Watanabe Mayu Last Theater [AKB48 渡辺麻友 171226]
Yui’s letter translation: Breeze
At the final interview of my audition, I was asked which member I admire the most. My answer was Watanabe Mayu.
Mayu-san was someone I looked up to since before I joined AKB, and even now my feelings haven’t changed at all.
I joined Shinoda team A in the shuffle that followed Maeda-san’s graduation. That was the first time I was in the same team as Mayu-san. Because you were always in team B, your move to A was surprising to both the members and the fans. At the same time, some of your generation mates were moved to sister groups in the shuffle, Mayu-san probably felt uneasy as well. In the new team A, many young members were gathered under the leadership of Shinoda-san and Takamina-san, and as the core members of the team, Mayu-san and I worked to build a new team together. Thinking back now, it was a wonderful memory.
Then after Shinoda-san’s graduation, I was appointed the next team captain, and the team became Yokoyama A. It was my first time as team captain, and I worried whether I am up to the task. I was inspired to work hard by Mayu-san’s gentle attitude to kouhai, and the way you strove to lead us forward as team A’s center. The experience of working together with the members, taking their opinions into account to move the team forward, became a firm foundation for my later work as soukantoku. Mayu-san always told me back then with your shining smile, “Yokoyama A is a really great team!” Your words became like a protective charm to me.
Although I am generally a positive-thinking person and don’t tend to worry too much, during the Request Hour concerts that took place soon after I became general manager, whether the MCs or other things, nothing was going well and I cried every day backstage and at home. Just then Mayu-san wrote on her Twitter, “The socks I borrowed from the costume department looked familiar. Turned out it was Saga perfecture’s Happy Sonrisa. Saga aru aru. Good morning.” Although people were probably really confused, Mayu-san, who rarely updates her social media accounts, posted the “aru aru” tagline I always used to cheer me up. Mayu-san would use little details like that to support the members, letting me know that many people are cheering me on. Along with support from other members, I was able to get through that time.
Although Mayu-san is not skilled at communicating with kouhai with words, you did criticize us once. That was during the Universal Studios Japan live. That left a tremendous impact on me. After that, staff told us that there were tickets left over for the USJ live. Mayu-san came over to tell me, “Yui-chan, let’s go hand out the tickets.” With the assistance of staff and friends, we were able to hand out the tickets and perform to a full house. Because of the hard work of our senpais, our theater performances were always sold out. We learned from the USJ live that we still have a ways to go. Mayu-san taught us how to face these situations.
When you selected young members for your graduation concert, you passed on your hope that they will carry AKB forward from now on. After many lessons where you scolded that “if you keep going on like this, you won’t be able to stand on the stage”, on the day of the final practice, we finally received the go-ahead from Mayu-san, “it’ll be alright if it’s like this.”
“Do not be brought down by obstacles you face in reality, but keep facing forward and head towards your future,” that was an important lesson Mayu-san taught me.
Many young members among Mayu-san’s many kouhais from back then have now become core members of the group. As I said at your graduation concert, watching the back of Mayu-san who always believed in herself, we kouhai members walked together behind you to today. Your high self-awareness as an idol, your way of facing the public as a center, we would like to work hard to succeed your example.
The members that are here right now will work together to preserve the group and continue onwards. Our goal is to hold a concert at Tokyo Dome once more, each member in her own style, and to witness the view there once again along with the fans. I hope you will come to watch us once again as a wonderful actress. Although Mayu-san is going to graduate, please continue to support us and we will work hard to answer your support.
Mayu-san, truly, thank you for your hard work in these 11 years. Please take care of yourself from now on. And finally, please let me say this from my heart, and from the hearts of the fans, members and staff:
“Mayuyu no yume ga kanaimasu you ni” (Let Mayuyu’s dream come true)
AKB48 General Manager, Yokoyama Yui