Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Top 25 Favorite AKB48 at Budokan 2009 Musical Performances

Budokan is such a great concert stage; I remember it was such a big deal when Utada Hikaru had her first concert there.

AKB48 had their first performance in Budokan at 2009; it was divided into three parts spread over two days (Part 1: Aug. 22, Part 2: Afternoon of Aug. 23, Part 3: Evening of the same day… I’ll call them “parts”, while the whole thing I’ll call a “series”). First part was the shuffles part, second was the graduation part, third was classics part (where they performed old singles) plus the teams shuffle. Each part ran over two hours, and had over 100 musical performances (a few were performed every part). There were so many great performances, it was really hard to limit it to only 25, but here are my top 25 favorites!

#25 Sasae (Team K)

Appropriately, for the graduation of former Kenkyuusei Risa Naruse, Team K performed Sasae. Risa suffered from a herniated disc and could not come back to a level where it would be ok for her to perform. Notably, Yuka Masuda, who was unable to perform in any of her other songs within the two days, came out for Risa’s graduation (since Sasae didn’t really have much dance setps). The best part of the song was when each member of the team mentioned their names (videos of absent Manami Oku and Asuka Kuramochi were played on the large screen), and of course, the fans cheered on Risa when it was her turn.

The only weird part here was that Risa had to leave the stage on her own, as Team K had another song to perform. Now, all teams performed two songs consecutively in each part (even Team S), but it was so uncharacteristic of Team K to continue performing and have one of their members leave the stage alone. Whoever designed the sequence of the performances should have let Team K leave the stage with Risa, especially if Risa wasn’t going to perform on the second song. Looking at the set list, I don’t know where Team K could have done their two songs, but at least Risa leaving alone didn’t look great.



The girls tried not to weep, but they were tearing up (Yuko below)

#24 Blue Rose (Megumi Ohori, Sayaka Akimoto, Yuki Kashiwagi, Sae Miyazawa)

Of course, Yukirin only filled in for Yuka Masuda, who was unable to dance in the series, but since Takamina had performed Blue Rose the day before, it would have been interesting if Meetan had stepped down in favor of Takahashi… then we would have gotten the lead cast of Infinity! Then again, I don’t know if Infinity was already cast then. Nonetheless the four gave a great performance of the AKB rock classic, and it was great that I saw Yukirin perform Blue Rose for the first time.


Meetan and Sayaka


#23 Aitakatta (extended version)

All the girls of AKB and SKE came out to perform this as the second encore song for all three parts. This extended version is a keeper, the added instrumental part was cool, and Nacchan also got to do the shouting parts! When they released the huge bouncing ballons, it seemed so fun, I wanted to be there! And when the huge balloons burst, they actually contained small heart-shaped balloons. Aww.

AKB and SKE: Tanamin and Kumi


Big bouncing balloons!

#22 Skirt Hirari (Atsuko Maeda, Yuko Oshima, Mariko Shinoda, Mayu Watanabe, Haruna Kojima, Minami Takahashi, Tomomi Itano)

This time it was the top seven Senbatsus (of the Iiwake Maybe elections) who performed this AKB classic. That’s gotta be a performance to remember.

#21 Te wo Tsunaginagara (SKE48)

One of the most beautiful members of SKE, 14-year old Tsukina Takai decides to focus on her studies and decides to graduate from SKE. On the second part of the series, after Tsuyukimonoyo and some omeretous and dai sukis from her teammates, Takai gets to stay for the second song of their team, all the while holding the flowers each of her teammates gave.  At one precious moment, one of the flowers drops, and Takai kneels down to pick it up (ok, so the dance step actually required her to kneel, which is why the flower fell in the first place). This was a great graduation performance for her (ok, so she actually comes back for the third part to perform Tsuyukimonoyo, Chaimu wa Love Song, Aitakatta and Hikuokigumo, but don’t bother me with details). Unfortunately, Jurina Matsui was unable to participate in Takai’s graduation as Jurina was physically unwell to participate after the first day.

Takai (lower-right corner) picking up one of the flowers that fell

#20 Mushi no Ballad (Minami Takahashi)

Much respect was given to Takamina to be given this solo (as the fourth song of the series, no less) normally performed by Sayaka Akimoto in Team K’s fifth stage.

#19 Tsuyukimonoyo (SKE48)

It was great that SKE got to perform their first single on the great Budokan stage.

