Mayu Watanabe

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Mayu Watanabe
渡辺 麻友
Watanabe in 2016
Watanabe in 2016
Background information
Also known asMayuyu (まゆゆ)
Born (1994-03-26) March 26, 1994 (age 28)
OriginSaitama Prefecture, Japan
Years active2006–2020
LabelsSony Music (solo)

Mayu Watanabe (渡辺 麻友, Watanabe Mayu, born March 26, 1994) is a Japanese former idol, singer, actress, and former member of the Japanese idol girl group AKB48 under Team B. In the annual AKB48 General Elections event, she had consistently been voted by fans to rank among the group's top members. She has released five solo singles, many of which have peaked in the top ten in the Oricon charts, and one solo album. She left the group on the last day of 2017 and on the first day of 2018 and pursued as an acting career until her retirement from the entertainment industry in June 2020.[1]



Watanabe auditioned for AKB48's 3rd generation and was placed in the newly formed Team B, in which she had been the face of since formation. Her official nickname, Mayuyu, was coined by then fellow member Rumi Yonezawa.[2] Her selection on "Bingo!" marked the first appearance of a Team B member in an AKB48 single title track. Except when the lineups were determined by rock-paper-scissors tournaments, she has appeared on all the A-sides for the group's singles since then.

In 2009, she placed fourth overall in the group's first general election to determine the line-up for the group's 13th single.[3] She placed fifth overall the next year for the group's 17th single.[4][5]

She appeared on the cover of the December 2010 issue of UP to boy magazine together with Airi Suzuki from Cute. That was the first gravure collaboration between Hello! Project and AKB48.[6]

On May 13, 2011 she released her photo book, Mayuyu. She commented that the book "is filled with a lot of expressions that I haven't shown until now, it's a book I'm really pleased with!" Regarding her cover picture, she said, "Despite being embarrassed, I did my best on the front cover, so I want a lot of people to look at it!"[7] For AKB48's general election in 2011, Watanabe placed fifth overall.[8]

In 2012, Watanabe got her first lead role in the Japanese TV drama Saba Doru, where she played a 38-year-old high school teacher who is hated by her pupils, whilst having a hidden life as the highly popular idol Mayu Watanabe, based on her real-life self. On February 29, Watanabe released her debut solo single, "Synchro Tokimeki", which is also the opening theme for the drama.[9]

Watanabe participated as a voice actress in the anime series AKB0048.[10] In the anime, she plays a main character Chieri Sono,[11] and is part of the AKB48 subgroup NO NAME, which sings the opening and ending themes for the series. The series features a supporting character, Mayu Watanabe Mark 3, which is modeled after her likeness, and is voiced by Yukari Tamura. She reprised her role as Chieri Sono for the series' second season which aired in 2013.

Watanabe ranked second overall at the 2012 AKB48 general elections with 72,574 votes.[12][13] On August 24, during the group's reorganization announcement at the AKB48's Tokyo Dome concert, she was moved from Team B to Team A.[14]

On July 25, she released her second solo single, "Otona Jellybeans"[15] which reached number three on the Oricon weekly chart.[16] Her third solo single "Hikaru Monotachi" was released on November 21, 2012, and reached number one in the Oricon singles chart. The single was released in five versions, including one that has an illustration book. Her B-side "Sayonara no Hashi" was the theme song to the anime film Nerawareta Gakuen for which she voiced one of the lead characters. In July 2013, she released her fourth solo single. "Rappa Renshūchū". A contest was held to determine the cover artwork for one of its editions.[17]

Meanwhile, in AKB48, she received her first center position on the group's 30th single "So Long!", which was released on February 20, 2013.[18] On April 19, she released her second photobook Seifuku Zukan Saigo no Seifuku. In the AKB48 election for the members for their 32nd major label single, she placed third overall with 101,210 votes.[19]

In 2014, Watanabe become a regular on the television show Utage!, and semi-regular on the TV show Renai Sosenkyo. In AKB48, she was transferred from Team A to Team B in the "Daisokaku Matsuri". She performed an hour-long solo live concert at AKB48's Natsu matsuri. In the elections to determine the member line-up for AKB48's 37th major label single, she placed first, with 159,854 votes. Thus, she took centre position for the song "Kokoro no Placard".[20]

