Okay, let me get day 4 out of the way quickly as I was simply resting up for two huge days in Yokohama. The rains came late on Tuesday, but before that I went and did a bit of shopping for J-pop “supplies”. First stop…Trio2 in Nakano.
This is by far my favorite store, it has so much great J-pop merchandise. What I really wanted to do was look at the AKB48 pics they had in stock. Unfortunately I couldn’t get near the pic area as it was just filled with schoolkids. I waited and waited…tried to muscle my way in, but to no avail. It’s the one annoying thing about the AKB48 fandom. With their popularity has come a new generation of young fans, and they are friggin’ fanatical about the pictures. I guess it’s the one thing they can afford to buy. Anyway, I found the October 2009 issue of Sabra that featured Ohori Megumi in a gravure pictorial, and I also found Saito Yua’s 2009 image DVD. So two awesome scores. After that I headed to Shibuya to pick up a bunch of CD’s, including the new one’s from S/mileage, Watarirouka Hashirtai, SKE48, Idoling!!! and the Berryz Kobo Fall Tour DVD!
By the way, I also checked out the newly remodeled H!P store in Shibuya. Damn I wish they allowed pictures in there. They had a bunch of Berryz costumes on display, including the fish costumes from the fall tour…awesome! Unfortunately every cool picset they had for sale was pretty much sold out! WTF!
AKB48 Live at Yokohama Arena
(1st Show, Wednesday Evening)
***Most of the following pics from AKB48 official blog***
By the way, since this post is pretty long I am not going to posts the setlists. But you can check them out at MELOS no Michi. Okay, this concert was the reason for the scheduling of my trip. AKB48’s three shows at their biggest venue ever played. I had scored a ticket to each show, but had no idea where I would be sitting. In fact, no one did. They were using a custom seating chart for this show. Huh??? I got to the venue about four hours before showtime and saw a bunch of kids trading pics. I asked them where the pictures were being sold, and they told me “Sold Outo!” Turns out the kids were lining up at dawn to get the pics. Again, so annoying. I queued up in the goods line as I wanted to get other stuff too.
Two friggin’ hours in wind and driving rain!!! I swear I was sure I would catch pneumonia! The first thing I saw when I got in was AKB48’s new fashion PB. What??? That isn’t out until next week! I quickly bought one, along with Watarirouka’s swimsuit PB. They had different little booths set up for different types of merchandise. I ended up with a Special Edition Tour Shirt, which was the only one I liked. I also got the new “Hikoukigumo” flag, a phone strap, Green AKB48 glowstick, and a Wasamin microfiber towel. I hung out in the shop as long as I could before they expelled me back into the storm! But finally doors opened, it was almost showtime…
ZOMG!!! I am in the front row!!!!! I figured section A would be in front, but instead it was on the side of the T-shaped stage. I was just about as close as you could get, which is key in a huge place like Yokohama Arena. Anyway, the highlights…
New Team formations!!! I know a lot of people were annoyed that the new Teams were doing the old team standards, but I enjoyed it, especially because I got to see plenty of the new Team K songs. Five of them!!! And they were pretty much all of my faves from K6!
The next highlight for me had to be Renai Kinshi Jourei…Wasamin gets a unit song? ZOMG, I am in heaven!!! She wasn’t center girl, but she did a dance solo in the instrumental portion that was out of this world! Iwasa is soooo talented! She already proved in Infinity that she is a great singer. She totally acts like the girl next door every time I meet her, and now she’s a champion dancer too! She’s a “3-tool” idol!
We also got to hear two new songs. First was Jibun Rashisa, which featured Mayuyu, Erepyon and Suuchan. Sato Sumire in a unit was awesome too! During the encore they sang another new song, which will be featured on the upcoming album.
As far as the new SKE single is concerned, I prefer the c/w track to the A-side. I just find Bungy Sengen to be a cuter song. That said, this was the first time I had ever seen SKE48 perform in person. Of course all the songs from the new AKB single would be performed. For the first night Team PB did Enkyori Poster, which is my favorite of the PB/YJ songs. After that they did the MC, where Sae was just flabbergasted by the hugeness of the arena. At one point Myao ran over the side of the stage I was on and started doing “six-shooter” motions at us while we cheered for them, cute!
Each of the three shows ended similarly, starting with all the new singles back to Romance, Irane (plus Aitakatta!). They altered between Senbatsu and full chorus for these songs. And I loved watching Meetan sing Aitakatta! and Oogoe Diamond. At the end of Oogoe they shot streamers into the air. I caught five of them, which I have tucked away in my suitcase.
Each encore was similar, for the first show they did the new album cut (Kimi to Niji to Taiyou to), coupled with Dareka no Tame ni and Majisuka Rock n Roll. During the encore they dropped little paper hearts from the ceiling, most of which were signed by AKB/SKE members. unfortunately I didn’t catch any, but someone gave me an SKE one. In the end one of the guys I was with was a huge SKE48 fan, so I gave it to him.
In summary I was really impressed with the first show. Would the next two be just as epic? And would the weather be as bad as the first day?
Show #2 (Thursday Matinee)
I will be brief with the 2nd show review as it was my least favorite of the three. Anyhow, got down to the venue at 9:30. And if you were wondering, it was raining harder and even windier than the first day. I checked the line for goods…It stretched all the way around the arena, then doubled back a quarter of the way! On the first day the line was one-third as long, and it still took almost two hours. Since I already had most of the goods i wanted, I bailed to the nearby McDonalds and had breakfast!
By the way, getting into the venue was a total clusterf**k. there were two lines stretching in both directions, plus an onslaught of people coming right down the middle. I just inserted myself into the crowd and slowly maneuvered toward the door!