#18 Black Boy (SDN48)

Wow, the SDN girls are sexy! I’m glad that SDN got to perform in the great Budokan stage (I wanted to see Team K2 too, but I guess they weren’t experienced enough to perform), and they made a great impression to those who have never seen them perform. Interestingly enough, this may be the only time we get to see CinDy perform with her Team B teammates (Tsundere! with Mayuyu and Tomomichan), then perform something sexy with SDN, and then perform something again with the rest of Team B (Shounichi and Two Years Later) on one stage on one day. I could say the same for Nonti, Yukarin, and Meetan, but it’s not unusual for those three (and teams A and K as a whole, unlike the very young-imaged team B) to perform something sexy. CinDy gets transferred completely to SDN once the teams shuffle takes effect… so the only chance this will happen again is within the confines of a future Best 100 (assuming CinDy gets to perform with Team B again, as she doesn’t when her former team, Team A performs a 3rd stage or older song in the Best 100, unless it’s a stage subunit like Rider).


#17 Kimi wa Pegasus (Rena Matsui, Kumi Yagami, Tsukina Takai, Sayuki Mori)

The SKE girls finally end up in a shuffle without Jurina! Don’t get me wrong, Jurina is one of my favorites, but whenever SKE would end up in a shuffle, Jurina was always in it. It’s nice to see that AKB management is showing the world that SKE exists beyond Jurina. I love SKE! And this wasn’t one of those sub things because Jurina wasn’t there since Jurina was still able to perform on the first day of the series when this was performed; Jurina was in another shuffle.

Four of the most popular girls in SKE perform this Team K standard; Rena is the second most popular girl in SKE, ending up as the only SKE undergirl in the Iiwake Maybe elections (Jurina was Senbatsu), while Kumi and Tsukina are next in line, followed by Sayuki, with those last three composing the stage subunit that performs SKE’s popular Wimbledon ni Tsurettete, one of my favorites. What was even cooler was that right after their performance, the intro to Wimbledon ni Tsurettete started playing! Since they were in Kimi wa Pegasus costumes, obviously somebody else was going to perform their song, so first the time, I get to see an SKE song shuffled to AKB! Myao, Erepyon and Reinyan do a good job with Wimbledon ni Tsurettete, but it was just not as cute as the original SKE trio!




Kumi and Tsukina

#16 Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou (Mai Oshima, Reina Fujie)

When they started playing the intro to this one, the next question became who would perform it. Surprise, surprise, it’s the recently graduated Maimai, making a guest performance… and she performs the song with Reinyan, who in real life just adores her. Of course, Maimai would be the seductress for this one, as Reinyan is the quiet type, unlike the cooky Maimai, but wouldn’t it have been fun if Reinyan actually played the seductress to Maimai? Whoa!

I know they don't really kiss for real, but why the fudge was the camera pointing here?!

#15 Sakurairo no Sora no Shita de (Graduation ceremony)

Not only do they not perform this beautiful song enough (since this is just the second track to 10nen Zakura, and is not part of any of the stages), this time, they use it for the graduation of Risa Naruse, Tsukina Takai, and Mika Saeki at the end of the second part of the series. Coolness. The three even get raised on an elevated platform. That’s a way to go.

#14 Tonari no Banana (Rino Sashihara, Moeno Nito)

First, two girls, standing on opposite sides of the stage, holding newspapers that covered their faces, were shown. They were wearing the Tonari no Banana costumes. So the question is, who gets to perform this fan favorite. And it’s… Sasshi and Moeno! Two former Kenkyuuseis who were promoted to Team B at around the same time in Team B’s third stage, these two cute girls get a lot of push from AKB management, and performing this popular duet on the great Budokan stage was another great push. I was so glad that these two fun girls, two of my favorites, got to do a duet on such a stage as Budokan, and they do a good job with it. At the end of the dialog / skit in the middle of the song, Moeno even joins Sasshi in doing a wotagei! Another cute thing; right after performing this fun and frivolous song, their demeanor changes to something more serious as the intro of the next song, “Itoshiki Natasha”, a more serious song (which Sasshi actually normally performs in Team B’s fourth stage) plays and they lead it in.




#13 Ame no Doubutsuen (Atsuko Maeda, Minami Minegishi, Yuki Kashiwagi, Yukari Sato, Tomomi Kasai, Tomomi Itano, Miho Miyazaki, Haruna Kojima)

It's an all Senbatsu version of the very cute fan-favorite! Team K still owns the best version, but seeing these eight Senbatsus perform one of the cutest, most adorable songs of AKB is a must see for AKB fans.

