A Late Summer Pic Spam
September 10, 2010

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July 24, 2010

Where’s Natsuki? Certainly not in ‘French Kiss.’
June 28, 2010

Watanabe Entertainment is now coming out with their first AKB48 sub-group!  They’re calling it ‘French Kiss‘ (フレ ンチ・キス), and their first single will come out this fall and is titled ‘Zutto Mae Kara.’  Included in the sub-group are members Kuramochi Asuka, Kashiwagi Yuki, and Takajo Aki.  Seeing as it was announced by Kashiwagi, and of course noting her popularity, it’s fair to assume she’ll be leading the unit.

Their first single will be the ending theme of the baseball anime ‘Major‘ and its TV version will be premiered on July 3rd, this Saturday.

On the topic of Natsuki, I’m really unhappy with this unit.  Since the only two girls left (besides Nacchu) are Natsuki and Shizuka, I highly doubt they’ll be getting into units any time soon.  One of my big reasons for being excited for Natsuki getting into such a highly-prized agency was that she might get into some sort of unit.  With ‘French Kiss’ in the way,  I don’t think that is going to happen.

This all sounds selfish, I know, but I hope this unit ends after their ending theme, so the girls are back into Watanabe’s pool of AKB girls and another unit can spring up.  Natsuki would be perfect next to Mocchi in a Kashiwagi-led unit, and she’d be equally great aside Shiichan in a Takajo-centered one.  If only this could happen.

Well, you know, I’m totally still hoping for a solo career from Natsuki.

B5: The RSL Summary Post
May 24, 2010

Team B’s 5th Stage (and the New Team B’s first theater performance) was on Friday.  Let’s check out ‘Theater no Megami.’

00 Romance Kakurenbo (Zenza Girls: Shimada Haruka)
01 Yuuki no Hammer
02 Inseki no Kakuritsu
03 Ai no Stripper
04 Theater no Megami
05 Hatsukoi yo, Konnichiwa (Sato S., Watanabe, Oku)
06 Arashi no Yoru ni wa (Suzuki, Komori, Miyazaki,. Sato N.)
07 CANDY (Masuda, Kasai, Sato A.)
08 Locker Room Boy (Ishida, Kobayashi, Kitahara, Hirajima, Chikano)
09 Yokaze no Shiwaza (Kashiwagi)
10 100 Meter Conbini
11 Suki Suki Suki
12 Sayonara no Kanashibari
13 Shiokaze no Shoudaijou
14 Honest man
15 Team B Oshi
16 Bokutachi no Kami Hikouki

00 Romance Kakurenbo (Zenza Girls: Shimada Haruka)


Similar to K6 (and presumably A6), the Stage begins with a Research Student unit named the ‘Zenza Girls.’  While it’s a cute concept, it seems to just be a way to push already pushed RS to the non-RS-show-attending patrons.  Management has lately been really adamant that Team RS is pretty much an official Team like A, K, and B are, but since when did the Teams open for each other?  I just don’t get it.  And it’s not like Team RS isn’t performing: they just started doing A5.  Whatever.  (It’s worthwhile to note that RS aren’t involved in the rest of the newer crop of Stages.  That means no ‘Kenkyuusei Dance,’ backdancers, or microphone-grabbers.  Yay.)

It’s a solo song.  I don’t get it.  The vast majority of actual AKB48 members haven’t had a solo recorded, but they’re having trainees perform them?  Since when was that a good idea?  I seriously question whoever made this decision.  This is silly.  The one thing I’m wondering is if the Zenza Girl unit is supposed to match up with the Team Captain’s unit.  K6 had four girls in each, while B5 has one in each.  We’ll see what happens with Takamina’s unit in A6.  Regardless, Research Students don’t need/can’t handle/shouldn’t have a solo in an AKB Stage.

As for the song, it’s okay-ish.  Certainly not on par with ‘Lemon no Toshigoro’ from K6, but I do happen to love that song, so it’s kind of a high standard.  This ballad has a rather monotonous verse and a slightly-upbeat chorus… and live vocals.  Which don’t sound too hot from premier girl.  I like it enough to be one of those before-encore ballads, but it doesn’t work as a solo.  And the ‘choreography’ doesn’t really add anything, either.

The costume is cute.  Just a white school uniform with plaid.  Not interesting.  The center mid-drift panel seems to be the newest fad in AKB, as it’s all over this Stage as well as a couple older songs.  For some reason the beret just makes me think of Acchan in ‘Aitakatta’ for AKB’s first performance at Kouhaku.  It looks completely different, but I’m still seeing similarities.

Oh, and you can’t play hide-and-seek by yourself.  Duh.

01 Yuuki no Hammer


After the customary ‘Overture,’ we find out that they’re doing construction on the Akihabara48 Theater!  The girls all gather on stage acting as though they’re hammering/picking/making/destroying something using giant mallets and pickaxes.  While not very believable, it does get the point across.

Along with their tools, they are wearing giant plastic jackets in either blue or pink with little tool belts that double as microphone holders.  Honestly, the jackets are disgusting, but I’d love to see them in more colors to give the costumes a sort of sentai feel.  On their heads they have those hard hats with lights on them that are generally used in mines.  Maybe they’re in a mine?  That would make the picks make sense… and I guess the theater is pretty dark.  Anyway, the usage of the hats gives me a CinDy in ‘Tengoku Yarou’ meets ‘AKB Sanjou’ feel.

‘Yuuki no Hammer’ begins with a very percussion-heavy opening along with a very, very deep chorus.  I have to wonder if the girls sang it and they just moved the pitch, or if they employed the usage of back-up singers.  Either way, a very interesting way to start a song/Stage.

The rest of the song gets a bit happier and much more fitting for their costumes.  During the first chorus, Miho and, gasp, Natsuki get to do a little deal in the middle, and afterwards, Kashiyuki joins them to walk a little circle.  Not a big deal at all, but Natsuki was included, so that’s pretty awesome.  Oh, and during the bridge, half of the girls do a miniature hand stand.  I’m not quite sure the reasoning behind it, but I wish they had included acrobatics in ‘Saka Agari’ to fit its title!

Oh, and I really like how the choreography for the chorus is so simple.  I feel like that can really get the audience into the performance right off the bat.  Or in this case, hammer.

02 Inseki no Kakuritsu


A sudden strip-change reveals a costume underneath the asymmetrical space coat.  Now the girls are all in cute red dresses with frills, lace, and ruffles galore.  I think they remind me of another idol group’s costume, but I’m not sure which one.  Possibly from H!P Kids or something.  Interestingly enough, all of the costumes seem different from one another… with varying levels of attractiveness.  Natsuki’s is relatively cute with a corset-like detail and a pleated skirt.  But she looks great in pretty much everything.

Music-wise, it’s a combination of a generic cute song with a generic fun song.  The verses seem very Team B in their shorter line approach, but the real fun is in the chorus.  I swear, the first line is the most addictive thing I’ve heard in a long time from AKB, and has been stuck in my head all day.  I also like half-way through the chorus when they repeat that set of lines since it speeds up from the slower half of the chorus.  Just so gosh darned catchy.  After a short dance break, a break down of the second chorus brings in the last reprise, which then goes into an extremely cute whispering section.  I love it.

03 Ai no Stripper


(A note about the name, when I first watched the Stage, I totally figured out the title was ‘Ai no Stripper.’  I don’t know much Japanese, but I automatically fake translated the katakana pronunciation with English and was so proud of myself.)

After ‘Inseki no Kakuritsu,’ an old school AKB-style instrumental pops on with some members in semi-provocative positions.  I’m seriously in love with this song, purely because it matches their older discography so well.  I love that pure 80s sound that AKB used a little while before King Records came in, and this is a great ode to that style.

From what I can tell, this is a duet song, but at the build-up before the chorus, more girls chime in.  At the end of the choruses, there may or may not be a solo line.  The first verse showed Kasai singing, but there definitely could have been more girls, while the second verse showed Kashiwagi, but it sounded like she was going solo and no one on screen was singing with her.  I’m not quite sure what’s going on with line distribution here.

