For the last few months, I’ve hardly followed NMB at all.
That’s through no fault of NMB. To be honest, I think they’ve been changing and evolving fairly well, integrating new members, still giving them great opportunities through media. And it seems like it’s still been fun, though I decry the lack of new stages and how utterly bored everyone seems to be with them shuffling entire teams into new units and what not.
No, what’s changed was me. I don’t have the free time (or the burgeoning wads of money) from my old job, I am still getting used to this new job and learning all the time, and even just learning to live on my own, let alone on my own in a small island town in Japan has been a huge change.
I also used to say that I like idols because I like watching them grow before my very own eyes and supporting them along the way, but with this job as a teacher, I’m getting that same feeling and a little bit more when I teach my kids.
If there’s one thing I’ve missed from being a fan, it’s definitely meeting new friends and hanging out with them, sharing in the struggles of NMB, relating stories about our favorite members, constructing contrived inside jokes. I really do miss it, the problem being that since I haven’t followed NMB as much as I did for the last few months, I felt so disconnected from them, as if I didn’t know how to get along with them without it.
I loved helping people understand NMB, helping them to find their interest, reporting news, hoping that people would benefit, creating this community in which people would help each other accomplish their dreams. Too much changed with the move to Tsushima…
I would try and get in touch with people on Twitter, but it felt completely off. It didn’t feel right that I was once the person who dispensed news and now had to become the person looking for news and trying to figure out what was going on. Whenever I brought up the fact that I hadn’t followed NMB48 in a long time, it’s because I really wanted other people to help me back into it and reconnect with friends but some people just thought I was being salty.
I’ve always thought the idea of announcing “graduation” of being a fan was a bit silly. If I wanted to quit, I’d just quit, it would just naturally die out. But here I was stuck in some sort of purgatory, missing my friends but not having the time or energy (or money) to invest in NMB as I once did.
Aika announcing her graduation at this juncture is having a profound effect on me considering my disconnection to NMB for the past few months. While I chided the idea of having an oshimen in the beginning of my fandom (“Why would you pick one girl? It’s not like they just pick one fan…”) I began to realize how it grants you an identity in the community, and it’s a fun thing to stick to, to share with others. It was never a competition, a “my oshi is better than yours”, it was more like, oh, you’re the Aika fan? You’re the Kei fan? You ship FuuMiru? Things like that were such a good glue in our positive community.
So even with all these things considered, the doubt over trying to reconnect with NMB, having that oshi, that identity was something that I’d expect to last for a while. Especially someone like Aika, who I feel still hasn’t peaked and had so much more potential.
Without having that identity, and having to a carve a new niche, it makes it even harder to reconnect to the community I liked…
Since I still haven’t been to a theater show, I’ll probably apply for the graduation show and maybe pull off some miracles to be able to attend the show if I actually do get selected…
I’m definitely feeling the impact of the graduation already, and that’s more so with how I can relate to being an NMB fan now. I’m not sure if I’m ready for it to end, but if so, where do I go from here?