Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let's Speculate: 2nd Senbatsu Elections

Three months ago, in, I said, "I think another Senbatsu election would be stressful for the girls. Maeda may get depressed if she doesn't get #1, and it's too predictable if she does, so maybe we shouldn't have one for another few years when there are already a lot of new girls in the roster, or until Acchan graduates, which, although I am not a big Maeda Atsuko fan, is not something I'm looking forward too either."

But a few days ago, at the March Yokohama concert, they did announce there would be a second Senbatsu elections. The top 21 girls voted on by the fans will do the recording for the next single after Ponytail to Shou Shou, while those ranked 22 to 40 will record an accompanying track as Undergirls. The new single Ponytail to Shou Shou will contain a voting ticket, although there are a few other voters as well like paid members of the AKB48 fanclub.

Running total of votes cast will be revealed on May 26 and June 5, while the announcement of the winners will be on June 9. Eligible for the election are members of AKB, SKE and Kenkyuuseis, but unfortunately, no SDN members are included. I think AKB management does not like the idea of mixing SDN with AKB in a single, and perhaps the age gap affects them also, as management may want a more youthful image. I would have loved it if SDN were eligible, but I don't doubt AKB management's decision with this.

It should be interesting if Acchan can stay on the top position. Most likely, she will, but we can never tell. She actually has good competition with Mariko Shinoda, Yuko Oshima, and maybe Mayu Watanabe. Last year, I would have thought her biggest competition would be Jurina Matsui, but her low rank last year proves otherwise.

For Senbatsus, there will be some predictable, Acchan, Mariko, Yuko, Mayuyu, and then there's also Yukirin, Haruna, Takamina, Tomochin, Sae, Sayaka, and even Jurina. It should be interesting to see if Amina can hold on to her high rank from last year (#8). I'm also curious as to whether certain girls who made it last year can still hold on, like Tomo~mi, Erepyon, and Miichan, who were all non-Senbatsu in the most recent single for the first time in their careers (except Mii if you count Skirt Hirari), and possibly "losing" some popularity compared to other members. Former Kenkyuuseis Kitarie and Myao may still make it this time, but we can never tell, but I'm guessing they will too, as well as everyone else I have already mentioned. Low rankers Lovetan and Mocchi may have a hard time retaining their Senbatsu status this elections, that should be interesting, I really can't guess if they will still make it this year, mostly because there are so many girls whose popularity have risen within the past year. And since current SDN members CinDy and Yukarin are no longer eligible, we are guaranteed at least 2 new Senbatsus elected this year. My guess is Rena would almost surely be elected Senbatsu. Not sure about who the second one would be. I would guess either Akicha, Yuttan, Sasshi, or maybe even Nacchan. Most likely, I would guess it would be Sasshi, but it would be great if it would be Nacchan, as she was the only AKB original who wasn't voted Senbatsu last year (she was undergirl).

A great thing about this year's elections though is that this time instead of just 9 undergirls, there will be 19, so at least there are more girls who would get that great opportunity. My guesses are: the Undergirls from the last election (minus SDN Meetan), Yonechan, Haachan, Natsumi, and whoever doesn't make Senbatsu among those I've already mentioned. But those are all old names, from the old election, how about the 10 new undergirls, plus 3 new slots for the now fully SDN girls? Here are my guesses, I believe it's a safe bet that these seven girls will make it in this year: Moeno (I was surprised she didn't make it last year), Kumi (from Team S, whose popularity I believe has greatly risen), Manatsu (center of Team KII), Harugon (who has been getting a lot of push lately, also with the success of Watarirouka Hashiritai), Umechan (Team K original whose over 1 year absence due to injury has affected her popularity), Nacchi (another popular girl in her early days and Team K original who wasn't able to make it in last year), and even Ayarin (controversial girl who had lots of fans in her early days). The last six spots are hard, I'll guess only five: Maachan, Komori, Chikarina, Krisu and Reinyan; the last one would be an unexpected girl. The only long time members I haven't mentioned are Nakayan and Tanamin, but with a lack of push from AKB management, it may be hard for them to get in, but one of them might be a pleasant surprise. It's hard to guess, I expect a lot of surprises actually. And no, I don't expect some of my favorites to make it, like Team S' Haruka Ono, or Team KII's Anna Ishida, although of course I'd be very happy if they could. Popular SKE48 girls Rina Shinkai and Sayuki Mori stepping down recently to become Kenkyuuseis to focus more on studies may hurt their chances as well, although their hardcore fans may rally more because of it, although even if they didn't step down, it would be hard for them to make it as well because of tough competition, even if I do adore Shinkai. The strongest AKB Kenkyuusei today would be Haruka Shimazaki, and if there's only one AKB Kenkyuusei who could make it, that would be her, but I doubt any Kenkyuuseis would make it again this year.