I love that Natsuki got in the first verse (it’s sad that I’m excited about this sort of thing), and even better is that she was paired with Kasai, who she happens to be close with.  They also partner near the end of the song, which makes me really happy.

04 Theater no Megami


More new costumes!  I love lots of costume changes, and even better if some of my favorite members are involved.  This time the girls are in sailor-inspired tops and skirts in yellow, pink, and blue.  I’m not a huge fan of the ties, but school girls are one of AKB’s standard images, so I guess I’ll let it slide (especially since there aren’t any real school uniforms for Team B in this Stage).  Personally, I feel like the costumes scream Idoling!!!, as I’m sure I’ve seen some costumes that are pretty much exactly the same thing.  And the ruffled bloomers seal the deal, since I’m confident that I’ve seen Idoling!!! where those.

Still on the topic of costumes, I don’t really like Natsuki’s.  I like that it’s yellow, but I’d prefer a tube top like some of the girls have and a more symmetrical bottom half.  It looks kind of like the ‘Stand Up’ skirt to me… except you know, brighter.  And still on the topic of Natsuki, I really hate how she’s stuck in the back corners the entire time.

As this is the Stage’s title song, I expected a lot from it, but I don’t think it ended up being good enough for me.  It’s fun and the lyrics are very fitting, but composition-wise, I feel like it is a bit generic and lacking.

What really confuses me about the lines is that Mayu didn’t get a solo line in the first verse.  It would have made all the sense in the world to have the first half of the song be solos and the second half to be trios… but that didn’t happen.  I have to wonder if they’ll play with that sort of thing later on, like it seems they did to ‘End Roll’ in K5.

05 Hatsukoi yo, Konnichiwa (Sato S., Watanabe, Oku)


Unit song time!  First up is Mayuyu’s unit!  I think everyone had guessed that she’d have a three-girl song, since that tends to be what she gets.  She was set with Sumire and Oku, both are fairly popular/pushed Under Girls and have brighter-than-average futures (Sumire is signed with Hori Pro and Oku is Akimoto’s ace).  I had been guessing that Oku would be thrown into Mayu’s unit so she could perform in her unit in large-scale concerts, but I had thought Sumire would get a bit bigger of a push than this.

The top of the song is a piano intro that reminds me of a Sailor Moon opening theme (actually, the whole song does) with Mayu on the stage left platform.  As the song continues, Mayu gets a big set of solos with Sumire and Oku doing duets till the start of the second verse where they get one solo line each, and it goes back to Mayu.  While I understand that heaps and heaps more popular than them, I wish they could have a bit more time to shine… even though Mayu’s voice has gotten so much better.  After a bridge worth of spoken lines, the chorus returns with a second following it (which may have a brand new set of lyrics?), and the song closes after the girls singing with the melody.

On the dresses: I like parts of them, but none as a whole.  I like Mayu’s top and the other girls’ skirts.  I would like Mayuyu’s skirt, but the longer section would have to be in the back.  It’s made really oddly so that it’s just a layer underneath the regular skirt, and it looks just way too random on the side.  Personally, if I designed it, the longer section would go in the back and that layer would go on top of the others, so it’s less noticeable.  The ballad later on has costumes similar to what I’m imagining, so just check there.

06 Arashi no Yoru ni wa (Suzuki, Komori, Miyazaki,. Sato N.)


Next is AKB’s most club-worthy song to date!  Starting up with a high-energy chorus, the four girls are trapped behind the now-used blinds on the sides of the stage.  Those blinds were pretty much completely un-used from A1 through A5, so it’s nice to see them in a Team B Stage.  Lots to say about this song, so I’ll divide it up a bit.

First off, the song reminds me of 90s J-Pop.  Like Hamisaki Ayumi or Koda Kumi.  It has traces of electronic sounds matched with guitars and the like… and is just wonderful.  It’s the longest unit song in the Stage, and pretty much exactly as long as the longest Team song in the Stage, so that’s saying something.  It has four choruses, along with a broken-down version right before the last one, and has surprisingly long verses, too, despite having a shortened second one (I feel like this happens with a lot of AKB songs I like).  I think my favorite part is the instrumental right after the last chorus.  The tune is to die for, and then it goes into ‘Itoshisa no Defense’-style background vocals… which is perfect.  Seriously, this song’s only competition in its category is ‘Temodemo no Namida,’ and it’s already winning.

The line-distribution is surprisingly okay with me in this one.  I’m going to keep mentioning ‘Itoshisa no Defense,’ because that’s what it kind of reminds me of, especially since I was really hoping for a unit like that for Natsuki in B5, so that mission was kind of successful.  The first verse has duets by the leads, Miho and Komori, and then Natsuki and Mariya get an equal amount of time.  The first verse also gives its only four solo lines to Miho before a build-up sung by the four of them.  All four girls, pretty much in order of popularity, get a couple of solo lines each during the second verse in place of the duet lines.  Instead of going to Miho’s solo lines from the first verse, we’re treated to the build-up with a Miho and Komori duet and a shorter line by the other two.  The rest of the song is sung by all four girls.

I’m a huge supporter of lots of solo lines, but I feel like the members sharing lines with one another adds something to the music and makes it less about the performers and more about the performance.  Similar to ‘Itoshisa no Defense,’ it all sounds good when the girls sing together.  That said, I think the second verse is a great place for all the girls to really show off their individuality here.

I like the costumes, but they could be better.  I’m seeing a cross between ‘Kuroi Tenshi,’ ‘Renai Kinshi Jourei,’ and the original A4 ‘Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru.’  I love that they really went for a dark club-ish feel, though I personally think if they just went with each girl in a different colored sparkly tube mini-dress it would be better.  I really dislike the asymmetrical bottom halves, though I’m okay with the top: I think it has to do with the ruffled skirt not completely attaching to the a-line dress.  Miho and Komori share the two-toned leotard-looking top, while Natsuki and Mariya get surprisingly high-cut bras.  The open side of the dress alternates within each set of girls, so the costumes at least look a little bit different from each other.  Miho has different boots, since she leads.

A special appearance is a red chair thing that you might find in a booth at an youthful urban bar or something.  All of the girls take turns either sitting or standing on it, so it’s actually one of the few chairs in AKB world that is used for the duration of a song.  I’m kind of not liking how squishy it looks, since Miho seemed to shake a little when she was on it.

My only major complaint for this unit is how the non-leading duo leave the stage so early compared to the other two.  There’s a good twenty seconds when they’re off stage, Komori is stuck on the chair backstage, and Miho is dancing around.  It’d be super cool if Natsuki and Mariya were back behind the blinds again.

Oh, and Natsuki’s in this song, which is amazing since it’s my favorite unit in the Stage.  Singing-wise, she sounds really deep and sexy with Mariya’s voice, and later on… words can’t describe how great she sounds.  It’s really powerful and contrasts with the rest of the girls in the unit in a good way.  It’s amazing.

Also, I’m completely taken aback that she’s in a dance unit.  I want to call it a dance unit since it has the most intense dance and they’re wearing the attached microphones, but really it just seems like a talent unit, since the song is so vocal-dependent, too.  Recently I haven’t been seeing Natsuki dancing as well as I know she can, though I’ve seen her go all out many, many times before.  I’m sure that sometimes she just doesn’t want to put out that much energy.  Here, she really goes for it and makes me really proud of her.  She’s always been a great dancer and great performer, and now that she’s putting more effort into her movement, maybe more people will take notice.

So yeah, best unit.

07 CANDY (Masuda, Kasai, Sato A.)


A complete change of pace brings in a literally sugary-sweet unit.

‘CANDY’ is Kasai’s new B5 unit.  Generally speaking, she is one of the few members of AKB who get good units in every single Stage.  While this is certainly not my style of song, it really fits her: cute and beautiful.  Her support singers for this song are Amina and Yuka, and I’m not really too happy about that.  I feel like Amina is too popular/important to play back-up to Kasai, and Yuka is too useful to do the same.  This is a great unit song for all three of them, but I just wish the lines were more equal so there was less of a feel like Tomomi was completely in charge.

