Monday, December 20, 2010

My First AKB48 Live Experience: Singapore, December 10-11, 2010

AKB48 performed live at the Singapore Toy Games and Comics Convention at Singapore’s Suntec Convention Center on December 10 and 11, 2010, and I was there! Yes, I flew in to Singapore just to see AKB! Allow me to share some experiences, thoughts and pictures. (Excuse my pics, I botched a lot.)

AKB was to give two performances, the first, actually just a scheduled appearance, but they gave us a performance anyway, was on Dec. 10, Friday, 4:00 – 4:30 p.m., on the stage of the main venue of the convention, and the second, the actual “AKB48 Meet the Fans Session,” on Dec. 11, Saturday, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., at a more private theater.

I know a lot of people complained about the lineup that we got because none of the regular Senbatsus came, but hey, we got the Janken Senbatsu, I am not complaining at all. Yeah, I would have been happier if Nacchi made it, as originally scheduled, but with Haachan replacing her a few days before the event and being the only non-Janken Senbatsu to go, I am not complaining at all, and as it turns out, I was very happy Haachan went. Heck, I would have been happy even if we were sent an all Kenkyuusei lineup, if that meant Haruka Shimazaki was coming too. I love everyone at AKB, I’m not just a fan of a few girls, I love the whole group, and I’d be very happy to see any of them.

In the end, scheduled to perform were eleven of the Janken Senbatsu, plus Haruka Katayama, who had to replace Natsuki Sato, so twelve AKB members overall. The eleven Janken Senbatsu who came were Chance no Juban’s center, Mayumi Uchida, followed by Haruka Ishida, Tomomi Nakatsuka, Haruka Nakagawa, Rina Chikano, Kana Kobayashi, Miku Tanabe, Ami Maeda, Sumire Sato, Sakiko Matsui, and Asuka Kuramochi. Also, I should note, Chance no Juban, the single that features them, was released the Wednesday of that week, debuting on the Oricon charts at #1.

If you want a complete AKB live overseas experience, waiting for the girls to arrive at the airport is a fun treat. While fans awaited the arrival of the twelve girls, they monitored airplane flights from Japan to Singapore and the girls’ blogs. Obviously, they weren’t going to announce at which flight they are on, but if you know which flights from Japan are arriving, and check the girls’ blogs about around what time they are boarding the flight, you’ll have a very good estimate of which flight they will arrive on. Protip: If you’ll attend one of these, coordinate with various fans, especially the most established and known ones, especially if your nationality has an organized fanbase, so that you’ll be kept in the loop.

Fans were wondering why the girls’ had various stuff going on on December 9, Thursday, the day we thought they would arrive, but we would later learn that the Friday appearance would only feature three girls, Mayumi Uchida, Haruka Ishida, and Tomomi Nakatsuka, and that these three would be the first to arrive at Changi airport at wee hours of the morning of December 10, Friday. True enough, the girls posted on their blogs that they were leaving for Singapore the night of Thursday.

Fans awaited Ucchi, Harukyan, and Krisu, and when they did arrive, it was fun virtually walking the girls from the arrival terminal to their shuttle bus, taking pictures of them and speaking to them once in a while.


Krisu and Harukyan

Chance no Juban’s center

Hey, I got a lucky fan a free three-shot

Yeah, I was walking this close with them

Harukyan waves as the three girls board their bus

Krisu on the bus

Ucchi on the bus

Krisu was so much more beautiful in person than what we see on videos. I’m also very happy with how the fans conducted themselves, with hardly any barricades and only some staff, we kept ourselves in line making sure the girls were well. There were times I had to avoid bumping into Harukyan, not that I would have minded if I did, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people would.

The afternoon of that day, the three girls would make an appearance at STGCC’s main venue. Much to our delight, as some had expected, they performed Zannen Shoujo and Tsundere! Krisu and Ucchi are original performers of Zannen Shoujo (from Team B’s 4th Stage, Aidoru no Yoake, where Ucchi was the permanent Kenkyuusei for that position that time), while Tsundere! is just a staple performance for an AKB trio performing overseas.

