Ah, the 48 Stage system. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the 48 empire; the fact that this super popular group performs in a tiny theater. Yet (understandably, given the pace of the 48 Empire lately) the stages have been neglected. The last new stage was over two years ago, and the last new AKB stages were quite a while ago. So when it was announced that a large number of new stages were coming, I was VERY excited.
NMB48’s first original stage for Team N has been a long time coming. It’s been plagued with delays and so many start dates, that I was frankly skeptical that it would ever start. Yet, Team N’s first original stage, Koko ni datte Tenshi wa Iru has been released. So does it live up to the long history and hype?
1. Aoi Tsuki ga Miteru Kara
NMB48 131119 N3 M01 Aoi Tsuki ga Miteru Kara by Cubozoa48
Right away, the song is reminiscent of Dreamin’ Girls, the opener to Boku no Taiyou, the popular stage that was originally a Himawarigumi stage but got recently performed by Team 4 and now Team E. I mean, it’s mostly only reminiscent in that it’s acapella and pretty sounding acapella, but since both are stage openers it came to mind. It’s a good way to open a stage, though, because the vocals sound really nice.
The song then opens up into what only sounds like a victorious, upbeat song. Maybe it’s just me, but it does sound victorious, like “yes, we FINALLY got the original Team N stage out there!” Not sure how intentional this is, but it’s nice. The whole song is well done, and is like a good stage song. It’s not the most memorable song in the world, IMO, but I really enjoy it. It’s pretty, happy, and sounds like a fitting opening. The only thing is that it doesn’t feel like a specifically NMB48 song, but it’s hard to pin down what would be specifically NMB. I like it, though, in the way I love idol-y songs.
The lyrics feel a bit oddly positioned, being the first new stage song in a long time. “Darling darling wait a minute,” no I don’t want to wait a minute, I’m so excited for a brand new stage! “It’s the happiest in the world,” yes, I’m ecstatic to get a new 48 stage and the long awaited Team N stage. It’s probably just a coincidence, but it makes me wonder how much things changed during the course of making the Team N stage, and if this song was positioned at the front specifically because it fits so well.
I also really like these outfits. They’re cute dresses that remind me a bit of the uniforms from NMB Geinin. the only thing I don’t really like on them are the tiny aprons in front; I don’t think they look particularly good.
Ultimately, this is a really great way to open a stage. The acapella sounds great, and the whole song is pretty and happy. Off to a good start! 8/10
2. Radio Name
NMB48 131119 N3 M02 Radio Name by Cubozoa48
This song is a mix of beach boys esque pop and ska and I love it. This is a really great, brass-heavy arrangement. I wish there were some more idol songs that sound like this, because I’d love more ska-inspired idol music!
This is unfortunately not QUITE as memorable as Aoi Tsuki ga Miteru Kara, but still very pleasant to listen to. The arrangement is by far the best part about the song, but the rest is fine, too. The lyrics (involving radio as a symbol for romance) remind me a little bit of Heavy Rotation, which makes me want to hear the two of these songs put together.
The one thing that kind of throws me off is that there are shouted parts, which are fine, but they seem to be mixed a bit too loudly in the audio mix of this stage. I wonder if this is something they’ll fix in later shows, because some of those loud “YEAH”s are a bit distracting.
But ultimately, while not quite as memorable, this is a fine song. 7/10
3. Koko ni Datte Tenshi wa Iru
NMB48 131119 N3 M03 Koko ni Datte Tenshi wa Iru by Cubozoa48
For being the title song, this is really not a memorable song, and by far not the song I’ll remember when thinking about this stage. I mean, I suppose there is precedence for this; no one thinks of Renai Kinshi Jourei, but they think of Heart Gata Virus. Theater no Megami is secondary to stuff like Team B Oshi, and Pajama Drive is secondary to stuff like Shonichi. However, you’d think that for your first Team N stage the song would be memorable. Not really.
