So… RSL has an Ameba account again.
April 13, 2010

I decided that since Natsuki’s hopefully getting a blog at some point, I should grab an account so I can comment on every single one of her entries.  We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, I have no clue what I’m doing on the site, so I’d love some pointers or something.  Rikai-chan can only help me so much!

And feel free to add me!

Finding Natsuki
January 8, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Name – Sato Natsuki

Birthdate – July 1st, 1990

Nicknames – N, Nacchi

Birthplace – Hokkaido

Agency – AKS

Unit Songs

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

Special Parts

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

Important Facts

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

Alert! AKB Takes Over Japan! Part IV (AKB48 Budokan Concert 1 DVD Review)
December 5, 2009

Today I’m reviewing the first Budokan concert!  I’m going to take these one at a time and pick them apart a little bit.  Since there are a few repeat songs near the end, I may shorten my thoughts on them in the next couple reviews.

Please note that this review does not include any pictures.  That’s right, none whatsoever.  That means you can read it wherever you see fit and no one is going to make fun of you!  You could even print it out and act as though you’re reading some scholarly text, even when you’re just reading about Nacchi.

And I’m totally too lazy to tag this.

Budokan Tour Concert Series

Part I – Team K Concert in Osaka (with SKE48)

Part II – Team B Concert in Nagoya (with SKE48)

Part III – Team A Concert in Fukuoka

Part IV – AKB48 Shuffle Concert at Budokan (with SKE48 and SDN48) – THIS POST

Part V – AKB48 Graduation Concert at Budokan (with SKE48)

Part VI 0 AKB48 Televised Concert at Budokan (with SKE48)

(Note, I’m aware that the first three parts have yet to be posted.  I’m reviewing them in non-chronological order, but naming them in chronological order, if that makes sense.)


As usual, the concert begins with their overture.  Since (luckily) there wasn’t that casual walking of the girls onto the stage, I’ll just talk about the set-up.  This is their first arena concert that I know of, and so the big new addition is the catwalk and center stage jutting into the floor section.  I try to watch or at least skim through as many J-pop and idol concerts that I can, and I’ve found that I very rarely like stages that use these components: they almost always kill any sort of dramatics that are used throughout the concert.  Let me explain the negative aspects of AKB’s rendition of these pieces:

The audience is too far away.  For whatever reason in this concert, they decided to keep the audience about ten feet from the stage.  Now, this makes sense, as there are so many cameras, but this ten feet is kept throughout the entire perimeter of the stage.  Making matters worse, the catwalk, which is thinner than the rest of the stage, is even farther from the audience than the stage.  The catwalk and the center stage concepts were made to allow fans to feel closer to the performer and make the performer more life-like.  Here, this doesn’t work out since the girls are so far away.  It just doesn’t give off the same effect.  Besides, the fans can feel and actually be closer to the girls at the theater, so why use these if they’re not up to (my) standards?

The stage is of a lazy design.  From what I can tell, it’s just about the same size as the stage at the theater (if anyone can tell me those measurements, I’d be delighted), but it lacks the moving platforms, so it doesn’t really even live up to their daily shows.  At least it has pretty lights around it.  That counts for something, but now I just wish that the AKB48 Theater had those lights.  Also, I dislike the fact that the stage is a rectangle.  Instead of changing up choreography and the placement of the girls for the new stage, this means that they can do exactly the same thing as they would if they were performing it on any given day, albeit shortened.  Stages are rectangular so the audience can see more performers closer than they would if the stage were deeper than the width.  If you put this rectangular stage in the middle of the audience, no one is going to complain about not seeing the girl in the back.  Why not change it up a bit with an always-cool circular stage, a square, or even tilt a square to make a diamond.

The catwalk is too thick.  The connecting branch of the stages should be thin, again, so the audience can be closer to the performers.  Also, this allows more seats closer to the center.  Here it basically works out to be another (rectangular) stage rotated ninety degrees that the girls just use to run back and forth.  In concerts by different groups, I’ve seen the catwalk work as an effective way to energize a crowd, but here it sees to be mostly for transportation.  A thinner catwalk would make sense even if they weren’t going to change anything and just use it for the girls to run back and forth on.

Lastly, let me rant about the actual stage for a bit.  While I do like how they made it extra wide, so it has those out-croppings like those in the theater (Japanese word, please?) the majority of the stage is way too flat.  The semi-circle of risers looks kind of tacked-on, and plain.  With most of AKB’s concerts, we see rather elaborate and complete staircases (Aitakatta, NHK07, NHK08/JCB08), or multiple stages (NHK09).  Here, it’s mostly a plain stage with a few steps in the back, which approaches the ‘novelty concert’ standards (Natsumatsuri, AX08, AX09).  While there are a few hidden features of the stage, which I’ll mention later, it’s pretty bland.

Nagisa no CHERRY

‘Nagisa no CHERRY’ with Mariko?  Is this some sort of hand-off from the original most popular member to the current one?  (I use Mixi ratings when I think of popularity.  Also, Kojiharu has definitely topped the rankings before.)  For a moment I was thinking, ‘Wow.  It’s kind of funny that Mariko has short hair.  It makes it kind of like Acchan in the Aitakatta concert.  Then I realized that short hair for the yellow girl really isn’t a big thing: the lead position has been performed half-and-half by short- (Atsuko, Mayu, CinDy, Mariko) and long-haired (Erena, Reina, Jurina, Manatsu (?)) girls.  As far as the blue girls go, they seem to be getting into it.  Ohori seems to be making fun of the choreography and being overly cute, Nonti is doing the same, but in a more obvious fashion, and Sayaka is having the time of her life.  She just really loves being sweet.

The dance break begins as usual with the standard choreography.  The backing girls seem to go all out and give off their Team K-rocking roots.  Just before the build-up before the final chorus, these three pose… weirdly?  I’m not quite sure what they’re going for.  Sayaka flexes, Noro is silly, and Meetan acts as though she forgot to use the restroom backstage… or something.

When I first heard that this was the opening performance I was kind of angry.  They already did a comedic performance of this at the beginning of the second day of NHK09.  Why re-use it?  As the song continued, I decided that it was kind of a ‘bleh’ performance, with the only interesting part being Mariko’s voice.  All the while I was hoping that a certain something was done differently to achieve a hilarious effect.  And you know what?  My hopes were answered.

