Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sayaka Akimoto

As a Filipino, I can’t decide if I like Japanese or Filipina beauty more. Why choose, when with Sayaka Akimoto, you can get the best of both worlds.

Sayaka Akimoto is an original member of AKB48’s Team K, the second team to be created. One of Team K’s frontgirls, she has been chosen Senbatsu roughly half the time, which is more than can be said for over half the girls in AKB. She also is one of the few and first girls to be given a solo song for a stage, Team K’s fifth stage’s Mushi no Ballad, and was in the first AKB unit to release an album, Chocolove from AKB48. She was also chosen to be one of four girls to lead AKB’s first stageplay, Infinity, and is frequently included in many of AKB’s endeavors with an important role, such as their first movie, Densen Uta, and their TV drama Majisuka Gakuen. She was also chosen as the first Captain of Team K, an accomplishment I am quite proud of. (The captain of one of the three main teams in AKB has Filipino blood!)

Sayaka’s mother is Filipino, making Sayaka half-Filipino. More so than the fact that she is half-Filipino, I am very proud that she talks about this fact very openly. In the Nov. 29, 2009 episode of Sanma no Manma, Sayaka casually mentions her Filipina heritage, which sparks a very interesting conversation between her and the host, who, as it turns out, is quite an influential celebrity in Japan. (See this video here: and a discussion of how much Sanma was impressed by her and why this is important here: Ange of has told me that Sayaka openly talks about her Filipino bloodline and her family even during the MC portions of their stages. Admitting that one is Filipino has very little benefits in it of itself. Our race has had so many hiccups, I’m not surprised that many of us deny our nationality when we’re in another country. Thus, I am so happy that Sayaka is not ashamed and actually openly chooses to acknowledge any Filipino heritage she has, making me so proud of her.

One of the favorite stories I read from Ange’s blog is the story of how much the director and creator of AKB's first stageplay, Infinity, admired Sayaka. Although Sayaka is one of the top-tier members of AKB, the director was surprised to see Sayaka sweeping the floor of the backstage area herself. After the director pointed out that 'shouldn't lower ranks do that?', Sayaka just said, “Whoever sees it first should be the one to do it.” Sayaka’s very admirable attitude is one of her most endearing traits. (Read Ange’s post here: and much more about Sayaka on Ange's blog dedicated to Sayaka Akimoto and Sae Miyazawa here: .)

I also love the fact that she remembers her interactions with fans. Sayaka has a lot of fans and it is easily forgivable that most of the AKB girls wouldn’t be able to remember a majority of the fans they interact with, and although these could also just be important stories to her, which is why she remembers, I’ll tell two interesting anecdotes.

Nihongogo’s zabitan can be deduced as an American when you see him, so during the Shashinkai two-shot event (March 13, 14 and 22, 2010), where fans can get their picture taken with members of AKB, Sayaka talked to him about how things were being a foreigner living in Japan, to which he expressed his difficulties. Usually, such chats in hurried events where the girls meet hundreds to thousands of fans would be easily forgotten, but days later, in a radio show, she was able to talk about zabitan and this chat. (Read posts at Nihongogo here: and here Zabitan met her again in another event (autograph event on May 23, 2010) and she was able to recognize him and they were able to continue the previous conversation, discussing zabitan's hardships living in Japan (See post here: Sure, zabitan would stick out in an Asian community, but still, he’s one lucky gaijin.

It would almost be a sin for any AKB fan with Filipino blood to not love Sayaka. (See my other post here: .) Sure, we could have different #1 oshimens, but Sayaka would be in our list of top favorites. In the second AKB48 Manila Fans Meetup, Stage48’s Youkokurama, a Filipino who is an official MVP at the Akihabara theater who has been a fan of theirs since the early days when they weren’t as popular, who has literally seen over 100 theater shows (and the number one reason I can’t call myself the number one Filipino AKB fan), came for a visit to our home country and took a picture of the Filipino AKB fans. He told us that he would give the photo to the Akihabara theater staff to be passed on to Sayaka. In a handshake event, after Youko greeted her in Filipino, Sayaka was quickly able to tell him that she got our photo, and that she and her Filipina mother were very happy about it. (See a post about the event where we took the picture here: and see Youko’s report on what Sayaka said here: and here: Sayaka has seen me! I’m the one in the pic who is the cutest! Okay, there are no cute ones, sorry to disappoint you Sayaka, but we love you!