Fans again are up in arms about the thought that some fans will buy multiple copies of the single to cast more votes for their favorites, but even if this was true, I suppose it does make sense for management to listen to people who throw more money at AKB. I doubt it makes that huge of a difference, but we can't really tell, I, for one, don't believe that this is the reason why Amina ranked very high last year, I frown on the unproven suggestion that she has rich fans who were able to buy multiple singles and cast multiple votes for her, as if none of the others wouldn't have rich fans. I happen to like Amina and she is one of my favorites, and I can easily understand why many fans would like her so much and vote for her. Some even theorize this is fixed, which I seriously doubt; if Management were to fix them, they would have ranked Jurina much higher, for example, among other interesting rankings.

I believe this is very stressful for them, but I've given up trying to guess how the girls feel about this and why some of the girls were even crying last year. Were they crying because they didn't make it, or were they happy for the success of some of their friends? I can certainly understand why CinDy's friends would cry for her. The girls now could be nervous, or they may think this a great and fun challenge. At least, if this will become yearly, as it's starting to seem, if they don't make it this year, they can have the drive to try harder to try to make it next year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Team K's 5th Stage Senshuuraku, 6th Stage "Reset" Shounichi, Upcoming Senshuurakus and Shounichis and Changes in the Shuffle Announced in Budokan

I had to prepare myself for a cryfest before I watched the Senshuuraku (closing day) of Team K's 5th Stage Saka Agari. So there I was, getting ready to shed tears, waiting for everyone to bawl, and then the stage ends. Hey, where's the supercrying part?! I wanted supercyring!

Yeah, while they were performing, some were teary, while others had bouts of crying. I thought the bawlfest would be at the end. There was no bawlfest. Actually, the girls were able to keep their composure. The whole thought that this would be the last stage performed as a team by a beloved and respected team is certainly reason for much emotion, but I guess the girls were very prepared for this day. Why not, this was expected for months now, and I guess the girls have had plenty of time to cry and accept what was happening, and they have made peace with it. Either that, or they bawled off-stage afterwards. I guess they understand that eventhough they will not see each other as often as they did, they can and will still see each other. Well, good times come to an end, but in many instances, to open the door for new good times.

And then Team K's 6th Stage opened, Reset. A rather apt name for the start of the new team formations. After the shuffle kept getting moved, and the shounichi (opening day) of Reset got moved, fans were happy to see the new shuffled Team K and their first stage. And why not, it was a good stage! Certainly one of the better stages in AKB. The stage had a lot of good songs and performances, and as I would expect with Team K, whether old or new, a lot of good stage subunits. Team songs like Uhho Uhhoho and Jigsaw Puzzle 48 were great, just to name a few, but for me, my favorites of the stage are Gyakuten Oujisama and Kokoro no Hana no Sofa, both subunits.

Gyakuten Oujisama ("Come from Behind" Prince) is a fun, upbeat subunit which features AKB original Minami Minegishi as the center for the first time. I think she did great at it, very cute, as well as Tomomi Nakatsuka (former Team B, 4th stage) and Mayumi Uchida (former Kenkyuusei). The fact that Miichan finally got to center a subunit, and a very good one too, that fits the unit quite well, is one proof that the Budokan shuffle is actually a good idea. Miichan would have had difficulty ever getting center position in Team A, with so many front girls who are more popular than her, but now that she's in a new team, she can take the center and do great at it. I love the song and the performance, it's so cute, and so Miichan. Yes, Krisu and Mayumi do well too, but Gyakuten Oujisama is such a Miichan song!

