Let’s Keep on Reviewing! Onward to JCB Hall 2008!

In preparation for the next set of DVDs, I’ve decided to go through a few older concerts, this time it’s JCB Hall from December 21st, 2008.

Full-length text-only review below…

Overture

The concert begins with a completely blank stage that looks to be the same one used in the NHK Hall concert that same fall.  One interesting difference in the set here is that instead of having a screen in the middle of the backdrop, they have decided to leave that area blank and just put monitors on either side of the Stage.  I’m guessing that JCB Hall has slightly different proportions compared to a standard theater that allowed them to do this.

While I do like the idea of keeping monitors off the stage (and since I’m not watching the concert live, I really don’t ever need the monitors thanks to close-up shots on DVDs), I don’t like them here.  I feel like the lack of an on-stage screen gives the stage a really bland, warehouse-like, cheaper-than-Shibuya-AX-concerts look.

The good thing about having no monitors on stage is that it is (for me at the very least) a more visually-appealing and natural set.  Now, I really start to get irked when the girls come out.  I would prefer that they would just stand there…. but no.

The have to walk around casually and kill the possibility of epic-ness that couple possibly start the concert.  And there’s a fish-eye camera.  Who decided on that one?  Bad.

Oogoe Diamond

The first song performed is ‘Oogoe Diamond.’  I had previously not liked this placement (and you know, the fact that they still haven’t performed this school-themed single in school uniforms in a concert yet), but upon this viewing of the concert, I concur with it’s concept.

The most recent time AKB48 had all been together was at the NHK Hall 2009 concert in which they performed ‘Oogoe’ and wore these same encore party dresses.  This time, I feel like they’re echoing that last performance, but without the recent Team A graduates, SKE48, and the AKB48 Kenkyuusei.  Maybe it’s kind of a way to show solidarity and how the current AKB can totally stand on it’s own two feet?  I just wish that could be said of the King Records singles’ senbatsu…

Anyway, it’s a pretty similar performance to the NHK Hall one, just subtract the aforementioned parties.  In this one, I think Mika might actually get a solo line, or at least her voice is featured a little bit more since Jurina is gone.  I think it’s kind of nice how there are so many different versions of that can be performed of this song: Team A, Team K, Team B, RS, Team S, senbatsu members, and the AKB48 version.

Essentially, with the AKB48 version they take a bunch of girls that aren’t featured in the single like Saeki, Nonti, and Asuka, and throw them into the mix.  It adds much more of a concert-only feeling.  On the topic of Nonti, please notice how she’s not holding a microphone.  She had hurt her left hand during what I believe to be rehearsals for this concert.  I remember watching LODs near this time period and we were perplexed as to why she was wearing a headset.  I was thinking that maybe they wanted to try to have the girls do a few K4 songs without hand microphones and they were using Kayo to see which song(s) could be done with head sets, but alas, she had just hurt her hand.

Romance, Irane!

Okay, first off, besides one of my high school art teachers, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who liked pictures using a fish-eye lens.  This being said, why would anyone want a video that uses it?  And on idols at that!  It’s just weird.

While I love these costumes being used to perform this song, I really dislike how they added all of the straps for all of the strapless dresses.  They looked better as tube tops.

They look to be using a modified Himawari-gumi set-up with Team B and the non-Team 1 girls in the back.  I’m pleased that while yes, they are not really included in the performance, they’re still at least near the action and not ostracized like they are so often when Himawari-gumi songs are performed..

Tonight’s ‘Romance, Irane!’ seems to be rather bland compared to others.  Nothing really caught my eye at all.  Except for Natsuki and the aforementioned proximity of the girls, of course.

They did a great job capturing this part of the bridge for the DVD.  It’s one of the spots where the view has to be pretty much dead-on.

For a while I was lost because I couldn’t figure out why Naruse was in the front so much.  Then I remembered that even though she shares a birthday with Sae and has a hair style, and body type similar to Sae’s, she’s Sayaka’s sub, not Sae’s.

AKB Sanjou!

Next up is the new AKB48 fight song!  It looks pretty flashy (get it, they’re sporting flashlights?) here in their fluorescent dresses, but it still gets the point across: AKB is powered up to the “max.”

I love how throughout the song they alternate the lighting between the usual stage lights and the girls’ flashlights.  They match with the audience’s glowsticks well.