Koko ni Datte Tenshi wa Iru isn’t a bad song, it’s just a tad on the generic side. The instrumentation reminds me a bit of one of my favorite AKB songs, Yobisute Fantasy, which is also an admittedly fairly idol-y song, but it’s a lot more catchy. Listening to Koko ni Datte isn’t bad, and I find myself enjoying it, but there’s nothing about it that makes me think I’ll ever seek out this song. The song is at that weird mid-tempo point where it’s not quite a ballad but not an upbeat song, and it just feels like it’s dragging even though the song’s only 3 minutes long.
The costumes are very cute, though. I like the fake wings on their back; they could have gone a really gaudy route, but chose to have cute costumes.
I really want to say more, but this just feels bland and kind of boring. I have a feeling that NMB fans will want to vote for this at stuff like Request Hour because it’s the titular track on NMB’s first stage, but I really hope they don’t. There are plenty of better songs out there to vote for, and this is just forgettable. And this is coming from someone who loves generic idol pop. 5/10
4. Cattelya no Hana wo Miru Tabi ni Omoidasu
NMB48 131119 N3 M04 Cattleya no Hana wo Miru… by Cubozoa48
This is also a fairly generic idol song, but I like it a lot more than I like Koko ni Datte. I think it’s the little things that make it a step above.
First off, the piano at the beginning is just beautiful. I really wish the song had kept on with this instrumentation for the whole song, because I instantly loved this piano. The rest of the song sounds fine, but that piano had the most impact.
I also think the tempo’s a bit better; it is still a mid-tempo song, but it’s fast enough that it still drives the song forward instead of dragging. There are certain sections, particularly in the chorus, and particularly the back and forth bits, that really drive the whole song forward. They sound nice.
The vocals also sound sweet. This is a very sweet sounding song, which is something I like. It’s delicate and pretty. While this isn’t the image I’d necessarily give NMB48, I really enjoy this song’s presence in this stage. 7/10
5. Yume no Dead Body
NMB48 131119 N3 M05 Yume no dead body by Cubozoa48
OK, let’s get it out of the way, this is the one song title I was like “…well hang on just a sec” about. Definitely one of the odder stage song titles.
In this song Sayanee both plays electric guitar and sings live. Sayanee might not be one of my top 48 idols, and I generally don’t pay much attention to her, but I do have to admit that she’s a definite talent in the group. So I’m glad that they went with a song that fits her well.
This song does fit her well; it’s a cool song that feels like it would be comfortable in the ranks of Bird and Blue Rose as the cool, rock-inspired song of a 48 stage. In fact, since Sayanee has been in the units for Bird AND Blue Rose for the previous two Team N stages, I imagine that’s exactly what they were aiming for. And they totally succeeded.
Sayanee’s voice sounds wonderful with this song, and her guitar playing fits right in. The whole instrumental sounds really good, and the melody is quite catchy. I know I’ll find myself singing “Yume no Dead Bodyyyy” to myself in the days to come.
While I love my cutesy idol songs, there’s certainly a place for the cool, rock idol songs, and this fits right in with the best of them. This fits Sayanee PERFECTLY, and I’m glad they did a great job for NMB’s most popular member. 9/10
6. Nando mo Nerae!
NMB48 131119 N3 M06 Nando mo Nerae! (何度も狙え!) by Cubozoa48
In nearly every stage there’s one song that has the most members, and is generally regarded as the unit that everyone who doesn’t really fit into another unit gets thrown into. It would be easy to make this that song, and I first thought it would be a song like that. However, it’s saved by a performance that is one of the most fun things about this stage.
The song itself is goofy and silly sounding. It’s not fast, but it manages to have a fun, light-hearted feel despite being pretty mid-tempo. After Yume no Dead Body, this is a tone shift in a very major way.
However, the song really is secondary to the performance. The girls manage to instill this with so much personality and energy that I know I’ll want to watch more versions of this song. The girls themselves are what make this great.