Zannen Shoujo


Did I mention how much more beautiful Krisu is in person?

It was a huge treat for me to have my favorite stage unit song performed live right before my eyes. Yes, I was at front row, and they did sing both Zannen Shoujo and Tsundere! live. The host’s ad lib showed she didn’t do enough research; she mentioned that AKB is so popular these days that they now have a performance on their very own theater everyday. Uhm, yeah, sure, that’s the reason why it’s everyday. =/

Right after the 30 minute appearance by the trio, fans rushed to the airport as the remaining nine who are still to arrive were arriving around that time. True enough, we were able to catch them and give them a nice welcome!

Harugon and Tanamin



Kana, Harugon, Tanamin, and Chikarina


Uhm, so, yeah, I mostly followed Harugon around. Harugon, Chikarina, Kana and Tanamin lead among the nine girls, with Suuchan, Haachan, Aamin, Sakiko, and Mocchi right behind them. Apologies to Haachan, Aamin, Sakiko and their fans, I botched at picture taking, and now I see I didn’t get a single good pic of them. Also, I blame Harugon and her adorableness. Suuchan was unbelievably stunning in person. Videos do not do her justice. She had such a model-like figure. And Mocchi was so beautiful. Yes, even with her mask on. Her eyes were so mesmerizing. I could have been hypnotized. And when she was on the bus and our eyes met and she waved at me, let me tell you, if this was the first time I learned about AKB and this is what made me a fan, Mocchi would be my oshi right now.

The girls walked faster to their bus than the first three girls that arrived before them; they were probably a bit intimated at the whole thing. When Harugon and the girls were being surrounded by fans (from a safe, decent distance) and there were no barricades and only enough staff, when they stopped right after they entered the area where the fans were, Harugon started saying “Yabbai… yabbai kore…” repeatedly (“This is bad… this is bad…” is what she was saying). I should point out that although there might have been a hint of concern, Harugon was saying things also in jest, the way Harugon normally does. I wanted to assure her by saying “Harugon, daijoubu!” (“Harugon, it’s ok!”), but the tsundere in me got the better of me. Eventually, it seems a fan did say “daijoubu” because Harugon playfully said, “Daijoubu janai!” (“It’s not ok!”). Even behind her face mask, we could tell Harugon was playing. It was so fun! Now you see why I couldn’t leave Harugon’s side.

Once on the bus, Harugon enjoyed the “Harugon!” chants from us outside. By the way, if we use the most recent Senbatsu elections as basis, Harugon is the most popular member among the twelve that went.

Here, Harugon takes a pic of us fans outside. With her on this pic is Mocchi. Most of the girls did take pics of us fans when they were already on the bus. A few of them posted those pics on their blogs. And yes, I am on two of them!!!

Haachan, Haruka Katayama, posted a pic she took of us on her official blog:  , and yes, I am there!!! My face can be fully seen, so I will not say which one.

Mocchi, Asuka Kuramochi, also posted a pic she took of us on her official blog: , and I’m there too!!! My face can also be fully seen, so I will not say which one.

Yeah, I’m on the girls’ official blogs!!! So awesome!!! I’m so glad I went to the airport!!! This was such a great experience!!! And no, this isn’t even the main event yet!

The main event was on Friday, Dec. 11. The miniconcert would start 7:00 p.m. and last until 8:30 p.m. The official queue would start 3:00 p.m. Of course, an unofficial queue started much earlier. I arrived around 1:00 p.m. where there were probably 20-50 people in front of me. Not bad, I thought. Pretty soon, this unofficial line would be as good as dissolved as newcomers would just sit with their friends ahead of the queue. And when 3:00 hit and the staff opened the official queue, people at the back of the unofficial queue started running to the front of the queue, and that’s when the unofficial queue completely disappeared. With some pushing and warnings from the staff, an official queue was formed with some of those arriving earlier screwed. In the future, to avoid such incidents, some people within the groupings in the various fanbases need to stand up, coordinate with each other well ahead of time, and organize the whole thing. The various fanbases have some more recognized members among them already anyway. After a good wait, I ended up sitting fourth row, center column, a pretty good seat.

