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Rie Kitahara: A look at the life and career of this Japanese idol and voice actress

Updated on October 31, 2017

A first look at Rie Kitahara of AKB48 and NGT48


Rie Kitahara was born in the special year 1991 and here is why

The popular Japanese pop music group AKB48 has given birth to lots of singers. Rie Kitahara is another one of them. This cute Japanese celebrity is also a voice actress. A native of Aichi Prefecture, Rie entered the world on June 24, 1991. I would say that the year 1991 was special in the Japanese entertainment industry. Why is that the case? Because that was the year that gave birth to a few very prominent members of AKB48 and its other groups. These are Aki Takajo (AKICHA), Yuki Kashiwagi (YUKIRIN), and Minami Takahashi (TAKAMINA). Rie Kitahara is a Japanese idol singer and former member of the famous girl group AKB48.

Rie Kitahara and her work with AKB48 and Not Yet

She made her AKB48 debut in 2008 as a member of Team A but then she was transferred over to Team B during a shuffle that the group frequently does as members are always moved around during their career with this group. She is signed to the Ohta Pro talent agency. As it is part of the custom of the band, Rie has participated in the recording of many of the group’s singles. Some of these singles are Namida Surprise!, River, Beginner, Heavy Rotation, and Give Me Five! As a member of Team B, Rie has been a part of the single called Love Jump. She is also involved in the sub-unit of the group called Not Yet. That group is an AKB48 sub-unit that also has the following members:

  • Rino Sashihara
  • Yui Yokoyama
  • Yuko Oshima

A brief look at Rie's voice acting work

In 2010, she made her voice acting debut when she was part of the anime series called Gakko no Kowai Uwasa: Shin Hanako-san ga Kita!! In 2012, she was scheduled to make her movie debut in the one called Graffreeter Kintoki, which was released on July 14, 2012. Handball is one of Rie’s best skills.

Rie Kitahara in magazine photo sessions with other members

With Jurina Matsui (right).
With Jurina Matsui (right).
With Yui Yokoyama (right).
With Yui Yokoyama (right).

Rie Kitahara and her role in opening up a shop in Shanghai, China

In an interesting move made by the group, they opened an official shop in Shanghai, China in November of 2011. The shop was started by Kitahara along with her fellow band mates Sae Miyazawa (former), and Yui Yokoyama. The members held a handshake event where they greeted 1,000 people. The name of the shop is called AKB48 Official Shop Shanghai” and it is the group’s 4th shop outside of Japan. There are branches in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. This shop was constructed using the image of the AKB48 Theater in Akihabara. The store has lots of products including t-shirts, posters, towels, and other things.

The products can now be bought from the band’s online store in China. Rie also traveled to Taiwan in July 2012 to attend a handshake event to celebrate the one year anniversary of the opening of that store. Upon her arrival in Taipei she was greeted by 300 fans and 12 media companies. The fans let her know how much they like her by saying that they loved her and even called out her name. She held a press conference and she spoke in Mandarin Chinese!

Rie Kitahara during a photo session for VYJ

Rie Kitahara attends an exhibition for the cartoon series called ONE PIECE

Rie was in attendance at an exhibition event for the popular cartoon series called “ONE PIECE” during the ONE PIECE Grand Arena Tour. This tour took place at the Saitama Super Arena. This exhibition features 500 episodes in the form of figures and dioramas. The event is held in conventional halls and arenas in Japan. There is also a corner in each arena that sells games and limited edition items. The event took place from August 9th through the 19th 2012 and was held in other Japanese cities including Ehime, Fukui, and Sendai.

A few more images of Rie Kitahara

With her band mates from the group Not Yet. From left to right: Rie Kitahara, Yui Yokoyama, Yuko Oshima, and Rino Sashihara.
With her band mates from the group Not Yet. From left to right: Rie Kitahara, Yui Yokoyama, Yuko Oshima, and Rino Sashihara. | Source

Rie Kitahara would leave AKB48 being one of its most popular members

However, Rie would leave AKB48 and be transferred to the newest idol group called NGT48. This would happen on March 26, 2015 following the AKB48 Spring Shuffle. She would then be named the leader of NGT48. She was also given a spot in the group’s Team N3 on January 10, 2016. Kitahara is still an active participant in AKB48’s singles. Her work includes being a member for the group’s latest single called Kimi wa Melody. Rie has always been ranked pretty high in the AKB48 General Elections. In 2009 during the first such General Election, she was ranked as the 13th most popular member! In the last three elections, Rie has finished 21st, 19th, and 11th respectively.

The formation of NGT48 and the entry of Yuki Kashiwagi into the group

There is a new Japanese girl group that that has joined AKB48 and all of its other groups. That group is NGT48 (Niigata 48). It was announced that the group would have its own theater in Niigata Prefecture. Applications for membership into the group began on April 10, 2015 and lasted until May 18, 2015. Girls that were between the ages of 11 and 23 were eligible to apply. As of this writing, the group has four members. They are Rie Kitahara, draft members Yuka Ogino and Marina Nishigata, and Yuki Kashiwagi who joined the group in October 2015. Kashiwagi, 24, was also a member of the AKB48 sub-unit French Kiss and Nogizaka 46. The group would start performing in its theater on October 1, 2015. Ogino and Nishigata were drafted into the group by way of the AKB48 Draft Kaigai 2015. NGT48’s theater would open at Lovela Bandai 2 in Niigata. This announcement was made at a press conference that was held on May 24, 2015. In attendance were Kitahara and the two girls that were drafted along with NGT48’s theater director Etsuro Imamura. There was an audience of 1,100 people who were said to have cheered loudly and gave a round of applause when it was announced that the theater would open at the said location. Imamura elaborated on the reason why the theater would open at Lovela Bandai 2. He said that it is very accessible and only 15 minutes away from Niigata Station. He also said that it is a town where people of different generations can come and gather. For Kashiwagi who was just 24 years old at the time, joining another idol group will only add to her popularity and fame in Japan. She has met Japanese idol singer Rika Ishikawa, released two solo singles and become one of the most famous members of AKB48. Kahiwagi has released the solo singles Short Cake and Birthday Wedding. Kashiwagi finished in 3rd place in the 6th Senbatsu or General Election in 2014.

Further comments by Rie Kitahara and the membership of NGT48

Kitahara said that she would like to see different people to come to the theater (obvious good strategy that can be done through good marketing). It is located in a fashion building so Kitahara said that she would like it to be a fashionable theater. She encouraged fans to come out and support the group. Imamura said that there were 5,850 applicants for NGT48’s first generation audition! NGT48 is once again another group produced by Yasushi Akimoto and it becomes the 4th group to be formed inside Japan following HKT48, SKE48, and NMB48.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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