This could easily be the least fun unit track of the stage. However, it’s transformed into something to watch. 7/10
7. ONEW no Uwabaki
NMB48 131119 N3 M07 ONEW no Uwabaki by Cubozoa48
I don’t care, Ichikawa Miori totally deserves this center unit. And she really fits this well.
I have a soft spot for the uber-adorable stage songs. I listen to stuff like Tenshi no Shippo and Tonari no Banana a LOT. And while I’m not sure ONEW no Uwabaki is quite on that level of a song for me, this song is certainly cute and enjoyable. The instrumental breaks in particular are adorable.
At first, I wasn’t sure how much I liked the shouts of “O N E W;” on their own they’re fine, but it feels like those don’t quite fit with the song in there. ONEW is a very cutesy, gentle song, and the shouts feel like they’d fit in better with a more energetic styled song. The shouts in the middle of the song feel like they fit better in there, at least.
This song wasn’t my favorite at first, I have to admit. However, after a few listens, it’s grown on me. It’s not the most immediately catchy song, but if you like cutesy songs (like I do) you should like a lot what you hear in ONEW no Uwabaki. 7/10
8. Kono Sekai ga Yuki no Naka ni Umoreru Mae ni
NMB48 131119 N3 M08 Kono Sekai ga Yuki no Naka… by Cubozoa48
Something about the instrumentation at the end makes this song feel like it belongs in the 80s/90s. Not like it’s a bad thing, but it sounds interesting.
This is another song that features live singing, and while there are some off notes for the most part it sounds really good. Kishino Rika’s voice, in particular, sounds excellent. It’s hard to fault some of the off pitch notes, though, because I imagine this will sound a lot better after a few more performances.
The whole thing sounds lovely, and mixing the really solid instrumentation with these nice, live vocals makes the whole song sound great. There’s some good harmonization in there, and it has a bit of an epic feel to it. Really, the pretty vocals are the best thing this song has going for it.
I doubt this is the song I’ll come back to time and again, but it’s really nice and well done. 8/10
NMB48 131119 N3 M09 Zipper (ジッパー) by Cubozoa48
Fun fact, one of the biggest reasons I didn’t write this review until now is because I couldn’t stop listening to Zipper long enough to actually review the other songs. This is how much I love Zipper.
Full disclosure, I am a big Watanabe Miyuki fan, and this song really fully encapsulates her. For the most part it’s a very cute song that has a bit of a classic idol feel, but there’s a bit of coy sexiness that shows itself once in a while. This is pretty notable in how the instruments are used, particularly in the chorus; sometimes there are parts that sound lush and extravagant in comparison to the rest of the cute song. The whole thing is very catchy, as well, and I’ve found myself singing along to zipper quite a bit since it’s come out.
However, what everyone’s talking about is really the performance, which involves the three girls involved to strip off their outer dresses to some frilly shorts and a small top. The whole performance is very sexy in that kind of coy way, and I think this is done pretty well. It’s not so obviously sexually charged as SDN48’s stage could be at times, but I think it’s better, in a way. I really admire SDN48 for how willing they were to be sexy and out there, when this isn’t something idols are usually allowed to do. However, Zipper really toes that line between cute, typical idol and a sexy image in a way that is totally Milky.
This is the type of song I can see people really hating, and I can understand why. Milky is one of those idols who can be pretty polarizing in her approach. However, since I love Milky, I love this. This song is catchy, fun and addicting, and is definitely one of my favorites of this stage. 10/10
10. Hajimete no Hoshi‘
NMB48 131119 N3 M10 Hajimete no Hoshi by Cubozoa48
This song does an interesting thing with its lineup; it returns back to the old Skirt, Hirari and Senaka Kara Dakishimete model of making another unit song for all the popular members. I know some people are a bit stumped, but I like smaller group songs and it’s nice to see the stars of Team N star together. Seven members is a nice size for a lineup, and all of these girls feel like they’re well suited to the song and standing up in that top 7 of Team N.