And then, the last subunit of the stage, Kokoro no Hana no Sofa (Sofa in the Side of My Heart), an upbeat love song, centered by Team K topstar Yuko Oshima, with old Team K Ayaka Umeda and former Team A Reina Fujie. I wasn't too fond of it when they were playing the intro, but as soon as Yuko started singing, it just grabbed my attention. Yuko's vocals are great, especially for this song. Reinyan also shined in this performance, I think she was great! I must admit, Reinyan is probably the first or second girl that caught my eye in AKB, but she was hardly noticeable in Team A, but she was great in this unit. Of course, Umechan is always an excellent performer. This unit song was great, the vocals were excellent, the performance was terrific, the dance was great, this is my favorite performance of the stage, and is now one of my favorite AKB subunits. Again, this is proof that the Budokan shuffle was not a bad idea, as Reinyan was able to shine more in this unit than she did in Team A. Her vocals, dancing and overall performance in this unit was great, for me. I hope more big things come her way.

Now that Team K is done with, we await the other two teams' senshuurakus and shounichis. Apparently, shuffled Team B just started rehearsing a few weeks ago, with the girls' hectic schedules and all, but all the while I thought they have been rehearsing since last year. I suppose that means Team B's senshuuraku is up next. Oh, I'll probably cry for that one, those little girls would probably not be able to hold back. And then there's Team B captain CinDy. I still have concerns that she'll announce her graduation at Team B's senshuuraku. Or maybe she'll just finish SDN48's 1st stage and will no longer stay for its 2nd. Don't graduate yet, CinDy!

And after the senshuuraku would be the shounichi of shuffled Team B's first stage, or Team B's 5th stage overall. I'd love to see the new Team B as Team B is still my favorite team. We can easily guess that Mayuyu and Yukirin would still center subunits, unless there would be a surprise like they will have a duet or something, but it would be interesting who else would get to. I suppose Kasai would be center for one. But, if there are five subunits, as typically there are, then I'm guessing the two will be up for grabs by Nacchan, Kitarie, Yuka, and Myao. I would love to see Nacchan and Nacchi center a subunit, but for Nacchi's studies at Waseda University, that wouldn't be the best idea right now, and although I love Nacchan, I doubt she'll get chosen over the other three I mentioned. It would be great if she did, though, finally center a subunit like fellow original Miichan. I suppose the best bet to get center position of subunits would be Myao and Yuka. Team B is poised to give quite a few surprises. Their new stage will be very interesting!

And finally Team A. I don't think shuffled Team A is even rehearsing yet. So I guess Mii and Tomochin are performing in two subunits these days (along with former A members). Hey, Tomochin is centering two subunits, Tsundere! and Seifuku no Resistance (School Uniform Resistance)! We can guess that Team A's 5th stage senshuuraku.will be very tearful also, especially for AKB originals Tomochin, Mii and Yukarin, who would leave Team A after being there since the very first day. But the new stage of shuffled Team A should be interesting, to also see how well the new members would gel. But the ones who will center subunits would be rather predictable: Acchan, Takamina, Haruna, and Mariko, unless some of them will get grouped together, which is rather possible, but if not, it should still be interesting who would be the fifth person to center a unit. My guesses are either Lovetan, Haachan, and Sasshi, all Team B girls. Although it would be interesting if it ended up as Mocchi, Akicha, Natsumi or even Harugon! They're great, but I guess they would get chosen over, but if there were surprises, it would be one of them. Between Lovetan, Haachan and Sasshi, the easy bet would be Sasshi as she has centered every subunit she has been in since she was promoted from Kenkyuusei. That would be great, Sasshi centering a unit at Team A, but she has serious competition with Lovetan, who is a fan-favorite as well, and if the unit fits Lovetan like Tenshi no Shippo did, Lovetan is a no-brainer choice as center. The wildcard here is if some of the original four members end up in the same unit, having both Sasshi and Lovetan center a unit at Team A may be unlikely, although I would love it, but management may go for balance and choose a former Team K member instead, like Mocchi or Natsumi.

