Thursday, April 28, 2011

Majisuka Gakuen Season 2 Characters Analysis

When Majisuka Gakuen ended, I didn’t really think there’d be a Season 2. I couldn’t imagine that they can come up with an interesting storyline that can continue the first season (emphasis on the word "interesting"), especially with what would happen with many of the characters. So I was pleasantly surprised when they did announce that Season 2 would start April 2011! And just basing on the first episode, it already seems that it is very interesting, so they are starting at the right pace!

As the series is ongoing, I will limit myself to characters introduced in the first episode, as there were so many characters introduced (or reintroduced) then. What I want to focus on is something only us hardcore fans would recognize. Yeah, it may be obvious to us, but for the new fans, they don’t realize that a lot of the storylines going on is in part a reflection to who the girls are in real life. I mentioned some of this in my previous summaries from the first season here:, but I would like to point out a few things for this season for the new fans who may not be aware. I can imagine this is a version of how some of the things in real life were happening in the head of Aki-P, AKB’s producer and the producer of this show. Maeda’s battle with Yuko in Season 1 was a great example of the show channeling real life. Which is why the ending was great.

Team Hormone

Some of the most popular former Kenkyuuseis (Research Students) make up Team Hormone. Upstart, fresh faces, that could lead AKB someday. Yes, I was talking about Sasshi, Moeno, Kitarie, Akicha and Komori as AKB girls, and as Team Hormone within the series as well. They are relatively fresh to be at the highest ranks (media senbatsu, Skirt Hirari 7), but certainly girls to contest with. When the senior members eventually graduate though, guess who’ll be in charge.

The bonds of these former Kenkyuuseis hold up in real life, so for them to appear as a Team in the series is fitting. I especially love that Sasshi and Moeno are reunited here considering how close they were back when they were newly promoted in Team B.


Formerly Gakuran, since from last season’s second year, she is now in third, she no longer wears a gakuran, thus the name change. The real life reflection of her character? Sae is one of AKB’s handsomest girls, and this fact seems to be played on more highly this season. Sae is popular with the ladies! Then again, she’s popular with guys as well.

Nou-Gyouken Sisters

Formerly Kabuki Sisters, they also move on from second to third year students this year. OK, this probably has no relation with their real life, except that Kasai and Kuramochi are good friends as former teammates from Team K.


One of the most interesting characters from Season 1 stays in Rappapa’s Big Four as Gekikara was unable to graduate from last year, likely because of her absences since she was held by juvenile hall (or whatever they have over there) at the beginning of season 1. She is now known as Amakuchi. It was cute how Sasshi asked if she was curry (gekikara means spicy, pertaining to the fact that it is known that Rena loves spicy food, while amakuchi means sweet-tasting). It was very cute how Amakuchi/Gekikara confronts Jurina for the first time. I love W Matsui! I compare this scene in my head with their confrontation scenes in Mousou Deka!, the SKE comedy-drama. Do it, it’s cute! So varied! Apparently, as a promise to Yuko, she has to stay sane now.

Her weirdly placed umbrella of course relates to the umbrella she uses in her SKE Request Hour topping solo Kareha no Station.

What surprises me most about this scene is that someone from Majijo is actually studying. Other than Maeda, I mean. Her necklace also says “Pop” now, from last season’s “Rock”, and apparently this will be a sign as to whether we are seeing sane Amakuchi or insane Gekikara.


I don’t even remember when it started, but Minegishi is known for always wanting more screen time, in a good way, not in an annoying way. And why not, she is great in front of the camera, as she is one of the most entertaining personalities in AKB (which is why Shuukan AKB ran segments of her interviewing celebrities without a script). As one of the few remaining original members of AKB who is not in media senbatsu, she wants more and more screen time to boost her popularity, and this apparently is well known now as her five-girl team from the Ameba Pigg Team competition (that Team Mint won) was named Shaku ga Hoshii (essentially meaning “I want screen time”).

School body president Minegishi had a nice character from the first season, but it really didn’t get a lot of screen time. Coming up with which characters to develop from last season, I think it was genius to take in Minegishi as this time one of Rappapa’s Big Four, especially considering logically many of the top Senbatsus probably can’t take a major role this season considering what has already happened last season. In the first episode, Miichan keeps talking about many of the characters’ screen time, as her name Shaku would suggest.