Kana somehow secured Yuko’s position next to Acchan for the night since she’s gone, but she was fidgeting with her hat most of the time.  Poor Kana…

I love it when Natsuki gets lines (or just gets to be near) Chiichan.  I like when I can hear/see my favorites in the same line.

They end the performance by spelling out their Team names.  In this performance at least, it looks like Team B has the most girls present and Team A has the least.  As usual.

In the following MC which wasn’t included on the DVD, it was announced that Natsuki had gotten into Waseda University!  That is a huge accomplishment and worthy of this kind of recognition, as it is one of Japan’s top six colleges.

Skirt, Hirari

So, this performance is apparently the seven-girl version.  Now, I’ve never seen the seven-girl Stage version from the A1 days, as the DVD shows the five-girl version (A1 was shuffled mid-way through), but I’ve heard the seven-girl Stage version from the A1 CD, which features the shuffled units.  Now, interesting to point out: it’s the same line distribution as the single.  Also interesting to point out: whenever a seven-girl version of Skirt, Hirari appears on stage in concerts these days, they use the five-girl version’s line distribution, leaving two girls without solo lines.  Boo.

Takamina looses her lines and takes Mai’s.  I’m not sure if that’s a promotion here or a demotion, but it’s nice to hear her do something different.  Jurina takes Takamina’s old lines and pretends that she’s in AKB… again.

Oh, you Team K girls… Little do you know you’ll be lineless in this performance…  (For completion, Haruna keeps her lines (and takes Rina’s) in the choruses and Mayu takes Risa’s (and Itano’s).  Acchan keeps her own.  Except, now she sounds and looks much different than a puberty-stricken teenage boy.

Goodness!  How close can a camera get to Acchan’s head before she flinches?  At least she’s having a good hair day.

Nage KISSU de Uchi Otose

With Rie, Moeno, and Miho leading (and Koaru, Gussan, and Harugon) dancing, you can tell this is a unit thrown in to push the first three.

This unit just looks really weird to me since I’ve never been accustomed to seeing Rie as the center.  Here, I almost feel as if there isn’t a single front girl.

Why did they slide the scrunchies up past their elbows?  It looks fine, but is there a specific reason?  Is it the popular thing to do?  Are they trying to make fun of the original performers and non-verbally communicate that those girls’ wrists are too fat and they stretched them out or something.  I don’t know why, but this instance of a small change in the costume confused me greatly.

It’s the RS-to-Team side… who get solo lines…

And it’s the unpopular original member side… who don’t get solo lines.

See, this is what I don’t like about the background.  It’s so drab.  I would almost say that if they got rid of the lighting and metal poles back there, it would make it seem like they wanted a simple backdrop, but then it would look even more plain and cheaper.  At this point it looks like a warehouse…. and no one wants to see that.

Junai no CRESCENDO

The fan-favorite No3b unit has been shuffled for the the first time in this concert.  I used to be really confused as to who lead the unit, as Takamina’s part actually gets less lines than the other two.  But hey, she does get the dress that dips down the back instead of on either side, so Takamina had to be the center.

Kasai’s work here actually fits in well, even though I would have thought they’d have put her in Miichan’s place.  She sounds consistently… Kasai-like… the whole song and it gives a little extra dimension to the piece.  Sae seems like a really random replacement for Haruna, but they both have a similarly nasal voice and her great dancing really complement the unit.

What is up with the boots here?  Does no one have Takamina-sized feet or something?  I don’t like that they decided to still use the original ‘Junai’ shoes, and wish they would just use the ‘Renai Kinshi Jourei’/’Oogoe Diamond’ pairs.  It looks messy like this.

Kashiyuki’s last solo line was the best I’ve heard in that position.  It was truly magnificent.  Her other solo lines here were fine, I mean, it’s her, she’s always been a pretty good vocalist, but this one was spot on.

Fans must have really liked Kasai shuffled into this song because she took the same spot in the NHK09 concert series.  Well, either that or whoever was supposed to take that spot ended up being sick or hurt, as that tends to happen.

Seneka Kara Dakishimete

Seeing this on the set list was just pure joy for me.  It’s one of my favorite AKB songs, and putting some new girls in it is great.  I hope they shuffle this up again.  Maybe a Team K-only version, since that’s never been done before?

I love Mariko as the lead because she has such a deep voice.  It’s not necessarily a really good voice, but it gets the job done and has character.

Asuka fits Maeda’s part well, too.  She adds talent and performance energy, which the original lacks a bit of.

