AKB0048: The Power of Names and the Selfishness of Succession

Depressed Takamina

Episode 8 of AKB0048 escalates the successor drama further as the Takamina realizes her falling star to Kanata’s rising one. On the side, Megumi confronts her fellow 76th classmate Youko, who is now the current Sae and the only successor out of their class to date.

First, let’s talk about names. The Hebrews firmly believed in the power of names (that’s why God in the Old Testament never really did reveal His name, for to do that would mean that another being could have power over Him). AKB0048 isn’t as grand, but this episode strongly illustrates how important the successors’ inherited names are. In Megumi and Youko’s scene, the latter reminds the former that her name is now Sae, but Megumi refuses to acknowledge her by that name, and uses her true name instead.

Megumi and Youko (Sae)

The dynamic instantly shifts in Megumi’s favor. She has called Youko by her true name (and not the title she inherited), therefore she asserts power over her. Megumi, now having a conversation as fellow 76th classmates instead of as understudy-and-successor, lashes out at Youko, who could not assert her superiority over her. (It may also be because Youko is considerate of their old friendship.) And when Youko makes a concession, Megumi sullenly reverts back to using her current name, Sae, the name she now possesses, the name she answers to now. Clever, isn’t it? And so very passive-aggressive.

Let’s go to Takamina now. Takamina the 5th (we don’t know her original name, and such a revelation would be a major plot point should it happen) is feeling depressed over the Kiraras’ attention on Kanata. She wants to cling to the Takamina name, so that she could continue being Takamina. It’s a bitter, gnawing doubt that eats her away–as someone at the top, how does she feel about her own star falling? It’s natural in an organization (and mercilessly so for an idol group), but Takamina’s fear is all too real.

She keeps on asking herself if she deserves to inherit the original Takamina’s mantle as captain of the group, if she still deserves the Takamina name. This nearly gets her killed. As she loses consciousness, Takamina hears her name being called, and denies herself of the name. And in the context of the group, graduation means death. You leave behind your title to the next successor, leaving you as a footnote in AKB0048’s illustrious history. It’s pretty heavy stuff.

Injured Takamina

So what’s the drama here? Takamina the 5th wants to keep on being Takamina, but as long as she holds the title, Kanata the rising star will remain an understudy. Does she cling to her name tooth and nail, while snuffing out Kanata’s dream? Yukirin lectures her about how her dream is the most important, and that they aren’t magical things that provide happiness to everyone. If Takamina remains Takamina at Kanata’s expense, then so be it. Takamina the 5th must continue to wear her mantle in adhering to her dream.

This is great. Dreams are pursued fiercely by people, who have to fiercely trample others in pursuit of them. A sobering middle finger to all those shows that cheerfully advocate everyone to pursue their own dreams, while blissfully trivializing the costs?

Is there a happy resolution to all this? For all the intense drama we’re having, and the incredible mileage I get despite my low expectations of the show, I sure hope not!

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3 Responses to AKB0048: The Power of Names and the Selfishness of Succession

  1. r042 says:

    Don’t believe in me who believes in you, Takamina?

    • r042 says:

      Being serious for a moment I am interested to watch this episode now – the whole “do what you are destined to/want to” line taken by so many things is quite destructive and glossed over a lot in other anime as being, as you say, just a good thing. It is always nice to see two characters fighting for the same dream.

      • schneider says:

        More conflict is always good! Let’s see whose dream is stronger!

        I thought Kanata wanting to head out in a weaker mech was a bit of a Gunbuster moment.

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