The magic happens near the end of that last chorus.  All of a sudden, mid-way through, the lights lower, the remaining lights turn red and violent, and the blue girls sing the nostalgic line of ‘CHERRY CHERRY BOY, CHERRY CHERRY GIRL’ in their raw lower registers.  Next, Mariko sings her next solo line in her husky voice so often used when telling a joke.  Perfect.  My eyes widened the first time I saw/heard all of this, as I was so glad they did something so revolutionary for AKB.  Very, very rarely do songs in AKB48’s large catalog get changed from their original form.  The only exceptions to this rule I can think of are ‘Medley,’ ‘Team K 2nd Stage Medley,’ the medley in NHK07, ‘Aozora no Soba ni Ite’ in NHK08, and, soon, ‘Aitakatta’ later on in the Budokan concerts.

To top it all off, the final pose was of the four flexing their non-existent arm muscles.  (Except for Sayaka.  She was flexing her existent arm muscles.)

Blue Rose

Unfortunately I don’t have much to say about this performance.  I’ve never really been a huge fan of the song, and now it just seems like they want to cycle all of the possible front girls into it.  This, I believe, is its third time in a shuffle concert, and now 4/6 of the ‘Acchans’ have performed it.  For completion, I’ll mention each girl in comparison to the original.  Jurina might dance pretty well for a tween, but I’d still say that even K2 Sayaka could win in a dance-off.  I won’t mention vocals.  Takamina is often a great dancer, and may trump Yuka, but I think Yuka’s voice is much better suited for ‘Blue Rose.’  Mayu constantly impresses me with her focused energy, while Erena… doesn’t, so I guess Team K’s Meshibe and Genking win this round.  Wow, I really do make sure to consider performances a game, don’t I?

Ame no Doubutsuen

I love how the audience erupts in excitement when they see Acchan is on stage.  Considering the cast here (Maeda, Kojima, Minegishi, Itano, Kasai, Sato Y, Kashiwagi, Miyazaki) this is just a big old senbatsu performance.  I think they were lazy and just thought, ”Ame no Doubutsuen’ is a classic.  And we can put eight girls in.  Doesn’t matter if it’s interesting, let’s just lump all of the rest of the popular girls in to get them on stage for an MC.  Oh, and let’s put Yukari in because we’re kicking her out.’  Yup, I’m sure that’s what was going on in the boardroom.

Miichan and Itano have even already performed this one.  Minegishi kept the penguin, while Itano dropped from co-leading the unit to the lion costume.  Miho got stuck with Imai’s mute-till-the-chorus camel, too.  Sucks for all of them.  On the bright side, Harunyan’s legs look mighty nice in her costume, and after this performance, Kashiwagi and Kasai can say that they’ve performed all of K2’s units (‘Blue Rose,’ ‘Kinjirareta Futari,’ ‘Ame no Doubutsuen,’ and ‘Fushidara na Natsu.’)

Anyway, it was fairly uninteresting.  And then they did an MC.

Mushi no Ballad

Something we’ve all been waiting for, a Takamina-version of a solo song.  Sure, now that Infinity happened, we’ll get more, but this happened first.  We’ve all heard ‘Mushi no Ballad,’ some of us have heard ‘Yuka no Ballad,’ and I’m still waiting for ‘N no Ballad.’  Anytime now…

Complete with a brand new costume for her very non-Sayaka body, Takahashi gets to christen the use of the center stage.  We’re treated to an amazing performance that really shows off this girls’ vocals.  Some girls only have voices that sound good in songs made for them, but Takamina’s is very versatile and usable in most situations without getting too awkward.  And that’s why she should be the main vocalist of AKB48 again.  I mean, she was the lead in all of the singles (barring ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi’ and ‘Aitakatta’) up till ‘BINGO!’  Then, she got pushed back in favor of Haruna till King Records took charge.  In ‘Oogoe Diamond,’ she kind of tied with Haruna, but her lines were mostly solo, while Haruna’s were paired with Acchan’s to make Atsuko sound less like… whatever you want to think she sounds like.  Takahashi was a main component in ’10 nen Zakura’ and Kojiharu the same in ‘Namida Surprise!,’ but they both got pushed down in favor of Acchan solo lines only in ‘Iiwake Maybe’ and ‘RIVER.’  So, basically: more Takamina, please.

On the topic of her actual performance, the theatrics really picked up at the last chorus.  She kicks down the microphone stand and falls to her knees.  This is especially breathtaking when the camera angle is from the back, so you can see her nearly-weeping body, smoke-y floor, and thousands of fans waving their glowsticks to the beat of the music in that well-wishing manner.  She leaves the stage from a staircase off the center stage into the catwalk’s foundation with only a glance and a sorrowful smirk at the fans.  Great ‘TakaMushi no Ballad.’

Heart Gata Virus

Out from the main stage pops three Team K members with their own microphone stands.  Super-cool for them, most likely because it’s Yuko’s unit, is that they get to use the brand new elevators.  From what I can tell, there are possibly five of them in all, and I absolutely adore them.  In tonight’s performance of ‘N Gata Virus,’ Oshima Y takes up Oshima M’s role, Sae grabs Haruna’s, and Natsuki gets Nozofisu’s.  Costume-wise, Yuko and Nacchi switch and Sae keeps the one meant for her position.  I have always felt that Yuko could fill Mai’s spots and vice versa, so this was one unit that I thought was just waiting to happen.  Now it’ll be interesting if Yuko ever gets cast in ‘Temodemo no Namida,’ as Mai took Kashiyuki’s spot in NHK08.

Considering the other two girls shuffled into this unit, I wouldn’t be surprised if Natsuki is actually subbing in for another girl, namely Asuka.  Mocchi was out with the (swine?) flu, along with a bunch of other AKB48 members and RS, and she’s definitely popular enough to get in a unit like this.  I have no evidence to state anything either way, but I’m pretty positive that this was originally, Asuka’s shuffle unit.  I’m glad that Natsuki got in here, though.  Did you hear her voice in her first solo line?  That sounds way amazing.  And almost like sophisticated or something.  I don’t know, but it sounded great.

Each girl sounds as though she’s really enjoying herself performing this song.  As mentioned, Natsuki sounds incredible.  I love her even more.  Yuko sounds pretty good with her ‘new’ voice since the surgery in April.  I think these are her first solo lines recorded since then.  Lastly, Sae sounds much better than usual.  Just listen to the end of her second line.  Similar to Nacchi’s, it sounds really complex.  I’m impressed.  This is one of my favorite newer units, and I think that many AKB members might enjoy it because it is so idol-like, yet retains a very mature young woman’s image.  It’s like a Maimai party, I’d say.

