• Reggie Abang

And then, there will be 36

This is now the reality MNLoves are facing en route to the MNL48 3rd General Elections -- 36 slots for the 3rd Generation members are on the line for this year’s fan polls. We all know the reason, as it is stated by HalloHallo Entertainment (HHE) in their announcement during their overhyped #MNL48SaveTheDate video package last September 30th.

As if the fan-dubbed “Death SSK” became a hard race for the idol group’s fans to save every member they knew for the 48 seats, it has became more steep now that they vote for a member not just for a possible entry to the Senbatsu or nabbing of the Center crown, but also to be one of the lucky 36.

In my maiden column, I said that the HHE have passed the Sword of Damocles to them. But now, instead of a sword hanging above the members’ heads, it turned into an axe or a scythe. It became much more grim. Even the management didn’t have any plans to retain those who might be failing to enter the 3rd Generation including establishing of a new Team Kenkyuusei or research students.

For HHE, this might be their “only” solution for cost-cutting as due to the pandemic, the company was almost paralyzed financial-wise. Movie Stars Café was closed. MNL48 had lesser activities aside from digital ones. They didn’t have plans to revive their live theater stages unlike AKB48 and their sister groups, which it should be their “life saver” if they want to keep the group financially afloat aside from the sales coming from their pre-sold “RIVER” singles and DVDs of their first live concert. I want to discuss this further in the next week’s column, but you will get my idea.

The thing is this year’s General Elections will be like last year, only harder and more emotional. And just like last year, we will not focus on a member who will be leading the idol group as its newly elected “Center Girl” and the face of the 7th single nor the other 15 who are in the Senbatsu. Rather, we will be looking at the members trying to hug each other as a sign of comfort because some of them will leave MNL48, but they can’t due to Covid-19.

Among those who might be affected to the said number shrinkage after the 3rd General Elections are the 15 girls who are the 3rd Generation Aspirants. Revealed last March 15 as part of the fan polls, these girls were included along with the members from the main group who will be wrestling for votes.

But due to the circumstances made by the pandemic, they might not able to make considering that most of the fans wanted the 1st Generation members to retain their standing as mainstays of MNL48 when they “momentary” cut down to 36 after the elections.

In my opinion, several of these ladies are worthy to be members, even if they were turned into kenkyuusei. However, HHE thought that adding them in this year’s General Elections would “sweeten up the deal” of making it to the main roster in exchange of several members to be eliminated.

I will not blame the girls considering that much like the others in the idol group, whether if she came from 1st Generation or 2nd Generation, they dream of being part of MNL48. They were just victims of an “add-and-subtract” system HHE implements every year.

If the management would think straight, they should mold them as a new Team Kenkyuusei considering that within this year, several members graduated to pursue other careers. Again, several of them have the potential to be part of the main roster if they serve their time as Research Students, and if HHE have the “focus” needed for the members’ growth.

Take care and have fun.

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