Let me try to explain. It's not like she suddenly became super popular out of nowhere. She was 44th in the prelims last year, even though she dropped out later. She has always been well-liked, I've never heard of someone who'd dislike her - NMB fans either like her, or are neutral. People sympathize with her because she's very talented, hardworking and humble, on top of being a very caring person and great leader. She has an amazing work ethic - she knows at least 7 positions in RESET, the stage Team M is actually performing, and several positions in stages of other teams, she's always willing to fill in for someone in a stage on a short notice (once she learned a new position from scratch in 3 hours, just so the stage could be performed with a full 16 member lineup, because she feels like performing with an incomplete lineup is "lonely" and wants to put out the best performance possible), she's also extremely dilligent with SNS, updating twitter few times every single day with multiple photos and writing an ameblo post of decent lenght every day. What's more, her posts are really well written. She doesn't use many big words and doesn't get pretentious, but her huge love for members, theater and fans still shines through her writing. She's just very genuine. You feel it in every word she says or writes. She's also extremely positive, in a non-annoying way. She never complains in ameblo or twitter, and in the extremely rare cases, it's in a such a veiled way you wouldn't notice if you're not her fan. She could find something positive even about a day when her schedule suddenly got cancelled and she was stuck all alone in a Tokyo hotel room, unable to think of anything to do, while her fellow members were performing a stage and having fun. And it's infectious, too - I feel like since I became her fan, I've gained a more positive outlook on life. I haven't been to a handshake event yet (going in a month) so I can't report on her HS personally, but even her "virtual handshake" video was somewhat amazing - even though what she said wasn't very original, the level of attention and involvement she gave to the imaginary customer was amazing. I'm finally getting to the actual popularity. Aapon's Japanese fans are extremely dedicated. I've been observing them this Sousenkyou - they've campaigned on social media non stop, posting fanmade posters and appealing to vote, hashtagging, making videos. There is an election comittee twitter for her which is very active every year. But that's not just something they do for the SSK. They constantly campaign on SNS to promote her handshakes, they're very friendly to new fans, even overseas fans who don't know Japanese that well - I've exprienced it firsthand. A big part of her fanbase has been with her for years, there are handshake regulars she knows and remembers well. Recently, there was this incident in a M stage, where during MC, the girls were asking quesitions to the crowd. Takei Sara pointed and asked "the man in a yellow t-shirt" to speak, and Aapon casually cut in "oh, that's Shouta-kun". The coverage in NMB documentary was pretty much the first thing Aapon has been given by management, her first chance. From what I've seen, even with the huge focus on her, there was pretty much no backslash, like it often happens - everyone in the NMB fandom knew how hard she worked up until now and respected her. She wasn't showcased much in Amagami Hime, being pretty much invisible in the dance sequences, dancing at the very back in the corner, but senbatsu brought her first gravure jobs since 2014, and many articles on internet news sites. I don't know what's been going on in the minds of the Japanese Aapon oshi exactly, but this small nudge from the management, beginning only this year (which usually would be too late to make an effect) was enough to make her rank in senbatsu in prelims and undergirls in the final results. She definitely gained fans, but her fans also gained new hope. Watching her blossom under the slightest bit of spotlight management finally shone on her has been amazing, and I'm incredibly glad that I was able to witness it. Anyone who pays her a bit of attention can tell how much she loves being an idol and how much she treasures her members and fans, and how those feelings didn't change even after years of going unnoticed by management, how she stays positive no matter what. That she finally got a chance - after 5 years in the group, at 20 years old, which many people consider too old for an idol - was a small miracle, and I feel like it made us, her fans, believe in miracles too. We worked hard, but above all else, she worked hard, and together we brought about another miracle. Whoops, that got long, sorry, I still can't settle down after seeing her rank. I got inspired. She's such a wonderful person and idol, and I hope many more people will start to notice it now.