I have been busy planning my trips to Japan for 2009. The biggest factor when picking the dates is which groups will be performing and where. I am a fan of quite a few different acts, and always check the tour schedules in order to maximize the fun. With AKB48 it is a little bit different. They are usually performing in Akihabara, but one never knows when they might be off for a week. I guess it’s just one of the perils.
A few months ago I managed to squeeze seven shows into an eleven day trip. Man, was I tired at the end of that. In my previous trip I went to four, including the final night of Set List Best 100 at Shibuya AX 2008. I considered making the journey to Shibuya AX again this year. But to be honest, I prefer seeing AKB48 in their own theater to a large concert venue.
That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the bigger shows. After seeing the list of this year’s Top 100 over at Stage 48, I was surprised and happy to see so many new songs on the list this year. To me it is a testament to their growing popularity. Last year the top of the list was dominated by the singles. But in 2009 the latest stages took over. Newer songs made up almost half of the setlist. Of course this means some of my old favorites weren’t there…
Doku Ringo wo Tabesasete, Last Year #75
Rio no Kakumei, Last Year #77
Seishun Girls, Last Year #57
Christmas ga Ippai, Last Year #79
I thought all of these songs were performed so well last year. And I was really surpised to see Seishun Girls skipped. But hey, we are moving forward, right? I was hoping quite a few of my favorite songs from the most recent stages made the Top 100, let’s see how I (they) did…
Team B, 3rd Stage
Wasshoi B (#23) I believe almost every song from B3 made the list, and that is great! It’s official, Team B has finally achieved the respect they have long deserved.
Kagami no Naka no Jean da Arc (#33) Team B’s metalesque anthem is a real crowd pleaser!
Shonichi (#1!!!) I love the song, but #1??? Boy, was I surprised.
Shiroi Shirt (#43) Check!
Junjou Shugi (#9) It’s amazing how many B3 selections made it to the final night. As much as I like Junjou Shugi, I was really surprised it ranked this high.
Team K, 4th Stage
Erai Hito ni Naritakunai (#54) I really thought this would be ranked higher. In fact, I think the beginning of K4 is so great, I figured all four songs would be highly ranked. I was surprised Boyfriend no Tsukurikata didn’t even make the list.
Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou (#11) Meetan at #11? How awesome is that??? Actually I’m not the least bit surprised. This song is such fanservice, and it’s as much about Tomomi’s lolli performance as Megumi’s sexiness.
Gomen ne Jewel (#15) Just a great song, with cute costumes too!
Saishuu Bell ga Naru (#5) Once again, the opening set of K4 is awesome!
Sasae (#16) This just might be my favorite AKB48 ballad of all time. I love the “roll call” at the end.
Cool! So far I had picked 10 songs, and they all made it. But then there’s A5. And right now I consider it my favorite of the three current stages. Unfortunately Team A didn’t quite get “the love” the other two teams did…
Team A, 5th Stage
Tsundere! (#28) So awesome. A great song with major attitude. Itano Tomomi is not one of my favorite members, but I love her here!
Hikoukigumo (Encore only) So what’s the deal. Was it not on the list because it was an encore song? Or was it an encore song because it didn’t make the list? This is probably the biggest “crowd pleaser” of A5, so I’m guessing the former is true.
Squall no Naida ni (Not Ranked) I can understand why this didn’t make it, but I still think it is a cute song. I love the Kenkyuusei dance at the end!
Manatsu no Christmas Rose (Not Ranked) No Christmas ga Ippai, and now this? Bah Humbug!!!
AKB Sanjou (Not Ranked) This is another song they made a big deal out of at the NHK show last November. I thought it was one of the most popular songs. Apparently I thought wrong!
Ouch!!! Perhaps it was because A5 is relatively knew. Many fans throughout Japan haven’t had the chance to see it yet. I don’t know. Anyhow, I hope we see more of these songs next year.
I was happy to see a few other songs make this year’s list. Especially from Himawari Gumi 2nd Stage, which I think is great! Confession (#42) and More e Ikou (#72) are two amazing songs from H2, although I was disappointed that 50% failed to make it. Does everyone really like Tonari no Banana that much?
I couldn’t believe Chocolove’s Aishita wa Aishita no Kimi ga Umareru didn’t make the Top 100 last year. And this year it was #8!!! I’m really going to miss Rinatin. 🙁
And finally I am pleased to report…
Ohori Meshibe ~ Amai Kokansetsu (#40) Oh my precious Meetan. I am so happy all of her major songs ranked fairly high this year. And Blue Rose still managed to stay in the Top 50.
So all in all I think the producers get a great job of creating a four night show that was completely different to last year’s version. And this will keep up interest when the DVD Box Set comes out later this year. I know I will be purchasing it. And this year I will be more prepared so I don’t have to shell out so much extra to get it!
CK in California