In 2015, Watanabe received her first leading role in a prime-time TV drama, Tatakau! Shoten Girl, broadcast by Fuji TV and Kansai TV. This drama aired from April 2015, at 10 pm.[21] The theme song for this drama, "Deai no Tsuzuki", was sung by Watanabe, and was also released as her fifth solo single on June 10, 2015.[22] She held solo live concerts to support the single on September 19. In 2015, a web poll conducted by My Navi Student declared her the second Cutest Idol from both the men's choices and women's choices lists, behind Kanna Hashimoto of the idol group Rev. from DVL.[23]

On October 26, 2016, Watanabe released her third photobook "Shiranai uchi ni".[24]

On June 17, 2017, Watanabe announced at the 9th General Election she will graduate from the group.[25] On October 31, Watanabe had her graduation concert.[26] Later she had her last handshake on November 18, 2017.[27] She performed at the AKB48 theatre for the last time on December 26, 2017.[28] She sang and performed on the stage of the "68th NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen" on December 31, 2017, and it was her last activity as a member of AKB48.[29]

AKB48 General Elections[edit]

the results of annual ranking[30]

  • Ranked 4th in the 2009 General Election (1st)
  • Ranked 5th in the 2010 General Election (2nd)
  • Ranked 5th in the 2011 General Election (3rd)
  • Ranked 2nd in the 2012 General Election (4th)
  • Ranked 3rd in the 2013 General Election (5th)
  • Ranked 1st in the 2014 General Election (6th)
  • Ranked 3rd in the 2015 General Election (7th)
  • Ranked 2nd in the 2016 General Election (8th)
  • Ranked 2nd in the 2017 General Election (9th)


In January 2018, it was announced that Watanabe would play the titular character in the Japanese production of the Amélie adapted from the movie of the same title. The production ran from May 18 to June 3 at the Galaxy Theater in Shinagawa, Tokyo, and June 7–10 at the Morinomiya Piloti Hall in Osaka.[31]

In April 2018, Watanabe had her first drama post-AKB48 titled Gan Shoumetsu no Wana ~Kanzen Kankai no Nazo~ (がん消滅の罠 ~完全寛解の謎~) where she played an insurance investigator.[32]

In August 2018, Watanabe starred in the special drama Meibugyou! Tooyama no Kinshirou (名奉行!遠山の金四郎), a continuation from the same series in 2017.[33]

Following two special dramas, Watanabe then had the lead role in a late-night drama Itsuka Kono Ame ga Yamu Hi Made (いつかこの雨がやむ日まで) in August 2018. Her character, Hikari, was a girl whose dream was to become a musical actress, but got her dreams smashed when her brother supposedly committed murder.[34]

In late 2018, Watanabe also endorsed the brand Yakult. The commercial was directed by Ikeda Kazumasa who has directed music videos for Keyakizaka46 and Nogizaka46, while choreography was by Sasao Isao who choreographed one of Keyakizaka46's singles. The commercial also features some 33 professional dancers and performers including Spinboy Aichi, SORI and HICKY of the dance team SHIFFLE!! among others.[35]

Watanabe also guested several music shows, namely Utacon and UTAGE. In Utacon, she sang musical songs, including collaborations with several famed musical actors.[36]

Towards the end of 2018, Watanabe was named the ambassador for JAL Honolulu Marathon.[37]

On June 1, 2020, Production Ogi announced her retirement from the entertainment industry due to health reasons.[38] Her website was terminated amicably on the same day.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Tokyo Mode describes Watanabe as a girl who used to be an "otaku obsessed with illustrations, anime, and special effects shows".[40] Her public appearances are often accompanied by life-sized animated characters and many fans wear such costumes at her meet-and-greet events.[41][42] In several episodes of the AKB48 variety show AKBingo!, she demonstrated her specialty of drawing various manga characters in seconds.[43] She also unofficially endorsed the character Pompompurin for the 30th Sanrio Character Awards in 2015.[41]

She is a musical theater enthusiast and attends performances both in Japan and overseas.[31] She has also performed with the all-female troupe Takarazuka Revue.


Solo singles[edit]

Year No. Title Release date Chart position Sales



2012 1 "Synchro Tokimeki" (シンクロときめき) February 29, 2012 (2012-02-29) 2 2 9 123,237 158,884
2 "Otona Jellybeans" (大人ジェリービーンズ) July 25, 2012 (2012-07-25) 3 3 9 14 87,993 109,309
3 "Hikaru Monotachi" (ヒカルものたち) November 21, 2012 (2012-11-21) 1 3 91,907 122,381
2013 4 "Rappa Renshūchū" (ラッパ練習中) July 10, 2013 (2013-07-10) 3 5 67,329 95,379
2015 5 "Deai no Tsuzuki" (出逢いの続き) June 10, 2015 (2015-06-10) 2 3 48,240 -

* RIAJ Digital Track Chart was established in April 2009 and cancelled in July 2012.

