The first time most of us laid eyes on Tani Marika was the first episode of Hakata Hyakkaten Season 2.
She immediately made a lasting impression by her strange speaking pattern and high pitched voice.
Not only that, this person is Chiyori's best friend from high school?! Oh boy, hilarity ensues.
Against all odds, this unknown kenkyuusei gets chosen by no other than Matsui Rena as her HKT48 Oshimen. What an entrance.
Her no hold barred approach to getting screen time did get her a lot of antis,
but in the end it is what is needed if you wish to succeed in this entertainment world.
And it worked. I think many people underestimate the progress Tani already managed to make.
If we look at her main rivals, she's often grouped with the variety idols, namely Nakanishi Chiyori and Murashige Anna.
Aiming to be "just" a variety idol is super risky, because you need to be more well rounded. Sasshi is a great example of this.
She never aimed for variety specifically, but still ended up on many top shows.
Conversely, girls like Miichan and Myao promoted themselves as variety idols, with mixed results.
I think Chiyori can be grouped with the latter, even though she has more of an owarai approach.
People complain about Tani being repetitive, but I feel the same about Chiyori.
Yes, she is really funny, but in the end we get a lot of the same monomane and bird faces.
Murashige's forward approach is second to none and I think everybody's pretty much done with her Mentaiko gag.
However, what sets her apart from Chiyori and Tani is that she's actually a great idol as well.
Her doll like face and youthful innocence score her massive bonus points.
OK, so where does Tani fit in? Imo, Tani already surpassed both of them.
First of all, she got chosen to be in senbatsu for the Sayonara Crawl undergirls song.
That's a song that sold almost 2 million times, what a way to get your name out there.
Yes, her part was really small, but still. It's an important step.
Senbatsu means everything nowadays, no matter for which group or song it is, you have to get your name and face out there.
Tani made Melon Juice senbatsu, whereas Chiyori is struggling to get any airtime at all.
It's hard and cruel to see your best friend (and kouhai!) surpass you in these areas, but imo Tani does deserve it.
Secondly, Tani shines in a variety setting. She showed she's pretty well rounded in the Suki Skip gag tournament.
It didn't stop there. She's been on a lot of Odekake and HKT Variety episodes as well.
She even was on 130817 AKB Kanko Taishi where she promoted Sasshi's hometown and met with all the higher ups!
This networking is important and Tani's a pro at it. She managed to 'fish' Football Hour's Goto-san (Odekake MC)!
He denied it when they finally met in real life, but he can definitely appreciate her antics.
She seems to interact with pretty much anybody, from SKE48 aces to AKB48 KKS.
Hey, Koatan seems to like her too so that's 100 hours worth of video right there, haha.
Not only that, she actively approaches people to introduce herself, even foreigners.
I think this high energy is one of her biggest strengths.
Yama-chan talked about Sashihara several years ago and called her a new type of idol.
We all witnessed Sashihara's rise, the no good idol who failed at everything.
In several ways, Tani is highly similar to Sasshi, which is both a good and bad thing.
First of all, Tani is the type who is bullied (in playful fashion) by members and celebrities alike.
This is great, because it's entertaining and it's a reason to include Tani in the shows.
Secondly, she's not afraid to let her guard down. Like Takamina, this makes her very real and thus likable.
She keeps a note book to motivate and improve herself. She gets emotional. Like Sasshi, she's scared of heights.
This gap moe between her otherwise highly confident character adds another layer to her personality.
Furthermore, she has the natural grace of an otter in disgrace, haha. She needs a lot of work in the idol/modeling aspect of this game.
However, like Sasshi, she has potential to become among the best of them. For example, this is the first bikini shot we've ever seen of her:
Doesn't exactly stand out, does she? Actually, the same applies to her blog pics which are all the same and usually pretty depressing.
She could use a lesson from Suda Akari. Nevertheless, the last HKT Tonkotsu showed the potential is there! Tani can do sexy.
Matter of time before we all go crazy over it.
So yeah, Tani has a lot of features which will help her career. The question is how far she managed to go, but the basics are all there.
She managed to pick up the first waves, now she has to ride them out. What does the future hold?
Well, she's even been selected to appear in that HKT48 dorama!
I haven't seen it yet, so I can't comment on Tani's acting skills. Looking forward seeing it nonetheless.
It just shows that once the ball gets rolling it can end up anywhere and that's where you want to be as a relatively new idol.
The chance to explore your strengths and gain the support of fans (and celebrities) in the process.
Let Marika put her spell on you through her komekami beam!
Make no mistake, Tani Marika is here to stay.