I was tempted to entitle this post “Hana Yori Dango: Yuuka Ichijou”, but was worried that it would simply confuse folks, given the series of the same name, so I opted out. Too bad, as it does fit fairly well here.
While Orine is definitely my favorite character in AKB0048, I quite like Yuuka, too. She doesn’t get as much of a chance to stand out, as she doesn’t defy the initial expectations of her character as much as Orine does, but even as she plays within the lines, she gets to step up in her own way. I am referring, of course, to the boyfriend situation.
Nagisa must overcome her father’s objections, and for Yuuka, it is her boyfriend, Mamoru, who is categorically deadset against Yuuka leaving Lancastar to attempt to become an idol. He hates idols, he declares, although one strongly suspects he only does since this is what may take Yuuka away from him. And he tells her that he will hate her if she becomes one.
Yuuka is, understandably, upset – but she’s also determined to go through with her dreams, even if it means that Mamoru will dump her. Yuuka leaves Lancastar.
It may seem so minor, but in a medium where female characters are often shown avoiding things since their boyfriend will oppose it or become angry, its great to see Yuuka offer a firm rebuttal to that approach. And it more generally plays into the fact that AKB0048 is a show that is largely about female solidarity. Its certainly true that the girls are competitive with one another, but the vicious and over-done cruelties we see in works such as A Devil and Her Love Song are absent; Chieri may be cold and distant quite often, but she’s not putting tacks in anyone’s shoes, nor is she attempting to arrange for someone’s rape.
Yuuka and her boyfriend do meet back up again in the final episodes of the first season, and, surprise surprise, Mamoru’s come around. In fact, he’s come around so much that he’s joined the militia group that fights in support of the idols themselves! Too bad he’s not a fan of Yuuka! But she’s his favorite girl, period, even if she isn’t the favorite idol. Although given the few times he was mentioned by her after her departure from Lancastar, you get the feeling she would’ve been ok if he’d never come around…!
Either way, though, Yuuka is happily pursuing her dreams; isn’t it great that she didn’t let someone get in the way of that?