The first and so far only member to be chosen Senbatsu while she was still Kenkyuusei, I suppose Management saw a lot of potential and hope in Komori in her early days. Her popularity hasn’t reached Senbatsu status again, but she is fair fodder of many jokes these days. So Mukuchi coming out as “president” could have been an interesting possibility (as Komori the future face of AKB would have been), but as Maeda would eventually reveal, “not gonna happen.” Mukuchi is still very much Team Hormone though, so everything I said about Team Hormone applies to Komori.


Yui Yokoyama is one of the most recently promoted members of AKB, and the very high amount of push she gets from Management is very noticeable. When I first read Yui would be in Majisuka, I was very interested in the role she would play. Making the story very interesting, the newcomer is Rappapa’s new president! No one knows her position in the story, as no one knows her ranking in AKB, as the upcoming Senbatsu election would be able to show how popular she really is. I think making her president was a very smart move in terms of storyline as viewers will keep guessing, especially on how she became president. My guess was she is Yuko’s secret younger sister, although episode 2 seems to disprove that.

Team Fondue

This year’s Team Hormone, except instead of Hormone, they eat cheese fondue. (I want some of that.) Team Fondue is composed of some of the freshest faces of AKB, being part of 9th and 10th Gen. (AKB’s latest generation so far is 11th.) Technically, only Ichikawa Miori is a Kenkyuusei here, as Mina Oba, Haruka Shimada, Haruka Shimazaki and Suzuran Yamauchi have all been promoted along with remaining 9th Gen, but Miorin being the most popular 10th Gen member, it is very reasonable to see her here. It’s really cute to see them less glamorized than we would normally see them as they portray yankees. I’m very happy to see Shimazaki part of this, as she is already rarely exposed, most likely because she doesn’t need the extra exposure, considering she has the record for highest ranking Kenkyuusei in the Senbatsu elections, ranking as high as #28 last year while still being Kenkyuusei that time. I’m surprised that many of the other 9th Gen darlings aren’t here, like Miyu Takeuchi, and especially Anna Mori, who I really think can very easily portray a yankee. Either this isn’t their cup of tea, or they will show up with other roles later in the season. As Team Hormone is composed of former Kenkyuusei that could be the very top girls someday, Team Fondue follows in their footsteps the same way. Also, from Hormone’s green uniforms, Fondue has cheese yellow uniforms.

Showa, Jumbo, Anime and Rice

Hacchan, Tanamin, Nakayan and Yonechan are good friends of Mayuyu, all being part of original Team B. Even though they are original B, these four have not achieved as much popularity as many of the girls, outside from being Undergirls and Janken Senbatsu. They were last year’s Rappapa’s freshmen members, and although as such they received exposure, they weren’t main key characters either. Although Rappapa remains on top, with newer members passing them in Rappapa’s hierarchy (the same way in real life they are passed in popularity by former Kenkyuuseis, for example those that are in Team Hormone), they are left outside the club room, where the popular girls are. It only made sense that they would be recruited by Mayuyu (Nezumi) as they would align with her. Sticking with Mayuyu is the way to go!

The “Where are they now” characters

From the former Big Four, to Daruma, we get previews of where they are right now. Big Four graduated last year, after all. Except for Gekikara, that is. We don’t know if all of them will come back with a major role for this season, but my guess is they will.

Daruma Onizuka

Another blow-out character from last season, Nacchu is out in training. It makes sense to not have Daruma back at once as following around Maeda from the beginning may become repetitive.


Shinoda is trying to live a respectable life as a nurse, trying to control her temper from what may be a condescending superior.


Yukirin is now a cashier at a store, using her super speedy ability for extra fast service. She carries around her child, to which no one knows the father of, a storyline that was never used but I heard about since Season 1.


Short-tempered Shibuya is now working in I.T. In her scene, she cluelessly presses a key on her laptop as she observes that all data then disappear. Tomochin is funny.


The very sexy Kojima is now doing… sensuous massages. Apparently, she’s popular at it. Understandably so.

