A barrage of pictures…
June 16, 2010

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.)

AKB48 Member of the Year 2009 Poll Results Announced!
January 17, 2010

Today, the outcome of the member ranking poll has been posted!  The two previous years have been hosted by Stage48 administrator Kyobu, but this time forum member Naomi graciously decided to put on the annual festivities.

Full Results on Stage48!

Each participant was granted ten votes to vote positively towards their favorites, with each of those ten votes assigned a different point value.  Also, each participant was given five votes to vote negatively towards their least favorites in order to more successfully gage the general consensus of each member.  All members of AKB48, SKE48, and SDN48, as well as all of their Research Students, Unders, and graduated members were on the ballots, with the only rule that they must have been in their group in 2009, which means anyone who graduated before last year wasn’t allowed to be voted for.

The full ranking posted is out of 107 girls, with the girls who didn’t have any votes for or against them not included.  I posted some interesting numbers below.

Top 10 in the ranking:

10. Ohori Megumi (+170/-2) 168
09. Minegishi Minami (+173/-1) 172
08. Sashihara Rino (+182/-5) 177
07. Itano Tomomi (+207/-18) 189
06. Miyazawa Sae (+201/-8) 193
05. Kasai Tomomi (+218/-14) 204
04. Kashiwagi Yuki (+237/-15) 222
03. Takahashi Minami (+297/-3) 294
02. Akimoto Sayaka (+340/-23) 317
01. Oshima Yuko (+340/-10) 330

‘RIVER’ senbatsu members

39. Matsui Jurina (+101/-66) 3
36. Shinoda Mariko (+61/-22) 39
23. Kitahara Rie (+91/-15) 76
19. Watanabe Mayu (+120/-34) 86
18. Maeda Atsuko (+171/-83) 88
17. Ono Erena (+106/-13) 92
16. Miyazaki Miho (+121/-18) 103
12. Kojima Haruna (+152/-26) 126
09. Minegishi Minami (+173/-1) 172
07. Itano Tomomi (+207/-18) 189
06. Miyazawa Sae (+201/-8) 193
05. Kasai Tomomi (+218/-14) 204
04. Kashiwagi Yuki (+237/-15) 222
03. Takahashi Minami (+297/-3) 294
02. Akimoto Sayaka (+340/-23) 317
01. Oshima Yuko (+340/-10) 330

Sato Natsuki (2007 – 10) (2008 – 25) (2009 – 39)

39. Sato Natsuki (+40/-5) 35

Not terrible if you ask me!  Maybe she’ll do better next year!

For the past three years, Stage48.net has been hosting a ranking based on the members of AKB48 and its sister groups.  Last year the Nihongogo forum was also invited to participate, giving a broader range of opinions.  Now that Hello! Online has made an AKB48 forum, maybe it will be included in the 2010 ranking?

My Thoughts on the Team Shuffle
November 13, 2009

I was thinking about the New Teams the other day, and I have a few theories that I’m using to summarize my thoughts on the shuffles.

Team A

Front Girl Theory:
Maeda Atsuko, Shinoda Mariko, Kojima Haruna, Takahashi Minami

The new Teams have an obvious pattern within their line-ups.  One is that the most popular girls stay on their own Teams.  Four Team A girls stayed for various reasons.  First off, Acchan is Team A.  They can’t change that.  Mariko is often more popular than Acchan, and she was petitioned into Team A.  Again, if some girls are going to stay on the Team, she’s one of them.  Harunyan was the voice of AKB for a short time, but now she’s just super popular and a major part of Team A’s history, and lastly Takamina is the captain of the New Team A and all of AKB48.  She’s a natural choice for leadership positions and another big component of the original Team.  These girls have all cemented themselves in senbatsu line-ups and won’t change for the world.

Pushed Girl Theory:
Takajo Aki

The second part of my Front Girl Theory include girls AKS is pushing constantly.  Aki was the only one who managed to remain on her first Team.  I believe that they must have given up on putting Fujie in as the new Acchan and now they’re working on Takajo as she has had a much better reception from fans.

New Team Theme Theory:
Nakata Chisato

The second half of my New Team Theory involves the general concept of the Team.  From the looks of which girls were selected for Team A, they’re continuing the tradition of Team A representing the classic idol group.  In this way, the feel of the New Team A is built around Chiichan.  She’s lovely and beautiful with a nice voice and figure to match.  She’s in many ways the perfect idol, albeit a tad quiet.  I think this new Team will have similar characteristics.

Lower Senbatsu Theme Shuffle:
Kuramochi Asuka, Katayama Haruka

The only somewhat popular girls that were moved to Team A are Mocchi and Haachan.  Both have wonderful, deep voices and along with Takamina, Mariko, and Sasshi, these two will probably be the power behind the lines that all the girls sing.  To fit my theory, these two match Chiichan’s image, and my idea of the new Team A: pretty in every sense of the word.

Correct Team Shuffle:
Matsubara Natsumi, Nakaya Sayaka, Oya Shizuka, Maeda Ami

The filler girls: Natsumi, Nakayan, Shiichan, and Ami also fit the new image.  Natsumi and Nakayan are just like the Chiichan model.  Shiichan doesn’t fit well with the other girls, but I feel this is the right Team for her since she’s been stuck as an RS forever and Team A has always been the most famous third of AKB.  Ishida and Uchida are also old RS, but they’ve had a bit more opportunity in my opinion.  On the other hand, this is the perfect fit for Ami, as she’s being pushed almost as much as Aki at some points.  On a Team with so many major members, girls that get pushed are very lucky.

Wrong Team:
Sashihara Rino, Oota Aika, Nakagawa Haruka, Iwasa Misaki

Some choices are just weird.  Sasshi does not fit with the other girls at all.  She’s totally Team K.  She could easily fill up Natsuki’s position as a strong member in songs and an important part of MCs.  Aika should have stayed in Team B.  She was beginning to get extra popularity there, and I’m sure if she was left there she’d get more spots to shine.  She would also fit my perception of Team B pretty well.  Harugon could be stuck back on Team B or on Team K.  Like Sasshi, she just doesn’t mix with the others well.  And Iwasa is too fierce for Team A.  She needs Team K.  Quickly.

Team K

Front Girl Theory:
Oshima Yuko, Ono Erena, Miyazawa Sae, Akimoto Sayaka

These four are from the two sides of Team K.  Since it’s conception, Team K has always been split between cute songs and cool songs.  Korin doesn’t completely subscribe to either of these genres, but she’s kind of the most popular member from the Team, so in this theory, she has to stay.  If she were to be shuffled, she’d definitely be Team A, as she’s the perfect mirror for Takamina.  Erena represents the adorable side of the old Team K.  She’s also really popular, so she’s stuck here, even though she might not fit the image quite right.  If one were to pick out the members are the epitomy of the original Team K, Erena would be the cute side, Sayaka would be the cool side, and Sae would be the versitile one.  Sayaka is hardcore and unbelievably talented, though she’s been shafted when it comes to senbatsu in the past.  Sae brings the energy and spirit of Team K.  While she doesn’t embody the core characteristics of the Team, as she seems more Team B-like, the other members work as a foil for her and she fits in quite well.

New Team Theme Theory:
Umeda Ayaka

Continuing my idea that the only unpopular girl that gets to stay in her original Team is the one that sets the mood of the New Team, Umeda gives off the fierce part of Team K’s aura.  Though she could fit pretty well with the new Team A, her dancing keeps her in her first Team.  In my theory, this means that the new Team K will focus much less on vocals, but put more attention into their dancing and presence: two things that Umeda is good at.

Lower Senbatsu Theme Shuffle:
Itano Tomomi, Minegishi Minami

Despite the fact that the front girls stayed in their original Teams, these two were moved.  Yes, they fit the new dance-y Team K perfectly, but their popularity, especially Itano’s, would make me think that they wouldn’t be shuffled.  Miichan, though, I’m aware has definitely lost some popularity over the years.  Anyway, these two work into the possible fierce image of the new Team K perfectly.

