutest, nor the best singer of the group, but certainly earned her place among her comrades by bringing the essential “boke” and “tsukkomi” aspect to keyakizaka. Thanks to her quick capability of adaptation and sharp tongue, Oda Nana is able to read the atmosphere during variety show and make the best ouf of it ( dixit her comedy challenge with Watanabe Rika, or the skit challenge). She also have a motherly character that proved to be very important for a group stability, especially Keyakizaka who still are Rookie.

Watanabe Rika and her will make the perfect comedy duo in the future and i’m sure she will build a fanbase thanks to the positive influence she’s bringing to Keyaki.

Watanabe Risa

Status : Royal guard

Type : Cool

Special skill : Fashionable

Shida manaka and her form “ZA Cool” duo, the cool reference in Keyakizaka. She isn’t someone who naturally show her emotion but her calm aura makes fans comfortable. Having good results in sports, she feels like a jack of all trade but master of none. However her noticeable change in appearance ( haircut, hair color) helped her stand out more these days.

She would benefits a lot from being more active in front, as her current popularity being paired with Shida Manaka can wear off without significant change. Modeling is a possibility. Has a nice smile

Uemura Rina

Status : candidate to Royal guard

Type : Cute

Special skill : can play trumpet

For those who are familiar with the 48group, i’m sure Uemura Rina recalled many fans of Watanabe Mayu when she was young. thin figure, wide smile, big eyes and long hair. In a cool environnment like Keyakizaka, being cute can turn very quickly to an advantage, even more as Uemura Rina is cuter than cute. However her shy type doesn’t help her stand out in a group where there’s a lot of strong individuality.

Her cuteness alone is a tool for great potential. She has 2 option, either she develop her personality herself to make fans more encline to know more about her, or she let management create a small universe around her and make her stand out. Keyaki is still a young group and the first option might benefit her more in long term. She showed creativity in Individual bonus PV and i’m confident in her success.

Suzumoto Miyu

Status : Candidate to Royal guard

Type : serious

Skill : dancing

She is the best dancer of Keyakizaka, and a fast learner. She doesn’t show her emotion a lot but is encouraged to, because it was revealed backstage that Suzumoto Miyu was in fact a high-tension/reaction member. Her dedication to dance performance earned her praise from MC host and dance teacher alike. She also showed lot of creativity and smart direction in her individual bonus PV, making her a member of great potential with already many abilities up her sleeves. Unfortunately, keyakizaka choregraphy focus on dance group and doesn’t allow Miyu to release her full potential, and somehow prevent her access to the royal guard status.

When the time where she open up herself more or Management allows dance solo in their choregraphy will come, we can be sure that Suzumoto Miyu will grasp the chance to amaze people with her skills.

Ozeki Rika

Status : Promising member

Type : Funny

Special skill : instinctively funny

Watanabe Rika is funny without realizing it, while Ozeki is perfectly aware of her funny potential and is making the best out of it. During Keyabingo ( trying to be sexy) or Keyakitte Kakenai (trying to run), even her individual bonus PV ( wrestling big guys), anything is pretext to create a comic situation. Her small, almost plain, girl’s next door look is completely overshadowed by her comic instinct. Oda Nana and her are the mold to develop Keyakizaka’s funny side, something crucial in order to reach national level.

She has a card to play, and even if she doesn’t sold out all her slots in handshake i can’t see people being indifferent to her crazy personality. As long as variety show exist, Ozeki Rika will grow stronger and funnier.

Harada Aoi

Status : Promising member

Type : Cute

Special skill : smart

In a cool environment, cute turn to be an advantage and Harada Aoi benefit from it. She has a small face, is short and display a wide smile in almost any situation. She is one of the most orthodox of all member of Keyakizaka. But that doesn’t mean she is only cute or clumsy. She is actually quite smart looking at her individual bonus PV. An Hard working, cheerful idol will always be appreciated by fans, and Aoi help Keyakizaka to hold on solid grounds.

It’s hard to grasp Aoi future development in Keyakizaka as this group has an abnormal amount of strong individualities, but the group showed they are capable to reach many different theme. There will always be opportunity.

Nagahama Neru

Status : Candidate to godhood

Type : Cute

Special skill : Cooking

Neru had a particuliar path before joining Keyakizaka; she auditioned to Keyakizaka without her parents consent to challenge herself and get out of her everyday life. At her surprise she passed and decided to take the final audition seriously. But her parents forbidden her to continue any further and she was sent back home. However Sony management saw in her a big potential and convinced Neru’s parent to give her a chance by inviting them to a Nogizaka concert… and it worked!

Neru is cute. She has this endearing, sweet, kind, warm atmosphere surrounding her putting people at peace. She showed a lot of determination, confronting her parents to realize her dream. She’s comfortable in variety show and has good interaction with MC host. She showed great acting ability (role very different from her nature) in Keyakizaka early drama. She’s also very smart as her participation to a game show helped her team win 10 million yen (she answered a very hard question). She also earned a honor prize in cooking.

All in All, Neru has almost all the qualities that define a good idol. It isn’t surprising she’s immensely popular in handshake ( fans report 3 hours queue in her lane). What’s frightening is that she can embodies half of Keyakizaka by opposing the main cool image with a softer, cute side. Her potential can also be increased as she lead Hiragana Keyaki, the group second gen. Behind this cute face hide a capable rival. Her rival.

Hirate Yurina

Status : God

Type : Data not found

Skill : the skill to have all skill

Last but not least, the Ace of Keyakizaka, Hirate Yurina, 15. Idol history has shown that members can ascend to national recognition when emitting the center Aura. In her time, Seiko matsuda had it. Goto Maki had it, and not that long ago, Maeda Atsuko had it. An idol glowing, bathing fans of her light and presence.

Yurina is different. Her stare pierce through your own body, her stance makes her look Irremovable. When she dances, it feels like she’s possessed by the great spirit. Her mysterious aura makes her almost unfathomable. She can either embodies the void ( Yamanotesen) or the storm ( Otona wa shinjite kurenai). She’s a mystery that draws you, like hypnotized by something you don’t understand. She’s the center of darkness.

As an unreachable individual, it would probably repell some fans, but she most likely fascinate general audience as she is intense. It’s true that core fans are important to build a group popularity, but national level can’t be achieved without someone to attract them at first glance. Yurina specifically trigger this emotion on people.

Yurina has blown the concept of idol to set up a new order, without compromising the highest level of performance. The cool image of Keyakizaka has been solely built on her persona alone. This is such a risky deal to bet everything on one person alone ( as when someone is uncompetent the whole system fall apart), but the truth is that the reward was too good to pass by: The opportunity to be different from any other idol group.

Following Keyakizaka feels like an adventure, brought by Techi’s unique charisma. 2016 felt so intense because Yurina answered the equation between insane amount of resources and limitless potential.

What does 2017 have in store? Which height can keyaki possibly reach after getting into Kouhaku? Can someone challenge Hirate Yurina? What’s sure is that i will be in first row to witness it. The wind of change.