If you have seen an AKB show, you know that one of the girls does a pre-show announcement of rules and such from behind the curtain. For the first show it was Yuko. This time it was Mayuyu, and the place went nuts! After that we were all ready for the overture to begin, so everyone was caught off-guard when the Kenkyuusei walked out. The only time that ever happens is in the beginning of K6. Could it be???
Hell Yes! The show leads off with Lemon no Toshigoro, which is such a cute song. Now that I have seen some of K6 live, I really love it! The beginning set was back to the original teams, and a bunch of songs we have seen performed many times before. That was until Yuko, Mariko and Harunyan came out dressed in…
Yuuwaku no Garter!!! Could this mean we are going to get some cool shuffles for this show? Yes, the girls were in the YnG outfits, and they did all the same gyrating done by SDN48. Unfortunately when they threw the garters none of them made it to the crowd, they all fell into the camera section. LOL Then Acchan came out and led Dakishimeraretara. Ya know, I don’t care who sings this song. I just find it dull, and I know I am in the minority with that opinion. No3b’s upcoming single “Lie” ended this set. My first impression was that it wasn’t that great. Oh well!
SKE did their songs again, and this time Team YJ got their chance for some last minute promotion of “Choose Me”. After that it was pretty much the same finish, except now they performed Bingo! and Hikoukigumo and part of the encore. Good thing I had my flag with me, hehe! As far as the new single and Senbatsu Election announcements were concerned. The new single looks hawt, and I think they filmed it during their recent trip to Guam. During the third show they showed scenes, which featured plenty of bikini!!! The funniest thing about the announcement was the accompanying film, which featured their manager tgsk in a smokey boardroom and a wacky press conference with a bunch of execs holding B.L.T. photos. Hahaha. Then his mother appeared to give him advice. Too funny. Oh yeah, I forgot to say during the first show he came down and watched for a few minutes right next to me. As far as the Senbatsu Election is concerned, Meetan isn’t in it. So this time I will root for Wasamin to make the Top 40. Go Wasamin!!!
Show #3 (Thursday Evening)
Since I was sort of “meh” about the matinee I had really high hopes for the night show. Especially since Wasamin posted on her Mobame that it was her favorite of the three setlists. Pre-show…Atsuko does the rules. Crowd goes bananas. Then the overture finally starts. This is the loudest I have heard the crowd so far. The lights go up, no music. Huh???
Four girls on mini-motorcycles. It’s Team Hormone!!! Could it be? Are we going to be watching a live version of Majisuka Gakuen? The girls actually ride onto the stage, which looked totally dangerous! As they eat hormone from their mini-hibachi, they are soon greeted by Rena dressed as Gekikara! One problem though, Akicha’s mic isn’t working. It threw the girls for a loop for a minute or so. After Rena threatened Sasshi with a pencil, Shibuya (Tomochin) came out and shared her mic with Aki. one by one, every girl in the cast with the exception of Jurina and Miichan come out and do a bit reminiscent of their character. Then with the rest of AKB dressed as Yabakune they opened with Majisuka Rock n’ Roll, complete with gang brawl in the background, LOLOL! But that wasn’t all…
They performed three songs as the cast, including Boku no Taiyou and Skirt, Hirari. Then it was time for unit songs. MAJI Units, that is! To me the best one by far was Acchan and Nachu’s duet of Kinjirareta Futari, with Nachu singing “in character”. The Four Queens also did Classmate in character, with Reina cackling, Tomochin brooding, Yukirin holding her crucifux and Nyan saying “Okaani!” during the song. They kept in character all the way through Akkanbe Bashi, which was an awesome site to see. The whole cast doing the Akkanbe dance, LOL!!! But on the last verse Meetan was dancing on my side of the stage, and when she stuck her tongue out and drooped her eye I was floating!!!
The one disappointment to me had to do with SDN48. Not that they weren’t awesome, they were great!!! And I loved seeing the 2nd gen girls! But what was up with the MC afterwards? They started doing the build-up for the song Ganbarina, which hasn’t been performed outside of their stage show yet. The they abruptly left the stage. WTF!!!!!!! From what I heard they were running late and had to cut a song, and this was it. Jerkoffs! Did we really need to hear Romance, Irane three times?
After we finally got to see a performance of Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara (what took so long? That song is great!) The show pretty much ended the same way the first three did, with all the big hits. Except…
We all expected tgsk in his tuxedo. When he finally came out everyone gasped. But this time the girls seemed ready for it. Would it be a graduation announcement everyone was expecting. The first name called was Iwasa Misaki. OH SHIT!!!!!!!!
Iwasa Misaki going to Ogie Productions. Wow!!! That is a big production company. I knew Wasamin was awesome, and this just confirms it. And it was the first time I had seen her cry, awwwwww. Then as the list of girls going to new companies continued, some of the girls got better companies than others. I felt bad for a couple of them who I’m sure wanted to go to one of the biggies. But then tgsk then announced “SDN48”. Uh oh! First name read…Ohori Megumi, Horipro. As Meetan’s face went from worry to tears I couldn’t help but start crying too, although it could mean that Meetan’s days with AKB48 are numbered. It is a tremendous boost for her showbiz career to be in a major talent organization like that one.
At the end of the day everybody was happy. And after another the fourth performance of Majisuka Rock n’ Roll 15,000 or so people headed for the train station. I was exhausted so I spent the extra money for a Shinkansen ticket and was back in my hotel in 15 minutes, rather than the 40 or so it would take me by regular train.
It has been a wild week! First with SDN48, then Morning Musume, then the 2-shot event and three MAJOR AKB48 shows. I don’t really have much big stuff left to do even though I have about 4 days left here as of this writing. I’ll see what other kind of trouble I can get into this weekend. I hear the cherry blossoms are beautiful this time of year…
CK in Tokyo