Finding Natsuki
January 8, 2010

A little over two years ago (the evening of November 6th, 2007, to be more specific), I read an article that would completely change my lifestyle.  One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I always invest a large portion of my free time in a certain hobby.  As time passes, this singular interest slowly changes and evolves into something new and different: admittedly, most of these obsessions stem from something of Japanese origin.

At the time of this particular cold November night, I enjoyed following anime and manga.  In my usual raid of various sites and forums related to the fandom, I read the newest post in a weekly column that reviews DVDs.  It mentioned a couple basic facts about AKB48 and linked to their addictive single ‘Aitakatta.’  My first impression of the group was that they were indeed cute, and they obviously could appeal to many people, but not my thing.  My issue with these girls was that they were much too sugar-filled for my tastes.  I already enjoyed J-Pop, but I usually stuck to more powerful songs, and generally steered clear of such high-pitched melodies.  Throughout this first YouTube clip, I kept glancing to the right  side of the screen and desperately waited for this song to end so I could watch one of the related videos named ‘BINGO!’  My reasoning that it looked better than the song I was currently listening to?  Pretty multi-color party dresses.

(Interestingly enough, my first brush with AKB48 was actually that previous summer.  I had bought an issue of Ribon which contained a brief overview of the up-coming ChocoMimi live action TV show, as the manga was featured in the anthology.  Unknown to me however, was that Team A member Masuyama Kayano was one of the two main characters on that show.   That means she was the first AKB48 member I ever saw… that I know of.)

After watching the first tri-Team AKB48 PV, I set out to find their discography.  Both songs I had heard were outside of my musical box, so to speak, but I thought they’d be a good addition to my library.  A quick search brought me to Stage48.

I had been using forums pretty much ever since I had discovered the internet, so I registered (with a username I had never used before) that night and started looking around for more music.  I was only able to find downloads for the PVs they had released thus far and a few random videos from their first couple concerts.  I threw these onto my iPod and didn’t visit S48 for a month or so afterwards, as I had never followed a musician before and saw no reason to keep up with a group of 48 girls that looked and sounded like one another.  Without much knowledge of the group, I avidly listened to my few AKB48 songs using my iPod’s video function while it was connected to the stereo in my car.  It was a nice little set of songs and I could glance at the screen and be entertained at stoplights.  It was convenient and it ended up making me do a little research on the concept and, more importantly, the girls with the fluttering skirts.

My first favorite member was none other than Maeda Atsuko.  She was pretty, easy to spot, became the wallpaper on my cell phone, and made ‘Only Today’ and ‘Nagisa no CHERRY’ my initial favorite AKB songs.  Once I started actually learning more about the group, I discovered that she was the most popular member of Team A and the of the entire  idol group.  Much like most other people brought up in the Western world, I suppose I have some sort of underdog complex, so I went out to search for a new favorite girl to support.

At this point, I hadn’t watched any Stage DVDs, and I kept hearing how wonderful they were and how they were such an important part of the draw of AKB.  In order to see just how great they were, I downloaded the newly-released A4 DVD.  Now, I’ve always been a sucker for costumes and theatrics, so this hour-long performance was the perfect thing to get me hooked on the group.  I slowly memorized the names of all of the Team A girls and watched their other three Stages to become more familiar with everything.  During this time period I ended up buying a bunch of AKB’s singles, which was a huge leap for me at the time.  All of my past hobbies included spending vast amounts of money on fairly simple goods, and this was the first musical group that I really felt obligated to collect their works.

Throughout the time I was watching Team A Stages, I looked for a new favorite member to replace Acchan, and I quickly found Nakanishi Rina.  She was prettier and more talented than my previous favorite, but I decided that she wasn’t interesting enough for me, so I kept her as the girl I supported the most in Team A, and continued my search.

After Team A’s DVDs, I branched out to Team K.  All of these girls were nice and all, but not many really stood out to me.  One that did pique my interest was Sato Natsuki, but I decided that was just because in the K3 DVD she looked exactly like a classmate of mine, except with black hair instead of blonde.  Around this time I also started finding and watching non-concert AKB videos.  One was the 48 Minutes Special, and the other was the +10 Re-Entry episode.  A combination of all of this media was integral in my falling for N.

Both shows feature a lot of Natsuki, but the second more so.  In the 48 Minutes Special, she co-narrates with Takahashi Minami and Minegishi Minami as Team A and Team K have a fan event at Mother Farm.  In the +10 Re-Entry episode, she works as Nacchinon with Noro Kayo to introduce the Akihabara48 Theater and host Chocolove’s release event.  Her bright personality and breath-taking looks along with her comedic approach to everything sealed the deal and Nacchi became my favorite member of AKB48.