Another endearing quality to Sayaka is her toughness. She is tough and she likes to act tough. But… deep inside, she’s still a girl who prefers to be called cute more than cool. (And Sayaka is cute! And beautiful. And sexy. And funny. And entertaining. And interesting...) Read more in the screencaps below:

In the first episode, January 24, 2008 of AKB 1ji 59fun! (predecessor of AKBingo!), Sayaka adamantly defends why she didn’t eat the rice included in her meal, as the hosts quickly notice her strong and forceful will, and of course are quick to joke about it.

In the first episode, April 7, 2008 of AKB 0ji 59fun! (version 2 of AKB1ji 59fun!), the Bad Boys mention that fans love Sayaka’s face because it is exotic. As a Filipino, I don’t consider her face exotic; I remember the first time someone mentioned to me that there was a half-Filipina in AKB, I could easily tell it was Sayaka, her face is so Filipina, with a tinge of Japanese.

In the April 28, 2008, AKB 0ji 59fun! episode, it is revealed that Sayaka took home some of the excess meals allocated to AKB at their first appearance at Kouhaku. This was so Filipino, I do it every chance I get.

Sayaka likes to put an image of toughness, but at the conclusion of the Megumi Ohori Amai Konkansetsu Challenge (November 27, 2008 episode of AKBingo!), where Meetan had to sell 10,000 copies of her debut solo single or graduate, after being called out by the Bad Boys, standing besides Meetan, after keeping a strong image all that time, Sayaka finally breaks down into tears as she is unable to hold back her love for her teammate, where she is teased about the immediate change.

In the January 1, 2009 episode of AKBingo!, Sayaka was the victim of a prank as she had to eat inhumanely salty datemaki supposedly created by a small girl who was a fan of hers. She not only said good things about the datemaki after the first slice, after MaiMai coaxed the little girl to ask Sayaka to eat more, Sayaka said she would eat all of the datemaki for the girl. Sayaka loves her fans.

In that same episode, it was Sayaka who rescued Meetan’s phone in the hotpot, which was, well, hot.

In the March 26, 2009 hypnotism episode of AKBingo!, the concept of Mai Oshima and Atsuko Maeda fighting over Sayaka is funny enough, but Sayaka’s brilliant comments make it absolutely hilarious.

A must watch for Sayaka fans, the April 9, 2009 episode of AKBingo! pitted close friends Sayaka Akimoto and Sae Miyazawa in AKBegas.

The ending of Mai Oshima’s graduation marathon challenge, to which Sayaka joined MaiMai in the marathon, was also the inspiration to the ending of the Iiwake Maybe PV. (May 20, 2009 episode of AKBingo!)

Sayaka in the June 24, 2009 fashion show episode of AKBingo! In my opinion, she was the best dressed there, nevermind what the fashion expert said.

In the Sept. 2, 2009 episode of AKBingo!, the captains of Team A and Team K, Minami Takahashi and Sayaka Akimoto, pair up for their team in Cooking Stadium.

Another must see for Sayaka fans is the September 16, 2009 episode of AKBingo!, where the Twin Towers of Team K faced off again, this time, Sayaka Akimoto and Sae Miyazawa dueled to Shojiki Shogi (Truth Chess Battle) where the girlishness of Sayaka again comes out as she admits she would rather be called kawaii than kakoii (cute than cool).

After so much from AKBingo! (what can I say, Sayaka just adds so much value to a show; and no, I didn’t at all include all the episodes she was in), let’s move over to Shuukan AKB, where on it’s third episode, July 24, 2009, she leads Rie Kitahara in a race, where she again throws in a lot to make things interesting. (Hey, look a castle, let's go to it! I know, let's take the bullet train!)

Of course, we can’t forget that Sayaka suggested and lead the AKB Basketball team challenge which became a four-parter for Shuukan AKB; episodes December 18, 2009, December 25, 2009, March 5, 2010, and March 12, 2010.

Sayaka’s feminine side resurfaces on the July 30, 2010 episode of Shuukan AKB where apparently she can’t take scary rides. There, there, Sayaka, come here and lemme give you a hug.

I was wondering why Sayaka posted a picture of her Filipina mom and grandma in her blog (you may see this post here:, but when I watched her episode of AKB600sec, I saw that she was going to get shown in that episode anyway.

Sayaka and I have a lot in common: we have Filipino blood, we both rarely use emoticons, and we both drink Milo almost every morning (shown here in her old Private Video).

Sayaka is an obvious choice to take in concerts outside Japan, especially in English-speaking countries, as she is one of the best in English among AKB, shown here in their New York 2009 Concert, where she prominently MC'ed.

Sayaka played the male lead role for AKB’s first stageplay, Infinity, which she performed very well.

Sayaka kicks butt! Literally! In the third episode of AKB1ji 59fun, Feb. 8, 2008 episode, Sayaka kicks the “perverted” Ijirii Okada who was brought in to mess up the game for her team (and to make the show funnier).

