This post has been a long time in coming. I had a great opportunity to re-examine Team K’s 5th Stage after winning a ticket to it four times this past month. Seeing it in person is quite the different experience from watching the “LOD”. But that goes without saying, right? Being “in” the experience adds an entirely different level of excitement.
I’m not going to do a track-by-track review of the Stage, as I have already done that. And my opinions of the songs hasn’t monumentally changed. And I don’t have a full detail of everything everyone said or did during the four shows. I am always impressed with people who can recall the smallest details. But to be honest that isn’t the way I choose to enjoy the show. But there were aspects of it that stood out to me…
The Opening Skit
This is one aspect of the show that I am sure I would like more if I had a better Japanese comprehension. But I really like watching the girls act. And I do understand parts of it. For example, I knew when Tomomi ran onstage she said something shocking about Sayaka, but it wasn’t until I got back to my hotel that I realized that she had been “knived”. During the last show I was sitting next to my friend Hiro, who was kind enough to whisper translations to me. That was, until someone behind us complained. But I think that was because our heads were moving. But no translation was needed for this…
The Sae/Asuka kiss scene was awesome to see! That had to have been one of the most memorable moments so far. I’m glad I was there to witness it.
Saka Agari is amazing to see in person!
I had remarked in my previous review that I liked the song Saka Agari, but felt the song was too long. But I never felt that way in the theater. First of all, the song is so warm and uplifting. And the girls look like they are having such an awesome time performing it. Second, the audience participation factor is great. Saka Agari is filled with fan chants, hand gestures, and the girls waving to the audience. It is an awesome experience.
Machikado no PARTY is another song which benefits from live viewing. Once again, the girls are having tremendous fun here. And that goes a long way toward the audience having a great time.
As far as the “unit” songs are concerned, End Roll became my new favorite. The urban/latin sound is great, and all the girls look so cool in the white outfits. And if you are sitting in the center, the “red light” effect is totally cool!
Kenkyuusei and Other Guest Stars
I always seem to have the bad luck of seeing AKB48 when quite a few girls are out. This is the second trip in a row where I missed seeing Oshima Yuko entirely. And it seemed as if just about everyone in Team K was out at least once during this trip. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. And having girls missing from the show means I got to see some different combinations. Sato Amina subbing for Kasai on Dakishimeraretara was a cool bonus. And I thought she did really well. Although to me Nacchi is the best part of that song. And Haachan subbing for an entire K5 was all sorts of awesome. Especially so close to her birthday!
But for the most part it is all about the Kenkyuusei. I am pretty sure I saw just about all of them on this trip. Ishida Haruka was in just about every show I saw. It’s like she is the hardest working girl in AKB48. On this trip I noticed two more Research Students I really liked. First was Uchida Mayumi, who is the most petite of all of the Kenkyuusei. But she has a “fun girl” aura to her. And the other is Iwasa Misaki. She is a newer member, but she has the most adorable smile! Very cute!
On the other hand, Sayaka was out for three of the four performances I saw. And I was really bummed out about that because Mushi no BALLAD is so awesome. And a great a job Yuka does with it. I badly wanted to see Sayaka do “her” song. I’m sure Ange from SaeYaka Paradise wouldn’t want me going back to the U.S. thinking of BALLAD as Yuka’s solo!
A Selection of Individual Performances
Normally I focus on Meetan when I am watching Team K. But since she was missing for 2 1/2 of the 4 performances I saw, it gave me a chance to pay attention to the other girls. Who catches my attention? In a way they all do, but it gave me a chance to see some of the girls in a different way…
Matsubara Natsumi: I never noticed how beautiful she was until someone pointed out she looks a lot like the girl I spend time with when I am in Japan. After that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
Sato Natsuki: Brimming with confidence and the most sexy (next to Meetan) I have always enjoyed her goofy smile, but she has a great figure. Highlighted by that sexy outfit she wears in Dakishimeraretara. And she is captivating when she speaks during MC’s. I am not surprised she got into Waseda U.
Sae, Ayaka, Yuka: Awesome energy. All three of them look like they are having the greatest time while onstage. Sae and Yuka are two of AKB48′s best singers too. They are always a pleasure to watch.
Chikano Rina: The “new facu”. She is really cute. Rina doesn’t have the stage presence the rest of the girls have…yet. But she definitely has the goods to be a star in the future.
And let’s not forget Kasai and Ono…always as cute as ever!
Obviously I had an awesome time in Japan, and getting to see Team K so many times. But my one disappointment was missing my opportunity to meet Ohori Megumi. I had a 2-shot ticket all lined up. Unfortunately it took me most of my trip to obtain it. But I had reserved a spot to take the photo with Megumi after the 5/11 show. Sadly, that was the show Meetan had the last-minute cancellation for. The theater manager had offered to let me take a photo with someone else. But I had letters and gifts all ready for Meetan, and nothing for anyone else. I didn’t think it would be fair to take a photo with another member when in my heart I really wanted to see Meetan. So I sold my ticket. I’ll try again when I go back in a few months. I sent Meetan my gift and letter. I wish I knew that she received them. Oh well, I’ll just assumed that she got them and liked them.
I didn’t think I would be saying this, but Team K’s 5th Stage was my favorite of the three teams I saw this trip. It’s my favorite team, so I feel the most emotionally invested in them. But all in all it was a great theater experience (again!). And it just made me long to get back there as soon as possible…
October??? Yeah, that might be do-able!
CK in California