I find it funny that I always stress that one shouldn’t pick a favorite member that gets lots of promotion, yet I definitely picked Natsuki right before her peak in popularity.  Around November/December 2007 – February 2008, Sato was pushed so, so much, mostly due to her participation in Nacchinon.  Among her accomplishments in this time were almost being senbatsu in ‘Romance, Irane!’ and getting a special appearance in its PV, getting a wonderful position in AKB48’s performance in the 58th Kouhaku Uta Gassen, getting more screen time than many of the listed senbatsu members in the ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008’ PV, getting into the ‘Saigo no Seifuku’ senbatsu, appearing on the new weekly AKB48 television show often and being what I think was a major component of its initial success, and getting her first acting role in a drama for a whole 18 seconds.

For the first few months that I supported Nacchi, she was totally hot stuff.  It’s fun to note that she had already ended her July 2007 – October 2007 stint with Office48 before she got all of this promotion, which goes to show you that an agency doesn’t necessarily have to mean everything for a member if Akimoto likes to push her.

After ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008”s promotion scandal, Natsuki’s position began to slowly decline, though it is most likely unrelated.  Research Students, called SEEDs at the time, began to fill up the holes left in the Teams’ rosters by graduated members leaving before beginning the Team Stages after Himawari-gumi ended.  These RS had been gaining more and more popularity before joining Teams, so once they were official members, they continued to get fans and overtook many original AKB members’ popularity, which ended up getting them into senbatsu, even though many original AKB members hadn’t gotten into senbatsu before despite their seniority.

Nacchi, who had been so, so close at getting into an A-Side again, was not a possibility anymore.  Girls like Kuramochi Asuka, Fujie Reina, Kitahara Rie, and Miyazaki Miho were taking up slots in senbatsu and older members, such as Natsuki, lost their chance, at least temporarily, as selected members.

Luckily, the majority of this Akihabara theater group’s work is not singles, but Stages.  K4 put Nacchi in a fairly respectable position within Team K, but gave her a not-so-hot unit.  Once K5 began, you could tell she was being pushed a bit more.  While she got some  pretty good spots (and costumes) in the eleven Team songs, she was placed in the ‘Dakishimeraretara’ unit with Kasai Tomomi and Kuramochi Asuka, both out of her league popularity-wise, but still held her own.  This unit, which is all about vocals, was completely different from her Nacchinon gig and her ’16nin Shimai no Uta’ unit, and made way for another position for her: a spot in AKB48’s first musical.  While I haven’t seen ‘Infinity,’ I’ve heard nothing but good things from those who have.  Apparently Nacchi is all over it, and was a wonderful addition to the cast.

Since ‘Infinity,’ Sato hasn’t had all that much promotion, but with the Teams shuffling soon, I really hope that that may change.  I’m going to stop this mini history lesson here, and end with a brief biography of my oshimen.

Name – Sato Natsuki

Birthdate – July 1st, 1990

Nicknames – N, Nacchi

Birthplace – Hokkaido

Agency – AKS

Unit Songs

  • ‘Kiss wa Dame yo’ (Team K 1st Stage)
  • ‘Koike’ (First Shuffle Concert)
  • ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ (Team K 3rd Stage)
  • ‘Itoshisa no Defense’ (Himawari-gumi 1st Stage)
  • Hajimete no Jelly Beans’ (Himawari-gumi 2nd Stage)
  • ’16nin Shimai no Uta’ (Team K 4th Stage)
  • ‘Hatsukoi Dorobou’ (Team K 4th Stage, Ono Erena substitute)
  • ‘Gomen ne Jewel’ (Team K 4th Stage, Miyazawa Sae substitute)
  • ‘Kagami no Naka no Jeanne de Arc’ (NHK08 Shuffle Concert)
  • ‘Namida no Shounen’ (JCB08 Shuffle Concert)
  • ‘Dakishimeraretara’ (Team K 5th Stage)
  • ‘End Roll’ (Team K 5th Stage, Noro Kayo substitute)
  • ‘Itoshiki Natassha’ (Budokan Shuffle Concert)
  • ‘Heart Gata Virus’ (Budokan Shuffle Concert)

Special Parts

  • ‘Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou’ senbatsu
  • Nacchinon member
  • Ice from AKB48 member
  • ‘Saigo no Seifuku’ senbatsu
  • ‘Kinjirareta Futari’ (radio performance)
  • ‘Anata to Christmas Eve’ (radio performance)
  • ‘Ame no Doubutsuen’ (‘Infinity’)
  • Fushidara na Natsu’ (‘Infinity’)
  • ‘Hikouki Gumo’ Theater Girls member (‘RIVER’)

Important Facts

  • attends Waseda University
  • blood type B
  • plays bass guitar
  • original Team K member
  • member of the New Team B