Kimi wa Pegasus

Speaking of ‘very mature young women,’ this next song does not feature them.  It features ‘Rena and the Lolis.’  (Oh my god.  New sub-unit name.  Now.)  Now, with custom-made costumes, they perform ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’… eight octaves higher.

Rena does not sound at all like Sayaka, but that’s okay since she’s not really supposed to.  I feel like she should have had Nonti’s spot, as when you’re listening to those lines, you don’t expect a voice that was meant to be the powerhouse.  Sayuki’s lines were rather innocent sounding, and while again, that’s all fine and good, I prefer it to sound a bit more direct.  (One thing I’m glad about is that her costume doesn’t feature that brooch on the neck that Nacchi’s does.)  Kumi was actually a great pick for Sae’s position.  They have similar voices and kind-of-sort-of matching personalities.  She also has short-ish hair like Sae, which, of course, means a lot when I think about shuffles.  I actually don’t think they could have found someone without resorting to SKE48 to get such as close match for Sae’s voice.  Tsukina does not go in this unit.  I think they just wanted the whole ‘Wimbledon’ unit to be placed here (along with Rena), since their song is being used next.

Oh, cool pattern I noticed about the unit order.  Much of the time in this concert, the girls featured in a shuffle unit have their original (or shuffle) unit right after the one they perform.  This works for ‘Blue Rose’ – (Erena, Mayu, Matsui (NHK08)) – ‘Ame no Doubutsuen;’ ‘Heart Gata Virus’ – (Miyazaki, Natsuki) – ‘Kimi wa Pegasus’ (Kumi, Takai, Mori) – ‘Wimbledon he Tsureteitte (Ono, Miyazaki, Fujie (G-Rosso)) – ‘Tonari no Banana’ (Sasshi) – ‘Itoshiki Natassha;’ ‘End Roll’ (Itano) – ‘Tsundere!’ (Watanabe, Nakatsuka) – ‘Zannen Shoujo’ (Maeda, Takajo) – ‘Kuroi Tenshi’ (Kashiwagi) – ‘Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate.’  It also works in reverse for ‘Ame no Doubutsuen’ (Kojima (Aitakatta), Minegishi (Aitakatta), Maeda (Aitakatta), Kashiwagi (Natsumatsuri), Kasai (JCB08)) – ‘Blue Rose’ (Ono (Aitakatta), Watanabe, Matsui (NHK08)).  If anyone understood that, you get massive points.  For a hint, the format is: ‘Tonight’s shuffle unit song name’ (tonight’s shuffle unit participants’) – ‘those participants’ (/ that participant’s) original unit song that was performed next.’

Pretty cool, huh?

Wimbledon he Tsureteitte

Aww… Fujie went down the stairs too early!  It took me forever to figure out exactly what happened.  I doubted that she was supposed to be on the lower riser when the other two were up top, but I wasn’t sure if maybe Erena just forgot to go down.  Since Erena walks down the stairs a few counts later with music backing her up, I think it must be Fujie that is wrong here.  I don’t care though, still cute.

As far as voices go, this shuffle sounds better than the original.  Ono seems to be using the vocal skills she learned when doing ‘FIRST LOVE,’ as she sounds more consistent than she used to.  Reinyan sounds lovely.  I love her slightly lower voice that still is able to pull off being cute.  I’m so used to seeing her in ‘Kuroi Tenshi’ that I forgot how she gained popularity as a Kenkyuusei using her power of being so adorable.  Miho sounds fine, too.  Well, the little of her that we get to hear in this weirdly-distributed song of solo lines, anyway.

I still love how all three of these costumes are different, yet so similar.  It’s a shame that Miho doesn’t really fit hers.  Why doesn’t she get a brand new costume like the ‘Pegasus’ girls got?

Tonari no Banana

This next unit starts out with a mystery: Who are the two banana girls?  They use the out-croppings on either side to read their little newspapers and the camera angle really shows how odd of a stage their on.  They have railings and everything to get under the stage.  I know that this is an arena concert, but that seems a little too out of place.  Just put the backdrop over those areas, please.

The duo performing turns out to be Nito and Sasshi… who are like always paired up together.  The funny part is that they really aren’t; it’s just me who thinks they are.  I still group them with Kithara Rie since they were promoted at about the same time and at the time, they looked just about the same as each other.  Now they don’t, but I haven’t stopped thinking of that trio as the same girl.

‘Tonari no Banana’ prides itself in being one of the cutest AKB48 songs.  I however am not a big fan of it and reserve that place for ‘Tenshi no Shippo,’ which has yet to be truly shuffled.  That one also has three slightly different costumes, which as I said about ‘Wimbledon’ is great.  Here, the only difference in the girls’ costumes is that one has her purse over her top and the other has it under.  I’ve yet to figure out the reasoning behind that, but I think it’s present in every show.

During the bridge, the two make fun of each other’s supposed stupidity, concluding with a rising Mix.  I feel like Sasshi does that a bit too often now… she’s turning into a one-trick pony.  Come on, Sasshi!  You’re great at MCs: just stick with talking.  Chanting is for perverted old men.  (And RSL.)

Itoshiki Natasha

Another Team K unit.  Yay!  And another Team K unit with Natsuki!  Super yay!  (Also, it’s kind of fun to watch Sasshi do the dance that leads into her own unit.)

Similar to ‘Heart Gata Virus,’ I think that maybe Natsuki is taking another girl’s position.  This time, I’m pretty sure it would be Yuka.  Sure, that’d make Chikano really out of place, but hey, Fujie’s in two units (gasp, I just thought about it, and now I think that maybe Aika was supposed to be in ‘Wimbledon’) and so she needed to be in at least one, too.  Regardless, Natsuki’s in this one, and that’s what matters, doesn’t it?  Oh, and Sayaka’s leading.

From the pictures I’d seen and everything, I was prepared for Natsuki to take Tanamin’s position with one solo line, as she was wearing that costume.  While I was excited to hear this, I kind of totally forgot about it and put finding out what spot Nacchi got in ‘Virus’ as first priority.  This means that I didn’t even preview the song before watching the concert, so it was a complete surprise when I heard her totally take over Haachan’s spot.  Again, this was one of my gasping moments.  I used to think gasping was one of those fake things people do, but thanks to N, I’ve found I do it, too.

