Monday, January 31, 2011

AKB48 2010 Super Summary, and Let's Speculate: AKB 2011

AKB48 dominated in 2010. Here's a quick look.

Continuing from the previous year's River, AKB's first #1 single, all five of their singles released 2010 hit #1 on the weekly Oricon charts, the second of which, Ponytail to Shushu, had first week sales that went over half a million copies, followed by Heavy Rotation performing the same feat, placing AKB with the ranks of jpop legends Ayumi Hamasaki and Utada Hikaru as the only three female artists to have two consecutive singles sell over half a million copies on the first week of its release (and the first female group to do so). Beginner would also sell half a million copies... on the first DAY of its release, which would eventually become AKB's first single to sell over one million copies. Beginner was also the highest selling single in Japan of that year. With Beginner, AKB48 moves ahead of Ayumi Hamasaki and Utada Hikaru by being the first to sell over half a million copies each of three consecutive singles (very impressive in this age of piracy). Beginner also holds the record for the highest first week sales for a single for a female group, selling over 827,000 copies its first week, and the third highest first week sales for a single for a female artist, just 1,000 copies below second placer Amuro Namie's "Can You Celebrate?" (released February, 1997) and first placer Utada Hikaru's "Addicted to You", released November, 1999, which sold over 1,068,000 on its first week. AKB continued its half a million first week sales with its next single Chance no Juban, making their record four consecutive singles. AKB also became the first artist in the past 32 years since Pink Ladies to have five singles hit #1 on the Oricon charts on the same year. All five singles were in the top 12 of the Oricon yearly singles rankings with Beginner at #1 and Heavy Rotation at #2.

AKB48 released their second compilation album, Kamikyoku Tachi, which ranked #1 in the Oricon charts, selling almost 300,000 copies during the first week of its release, despite containing only two new tracks, while relations with former record label Defstar start to look up with the rerelease of Kanzen Ban, their first compilation album, rereleased with two new tracks. Nogashita Sakanatachi, released along with Kanzen Ban, also broke the DVD opening sales record for a female group by selling 81,000 copies on its first week.

The shuffled teams' stages finally debuted 2010 after much delays. First came Team K's Reset, then Team B's Theater no Megami, and then Team A's Mokugekisha.

AKB performed at various countries including the U.S., Russia, and Singapore, and they had numerous successful concerts including the ones in Shibuya AX, Yoyogi, Yokohama and the Zenkoku tour. The biggest concerts did not disappoint as we were treated to a lot of new things as AKB continued to innovate and be creative. I would love to show videos of these concerts even to non-AKB fans.

TV shows were successful and increasing! The year started with the much anticipated drama Majisuka Gakuen, which did not disappoint! Long running shows continued on, such as AKBingo!, Shuukan AKB and Nemousu TV, while new shows came such as AKB Ariyoshi Kyowaku (prominently featuring AKB Kenkyuuseis), SDN48's Suppon no Onnatachi, SKE48's Dera SKE, AKB 600 Seconds, SDN48+10, and so many others.

Even the subunits were very successful. Watarirouka Hashiritai became the first AKB subunit to place a #1 single within the Oricon charts with Akkanbe Bashi. A special unit, Team Dragon from AKB48, featuring seven of the top eight Senbatsus, also ranked #1 on the Oricon charts with their single Kokoro no Hane. Watarirouka Hashiritai also released their first album, Rouka wa Hashiruna! AKB's two active units, Watariouka and No Sleeves, were joined by new unit French Kiss, featuring Yuki Kashiwagi, Aki Takajo and Asuka Kuramochi. Watarirouka also became a five-girl group with the addition of Ayaka Kikuchi. Various temporary units were also much anticipated, such as Team Mint.

SDN48 also released its much awaited debut single, Gagaga. The first (and hopefully only) male 48 group debuted, OJS48, consisting of men whose average age was 61.

We were treated to the second Senbatsu election, shaking the AKB world when Yuko Oshima beat Atsuko Maeda by a narrow margin. SKE48 now has its own Request Hour, the first one having the Best 30. We were also treated to the first Janken Senbatsu Tournament, which gave all members of AKB the chance to become Senbatsu for a single, the champion of the tournament who became center of Chance no Juban was Mayumi Uchida.

This year we were fortunately treated to very few graduations! AKB bid farewell only to beloved Erena Ono, who plans to pursue more acting and studying english, while SKE saw the departure of beloved Rina Shinkai and Sayuki Mori. SDN48 also saw the departure of Sakura Fukuyama, due to poor health.

Promotions included Yui Yokoyama, promoted to Team K to replace Erena Ono, and Yuria Kizaki and Rumi Katou, promoted to SKE's Team S. The December anniversary show at the Akihabara Theater gave the surprise announcement of the promotion of eight Kenkyuuseis to AKB, although their teams are still to be decided. The eight new members are Haruka Shimazaki, Mina Oba, Haruka Shimada, Miyu Takeuchi, Mariya Nagao, Mariko Nakamura, Anna Mori, and Suzuran Yamauchi. The year also saw the creation of NMB48, based on Namba, Osaka, and the surprise creation of SKE48's new Team E, which produced a minor shuffle with a few members of SKE's Team KII.