By the way, if you haven't kept up, and have been wondering why there are a few discrepancies from the new shuffled teams from that which was announced at Budokan, there have been three changes. First, Shihori Suzuki quit (or graduated) when she was promoted from Kenkyuusei to Team B. Her official reasons included she realized her priorities, and that official stuff, but I'm short of a conspiracy theory to wonder what exactly happened there. Anyway, hope she fares well. Secondly, Haruka Kohara, promoted to Team B on their fourth stage, who was an SDN48 Under also, although it was announced at Budokan that she will be transferred to Team K, it was announced weeks later that she would be fully transferred to SDN48 as well. In SDN's official website, she is still listed as Under, I don't know why that is, if she really is still an Under (although that would be unfair since she is already an AKB48 member, but would only be the equivalent of a Kenkyuusei in SDN), or if their website is just not updated. I haven't seen Eiko Maeda in SDN's website either, although she was transferred from SKE48 to SDN. Finally, Mariya Suzuki, promoted Kenkyuusei at Budokan to Team A, was transferred to Team B instead, to make each Team 16 members each again, finally making AKB48 actually 48 members again, for only the second time in AKB's history so far.

So yeah, Team A and Team B senshuurakus and shounichis haven't been announced yet by the time of this writing, but if the new Team K stage is any indication of things to come, then we have good things coming! Reset is a good stage, and the second era of AKB48 certainly looks promising.

Gyakuten Oujisama

Kokoro no Hana no Sofa

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sakura no Shiori

This post is a continuation of the AKB48 Discography post (here's the previous post:

17. Sakura no Shiori
Continuing the streak started by River, Sakura no Shiori is the 2nd single of AKB48 to rank #1 in the weekly Oricon charts. It also sold the most copies compared with previous singles, selling well over 300,000 copies. "Cherry Blossom Bookmark" is a mellow, calming, graduation choir song. Although only 12 were Senbatsu for this song, the PV shows many of the AKB48 girls, wearing elegant kimonos.

The second track is Majisuka Rock n' Roll, a fast-paced rock song, which is the theme of their on-going drama at the time of its release, Majisuka Gakuen. The PV contains most of the opener of the actual series, with clips from the early episodes.

For the first time, two versions contained different third tracks, the first one is Enkyori Poster (Long Distance Poster), a fast paced love song about loving the person on the poster on your wall (kinda like a song their fans can sing for them, like Kimi no Koto ga Sukidakara, which many fans have compared even the sound of the song to), performed by Team PB (Team Playboy), while the second one is Choose Me!, a relatively slower love song about unrequited love, performed by Team YJ (Team Young Jump). The PV of Enkyori Poster is more lively, with the girls on the poster coming to life and making a mess of the boy's room while he is away, while Choose Me!'s PV is serious and moving, especially the shots at the train station, and the teary close up shots. For more discussion on this, you may see

The single, released February 17, 2010, also contained instrumentals of the first two tracks, along with bonus clips on the DVD.

Sakura no Shiori PV

I think they were dancing River in this part

Majisuka Rock n' Roll PV

Majisuka Gakuen's lead actress, Maeda Atsuko, in a signature move by her character

Enkyori Poster PV

Yuki Kashiwagi, the clear center of Enkyori Poster

Choose Me! PV

Although I liked Enkyori Poster more, there were more good shots in Choose Me!'s PV

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

AKB48, SKE48, SDN48 Members List

For the list updated January 8, 2011, see here:

The list below is as of March 12, 2010, upon the opening of the first stage of the first shuffled team to debut, which marks the beginning of the second era of AKB48, now reflecting the shuffle announced at their 2009 Budokan concert. Click the images to enlarge.