On the May 10, 2010 episode of Genin Hodo where Sayaka guested, she is challenged to use her Aikido training to kick twins who reportedly have butts of iron that whoever kicks them will have their foot hurt instead.

In the January 9, 2010 Mechaike Special, Sayaka saves the rest of the AKB girls with an excellently timed kick to this crazy guy who was chasing them all over the place in this hilarious episode.

She does it at two separate instances in that episode.

Sayaka was in the 1st AKB unit to release an album. Chocolove from AKB48 features Sayaka Akimoto, Sae Miyazawa and the now graduate Rina Nakanishi. Their 1st single was Ashita wa Ashita no Kimi ga Umareru.

Sayaka in Chocolove’s second single, Mail no Namida.

Sayaka’s first original stage unit is the Team K second stage unit AKB classic Blue Rose, performed with Sae Miyazawa, Yuka Masuda and Megumi Ohori, performed here at the Shibuya Best 100, 2010, ranking #52 three and a half years after it was first performed.

Sayaka performs her Team K 3rd stage unit, Kimi wa Pegasus, at the Yokohama, March 2010 concert, along with Sae Miyazawa, Natsuki Sato, and Kayo Noro.

Sayaka’s Himawari-gumi 1st stage unit song, Himawari, debuts at the first Shibuya Best 100 2008 at #14, performed with Noro Kayo, Mai Oshima and Megumi Ohori subbing for Mariko Shinoda.

Sayaka performs her Himawari-gumi 2nd stage unit Confession at the Budokan August 2009 concert with Tomomi Itano, Mariko Shinoda, and filling Yuko Oshima’s spot is Amina Sato.

Sayaka’s Team K 4th stage unit is Return Match, performed with Kayo Noro, Ayaka Umeda and Risa Naruse, shown here performed at the Shibuya Best 100 2009.

Sayaka performed her Team K 5th stage solo, Mushi no Ballad, at the Shibuya Best 100 2010.

Perhaps Sayaka’s most girly stage unit so far is the Team K 6th stage unit Ashita no Tame ni Kiss wo, performed with Ayaka Kikuchi, Miku Tanabe and Sakiko Matsui.

One of my favorite parts in the Team K song Sougen no Kiseki is Sayaka’s solo lines, performed here in their April 2009 NHK Hall concert.

Sayaka leads the girls sitting in the background to let loose and dance with the rest of Team B in Minasan mo go Issho ni at the Shibuya AX Best 100 2010

One of my favorite Team K 6th stage songs is Uhho Uhhoho, centered around the Team K captain supergirl powerhouse Sayaka Akimoto. I know that Sayaka has blogged about being uneasy with the roles AKB is putting her in, girly one moment, and brutishly unfeminine at another, but for fans like me, I love and appreciate the different Sayakas that we see, all of which are sexy.

At the NHK Hall April 2009 concert, where two Kenkyuuseis graduated, including the controversial former member Miki Saotome, Sayaka thought that the 1st part of the concert series which ended with the graduation of the two needed to end on a happier tone, thus, on her own, while the other members were giving their messages, Sayaka ran backstage and convinced the people there to play Aitakatta once the graduating girls gave the cue, so, when it was time to end the graduation, Sayaka said they should perform one last song, and while Minami Takahashi was talking, she whispered to the graduating girls what she had planned, and thus after, when asked what should the song be, the two stated they wanted to perform Aitakatta one last time, and thus an impromptu performance of Aitakatta was given by everyone.

In the "Making of" video of the NHK Hall 2009 Concert, while the graduation ceremony is ongoing, Sayaka is shown running to the back.

Back on stage, Sayaka airs her suggestion.

After Takamina speaks, the camera catches Sayaka still whispering to the graduatees.

This impromptu performance of Aitakatta is one of my favorite performances of this AKB staple.

In the first Senbatsu election, where fans voted for the first time who would get included in the recording of the next single then, I believe Sayaka was skeptical about her chances of being elected Senbatsu. When her friend Sae Miyazawa was called at rank #14 while Sayaka’s name hasn’t, it seemed to me like she gave up. Many signs pointed to the idea that Sae was more popular than Sayaka. But when #12 was announced to be her, her friend Sae seemed to be happier for the success of her friend than her own. (Shown here in the first Senbatsu elections announcement night where she is called #12.)

Sayaka is named the captain of Team K at the Budokan August 2009 concert.

Ladies and gentlemen, I just wanted to introduce you to the sexy, the beautiful, the very impressive, Sayaka Akimoto. We love you and we're rooting for you!