MNL48’s Sayaka Awane has announced her graduation. In a surprise appearance in MNL48’s running show “Interactive Live”, Sayaka announced that she will graduate from the group to relocate to Japan and pursue other endeavors.
In her statement to fans, Sayaka wishes her fans to stay positive and to keep supporting MNL48 despite her exit:
“Mnloveski, sana wag kayong malungkot kahit wala na ako, hindi naman sa wala, part pa rin ako ng MNL48 pero ga-graduate na ako. Pero pwede pa rin naman nila ako makita and maging happy pill pa rin nila. Sana maging happy pa rin kayo, nandiyan naman yung mga ibang sisters ko.
Sa mga co-members ko, sisters ko, gusto ko galingan niyo pa kasi maraming nangangailangan ng happiness so gusto ko ibigay niyo yung best niyo everytime na magpeperform kayo, gusto ko ibigay niyo yung puso niyo para saknila para sulit lagi yung effort nila.”
In a statement in the group’s website, Hallohallo Entertainment (HHE) expressed gratitude for the dedication and commitment she shared and the part she played in the idol group’s growth and success.
Sayaka is the second member from the Top 48 to leave post-election, and the first voluntary departure since the group resumed its activities. Her graduation live is scheduled for June 9, 2019. Quincy Santillian also left the group last month for “personal reasons”, though she was not given a graduation event.
As with Quincy who was replaced by Ella, Sayaka’s departure will have an effect on their current rankings. However, since Sayaka was part of the Top 7 (also called Kami 7), the effect is considerable. All ranks below her will be bumped up: Ash returns to the Kami 7 (in literally the same way she came into the elite group last year), and the Under Girls center Thea enters the senbatsu. The latter is significant because Thea was supposed to be the center in the next single’s B-side. However, as part of the senbatsu, she will be regularly be included in guest appearances and performances. It will also be her first time being part of the senbatsu.
What this means is that another one of the TGC/Kenkyuusei will be promoted, and this time it is the turn of Princess Rius Briquillo. Formerly part of Team L with her step-sister Kay, Princess returns Ranked 48 and will take the place of Sayaka in Team M-II, adding another talented dancer in a very talented line-up.