There is a new Japanese girl group that that has joined AKB48 and all of its other groups. That group is NGT48 (Niigata 48). It was announced that the group would have its own theater in Niigata Prefecture. Applications for membership into the group began on April 10, 2015 and lasted until May 18, 2015. Girls that were between the ages of 11 and 23 were eligible to apply. Note: NGT48 is the newest AKB48 associated idol group.
Photo source: http://tokyogirlsupdate.com
As of the first time that I began to cover this story, the group had four members. They are Rie Kitahara, draft members Yuka Ogino and Marina Nishigata, and Yuki Kashiwagi who joined the group in October 2015. Kashiwagi, 25, was also a member of the AKB48 sub-unit French Kiss and Nogizaka46. Photo of Yuki Kashwagi: http://www.hello-online.org.
The group would start performing in its theater on October 1, 2015. Ogino and Nishigata were drafted into the group by way of the AKB48 Draft Kaigai 2015. NGT48’s theater would open at Lovela Bandai 2 in Niigata. This announcement was made at a press conference that was held on May 24, 2015. In attendance were Kitahara and the two girls that were drafted along with NGT48’s theater director Etsuro Imamura. There was an audience of 1,100 people who were said to have cheered loudly and gave a round of applause when it was announced that the theater would open at the said place. Imamura elaborated on the reason the theater would open at Lovela Bandai 2. He said that it is very accessible and only 15 minutes away from Niigata Station. He also said that it is a town where people of different generations can come and gather. For Kashiwagi who is just 25 years old, joining another idol group will only add to her popularity and fame in Japan. She has met Japanese idol singer Rika Ishikawa, released two solo singles and become one of the most famous members of AKB48. Kashiwagi has released the solo singles Short Cake and Birthday Wedding. Kashiwagi finished in 3rd place in the 6th Senbatsu or General Election in 2014. I say this and the thing is that by their mid-20s these idols graduate and leave these groups. But Kashiwagi is still an active idol!
Kitahara said that she would like to see different people to come to the theater. It is in a fashion building so Kitahara said that she would like it to be a fashionable theater. She encouraged fans to come out and support the group. Imamura said that there were 5,850 applicants for NGT48’s first generation audition!
NGT48 is once again another group produced by Yasushi Akimoto and it becomes the 4th group to be formed inside Japan following HKT48, SKE48, and NMB48. Kitahara is the captain of Team N3 and the group’s leader. In addition to this, AKB48 has a few other similar groups that are overseas. These are SNH48 in Shanghai and JKT48 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Akimoto is a happy man having celebrated another birthday in which earlier AKB48 members like Atsuko Maeda were in attendance. Maeda attended Akimoto’s birthday in May 2015. NGT48 made its debut on January 10, 2016. Since this group has not been around for that long, their membership is still somewhat small. NGT48 now has 26 official members including 10 members that are part of the training group of girls.