Sayaka sounds like Sayaka, which I know sounds mean, but that’s what she sounds like.  I’ve never really been a fan of her voice, as it’s a little too powerful for my taste.  Sometimes she seems to put a little too much effort into singing, and I like a bit of relaxation.  Chikano sounds good, though.  This is great promotion for her as she’s usually stuck at the bottom of rankings, so maybe she earned some more fans?  She deserves them.

Back to my favorite:  She totally took Haachan’s lines, and totally embellished them.  I mean, she drew them out and added her own spin on them.  And that look with her eyes was just fantastic.  The world needs more units like this with Natsuki in them.  And can you see how good those fur shorts look on her?  She needs to wear short shorts throughout the entirety of B5.  Seriously.  (And hey, she gets to in K5 for half of her costumes, so why stop there?)

Sayaka totally lost her hat mid-way through the song.  I don’t think she noticed, though, as she definitely would have picked it up due to her character… and the fact that the next song was done on the center stage, so the main stage was blacked out.  They should have done the usual after-unit song MC where the ‘Itoshiki’ girls run around picking up all of the dropped accessories.  And that way there’d be even more Nacchi to go around!


Here we have the two girls who are switching to Team K and two of the best dancers in SKE48’s Team S performing the K5 dance unit on the center stage.  Itano and Miichan have always been renowned for their dancing and I for one have always wanted them to share a unit that shows off their skills, so I guess this kind of counts.

I’m glad that they put Jurina in here rather than a unit would make her sing solo lines.  So far, her vocals really don’t impress me and I’d rather listen to just about anyone else instead of her.  While her dancing is very, very good, especially for her age, her singing could take some work.  Also, by using ‘End Roll,’ she isn’t the only girl in center, as Itano gets some screen time in Umechan’s place.  But still, lots of Jurina.  At least it’s focused on something she’s good at.  Also, I’m happy Kuwabara is being used.  As much as I don’t like SKE48 getting placed into AKB48’s everything, it’s good that they’re using talented girls.


And the super random assortment of Team B girls appears on the main stage.  I really don’t like the line-up here.  Mayuyu should have been shuffled into a different unit, and CinDy is too old and too out of place to be paired with Chris.  I think Mayu might fit ‘Renai Kinshi Jourei’ more than ‘Tsundere!’  I know what you’re thinking: she can’t sing well!  Don’t worry, she’d fit right in given the correct back-up girls.  For instance, CinDy and Rumi.  Besides, Watanabe was often placed in Takamina’s positions during Team B’s run of A2, so it would match prior choices.  True, she might not have the same vocal abilities as Takahashi, but similar to Amina, she can often have a powerful voice.  Oh, and Mayu is totally wearing heels.  I didn’t think they would let her.  Usually the heels are for Itano only and anyone who subs for her wears boots.

On Sato Amina’s solo lines, CinDy did a good job trying to hit the same notes as the original did, but her voice just isn’t nearly as bouncy.  I use the word bouncy because I can’t say that Amina has a larger range of notes, she tends to just kind of tries to get as many as possible at a time, and so she hits one at least close to the one she was aiming for.  But I still like her voice when it’s in the right songs.  And yes, CinDy sounded good, too.  I kind of miss how when they build up their voices one by one there isn’t that high pitched squeak at the end that I’m so used to.

Nakatsuka is fine for her part, even though I’m not a big fan of her at all.  Since Rie is singing in Heart Gata Virus so often, I’m used to Uchida (who I adore) performing her place, so really, any deeper voice is fine here.

This is one of those random units that I want shuffled specifically.  Kasai subs in for Amina, Miichan subs in for Itano, and Natsuki subs in for Rie.  I think it would sound splendid.

Zannen Shoujo

Before I watched B4 for the very first time, I did something that has become one of my favorite things to do: an AKB48 Black-Out.  (I know, my favorite thing is to stop doing anything involving AKB… how ironic.)  B4 was my first trial of it and K5 was my second.  I really recommend trying it sometime.  What usually happens is you just stop checking anything AKB-related the moment the new Stage starts (generally 18:00 Japan time), and don’t check anything again until you finish watching the entire Stage in one sitting.  For B4, I relied on people e-mailing me links straight to whatever download service was used, and for K5, I set up a Facebook event for the festivities.  Anyway, the whole fun of this concept is that you get to see the Stage without any kind of spoilers whatsoever.  This means that the whole show is new and exciting.  For B4, that meant confusion when a marching band was on stage after the lights rose, a gasp at the strip change, and so on.  For K5, that included confused looks during the opening skit, excitement when you realized that there were two units left and only four girls (one of which is your favorite), and joy when you saw the ballad’s costume.  Anyway, I enjoy the fun an AKB Black-Out brings.  Try it.

On the topic of unfortunate girls, when I first saw B4, I immediately thought that this unit was completely made so Acchan could be shuffled into it.  I still feel that way, and now I feel like I was right.  Tonight, Acchan brings to the song something I feel like Mayu will never do: a care-free attitude.  No, I don’t mean that she’s just going to skip around and whistle whilst playing with butterflies; she’s going to perform her own way in whatever lacadazical fashion she wants.  The thing about Acchan is that yes, she’s not a great singer, yes, she’s not a great dancer, and yes, she’s not all that interesting, but she uses her problem areas to create a ‘girl next door’ vibe.  That’s why she’s the center of AKB48.  She’s gorgeous and light-hearted, but doesn’t have that determination or will power that other idols have.  That’s why she could probably never get into Hello! Project.  She just isn’t ‘shiny’ enough, but she’s perfect for an idol group that’s supposed to be a nearly realistic classroom of teenage (and pre-teens… and 20-somethings… and children) girls.  She’s not there to competitions on talent, she’s there to get famous, most young peoples’ dream.

And that’s it for my Acchan monologue.  Lastly for her, she had a pretty darn awesome solo line at the very end of the song.  She nailed it (in the studio) perfectly.

As for the girls on the sides, it seems like they stuck with the idea of keeping one girl on the side who in the center girl’s original unit, as Takajo is performing along with Acchan.  Rie is on the other side and so the trio rounds out to be a group of increasingly popular members with one in each tier of popularity: upper senbatsu, lower senbatsu, and near-senbatsu.  I never really figured out when they started pushing Rie, but I guess that since she subs for Mai, she got lots of time to promote herself.  Takajo has been pushed since about the time of Natsumatsuri Hibiyayaon.  Good performance by those girls.