Yuka is pretty much amazing here.  She took what seems to be a cutesy part and suddenly amped up the epic-ness.  In the build-up of vocals repeating the first chorus, she is crazy strong and ten times better than I would imagine.  I’m impressed to say the least.

The second verse would have contained Nozofisu, Yukarin, Haachan, and Kobayashi if it were to be performed.

About the costumes: I’m not sure what I think of them.  They used the Team A ‘Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru’ senbatsu costumes for Team A and B and the Team K non-senbatsu costumes for Team K from the First Concert Aitakatta series and added the B2 accessories and then wings, feathers, bows, and pom-poms.  Maybe with-out the pom-poms?  They’re just odd here.

And it looks like Nozofisu grabbed Itano’s addition in the build-up.  Interesting… I would have thought it’d be Haachan.  Anyway, lovely shuffle.

7ji 12fun no Hatsukoi

And Acchan’s A4 unit is shuffled to the Acchan of Team B, Mayuyu.  One thing I love about this unit is that while it’s not a particularly wonderful nor memorable song, it has the prettiest, most addictive chorus.  Now, ever since I became an AKB fan, I’ve never been a big fan of Mayu, but once I saw B1, I understood her so much better.  She’s not an amazing singer, but she can dance pretty darn well.  The thing that really works for her is how genuine she is: you know this this what she wants to do.  One of my favorite AKB theories is my “Acchan Series,” which goes Acchan, Erena, Mayu, Fujie, Jurina, and I guess that KII girl that I’ve probably never watched perform.  These are the five/six girls that were the first to perform the first near-solo song, ‘Nagisa no CHERRY’ and have been pushed by AKS.  I’m not sure about the sixth girl, but I’ve been impressed with the generations starting at the third.

Now, if this were a true shuffle, I think a less popular girl would get Ohe’s spot… but I guess they had to put Sasshi somewhere!  I love her to pieces, and it is kind of fun to see her in a cute song instead of her usual kick-butt unit.  Maybe this side of her will be used on the new Team A?  That way she’d fit my assumed image of the new Team.  (At this point, I want Moeno and Sasshi to switch…)

See, Mayu knows what she’d doing!  I’m glad Nacchan got picked as one of the back-up dancers.  It’s kind of fitting since I bet that’s probably what position she would have gotten if she stayed in Team A past the third Stage.  And you can tell how much she is enjoying this almost-cheesy song about first love on a train.

Aika is in the back, too.  Quite frankly, this weirds me out as she is perfect for the song and in my mind might take Sasshi’s current spot.  Maybe Sasshi was a little more popular than Aika at this point or something?  Maybe they wanted to push Sasshi a bit more since she’d be getting her own unit three-or-so months later and Aika wouldn’t?  Lastly, Oku is an interesting choice in this unit.  She’s rather out of place as the rest of the girls are Team B.  For some reason I was thinking that she was wearing Kayano’s costume, but I think it must be Risa’s considering how it fits!

Nagisa no CHERRY

Oops, I guess I spoke to soon: This is where Jurina is an Acchan.  I guess this is what happens when you decide to review the concert so long after seeing it!  One thing that’s great about ‘Nagisa’ is that one doesn’t need good vocals to sing this one… at all.  Jurina isn’t really impaired there, but her dancing is top-notch, which is one thing that might help in this situation.

In blue are Gussan, Nakayan, and Kaorin.  Nakayan, another great dancer, gets the center for the bridge, naturally.  Please note, Gussan and Kaorin already performed a unit in this concert as back-dancers, but they’re here, too.  I don’t know whether that’s a good thing for them or a bad thing… but at least we get to see more of them.  There are a few girls who didn’t get units at JCB, that probably could have grabbed these spots, though….

It would suck when the pretty bubbles get more screen time than you do, wouldn’t it?

I wonder if she thinks it’s a little weird that she’s singing about being seventeen in past tense, yet at the time of this concert, she was definitely eleven.  I know that Acchan started singing this when she was turning fifteen, so it’s still odd, but it’s definitely not a six-year age gap.

MARIA

I think the majority of AKB’s fans were hoping for this: Takamina in ‘MARIA.’  And we all got it.  With any luck, we’ll see two more girls perform the song if it’s included in the new Musical Infinity script and it’s shown on DVD (let us pray…)

Takamina of course takes over the song.  With ‘Higurashi no Koi’ we learned that Team A’s low register leader’s voice is quite a bit higher than Team K’s, but now we see that they’re just different.  While Yuka has a huge range, as can be heard in any fun or cute song she’s in, Takamina has a pretty set selection of notes she can hit… but she can hit them darn well.