Solo albums[edit]

Year Title Chart position
Oricon Weekly
Albums Chart[44]
Billboard Japan
Hot 100[45]
2017 Best Regards! 5  


Year No. Title Role[48] Notes
2007 4 "Bingo!" A-side First single with Team B.
5 "Boku no Taiyō" A-side
6 "Yūhi o Miteiru ka?" A-side
2008 7 "Romance, Irane" A-side
8 "Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008" A-side
9 "Baby! Baby! Baby!" A-side
10 "Ōgoe Diamond" A-side
2009 11 "10nen Sakura" A-side Also sang on "Sakurairo no Sora no Shita de"
12 "Namida Surprise!" A-side
13 "Iiwake Maybe" A-side Ranked 4th in 2009 General Election.
14 "River" A-side
2010 15 "Sakura no Shiori" A-side Also sang on "Majisuka Rock 'n' Roll".
16 "Ponytail to Shushu" A-side Also sang on "Majijo Teppen Blues".
17 "Heavy Rotation" A-side Ranked 5th in 2010 General Election. Also sang on "Yasai Sisters" and "Lucky Seven"
18 "Beginner" A-side
19 "Chance no Junban" B-side Did not sing on title track; lineup was determined by rock-paper-scissors tournament.[49] Sang on "Yoyakushita Christmas", and "Love Jump" (as Team B)
2011 20 "Sakura no Ki ni Narō" A-side
"Dareka no Tame ni – What can I do for someone?" charity single
21 "Everyday, Katyusha" A-side Also sang on "Korekara Wonderland" and "Yankee Soul".
22 "Flying Get" A-side Ranked 5th in 2011 General Election. Also sang on "Seishun to Kizukanai Mama", "Ice no Kuchizuke", "Yasai Uranai"
23 "Kaze wa Fuiteiru" A-side
24 "Ue kara Mariko" B-side Did not sing on title track; lineup was determined by rock-paper-scissors tournament.[50][51][52] Sang on "Noel no Yoru", and "Yobisute Fantasy" (as Team B)
2012 25 "Give Me Five!" A-side (Baby Blossom) Played keyboard in Baby Blossom. Also sang on "Hitsujikai no Tabi".
26 "Manatsu no Sounds Good!" A-side Center Also sang on "Chōdai, Darling!"and "Kimi no Tame ni Boku wa...".[48]
27 "Gingham Check" A-side Ranked 2nd in 2012 General Election. Also sang on "Yume no Kawa".
28 "Uza" A-side Also sang on "Kodoku na Hoshizora".
29 "Eien Pressure" B-side Did not sing on title track; lineup was determined by rock-paper-scissors tournament. Also sang on "Totteoki Christmas" and "Eien Yori Tsuzuku You ni" as OKL48. First single as member of Team A.
2013 30 "So Long!" A-side, Center[18] Also sang on "Ruby".
31 "Sayonara Crawl" A-side, Center This single had four centers.[53]
32 "Koi Suru Fortune Cookie" A-side Ranked 3rd in 2013 General Election.[19]
33 "Heart Electric" A-side In main lineup with the nickname Elizabeth.[54] Also sang on "Kisu made Countdown" as Team A.
34 "Suzukake no Ki no Michi de "Kimi no Hohoemi o Yume ni Miru" to Itte Shimattara Bokutachi no Kankei wa Dō Kawatte Shimau no ka, Bokunari ni Nan-nichi ka Kangaeta Ue de no Yaya Kihazukashii Ketsuron no Yō na Mono" B-side Did not sing on title track; lineup was determined by rock-paper-scissors tournament.[55] Sang on "Mosh & Dive".[56] Sang on "Party is Over".
2014 35 "Mae Shika Mukanee" A-side
36 "Labrador Retriever" A-side, Center Also sang on "Kyou Made no Melody" and "B Garden"
37 "Kokoro no Placard" A-side, Center Ranked 1st in 2014 General Election. Also sang on "Sailor Zombie" as Milk Planet and "Oshiete Mommy".
38 "Kibouteki Refrain" A-side, Center Center performer along with Sakura Miyawaki.[57] Also sang on "Loneliness Club".
2015 39 "Green Flash" A-side Also sang "Haru no Hikari Chikadzuita Natsu" and "Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari"[58][59][60]
40 "Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai" A-side Also sang "Barebare Bushi" and "Kimi no Dai-Ni Shou"
41 "Halloween Night" A-side Ranked 3rd in 2015 General Election. Also sang on "Ippome Ondo"
42 "Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby" A-Side Also sang on "365 Nichi no Kamihikouki" as Asa ga Kita Senbatsu, "Senaka Kotoba", and "Kin no Hane wo Motsu Hito yo" as Team B.
2016 43 "Kimi wa Melody" A-side Marked as the 10th Anniversary Single.
44 "Tsubasa wa Iranai" A-side Sang on "Koi o Suru to Baka o Miru" as Team B.
45 "LOVE TRIP / Shiawase wo Wakenasai" A-side Also sang on "Hikari to Kage no Hibi" and "Black Flower".
46 "High Tension" A-side
2017 47 "Shoot Sign" A-side Also sang on "Kanashii Uta wo Kikitaku Natta" as MayuYukirn.
48 "Negaigoto no Mochigusare" A-side Also sang on "Maebure" which she is the Center.
49 "#Sukinanda" A-side Ranked 2nd in 2017 General Election.
50 "11gatsu no Anklet" A-side, Center Last single to participate. Also sang on "Sayonara de Owaru Wake Janai" which is her graduation song.

