Iiwake Maybe and Amina – The Beginning of the Under-Appreciation

Amina 4-45_iiwakeIn the world of Japanese idols, members in a group are not necessarily a permanent members. They join and graduate, either forcefully by management or to pursue other career outside the group. A few weeks back, my favourite member of AKB48, Satou Amina, announced her graduation to pursue a voice acting career. She became my favourite member (or “oshimen” in otaku speak) because of her underdog status, how she managed to make people notice her despite barely any support from the managers.

In tribute to her graduation announcement, I want to look at one aspect of the management’s neglect that has become a sticking point for Amina followers, her supposed lack of screentime in the PV of Iiwake Maybe (言い訳Maybe), the promotional video to the single in which, with her 8th position (out of 21) in the member’s election  (senbatsu sousenkyo, an event voted by fans to determine the composition of the single), she was expected to make some substantial appearance. This actually makes me curious whether she was really screwed off her screentime despite ranking so high or not.

Here are the rundown of synthesis based on my analysis of the PV (which can be found in details below):

Amina got marginalised pretty badly

  • Even though she came 8th, she only appears in about 8 seconds in the entire 6:12 minutes of PV, or about 2%.
  • Only one second of her appearances are in any way significant (the solo shot at ~4:35, see picture above). The other ones (4 in total, see screenshots below) are mostly background or unfocused shot of her. I don’t think I even remembered the first three screenshots until I paid more attention during this analysis.

Amin Appearance

However there are also others who were relatively ignored in this PV given their senbatsu position

  • Mariko is actually the most marginalized member given that she came 3rd but only has 31 seconds of appearance and 5 solo shots. Compare this to Acchan (#1 with 127 seconds), Yuko (#2 at 97 seconds), Mayuyu (#3 at 39 seconds) and Takamina (#4 at 67 seconds), she definitely should have had more appearance (see the table at the end of the post)

Appearance Count

  • At the very least, Amina got a solo shot, something that Tomochin, Tomomi and Erepyon did not even get. These three media senbatsu candidates (3rd, 4th and 6th most under-exposed according to the table at the end) has combined 0 solo shots in the whole PV. Similar to Amina, unless you pay attention, you will probably miss them.
  • Kitarie barely appears in the PV at all, though she gets a solo shot

On the flip side, Some members got surprising exposure from this PV

  • Aika stood out, getting as much screentime as the top 6 (especially in all those 3-gen talk parts) despite her 20th ranking (she has 34 seconds overall). She seemed to get pushed alongside Mayuyu and Yukirin
  • Sayaka also get a lot of screentime and the last shot of the PV
  • Miho also get quite a few seconds of screentime, although over two-thirds of those are background shots
  • How did Jurina, of the 19th rank, manage to be one of the 12 who got a solo shot? Maybe the fact that she is the management’s push girl has something to do with it…
  • Takamina also got lots and lots of screentime, third most after Acchan and Yuko.

CONCLUSION: Amina got screwed, but no worse than a few other members.

 In a PV like this, some people are just going to get more exposure while some more well-known members (Mariko, Tomochin) were also ignored. The resentment for Amina most likely comes from the fact that this is the first time, that Amina got visibly marginalized and was the beginning of such trend. Comparatively, the other aforementioned members (e.g. Mariko, Tomochin, Tomomi) got their share of exposure elsewhere. Amina, in her rare chance at glory, was totally denied it.

I might do Heavy Rotation and Flying Get but I just doubt Amina will have any meaningful exposure in them to draw any additional conclusion. I did not even realized she was actually in both PVs until much, much later! Maybe Kondo Koso Ecstasy will be a good one to do an analysis on, given that there will be a lot of screenshots of Amina for a change:)

I will always remember Iiwake Maybe though since it is the only single where I have any hope of seeing Amina on stage, if only so briefly, when the song is performed live.

METHODOLOGY

(note that the time referred in this article is based on the official Iiwake Maybe with pre-song drama and actual PV, totaling 6:12 minutes)

  • I went through the whole Iiwake Maybe PV, including the beginning drama part and log the members’ appearances as follows:

– Solo shot – Member is the only person on the screen
– Front shot – Member is in a shot with others but is in the foreground and is a prominent part of the shot
– Background – Member is recognizable in the shot but only visible in the background or blurred

Note that some subjective judgments were being exercised here to determine what is considered a background shot. If they are so far in the background, I just ignore them. Also I am less familiar with how Sato Yukari and Urano Kazumi look so may have undercounted their appearances (granted it is pretty insignificant away).

  • Once the information is collected, I screen through the data and remove any outliers. In this case, I only remove data point for Aika (whose 34 seconds at 20th ranking is clearly an anomaly)
  • There are two different dependent variable that I could use. One is the seconds of appearance. This is straightforward but ignore treats any appearance as the same. The second is a composite to assign different scores to solo, front and background shot. This allows me to place importance to the quality of appearance
  • I then ran different regression (linear, exponential, logarithmic, polynomial) through this set of sanitized data to try to find a predictive equation. For the regression exercise, I use ranking as my independent variable [x] and seconds of appearance Linear regression definitely does not capture the heavy appearance of the front girls and either log or polynomial give the characteristics I am looking for.
  • I settled with natural logarithm equation with R^2 of 75% because it gives the best prediction based on the results:

y = max(-76.51*ln(x) +211.35,1)

I then use this equation to predict the appearance based on their rankings

I show their over- and under-exposure by:

Exposure score = [actual composite appearance score] – [predicted composite appearance score]- The more positive the score, the more appearance seconds or front shots are given to the girl than her ranking suggests. The more negative, the less the exposure. See table below for the result:

Exposure table



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