First off, I love the sparkly microphone holders.  They’re so blinged-out.  Now, Miichan also did a superb job here.  I love when she is put in more hardcore units because those work with her personality a bit more.  Here she even gets a better part than Itano which is pretty exciting.  Somehow she’s also able to put on a bit lower and gravely tone in her voice which echos Ohori’s version of her part well.  The one thing I don’t like is that she’s paired with Takamina again.  This is done too much.  I am glad that she’s with Itano, though.  I love that pair together.

Itano sings her usual way, which is so similar to Kasai’s voice but so different at the same time.  It’s lower and looses the innocence of Kasai’s vocals but retains the girlishness.

Fog… I love it.  It covers the stage nicely.  And I just thought of something: it must not be fun for the audience when the girls sing units from the back of the stage because they end up being pretty far back there.  At least on DVD it looks nice.

See!  Look at that ugly set!  It’s so plain!

Okay, so sometimes it can look nice… but most ugly things look better in the dark…

Faint

A performance of the Hana song so quickly after she left?  Wow.  Remembering back to when this concert just happened, I really liked the selection of girls for the song.  An unpopular one (Umeda/Nozofisu), a fairly popular one to lead (Miho/Itano), and one that is getting more popular quickly (Aki/Hana).  Here, Umeda puts out an incredible performance with her usual great dancing and singing and Miho uses her youth to put this unit in a different league than that of Itano’s.  I’m a little unsure of Aki in the song.  Yes, her voice is somewhat similar to the original’s, but it lacks the same drive that Hana’s did here.  I guess I’ll credit it to her new-ness to the AKB world, since she was new to Team A (I think she had just gotten in recently) and she wasn’t a research student all that long.  And you know, they’re pushing her a lot lately.

It looks like Miho must not have fit in Tomo-chin’s shorts, so she got a ruffly skirt made.  And she has that pretty garter.  That might be old, though.

I swear, that fish-eye lense needs to be smashed.

Glass no I LOVE YOU

‘Glass no I LOVE YOU’ seems to be in almost every concert.  I think the only DVD-friendly ones it hasn’t been in are NHK07 and the Budokan series.  Anyway, here it’s presented by my aforementioned Acchan 2, Acchan 3, Acchan 4, and Rabutan.  An excellent line-up, if I do say so myself.  Everyone sounds just like they usually do, so I can’t really say much about their vocal prowess.

Fujie is lovely.  I want you all to know that.

Are the pink frilly trunks new?  I seem to remember them wearing their usual black shorts under these costumes… maybe I’m thinking of the ‘Nageki no Figure’ ones, though.  They’re similarly pretty.

I’m not really sure who likes this more: the wota or the girls.  For the wota, it’s a quartet of cute girls in cute costumes singing a cute song cutely.  For the girls, it’s about pink, shiny, sparkly, ruffle-y, glorious costumes.  The girls win.

This walking section gets me everytime in any song it’s done in (examples include ‘Idol no Yobanaide’ and ‘Nage Kissu de Uchi Otose’.)

I love how Mayu gets to bask in her awesomeness.

Kimi wa Pegasus

Wow, Akimoto.  Do you work at a meat counter?  Because you just butchered this song.  I’m not impressed at all.  I don’t care that it’s a great song: putting front girls in a song that they’re not ready for won’t turn out well.  This Team A version didn’t go over very well with me.

Acchan subs for Sayaka.  Yup.  That happened.  Not saying anything else.

Rie (who for the longest time I thought was Sasshi), doesn’t fit well here.  She has a perfectly okay voice, but it’s just way too high for this kind of song… or something.  It just doesn’t fit.

Haruna was the only one who improved the vocals in this song.  Sae lacks a bit in her voice, but as mentioned earlier, makes up for it in her dancing.  Haruna’s dancing isn’t quite as good, but it does get the job done.  I’d recommend her for Natsuki’s position, as they often shared lines in Himawari-gumi.  It’s kind of cute how Haruna and Sae switched parts in this shuffle concert, though.

Noro Kayo’s spot was taken by Miichan and rightfully so.  Miichan is getting better and better lately and what better way to show it off than in Nonti’s lines in this unit?  This was a successful casting.