with Watarirouka Hashiritai[edit]


Stage units[edit]

Team B 1st Stage "Seishun Girls" (青春ガールズ)
  1. "Ame no Dōbutsuen" (雨の動物園)
  2. "Fusidara na Natsu" (ふしだらな夏)
Team B 2nd Stage "Aitakatta" (会いたかった)
  1. "Nageki no Figure" (嘆きのフィギュア)
  2. "Nagisa no Cherry" (渚のCHERRY)
  3. "Senaka Kara Dakishimete" (背中から抱きしめて)
  4. "Rio no Kakumei" (リオの革命)
  5. "Skirt, Hirari" (スカート、ひらり)
Team B 3rd Stage "Pajama Drive" (パジャマドライブ)
  1. "Pajama Drive" (パジャマドライブ)
Team B 4th Stage "Idol no Yoake" (アイドルの夜明け)
  1. "Zannen Shōjo" (残念少女)
Team B 5th Stage "Theater no Megami" (シアターの女神)
  1. "Hatsukoi yo Konnichiwa" (初恋よ こんにちは)
Team A Waiting Stage "Waiting Stage" (ウェイティング公演)
  1. "Skirt, Hirari" (スカート、ひらり)
  2. "Glass no I LOVE YOU" (ガラスの I LOVE YOU)
  3. "Candy" (キャンディー) (new units)
Team Surprise 1st Stage "Juuryoku Sympathy" (重力シンパシー)
  1. "Suiyoubi no Alice" (水曜日のアリス)
  2. "Kimi no C/W" (君のc/w)
  3. "Megami wa Doko de Hohoemu?" (女神はどこで微笑む?)
Team B 3rd Stage "Pajama Drive" (パジャマドライブ) (revival)
  1. "Temodemo no Namida" (てもでもの涙)
Team Surprise 2nd Stage "Bara no Gishiki" (バラの儀式)
  1. "Hatsukoi no Kagi" (初恋の鍵)
  2. "Youchien no Sensei" (幼稚園の先生)
Kizaki Team B Stage "Tadaima Renaichuu" (ただいま 恋愛中) (original stage is Team A 4th Stage)
  1. "Haru ga Kuru Made" (春が来るまで)


  • AKB 1ji 59fun (2008)
  • AKB 0ji 59fun (2008)
  • AKB Nemōsu TV (AKBネ申テレビ) (2008–2016 )
  • AKBingo! (2008–2017 )
  • Shūkan AKB (週刊AKB) (2009–2012)
  • Naruhodo High School (2011–2012 )
  • Gachigase AKB (2012–)
  • Kayoukyoku (2012–)
  • GIRLS' FACTORY (2012)
  • Generation Tengoku (2013-2014)
  • UTAGE! (2014-2015)
  • Momm!! (2015-2016)
  • Tribecca (2016)
  • Green & Blacks (2017)




  • AKB48 Ashitamade Mōchotto (AKB48明日までもうちょっと。) (2008 – present, JOQR-AM)




  • Mayuyu (2011)[7]
  • Seifuku Zukan Saigo no Seifuku (April 19, 2013)[63]
  • Shiranai uchi ni (October 25, 2016) [24]


  • MUSIC FAIR (2012-) - irregular guest appearances
  • Jounetsu Tairiku (2015)
  • Watanabe Mayu ~AKB48 Sotsugyou Made no 63nichi-kan ni Micchaku, Soshite Sono Mirai~ (2018)


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