Merchandise was abundant, a few encountered changes, a few got postponed, while others were still unreleased, such as the anticipated Jurina Matsui photobook which was postponed indefinitely. AKB also released its first video game, for the PSP, Idol to Koi Shitara. Solo endeavors outside AKB by the girls were also immensely numerous.

AKB was also formally recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest pop group. Of course, they performed at Kouhaku for the third time.

Unfortunately, we weren't treated to another Grand Sportsmeet, but instead we did get special sports competitions thanks to Shuukan AKB with their pool competition, jumprope festival, and the ball competitions. Some results made fans less than enthusiastic, such as the predictably top songs in the 2010 Request Hour Setlist Best 100, although the tradition of surprise announcements at the end of big concerts has continued, this time with much happier announcements, making the sight of Togasaki, AKB's theater manager, a sight for sore eyes.

My favorite single released during 2010 is Gyu! Seriously! I'm not talking about just the lead track, but all the tracks in the single, so I'm taking the single as a whole. Gyu in itself is a great track, but the accompanying track Tenohira, which featured other AKB girls within Watarirouka Hashiritai's agency, made the single a winner. And this is even considering I compare it with AKB's monster single Beginner. OK, so you might say, Gyu is Watarirouka Hashiritai, how about I limit myself to just AKB, in that case, my favorite single is of course Beginner. The lead track is itself a winner, but all the tracks were too; Kimi ni Tsuite is a great track, so is Nakeru Bashou, and Boku Dake no Value, though is already the least popular track in the single, is still an excellent track with superb lyrics.

My favorite album released 2010 is Rouka wa Hashiruna! OK, so there were only three non-stage albums released by the AKB family, but what made Rouka wa Hashiruna! so great was that it had so many new tracks! And the five new tracks aren't just tracks that aren't even worth listening to, they could have been released on their own! Especially Doji!

My favorite song released in 2010 is Tenohira! OK, we went through this two paragraphs ago, Gyu's accompanying track is just so awsum, but again you'll say that's Watarirouka Hashiritai, so if you ask me to limit myself to AKB only, then I will again say Beginner, although there were so many great songs released in 2010, especially when you count the accompanying tracks in the singles.

My favorite PV released in 2010 is Gyu! Even when compared with the original version of Beginner. Gyu is Watarirouka, so if I limit myself to AKB only, again it will be the original version of Beginner, although Boku no Yell's PV is a top contender.

Let's go to stage songs, my favorite team stage song that was still being performed on a regular stage until the end of 2010 is actually Goukaku Kiss! OK, that's SKE48, if you want me to limit myself to AKB stages only, my favorite would have to be White Day ni wa... from Team K's 6th Stage, Reset.  For stage unit song, my favorite is Kokoro no Hashi no Sofa, also from Team K's Reset. My favorite stage that was still being performed until the end of 2010 is Team K's 6th Stage, Reset, as it had the best performances, although SKE's 3rd Stage, Seifuku no Me, had excellent songs.

I think AKB's breakout star of 2010 is none other than Rena Matsui. From being elected as Undergirl in the 2009 Senbatsu elections, her popularity rocketed in 2010, starting off with her excellent portrayal of Gekikara in Majisuka Gakuen, then being elected as high as #11 in the 2010 Senbatsu elections, plus her solo Kareha no Station being elected the #1 SKE song from SKE's Request Hour Setlist Best 30 2010. From being Undergirl to Media Senbatsu in just one year, Rena was the biggest breakout star this year. You might argue that it should be Yuko Oshima, since she went from #2 in the 2009 Senbatsu elections to taking the top spot away from Maeda Atsuko in the 2010 Senbatsu elections, but a leap from #2 to #1 is not really as high or as unexpected. Third would probably be Haruka Nakagawa, who became center of a track from an AKB single this year for the first time in her career, with Boku no Yell, and then being elected as Senbatsu in the 2010 elections when she didn't even reach the top 30 in the 2009 Senbatsu elections. Harugon has been getting a lot of push and opportunites this year, and deservingly so. Fourth and fifth would have to be Akane Takayanagi, for beating no less than Manatsu Mukaida in the 2010 Senbatsu elections by being elected Undergirl, and Oya Masana, for outranking Kumi Yagami in the same election, both of which SKE girls. Oya ranked as high as #24, while Kuumin, one of my top favorites, only got #38. Akane became the first and so far only Team KII girl to be elected in the Senbatsu election, ranking at #35, while considered center of Team KII, Manatsu, was unable to make it.  Both Kuumin and Manatsu had been receiving more push than Oya and Akane, but thanks to this, Oya and Akane have also noticeably been receiving more push.

I'm not going to speculate as much as I did last year since, for example, none of those I thought would graduate actually graduated, VERY THANKFULLY SO! We can kinda expect that there'd be more graduations this 2011 than there were in 2010, considering there were so few graduations in 2010 to begin with. Who they will be may be interesting to see; who would have guessed that Erepyon would graduate in 2010 anyway.