And then we hear the choruses again and it goes down hill.  Acchan doesn’t have a very loud or powrful voice from what I’ve heard, yet you can hear it a ton in the group lines, which suggests they turned up her vocals from the recording.  Anyway, as a unit, this doesn’t work.  If Haruna switched to blue and Rie and Acchan left, this might turn out well.  From Team A, I’d suggest… Mai for Sayaka… and… Chiichan for Sae?  I think that might work better.

Junjou Shugi

Awesome shuffle right here.  Just awesome.  Maybe I just love the song, though.  Regardless, I’m happy.

Tomo-chin is Team A’s sexy member.  With ‘FAINT,’ ‘Itoshisa no defense,’ ‘Confession,’ and her everyday assortment of clothing to be scantily-clad, Tomochin ranks up there with Ohori in the sex appeal department.  Haachan is Team B’s closest thing, and she’s also kind of an amazing singer, too.  In this performance, we have the strong vocals replaced by Itano’s sultry ones, and it gives it a nice flavor overall.  Somewhat off-topic, but whoever designed that dress needs a raise… and needs to make more AKB costumes.

Amina and Sae work well here, too.  Amina’s usually bouncy voice sounds so amazing with the vocoder atop it.  I would love a techno-inspired song with that sound from her.  Sae matches a bit too much with Amina, but that’s fine.  I think I’m just too used to the difference between Matsuyuki and Inoue/Nakayan/Moeno.  Oh, and the RS back there are dancing their butts off, so great job to them, too.  Yay.  I love good shuffles… especially if they use the NHK07-like Mr Kissman glitter-y strands in the background.

Namida no Shounen

Finally.  A shuffle song with Natsuki solo lines.  I’ve been waiting and I’m very glad it’s finally happening.  The line-up is pretty good, too.

Yuko, who has recently became my new favorite front girl, takes Ayumi’s lines and of course does a great job with them.  What I love about her is that even though she’s an experienced idol, she’s really trained her voice and she’s ready for anything, be it a youthful song, or a more mature unit like this one.  And I love how short she is in comparision to the other girls, especially being right next to Natsuki.

And then my oshimen executes Mariko’s lines perfectly.  When it was first posted that Natsuki was in this unit, I only knew that Saeki got to lead, and the list of performers, so I went through every show I could find with this song in it (A2, B2, AX08, and Natsumatsuri Hibiyayaon) trying to figure out which spot she’d get.  I knew Yuko would get the other lead, so I ranked the order of the other spots, and Mariko’s was the lowest in my rank.  Oh well.  I’m just glad she got something in this concert!

Natsumi’s next and I am impressed by her work here.  I expected a higher voice like we heard in the previous concert’s ‘Kagami no Jean de Arc,’ but she went quite a bit lower and it sounded much, much better.

Mikachi grabs Mai’s part, the unit’s center.  I’ve always wondered if Akimoto wanted Mika to become a popular girl in Team B, as he always seemed to push her.  She has that certain quality about her that is really likable and she’s superb at singing.  There’s reason she was put in a duet with Kashiyuki.  Just watching her here makes me smile.

Another yay, Chiichan is in this unit!  My top two are right here!  I love it.  And she’s perfect.  We all know that, though.  I can’t wait to see the Budokan Team A concert DVD in Nagoya.  She’s leading two units and partially leading a third.  It’s going to be epic.

One great thing about the positions my girls got is that they get duet lines in the chorus against the other three.  They sound impeccable together.  I could gush, but I’m not going to.  In conclusion: I’m happy again.  (Oh, and notice the decorated mic stands?)

Blue Rose

When I began working on this review, I noticed something interesting: the three true unit songs in K2/B1 are included in the same order as they would be in the original Stages.  I’m assuming they did it on purpose, but I think it’s rather interesting.  This means that next up is ‘Blue Rose.’

The two most popular girls outside of the AKB fandom Mariko and Mai lead the song’s vocals.  Mariko is a natural choice here and I think she performed it in the shuffle version of the Aitakatta concert, but that might have been Mai.  One of them at least.

Next to Mariko’s deeper voice, Mai seems even more feminine and, with the help of her charm with a mic stand, sensual.  Any performance that includes Mai and a stick-like object in front of her tend to be great, and this one is no exception.

On the sides we have Kasai and Kohara, both rather unlikely choices for this type of song.  We’re used to seeing them in high-pitched songs thanks to their own characteristics, but I guess they really wanted to mix it up.  Considering they share a duet line, we can’t really hear them all that accurately, so I’m not going to really note their work here.