Correct Team Shuffle:
Yonezawa Rumi, Kikuchi Ayaka, Fujie Reina, Tanabe Miku, Matsui Sakiko, Uchida Mayumi

These girls all are great choices for the New Team.  Rumi’s always been a great dancer and vocalist.  She could fit the New Team A, but is fine here, too.  Kikuchi’s first unit was hardcore, and from fan recordings, she definitely rocked it, so this is good for her.  I’ve seen more of Fujie in her cooler roles, despite her rise to (short-lived) fame due to her cuteness as Mayu’s under, so Team K is a good decision.  Tanamin is… Tanamin.  And Tanamin is fierce.  So… yeah.  Got that one right.  Sakiko and Uchi are both very versitile, but I like them more in cool songs, so I feel they’ll do well in this coming Stage, even though they’ll probably just be in the background for most of it.

Wrong Team:
Nito Moeno, Nakatsuka Tomomi, Nonaka Misato

Moeno is obviously Team A.  She just isn’t in-your-face enough for this New Team K.  She’s perfect for the New Team A, though.  I still haven’t cared about Chris enough to have feelings about where she should have been placed.  I think either of the other Teams would be better than the power-house of this New Team.  And Nonaka is supposed to be Team A.  She should have been placed in Team A a long time ago since she’s been fairly regularly performing an RS position in a unit for so long.

Team B

Front Girl Theory:
Watanabe Mayu, Kashiwagi Yuki

Team B has always had very few representatives in senbatsu.  Mayu’s always been there, and Kikuchi was important for a while, too.  When she left, Kashiwagi took over.  In the beginning of Team B, I believe that the leaders were these two, Kikuchi, and CinDy, but these two are the current important members.  And they’re still on Team B, unlike those other two.

New Team Theme Theory:
Hirajima Natsumi

Nacchan was on Team A for a while, then transfered to Team B when it started up.  As said by nearly everyone, Nacchan is crack.  She is energetic and fun and entertaining.  She is essentially what I think they were aiming for originally for Team B.  Now that they are honing in on specific themes, I think that’s what the New Team B will be like.  Get ready.

Lower Senbatsu Theme Shuffle:
Kasai Tomomi, Miyazaki Miho, Sato Amina

Tomomi-chan getting thrown off Team K is crazy.  She’s popular enough that it shouldn’t have been an issue, so she’s almost sort of proof as to why I think they’re going for certain Team-by-Team images.  She’s too cute for the New Team K.  Miho and Amina, I think, are too energetic for the New Team A.  Here, I think they can prosper under a similarly interesting enviroment.  This also frees them from the shadows of the ever-popular original Team A front girls, as none of them transfered to Team B.

Correct Team Shuffle:
Kobayashi Kana, Chikano Rina, Masuda Yuka, Oku Manami, Sato Natsuki

These Team K girls are generally very adaptable when it comes to performances.  Kana was at one point a real front girl, and now that this shuffle has taken place, she may take a similar position again where instead of just leading unit songs (which she has in many Team K Stages), she may help lead the Team.  Rina was brand new to Team K when she was switched over to the New Team B, but she, similar to Fujie, can carry out any type of song.  Now, I think she’ll focus more on her cute side.  It might not seem like Yuka could fit here, but I think it makes sense.  She’s always been used when a deeper voice is needed, so she’s usually in hardcore songs.  In Team K songs that have a cuter twist, you can tell that she’s versitile enough to pull them off, too.  I think they want to start pushing her again, but this time show off how good her voice is in any song they put her in, not just the ones that were made for her.  Like Chris, I can’t say much about Oku.  She isn’t really energetic enough to be in Team B, but she doesn’t fit the others either, so I think they just threw her in the New Team B.  Finally, much like Yuka, Natsuki does well in most any song, and while they aren’t really taking a chance on her push-wise, since she’s been in a whole range of songs since her popularity peaked two years ago, I think they’re going to use her fun side to their advantage.  And the fact that they need someone to talk a lot in MCs and that she’s good at that helps, too.

Wrong Team:
Kitahara Rie, Ishida Haruka, Komori Mika, Sato Sumire

I don’t pay enough attention to Kitarie to really give thought to her, but keeping her on Team A or switching her to the New Team K makes more sense than putting her here.  Her ownly original unit points to Team B, but I don’t think it showcases her all that well.  Similar to anyone that should be on Team K, Ishida is just too fierce to not be on the New Team K.  I don’t care that she’s cute and energetic: she’s needed where she’s needed.  Komori doesn’t have enough fun to be on this Team.  She would fit with Ami on Team A.  And Sumire is too pretty for the New Team B.  She’s also supposed to be on the New Team A.  I’m not saying that no one on this Team is as pretty as her, but I’m saying that’s her only definable quality, and that’s part of the Chiichan model.


So yeah, those are my feelings on this new arrangement.  I’m excited for the new Stages, and I hope they start a little earlier than their currently expected to (K6 in December, A6 and B5 next year).

A Summer Festival Reviewed a Few Seasons Late…
October 26, 2009

Today I’ll be looking at the Natsumatsuri Hibiyayaon concert.  It’s a favorite of mine, so I don’t have all that many bad things to say about it.

Click the pictures for the review, or you can read it all below!


Let’s Keep on Reviewing! Onward to JCB Hall 2008!
October 23, 2009

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…


NHK Hall 2009 Concert Series – ‘Why watch when you can read?’
October 2, 2009

I really hadn’t planned to review this, but I felt the urge to write an actual post for the blog again, so: NHK09.

So, my last large-scale AKB48 concert review was their previous show at NHK Hall in 2008.  That was just one performance.  This reviews three (slightly cut-up) concerts put on within two days in April this year.  That said:


Concert 1 (Day 1)

Honehone Waltz

Honehone Waltz

Akimoto and company decided to start off this first-of-its-kind concert series with a not very popular, anti-climatic unit song.  Mariko, Mai, Acchan, and Kojiharu are used to bring Honegumi’s only A-side a sort of ‘mature’ appeal.  Usually performed by some of the youngest in AKB, four of the most popular members of Team A, and AKB48 for that matter, don the bone-adorned tutus and full-body coverings in an attempt for comedy.  Personally, I think the quartet did a perfectly fine job and I’m sure that their fans enjoyed seeing them in such an unexpected shuffle.  However, I do wonder about who is wearing whose costume.  Did they get new ones?  None of the girls look like they could fill out Maachan’s old costume, and Mariko is notorious for getting new costumes made due to her long torso.  Then again, AKB’s costumes always tend to include an abnormal amount of elasticity so the majority of the group can somehow fit in a single size.  Regardless, according to the backstage footage included on the third disc of the set, it seems like the girls had enormous troubles learning the choreography to ‘Honehone Waltz.’  I’m not sure if it’s because they weren’t taught it by their usual choreographer and they had only Erena, Oku, (and possibly Tomo-chin) to learn it from, or if they weren’t given time to perfect the steps.  Either way, they seemed rather frightened by what looks to be some of the least complex choreography the group has ever used.

Korogaru Ishi ni Nare

Korogaru Ishi ni Nare 1

Next up is Team K’s trademark song with oodles of ‘We are the Team K’s.  I wish that they would phase this out or something.  I understand that it’s a huge part of Team K’s identity, but I’ve never really liked the song, and it’s been in EVERY concert so far.  Team K has so many great full-Team songs to choose from that I feel could be more exciting to watch.  I am glad that they’re using the K5 encore costumes, though.  They match the anthem well.

Korogaru Ishi ni Nare 2

Oh, and there was like NO Natsuki in this performance.  Really.  That’s another thing about ‘Korogaru’: the girls don’t switch positions much, so you only get to see the girls in the front row.

Tadaima Renaichuu

Tadaima Renaichuu 1

With another mainstay of AKB, Team A starts with their A5 opener.  It’s such a great song, and such a great way to keep the energy going but continuing Team A’s ‘image.’  The lack of a full Team doesn’t hurt the performance as the song does a good job of not showcasing any members (aside from Maeda) and allowing all the girls a little chance to shine.  While they might want to change up the costumes at some point (to just about anything, really) the performance seemed pretty fresh with the new stage elements for this concert.  On that note, let me mention that I love the set up: two tiers of performance-able stage space, stairs abound, and entrances/exits in the back.  It’s so ideal for a group like AKB that can efficiently be used for a single girl’s performance or the whole lot of AKB48, SKE48, and their respective RSs.  Also, the pretty lights on the steps do a great job with their effects.

