This post is going to be full of AKB48, so if that’s not your cup of tea, I politely suggest that you stop reading now.
First, the absolute highlight of the day for me. Reina Fujie thinks I’m cute!!!!!!!!! See, since it’s one of the first performances of the new stage, they did a “high touch” meet after the show. That’s where the girls line up, and the audience high fives them as we file out. By the way, they announced that it’s the last time they’re going to do it for this show, so I think I’m super lucky. Anyway, when I got to Reina, she looked at me and said “Ah! Kawaii!” threreby earning her a very high spot on my list of AKB faves. I’ve called many idols cute, but I’ve never had an idol call ME cute. Totally made my day.
Aaaaand backing up. I’ve got to say, the day didn’t start out so great. First, I went all over Tokyo looking for tickets to tonight’s Momusu concert, and failed. Sold out everywhere!! I know, I should have gone after work last week or something, but I’m lazy, and I figured since I’d be in Tokyo early today anyway… Oh well. At least there’s still the Nakano Sun Plaza concerts to look forward to.
Then I got really F%@$ing lost trying to find the AKB theater. I walked up the wrong street, I think. Here’s a hint: If you’re looking for AKB and you find yourself crossing a river, you’ve gone WAY too far. Fortunately, I allowed plenty of time, and I made it the the theater with about 10 minutes before they would have given my ticket to a cancel machi. My impressions of the theater? It’s small. Real small. The whole building it’s in is very narrow and crowded. Also filled with kinda sketchy shops. Once I got to the lobby itself, I was mostly just trying to stay out of people’s way. There was a bit of a crisis when I found out I couldn’t take my bag inside. After checking it, I couldn’t remember which line I had come from, and I was just standing there in front of the entrance, staring at the fans waiting to go in, looking very much like a lost and terrified puppy, until I figured it out.
Inside, I was in the last seated row, absolutely dead center. In fact, the main camera filming the LOD was positioned directly over my head. I can see what people mean about the pillars of death (or is it doom?). My view of both far corners of the stage was blocked, which wasn’t bad, but I can imagine how annoying it would be if one was between you and the middle of the stage. Overall, it just feels like AKB is too good for that performance space. I know, it’s important and nostalgic, and they’re Akihabara 48, so they have to be based in Akihabara but… it just feels like they’ve outgrown it in so many ways.
Now, my personal impression of some of the girls.
Akimoto Sayaka- Amazing to watch on stage, and really funny in the MCs. It’s a shame that she’s not very prominent in K6, but I can kind of understand why. AKB48 is a group for cute girls, and Sayaka is a beautiful woman, not a cute girl. I wish she would become an actress/professional singer or something and stop with this idol stuff. It’s a crime for someone as talented and beautiful as her to be slowly pushed toward the back.
Oshima Yuko- Clearly the favorite from this team, and I think she deserves it. That little buck-toothed smile of hers is ADORABLE. All around, she’s just an excellent performer, and she actually reminds me of my beloved Gaki-san in some ways. Not so much in personality, but in the way she seems to truly feel and embody whatever she’s doing on stage, and she just seems to be so genuinely thrilled to be performing. It bothers me to pick the most popular girl on the team as my favorite, but Yuko’s charm is hard to resist.
Minegeshi Minami- In a team full of good dancers, she clearly stands out as the best. Moved up my personal ranking after tonight’s performance.
Ono Erena- Probably has the prettiest face of any girl on the team, and she’s ruining it by getting chubby. Erena is not a stand-out performer, singing and dancing-wise. Her cuteness is what got her a front-girl spot, and she can’t afford to lose that!
Itano Tomomi- OMG, Tomochin is TINY. Like, at the high touch thing, I swear her hands look like they belong to a kindergartner. I think she’s the best girl on the team at working the “sexy” angle. Something about the way she tosses her hair. Anyway, she looked very happy, and I think she’s really enjoying being the center of attention and having more complex dance routines.
Fujie Reina- Even before the high-touch thing, I was noticing how pretty Reinyan is. She’s rather striking, in a classical Japanese way.
Miyazawa Sae- She has that same way of really throwing herself into a performance as Yuko (and Gaki-san), that draws you in and makes it hard to look away.
Nito Moeno- Good singing, and she did quite well with the sexy or serious songs, not so much in the “cute” songs. Also, not to be mean, but I don’t think she’s very pretty. Her face is too flat or something.
Umeda Ayaka- She’s a very good performer, but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the looks to be front-girl material. Shame really.