In the bridge is a very famous kicking-of-the-mic-stand.  This is done by the girl grabbing the cord attached to it and kicking it so it looks like it’ll fall into the audience, but then pulling the cord back so the girl gets it back.  Usually this works out fine, but it looks like Tomomi-chan kicked too low and the bottom nearly fell into the audience, which really wasn’t supposed to happen at all.  With a little bit of pulling and the help of a backstage guy, she ends up getting it’s legs back on stage and she’s back to her usual self.  That was a cute blooper, though.

Kinjirareta Futari

I think it’s safe to assume that Yuko’s spot in this song was supposed to go to Sayaka.  Sayaka’s the only front girl who didn’t get a unit, and Kashiyuki already performed this song for all of B1.  I think I’d prefer it if that would have happened as it’d be a compete Team K shuffle.  And it would possibly have a completely different dynamic.

Erena does a great job in Kasai’s place.  Not much to say there.  She must say something funny during the MC portion, but I’m clueless as to what it was.

I guess that they shortened the skirt for her, and in AX09, they forgot to lengthen it back to Kasai’s size, so she wore a super mini-dress for the Top 100.

Ame no Doubutsuen

The famous animal song pops up next with Jurina and Rena leading and Rumi, Nakayan, Miku, Kumi, Nakatsuka, and Naruse being the rest of the zoo.  It’s weird to have an SKE48-led unit in an AKB48 concert, but I guess we’ll have to get used to it.  I’m glad that in this show they used all eight animals, as I hate it when they use less and some girls don’t get a single part in the concert.  Now, I know there are a few who didn’t get spots in this one, but at least they’re using up all availible costumes for the units they do end up doing.

Tonari no Banana

Great shuffle.  Awesome choice of girls.  Simply wonderful.  In the last concert, this unit was done by Mayu and Aika, so this is a welcome change.  And considering their experience in AKB, this is a great boost in for their popularity.

Ohori gets the first lines and sings just like a little girl, which could be argued is the complete opposite of herself.  I love it.  Now, Megumi’s gotten funnier as time has progressed, especially with Nonti in the area.

I’m not sure what the flower-ing branch is doing, but I saw it poke up for a moment in Blue Rose, so they must be singing about it or something and it’s not a random fan’s.

On the topic of Kayo, she goes another route.  She begins her lines with her apparently booming deep voice and finishes it with the squeaky grace of the original unit.  This versitality is wonderful.  Long live the Nonti!

Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou

The crown jewel of the JCB concert is the front-girl version of ‘Oshibe Meshibe’ with two leads of Team A.  I’m not a fan of this personally, as it’s another unit of them just grabbing popular girls and putting them into positions that don’t fit well.  Neither have the natural sexiness or innocence of the original duo.

One thing about the costumes: they do not fit.  Kojiharu is a bit too large for Ohori’s outfit and Acchan is too small for Kasai’s.  I would usually say to just switch them, but then I think this performance might get worse as that’d be even farther from their personalities.

Okay, that just looks like an awkward hug.

Anata to Christmas Eve

Considering the proximity of this concert’s date to Christmas, this was a very nice, unexpected touch.  I like how they saved two of the front girls who can actually sing this song to perform it.  It makes me feel like AKS does have some standards.

And there’s snow!  I love getting excited about little things like this.

And pretty lights.  Yay.

Overture (SKE48 ver.)

And SKE48 infiltrates the stage!  I just wish they would keep to themselves a bit more.  I mean, they have their own concerts and a single, so what’s the need to take over AKB set lists, too?  At least I love this ‘Overture.’  The music is almost the same as the AKB48 ‘Overture,’ but the “lyrics” are about SKE’s location in Nagoya.  The cool part of this one is that they have an actual dance to go along with it.  I think SKE might focus a bit more on dancing, as they’re audition to become a member vs. an RS concentrates on dancing.  And I like how they make the letters that go into making their name.

Doku Ringo wo Tabesasete

This is an odd song to be performed in concert like this.  It’s not very popular and it’s very old, but I guess this i a way to sort of prove that they are in fact performing A1/K1/S1 in their theater.  It certainly doesn’t stand out here, but the girls do a good job in its performance.  And I like the red and green colors used for lighting, as they match the image of an apple like in the song.

SKE48

I like how Jurina gets to lead the MC immediately before this.  It’s almost as though she’s being thrust at us.