#12 Yuuhi wo Miteiruka? (Mayu Watanabe, Atsuko Maeda, Haruna Kojima, Yuko Oshima, Minami Takahashi, Minami Minegishi, Tomomi Kasai, Sae Miyazawa, Tomomi Itano, Erena Ono)

When they started playing the intro on the third part of the series, I was so happy! They're going to perform my favorite AKB song! And it's my favorite member, Mayuyu, who comes out first to do the monologue intro! How can I not like that?! If what I read was true, Yuuhi wo Miteiruka? is rarely performed in concerts, and they just started performing it again at JCB December 2008, so the rarely performed single gets performed on the great Budokan stage... by the original ten performers! (They came close to this at NHK April 2009, but Yuko was out because she just had an operation, so Yukirin subbed for her... and an excellent sub she was!) I love this song, and I'm glad that the original ten performers got to perform this on Budokan!

#11 Nagisa no Cherry (Mariko Shinoda, Sayaka Akimoto, Kayo Noro, Megumi Ohori)

I should have known that if these are the four who would be performing Nagisa no Cherry, they would do something with it. Mix the tall, model-like, fun Mariko, with the boyish, tough and always game Sayaka, add in Nonti the comedian and the "pervy" Meetan, and what do you get? The funniest version of Nagisa no Cherry I have ever seen! And this is the opening performance for the whole series too!

#10 Tsundere! (Tomomi Itano, Amina Sato, Rie Kitahara)

My favorite stage subunit performance performed on the great Budokan stage! Tomochin, Amina and Kitarie just own this. They perform it so well, the dance is cute, the vocals are excellent, the lyrics are great, and it all so fits them! And their exit here is cool too!




#9 Blue Rose (Jurina Matsui, Mayu Watanabe, Erena Ono, Minami Takahashi)

The youngest always-Senbatsus of their teams, Jurina, Mayuyu and Erepyon perform Blue Rose! Not that there's anything wrong with Takamina, but she was kind of out of place with the two 15-year olds and the 12-year old. I'm guessing she subbed for either Aika Oota (14) or Manami Oku (13), who both have been Senbatsus before too, who were both absent (Lovetan had the flu, I guess Maachan was sick too). If not, although Takamina is 18, I guess she can fit since she's the shortest. (Ok, let's not make fun of Takamina's height since I think she's insecure about it.) Either way, the four gave a great performance! They rocked! This was also the second performance on the first day (right after Nagisa no Cherry). Talk about fanservice!



Jurina, Takamina and Mayuyu




#8 First Love (Erena Ono)

Erepyon performs her beautiful solo on the grand Budokan stage. Loved it.

#7 Wasshoi B! (Team B)

Teams A, K, B and S got to perform two songs as a team each part. Team B started with Shounichi for each of the three parts of the series, since it was voted #1 by the fans in the 2009 Best 100. On part 1 they also did Two Years Later, then on part 2, they also did Suifu wa Arashi ni Yume wo Miru, so on part 3 I was excited to see what they'd perform. I was wondering, would it be Hisatsu Teleport? Or maybe Futarinori no Jitensha? Inochi no Tsukaimichi and Kiss Shite son Shichatta may be unlikely, but how about Shiroi Shirts? So when Shounichi ended, and they started playing the intro to Wasshoi B!, I was surprised! I didn't think they'd still perform this fan-favorite with the ever-changing lyrics, since it absolutely requires exactly 16 members, and therein lies the difficulty. Sure, a lot of Kenkyuuseis can fill in, but what if someone gets sick at the last hour? And I guess that's pretty much what happened when Lovetan had the flu. Who filled in for Rabutan?

When I first saw her in Shounichi, I just assumed it was a Kenkyuusei that looked like her. But no! It actually was Kitarie! Rie Kitahara, a member of Team A, would sub for Team B on a team song! I don't know how often that happens, sure that happens with stage subunit songs, but for team songs? I respected Kitarie for this as some people might find subbing for Team B (my favorite team) a step down since she was already a member of Team A. And she did great at it!  I suppose she may have performed with B before when she was still a Kenkyuusei. She was actually with B for all their team performances on the three parts, as well as with A. I can imagine though that it must have been weird for her to sing a song with lyrics saying B is the strongest team. Interestingly enough, Kitarie would be transferred to B in the teams shuffle announced a few hours after.


Why is Harugon just waving?! I loved her pose on the 3rd stage video!

Kitarie: Yoroshiku!

Kitarie: B! B! B!

#6 Glory Days (Kumi Yagami, Mizuki Kuwabara, Yuka Nakanishi)

When they started playing the intro for Glory Days on the third part of the series, I was curious to see who they would have fill in for Jurina. Glory Days was Jurina's stage subunit. Jurina, who was able to perform on the first day, was physically unwell to come back the second day. If there was one SKE girl I wanted to sub for Jurina, I wanted it to be Kumi. And that's what I got! And Kumi looked great at center! Sure, she may not be as good a dancer as the highly energetic Jurina, but she's nonetheless a great dancer with a beautiful, smooth voice, which gave this a different feel, that I liked! I suppose it's possible that Kumi has filled in for Jurina on this one before, but if she hasn't, that means she had 24 hours to learn the whole routine! Loved this!