Personally, I love the three of them together.  Kasai has a really high singing voice, Amina higher, and Yuka has a really low one, but she’s impressively versitile, so she ends up fitting.  Kasai’s last unit, ‘Dakishimeraretara’ with Mocchi and Natsuki, was one that, though it demanded a great voice, didn’t rely on her as much as it could have.  She obviously led the unit, but the other two had plenty of moments to show off.  Here, it feels like she’s the only integral member of the song, which I don’t think fits the image they’re trying to give off.  The other two are talented and have well-sized fanbases.  For me, Yuka is a good example of the perfect voice for an idol in a group like AKB: she has a distinct sound and style, but if the song doesn’t fit her usual tone, she can work with it to fit the situation.  Amina is pretty much the polar opposite, but I actually like her voice.  It’s usually on pitch, but that pitch just happens to be higher than everyone else’s.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a big fan of the song.  It’s just a bit too cute for what I generally like to listen to.  It has en excellent melody and is kind of addictive, but it might end up being one of those songs that I will want out of my head right away.

The costumes are similar in that department.  The trio looks like a basket of faded Easter decorations, complete with fancy microphone stands.  One of the many things I dislike on idol costumes are tiers.  And that’s basically all the three of them are wearing.  Kasai’s two piece attire is kind of cute for her, but that garter doesn’t match… and I am a huge fan of garters.  Amina’s reminds me of ‘Choco to Yukue’ in a bad way.  Whichever student designed this needs to be held back a year.  Yuka’s dress, while disagreeable with me, isn’t all that bad.  In fact it reminds me of the ‘Romance, Irane!’ costume that Natsuki/Atsuko/Mayu wears.

At the end of the song, the girls start licking their suckers that were in the baskets on the stands.  I was half-expecting them to throw them into the audience.

08 Locker Room Boy (Ishida, Kobayashi, Kitahara, Hirajima, Chikano)


Kitarie gets to lead the big unit of the Stage.  I’ve never understood why AKB’s larger units always have to have a big focus on the lead and the rest of the members don’t get anything.  I totally get that Kitahara is way more popular than the rest, but they should get at least a little spotlight!  I honestly can’t tell what’s going on with the line distribution thanks to the hands-free microphones and this LODs camera angles, but it looks like only Rie gets solo lines, along with possibly Chikano and Kana?  I’m completely unsure of what all happened there.  There’s too much movement and individual stuff for me to tell with just this video.

‘Locker Room Boy’ is oddly generic in its composition and is easily forgettable.  While the choruses sound pretty good, the verses are just kind of boring.  Luckily, they used props (lacrosse sticks) to add a bit of interest to the piece.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much they used them and how they didn’t look too random in the theater.

I’m getting tired of all of the red plaids AKB’s been using over the years, as it all kind of looks too similar, but these costumes look nice, with each girl getting something a little bit different.  I’m just glad they didn’t go the ‘Boku no YELL’ route and give the girls actual uniforms.  That’d look even worse than the construction worker boots their wearing.

09 Yokaze no Shiwaza (Kashiwagi)

Look, Kashiwagi gets a solo song.  Who would have thought?

I don’t like ballads.  Pretty much ever.  That means I don’t like this song.  On the other hand, I’d say it’s better than the two previous solo songs within AKB’s Stage discography.  It’s a tad faster and more soothing than the others.  While I don’t like the song all that much, I think this is right up Natsuki’s alley.  She loves slower, more natural songs, and has used a few of them in karaoke tournaments over the years.  With the current unit set-up, the only songs Natsuki can sub for are ‘Locker Room Boy,’ and this one, so maybe she’ll eventually get to sing this.  I’d love to get a solo from her… and if she doesn’t get a single or something, than this sort of thing may be the only way to get that solo.  Granted, the only girl to have subbed for the solo songs in Stages is Masuda Yuka, and this is one of the two units in B5 that she can technically perform without an extra MC… so maybe Natsuki won’t get that chance.  If that’s the case, I just hope both Kashiwagi and Yuka are out on the same day, and maybe a Natsuki solo may happen.

When I was trying to predict units for B5, one possibility was a Kashiwagi solo.  I had thought that they wouldn’t do this, because Matsui Rena of SKE48’s Team S just got a solo, and she’s basically the same person as Kashiwagi.  Apparently I was wrong, and Kashiwagi did get a solo.  She should throw on a vest sometime and perform Rena’s unit since their costumes are so similar, too.

10 100 Meter Conbini


I’m not quite sure how to describe this song, but I’ve been hearing the term ‘eurobeat’ tossed around, and I guess that’s what I’ll consider it, though I don’t think that’s the right genre.

The entirety of the song is super addictive with lots of different disco-like elements playing at the same time.  I really like how there’s so much going on in the verses alone.  First, it’s a quiet instrumental, when the next girls start singing, a heavy bass comes into play, later a destructive sound effect brings in the next set, with a build-up for the chorus.  I’d really like to know what that instrument thing is that plays between sections of the song.  It’s in any 70s-style song from AKB, like ‘Romance, Irane!’ and ‘Kaiyuugyo no Capacity.’

My only problem with the composition is how long the instrumental runs after the last chorus.  It could totally have ended with the last phrase, but they kept it going forever and then repeated the end of the chorus.

I love the costumes used for this set in the Stage.  While they really do look like rip-offs of Otome-gumi’s outfits, I think they’re brilliant.  Each girl gets a slightly different dress with a huge variety of accessories.  Natsuki’s costume is superb.  I’m a bit jealous of Mayu, though, since she’s the only one with a random garter.

11 Suki Suki Suki

Straight out of singing about convenience stores comes B5’s only cutesy filler song.  For some reason the entirety of the song reminds me of K6’s ‘White Day ni wa’ and I can’t help but compare the two.

The verse begins just as you’d expect from a song like this: adorable, though a tad boring.  Then comes a weird choppy section right before the build-up for the chorus.  I wonder if this was added later on to spice up the song…

The chorus is yet another addictive one, though not as memorable as some of the others from this Stage.  It seems to be kind of a call-and-response chorus with half of the girls singing at a time.  The end of the chorus features a couple girls re-iterating a section of the chorus with quieter background music.  After the second chorus, the bridge’s choreography is fantastic.  They all crouch over and run in a counter-clockwise formation and then kind of stumble like mechanical dolls before going into a broken-down chorus.  I love it.  They remind me of hamsters or something.  In a good way of course.

12 Sayonara no Kanashibari


The last song of this set is a sexier one with quartet lines.  Similar to ‘Ai no Stripper,’ it sounds a lot like an older AKB song.  The formations somehow remind me of ‘Yume wo Shinaseru Wake ni Ikenai.’

I love the chorus for this one.  It’s set at a slower pace than the verses and has the girls kiind of take turns singing different words while the rest fall.  The first chorus shows the girls kind of randomly moving, while the second has the girls in specific groups.  Both look interesting, but I prefer the first.  The final one puts them into lines so the cannon approach is super-obvious.  This is one of the Team songs that I feel like would benefit from having solo lines.

The end of the song puts the girls into a ‘B’ formation, with Natsuki as the connection of the right side’s semi-circles.  This does not fit with the song, nor the theme of this part of the Stage.  I don’t get it.  We don’t need this here.

13 Shiokaze no Shoudaijou

Ballads usually are put at the end of the Stage before the encore, and this is no exception.  I wish they would switch it up somtime, as it’s been like this for a little while.

‘Shiokaze no Shoudaijou’ has relatively cute costuems: light green or yellow plaid dresses with lots of white lace trims and blue corsets.  They fit all of the girls really well, which is something that seems to have been missing in the Stage thus far.  My only problem is they’re all so similar to one another.  I’d prefer it to be yet another song where each girl has something different.  Accessorising the outfits are a plethora of staw hats, flower pins, and random leather purses.

I’m not a huge fan of the song, mostly because it’s a ballad.  Luckily it actually is rather pretty, and certainly ranks well about Kashiwagi’s solo.  My one big problem is with how they only have half of the Team sing during the first verse, which is fairly common, but then still don’t use the other half for the bridge section.  That means a bunch of the girls will only get to sing the choruses if this were somehow performed in concert.