Tadaima Renaichuu 2

At first I was all “Who is that beautiful girl?” and then I was all “Oops.  It’s Chiichan.  I knew there was a reason why she’s immediately after Natsuki.

Wasshoi B!

Wasshoi B 1

Wow, they really went all out and included another Team-specific song.  That’s all right, though, since I, along with everyone else on Earth, love ‘Wasshoi B!’  The sparkly ‘Anataboshi’ costumes do not go with the song whatsoever, but it’s nice to have such pretty costumes on such as pretty stage with such pretty girls.  It all matches.  Except the song.  It’s not pretty: it’s in-your-face.  Also, I feel like it’d be nice if Team B could perform a different song immediately after this so they could carry the energy they just brought out into something other than an MC.

Wasshoi B 2

Favorite part of the song.  So cute, yet so innovative for AKB.

Te wo Tsunagi Nagara

Te wo Tsunagi Nagara

Onto SKE48.  First off, pretty lights.  Anyway, SKE continues to perform really well and impress me.  This seems to be their big promotional song before they got their debut single, and it obviously sounds very AKB and flows with the rest of the concert.  The girls all seem really excited to get to perform their own songs in their own uniforms for once, and I’m glad they’re not singing ‘Party ga Hajimaru yo’ again like they always used to do.  (As a side note, has anyone else ever wondered if the girls got to pick their partners for the song?  I’m just imagining two girls who really dislike each other getting paired up.)

Chaimu wa Love Song

Chaimu wa LOVE SONG

I love this song so much.  It’s so cute and, though I’ve yet to read the lyrics, seems so odd.  I mean, I’m guessing that they’re singing about the chimes in a love song… while singing a love song with chimes in it.  If my lyrical guess is correct, it would fit the Akimoto-mentality of songs about things idols don’t usually sing about.  Like how they’re not idols, for example.  So, the song’s great, the line distribution is questionable, and the bubbles are perfect.  Yay.  Oh, and I really wish they would switch to their costumes that I presume are underneath their school uniforms.  I mean, they have the time and the resources.  Why not?



And we’re back to ‘SKE48.’  Akimoto just seems to be so proud of himself that he was able to re-write this one song that now he has the girls perform it all the time.  While yes, it is pretty clever that he matched up new lyrics so well, the song does get boring after a while.  At first when Team KII and the RS showed up, I was wowed by their number, but then I realized that it was probably just under 30-ish girls, and I’m used to that many by now.  But they do seem to take up quite a bit of the stage.  Also, I love how the non-Team S girls’ costumes are conservative almost-plausible school uniforms while Team S has those pretty, obviously stylized variations on uniforms.  And when I say ‘love,’ I actually mean that I think it’s silly.

Kuroi Tenshi

Kuroi Tenshi 1

Naturally, Acchan’s unit gets to perform both verses of their song.  The second verse is much more climactic than the first, so I guess that makes sense, but why can’t more songs have both verses sung?  (I’m looking at you ‘Shamu Neko’ and ‘Dakishimeraretara.’)  The girls here do an excellent job and the expensive lighting really helps fill up the stage.  Personally, my favorite parts of the lighting are when the step lights are randomly white, blue, and red, almost resembling the ‘sea of headlights’ that Akicha’s solo line describes.  Also, I think it’s pretty funny when they grab Acchan by the wrists and pin her to… nothing, since there isn’t a wall in the center.

Kuroi Tenshi 2

Oh, and Fujie’s performance of this song is just magical.  You can really tell that they put her in Acchan’s unit because she’s being pushed so much.  In my opinion, she does much better in darker units rather than lighter fluffy ones like ‘Hajimete no Jelly Beans.’

Tenshi no Shippo

Tenshi no Shippo 1

A song from black angels to a song with white angels.  Aww.  Okay, this is by far the cutest unit song AKB has put out… ever.  I love how it’s so simple and doesn’t have any underlying thoughts: it’s just plain adorable.  I’m glad that Aika got the chance to perform her unit in a larger concert like this, even though it can’t possibly be all that popular.  And Yukirin is a good substitute for Gussan’s position.  I guess that since she’s one of AKB’s famed selected members now, she gets priority over other girls for filling in sometimes.  I would kind of expect Haachan to get it though, since she’s filled in a few times before.  But oh well.  Anyway, did anyone notice the lack of balloons?  This would be an excellent time to get out huge, monstrous balloons for the girls to carry before setting it afloat.  Better yet, a few stage hands could hide backstage or something and help the girls hoist one of those huge balloons they use at parades.  Maybe of a tail to match the song.  That would be creative, wouldn’t it?

Tenshi no Shippo 2

Nakayan really does get a great position in the song as it’s a three-tier unit ala ‘Hatsukoi Dorobou’ with one girl getting half the lines, then the second getting a little bit more than the third girl.  Her beautiful voice really fits with the 80s-like instrumental that pops on during her solo.  Go Nakayan!

Wimbledon ni Tsuretette

Wimbledon ni Tsuretette

First off, the line distribution in this song really perplexes me.  The lead gets next to no lines, while the other two get multiple lines during the verse.  I forget if the second verse is different, but I remember that it was odd the last time I saw an S2 LOD.  And it’s not like Tsukina has a bad voice or something.  I mean, some AKB unit songs are similar (‘Faint.’ to some extent ‘Tsundere!’ as Tomo-chin’s lines are in the often un-preformed second verse… basically Tomo-chin doesn’t get many lines), but this one completely throws me off.  It almost feels like Kumi or Sayuki lead the unit while Takai back-dances.  Weird.  Oh, and did everyone notice how different the costumes were?  Basically, it looks like the girls are all princesses of different places or something.  This is kind of similar to ‘Tenshi no Shippo.,’ as they use the same colors and both have varying costume details.  So there’s another clever transition.

Ame no Doubutsuen

Ame no Doubutsuen 1

I never noticed that the camel, currently played by Chikano instead of Imai, never got any lines in the verse and was lumped with the two leads, Erena and Kana.  That kind of makes me angry… but again, I can’t change anything, can I?  This is yet another cutesy unit making it a four-song streak that melts all of the wotas’ hearts.  I find it a bit funny that Nonti is so ‘old,’ yet she’s always in the song when Team K performs it.  Notably, during the recent Team-only tour in August, Noro performed ‘Ame’ and gave up her spot, complete with amazing solo lines, in ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ to either Mocchi or Yuko.  I don’t know if that’s her choice or management’s, but it still happened.  Back to the song, though, I remember showing AKB to a friend of mine this summer, and when we got to this song (from the Natsumatsuri Hibiyaon concert), she had me stop to watch it and she was amazed by just how adorable they can be.  At this point she even went to one of the four Japanese girls that were in the room and told her that she should try out for AKB and wear the penguin costume.  (The Japanese girl quickly said she would never do such a thing and laughed along with her friends at the absurdity of being a member of such a group.)

Ame no Doubutsuen 2

The Nonti-ness of this performance is wonderful, especially the part when she looses her hood and she’s just as beautiful as usual despite being in an oversized panda-themed dress.  I just wish there were more Chikano here.



I’ve never been fond of this song, but this performance really saved it for me.  The combination of the club-like spot lights and colorful dresses really made me enjoy it.  As with most idol music, it’s usually better to see performed rather than just listening to it.  Also, the performance gave a really nice sensation of the music mounting and mounting during the chorus when Haruna, Takamina, and Miichan sing their respective lines.  I hadn’t noticed that during my infrequent listens to the song.  They should probably perform a different song, though.  Maybe ‘3 Seconds’?  That would be too good.

Hatsukoi Dash

Hatsukoi Dash

WOW.  They totally shortened the song!  That was impressive.  I’m pretty darn sure that AKB hasn’t ever had one of their songs shortened to JUST the first verse and chorus.  Usually they’re way too restrictive with that sort of thing, unlike the other leading idol group who will turn singles into solos and has more medleys than you can shake a stick at.  Anyway, their mini performance is just as much fun as you might think it would be, which means that if you like Watarirouka Hashiritai, then you’ll like the song, but if you don’t, you won’t like the performance.

