38-year-old AKB48 member announces graduation in new CM

Earlier this year, top idol group AKB48 added 37-year-old (at the time) mother of two Mariko Tsukamoto as part of their crossover campaign with Japanese snack brand Glico.

The campaign sought an individual over the age of 30 to add to the AKB48 lineup in order to appeal to an adult crowd. She beat out over 5,000 applicants including former Morning Musume member Sayaka Ichii, an Atsuko Maeda impersonator and an 82-year old woman.

She was expected to carry out all the typical duties of an AKB48 member: theater shows, concerts, TV appearances, handshake events, etc. Although there was a huge age difference, she was able to match the rest of the girls’ energy at her debut stage show this Wednesday where she also celebrated her 38th birthday.

But like all members, she had to realize when her time was up and ultimately announced in a new CM for Glico’s Papico that she will be graduating after being in the group for only four short months.

Tsukamato will leave the group August 31st.

  • Comments

    • indraakueria

      What a random way to say you’re leaving a group.

    • Erin

      I know I was being idealistic but I actually hoped this would change something. Like for example stop making AKB-members graduate only because they are ‘too old’ at the age of 20 or whatever. She looks SO gorgeous at the age of 38 and I wouldn’t have minded at all if she had stayed with them for a few years. The fact that they make her leave again after such a short amount of time saddens me. Why not use this opportunity to show that even 38-year-olds can be hot and amazing and sing well and be female idols etc.? I would have liked that.

      • Ahmed the talking Felafel

        Considering that members like Mariko have been in the group until the age of 27 and even Yuko is nearing 26, I don’t understand where you get that members are “””forced””” to “graduate only because they are too old at the age of 20 or whatever”. If anything when members get to that age is where the real promotion begins.
        Also, you seem to be too new to remember SDN48.

        • m45hr0

          Ehh…didn’t they created SDN8 for the older members? Mariko and Kojiharu still had a youthful look, but Meetan? Yukarin? Nontii? They didn’t look too idolish

      • sonatasy

        She didn’t graduate cos she was too old. She was chosen to be an adult AKB member for a limited period of time. It was all part of the terms and conditions in exchange for this Papico CM. Anyway she is a mother of 2 and there’s no way she can do this long-term.

    • poop

      wtf was the point of joining

      • Aiyuppy

        this was meant to be temporary.

      • Crystina

        just for Glico’s Papico CM

      • Ahmed the talking Felafel

        Campaign for Glico’s Papico, of which AKB was already an official partner for some time. They were looking for a new image model for the new commercial targeting an adult demographics (Papico is apparently aimed just at children…?) therefore they decided to hold an audition for a 30+ yo personality (married or not, former professional or not it doesn’t matter) to be the center of the promotion.
        Famous applicants included Kintaro, Sayaka Iichi, Mami Nakazato, Mikako Takahashi, Hina Sakurai, etc.. who all got turned down at various stages of the audition.

        The position was meant to be temporary since the start and is supposed to last only 4 months just for the time that the promotion is running, as some said before the contract ends by end of August. Other than being featured in the song that’ll play in the commercial there was also the promise of taking part in some of the group activities in the meantime as an added benefit, which is why he got to participate in some episodes of AKBingo as well as HS events and some lives.

        All of this was written on Glico’s website inside the terms and conditions of the audition anyway, so it’s really nothing new.

        Did this clear up your misunderstandings?

        • poop

          this is the first i’ve heard of it because im not interested in akb, and the whole concept of temporarily joining a girlgroup sounds silly to me

          • sonatasy

            It’s not the first time. They created a virtual member previously for another CM, by combining the facial features of existing members. Fans were guessing who that newcomer is, only to find out she’s CG-ed. Commercial companies want to ride on AKB’s fame and AKB wants to excite their fans once in a while. I don’t see how it’s silly at all.

            • poop

              ooooh thats even sillier

    • Rim1789

      Oww I will miss Mariri. She was so cute

    • Hephamyst

      It was known from the first day that the winner of Otona AKB48 Audition would be part of the group only for few months and she would be graduated on 31st August.

    • Mita J

      Gimmick or not I think this was really cool of them to do. Inspiring to see someone who’s “up there” in age like myself be given a chance in a group like this. The idol industry is incredibly ageist.

      MAX is a tad older than most girl groups but they have the best music. Us grown women can still rock!

    • Crystina

      I’ll miss her though,she was so fun in AKBINGO! & l love Oshiete Mommy! :)

    • Randomgirl97

      mmm..i never knew someone that old joined akb48 o.O oh well wish her the best

    • iGleaux

      Dude she’s so freaking pretty.

    • Cate

      she was in the group for 5 minutes! I really liked the idea…

    • NaraSica

      She’s really pretty!

    • Sashiko48

      She was great !!! In spite of her age, she totally fitted in the group.

    • Miko

      I thought she was staying until December, but okay.