14 Honest man

Encore time!  The girls come running onto the stage from either side to start the song.  It’s not nearly as dramatic as many of the other encore enterances that have been used lately, but I guess it’s somewhat different, while boring, so at least there’s a variety going on.

The verses remind me a lot of ‘Yuuki no Hammer’ in how rythmic they are, but here itall sounds a bit more melodic.  The choruses are fantastic and remind me of a newer Tegomass song for whatever reason.  Great song, but there’s one big problem.

These costumes are disgusting.  Maybe I’ll warm up to them, but I just am not a fan.  There’s a possibility that I’d like them if they had plainer skirts/shorts, but still, they look too grunge-inspired like Sae’s new unit in K6.  They’re a bit too fitting for a magician rather than an idol.  And some of those hats are hilariously gross.  I do like Tomomi-chan’s hair tie, though.

The end of the song puts them in their own poses, which switch to tough-looking stances with their arms crossed by the time the next song begins.

15 Team B Oshi


Oh my god!  It’s ’10nen Zakura!’  Not really, but I’ll need to start yelling ’48!’ whenever this comes on.

‘Team B Oshi’ is another one of those member introduction songs, like ’16nin Shimai no Uta’ and ‘Wasshoi B.’  The girls are introduced in alphabetical order with the verses divided up similarly.  Like the other songs of it’s type, this is a fun energetic one.  The verses have bunches of little things going on, but the choruses are just drop dead adorable.  The fifteen girls not being introduced sing a repeating chorus line saying who the audience should pick, while the girl being named does a cute little phrase or pose or something.  Notably, Kana does a bridge, Mariya does a jig, Chikarina leap frogs, and Mayu does her famous ‘Let’s Go!’ line from ‘Hatsukoi Dash.’  Natsuki throws in her catchphrase for good measure, and I, while not surprised, love it.  I can’t wait for her birthday show for this one.

The whole song is full of great little hijinks, so I’m hoping this’ll be one that’s fun to watch in each performance.  I don’t like it when songs are self-referential, but if it’s completely obvious, then I guess it’s kind of okay.  If only they would stop making ‘A K B’ signs like SKE does in S3.

16 Bokutachi no Kami Hikouki


To finish off the Stage we have a feel good song about paper airplanes.  I am really enjoying this one, even though it doesn’t totally fit my preferences.  In this first LOD, it looks like Natsuki even gets a mini solo line, but I’m guessing that it’s a duet line and they just hid the other girl.  No group song solo lines for Natsuki in this Stage… sad.

The second verse brings in the title’s props and the choreography changes for the better.  Apparently each plane has a personal message from its original holder, so when they eventually do throw them, I’m a bit jealous.  And that’s impressive that they can find their signed plane in the box while still on stage.  I’d expect them to have to dig for a while.  They’re prepared, apparently.

So, over all, pretty good Stage.  In terms of Natsuki, it’s not as good as K5, but I feel like some of these songs fit her more than some K5 songs did, despite not showing her off as much.

(Side note: in the ‘Arigatou Gozaimasu’ at the end of the Stage, you can hear Natsuki start talking first.)

A Few Newer Pictures…
May 4, 2010

Just a Few Pictures of N…
April 13, 2010

The first musical: AKB48 Kagekidan ‘Infinity’ (DVD review)
March 29, 2010

The DVD finally came out, and we get both performances, thank god.  It’s possible that this’ll be performed at G-Rosso again this year, but here’s my summary/review/thoughts for now!

Infinity

Act I
Aitakatta – senbatsu members
Infinity – Harusame Ruka, Takajima Maria
Tomo yo – Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, (lower club members, maids)
Ame no Doubutsuen – Eri, Utako, (lower club members, maids)
Blue Rose – Harusame Ruka
Fushidara na Natsu – Utako, Eri, (lower club members)
Virgin Love – Ai, Isako, (lower club members); ((Utako acts))
Infinity – Harusame Ruka
Renai Kinshi Jourei – maids; ((Harusame Ruka acts))
109 – Takajima Maria, Ai, Isako, Utako, (Eri, lower club members)
Hizukehenkousen – Takajima Maria, Harusame Ruka; ((Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, lower club members dance))

Act II
Honehone Waltz – maids; ((lower club members dance))
Mori e Ikou – Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, lower club members
Kyuuketsuki Densetsu – Vampire Hunter James (Kn/N)ight; ((support actors dance))
Rio no Kakumei – Takajima Maria
MARIA – Harusame Ruka
Kimi wa Pegasus – Harusame Ruka; ((lower club members dance))
Naki Nagara Hohoende –  Takajima Maria; ((interlude: Infinity – Harusame Ruka))
Infinity – Harusame Ruka, Takajima Maria
Saishuu Beru ga Naru – Takajima Maria, Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, (lower club members, maids)
Yakusoku yo – senbatsu members; ((Vampire Hunter James (Kn/N)ight, support actors dance))

Cast:
Harusame Ruka – Akimoto Sayaka or Miyazawa Sae
Takajima Maria – Takahashi Minami or Kashiwagi Yuki
Ai – Iwasa Misaki
Isako – Yonezawa Rumi
Utako – Sato Natsuki
Eri – Nakatsuka Tomomi
Lower Club Members – Nakata Chisato, Katayama Haruka, Nonaka Misato, Uchida Mayumi
Maids – Nakaya Sayaka, Tanabe Miku
Support Actors – Murai Akira, Takahashi Hikaru, Adachi Yuji
Vampire Hunter James (Kn/N)ight – Nakanishi Katsuyuki

Infinity

The lead couple are great and their parts are definitely custom-made just for them.  While Takamina and Sayaka stood out as the better pair to me character-wise, all four of the girls did excellent jobs.  From the first set, Takamina’s ‘Rio no Kakumei’ was outstanding.  I think it might be because she’s performed it so many times before, but she set the perfect mood for the song.  ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ from Sayaka was incredible.  It’s always been a popular song to show off girls’ voices, but she really used it well.  As for the other two, I simply liked their rendition of ‘Infinity’ more.  I don’t know why, but I think the song was meant to be sung a bit calmer and less musical-esque (though it was made for these performances), and Kashiwagi and Sae did that for me.

If the leads were to be shuffled around within the AKB48 family, new couples (Maria/Ruka) that I’d love to see would be Kuramochi/Noro, Kasai/Masuda, Oshima/Minegishi, and Moeno/Miyazaki.  And if unpopular girls could lead, Umeda/Maeda (Ami).  I think those all would be really interesting.

The supporting cast in the musical is spectacular, at least to me.  Obviously, when I first found out Natsuki got in, I was over-joyed.  I’m not sure when, but the musical was first announced in early 2009; possibly at Shibuya AX or NHK Hall.  All we knew was that it was in the works, and I was rooting for Natsuki to be selected.  Luckily, she did get in, and a great position at that.

Of the four leads in the supporting cast, I’d rank them from best position to worst position: Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri.  While they all get a bunch of opportunities to shine, they each have different parts they get to play up.  Iwasa’s Ai is the captain of the dance team and gets long solos in ‘Tomo yo’ and ‘109.’  Rumi seems to be the brains behind the team and usually gets a central position in full team songs as Isako.  Natsuki really gets to play up her character as the mature and oftentimes flirty Utako in acting sequences, and the song choice ended up building her personality.  Eri, while the last on my ranking, still got a very good part with an out of context solo of ‘Fushidara na Natsu,’ though I didn’t think her character really developed all that much.  Admittedly, I guess I really can’t judge that sort of thing without understanding what they’re all saying.

The rest of the cast is full of great choices, too.  Nakaya and Tanabe were cast as maids and performed as dance team members when needed.  Though not all that important, both got a few solos each in ‘Renai Kinshi Jourei,’ and more speaking parts than I expected.  Their comedy routine starting Act II was also appreciated.  Katayama, Uchida, Nakata, and Nonaka made up the tail end of the cast as club members.  While only one girl (Katayama) got any lines, they performed in a ton of songs that I wasn’t ready for.  I was kind of disappointed by their lack of use, but I’m glad that they were included.