They get to sing both verses of this song, too… why is it that SKE gets to sing the entirety of some of their (old) songs, while the Teams can’t in these sorts of concerts?  We miss out on hearing/seeing so many girls’ lines in this format.  Bleh.

And what’s with these uniforms?  Are they from something?  Are they the S2 ballad costumes?  They just seem out of place.

Tanjoubi no Yoru

I don’t see why this song is so popular… it’s about birthdays and it’s not really all that interesting.  Oh well.

This version is with Team A including it’s new members and a Kenkyuusei or two to fill up the remaining positions.  They get to wear the amazing ‘109’ (‘Marukyu’) costumes.  I love those.  We need more similar to them.

I’ve always thought that the concept within AKB that the RS-to-Team girls get to take graduated members’ spots is weird.  I mean, shouldn’t the remaining Team memembers pick those up if they’re more popular.  It ends up being that whenever a Stage is made, the girls keep their spots for all eternity, regardless of their shift in popularity.  RS-to-Team members featured in these songs always get a boost.  Lucky them.  I understand that it’s easier for the girls to learn if they already know their position in the song from past performances, but it’s all kind of off to me.  At least Chiichan and Fujie are near the front quite a bit.

Mirai no Kajitsu

Team A seems to have gotten possession of all of the Himawari-gumi songs.  Here they get what was an image song for a water campaign or something when it first came out.  (Let me add that Natsuki was one of the selected members for this.)  I honestly think the song is kind of bland, and so I think it’s a poor choice for the show.  I guess it fits with the previous song, so I’ll let it slide a little.  Just this once, though.  Team A has so many great songs in its repertory, so why choose a boring one?  Especially in those costumes, why don’t they ‘Switch’ it up a bit?

Two Years Later

For some reason, I’ve never really cared for ‘Two Years Later.’  It’s kind of monotonous and seems as though its concept was a darker-toned filler song.  I love how there are so many great solo parts in the verses, but the chorus seems to just go on and on.  Maybe it’s too slow for me or something?  Also, the costumes don’t really help the performance here.  I love those A5 opener dresses, but they just don’t belong.

Shounichi

I really dislike how everytime Team B gets to perform a song, it’s always ‘Shounichi.’  I mean, it’s a great song and it matches Team B in general so well, but it’s just over-done now.  Why not just save it for Shibuya AX?

For a moment I was all confused when I saw Chikano as I didn’t know who was missing, then I realized that I hadn’t seen CinDy in a while and (since I’m too lazy to look it up) I’ve decided that she must have not been at this concert.  I love how I’ve started to refuse to research (and spell-check) my concert reviews…

Yay for Tanamin.  She looks particularly gorgeous in green.

Again, bad costume choice.  It works better here, but still.  They should have just gone with the JK school uniforms that go overtop of these.  They’d have matched both songs much better.

I was definitely anticipating ‘Hissatsu Teleport’ to be next.  That’s how used to the B3 order I am!

Shamu Neko

I remember this performance.  I was super excited when I saw the girls pounce on stage in the white fringe outfits from their ‘Nante Tatte Idol’ performance with Nakagawa Shoko and Leah Dizon.  I happen to love them, and the fact that they’re all wearing white instead of the red from Natsumatsuri Hibiyayaon is even better.

As this is a bigger concert, they only perform the first verse, which means no Natsuki solo lines.  We do however get Nonti and a special appearance by Umeda!  I seem to always treat Umechan in these concerts as a guest because she’s missed so many over the years for various reasons.

The first time I watched the chorus from this DVD I let out the biggest wide-eyed gasp ever.  Suddenly I saw Natsuki.  And not just any Natsuki: instead of putting her in one of the empire-waisted dresses like she’s been put in ever since Kouhaku ended, she got one of the slinkiest out of the two-piece variations.  And she looks phenomenal.  She just blew my mind.

See, she’s just phenomenal.

Where’s my PB?

I’m running out of things to say…

But I just have to post these caps.

Korogaru Ishi ni Nare

And we’re back to Team anthems.  Similar to ‘Shounichi,’ I’m done with this one.  I’m hoping that since the Teams are being shuffled, I’ll only have to hear this one at Shibuya AX.

Natsuki slid up to the front line during the chorus…. I believe that’s different from usual, but I may be wrong.

See, look at that boring background.  Yes, I’m still angry about it.