Oh, and notice the lack of microphone stands?  I’m not sure, but I think I may like it better this way, although that thought might just be because it’s different.

Kuroi Tenshi

Okay, I don’t really understand this: ‘Kuroi Tenshi’ has never ever been performed in a shortened format.  Does Akimoto just not have the rights for it, or is he just super proud of it?

In this performance we have a group of older Team B girls, Kashiwagi, Haachan, and Nakayan.  All three have great voices, but I think that if popularity weren’t an issue, they should be shuffled around.  Haachan could sing the Acchan part with a low voice similar to Fujie, Nakayan could take Fujie’s usual place and sing like Chiichan does when she subs in, and Kashiwagi can take Takajo’s place and sing however she feels fit.

My one irk is that Nakayan’s line doesn’t sound too hot.  I’m guessing that she was going for the Ishida route and tried to hit all of those notes, but similar to CinDy in ‘Tsundere!’ just couldn’t.  She could have went the Takajo route and basically just whispered, but I’d prefer she stick with one where you could tell that she was actually trying.

I feel like this collection of leading girl shuffles really shows how AKB’s current set of Stages is lacking in the diversity department.  Maybe the next three will be a bit more random?  At the moment it seems like they’re determined to just not make another cute song ever again.

Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate

Taking the center of K5’s sexy unit and putting her into B4’s sexy unit makes a lot of (predictable) sense, but I’m unhappy with this shuffle.  Kasai does much better than I expected with the oodles and oodles of solo lines included for her here.  This is the opposite of her current unit where she gets just one more duet line than the others in her unit.  So, she does fine, and in all reality, this is a great shuffle for her considering they perform the shortened version.

My problem lies in the other two, Nonti and Ohori.  It seems as though they were just picked because they are in SDN48 (and then gave them new costumes).  They totally could have put them in better units to show off their skills for one last shuffle.  I almost want to think that this is another comedic shuffle routine like they started the concert out with.  If they have as talented girls as Kayo and as specialized girls as Ohori, they should use them.

What makes matters worse is that while Ohori was totally into her performance (which is generally pretty consistent), Nonti seemed almost bored: something I’ve seen very, very rarely from any performance I’ve seen featuring her (and I’ve seen quite a few LODs).

I really want to see/hear Natsuki sub for Kashiwagi for this unit.  I say ‘sub’ because if it’s during a shuffle concert, we won’t hear her sing the second verse’s lines, which would sound incredible coming from her.

Wagamama na Nagareboshi

I love this.  It seems like Mariko always gets into the super-duper awesome shuffle units that get new costumes.  ‘Temodemo no Namida’ and ‘Wagamama na Nagareboshi’ are two of my favorite units, and Mariko has gotten in both shuffles.

Paired with Haruna, a member who she often is grouped with for lines in verses, the song sounds phenomenal.  I like it with younger girls/voices since the lyrics are about hoping, wishing, and dreaming for the future, but it gives off a slightly different aura with older girls that I might like more.

The MC typically at the end of the song usually features Erena and Kana remarking on what they wish for.  In this version, the two seem to be talking in a manner almost like they would be if they had just gotten off stage.  Mariko says something about the dresses making them look young,  Haruna says something about SDN48, and Mariko jokes that she’s not graduating for quite a while.  Unlike Acchan, these two are ‘shiny,’ that quality that Hello! Project members have.  They’re ambitious and not as humble as others.  They’re special and they know it, and that works well for this unit.

Oh, and yeah, the stage: incredible.  I have to admit that I previewed this on YouTube (along with ‘Heart Gata Virus’) and then stopped watching any Budokan vidoes after getting a few seconds in because I wanted to quit spoiling the surprises.  I don’t like the fact that the parts of the stage that elevate are rectangular (for my reasoning, see my thoughts on the center stage), but still it’s pretty gosh darn cool.  And it was so surprising since I was thinking that the elevators were the only moving addition to the stage.

Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou

One of the big surprises of the night: Maimai came back!  I really woudn’t think this was alright, but the reasoning makes it okay for me.  If an AKB48 member graduates from AKB48, does it make sense to have her come back to perform songs that weren’t ever performed by her?  I don’t know, but I think this is kind of cheating: Mai only performs in a single song for the whole show and it’s pretty much all about how awesome she is.  I feel like every one of the girls would prefer that lifestyle.  I guess I’m just old school and prefer when they just come back for Shibuya AX.

The cute part of this performance is that it’s using one of AKB’s many real life relationships.  Mai was an older sister figure for Fujie, who plays Kasai’s part tonight, and after leaving the group, she comes back to visit Fujie.  Cue swooning here.

The MC during the bridge is terrible.  Fujie says ‘Aitakatta,’ which is funny because it represents her past wish, and is also the title to one of AKB’s more famous singles.  Then they talk a bit and Fujie reveals that the reason she likes Mai so much is because Mai doesn’t just act like an idiot, she really is one.  I think Fujie was just really nervous for this concert because she screwed up earlier and then was really awkward in this song.  Or at least in the talking part.  The rest was great.

Cute performance overall, I think I’m just reading into it a bit much.

Tobenai Agehachou

‘Iiwake Maybe”s coupling song is debuted in concert for the first time on the center stage.  These girls all ‘earned’ (read: bought) their positions from the thirteenth single selected member cabinet election.  The only girl missing is Masuda Yuka who was out with swine flu, and so Kashiyuki took her place… and her screen time.

As common with many B-Sides, the entirety of the song was sung instead of a shortened version.  I liked this especially because we could get a better look at the Rumi-centered choreography.  Also, it looks like they changed-up some of the placement of the girls so they could entertain the whole audience while on the center stage.

At some point, I want to take note of all of the girls’ costumes so I can tell how many different versions or parts there are.  I love when AKB’s costumes seem random… but then I’m disappointed when they aren’t.  (Good examples of randomness are the ‘Romance, Irane!’ costume sets and the H2 encore costumes.)

After the song ended, I was freaking out trying to figure out who would perform next since each Team had at least one girl on stage.  For a moment, I was thinking KII would sing ‘Aitakatta’ or something, since they were all missing, but then I remembered that they were stuck in Nagoya at the time doing their version of A2.  Moments later, Nachu took the stage and I realized who was next.