Team A

Team K

Team B

Team S 

Team KII


AKB Research Students

SKE Research Students

SDN Unders

To see the members list during November, 2009, before the Budokan shuffle took effect, and a short discussion, see .

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm Launching an AKB News Only Site

When I started this blog, my goal was to start a site where the casual or new fan can learn about AKB and how AKB does things. This is especially important as the fanbase is increasing by huge numbers. Besides this, I was thinking a few sprinkles of other stuff like opinions and feature stories. I've been pretty much doing that and have about a dozen or more posts in my mind, but one thing I've been thinking about are news about AKB. Current events would be for more hardcore fans or fans that have been around for quite a while, which is quite different from the original target audience. Then again, new fans eventually do become well acquainted fans.

One problem about delivering AKB news is that I just started learning Japanese, so most news I would get would be from other english sites and forums, and since creating a whole post for info that could have been taken and was taken elsewhere wasn't very appealing for me (as the content wouldn't be very original, plagiarism, blah, blah, blah), I decided to just add "News Bits" to my sidebar. My problem with that is they aren't archived, so new fans who would like to trace certain events in the past wouldn't have access to them when I remove them from my News Bits column. So goes with releases of AKB merchandise, which are also present in my sidebar.

News are available in other sites and forums, but besides those, they are also full of many other things. Not everyone has the time to go through all threads and blogposts if they only want to read about what's new about AKB. So I came up with the idea of starting a separate site that contains only news. Separate so people looking for only the news don't have to go through my other posts in this site, and also solves the archive problem of my News Bits. (I may still preserve those News Bits on my sidebar though.) But how about the plagiarism thingy? The idea is that each post will contain only a headline / title / intro and then a link as to where to read the details of the news. So each post would be minimal. So people can only further read about topics they actually are interested in. Think of it as a newspaper with links to AKB news found on other sites, for people who want to read only the news. Obviously, the other sites would contain opinions and comments, but my news site itself will at least give the reader an idea of what's new. For example, the news site would say, "AKB releases 2nd compilation album." It may mention a few more details, but if the reader would like to read more about it, they have to click on the link and read about details there. So it follows the concept of my current News Bits by giving headlines and gives the option to readers to read more from external sources. And since it's archived, fans who haven't checked on AKB for a while can check for what have happened since they last checked.

What's the difference between that site and this? Think of that as a newspaper, and this as a magazine. Also, this is a resource for new fans who want to learn about AKB, since that info is quite hard to dig up from other sites too, and since when I was new, I thought a site like this would be very helpful.

So, check it out:

Monday, March 8, 2010

AKB48 "1st Graduation" DVD's were Shot in the Philippines!!!

OH… MY… GOSH!!! Why isn’t this mentioned ANYWHERE?!

Founding members and now graduates of AKB48, Risa Narita, Tomomi Ohe, and Rina Nakanishi shot their “1st Graduation” Solo DVD’s right here in the Philippines!

On the scene where Risa cleans a car, the car has a Philippine license plate. It shows the text “Matatag na Republika” (Strong Republic), and the Rizal shrine.

On the scene in a Philippine public school classroom, you may notice, above Risa’s head, is a poster bearing the Philippine flag, and the Philippine map.

This shot from Risa’s Bonus Video reveals that the school shots were apparently taken at Gilutongan Elementary School.

Although Narita’s, Ohe’s and Nakanishi’s are three separate DVD’s, Narita’s and Ohe’s Limited Extra Videos show the two of them came together. Here, they say the Pancit Canton they’re having for lunch is delicious.

Where were these videos shot exactly? In the first minute of Tomomi Ohe’s Bonus Video, Narita and Ohe are shown together in the airport, and they mention the word “Cebu” many times…

Within the second to third minute of Ohe’s Bonus Video, Ohe shows us the Filipino words and phrases she has learned: “Kumusta?”, “Magandang umaga”, “Masarap” (“How are you?”, “Beautiful morning”, “Delicious”), and explains the meaning of “Kumusta”, “Maganda” and “Magandang umaga”.