Natsuki!  Be a rolling rock!

Nonti totally wins with best ending pose.

Baby! Baby! Baby!

All of a sudden the entirety of AKB comes on stage to perform their digital single.  To me, this looks ridiculous to have all of the girls crammed on such a small area.  They could have used the steps in the back at the very least!

Mayu looks a bit out of place with her colors.  You’d think they could have put Team B in the ‘JESUS’ costumes or something equally gold to match the other two Teams, but of course they needed to be randomly colorful.  Right behind Mayu and Mai is Natsuki!

She even gets to sing her usual set of lines.  I wonder if this is because of the Team K absences?  That’d make the most sense to me.  The set-up of the girls seems to be the most popular girls in the center doing the singing, while the less popular girls surround them on the sides dancing.

Dear My Teacher

Yay!  I’ve been waiting for an all-Team version of this for a while now!  The girls move into their Teams and basically do three performances at the same time.  It’s neat to see the different line-ups of girls.  Here I made the realization that anyone in AKB who has originally gotten Nakanishi Rina’s lines has had a break during their AKB career.  Rina was out for something like six months during H1 and H2, Kikuchi had her boyfriend scandal for B3 and B4, and Umeda was injured for K3, H1, and H2.  I wonder who got those lines in S1.  I have yet to see the DVD.  And does Team KII perform the song in KII1?

Nonti fidgets with her microphone.  Those headsets seem to be a lot of trouble.  Everyone seems to have to mess with them whenever they (rarely) wear them.

Have I ever mentioned that this is Natsuki’s favorite song?

BINGO!

The last song of the non-encore section of the concert is ‘BINGO!’  This one seems to be a heavily-modified Himawari-gumi format with mostly Team 1 and the more popular members of Team B taking part in the actual singing.  The rest are on the sides or risers, with the RS in the back.

Natsuki gets her usual lines with Sae, as I’ll bet that Sayaka’s absence gave her a spot.  Good for her!  She tends to fill in often.

The steps moved during the bridge.  It was quite cool.  I wish that there was a better camera angle for it, though.

(Kenkyuusei Dance)

The new RS make a special appearance in the ‘PARTY ga Hajimaru yo’ uniforms.  Takamina talks over the music and sort of introduces them.  Notably, Kikuchi is in there, but I couldn’t really spot her.

Hikouki Gumo

And a newer concert song (and now part of the ‘RIVER’ single) starts off the encore!  Team B keeps getting shoved to the back…

Midway through this performance I noticed that there was a lot of screen time for Yuko… and then I realized that she wasn’t in the rest of it, and understood what was going on.  Glad to have her back on stage.

The start of the chorus brings in the more experienced Kenkyuusei.  I hate how I actually had to work to figure out if they were either SKE48 members, old RS, or new RS.

Aitakatta

Gasp!  I would have never thought they would perform this song!  Just kidding.  It’s over-done, too, but I’m fine with it.  As long it’s all of AKB performing.  And the stage is moving again.  It’s these little things that make me excited.

This angle makes the stage look like it was made in a video game for some reason…

Natsuki!  Yay.  She got to sing in the second verse… as usual.

I love these three in the same shot.  They’re all very similar in my book.

Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka?

Finally, the seemingly long lost single makes its way into a concert!  ‘Yuuhi’ has been released for over a year, but it’s just now getting it’s large-scale debut.  I feel like this performance wasn’t as heart-warming as I would have liked.  I think they needed to make a big line across the front of the stage like they do in the H1 version.

It ends with SKE48 and all of the RS getting on stage in positions for ‘Oogoe Diamond’ with pretty lighting that evokes the image of the title’s setting sun.

Oogoe Diamond

And the gimmick of the night: a 89(-ish)-girl version of ‘Oogoe Diamond.’  I know what you’re thinking: They already performed this in this concert!  You’re wrong.  They just almost doubled the girls.  That means it’s a totally different song.  Duh.

The dynamic triangular formation is lost when so many girls are on stage…

Oh, and look!  Natsuki… stuck on the side again.  Oh well.

Yup, Ayarin’s back in town.

Go get her, Mikachi!  I believe in you!  Don’t let a child steal your spot light!

And more Natsuki!

See, just look at how many girls are on stage.  It’s getting to be a bit much, right?

And it’s over.  Yay.  Okay concert.  I’m still not a huge fan of it, but now after finally reviewing it, I feel like it was at least a little bit better put together than I originally did.

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