In addition to AKB48’s major announcements made this weekend (including Maeda Atsuko’s graduation and the group’s first Tokyo Dome concert), the group revealed some details about its 4th Senbatsu election, scheduled for June 6th. Like last year, the voting results will be announced at the Nippon Budokan.
In past years, the top 21 members were chosen as the “senbatsu” members, featured on one of the group’s singles, while #22 through #40 (#22 through #30 in the 1st election) served as the “under girls” and appeared on the single’s coupling tracks. Of the top 21, the top 12 were named as the “media senbatsu,” responsible for making appearances in the media to promote the single.
This year, that structure will change, as the top 16 members will be chosen as the “senbatsu” members. There will no longer be a special “media senbatsu” group, so those 16 members will all make media appearances. The “under girls” are being expanded to 48 members (#17 to #64), and those will be split into three 16-member groups for the single’s coupling tracks.
Voting tickets will be packaged with AKB48′s 26th single, “Manatsu no Sounds good!” (on sale May 23). The elected members will then appear on the group’s 27th single, which is currently untitled but is scheduled for release in August.
Counting the members of AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, and HKT48, there are currently 243 members who are eligible for the election, an increase of 93 members from last year.
Sources: Sports Hochi, Sponichi Anne, Tokyograph