Still in Ohe’s Bonus Video, she finds a tree decorated with “parols” cute. Ohe and Narita’s videos were shot during the Christmas season of 2008. (The three DVD’s were released first half of 2009, and yet almost a year after, there is no trace anywhere, not in the forums, blogs or websites, of the fact that they were shot in the Philippines. Hooray, if this is the first.)

An interview at the public school on Ohe’s Bonus Video shows the poster with the text “Taas Noo Kahit Kanino Tayo ay PILIPINO Sa Buong Mundo” (Hold Your Head High to Anyone in the World that We are Filipinos). On the other poster reads “Be proud you are a teacher the future depends on you.”

Rina Nakanishi purchases ingredients for her cooking scene in her DVD, and in this scene, the shopkeeper says “Salamat” (Thank you).

Nakanishi walking around in a Philippine public market, that is such a dream come true! (Of course, the dream involves me bumping into her and talking about AKB48 and Chocolove, among many other things.)

Nakanishi purchases “Tamago” (Japanese for egg) but since she pronounces the translation in it’s katakanized form, she pronounces it e-gu, to which the shopkeeper asks “Itlog?” (egg). She buys four, and for some reason, the shopkeeper is insistent to talk in Filipino, as he asks “Apat?” (four).

In Nakanishi’s Limited Extra Video, she explores what is apparently her hotel room, where she encounters some common Filipino snacks, among which are packs of Cebu Dried Mangoes.

Still in the Limited Extra Video, Nakanishi also cleans a car with a Philippine license plate.

Also in Nakanishi’s Limited Extra Video, a common brand of Philippine bottled water with the text I love (heart) Philippines is at the right of the screen.

Although they didn’t come together, Nakanishi’s beach shot was at the exact same beach of Narita’s, and I believe, Ohe’s.

Ever since the first gravure solo DVD I saw, Atsuko Maeda in Phuket (MU-BOU-BI), I have been hooked on watching AKB48 members’ solo DVD’s. Acchan’s video was funny and enjoyable, and it was like taking a vacation with her. Although I haven’t seen all, none of the ones I have seen so far has surpassed the quality of Acchan’s, but the others have been quite good too. The production value and music background of Reina Fujie’s was great, Rina Nakanishi’s is another virtual date, Tomomi Ohe is just cute, and seeing the parts where Erena Ono acts naturally is fun as always, but so far nothing has beaten Acchan’s scene with the stewardess and her meal (Chicken with pasta or chicken with rice?). I watched that scene countless times and it still makes me smile. Maeda is cute that way.

I should warn that these three “1st Graduation” DVD’s are more daring than the typical AKB solo DVD; you have to remember that Narita, Ohe, and Nakanishi are already graduates, so they can afford to venture in areas the typical AKB member wouldn’t dare do.

So, three founding members of AKB have been to the Philippines. I would love it if they would send more. It would be a dream for me to see an AKB member right here in the Philippines, whether I know of their arrival and intentionally go to them, or I just bump into them somewhere, either accidentally, or I pretend to accidentally bump into them. (“Hey, I know you!”) No, I will not suddenly sing to them Aitakatta, but I will recite to them everything I know about them (“You were in this subunit for your first stage, and for your second…”) Please, Aki-P and AKB Management, send more, and please contact me and I shall provide as much help as I possibly could! The good kind of help. Seriously!

Every AKB girl should go to the Philippines, but it should be obvious which AKB supergirl should definitely come back to her second country! You know, that half-Filipino powerhouse captain of Team K we fondly love, Sayaka Akimoto! As I said in a previous post, it would be nice if she would have her first photobook shot in the Philippines. And as I said before too, don’t forget to let me come along.

Yuko Oshima’s “To Yukoto” solo DVD also shows her in Guam’s Little Manila. How about going to the real Manila? I certainly would love it even if she came alone, but if she can, don’t forget to bring Sayaka and the rest of the girls!