Yaruki Hanabi

Yaruki Hanabi

Their second half-song is their second single.  It’s just as bouncy as usual and keeps the flow from their last song going.  I’m glad that this one has a bit better line distribution than ‘Hatsukoi Dash,’ but it’s still very Mayu-centric with a hint of Aika, Nacchan, and almost no Harugon.  The one thing that makes me a little bit upset in this performance is that Aika doesn’t get to sing her solo lines in the lead-up to the last chorus.  That was my favorite part, but it wasn’t done in the concert here.  Bummer.

Kaiyuugyo no Capacity

Kaiyuugyo no Capacity 1

The second set of Team songs starts with the after-unit-section closer song from K4.  I’ve never been a huge fan of it for reasons unknown to me.  It’s very powerful and flashy, while at the same time allowing the girls’ vocals to be heard, all things that I enjoy.  Maybe this is due to the fact that I love the two songs preceeding it, and so this pales in comparison.  The performance here in a large event hall seems to add much more energy and excitement.  I like how there aren’t many opportunities to lead in the song and it tends to be a free-for-all for attention, so the girls go all out.  And the sparkly costumes help gather any attention needed.

Kaiyuugyo no Capacity 2

Natsuki got a bunch of shots here and it made me proud to be her fan.  In her quartet lines with Sae, Kana, and Ohori, you can really hear her voice, as expected.  I very, very rarely hear her sing with Kana, but with Sae, she usually stands out as they tend to harmonize weirdly, and with Ohori, Meetan’s voice generally adds a more sensual after-taste.

Joshikou-sei wa Yamerarenai

Joshikou-sei wa Yamerarenai

I think that an interesting thing here was how they brought in the ‘Itoshiki Natasha’ unit.  In a usual Stage performance, Miku, Sasshi, and Haachan don’t come onstage till the second verse since they were busy changing costumes after their MC.  Here, they kept them on stage the whole time, but just threw them in the back for most of the first verse and chorus.  I would have thought that they would sing with their groups from the second verse, but I guess not.  Also, please note how they didn’t do their little tournament at the end of the song.  I’m kind of glad this did happen, as it shortens their stage time, making room for more songs, and also means that Mayu doesn’t get yet another chance to shine, as I’m sure they would ‘rig’ who won to showcase the star of Team B.

JK Nemurihime

JK Nemurihime

I actually prefer the performance of ‘JK’ at the theater instead of this.  Here, there seems to be a lack of controlled spotlights and the entire stage is filled with white light.  It kills the coolness that the intro suggests.  I do, however, like how they took the first formation and somehow doubled it to fit onto the two Team-sized stages.  Also, I’m glad that they turned around the girls who usually face the mirrors in the theater.  It might be interesting if they kept the girls facing back, but had the monitor use the cameras from backstage to show their faces while singing.  Either way, they aren’t completely hidden as I was afraid they would be.  Anyway,  I liked this more during the Stage performances, and I think the lighting really affected the mood of the song and turned it into a really boring show.

Sakura no Hanabiratachi

Sakura no Hanabiratachi

The continuous AKB48 single collection starts with their debut indie single, ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi.’  This performance is with the AKB48 RS and led by the five SKE48 girls that had performed their unit songs during the third concert.  Of course, they are missing Jurina, but she pops up later.  I loved watching the performance because it was full of girls that I was just a little bit unsure of their identities, and so the whole time I was excited when I figured out who was who and where they were positioned in the song.  A few short-comings that I disliked were how they weren’t wearing the costumes Team S wore during their run of S1, and there weren’t any fake cherry blossoms falling down during the last chorus.  I also just realized how weird the fact that the color purple is used to signify the song, but the costumes are in blue hues, and sakura are pink…  Whoever chose the lighting in A1 was an odd one.

Skirt, Hirari

Skirt, Hirari

Next is AKB’s famous song with up-skirts.  Performing that night were the most popular seven of the current time.  I’m guessing that if Yuko were there, she’d replace Takamina like in the JCB Hall concert from December.  My big complaint here is that they switch up this line-up so much and the original girls don’t get their place to shine.  I mean, these Team A girls are the ones that made AKB famous.  They should get their original spots.  Takamina getting no lines makes no sense whatsoever.  Also, they could have given Erena and Takamina Rina and Tomo-chin’s lines if they’re going to do it this way.  I know that in the ‘Skirt, Hirari’ single, all seven girls get solo lines, and I know that in the Stage version (pre-shuffle) all five girls get lines.  Now, when they did shuffle A1, Rina and Itano joined the original five ala the single.  Did they get their solo lines, or was it presented just like this?  There isn’t any video from those performances, so I don’t know if I’ll ever know.  Regardless, it’s stupid to leave two girls with no solo lines when it’s totally precedented that they can if they were to want them to have them.


Aitakatta 1

As their first single with a major label, ‘Aitakatta’ comes next.  Awesomely enough, they made more of the original A2 costumes, and now all of the Teams have gotten to wear them!  This makes me think that Erena and Aki may have been the only ones who never got to perform in that costume… but whatever.  They all look splendid in it.  It’s interesting to see that the performance was done by mostly less popular members.  From what I can tell, Sae is the lead girl with Sayaka, CinDy, and Kashiwagi as the other ‘leads’ if you could call them that.  Kashiwagi even gets to do the shouting part in the last chorus.

Aitakatta 2

I love how all of the girls seem just completely excited to perform this one.  It’s certainly not my favorite single, but I’ve found that it’s the one original that I love sheerly due to it’s nostalgia.  I always think back to the performance of Kohaku with all kinds of Natsuki  screen time.  Ah, those were the days when Natsuki and partner-in-crime at the time Noro Kayo were very, very close possibilities to become senbatsu.

Aitakatta 3

But yeah, super-duper energetic performance by the girls here.  It’s fun to see them run around and have a good time!

Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru

Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru 1

Finally!  Another performance of ‘Seifuku!’  They hadn’t performed it since Shibuya AX 2008.  Yeah, so almost a year and a half, and such an important single in AKB history.  It was the one that really set AKB48 apart from the other idol groups.  They weren’t afraid to take chances.  A huge reason why I’m glad they did this single collection is that this is a good way to bring new fans up-to-date.  Casual AKB fans who maybe just buy the occasional CD, maybe ’10nen Zakura’ for instance, given the time this concert was held, might not know about some of these songs that AKB can and will perform.  Especially if a fan doesn’t go to Stage performances at the AKB48 theater, they won’t know what they’re missing.

Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru 2

Oh, and they brought out the flames again.  That’s just one more thing I love about ‘Seifuku.’  Now, let me add a little rant in here.  Why on earth did Takajo Aki get Rina’s spot.  Rina has always been up there in my ranking.  Specifically, she’s so far been Natsuki’s only rival in stealing my number one postion.  This means that I generally don’t like anyone who substitutes in for her for any song whatsoever.  Examples include Yukari in what should have been Rina’s position in ‘Kioku no Dilemma,’ had she not been away from performing at the time, and Asuka in ‘Mail no Namida.’ Takamina in ‘Kikyou,’ and Miho in ‘Shinkirou’ at the Shibuya AX 2009 performance.  Now, I’m just now getting over Yukari taking Rina’s H1 and H2 positions because, after all, she is her under, and literally just within the past few days I’ve realized that Asuka was a perfectly fine substitute because if they had to choose someone, it was going to be a girl that they pushed a lot, and one with a soft, good voice.  Asuka’s one of the only ones who fits that bill (and I’ve decided that she’s destined to become on of the next front girls), so I’ve let that go.  Takamina is a great choice as she has a similarly great, though completely different voice, and Miho’s performance was pretty good, but it was saved by the fact that Chiichan subbed in for Haruna.  Anyway, I think it’d be neat if they would have chosen Mai to take Rina’s spot, as she was graduating in this concert series, and I’ve always loved her and Rina together in whatever song possible ala ‘Dear My Teacher.’  This could all be fueled by my dislike that Aki somehow got on the fast track for senbatsu-ism… Back to the concert!

Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou

Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou 1

First fire, now smoke?  I love reoccurring extras!  The second of the dark singles, brings Natsuki back to the stage!  I’ve always had some sort of respect for the song, but it’s never been one of my favorites.  Sure, the lyrics are good, the PV is wonderful, the music is interesting, and the cast is superb, but it’s just never clicked with me, similar to how I never paid attention to Yuko till relatively recently.  (On the topic of Yuko, it looks like Asuka got to sub again.)

Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou 2

Natsuki got a fairly okay amount of screen time here compared to previous performances.  In the PV she was never focused on at all, and was only shown in the background in the dance shot, usually behind the less popular senbatsu, and a few times in the story scenes, notably with Rina, Yuka, and a cell phone.

Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou 3

She even got to be the first girl shown on the last ‘dareka.’  That actually means something to me.  How sad.  But, that makes me remember a review of a single song from a Hello! Project Wonderful Hearts concert where they actually counted close-ups of members. That sounds like it might be fun…



Comes out to cheer the gloomy corner of AKB48 single history, this time with pretty much the original cast of the first Kenkyuusei shows.  I think that because I happen to love a ton of the girls that are part of this generation, I enjoyed this performance fully.  I just wish that Asuka could have performed here to make it as perfect as possible.  I’m not sure who else would need to be present to make it a full Team, but I have a feeling that Deguchi Aki would have to be here, and then cut a few of the newer girls, but I don’t know who.  The addition of ex-RS, now Team S member Nakanishi Yuuka was an excellent choice since I never saw her perform with the other girls.  In this performance the girls get to wear the PV dresses and I couldn’t be happier about this.  It would be completely possible to do a complete A4R-Kenkyuusei show and just use the ugly casual outfits that they use in the Stage performance, but here they were able to wear my favorite of the BINGO! costumes (the others being the NHK07 costumes and the H1 costumes) in all their colorful glory.


Fujie looks incredible and shares her lines in the verse with one of the RS graduates of the night, Uriya.


Chiichan takes Mariko’s position.


And Chikano just looks darn adorable.  I really want to go study who took who’s spots during the days this was performed.  I know there is a thread at Stage48 which I think I made that has all of this information in it (I didn’t come up with it all, someone (Jasey?) gave it to me.)

Boku no Taiyou

Boku no Taiyou 1

New party dresses!?  That’s right, a few of the dresses were used in the ‘Boku no Taiyou’ PV, but a bunch are new!  I’ve always wanted to see AKB perform the song in those dresses, so this was a great performance for me.  Even better: there’s Natsuki!  This line-up features only one senbatsu of the single, Sayaka.  The other seventeen girls seem to be the non-ex-RS and non-senbatsu of ‘Yuuhi.’  I’m not a big fan of the H1 line distribution, though, as it seems like twelve-ish of the girls sing, while the others just dance until the chorus.  I’d prefer that all of them get spots in the chorus to sing, or half or less of them.

Boku no Taiyou 2

The three solo lines are sung by Aika, Harugon, and Nacchan.  The thing I love about this is that these three are the non-Mayu parts of Watarirouka Hashiritai.  Mayu might have gotten way more lines in those two singles they performed earlier, but now these girls are leading another single.  It just made me feel happy for them, as despite being selected for a sub-group, they are still always overshadowed.

Boku no Taiyou 3

Natsuki’s performance was great.  I’m not sure, but is her dress Mariko’s PV dress, or is it a new one?  The back looks extra-weird.  Either way, I’m glad that she performed in the song, despite me not thinking that she would get to.

Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka?

Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka?

The third single in a row with the PV’s original costumes is ‘Yuuhi’ with nearly all the senbatsu members.  Yuko was getting over surgery at the time, so she only participated in MCs at the concert series.  Kashiwagi replaced her for this song.  One thing I love about ‘Yuuhi’ is how calm and easy it is, yet it still has a danceable beat and is interesting to listen and watch.  The school-girl-meets-gogo-dancer-meets-plaid costumes are a great little touch with their boots that apparently leave skid marks.  I honestly can’t say much about this performance as it’s rather typical, even though they haven’t performed it in concert like this before.  It’s a nice moment of rest during the medley.

Romance, Irane!

Romance, Irane! 1

‘Romance, Irane!’ was the first single I was really around for as an AKB fan.  Technically, I think ‘Yuuhi’ was released after I learned of AKB and joined Stage48, but over that entire month I wasn’t really paying attention to the group and I would just listen to their music and some of their PVs, similar to all the other artists I liked at the time.  AKB48 was the first musical interest that actually evolved into a fandom for me.  I remember when information was slowly leaking out about ‘Romance.’  First we found out the title and that it was the first song from H2.  A Stage48 forum member told us that it was “like Seifuku on steroids.” Then we received rips from the theater and the radio.  I listened to the song non-stop for a while, keeping it on loop while I did my nightly crunches.  I wasn’t a big fan of the song to start with, but I slowly ended up liking it more and more.  Its disco-like vibes, powerful choruses, and harmonic verses are one of my favorites, with me eventually learning some of the choreography and most of the lyrics, studying the costume distribution (Acchan’s has a row of flowers across the bust, Itano and Nozofisu’s has a silver belt, and Hana has extra ruffles on her gold costume; there are six different kinds of costume sets; and there are three possibilities of what the girls wear under their boots: white socks, purple stockings, and nothing visible), and learning about the lyrical structure of AKB songs.  I love how dramatic it is and how lavishly ‘Romance, Irane!’ is presented.  This concert’s performance was nothing to laugh at: perhaps my favorite of the shows it’s been in.

Romance, Irane! 2

From all the concert reports I read, everywhere said it was Maimai with Team 2.  This is definitely not the most complete information, as it’s actually Maimai, Mariko, Yukari, and Sayaka from the senbatsu, Natsuki, Nonti, and Yuka from Team 1, and then whoever is left from Team 2 and the vast majority of Team B.  Although, yes, I do love that Natsuki gets to sing in a trio due to the H2 set-up of lines, I do wish that they would break from this format and add in Team B in the future so they aren’t just stuck dancing in the back.  Maybe since Team B has participated in the G-Rosso shows, they’ll change this in future performances.

Romance, Irane! 3
I loved the different girls singing taking the senbatsu lines.  Notably Asuka and Meetan taking Acchan and Kojiharu’s lines.

Romance, Irane! 4
One idea that I personally think would be cool for concerts with ‘Romance’ directly before ‘Baby!’ would be to have the girls wear the costumes for ‘Romance, Irane!’ with their costumes for ‘Let’s get Ato 1cm’ underneath like they do in H2, and do a quick change between songs.  The golden two-pieces would match ‘Baby!’ perfectly!  But, these NHK08 party dresses are also pretty gosh-darn awesome.  Also a great choice for the songs.

Baby! Baby! Baby!

Baby! Baby! Baby! 1

AKB’s second completely summer-inspired single appears next.  Guess what, I have another story.  I gave one of my dance teachers a CD of various songs, and this one happened to be on it.  She ended up liking it, and when one of the jazz classes she taught needed a song for our spring recital, the students voted and ‘Baby! Baby! Baby!’ was declared as the winner.  That’s right, AKB can appeal to tween girls.  Who knew?

Baby! Baby! Baby! 2

As per usual with all-AKB performances of this single, all of the girls stay on one section of the stage and there are tons of traffic jams and just general closeness happening on stage.  Maybe they’ll re-work this?  I happen to love the end of this performance with Jurina completely stealing the camera away from Takamina.  It’s like my favorite front girl is replaced with an eleven-year old girl.  Oh wait, that’s not an over-statement or anything.