I’m sort of tempted to think that a large part of the casting was done at a B4 show.  If you think about who unders for who, this is very possible.  That performance could be: Nakatsuka, Nakata, and Uchida in ‘Zannen Shoujo;’ Iwasa, Nonaka, and Nakaya in ‘Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate;’ Tanabe, Katayama, and Yonezawa in ‘Kataomoi no Taikakusen;’ pretty much anyone in ‘Tengoku Yarou’ along with Nakaya; and Katayama, Yonezawa, and Tanabe in ‘Itoshiki Natassha.’  If you look at that list, everyone is chosen for Infinity except the girls who only perform ‘Tengoku Yarou.’  The only girls missing are the leads and Natsuki.

The fact that seven of the eleven girls I support were senbatsu for Infinity makes me really happy.  (Next time, Suzuki Mariya for Nonaka, Chikano Rina for Iwasa, and Fujie Reina for Nakatsuka.  Maeda Ami is Ruka, remember?  If only I had a twelfth favorite for Maria…)

Another thing really special to me about this musical is the song choice for Natsuki.  Listed in the program, she led ‘Ame no Doubutsuen’ and ‘Fushidara na Natsu.’  What’s interesting about these?  They’re both from K2.  What’s cool about that?  Natsuki didn’t get a unit in the first original Stage from Team K.  After seeing this, she’s performed in three-fourths of the possible units from the Stage, only missing ‘Blue Rose.’ (She performed ‘Kinjirareta Futari’ with Noro Kayo on a radio show.  I posted a rip (along with their version of ‘Anata to Christmas Eve’) a while ago on W’sN?)  I’m considering this a sort of repentance for not giving her a unit in K2, even though I’m not sure exactly how much involvement Akimoto had with the musical.

At some point while the musical was rehearsed or performed, Natsuki strained her left thigh muscles, which made her end up missing a bunch of K5 shows at the Akihabara48 Theater, though she pushed herself to perform in her first musical.  Throughout the DVDs you can tell she’s not really going all out with her legs when dancing, so this is kind of her excuse.  That being said, she can often be out-danced by many of the senbatsu here, but that’s just because she’s gotten a bit lazy in that department (though I hope that the recent B5 rehearsals are making her kick it up a notch).

Aitakatta – senbatsu members

‘Aitakatta’ begins the first AKB48-affiliated play with a very generic concert atmosphere.  I guess they just wanted to introduce the girls to the audience or something to that effect.  All the girls perform this, regardless of their character in the actual play.  This means that Ruka and the maids don’t wear their wigs (or in Sayaka’s case, her white hair extension and uses a hat to cover the braided-in section.  The first chorus brings the girls from the main stage to the lower stage, and the main duo exit the stage to change costumes while the rest of the girls continue the song.  Nothing all that exciting here.

These school uniforms crack me up.  I love that they’re orange and all harvest-y, since that’s the season the musical was performed during, and since it started near Halloween, and vampires are most commonly referenced near that holiday, the orange is perfect.  The things I don’t like are the half vest, though it’s totally within AKB’s usual style (’10nen Zakura’ and SKE48’s ‘Dakedo…’ in KII1) and the fringe-outlined square on the front of the skirt.  I’m just confused with what exactly it is.  I do love the socks, though.  How match-y can we get?

Infinity – Harusame Ruka, Takajima Maria

A neat little set change (complete with thunder and ambulance sound effects) brings us from G-Rosso to a hospital, or at the very least a rather uncomfortable bedroom.   Ruka and Maria sing the musical-exclusive ‘Infinity.’  I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to vote for it for next year’s Top 100 concert (which may or may not happen because Shibuya AX is being torn down), since I guess it was released just a bit too late for last year’s vote.

I have to again stress that I don’t speak the same language that the musical is performed in, so I’m clueless as to any details pertaining to the plot, but I think I get the general idea.  This performance of ‘Infinity’ I think is supposed to be in the past… but I’m not quite sure: I thought ‘the past’ was supposed to be like 200 years ago, but we definitely just heard modern emergency vehicle sounds.

I don’t really get how Ruka is wearing the pretty white costume while Maria gets stuck with a modest nightgown.  She has a pretty white costume too, so why not throw that on?  Maybe this one fits under the school uniform?

Tomo yo – Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, (lower club members, maids)

There’s a nice little black-out and we’re brought back to the present day in a school apparently during the summer.  ‘Tomo yo’ immediately begins with Iwasa taking the first set of vocals.  Rumi pops in for a line, then Natsuki joins, Iwasa gets another solo, and then the three add Nakatsuka to bring up the chorus.  The song is a brand new shortened version that only goes up to the end of the first chorus.

As far as the performance goes, it’s nice to see all of the girls doing little acting sequences that they don’t get to do in other shows.  A few of them are chatting, some are dancing a bit, and Natsuki gets to fiddle around with the contents of her bag.

I love the really traditional sailor suit-style uniforms they’ve got going on here.  It looks like everyone has pretty much the same thing, but some of the lead club members are a tad different.  Rumi gets a watch, Nakatsuka gets a bow, and Natsuki gets a scrunchie and a couple of bracelets.  Her skirt also looks shorter than the other girls’ but I think she just has longer legs.

The musical’s ‘acting’ finally starts, about ten minutes in.  I have no clue what’s going on.  My guess: Natsuki has a date set up and Iwasa’s freaking out because she won’t have time to rehearse for he dance contest.  Maybe it’s raining or something, so Nakatsuka recommends the zoo for Natsuki.

Ame no Doubutsuen – Eri, Utako, (lower club members, maids); ((Ai, Isako act))

Nakatsuka gets the majority of the opening chorus with Natsuki joining in to finish it off.  The lower club members and maids dance and sing a bit while the other two leads sulk on the bench.  Natsuki gets a handful of lines leading up to the chorus, Nakatsuka joins in, and mid-way through, Natsuki ‘Stop!”s the song.

I love that Natsuki got lines here.  It’s certainly not my favorite, but any song with Natsuki solo lines is a good song for me.  Especially since she gets more spotlight here than if she were to sing it in a shuffle concert or something similar due to the distribution and how they chose to sing the unit song for the musical.

Iwasa angrily dismisses their time-wasting (I don’t know why though, as they’re definitely dancing, and I think that should count towards their practice time), and Maria waltzes in late.  She may or may not have a fever.  And she may or may not had a dream… and a blue rose… but I don’t know.  Practice is dismissed and Natsuki goes off for her date… I think.

The next scene goes to what I’d assume is a street at night or something.  Maria is attacked by two men and Ruka saves the day.  ‘He’ (I’m unsure of whether I should refer to the cross-dressing AKB member’s character as a boy or girl…) is obviously already in love with Maria and proceeds to embrace her a few times with varying success.

Blue Rose – Harusame Ruka

Ruka gives a blue rose to Maria and then proceeds to tell us about it in song.  I guess that’s okay, since that’s kind of the sort of thing that musicals tend to feature.

Fushidara na Natsu – Utako, Eri, (lower club members)

Scene change to the beach (though it looks rather grey and un-inviting).

Nakatsuka and Natsuki are the first to come out in their relatively new Budokan costumes.  The four lower club members join in, each with either a beach ball or inflatable tube accompanying them.  Everybody wears a summery cover-up of some sort, while Natsuki gets to be all scantily-clad with lots of accessories.  I’m liking this Utako character.

Here, the verses are turned into solo lines up till the build up to the chorus where there are a few duet lines.  I don’t care if it’s pre-recorded: Natsuki sounds absolutely amazing.  I’m glad she got into this song.  They even used the second verse!

The music fades out for more acting.  Natsuki is working to raise money for the up-coming dance tournament, and sells yakisoba, complete with a ‘Bye bye!’ and a ‘Thank you!’  Katayama gets a speaking line (the only girl to get one of the lower club members), and a little bit later Nakatsuka gets what looks to be a pack of cigarettes before she goes into the chorus of ‘Fushidara na Natsu’ again before the scene is broken up by a random police man.

