Kami 7 [神7, literally Godly 7]

A term initially used to refer to the original seven fans at AKB’s first theatre performance. After the first sousenkyo, the top ranking seven members were often selected together for single promotions (perhaps because the 8th ranking member, Sato Amina, was less favoured by management). After the second sousenkyo, the same members ranked again in the top seven, albeit not the exact same ranks. After this, these members were referred to as the Kami 7 of AKB48: Maeda Atsuko, Oshima Yuko, Shinoda Mariko, Watanabe Mayu, Takahashi Minami, Kojima Haruna, Itano Tomomi.

In the third sousenkyo, Itano Tomomi was knocked out of the top 7 by Kashiwagi Yuki. At this point, fans began arging whether “the top 7 ranking members are the Kami 7” (aka, the Kami 7 now includes Yuki) or “these original members are the Kami 7, because they are the top” (aka because Tomomi no longer ranks <7, the Kami 7 ceases to exist).

However, as more members were overtaken by their juniors and dropped rank, it is generally accepted by the fans and media that the top 7 ranking sousenkyo members can by called ‘Kami 7’, and many members now actively aim to become part of it.