“What’s wrong with that?
We all care about those girls.
But your dream is what matters above all.”
-Yuuko Ooshima the Ninth
It would be far easier if the fifth successor to Minami Takahashi had the attitude expressed above by Yuuko Ooshima the Ninth. After all, to have a dream is inherently selfish. It’s the rare person who doesn’t stop and think on who their dream may be hurting; but, if it is truly their dream, then it’s equally rare for said individual to halt the pursuit of their dream altogether. Takamina the Fifth’s perspective, however, is a bit different thanks to her personality, or rather, the essence of her personality that put her in the position of being a successor.
Takamina the Fifth and the Role of a Captain
In AKB0048, Takamina the Fifth is the fifth successor to Minami Takahashi of the original “AKB0048.” Viewers learn that this fifth Takamina was chosen for this position partially due to supernatural means based on how close her soul or essence was to her AKB0048 namesake. To become a Takamina, the team captain, being a natural leader and a consistently hard worker are part and parcel of being her successor specifically. A Takamina embodies these traits, but to have a soul close to the original it would naturally follow that they are also character traits inherent to her line of successors.
It is precisely because of her character that Takamina the Fifth is so rattled by learning that the new successor has already been chosen, the very person whose talent and character she was going to champion: Kanata of the 75th Generation. It doesn’t help that Kanata worships the ground Takamina the Fifth walks on, now beginning to see the captain of AKB0048 as a guide and mentor. For every question that Kanata asks, every time Kanata excels, stands out, or congratulates her, the knife twists in a little deeper for Takamina the Fifth. Her very being would seemingly want to mentor and help Kanata achieve her dreams, even while knowing that she, Takamina the Fifth, is the only person standing between Kanata’s succession to AKB0048 as Takamina the Sixth. She cannot brush aside her concerns as easily as her group mate Yuuko because of the very character traits that made her a Takamina.
The Duality of Characterization in AKB0048: Development by Proxy
Characterization in this series becomes especially interesting when we, as an audience, examine how exactly we know Takamina the Fifth’s personality so well in spite of her not having all that much screen time. She is held up as the ideal leader, the captain of AKB0048, exactly like the original Minami Takahashi. However, we learn more about these character traits themselves not through throwaway lines about the original, or even Takamina the Fifth herself, but rather, through her successor Kanata.
Kanata, who we don’t know as Takamina the Sixth (even though it is apparent that this is who she will become), but were introduced to as Sonata’s hard-working and somewhat downtrodden older sister. A member of the cursed 75th Generation, Kanata benefits from the breath of fresh air that accompanies the series’s protagonists, the 77th Generation. After a few tears are shed, Kanata immerses herself in her role as captain of the understudies, taking the 77th Generation under her wing with ease. In the same episode we watch Kanata grow into her role magnificently, culminating in her pep talk to 77th Generation member Chieri, as we watch Takamina the Fifth discover that her role as a Takamina and the leader of AKB0048 has already been partially supplanted.
In other words, we’ve learned more about the essence of Minami Takahashi, and Takamina the Fifth, through Kanata’s actions and development rather than learning through Takamina the Fifth herself. It’s character development by proxy, more than suitable for a series that examines succession and the dream of becoming another person.