Some sort of announcement (by Katayama again, I think) is made while the scene changes and the girls are back to their uniforms at school.  It appears as though Natsuki is being scolded for something… again.  Maybe Iwasa and Rumi’s characters were sad they missed out on the beach episode?  That’d explain why they are so irritated.  Maria ends up running away for whatever reason and Nakatsuka follows her with the notebook/sketchbook she dropped.  Natsuki’s all dreamy for a moment before they start the next song.

Virgin Love – Ai, Isako, (lower club members); ((Utako acts))

I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.  The lyrics of ‘Virgin Love’ are about a girl who wants to seem more experienced in relationships than she is… but I thought Iwasa and Rumi’s characters don’t like that Natsuki has a date… I’m lost.  Maybe she doesn’t have a date and is just making it up to seem cooler or something.  Either way, it’s great that they’re kind of lecturing her and Natsuki gets to dance a little bit by the end before the school bell pulls them off stage.

I’m kind of disappointed that they only performed a shortened version, but I guess the lyrics don’t really match as well (depending on what they were going for), so that’s okay.  I just really would have enjoyed having Natsuki sing with them after she finally started dancing.

Infinity – Harusame Ruka

We switch back to the main plot with Maria going across the now-lit catwalk following her blue rose.  Nakatsuka follows her, confused.  (I had no clue that catwalk was usable… It totally wouldn’t fit in H2’s staging at G-Rosso, but wouldn’t it be interesting if it were used?  Maybe in ‘Rock da yo, Jinsei wa…” or ‘Ato 1cm’?)

Ruka appears on the lower stage to sing ‘Infinity’ again.  Apparenly this is like the ballad version or something, but it sounds pretty much completely different from the original.  And the lyrics have changed.  Maybe it’s the second verse?

The maids finally come into play in Ruka’s living room up on the main stage.  Nakaya and Tanabe look rediculous (in a good way) in their blonde wigs and matching costumes, but I guess it fits the rather predictable plot in a way.

Maria is still following her blue rose to Ruka as she enters the scene.  Ruka wakes her from her hypnotized state and they argue for a bit about how much they love one another.  The maids scamper off stage and Ruka plays ‘Infinity’ on the phonograph.  The leads’ talk climaxes in another near-kiss, but Maria runs off stage again… not that we couldn’t see it coming.

The maids come back, this time with a tea set, while Ruka sulks.  Somehow they decide that giving Ruka a cell phone is the perfect thing to do in this situation, and Nakaya takes one out of her handy-dandy cell phone pocket in her apron.

Renai Kinshi Jourei – maids; ((Harusame Ruka acts))

Tanabe and Nakaya get a bunch of solo lines each while explaining the rules of dating and the use of the cell phone.  They’re using choreography similar to the original A5 unit, but it seems to be a lot more pair-focused.  It’s cute and re-inforces their image of being a sort of comedy relief as this is so out-of-place.  These two get to sing both verses and choruses from the title unit, and only miss the bridge and that last chorus.

Ruka wanders off while the staff sings their unit song, and they decide to just keep on going, despite the lack of an on-stage audience.

109 – Takajima Maria, Ai, Isako, Utako, (Eri, lower club members)

A very neat smooth transitition brings us to another A5 song ‘109.’  The first few measures are taken up by the background panels being moved around in accordance with the music.  After seeing the original performance so many times, I must mention that they did a great job of matching these with the Akihabara48 Theater’s lighting for the top of this song.  Both are very similar.

Line distribution here involves Maria getting the first half of the verse (four girls’ worth of solos in A5), and Iwasa taking the build-up lines (two/three girls’ worth).  Maria gets the in-chorus lines, and then it switches around a bit for Rumi and Natsuki to split up those first lines and Maria gets the second half.  On stage in the second half, Katayama and then Nonaka are hit on by a few local men to act along to the lyrics.

The dance club’s eight normal members all help perform the song as random people who also may be near the 109 building.  Natsuki and Nakatsuka are the only ones in their school uniforms.  I’d guess it’s because Natsuki is in-character and is going out for her date or something, and then Nakatsuka is still searching for Maria with her book still in hand.  Iwasa and Rumi I’ll assume are at home or at school, still going over dance routines because they’re just so determined to do well, so they perform as random characters on the street.  While Iwasa goes all incognito in a red wig, Rumi gets to wear Tomo-chin’s dress from the ’10nen Zakura’ PV.  I knew I had seen that somewhere so I searched around to find it.  As for the lower club members, Uchida has a gal get-up going on, Nakata is a blue tartan lolita, Katayama is an old lady, and Nonaka is an office lady.  All of which are darn adorable.

The end of the song brings in Ruka with more thunder sound effects.  Here, someone acts as Ruka on the catwalk, with some sort of vocal recording when the real Ruka shows up upstage of the club members on the main stage.  ‘He’ walks down to Maria to again talk about their feelings or something.  Perhaps the relatively stormy weather, for all I know.

Hizukehenkousen – Takajima Maria, Harusame Ruka; ((Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, lower club members dance))

The only AKB48 song used as a duet between the lead couple is another K2 song ‘Hizukehenkousen.’  Maria takes up the first lyrics while Ruka comes in near the chorus.  The song is about ‘love’s international date line,’ so I’d assume it’s pretty late by now.

Cut short by vampire hunters, the supporting cast runs off stage.  This confirms my theory of Natsuki and Nakatsuka being the only ones in-character, as Natsuki waits for her friend before running off, unlike the locals who just bolt away as soon as possible.

The vampire hunters introduce themselves and while Ruka defends Maria.  Ruka uses those weird supernatural movements to fend them off and put the lead couple alone together on stage.  They share a brief kiss as the ‘Infinity’ instrumental is played again. and exit to conclude the first act.

Honehone Waltz – maids; ((lower club members dance))

Act II begins with AKB’s possibly most random song ever: a waltz with lyrics about bones.  The maids perform the unit while the four lower club members dance in the original sub-group’s costumes for ‘Honehone Waltz.’  If you’ll notice (like I did) it looks like there was some sort of shoe shortage in AKB world.  Nakata and Katayama both get real shoes, while Nonaka and Uchida get ballet slippers.  Remember this for later…

They end the song after the first chorus and the Honehone Dancers get their own MC.  I call it an MC because it seems like it’s unscripted.  In the Sayaka/Takamina DVD, they all talk a bit about who knows what (I know who: anyone who speaks Japanese), while in the Sae/Kashiyuki DVD, they introduce themselves as the ‘Honehone Sentai Bone Rangers Shocking,’ with Katayama as Bone Red, Nonaka as Bone Pink, Uchida as Bone Blue, and Nakata as Bone Black.  These improv lines are the only ones Nonaka, Uchida, and Nakata get.  Sad.  Again in the Sae/Kashiyuki version, they dance off stage playfully singing the chorus to the previous unit… Katayama missing her bone.

Once their underlings are gone, the maids go through a two member comedy routine that’s simply adorable.  All I can tell is that they’re talking about the leads of Infinity, but I’m sure it’s very funny.  They leave the stage after a few rounds with arms linked and in tune with a ‘Honehone Waltz’ instrumental.

Mori e Ikou – Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, lower club members

The curtains open up again with dance club (sans Maria) on stage for ‘Mori e Ikou.’  This is the first time the H2 song is performed without microphone stands, meaning there’s a whole lot of movement and new choreography going on.  Personally, I’m not a fan, but I do like how the lower club girls aren’t in the back the entire time, but rather mirror the lead four.

The girls sing the usual shortened version of the song, but stop the last chorus half-way through and the bridge instrumental is added at the end for a transition while they do a very ‘RIVER’-esque movement off stage and the supporting actors (now all vampire hunters) come on stage and find a petal from a blue rose.