I like this song. It sounds like a lot of other stage songs, but it has a good pace to it. The arrangement is quite good, too; the guitar in particular sounds quite nice. Vocally, Sayanee sounds REALLY great in here! This stage is really reminding me that I don’t pay enough attention to Sayanee as a singer, nor do I give her enough credit. Everyone sounds pretty good here, but Sayanee’s voice really stands out.
The lyrics are also quite nice, making this another song about working hard and aiming for dreams. This is the type of theme that, despite getting used in 48 song after 48 song, I haven’t managed to get tired of. The whole song feels like it fits these lyrics, too. It doesn’t have the power of Pioneer or emotion of Shonichi, but this is a worthy entry in the collection of ’48 songs about reaching for your dreams.’
The dancing also has a lot of energy to it; it feels like a forceful, strong dance, and all the members do well with it. I normally don’t review much choreography because I wouldn’t really know what to say, but this choreography is quite nice.
So while it’s not quite as much of a showstopper as Shonichi, it’s still a good song and a nice addition to this stage. 8/10
11. 100nen Saki Demo
NMB48 131119 N3 M11 100nen Saki Demo by Cubozoa48
Why hello there, electronic beat with a slightly disco feel. When I first started listening to this I knew that this was going to be something I will enjoy. And I do enjoy this. This is one of the closest songs in the stage to the current style that NMB has been doing in their singles, at least with Kamonegix.
This isn’t quite as disco-y as I wanted to be, but the cool, electronic feel feels more like NMB48 than a lot of the earlier songs. The change in key between the verses and chorus sounds a bit unusual, but I really like it; it’s a unique sound.
The song works well with the lyrics, which are basically about eternal, destined love. I hate using the term epic in my descriptions because the word is VERY overused, but it fits here. This is the story of an epic romance, and the song has that feel.
This is one of my favorite songs in the stage so far. Even though Hajimete no Hoshi seems to be trying for that showstopper type of song, 100nen Saki Demo is really appealing. 9/10
12. Ribbon Nante Niawanai
NMB48 131119 N3 M12 Ribbon Nante Niawanai by Cubozoa48
The first thing this title reminded me of was the Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 song “Bikini wa Niawanai,” and bits of the opening remind me of that song so I guess I’m not that far off? There’s a little bit of the Beach style pop that’s in Bikini wa Niawanai in here, though not to that degree.
That’s where the similarities end, though, because Ribbon Nante Niawanai is an upbeat classic idoly song. It feels like such a cutesy, classic idol song, much more cutesy and classic than NMB48 really has ever felt for me. Even though the song is about figuring out which style suits you, especially in that process of growing up, I don’t think this song suits NMB48 very much, even when they do their cuter songs.
The song itself is pretty fun and catchy, though, and is certainly not bad. The performance is cute, too, featuring pom poms. This just feels a bit too generic and like it doesn’t suit NMB48 much. I feel like that’s a solid criticism for a lot of the songs in this, really. Even though NMB48 often does cuter songs (Mattemashite Shingakki, Boku wa Mou Sukoshi Daitan Nara, Mousou Girlfriend, etc.) this just doesn’t feel like it suits NMB48. Which is a bit of a shame, given this is NMB’s first original stage.
I have a feeling this song will grow on me, and I wonder if subsequent performances and viewings will have me changing my tune a bit. I just can’t see this being one of NMB’s big representative songs, is all I’m saying. 6/10
13. Degas to Ballerina
NMB48 131119 N3 M13 Doga to Ballerina by Cubozoa48
Oh hey art reference I get! Degas was a very famous painter, who notably painted ballerinas. So that’s where Degas came from.