Black Boy

(Splendid MC before this, by the way.  I love how Mai is completely lost and has this ‘What has AKB come to since I’ve been gone?’ look on her face the entire time.)

(Oh, and I’m still trying to figure out if Nachu’s outfit is hers or if it was supplied to her.  And is that purse from ‘Tonari no Banana?’  Did she steal it?)

Now it’s time to be racist!  I just love the song title.  I really want to read the lyrics just to see if they say something that might not be politically correct in the US.  SDN48’s ‘Black Boy’ seems to be their ‘single’ of sorts, kind of like how SKE48 had a few songs they pimped out before coming out with their first single.  On the topic of SDN48 and singles, I really hope they get one.  I think I’d even be okay with SDN members being in an AKB48 single even though I hate SKE48 members in AKB48 singles, just because they perform in the same theater and it seems like they will stay with only one Team.

The song starts with the women sauntering on to the center stage with some industrial background sounds.  I don’t remember hearing this intro from the fan recordings I’ve heard, but I might have just forgotten that section.  Once the actual song starts up, we’re treated with some smoke while the seventeenth and eighteenth members do a bit of intense dancing while wearing (gasp) pants.

I don’t want to summarize the whole performance, so I’ll just say that I loved it.  The group brings fresh energy that is substantially different from what AKB provides.  I don’t know many of their names, so it was kind of enjoyable to see the camera give lots of them close-ups and not just focus on a few of them.  In general, the only ones I can tell apart are the AKB48 members and Kondo Sayaka, but I also know which ones are Chinese.  As usual I refuse to memorize names without lots of media… and that might end up taking a while.  (LOD please!  I will show you my driver’s license for proof that I’m over eighteen!)

Another thing I love about SDN48 is that they’re too old for school uniforms, which is an aspect of AKB that I don’t really like.  I mean, once you’re out of school, you can’t really relate with the songs unless you’re looking back at them as memories.  Sadly, the on-going school theme is one of AKB’s main draws, so I doubt it’ll go away… but maybe someday.  (Also, I don’t like it when songs make lots of references to the season, since those have similar not-everyday lyrics.  That means you ‘Manatsu no Christmas Rose’ and the majority of H1!)

Lastly, I have to note that it’s weird for the most popular member of the group to have so little screen time.  The other AKB48-to-SDN48 members had more.  And on that topic, Yukari seemed to be really enjoying this song.  I wonder if she feels like SDN’s a better fit for her now because there’s much less of a shadow over her like there always has been in Team A.  Nonti on the other hand seemed to be back to her usual amazing performing after her so-so units earlier.  And CinDy was CinDy.

So yeah, more SDN48, please.  And bring your sparkly costumes.  Or the mini-kimonos.


Now it’s time for Team S to perform their single.  For whatever reason they chose to wear the SKE48 first concert costumes, which I’m kind of disappointed in.  I love those costumes, but I wish they would wear the costumes made for the song.

I’m so glad that I know all of their names now.  When they were at the AKB theater in June they kept on wearing similar hair styles, but here I was able to recognize each of them.

The lighting and the camera people made the performance look ridiculously epic, which really shouldn’t be all that hard, but they did a great job regardless.  (Again, for completion, I’ll note that they performed the full song… but that’s okay because it’s a single.)

Chime wa Love Song

I’ve recently read the lyrics to this song and they weren’t exactly what I was hoping for them to be, so naturally I don’t like this song as much as I did.  I had always been hoping that it was more singing about how the chimes in love songs meant something and the lyrics were literally about chimes in love songs, which I think would fit with how Akimoto often writes his lyrics.  Sadly, it’s more about love songs.  Boo.

At the break down in the middle of the song, the girls go from the main stage to the catwalk and split up half-and-half to sing to the audience on either side.  If the seats were closer and/or the catwalk was slimmer, this would be nice, but with this set-up, it feels like half the girls disappeared.  And the catwalk was too short so some of the girls got stuck on the center stage.  Lame.  They finish by clapping around, and then the focus goes to the main stage.


Team B shuffles onto the Stage for their prayer, and guess what?  They sing ‘Shounichi’ like they do at every concert.  Oh well…

This time is a little bit different, though, since their wearing the new Team B costumes.  I’m not a fan of them at all, but truth be told: they look like a collection of every AKB48 costume made.  Maybe they would look better if there were more variations?  Right now there are only two.  Also, it’s kind of weird to see that these were used as the end of the old Team’s last costumes and are the new Team’s first costumes.  Not cool.

I think they should have performed this song on the raised section in the back of the stage, because while on the main section, the choreography looks rather stunted as it was originally made to be done on the risers at the theater.

Two Years Later

I don’t get why they keep using this song.  They used it at the JCB Hall concert, too.  I mean, it’s an okay song, but it never fits with songs other than the ones it was placed with in B3.  I understand that they like to have two songs from each Team that are very different from each other, but why don’t they just use ‘Inochi no Tsukaimichi’ for once?  It’s way better than this one.  They could even use Mikachi since there isn’t all that much moving around.

‘Two Years Later’ just doesn’t seem to really fit in if Team B is only going to perform two songs.  Maybe Akimoto really likes this one or something?  And the costume is way too bright.

Regardless of how much I didn’t like the song represented here, it otherwise was nice.  The red and light lighting used mid-way through the song was a pleasant edition and the width of the stage proved to look nice.

Ki ni Naru Tenkousei

Next is a super awesome performance of a true Team K song!  I love Team K when they’re cool, but I love them even more when they actually have a fun song.  Luckily, we’re given more of these songs in K5, so I don’t have to worry about running out anytime soon.

Another great thing about this song is that N is featured within the first verse!  That’s always important because that way she not only gets to sing more, but also get a heck of a lot more close-ups.  In this song she’s paired up with her good friend Sae and they’re opposite Kana and Erena, who seem to be eternally stuck together in Akimoto’s mind.  At one point before the chorus, the
‘Ame no Doubutsuen’/’Tonari no Banana’/’Wagamama na Nagareboshi’ duo are on stage left looking kind of bored, while Sae and Nacchi are having a blast on stage left.  Oh, the differences.

Team K also is wearing new costumes, but theirs are actually attractive.  There are four different versions which vary by color (blue or yellow) and whether or not the vest is opened or closed.  Personally, I think that none of them can be considered the best option, but instead I think they should shuffle around the skirts so instead of it being the vest and skirt match and the tie is different, it would be the tie and skirt match and the vest is different.  I think they’d look much better that way.