Kyuuketsuki Densetsu – Vampire Hunter James (Kn/N)ight; ((support actors dance))

The men get their very own song now.  I’m assuming that this was made specifically for Infinity, but I could be wrong.  I wonder if Akimoto wrote the lyrics… (I know I have that sheet here somewhere….)  And I’m not sure of the title.  It could be ‘Kyuuketsuki Densetsu’ or ‘Kyuuketsuki to Ai no Shinjitsu.’

While the lead sings his little opera song, the other three do some sort of comedic dance/acting routine to entertain the audience.  From what I’ve read, their actions make up some sort of Japanese theatrical genre, but I’m too lazy to learn about that.  Once their song finishes, they leave the stage in search of their prey, Ruka.

Rio no Kakumei – Takajima Maria

Back to the leads, we are now in what I think is Ruka’s bedroom with Maria.  This is the only song of the entire production that features this pretty white costume for Maria…  Considering it was used in promotional media, I thought it’d be used a heck of a lot more.  Also, I don’t think Maria ever wears the matching shoes.  Yukirin might, but both the normal bedroom slippers and the white costumes’ shoes look really similar, so I don’t even know if they’re different.  Takamina’s Maria on the other hand, has furry white boots, which she definitely doesn’t put on.  And neither girl wears a lavish hair accessory like we had seen in earlier photos.  Boo.  I really liked those.

Making it’s first appearance since A2/B2/KII1/AX, ‘Rio no Kakumei!’  I love the song to pieces, so I was very happy they chose to use it.  I have no clue how its lyrics are supposed to match with the story.  The verse (which is one line shorter than usual in Infinity) has nothing to do with the plot and is set in Brazil during Carnival.  The chorus does match up with the story, but I’m still lost from earlier.  If they just used the second verse everything would make more sense.

MARIA – Harusame Ruka

Once Maria leaves the main stage, Ruka appears on lower stage all draped in her cape for her aptly-titled unit song.  She sings another shorter-than-short version and ends with speaking the last line of the chorus.

I don’t really have much to say here, as it’s pretty straight-forward: Ruka’s on the lower stage and emotionally sings the most fitting AKB song in Infinity.

The lead four from the dance club are still searching for their missing member, now with a ‘Mori e Ikou’ instrumental behind them.  They run into the vampire hunters and Natsuki recognizes one of them from their time at the beach.

The men introduce themselves and their intentions to the girls.  Eventually, the girls agree to help… or something.  Natsuki has a very central part in this section.  That means I’m happy.

Again the ‘Infinity’ instrumental sets the scene of Ruka’s living room.  Maria finally seems happy to be around Ruka.  Again, I’m at a loss as to the plot.  Soon, the club girls come to Maria’s rescue, but Maria doesn’t want to leave.  Ruka uses ‘his’ powers on the girls to make them stick to floor (wow: how dangerous…) and after more arguing between the main duo about how much they love one another, Ruka finally re-wins Maria over and the girls leave peacefully.

Alone, Ruka has a miniature break-down and goes into her next solo.

Kimi wa Pegasus – Harusame Ruka; ((lower club members dance))

The first word here is changed from ‘Kimi’ to ‘Boku,’ so I wonder how many songs have different lyrics for the musical.  On the lower stage, the lower club members perform what looks to be mostly the original choreography of the song.  I really like how there are four of them, since it echoes back to the unit.  Actually, I probably just like it because I’ve always wanted to see ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ by the usual Team K girls, but wearing either the ‘Ai no Moufu’ or ‘Tanjoubi no Yoru’ (NHK07 version) dresses.  These four in white dresses match my dream pretty well.

(Back to my thoughts on shoes: Katayama now has ribbons over her ankles while the others have either shoes or slippers.  I’m betting that Katayama’s pair is also Maria’s pair, so she has to make do with a different set since Maria has to wear that pair in the next song.)

Once they leave, Ruka continues on to the second chorus and ends the song on the stairs with the mirrors facing outward.  I enjoy how the lighting means that basically, we just see the audience for the last notes.

Deja vu for a moment.  (No, not the song.) This next scene opens up just like the first performance of ‘Infinity’ with the hospital bed, thunder, and sirens.  At least this time there is some bird chirping.

Naki Nagara Hohoende –  Takajima Maria; ((interlude: Infinity – Harusame Ruka))

Maria’s second solo is Oshima Yuko’s solo song.  I love this because I’ve always paired Yuko with Takamina, and I love when Yukirin takes over Yuko’s songs (or vice versa… or with Mai).

Once midway through the chorus, Ruka interrupts with ‘Infinity’ (Maybe this one is the ballad version again?) for a little while.  When it’s Maria’s turn to sing her lines, she instead switches back to ‘Naki Nagara Hohende’ to finish up the song.

Ruka visits Maria on the main stage before she is brutally attacked by the vampire hunters and a silver stick/nail/stake.  I’m pretty sure she dies… but then she summons up the power to sing once more.

Infinity – Harusame Ruka, Takajima Maria

Essentially we have the same song and dance (except no dance) as their first duet, but this time they’re a bit more emotional and interesting to watch since we can use context clues as to their characters.  Near the end, I think Ruka turns Maria into a vampire, but ‘he’ could just be giving her a hickey for all I know.

If I knew the lyrics and the story, this could be really touching, but alas… shucks.

The scene ends with a short monologue by Maria and then we’re at the dance competition with one of the support actors.

Saishuu Beru ga Naru – Takajima Maria, Ai, Isako, Utako, Eri, (lower club members, maids)

Though they’re suppposed to be a dance club, their version of K4’s ‘Saishuu Beru ga Naru’ seems to be slightly less choreographed than the original.  Maria gets the first, third, and fourth sets of lines, while the lead four club members get the second set in the first verse.  As for the second verse, Maria starts, then Natsuki and Nakatsuka add on, Iwasa and Rumi get a few lines, then the five of them go up to the chorus.  I’m super glad that Natsuki was included in that last line since it was originally her duet line with Ohori Megumi.  Finally we get another full-length AKB48 song, the first in a while.

The girls are back to the same orange plaid costumes that they used in Aitakatta.  I vote that Aitakatta has nothing to do with the musical, so I’ll just pretend that this is the first time I saw these:  Oh, they’re kind of odd…

Yakusoku yo – senbatsu members; ((Vampire Hunter James (Kn/N)ight, support actors dance))

Using the instrumental of ‘Yakusoku yo,’ the cast goes through their first round of bows.  We even have the four support actors on stage, making an even sixteen people.  I was all excited that the musical didn’t feature Akimoto’s favorite number (16… I’m just assuming of course), but once everyone got on stage at the same time, I realized that ten supporting members, two leads, and four supporting actors did in fact add to the Mamiko Takai’s Onyanko Club member number.

After ‘Yakusoku yo,’ the girls go through their usual bows, introducing themselves as the senbatsu for AKB Kagekidan.  The Sayaka/Takamina version has a bit of an extended ending with the curtain opening a few extra times, Natsuki getting to say a few words, the Sae/Yukirin pair appearing in their pretty white costumes, Sayaka/Takamina appearing in their main costumes, and introductions of the girls.

Lastly we get a couple of kisses from the lead duos and streamers!

All in all, a very good musical, especially since it’s the very first one done by AKB.  Natsuki’s inclusion definitely swayed my thinking, but it’s still pretty impressive even when she isn’t on stage.  I love how predictable the plot was and how one can draw so many parallels to what I’d guess would be it’s main inspiration, the Twilight series.  (I totally just read the first book this week.  I had always been planning to never read them, but I re-decided in honor of AKB Kagekidan Infinity.)

Anyway, I approve.

(That took me 22 minutes to read/fake-proofread.)

N + Agency!?
March 26, 2010

The past few days’ Yokohama Arena concerts have brought a few great performances such as Natsuki performing in her most popular unit ‘Kimi wa Pegasus,’ and Natsuki also took part in the New Team B’s ‘Wasshoi B!,’ ‘Shounichi,’ and ‘Shiroi Shirts.’ While this is new and exciting, the last concert’s last MC was the most important.