Normally slower songs bore me. It’s not necessarily the fact that they’re slow paced ballads, but I just don’t think a lot of them are done in a very interesting way. I really enjoy this song, though. Despite being slower it doesn’t drag and it has a nice pace. Arrangement wise, the organ and piano sounds are really lovely. Most of the vocals sound great, especially in the verses, but the pitch gets a little too high in the chorus for some, which makes the vocals sound like they’re straining a bit.
The performance is nice, as well, with a lot of ballet inspired moves. There’s even a bit of ballet dancing in there, though I think it looks a bit awkward in those shoes. Still, it is a nice touch.
Aside from some strained vocals, this is a really pretty song. Perhaps because of those vocals, I tend to like the vocals a lot more. Still, for not being a ballad person, I really enjoy this. 8/10
14. Jounetsu Highway
NMB48 131119 N3 M14 Jonetsu Highway by Cubozoa48
Holy neon costumes batman! These certainly are interesting. The design isn’t bad, but the color choices made me pause for a bit.
This is one of the most fun, happy songs of the stage. It’s full of energy and is a joy, especially after the slow (but pretty) Degas to Ballerina. The song is very much aiming to be a rock song, including shouts of “rock and roll!” and even “twist and shout!” in there. It works, though; this song got me in a good mood!
Perhaps in the grand scheme of things this isn’t THE most original sound ever, but it’s a breath of fresh air in this stage. I’ve enjoyed most of the stage so far, don’t get me wrong, but this is exactly the song that the stage needed at this time. It feels very well positioned, which is really nice.
This song is fun, peppy, and just what the stage needed at the time. 7/10
15. Sukoshi Nigai Jinsei Soudan
NMB48 131119 N3 M15 Sukoshi Nigai Jinsei Soudan by Cubozoa48
Since the title involves the words “slightly bitter” I was worried this song would get too angry or sad; however, this does a really good job of being both upbeat but emotional. It’s not the most emotional song out there, mind you, but it has a definite amount of feeling to it. I like how the first verse starts off sounding like a pretty typical ballad before exploding into electric guitar sound. Very cool.
I don’t know if I quite like this as much as I want to like it. It’s a fine song, I like the lyrics, and I like what it’s trying to do. It just doesn’t sound quite as interesting as it possibly SHOULD, given it’s placement as second song in the encore. Perhaps this is because this gives me expectations that are too high; the second song in the chorus is home to stuff like Pioneer and Team B Oshi.
This is a good song, though, and I especially like the moments when it treads the line between ballad and upbeat guitar-heavy song. These moments of transition are the most fun in the song. It’s a generally pleasant, easy to listen to song. 6/10.
16. Fumo no Tochi wo Mankai ni
NMB48 131119 N3 M16 Fumo no Tochi wo Mankai ni by Cubozoa48
While Hajimete no Hoshi was the “look at how hard we’ve worked” song, Fumo no Tochi wo Mankai ni is the “NMB48 song.” The lyrics literally go “NMB here we are.” This is a declaration. While I’d dispute some of the lyrics (seriously, WHO said ‘flowers can’t bloom here?’ I don’t think anyone said “you can’t have idols in Osaka).
Again, this really doesn’t give as much of a punch as it really should. For being supposed to be a strong declaration of “here we are” the only parts where they sound like they mean that are the “NMB here we are” sections and possibly the chorus. The verse really doesn’t have the impression of being NMB48 saying “here we are.” Using Pioneer as a template, this doesn’t quite declare NMB’s strengths as a group, nor does it quite deliver in the way it intends.
This isn’t a bad song, by any means, but it doesn’t live up to what it’s trying for. 6/10
17. NMB Medley
NMB48 131119 N3 M17 Medley (メドレー) by Cubozoa48
I’m not going to review this thoroughly, because none of these songs are new, but I generally enjoy all of them.
Aoi Tsuki ga Miteru Kara
100nen Saki Demo
Overall: This is a solid stage that has some excellent moments. I don’t think it will end up being a particular favorite stage like B3 is to me, but it’s certainly not bad, and the good parts certainly justify the so-so parts.