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Thorns x Roses : Story of Moriya Akane (守屋茜)

Sometime the first impression is the right one. Is it what you call love at first sight? In Moriya Akane’s case, i absolutely didn’t noticed her when Nogi’s sister group hold their first press conference. Not someone who stun you with their beauty like Shirashi Mai, or would give this cuteness vibe like Nakai Rika from NGT48. But Moriya Akane, Akanen, has unveiled herself as one of the fiercest, most well rounded character in Keyakizaka46. Her lean figure bloomed like a rose and her hate of losing is sharp, like thorns. She is the blade of Keyakizaka.

”Even if it’s life most severe, most painful thing, there will be no regrets. If i say Ok, let’s do this one more time, i will certainly do it” – Moriya Akane

There has been many hints of Akanen trait. First, in Keyakitte, Kakenai video introduction, she proudly shows off her tennis awards and certificates. In her “jibun history” (my story), she shows her old video winning a judo battle against a girl bigger her size. This girl likes to win. But was it always like that? Well not really, in a recent BUBKA interview, she said at first she wasn’t particulary mad at losing, but she changed when entering Keyakizaka.

Akanen was 17 when passing Keyakizaka audition, and as every japanese highschooler, she had to make a choice after graduation. It was a tough decision between going to the audition or going to college. While her family and friends were concerned of her choice, she didn’t wavered and took Keyakizaka audition. Since there was so much at stake, she was determined to give it her all as a member, thus explaining her “hate to lose” character. She also started to be self-aware of her apparence and professionnal attitude, learning make up or how to appeal to fan (she already knew her catchphrase). At the very debut of Silent majority, people noticed her change. “you give me a strong feeling” they said. Exactly, for akanen, it wasn’t college activities. To her, Keyakizaka is “work”.

“Akanen is the kind of girl you would think twice before approaching”

But as the fanbase grew larger, different opinions emerged. “You are kind of scary” “You are S, are you?(sadistic)” “You’re a tryhard fisher”. Akanen realized that being sharp was a double edged sword, that would put some fans off because she would look unproachable. Not only she has the beauty that makes wota think “she’s too pretty, i have 0 chance” and the attitude “if i talk to her she will feel i’m weak and i will be rejected”. As a matter of fact, she is not the easy-going type. Once again, there was a choice to make at the debut of “Sekai ni wa Ai shikanai” promotion. Either she would tone down, and hang over the cute field as a try, or she would pursue her “serious” character and definitively be recognized from it. Things have been decided during the “karai queen (spicy)” challenge when she ate a whole bowl of spicy tofu, to the point of crying right after. She doesn’t like spicy food, but she doesn’t like losing even more. For the first time, Akanen stole the show through determination.

It was a significative impact. Imaizumi Yui was known as the best singer, Sugai Yuuka had this lady personality, Neru was the most intelligent and Yurina was the Wondergirl. Despite the minor drawback, Akanen stayed true to herself and showed her ferocious competitive character. It was the best choice because no one in Keyakizaka had claimed the “strong type”. Her individuality was set in stone, and it was just the beginning. There was no guarantee it would work, but Akanen took it anyway. Because it fits her the most.

”When the time comes to do it, i’ll do it. And when i do it, i win.” – Akanen

What became an hot topic was the famous sports festival episode, when Akanen was the captain of the “serious team” against Yuuka’s team. Akanen not only displayed her natural sense of competition but was also credited as viable leader, pumping up her team spirit and lifting their morale. In a young group as Keyakizaka, a leader/sempai is often mandatory for the group cohesion. Throwing some taunts at the other team to make things funny, shaking her teammates up when they were questioning their ability to win, Joking with the MC to loosen up the tight atmosphere; once again Akanen shone in her natural environnement : competition. But what probably was the turning point was the last sprint against the second fastest member, Koyabashi Yui, where she managed to bite few meters on her but eventually lost by half a feet.

Not only you could feel from the screen she put everything on this sprint, raising the excitement to the max, but you also witnessed Akanen bursting into tears from losing to Yuipon. What could be seen as a bad loser attitude ( being fair play, you would shake hands with the winner) but in the case of Moriya, it was more of a genuine reaction for deceiving her teammates at the last second. Even though it was obvious she got paired up with the weakest members ( Yuuka’s team had Neru AND Koyabashi), even though she was like 6 meters behind, she blamed it all on herself. On her own incapacity to bring victory.

Fans felt sympathy toward Akanen and praised her strong will. The cold, hard to approach Akanen vanished to make way to Akanen, the girl who do everything with passion. Her being fired up is actually fuel for others to do their best, and her presence in Keyakizaka took another meaning.

“If it’s for my beloved teammates, i will do everything” – Moriya Akane 

She can be seen as harsch sometimes, but the one she’s the most severe with, is actually herself. Her strong will to win can be interpreted as a strong will to not disappoint those who believed in her. A strong character, is also someone people rely on. She want to be that kind of person to Keyakizaka46. During Sekai ni wa Ai shikanai, she didn’t remorse her position in second row, she accepted it. “In that place, i have a goal, a reason to move forward. “This is also a place i can learn a lot from” She said. An humility, unfamiliar with people who are self-centered. Akanen is not the kind of person who think of things as granted. She wants to earn things, with her own strength.

It paid off. In Futari Saison, she finally became front row, increasing even further her visibility and popularity during keyaki single promotion. Sugai Yuuka, who will be promoted to captain, congratulated her for her senbatsu position and wrote that Akanen is an existence that put her at ease when confronting tense moment like live performance. “Big sister” Akanen was also a significant trait that made her being loved by teammates in backstage. At the time, the girls didn’t known each other very well, especially Hirate Yurina who was the youngest. Akanen felt it was her responsability to make things easier and decided to break the ice by inviting Yurina to a meal together. Little by little everyone got along and the training room atmosphere got lively, thanks a bit to Akanen. Moriya Akane is working hard as an individual, but isn’t neglecting teammates bond, which is essential for Keyakizaka unity. Akanen truly loves the group.

“When Akanen is around, i allow myself to act like a spoiled child” – Techi

Akanen is a lethal weapon, with great use of visual, sexiness and flawless smile. But she uses her ability to protect those she loves, being a reassuring older sister when members finish rehearsal and are exhausted, being a leader when the girls are doubting. A versatile jack of all trades that allow Keyakizaka to hold it’s ground on a solid base. When you realize Moriya excel in visual but truly show her amazingness with her personality, you can’t help but be admirative. “Ah, Keyaki is in good hands with her” some fans on the internet said.

If she’s such a good leader, why isn’t she captain, you would say? Well another quality in Moriya, her “hating to lose” character doesn’t mean she crave for the spotlight as well. She has this self-awareness that holds her from having bad decision that would disturb Keyakizaka balance. Sugai Yuuka, who she’s very close to, has a refined style that may suits more as a representative. Moriya natural strictness balance well with Yuuka’s natural sweetness. Together, they make the ultimate captaincy. Moriya is definitively a girl to look forward, either it’s about her, or her interaction within the group. As we speak, she’s Tier 2 (she’s solding out round 2 of handshake event, she’s still not fans top priority) but Akanen’s potential shows no boundaries.

“If Akanen is S, does that mean her fanbase are all M? LOL” – Oda Nana

-Gocchisama