Kuramochi, Oya, Sato, Takajo, Kashiwagi

Watanabe Entertainment expressed interest in Natsuki!  So far, she has yet to sign with the agency, but I’m hoping that she will in the near future and we’ll see a blog (among other things) from her.  This is huge news, as she hasn’t had a non-AKS agency since mid-2007, when she was with Office48 with Noro Kayo for their Nacchinon unit.

While now all current AKB48 members are connected with agencies, Watanabe Pro houses five girls: Kashiwagi Yuki and Sato Natsuki (new) of the New Team B, and Takajo Aki, Oya Shizuka (new),and Kuramochi Asuka (new) of the New Team A.

After a Month of Inactivity
March 5, 2010

So… I didn’t update for an entire month, and so I’m just posting oodles and oodles of low-quality pictures.  And guess what is coming soon?  A review of AKB Kagekidan Musical Infinity!  The DVD(s) come out tomorrow.  Get excited.

Below you will find a completely un-organized collection of pictures.

  • BLTs
  • Theater Photos
  • Umeda Erika
  • Q-Sama!!
  • Aoki
  • Pakyura!
  • Musical Infinity
  • Majisuka Gakuen
  • Team K Senshuuraku
  • 2 Shots
  • Sakura no Shiori

Shibuya AX 2010 Top 100 Day 4
January 24, 2010

The last day of Shibuya AX 2010 is over!

For fans of Natsuki, this isn’t a very exciting setlist.  She only performed in Aitakatta and Korogaru ishi ni Nare, as well Sakura no Shiori in the encore.  This brings her total to sixteen songs.

The winner of this year’s popularity contest is Iiwake Maybe, the single that allowed fans to decide which girl got which position.  Today’s encore was AKB48’s new single Sakura no Shiori and the B-Side that was performed last night, Majisuka Rock’n’Roll.  The only full group song from SDN48 to make the list was Kodoku no Runner, which in this performance not only featured the usual sixteen girls but brought out the extra two Stage members and the five unders to put all twenty one girls on stage.  No3b performed two songs, including 3 Seconds, a song that has been exclusively performed on the TV drama they were featured in, Men-dol.  Last year’s number one, Shounichi, dropped to eight place, and this year’s runner-up song was the Under Girls’s Kimi no Koto Suki Dakara.

Announcer – Maeda At

25 – Kuroi Tenshi (Fujie, Maeda At, Takajo)

24 – Kodoku no Runner (Akita, Ito, Imayoshi, Umeda H, Urano, Okochi, Ohori, Kato, Kochi, Kondo, Sato Y, Serina, Qu, Nishikunihara, Noro, Hatakeyama, Mitsui, Kaida, Kohara, Tezuka, Nacchu) (SDN48)

23 – Tenshi no Shippo (Nakatsuka, Oota, Nakaya)

22 – Kataomoi no Taikakusen (Komori, Nito, Yonezawa with Maeda Am, Oya S, Ishida H, Matsui S, Suzuki M, Iwasa dancing)

21 – Aitakatta (Itano, Kitahara, Sato A, Shinoda, Nakata, Maeda At, Miyazaki, Akimoto, Oku, Ono E, Kasai, Kuramochi, Kobayashi, Sato N, Chikano, Masuda, Miyazawa, Kashiwagi, Katayama, Sashihara, Tanabe, Hirajima, Watanabe M)

20 – End Roll (Matsubara, Oshima Y, Umeda, Noro)

18 – Relax! (Takahashi, Kojima, Minegishi) (No Sleeves)

MC – Umeda, Oshima Y, Matsubara, Noro

18 – Only Today (Team A + Iwasa, Suzuki M, Nonaka)

17 – Zannen Shoujo (Nakatsuka, Watanabe M, Uchida)

16 – Kuchiutsushi no Chocolate (Oota, Kashiwagi, Hirajima)

15 – Korogaru ishi ni Nare (Team K + Kikuchi)

14 – Tsundere! (Sato A, Itano, Kitahara)

MC – Akita, Qu, Kato, Umeda H, Serina

13 – Baby! Baby! Baby! (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Sato Y, Shinoda, Takahashi, Maeda At, Minegishi, Miyazawa, Akimoto, Umeda, Oshima Y, Ohori, Ono E, Kasai, Kuramochi, Chikano, Miyazawa, Nito, Watanabe M)

12 – Temodemo no Namida (Kashiwagi, Takajo)

MC – Fujie, Miyazaki, Matsui J, Matsui R, Chikano)

11 – Naki Nagara Hohoen de (Oshima Y)

10 – Bird (Shinoda, Takahashi, Miyazawa)

MC – Shinoda, Maeda At, Masuda, Akimoto

09 – 3 Seconds (Takahashi, Kojima, Miyazawa) (No Sleeves)

08 – Shounichi (Team B + Uchida, Komori)

07 – Heart Gata Virus (Kitahara, Kojima, Takajo)

MC – Nacchu

06 – Namida Surprise! (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Shinoda, Takahashi, Fujie, Maeda, Minegishi, Miyazawa, Oshima Y, Ono E, Kasai, Miyazaki, Kashiwagi, Sashihara, Nito, Watanabe M, Matsui J, Matsui R, Komori)

05 – RIVER (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Maeda At, Shinoda, Takahashi, Minegishi, Miyazaki, Akimoto, Oshima Y, Ono E, Kasai, Miyazaki, Kashiwagi, Watanabe M, Matsui J)

04 – Oogoe Diamond (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Sato Y, Maeda At, Shinoda, Takahashi, Minegishi, Miyazaki, Fujie, Akimoto, Oshima Y, Ono E, Kasai, Kuramochi, Miyazaki, Kashiwagi, Sashihara, Watanabe M, Matsui J)

MC – Takahashi

03 – 10nen Zakura (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Shinoda, Takahashi, Fujie, Maeda T, Minegishi, Miyazaki, Akimoto, Ono E, Kasai, Kuramochi, Miyazaki, Kashiwagi, Sashihara, Watanabe M, Matsui J, Matsui R)

MC – Sato Y, Urano

02 – Kimi no Koto Suki Dakara (Sato A, Takajo, Fujie, Oku, Kuramochi, Oota, Katayama, Sashihara, Nakagawa, Nito, Matsui R, Ishida H, Kikuchi, Komori, Sato S, Maeda Am) (Under Girls)

MC – Noro, Ohori

01 – Iiwake Maybe (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Sato A, Sato Y, Shinoda, Maeda At, Takahashi, Minegishi, Miyazaki, Akimoto, Oshima y, Ono E, Kasai, Kuramochi, Miyazawa, Urano, Oota, Kashiwagi, Watanabe M, Matsui J)

E1 – Sakura no Shiori (all 50 members)

MC – Takahashi, Maeda At, Noro, Urano, Ohori, Sato Y

E2 – Majisuka Rock’n’Roll (Itano, Kojima, Shinoda, Takahashi, Maeda At, Akimoto, Oshima Y, Ono E, Kashiwagi, Watanabe M, Matsui J, Matsui R)

Announcer – Takahashi

Team A – (Itano, Kitahara, Kojima, Sato A, Sato Y, Shinoda, Takahashi, Takajo, Nakata, Fujie, Maeda, Minegishi, Miyazaki)

Team K – (Akimoto, Umeda, Oshima, Ohori, Oku, Ono E, Kasai, Kuramochi, Kobayashi, Sato N, Chikano, Noro, Masuda, Matsubara, Miyazawa)

Team B – (Urano, Oota, Kashiwagi, Katayama, Kohara, Sashihara, Tanabe, Nakaya, Nakatsuka, Nakagawa, Nito, Hirajima, Yonezawa, Watanabe)

Team RS – (Iwasa, Suzuki M, Ishida H, Oya S, Uchida, Sato S, Nonaka, Matsui S, Kikuchi, Komori)

Team S – (Matsui J, Matsui R)

SDN48 – (Akita, Ito, Imayoshi, Umeda H, Urano, Okochi, Ohori, Kato, Kochi, Kondo, Sato Y, Serina, Qu, Nishikunihara, Noro, Hatakeyama, Mitsui, Kaida, Kohara, Tezuka, Nacchu)

Source: Memolist