Saishuu Bell ga Naru

Whenever people think of Team K, they think of it as the Team that can really rock out.  In reality, they are the Team that’s capable of such versatile performances.  Before ‘Korogaru Ishi ni Nare,’ there was always ‘Seishun Girls,’ and like tonight, before ‘Saishuu Bell ga Naru,’ there was always ‘Ki ni Naru Tenkousei.’

(I know, I’m just so clever.)

This is a great (first verse only) performance of the title K4 song.  It has such a good tune and choreography, and the lyrics match it’s mood.  It’s kind of like ‘Shounichi’ but just a little rougher around the edges.  I wonder if the words are specific to any of the members’ journeys to Team K.  Not much else to say about this one other than I liked it and there was some nice subbing done by RS.

JK Nemurihime

See what I mean about lyrics about schools?  They’re singing about how they want to wear their school uniform forever, but their wearing marching band costumes!  What’s with that? (At least it’s not the ‘Romance, Irane!’ costumes they wore for the song in the Team A concert in Fukuoka, though.)

This is a good song to show off voices in as there are so many duet lines, but it seems as though Team A is kind of lacking in the vocal department right now, so it can’t show off too much.

One nice looking thing done here is how they split the Team into two to walk down the catwalk in two single file lines with the most popular two in front.  Then, they got to use the catwalks in a similar manner to Team S, but this time it feels a little more normal since it matches the original choreography of making parallel straight lines.  Afterwards, instead of having half the Team to face the back wall with the mirror side out, they just walk onto the center stage to finish the song and pose.  Kind of anti-climatic, but at least they’re using all of the components of the stage now.

Seishun no Inazuma

Team A continues their domination of any and all Himawari-gumi songs with ‘Seishun no Inazuma.’  It’s interesting to see Nacchinon’s places taken by Shihori and Nonaka since they now get to be in the front during the chorus, even though they’re not even Team A members.  Another notable RS performance was Sakiko who got to share her line with Haruna.  I heard a lot of Haruna in that line, but it sounded fine, so it’s not like her voice stuck out badly or anything.

On the topic of costumes, Team A’s marching band attire seems to have two main differences, one’s more masculine and the other more feminine, and the girlier one seems to have three possibilities of of sleeves on its bolero: puffy short sleeves, fringe, or bare.  Who designed these costumes?  They need to go away.  Also, please note the shoes.  Those are totally used in the next costumes, too.  There didn’t used to be so much boot re-using, but recently there has been a ton.  The silver ‘Stand Up’ and black ‘Tenohira’ boots have been used so often it’s scary.  Maybe since they’re always so expensive they’ve started to try and save money?

I’m so used to hearing the next song from H2 pop on next that I was excited because it would finally be a song that would match their costumes… but no.

Next is an MC, and then a non-senbatsu performance of my favorite single!

Romance, Irane!

Walking out on stage in brand new costumes are a bunch of less popular members… and Mariko.  When I first saw this, I was confused why they did this, but then I realized that it was so they didn’t have to set anything differently for the last performance in their Budokan series.  It’ll make more sense later.

I love these costumes.  In reality, they’re actually pretty cheap looking, but at the same time, they’re well thought out.  Everyone shares the same materials: the white fabric with ‘AKB’ printed in rainbow colors and multi-color tulle accents.  These combined with a hair accessory, brooch, and single-color ruffled shorts makes each costume look kind of unique.  They’re all summery, enough for now, but they could look kind of winter-y if you thought about them hard enough, and they are uniform yet individual.  Great thinking, costume designer.

‘Romance’ uses the H2R substitute system for its performance, so we get a pretty random set of girls performing on the main stage.  Also, now they get to spread out a little bit more, so visually it looks a lot cleaner.  If you watch during the break between the first chorus and the second verse, Nacchi is totally in the center and looks amazing rolling her neck.  During the bridge, the double set of lines looked nice with the back one on the risers behind the group of girls who sang the verses.


The senbatsu come back to perform the second full song in a row.  This is getting to seem like a kind of long concert, isn’t it?  We’re not even at the encore yet.  And to think, the Natsumatsuri only had like thirty songs total.

Judging by some of the accessories these girls have on, it looks like the senbatsu election even allowed them to get an extra frill on their head piece or, in Acchan’s place, a completely different, feathery bouquet of prettiness as well as a second brooch.  Her costume seems to be the most complete.

Here they sing their summer hit, ‘BINGO!’ as the first song with all (or at least most of) AKB48 on stage.  I find it kind of funny how rare it is to have the full group doing the same thing at the same time.  In AKB48’s first concerts, Team A and Team K would perform tons of songs together, regardless of who’s song it was originally, but now it seems like AKB is only allowed to sing singles, ballads, and old songs as a full group.

Of course, when they are performing in their entirety, nowadays not everyone gets to sing during the verses.  Again, luckily for me, Natsuki was in Team 1 during the Himawari Stages, so she always gets to sing her lines in the verse along with Sae and Sayaka.  Granted, now there are other girls singing along with them… and now Sae is super tan and wearing the same thing as Nacchi, so she looks kind bland.  But that doesn’t mean I want her to tan.  Skin cancer is bad.

Oogoe Diamond

And now we start the medley of King Records singles.  At some point during the last song, Jurina jumped up to the front and center and it really irritates me that I can’t find when that happened.  I enjoy knowing when things like that happen.

Now that ‘everybody’ is on stage, I feel like it’s an encore.  That is not a feeling that should be happening.  See, this is what not getting all of AKB together at the same time does to me!  In terms of the performance, it seems to be much like any other version we’ve seen of the single, shortened and in pretty new costumes.  The lighting seems to have been especially amped up, but that’s pretty much the only difference.

One big gripe of mine about ‘Oogoe’ is that it signaled the true dropping of Nacchi from near-popularity.  ‘Romance, Irane!’ was a time period when she was so, so close to being senbatsu for her second single, as she even was in the PV for it… sort of.  Next, in ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008,’ she wasn’t senbatsu, but she was part of the group of girls who were featured a bunch running around and the like.  She did however get to be selected for the B-Side, ‘Saigo no Seifuku.’  Then came ‘Baby! Baby! Baby!’ and moved Kashiyuki into senbatsu, brought back Rina, re-introduced Meetan just for fun, and Umechan came back so they through her in, too.  Since then, RS-to-Team members have suddenly gained control of all of the new spots and the un-popular old girls have been stuck waiting outside.  Boo.