Oogoe Diamond

Oogoe Diamond

‘Oogoe’ is another cornerstone in the new AKB48 discography.  It’s the first single with their current label, King Records.  When it was first announced, there was much speculation on whether or not this would be a darker or more powerful single.  As it turns out, it ended up being more energetic and stronger than we expected, and it also featured a few things I felt would be essential to a new first single.  A) It would be timeless.  Songs with too much of an emphasis on one topic tend to get old very quickly.  B) It would reflect the current AKB.  ‘Oogoe’ features an all-new front-girl, a much more compex-sounding instrumental, more intricate choreography, and more interesting line distribution.  C) It would be the new ‘Aitakatta.’  While it has yet to replace this fan-favorite, it has all the fundamental workings of the famous single: a repetitive word “Aitakatta/Daisuki.” lyrics about confessions of love, a mode of transportation is referred to, and trademark choreography.  I think it was a rather successful release.  This concert’s performance is great.  Besides the fact that the girls in back get to do next to nothing as usual, the performance is fun to watch.  My only question is, “What on earth are the Kenkyuusei wearing!?”  That’s literally what I was thinking the entire time I first watched the DVD.  During that viewing, I paused it multiple times to try and guess which costume they could possibly have on: “‘Wagamama na Nagareboshi’?  ‘Tanjoubi no Yoru’?  No, they’re only white.  ‘Virgin Love’?  No, they’re tiered.  ‘Daisuki’? No, they’re simpler.”  Seriously, I was completely perplexed as to where these costumes came from.  I gave up and decided that they were new.  (Actually come to think of it, are these from the Natsumatsuri Hibiyaon concert?  I seem to remember the Moeno wearing something similar…)

10nen Zakura

10nen Zakura 1

Both verses of ’10nen Zakura’ are performed, presumably because they had yet to have been done in a big concert before.  For those taking score, ‘Aitakatta,’ ‘BINGO!.’ ‘Romance, Irane!,’ and ’10nen Zakura’ were the only singles in the continuous single collection to have both verses performed.  Again, the song is done in a three-tier performance with senbatsu and substitutes on the lower layer, other members on the middle layer, and RS at the top.  At least this way they aren’t squished.  One thing I hope for in a future concert is for ‘Oogoe’ and ‘Zakura’ to be done in school uniforms for the first time.  I mean, they are school-themed, not princess party dress-themed.

10nen Zakura 2

Natsuki was given a semi-close-up approximately once.  I felt the need to include a capture of her, despite her looking less-than-excited.  Yui behind her looks poised to eat her.  Watch out.

10nen Zakura 3

Oh no!  There’s a Nacchan down!  I repeat, a Nacchan down!

Dareka no Tame ni – What Can I Do For Someone? –

Dareka no Tame ni 1

For the first time in a multi-Team concert, AKB performs A3’s ballad.  I like the white costumes used during the Stage performances, but this is okay too.  I’m glad they’re finally getting to use these songs, as every AKB Stage has had at least one ballad.  I’m hoping that ‘Dakedo….’ is used at some point.  I have to wonder if they’re saving that for a super special graduation, though.  Not that this series doesn’t have a super special graduation or anything…  Now, I’m one of those people who usually don’t like ballads, so while this one is very nice and the performance is beautiful, I really can’t say it strikes me as that amazing.

Dareka no Tame ni 2

Now, I’m trying to figure out if the audience is singing along during the chorus, or if it’s just the recording.  A concert hall-filling choir of wota gives me a rather cute picture in my head.


AKB Sanjou!

AKB Sanjou! 1

After AKB left their original major music label, a bunch of songs were made that in my opinion seem to mirror previous fan favorites.  As previously stated, there are the similarities between ‘Aitakatta’ and ‘Oogoe Diamond.’  More of the songs that I feel could almost seem like re-made versions are ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi’/’10 nen Zakura,’ ‘Tanjoubi no Yoru’/’Namida Surprise!,’ ‘Aozora ni Soba ni Ite’/’Sakura Iro no Sora no Shitade,’ ‘BINGO!’/’Baby! Baby! Baby!,’ and ‘Wasshoi B!’/’B Stars.’  Two songs that I think will be released later are new versions of ‘Dear My Teacher’ and ‘Virgin Love.’ Here, I feel like ‘AKB Sanjou!’ was created to replace the A1 encore song ‘AKB48.’  Obviously the fact that they both have the group’s name in their names helps, but the over-riding theme of AKB being awesome is present in both, as well as the fact that they don’t perform ‘AKB48’ in their concerts anymore, but they do perform this new version.  Lyrically, the songs help generate an overview of where AKB is in its career.  ‘AKB48’ presents the girls as new and wanting to bring in and keep audiences while ‘AKB Sanjou’ depicts the girls as powerful and able to work through anything.  Both are acceptable summaries of the girls in the respective eras of AKB’s history.

AKB Sanjou! 2

The scrim was a nice touch to begin the song.  Similar to the blinds at the AKB Theater, the diffused light looks much better and adds to the performance.  It’s also much more climactic.  Yay for good decisions by AKS!

AKB Sanjou! 3

Oh no.  The girls are split up incorrectly again.  I don’t like when the majority of the group is in front and then a few are in back.  I’d prefer it to be split in half, or more people in back.  I don’t like it when the chances of being in front are better than being in back because then it would just suck to be one of the few chosen to be in the back.  I think I talk about this philosophy too much…

AKB Sanjou! 4

The kanji says “kamisama” or “god” if you hadn’t heard yet.

Hikouki Gumo

Hikouki Gumo 1

AKB’s new flag song introduced in the last NHK concert fits right in here.  The lines are split up by Team in an even-is manner.  More specifically, A/A/A K/K/K B/B B/B A/K/B/A.  Please note that Team B gets an extra set of lines than what is the case in Team A concerts, and Team A gets an extra line in the break-down.  By the time the chorus hits, the RS and SKE48 members are back on the stage for the encore.

Hikouki Gumo 2

I’m anxious to see Natsuki in the Hikouki Gumo PV coming out with the release of ‘RIVER.’

(Uriya and Saotome Graduation Ceremony)

RS Graduation 1

Originally I wasn’t going to do little summaries of these MC-like sections, but now I broke down and I’ll do really, really short ones.  The first concert of the trio features Research Student Uriya Akane and Team-B-member-turned-Research-Student Saotome Miki’s graduations.  First, Uriya Akane announces her graduation.  I don’t know how many of the other girls knew this happened, but I think most of the RS knew this was coming since there were many pictures of her with another RS or two on the AKB RS FC blog.  There were theories outside of AKB, but they were of course just rumors.

RS Graduation 2

Next, Uriya runs back on stage to say that she’s graduating, too, but everyone knew that already, so it’s more of a surprise appearance similar to what Nozofisu does in the third show.  It’s interesting to note that these are the first two RS to get such nice graduations.  It kind of makes sense though, as Uriya was a first generation RS, and Saotome belonged to Team B in the good old days.

RS Graduation 3

Uriya gets some flowers via Sae.

RS Graduation 4

Saotome (a Sato Natsuki fan, she even yelled “Sato” and “Natsuki” once when it was her turn for the shout in ‘Kiss Shite son Shichatta’ in one performance) gets her flowers from her former unofficial Team captain, CinDy.  Their relationship is so cute here.  It’s so respectable and heart-warming at the same time.

RS Graduation 5

While the two RS graduates talk, Sayaka runs backstage and arranges for the instrumental of ‘Aitakatta’ to be put on so they don’t leave with a sour note.  The graduates get to announce it.

Aitakatta (Encore Ver.)

Aitakatta Encore Ver 1

This uplanned ‘Aitakatta’ is a fun one to watch, as none of the girls are quite sure what to do.  Team B members all rush to Saotome at different times to wish her farewell, while everyone who had worked with Uriya before visited with her, including ex-RS Nakanishi Yuka.  The graduates of course got the speaking part in the chorus.  Not that that was really planned.

Aitakatta Encore Ver 2

This was such a cute impromptu performance of AKB’s famous up-beat debut single.  I’m glad that they had enough time that first night to do something like this… (And that right there is called foreshadowing.)

Concert 2 (Day 2)

Nagisa no CHERRY

Nagisa no CHERRY 1

For the first time ever, ‘Nagisa no CHERRY,’ the first unit Acchan led, and the unit that is used to promote each Team’s most popular member, is used for comedic purposes.  At the time CinDy was the only original Team A member to not be a selected member in a PV.  While she finally has ala ‘Iiwake Maybe,’ during her stay in AKB48, she was always hoping for a position within the senbatsu.  Here, she actually takes Acchan’s position, and even better: you get to see Acchan and her substitutes getting stuck with some of the worst positions in a unit ever.  I kind of wish that they would have included Mayu, but after the next song, I’m glad they didn’t.  Also, if they were to include Mayu, I’d hope they would include Reina, too, since she has filled in for Mayu when Mayu was busy during B2.  That way they could have all of the Teams represented, A, K, B, S, ex-RS.  Team KII hadn’t started their first Stage yet.

Nagisa no CHERRY 2
It’s cute how CinDy really goes all out here.  You can tell that she’s just awe-struck to be leading such a famous unit.  The fact that now the front girls are stuck behind her rather than the opposite way arround just adds to it.  If you didn’t notice, Jurina took the back position, which means she gets the center during the bridge.  This position is usually given to the best dancer of the blue girls.  Jurina obviously deserves that position.