Of course, I'm hoping for more record breaking sales, more smash hits with merchandise and TV shows, and just a whole lot more of AKB! I'm hoping and kinda expect the second installment of SKE's Request Hour Setlist Best 30. I expect all active subunits during 2010 to continue releasing singles and fluorish, while at the same time it seems more subunits will be formed. I would like to hope that some old teams get new stages, like SDN48 and Team KII. I really doubt that Teams A, K and B will get new stages this year, and I don't think they should yet though, as the new stages aren't that worn out yet. I also wonder if a new 48 group will greet us this year, after NMB48. Of course, I expect more innovative concerts, activities and TV shows, and a whole lot more of Togasaki and his surprise announcements. AKB expectedly will perform in various countries and the largest concert venues in Japan. I hope that their streak of #1 singles and half a million first week single sales continue for all their singles in 2011. I hope that the subunits become wildly successful, as well as each girl's individual endeavors. Fans are also hoping that Defstar will finally release the missing stage albums, A4, K4 and B3, along with the two Himawari-gumi stages. We can easily expect the 3rd Senbatsu elections this year, as fans will be curious if Acchan can retake her crown, or will somebody else take the throne, and I'm hoping for another pure random-chance tournament this year to select Senbatsus for a single again, whether it be Janken again or something else, as long as it is still pure random-chance. And more Team competitions, whether it be on Shuukan or anywhere else.

Here's to another great year for AKB48 and the whole 48 family!

The biggest breakout star for AKB during 2010... is from SKE! I wonder when Aki-P looked at Rena Matsui and thought, "Yeah, she can do crazy." Cheers to your success, Renachan!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Favorite Ending Videos from AKB's First Video Game, AKB 1/48 Idol to Koi Shitara

AKB48's first ever video game, AKB 1/48 Idol to Koi Shitara, for the PSP, was released just a few days ago, and although I'm not going to talk about the game itself, I just loved the in-game videos! So if you wanna talk about them and don't mind reading spoilers, or you wanna look at a few nice pics, here you go!

Each of the 48 members of AKB has 3 ending videos each, one where they confess their love, another where they react after their love is accepted, and one where they react after their love is rejected. I loved how varied and nicely thought out the scenes were.

Apparently, I loved the rejection-reactions most, not that I want the girls to be rejected, but the reactions were just more enjoyable to watch. It was more interesting and had more depth! I wanted to shout, "Sayaka, don't run away from me!"

I think my favorite pout is from Reinyan!

Kojiharu, AKB's queen of pouting

Awkward Yuttan

Crushed Natsumi

Nakayan was ridiculous with the puppets... but bitter Nakayan was absolutely adorable!

Of course, there were a lot of what the heck moments.

Umechan... Tokyo Tower... OH MY GOSH!!!

Of course, Yuko with the paparazzi and Mayuyu's rejection were what the heck moments, but nothing beats Acchan's!

Seriously, I was... what the heck?! You gotta watch it yourself!

Sakippe on piano is a definite must watch, but her partner Micha was absolutely beautiful!


Mariko in a playful and slightly naughty scene.

Oh, and this isn't Lovetan's rejection scene...

...This is!

Nacchi, nervous in her confession scene... and her rejection scene looks like something she would do in real life!

Myao, rambling to get the words out.

 Miichan's was one of the funniest! After arguing with herself about how idols shouldn't fall in love, after she gets rejected, she basically says, "But I'm AKB!" 

Tomochin's was the funniest. After she and the meal that she made was rejected, she takes a bite on one of her food items, and she says, "Tastes terrible!" with a smile. This is especially funny considering how, thanks to AKBingo, she is considered the tasteless girl in AKB, and that no matter how bad food tastes to the other girls, she still ends up liking it, so for her to say it tastes terrible... haha!

I thought the one with Kitarie was the worst. Why? Because there was hardly any Kitarie in them! When I watch a video with Kitarie, I want to see a lot of Kitarie! Her fans must be disappointed. And I was hoping Moeno would give the finger on her rejection video.

In terms of totality of the three video set, my third favorite set would be the one with Suuchan. All three of the confession, acceptance and rejection were interesting and very different. This is from the acceptance.

My second favorite set is the one with Ayarin. When she said those three magical words, I got goosebumps.

My favorite set is the one with Sasshi. Her execution is what made it a winner.

Sasshi, get up from there! You don't need to kneel before me!

Sasshi's unbelief that her love was accepted.

And her rejection video was just... wow.

The Idol to Koi Shitara videos was great work for AKB! Watch them if you have the chance!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

AKB48, SKE48, NMB48 and SDN48 Members List

For an updated list, click here:

As of January 8, 2011. Click the images to enlarge.


Team A

Team K

Team B

Promoted Kenkyuuseis (Teams to be Announced)


Team S

Team KII

Team E



1st Gen

2nd Gen

Team Kenkyuusei

AKB48 10th Gen Kenkyuusei

AKB48 11th Gen Kenkyuusei

SKE48 Kenkyuusei