While we were being seated, the five PV’s from Chance no Juban were played consecutively on the big screen. Even before Overture was played, I was already on super fan-mode, the fan I was with, she was probably wondering, “hey, are you still there? Earth calling Silver Rain! Hello?” So yeah, I just took everything in and enjoyed the whole event like a superfan that I am.

Here’s the setlist:

Ponytail to Shushu
Heart Gata Virus (by Ami Maeda, Sumire Sato, Sakiko Matsui)
Wagamama na Nagareboshi (by Kana Kobayashi, Haruka Katayama)
Himawari (by Rina Chikano, Haruka Nakagawa, Asuka Kuramochi, Miku Tanabe)
Tsundere! (by Tomomi Nakatsuka, Haruka Ishida, Mayumi Uchida)
---MC--- (by Tomomi Nakatsuka, Haruka Ishida, Mayumi Uchida)
Bingo! (English version)
Oogoe Diamond (English version)
Heavy Rotation
Chance no Juban

During the first MC, the girls introduced themselves in English. Some memorized their lines better than others, with Kana the first one to show she forgot hers and kept looking at her hand, and soon enough, anyone else who did that was playfully called out by the fans and her fellow members. I appreciated a lot of the members’ efforts, especially that of Ucchi. I could see how much effort she put in trying to speak in English, likely beyond her memorized lines, and she did put in a lot of effort during the song numbers. Much respect to Ucchi and these girls. Worth noting since it’s funny, when Harukyan was reciting her memorized lines in English about how they went to Sentosa (a popular tourist spot in Singapore), she apparently forgot the English word “yesterday,” so instead she emphatically said “today,” eventhough they actually went the day before. For the other MC’s, an interpreter came out.

Did I do the chants? F, yeah! I probably would have ended up hoarse since I chanted “Encore! Encore!” really early. I was hoping for a double encore, but nobody was chanting encore again after Chance no Juban. I guess everyone was excited about the high-touch (high-five) event right after.

The MC had to remind the audience that it was a high-touch, not a handshake, as the first guy shook Ucchi’s hand and the ones behind him followed suit. When it was my turn, I wanted to just smile at the girls, but when they were all saying “Thank you” every time we did a high-touch, I couldn’t help but say “Thank you” too. I didn’t mind, since I really just didn’t want to end up saying or acting all stupid, which is highly likely. The high-touch went really fast; yeah, I was able to get a high-touch from all twelve, but most of them I remember hazily, the ones I remember the most are from Harugon, as she said “Thank you” with a playful smile, and Mocchi, as she was still amazingly beautiful and her eyes were still mesmerizing.

Some fans were lucky enough to win an autographed poster (it depended on what the symbol on the souvenir card given to us had). I had the paper symbol, so when Ucchi cast scissors when it was time for Ucchi to play janken against the fans, the rocks won.

See, even stormtroopers love AKB

Fans didn’t know what to expect from this “Meet the Fans Session,” but I am personally glad that it turned out to be a simple mini-concert. I guess it was a format that was just easier for them to do, and I’m very happy I got to see and be a part of the whole thing.

Special thanks to many members of Nihongogo and Stage48, a few I will mention here: cisumechan for giving me the heads up on the event and a lot of tips, ruru and melos for a lot of great info, inwe and her friends for excellent company, and whiteknight for lots of help on Singapore and pointing out we were on the girls’ blogs.

It was great to see and support the Janken Senbatsu, even if they aren’t the regular Senbatsu. Heck, if these are the less popular members of AKB, no wonder AKB is so great! These are the less popular members of AKB, and yet they were gorgeous! They were even much better looking in person. No wonder these girls became members! And they were very interesting, nice, fun and entertaining. All the members of AKB are awesome, I wouldn’t throw a single one of them away, and I’d be happy to see them again and any of the other members.

May each AKB fan gain at least one AKB live experience in their lifetime! With everything they give to us fans, it’s a great experience.