Nonoka Misato- Not so much an observation about her, but she had a major fan standing behind me. I got pretty tired of him shrieking her name into my ear.
Nakatsuka Tomomi- Why is there an American on stage? Seriously, is that girl really Japanese?
As for the other girls, I guess nothing in particular stood out to me. This is getting awfully long already, but next is the track-by-track review.
Lemon no Toshigoro- Performing kenkyuusei were Shimazaki Haruka, Ishiguro Atsuki, Takamatsu Eri, and Takeuchi Miyu. I like the idea of a kenkyuusei opening act, and the costumes are cute, but the song is kinda boring.
Overture- Hey, that was exciting!
Reset- Excellent opening number with a kick-ass dance. A good choice as New Team K anthem.
Sentakumonotachi- Okay. I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything here, but the chorus sounds EXACTLY like Tanpopo’s “Otome Pasta ni Kandou”. Well, the dance is cute anyway.
Kanojo ni Naremasu ka?- Least favorite from the opening set, I think. It’s not bad persay, but a little generic.
UHHO UHHOHO- Yes!! This song is awesome!! Sayaka is awesome too.
Seifuku Resistance- Tomochin is perfect for this and Moeno holds her own, but Erena looks really out of place. Also, shouldn’t they be wearing some kind of school uniform?
Kiseki wa Aida ni Awanai- I like this one, but not the costumes. Sae pulled off her hat flipping tricks perfectly this time.
Gyukuten Oujisama- I’m not so into the super-cutesy numbers, and this one is just dripping with sugar. That said, I love the outfits!
Ashita no Tame ni Kiss wo- Tall girls unit? I know some people don’t like it, but I’m happy to see Sayaka in a unit that’s not all rockish. Sure, she’s good at the “cool” thing, but that doesn’t mean she can’t do anything else!
Kokoro no hashi no Sofa- “Lovely” is how I would describe this unit. I like it, because it’s different from anything else in the stage. It really put me in a happy-peaceful mood.
Dokugumo- The dance is cool and well thought-out, but I’m not crazy about the chorus or the tacky spiderweb on the wall.
Okera- Disco flavored awesome! Love the dance, and I love the song too.
White day ni Wa- Just edging into “too generic” territory, but the “Nande ne?” lines save it. That and Yuko’s adorableness.
Jigsaw Puzzle 48- I get what the girls in the back by the mirrors are doing now! They’re pretending to practice and acting out little scenes that might happen during lessons. It’s not AKB’s best ballad ever, but it’s far from being the worst.
Hoshizora no Mistake- Jingle bells? Is it Christmas already? The song is all right I guess. Not too memorable. The best part is when they’re frolicking across the stage at the beginning. And I’ve got to say, I HATE their shoes. They don’t match anything else they’re wearing (even after they change the costume they still don’t match)
Yume no Kane- This one was great! Ripping off those costumes looks complicated. Lots of pieces. Good to see one “dark” song in there.
Hikkoushimashita- Unfortunately, the stage ends with my least favorite song of the whole thing. It’s just so.. blah? I guess the lyrics have a nice meaning.
Overall my top 5 songs are…
1. UHHO UHHOHO
2. Kokoro no Hashi no Sofa
5. Yume no Kane
After the show ended, we were held prisoner in the theater and forced to listen to “Reset” five or six times in a row until they got the high touch thing set up. It was so worth it though! I’ve never gotten to touch a real idol before. Most of the girls seemed really happy, and really surprised to see me there. I got quite a few double takes. I’m guessing that it’s a very rare event for a white female to attend one of their shows.
On the way back, I got hopelessly lost once again. I somehow ended up at the station AFTER Akihabara on the Yamanote line. WTF? I need a personal GPS system or something.
In comparison to Momusu shows, the crowd is rather subdued. No one really dances, and chants only occur in the instrumental breaks of fast songs. It’s mostly just polite clapping and maybe waving. That’s why, IMHO, Morning Musume concerts are just a lot more fun than an AKB show. At a Momusu concert, you feel like you’re participating in something with the girls. At the AKB show, you’re much more just an observer. Then there’s the lipsyncing. I wish they’d at least sing the solo lines live. That’s where it’s the most obvious. I’m not saying AKB did a poor job by any means though. Dancing, energy, and overall performance-wise the two groups are on a similar level. Will I go to any other AKB shows? Maybe if I can get into one of the first performances of the new A and B shows. I’ve high-fived all of Team K now. It’d be cool if I could collect the whole set!
In Soviet Russia, Idol compliments you!