10nen Zakura

I feel sorry for this single.  This is the second concert it’s been in, yet neither time was it performed in an appropriate outfit.  In NHK09, the girls wore their NHK08 party dresses, and here they’re wearing what looks to be swim wear cover-ups.  ’10nen’ needs school uniforms or something to make sense.  I’m not a big fan of the single, but my dream performance of it includes having all of AKB48 wear different school uniforms.  They almost have enough that each girl could wear a different one… which is kind of scary if you think about it.  (New blog post idea: favorite costumes)  Maybe after these New Team Stages and the new TV show come out they’ll have enough.

The lighting in the stairwell looks really nice here.  They made a moving rainbow of colors throughout the performance and I think I finally figured out what’s going on with the open-ness of those steps:  The idea was that they could make that entire piece turn a specific color.  I don’t think it ended up working out too well, but it’s fine as it is.  Now, I much prefer the NHK09 set…

Namida Surprise!

Again, this is the second time this single has been performed, and again, this is the second time the girls aren’t wearing school uniforms.  This is a school-themed song and deserves real costumes that fit with it.  (Actually, it’s not a very good song, so I wouldn’t say that it ‘deserves’ anything.)

At least the costumes look like something birthday-related: cake!  Vanilla with sprinkles, maybe.  When I showed the ‘Romance, Irane!’ PV to a friend of mine, she mentioned how they all looked like cupcakes.  Ever since then, I’ve found that if a costume looks like a baked dessert, I like it.  Especially if food coloring was used.

I like how they integrated the non-senbatsu members in this performance.  There’s much less of a divide compared to just minutes ago when the girls who weren’t selected for the single were stuck dancing about the whole time.

The bridge would have been ten times better if Acchan’s feathered headpiece suddenly turned into a giant candle like a birthday cake.

Actually, they should have put Acchan in the very back on the highest riser and just had her twirl around while the rest of the girls were on the lower ones.  It would be reminiscent of that newspaper commercial or even the PV.

And you know how I mentioned that I liked how the non-senbatsu got to kind of merge with the senbatsu, by the end of the song, the senbatsu got to go to the center stage.

To the encore!

Iiwake Maybe

This is the first concert performance of ‘Iiwake Maybe’  I hate how the stage seems so bland for its premier.  Remember in the Aitakatta concert for ‘Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru”s performance how it looked so nice?  Or all of the fog for ‘Keitbetsu Shiteita Aijou’ in the NHK07 performance?  Much trendier.  (Now that I think about it, I have to wonder if the Aitakatta concert was filmed at NHK Hall.  It would be handy if I could just call it ‘NHK06.’

I love how the camera keeps trying to spot Jurina but continuously fails.  She got a really low spot in the election, so she got a pretty bad position for the dance formation, yet the camera people know that she’s important.  I wonder if the camera people know all of the members of AKB.  That could prove to be an interesting job.

Anyway, cute performance.


All of a sudden, the rest of AKB48 and SKE48 stream on to the stage to sing the trademark AKB48 single.  I feel sorry for SDN48, they must feel un-invited.  I see no reason for them not to get in on the encore.

I’m always at a loss on what my opinion an encore costume should be.  There’s either the traditional t-shirt, like the one used here, or there’s always the possibility of some ridiculously elaborate costume.  I think that of the AKB48 Stages, K2 and A3 have the best idea: start basic, and then get specific.  I wish the current Stages would have more costume changes like those did.  Of the AKB concerts, the Aitakatta one wins as they start with the ‘Mirror’ (backwards) t-shirts, and then wear the ‘Aitakatta’ and ‘Seishun Girls’ costumes.

I really like how for this performance, they really split everybody up instead of put each Team in a different spot.  It’s nice seeing everyone all shuffled together.

They do the full song in this concert and Nacchi gets to be on the center stage for the second verse.  I feel sorry for all of the girls stuck on the risers in the back.  You can really tell how much they want off them.  Once the bridge starts, they finally are relieved of their stair-standing duties and spread out along with the now-arriving senbatsu.  Finally, the entire stage is used, including the out-croppings on the sides.  Also, the big balloons of balloons similar to the ones in the Aitakatta concert are unleashed.  Yay.

And you know what’s really cool?  They extended the bridge.  Instead of going straight into the chorus, they added a section that just had the voice track and a minimal amount of percussion!  I was so happy they did this, as it’s one of those little things that really add to the song and performance.  The camera switching to the beat of the drums was a nice touch by those crafty video editors, too.

Looking back on it, that new section is only twenty seconds long, but it’s definitely one of the highlights of the concert for me.


And to finish of the concert we have one of the pushed songs from A5 and one of the the B-Sides of ‘RIVER,’ ‘Hikouki Gumo.’

As with the usual line distribution, each Team gets a set of lines, but this time Team S is included, too.  They seem to be really getting lots of attention now.

Another thing I find interesting is that they’re using those concert towels as rags again.  They’re really complementing other idol groups with the use of their commercially-available concert pieces.  I kind of wish AKB would just release new rags for fun… that look nicer than towels.

And the first night of Budokan is complete!

November 13, 2009

And I sent it to her.



The original FC Blog picture, and t-shirt information below…


‘Dakishimeraretara’ (RSL ver.)
October 4, 2009

Dakishimeraretara (RSL ver.) Jacket

Dedicated to a certain forum administrator, I did a dance cover of the Natsuki-only version of ‘Dakishimeraretara’ (as made available here)!  It took me forever to learn the choreography, and a bunch of it is still off quite a bit, but I’m kind of happy with it.

My Third Fan Letter to Natsuki
June 20, 2009

Yesterday I sent out my third fan letter/package to my favorite girl.  My reasoning: In just a few weeks is her nineteenth birthday.  I figured I should get her something… so naturally I sent her a PB filled with my very own senior pictures.  If this doesn’t make her want to make her very own PB, I don’t know what will.  Here are some random photos of the gift and shots of the actual PB.  I hope you (and Natsuki) approve!

RSL at W’sN? wishes you a happy holiday season!
December 23, 2008

And more specifically, Christmas!

So does Natsuki.

(Click the link.)


New Blog: Where’s Natsuki?
November 30, 2008

This is RocketStarLauncher, or RSL for short.  I’m was a moderator at the forums, and now I’ve decided to take up translating Sato Natsuki’s blog entries.