This week’s number one single was “Oide Shampoo” (おいでシャンプー) from Nogizaka46 (乃木坂46) with 155,677 copies sold. That’s remarkable, but the idea that they’re supposed to be the “official rival” to AKB48 . . . I’m sorry, but I’m looking for an unofficial rival myself. I don’t remember organizations getting to pick their rivals, much less actually creating them. Still, it’s a nice showing from Nogizaka46. They’ll certainly be able to give Johnny’s groups serious competition for the top of the charts, and I think competition breeds improvement. Unfortunately, nobody’s close to AKB48, though.

The number two is another AKB production – this time soloist Sashihara Rino (指原 莉乃) with “Soredemo Suki Da Yo” (それでも好きだよ) selling 124,483. That’s striking, since fellow AKB member Itano Tomomi‘s solo effort only scored 72,911 last week and 11,493 at #12 this week for a total of 84,404. However, Sashihara’s song was the theme song to the winter drama “Muse no Kagami,” in which she also played the lead, and that likely gave her sales a boost.

Mr.Children‘s “祈り~涙の軌道/End of the day/pieces” stayed strong at #4 in its third week, nabbing 20,588 more for a total of 231,140. As a Mr. Children fan, I actually wasn’t blown away by the music this time, but I certainly don’t begrudge them their grip on the top ten.

SMAP also continued in the top ten at #8 in their second week with 18,749, for a total of 153,997.

Of the singles I’ve mentioned in earlier Oricon posts, only Sexy Zone remains in the top 30, holding #27 with 4,025 new sales, totaling 132,487 after four weeks.