#5 Tsundere! (Mayu Watanabe, Kazumi Urano, Tomomi Nakatsuka)

My favorite stage subunit song performed by favorite member! Add in another one of my favorites, CinDy, and their new Team B teammate Tomomichan! Sure, they don't do it as great as the original threesome, but this is probably the only time I'll get to see them perform this, and they do give it their own Team B flavor. And leave it to CinDy to give it her personal touches! The part where Tomomichan has to yank an overly rocking CinDy was pretty funny! Loved this!

#4 Temo Demo no Namida (Mika Saeki, Yuki Kashiwagi)

The moment Mikachi stepped on stage with Yukirin, I knew this was going to be memorable. 

Mikachi, who had been suffering from a recurring leg problem, was finally advised to take six months off after Team B's 3rd stage. Unfortunately, after six months, she still hasn't recovered, so much to her and her waiting fans' disappointment, she decided to graduate.

But... when Mikachi and Yukirin stepped on stage, they were wearing their Temo Demo no Namida uniforms! Could it be that Mikachi would treat her fans to one last performance of what should become an AKB classic? After a short speech, she does! And unlike her performance in NHK April 2009, she didn't have a stool to sit on (not that the dance of Temo Demo no Namida was particularly physically strenuous). As they performed, the very professional Yukirin could be seen trying to hold back her tears. As the performace reached the instrumental part, Mikachi didn't even notice that the rest of Team B steps on stage to hand her a flower each. Unfortunately, they didn't have much time to say anything or even give her the flowers, as she still had lines in the song, so once the instrumental part ends, the rest of B stands behind the duo, trying hard not to cry, and not really succeeding at it. The graduation was short but heartful; unfortunately Team B didn't get a chance to say anything to her on stage (unlike with Takai and Naruse) but the girls' tears certainly expressed their feelings more than words could have. The group gets together, a few more thanks from Mikachi, Team B leader CinDy helps her carry her mic out, and then one last bow from Mikachi.

The very professional Yukirin trying hard to hold back tears

Team B steps on stage

Mikachi continues to dance as she doesn't even notice the rest of Team B already on stage

Mayuyu and Sasshi

Tanamin and Nacchan

CinDy and Nakayan

Nakayan and Yonechan

Haachan and Harugon

Yukirin embraces Mikachi as Team B gathers around Mikachi

#3 Heart Gata Virus (Yuko Oshima, Natsuki Sato, Sae Miyazawa)

The trio from Team K give the best version of Heart Gata Virus I've seen! The dance was great, the vocals were excellent, this one is a keeper! I loved this performance! Nacchi was so beautiful! Nacchi is such a great dancer, and her voice is so beautiful, especially when mixed with Sae, and Yuko is just cute as always. These girls made me love this song! Great job!






#2 Tobenai Agehachou (Rumi Yonezawa, Aki Takajo, Megumi Ohori, Natsumi Hirajima, Rino Sashihara, Haruka Katayama, Rena Matsui, Natsumi Matsubara, Yuki Kashiwagi)

I was so happy the Undergirls of Iiwake Maybe got to perform their song on the great Budokan stage! Now, Yukirin is always an excellent sub and can probably learn any dance in just five minutes, and watching her is always a pleasure, but it would have been nice if they had preserved the undergirlness of the whole thing if they chose another non-Senbatsu girl to fill in for the unable to perform Yuka Masuda. What I love about these undergirls is that they show how great the non-Senbatsu girls are, and that they can give a great performance even without the Senbatsus. Either way, this was a great performance by these nine girls!

#1 Endroll (Tomomi Itano, Minami Minegishi, Jurina Matsui, Mizuki Kuwabara)

No disrespect to the original performers, but these four just owned this! Two members of Team A, Tomochin and Miichan, and two members of SKE's Team S, Jurina and Mizuki gave a superb performance; the dance was great, the vocals were excellent, and they looked great in their costumes, especially Tomochin and Jurina. This version is something I would let even non-AKB fans listen to. It's too bad that we'll likely never see them perform this again, but this is one of the best shuffles I've seen, period. I don't know much about Kuwabara, as she's the only non-Senbatsu in the foursome, but I do like the idea that less popular members get included in these shuffles with Senbatsus to give them a needed and deserved push, and she does a good job with Senbatsus Tomochin, Jurina and Miichan, whom I just love to watch. Leave it to these four to give the most beautiful performance of the Budokan 2009 series.