The last episode of Produce 48 aired on August 31, 2018. I do not have much to say about the final episode, but I can see why its ratings were much lower than the last episodes of Produce 101 Seasons 1 and 2. Some people argued it was because of MNET’s partnership with AKB48. Personally, I was not as excited for the final episode because a lot of my favourites were already eliminated and the final songs, “We Together” and “You’re in Love, Right?” were boring at best. Still, I found myself shedding tears during the recap scenes, when the winners were announced, and when I saw my favourites like Noe, Alex Christine, and Moe in the eliminated contestants’ section.
Before I talk about the winners of the show, I just want to comment on the debuting group’s name, IZ*ONE briefly. My initial reaction was something along the lines of “what the hell?” This name was suggested by fans and chosen by CJ E&M, the production company. The “IZ” is supposed to look like the number “12” and represents the twelve members of the group. The “ONE” part indicates that they come together as one group. Months later and I am still facepalming myself because of this name. I should not be surprised. KPOP group names are getting crazier with each debut. I am sure I will get used to it…eventually.
If you read my previous Produce 48 post, you would know that many of my favourites did not make it to the final episode. However, a few of them like Miho, Miyu, Gaeun, Hitomi, Sakura, Chaeyeon, and Juri were part of the 20 finalists. The voting results have been unpredictable throughout the whole season, so I was bursting with anticipation and anxiety when they began announcing the members that made it into the debuting group.
The winners of Produce 48 and debuting members of IZ*ONE are listed below with my comments:
12. Lee Chaeyeon
I cried so much when Chaeyeon’s name was called. Typically, they announce the 12th place last. It was between Chaeyeon and Cube’s Han Cho Won. As much as I loved Cho Won, I thought that Chaeyeon deserved the final spot. I have loved her since her SIXTEEN days, and her talents prove that she would be the perfect girl group member. She was in tears during the announcement. I am so glad that she got to be in the same group as Sakura. Instantly, she became my favourite member of the group.
11. Kim Minjoo
Okay, I will be honest. I was one of the many people that were not happy with Minjoo being selected for the group. Do not get me wrong, I am not hating on her, but I think she lacked a lot of skills and confidence. I did not believe that she was ready to debut. Also, I thought there were many other deserving people, like Gaeun and Miyu that deserved her spot. I was actually distraught when she was chosen (as was most of the international fans). However, after a few hours, I calmed down and told myself that Minjoo has potential, and I believe that she would make an excellent member of the group. She proved that to me in their debut song, “La Vie En Rose,” which I will review at a later time. I look forward to seeing her improve even more!
10. Kim Chaewon
This is another winner that shocked me. Chaewon did not stand out to me in any way during the series. Then, all of a sudden, she becomes a debuting member of IZ*ONE? Maybe there was something that netizens saw in her that I did not, but even after their debut, she does not appeal to me at all. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when she was chosen as the 10th member of the group. I am not saying that she is not talented or did not deserve it, but personally, I think I would have liked to see someone else in her position.
9. Honda Hitomi
Yes, another one of my favourites made the final cut! Hitomi lacks a lot vocally, but her determination and dance skills won me over. Also, her cute cheeks and sweet voice caught my heart. I am ecstatic that she was chosen to be the 9th member of the group! She deserved it!
8. Kang Hyewon
Oh boy, this is another winner that caught me by surprise. Not only was I bewildered at the fact that she made it into IZ*ONE, but she was also ranked pretty high. I really do not understand why. Was it because she fulfilled that “underdog” role that Sohye and Guan Lin did in Season 1 and 2? Was it because she is insanely pretty? I am not sure of the reason, but she was not one of my favourites. I am starting to like her a bit more since their debut, but I think she still has a lot to improve. I am glad that she is becoming more confident though.
7. Kwon Eunbi
Eunbi was not one of my favourites in the show, but I have so much respect for her. She can sing, dance, and she has the qualities of a good leader. I could not take my eyes off of her during the final episode. IZ*ONE do not have that many strong vocalists, but Eunbi can easily take on that role.
6. Yabuki Nako
She is another one of my favourites. Oh my gosh, she is so adorable and small! She is one of the best Japanese vocalists in the group. She always hit the high notes like they were nobody’s business. I was happy but was not surprised that she made it into the debuting group. She was a fan favourite and consistently ranked high throughout the show. My only worry for her is that while she may suit cute and bubbly concepts, she may seem out of place if IZ*ONE ever pursues a dark and sexy image.
5. Ahn Yujin
Yujin was one of my top contestants in the series. Although she is young, she is all-rounded (much like Chaeyeon and Eunbi). She can sing, dance and rap. I was so worried that she would not have made it since her rank dropped in the last two elimination rounds. Thankfully, the netizens proved me wrong. She has excellent stage presence, so I am excited to see her perform with IZ*ONE on the stage.
4. Choi Yena
I am not surprised that she was announced as a member of IZ*ONE since her popularity was increasing in the last few episodes. I am shocked she was ranked so high. Yena was not one of my favourites, but I accepted her position. Also, Alex Christine supported her and testified to Yena’s considerable skills. Since I am a huge Alex Christine fan, I shall listen and support Yena as well. Do not worry, I am half kidding. I may not have recognized Yena’s talents during Produce 48, but she has definitely caught my attention in “La Vie En Rose.”
3. Jo Yuri
Initially, I did not really like Yuri. I am not sure why, but she came across to me as having an attitude problem. Eventually, I realized that it was MNET’s typical evil editing and Yuri’s apathetic personality. As the show progressed, I gained a new appreciation of Yuri and her vocal skills. As I previously mentioned, IZ*ONE does not have many powerful vocalists. Eunbi and Yuri fill that gap. Just like Nako, Yuri hits high notes with little to no effort.
2. Miyawaki Sakura
I was really shocked that she was not in first place. Fans loved her. She never fell out of the debuting lineup. She is captivating on the stage and has a lot of conviction. I can see why she is one of the most popular members of the AKB48 idol groups. I am a bit disappointed that she did not get the centre position, but I am still happy that she is part of IZ*ONE, especially with Chaeyeon. As you can tell, Chaekura is my OTP.
1. Jang Wonyoung
I am still trying to wrap my head around how Wonyoung achieved first place, but I am not angry. Depending on the concept, she has the potential to be a great centre. Personally, I wished that Sakura or even Gaeun got the centre role, but the Korean fans and I have very different tastes. She barely caught my attention throughout the series, but I am interested to see if that changes as IZ*ONE promotions continue.
It was heartbreaking to see Gaeun lose the opportunity to debut (again). I really hoped that she would make a comeback through this show. However, rumours are going around that she would be in a new group with Huh Yunjin. While I am happy that they will be both promoting, this means that After School may actually be disbanded, which is disheartening.
While I am sad that Juri and Miho did not make it, they will still be active in AKB48. The group just released the music video for their upcoming single, “No Way Man.” It will be published on November 28, 2018.
Sadly, my favourite, Takeuchi Miyu did not only miss an opportunity to debut in Korea, but she will also be graduating from AKB48. I cried when I heard the news. Yet another oshi of mine will be leaving AKB48. She never got a chance to shine in the group, not even in her last music video (No Way Man). She will end her activities with the group after promoting their 54th single. I hope she does not give up on her dream. I look forward to her bright future.
IZ*ONE recently debuted with their EP “Color IZ,” with the title song “La Vie En Rose.” I will do a music video later on. The group has great potential, and I am excited to see what else they release in the future. Congratulations to all the winners and good luck for the next 2.5 years!