• Reggie Abang

HHE: MNL48 members will be reduced to 36 after 3rd General Election

(photo credits: HHE/MNL48's official Facebook page)

HalloHallo Entertainment, Inc. has come to a decision where they will momentarily cut down the number of members of MNL48 from the usual 48 to 36 after the 3rd General Election.

According to their released statement last night, HHE President Paolo Kurosawa admitted that the reason behind the cut was in order to concentrate even more on their members and independent projects, including possible creation of sub-units after the success of Baby Blue and its debut single, “Sweet Talking Sugar,” especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Moving forward, we will see more sub-units and independent projects as we focus on the members’ talents and skills. Therefore, to be able to concentrate on each member, we have arrived at an important decision. For the upcoming Third Generation, HHE has decided that MNL48 will momentarily become a 36-member girl group,” Kurosawa said. The announcement was made heading to the homestretch of the voting period, which will end on October 31.

Kurosawa also said in the statement that despite of the uncertainties brought by the pandemic, the idol group was able to do its activities including their “MNL48 Presents” digital series, livestreaming events in the local streaming service, Kumu, as well as their Virtual Handshake Event last August. “MNL48 has shown resilience during these difficult times and will continue to bring joy, music and entertainment to the fans,” he said.

Despite of the incoming change in the idol group, Kurosawa, who also the producer of MNL48, stressed they are excited for what is in stored for the group and for its fans, which included the release of its 6th single, “RIVER,” and a digital concert series “in the coming months.”

Criticisms and calls

After the announcement was made, majority of its fans voiced their reactions regarding it in their social media accounts with a mix of criticisms and calls from staying to support the idol group in these difficult times to saving several members so that they will be included in the 36 member slots in the idol group.

On Twitter, Krunchie of Selaphims, Sela Guia’s fan club, criticized the way the announcement was presented. “Did they think the other announcement like sub-units will hype us up? It’s just never a good thing when a member leaves. Hope you think about that next time,” she said on her tweet.

Former MNL48 member Trixie Tano said in her tweet that it is up to the fans if they will stay in the fandom or not while appreciating their efforts for supporting them from the start. “I’m proud of you all and I wish I can give you all hugs,” she added.

In a poetic tweet, Von Adler, one of the admins of AQL48, said that no matter what he felt after the announcement and even after the 3rd General Elections, he will stay to support the idol group. “My heart may be crippled and my spirit may be in a crestfallen state, but I made a pledge that no matter what, regarding of what fate may impose on this promising assembly of talent…I shall remain. I am here to stay,” he said.

Ian Titular also shared the same sentiment, saying in his tweet that what happened in the idol group is a reason enough for him and other fans to give their support for the girls. “With what is happening right now, the girls need all the support that they can get. (I) will stay for them,” he said.

Even the members of the idol group also voiced their opinions regarding the announcement on social media.

Team L member Thea Itona admitted that she is one of those members that were not paid attention by its management, especially in terms of training. “Isa ako sa mga hindi natuunan ng pansin. Naalala ko sinabi ni coach nung nagkaroon ako ng special training. That time doon lang namin nalaman na I can reach high notes but not stable and I've been using a wrong vocal technique the whole time. That time they taught me techniques kaya ngayon nabawasan na din yung pagkashaky ng voice ko. Inamin din nila na hindi talaga kami natutukan individually,” she said on her Facebook post.

For Team NIV's Miho Hoshino, the 1st Generation Members are the ones who deserved to be a part of the 36 and she wants her fans to decide if they want her to stay or not. “After finding out (about the announcement), iniisip ko na lang na I’ll just let you guys decide since ganito naman talaga sa AKB48 Group. Ranking depends sa votes ng fans. My twists nga lang dito sa amin,” she said in her Instagram story mentioning the different form of General Election in MNL48 where the members were forced to exit the group if they were unranked.

Team MII member Jamie Alberto denied a question from one of the fans if the idol group should be renamed into “MNL36” since they will have 36 members, saying that the “48” in “MNL48” don’t mean 48 members. “(It is) still ‘MNL48.’ ’48’ doesn’t necessary denote the number of the members in the group,” she said. She also added that she felt anxious regarding her spot in the fan polls and she doesn’t want her journey as an idol for MNL48 to end. “I still have so many visions for the group and for my idol journey. I don’t want it to end yet,” she said.

In her recent Instagram story, Gabb Skribikin said a short phrase of encouragement while sending off “virtual hugs” for everyone. “Kaya natin ito,” she said.

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