Nagisa no CHERRY 3

After the song ends, CinDy stays on stage and laps up all of the attention.  Suddenly, the rest of Team B comes out with their costumes for ‘Shounichi’ on.  CinDy is wearing the wrong outfit!  Wait… could this be yet another first-ish for AKB:  A girl wearing the wrong costume in a song?



Other than CinDy’s costume, Team B’s most popular song is done just about exactly like it does any other time it is performed.  I’m glad that they’re back to the original costumes rather than the A5 opener costumes they wore at JCB.  These just fit much, much better.  Also, I’m glad to see Uchida take up a spot, as she’s had the RS position in B4 since the Stage began.  All of the pretty, colorful lights help the song almost seem like it’s at the AKB48 Theater as they fill up the stage.  One great thing about ‘Shounichi’ is that it really pumps up the crowd.  There are spots for mixes and chants and everything galore.  Even the simple dance is a great one to get the audience excited and moving.  And I love the lyrics.  They’re so touching and heart-warming and fun and perfect for Team B.  Sadly, the lyrics depicting the girls working hard to be as awesome as their seniors is still true today as Team B is least revered.



I’ve decided that Team A has ownership of the Himawari Stages.  Here, they perform a song from H1, and in the August Team A concert, they performed a few from H2.  Regardless, here they did what must be a fairly popular, as I think it probably got a good spot at one of the Shibuya AX concerts, and it was performed at the Natsumatsuri Hibiyaon concert last summer with a smattering of random Team A and Team K girls.  Personally, the shiny winter-themed costumes and lack of pretty lights really brings this down a notch.  On the H1 DVD, I always love watching it because while it may not be the most interesting song, it’s a fun one to watch being performed and it has a nice melody.  If I remember correctly, Rui of Stage48 was one of the women picked to be in the audience of the ‘Oogoe Diamond’ PV, and when she described the song, as no one had heard it yet, she said it was something like ‘RUN RUN RUN.’  Most of the time after that when we had gotten a leaked version of ‘Oogoe Diamond,’ I compared it to ‘RUN RUN RUN’ and liked the H1 song more.  But now I like ‘Oogoe’ more… so…

Melos no Michi

Melos no Michi 1

Next up is Team K’s powerful K4 song, ‘Melos no Michi.’  I have to confess that I’m not that big of a fan of the song.  The only things I really like about it are that Nonti gets to have a fight with Sae in the very beginning and that Natsuki’s voice is really easy to pick out from her group.  In general, though, I think it’s a bit generic.  I mean, it’s super powerful and high energy and has great vocals, but it doesn’t have a defining factor like other songs have.  It just kind of seems bland to me.

Melos no Michi 2

They used the ‘Hitei no Requiem’ costumes!  Although I don’t like how the red fabric doesn’t go onto the back of the costumes, I love these.  They’re so shiny and skimpy. Oddly enough, those are some excellent qualities of a costume in my opinion.

Melos no Michi 3

Natsuki is just fierce.  Period.

Melos no Michi 4

As usual, Natsuki looks gorgeous here.  You can really tell that she’s lost some weight since the K4 days.  She might even be near Sae-sized, as the measurements currently released say she should actually be skinnier than Miyazawa.

Melos no Michi 5

Oh, and Yuko, who’s re-covering from surgery, joins Team K for the MC with Aika’s ‘Tenshi no Shippo’ costume!

Glory Days

Glory Days 1

Jurina gets to show off her unit along with Kuwabara and Nakanishi.  This one is totally dance-based, and I really think that the composition is very much different from AKB48’s music.  SKE’s too, I guess.  I love the yellow-ness of the costumes and how flamboyant they are.  The lighting throws in even more yellow at the beginning of the chorus with the entire stage being engulfed in yellow spotlights.

Glory Days 2

My favorite part has to be the bridge with its robot dance-break.  It’s so random and fits the music.  The girls do a good job with it, and give it a slightly better ranking in my mind than Kuwabara’s turns at the end.  But, you know, she has the best of the three’s solo dances.

Pajama Drive

Pajama Drive 1

Moving right along from one front girl to another, ‘Pajama Drive’ is one of my favorite units, except for the lines distribution in the second verse, because it blends cute voices with strong music.  Kind of similar to Kasai in ‘Maria.’  Though we got Acchan, Kana, and Ayaka in the last NHK Hall concert, now we get the un-shuffled cast of girls.  Here, the over-the-top music and lighting help set a great tone for the song.

Pajama Drive 2

I love Harugon’s costume.  I would totally wear it.  Seriously.  Buy one for me.  Good choice from the wardrobe of pajamas used in B3 for the song.

Kimi wa Pegasus

Kimi wa Pegasus 14

I kind of forgot how amazing ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ is before doing screen captures.

Kimi wa Pegasus 1

It’s intense.

Kimi wa Pegasus 2

Like woah.

Kimi wa Pegasus 3

I guess I just don’t have words to describe it.

Kimi wa Pegasus 4

And Natsuki’s in it… and it’s one of the two amazing units that she’s been selected to participate in.

Kimi wa Pegasus 5

I wish they would re-record the vocals for this song.

Kimi wa Pegasus 6

I mean, the girls had amazing voices back when this was done, but I think that by now, their voices should be off the charts.

Kimi wa Pegasus 7

Natsuki looks spectacular in this performance.

Kimi wa Pegasus 8

Also, I really wish they would have performed this at Natsumatsuri Hibiyaon just because it was raining.

Kimi wa Pegasus 9

It would be just so climactic it would be incredible.

Kimi wa Pegasus 10

Oh, and random: my dream is for these girls perform ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ in ball gowns or even the ‘Ai no Moufu’ dresses so they can be princesses once and not just princes/pirates/quakers.

Kimi wa Pegasus 12

I think that would be super neat.

Kimi wa Pegasus 11

Don’t you?

Kimi wa Pegasus 13

Yay for Natsuki!  Go!  Go!


Tsundere! 1

I’m a huge fan of this unit.  Tomo-chin had been getting three sexy/strong units in a row, and finally she got one that fit her personality perfectly.  Not really cute, but not really sexy, not really cool, but not really kiddish.  It’s just so Tomo-chin.  The costumes are crazy puked-up neon collections of accessories and gal clothing.  Tomo-chin’s heels add a touch of her attitude compared to the other girls’ boots.  I’ll also say that no one who subs in for her gets to wear her heels and is stuck with boots.  I think it’s interesting how with the line distribution, Tomo-chin’s longer solo line in the second verse isn’t performed at these large scale concerts, but only Amina’s in the first and Rie’s in the build-up.

Tsundere! 2

Rie and Amina make great supports, too.  Rie has a very consistent and confident voice, and Amina… sings, too.  She sings in her very own special way.  I’m in the camp that likes her voice, as it’s very, very pitchy, but at the same time it seems controlled.  I love how before the first chorus in the section when Rie sings, then Itano adds on, and finally Amina pops in there, Amina’s voice totally throws off the expected sound and you can hear way higher than the other two.  It’s just so cute.  It’s these little things like Amina’s voice (and I’m sure her wota-ness as well as rich fans) that can catapult a girl in the election to a better spot.

Junai no Crescendo


I love the costumes used in this song.  They’re pretty midnight blue bodices with pink skirts and an overlay of blue tulle.  The details like the pink straps I think really make the outfit.  I don’t really know what they were designed to look like, but they look kind of witch-like to me.  Anyway, the performance was pretty good.  I was disappointed that Kasai was in this again, as she’s already been shuffled in here.  Nito sounded good and Sasshi did a great job to boot.  Sadly, that last solo line in the dead space before the second chorus was not nearly as good as Kashiwagi’s from the NHK08 concert.  But that one was pure gold and I don’t really expect anyone to live up to it.  I want to note that I still don’t understand how Moeno and Sasshi are paired up so often.  And usually Rie is in there, too.  That trio is resembles each other so much it astounds me and still gives me trouble figuring out who’s who when watching them.  Thank goodness Moeno dyed her hair!

Ame no Pianist

Ame no Pianist 1

I really need to watch an S2 LOD again… (I may or may not have a clue what two of their names are… but I know that I used to.) Anyway, great song.  Again, it feels very not-AKB.  Similar to ‘Glory Days.’  Luckily, though, it isn’t AKB, but SKE.  I can’t wait to see shuffles of some of these unit songs.  I’ve found that I love ‘Ame no Pianist’ due to… the girl on the right’s voice… and the fact that they mention “Chopin.”  I have very little understanding of who “Chopin” is, but I know he was a famous pianist or composer or something.  The point is that I actually heard the mangled name of the European musician within the lyrics.  I was proud.

Ame no Pianist 2

One thing I like is the bridge.  The girls go all mad-scientist-meets-an-organ with their dancing.  It’s very all-out like the robot dance in ‘Glory Days.’  One thing I don’t like are the costumes.  They just look really unbalanced or something.  I’m not sure.  Rena’s is definitely the best, though.  Maybe they all need corsets?  I don’t know.  And the long skirts are really off-putting.  And the awesome boots of the two that aren’t the Matsui don’t match the costume at all.  Oh, and the lighting was all off.  The S2 LOD in the AKB Theater had really nice lighting, but this was completely generic.  Boo.   I like how I didn’t really talk about the performance.  (It was fine.)

Glass no I LOVE YOU

Glass no I LOVE YOU

Bah.  Bad casting.  Acchan shouldn’t be in this.  This is the non-Acchan song.  I’ve always thought of this as the every-front-girl-but-Acchan song, as it really used to be that way.  But they ruined it.  Erena’s perfect here, as she fits the bill for a non-Acchan member and she hasn’t performed in it.  I think Miho performed this at Natsumatsuri Hibiyaon… but I’m not sure.  I hate it when bloggers don’t do their research when writing something, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it takes too long to find the DVD and check.  So we’ll assume she was in it.  That means that I don’t like her in it here because I hate repeat shuffles.  Kashiwagi’s new… I think.  So that means she’s fine. So yeah, bad group here.  Only half get the okay from me.  Anyway, it seems like all of the girls from AKB love this song, even though very few foreign fans like it.  Usually their enjoyment of the song is derived from the obnoxiously pink and fur-trimmed costumes.  I guess that’s a valid reason then.  Also, please note that Acchan doesn’t get her usual lead position.  She gets Rina’s, which makes sense since they always tended to share lines.  (And that makes me wonder if Rina had stayed for longer if she would have subbed for Acchan in ‘Kuroi Tenshi’ in a shuffle concert.)  Anyway, the girls do perfectly fine, despite my dislike of the cast choices.  I like how this is definitely more of a “Let’s have RSL talk about AKB songs and who’s in them” instead of a review.  My excuse is that most people know a lot of these songs anyway.

(Insert No Sleeves and Watarirouka Hashiritai)

Squall no Aida ni

Squall no Aida ni 1

Yay!  Another good song!  Even though there aren’t any umbrellas here, the girls put on a great show.  The lyrics about a boat house and a sudden summer rain are oh so cute and really fit with the un-official Team A image of being cute and pretty.  In this performance, I love the entrance of half the Team from the middle opening just casually walking forward.  That way, it seems to be much more exciting when they start dancing.  And when I say dancing, I mean when they start walking around with stylized arms and shoulders and sporadically hopping around.  It’s just cute.

Squall no Aida ni 2

Strut it Chiichan (and Mariko)!  I’m so glad they changed the choreography from the original.  This is so much more exciting.

Squall no Aida ni 3

The sparkle meter is off the charts.  The combination of the sequined dresses and the rain drop-inspired lights blow my mind.

Shamu Neko

Shamu Neko 1

My favorite K4 song strikes again!  (And I wish that position above made it to the DVD cover.  It is perfect.)  I love how this song seems to be addressed to and lead by Erena, but the lead vocals are by some of the best singers in Team K: Nonti, Ayaka, Natsuki, and Asuka.  The song started out fine, with the ‘Tenohira’ outfits.  I loved when they used the senbatsu costumes from Kohaku in the JCB Hall concert (mostly because Natsuki’s body was /is ravishing), but these seem like they’re nice and updated school uniforms from the K4 encore ones, so I like these two.

Shamu Neko 2

Anyway, after Nonti sang, I was ready for Ayaka to sing, but alas, some weird girl with a nicely proportioned body and a circular head started singing.  At first I was all “Where’s Umechan!?” but then I realized she was absent due to her other job.  Then I was like “Who’s she, then!?”  And then I realized that it was in fact Sumire.  And I calmed down.

Shamu Neko 3

I wish they would have done both verses so Natsuki could sing her amazing solo line (and you know, Asuka, too).

Suifu wa Arashi ni Yume wo Miru

Suifu wa Arashi ni Yume wo Miru

“Ah!  Magical fairies of destruction!  Whatever shall we do?”  Seriously, who picked these costumes for this song?  Their hands must be slapped.  I wonder if they feel ridiculous, or they think they’re part of Milky Way.  Probably the latter… because they might as well me.  The costumes may confuse me, but the performance is great, especially the section where they come into the rank pyramid.  I still think that my favorite version of the song would be the one from the last NHK Hall concert with the ‘Two Years Later’ costumes.  It seemed more appropriate.  Now, if only they had sailor costumes to fit the song. (Oh wait!  They could just use the new Team A concert costumes!)

(Insert AKB48 Continuous Single Collection)

Nante Suteki na Sekai ni Umareta no Darou

Nante Suteki na Sekai ni Umareta no Darou 1

One of my favorite AKB ballads of all time.  Probably my favorite right behind ‘FAN LETTER.’  It has some of the most calming music and lyrics and it’s such a great song in so many ways.  It’s a shame A4 might never be released.  I’m kind of disappointed by this one, to be honest.  I pictured there to be much more room for the girls to wander around, probably onto the stairs or something.  They’re all so compact here.  Also, I’d prefer they wear a simple outfit like the RS.  These are just too much.  Also, I’d prefer that Team A didn’t lead.  How about giving everyone else a chance?

Nante Suteki na Sekai ni Umareta no Darou 2

Bubble power!

(Insert Encore)

(Note lack of encore performance of ‘BINGO!’)

Concert 3 (Day 2)

Amai Kokansetsu

Amai Kokansetsu 1

The third concert opens up with Ohori’s solo single song, now a fan favorite.  Just as she turns around, it is revealed that it is Maimai, not Ohori in the cowboy-inspired get-up.  I was thrilled when I heard that she who had previously been the “sexy bunny” of Team A got this solo, as she really hadn’t been in many sexy songs in her career in AKB.  Just Kiss wa Dame yo, and that’s really not too inappropriate.  I think it kind of sucks for Ohori with her solo being used to help celebrate someone else’s graduation, but she seems to be proud of Mai and is happy for her to perform it.  Now this makes me wonder if this opens up other sub-units to shuffling (Chocolove, No Sleeves).

Amai Kokansetsu 2

I have to say that I’ve always loved Mai’s voice.  It’s a really nice balance between being mature and light, and she can work with it in so many ways to fit many situations.  Her performance here was outstanding, and I think all of her fans were proud.

Saishuu Bell ga Naru

Saishuu Bell ga Naru 1

I guess they tried saving some of the best recent songs for the end.  K4’s title song brings in Team K and a certain amazing Kenkyuusei Suzuki Mariya!  I love how this is not only a very energetic song, but it also has a great melody going for it: something I must hear before liking a song.  Unrelated, but I didn’t notice how much screen time Sae had in this performance till now.  I guess with Yuko gone, she gets her camera time.  Because, you know, it works that way.

Saishuu Bell ga Naru 2

I’m kind of sad that they didn’t perform both verses, but it certainly would make this last show go over time (more so than it did.)  This way, Natsuki didn’t get to sing her duet line with Meetan.  Oh well.

Shiroi Shirts

Shiroi Shirts 1

Bleh.  This is not the song to continue with.  Just about anything would fit better.  They should have saved Shounichi for this concert.  Dislike of the song aside, I can’t get over how they wore the least attractive Team B costumes to date.  I mean, I understand that yes, they do have white shirts on, but it does not fit.  It’ be cute if they just wore any random Team B costume with the ‘Shiroi Shirts’ white shirts over them.