The main antagonists

Unless there are more surprises, which I guess there will be, as the ending of the last season alluded to, the main bad guys here to take the top from Maeda is the tandem of Jurina and Mayuyu. In real life, if ever the time comes that Maeda graduates, who do you think should become the new center of AKB? Yuko is relevantly older than Maeda, so whenever Maeda graduates, Yuko will be too old to have the torch passed to her, even more so for Shinoda who would be next in line in terms of popularity. Tomochin and Takamina are about the same age as Maeda, and logically, it would be best for AKB to replace her with someone much younger than her since her successor would likely stay center for a few more years. So who would be top on that list? Jurina and Mayuyu. Which among them would be the best choice? Well, Jurina’s biggest stumbling block is that she is in SKE, then again, by the time Maeda graduates, Jurina will probably be old enough to be able to find a place and leave her family in Nagoya to live in Tokyo, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise for me anymore if Aki-P decides to transfer Jurina to AKB at that point. Of course, the very lovable Mayuyu, the youngest among the Skirt Hirari 7 (top 7 senbatsus), whose personality has much similarities with Maeda, is already in AKB, and has been the center of her Team, Team B, for years now, and the fact that she is still relevantly younger than Maeda and the rest of Skirt Hirari 7, and is still more popular than Jurina, makes her a top candidate. Jurina’s advantage over Mayuyu is that she is still relevantly younger than Mayuyu. So if ever Maeda does graduate, I really believe one of them will take Maeda’s place (unless a new girl will pop up who will become wildly popular, like possibly Yui[?]). Which one of them will it be, I really don’t know, it really depends on how things will go when it actually happens, but limiting it to what we have right now, they are the best options.


Surprisingly having only a small role in Season 1, Season 2 is set to make up for it.

When the real Jurina Matsui came on the scene as SKE48’s wonder girl, she was catapulted to the limelight by immediately cocentering her first single with the face of AKB, Maeda Atsuko. She started slow in the first Senbastu election, but reaching #10 in the next one. Her character in the show hardly mattered in Season 1, but she is set for a major role in Season 2. In her confrontation with Maeda at Rappapa’s room, she specifically said she was aiming to be “center,” actually using the English word “center” (which is used in Japanese anyway). Being years younger than Maeda, and having already been thrust within the center of AKB, Jurina is in prime position to replace Maeda as center someday. In the series, she is known for her prowess at fighting. In real life, Jurina is not only known for her beauty, but also for her prowess in dancing.

What I would like to see in Season 2 is Jurina leading a pack of SKE girls to the fray. Jurina is still the most popular girl in SKE and since there was hardly any SKE in Season 1, and Season 2 needs more new characters, seeing so many AKB girls were already used in Season 1 and for some of them, will likely not recur, SKE being used makes a lot of sense, especially since SKE’s popularity has been climbing since last year, and a lot of the individual girls are gaining much more fans. A whole new faction of SKE girls in the series is something I would love to see. It would be interesting how Gekikara/Amakuchi/Rena would handle it though, being SKE herself. More interestingly, how about Kumi? How would her character develop from Dance, Shibuya’s underling from last season? Whatever, I wanna see SKE in this!


Nezumi means mouse, maybe because Mayuyu was mousy cute when she was younger, or maybe because she was the mouse in Team B’s revival of Ame no Doubutsuen. Mayuyu portrays a smart girl who always actually has everything planned out, which is very close to who she is in real life. Mayuyu often plays the sweet, innocent, fun-loving girl, but considering she’s my #1 favorite AKB girl, so I observe as much about her as I can, I pretty much see how smart and calculated many of the things she does are. Of course, she’s so lovable, many wouldn’t notice this, but this girl is a smart one. I think Aki-P sees this as well, so Mayuyu’s role is perfect for her. In the series, she plays a master manipulator who has people in the palm of her hands, but in real life, I can’t imagine her needing to manipulate anyone, as I imagine anyone would just love to cater to Mayuyu, making her the center. As what really happens from what I see.

Such a beautiful smile. I love how Mayuyu interacted with her friends and fellow original Team B teammates, with the goal of recruiting them. It was like she was really happy to do this with her actual friends. And Mayuyu loves her friends.

Although I prefer the orange hoodie from Season 1, I just love Nezumi! I love that Mayuyu’s playing such an ambitious, calculating character, and I just love the character herself! Oh, and the person portraying that character too!

Another thing I love about Nezumi is that so far she has shown that she avoids getting in the physical fight herself as much as possible, as when she was first attacked by the Rappapa foursome, her’s was an evasive, defensive tactic where she easily avoided all attacks. But look out, when she was left with no choice but to fight, just when we thought Nezumi is probably a weakling, she shows us her well-orchestrated, elegant moves and smarts to the tune of classical music she listens to, wiping out the four girls on her own. And I love serious, mean Mayuyu’s stare. She ain’t no weakling, she won’t take you on herself if she doesn’t have to, she has people that can do that for her, but when she really needs to, don’t mess with her, she’ll deal with you!

Nezumi’s angered speech for the Rappapa foursome again reflected reality, when she said that if they maintained the attitude they have, they will always be underlings and always be stuck behind other people, as again the four needs to come out and shine to increase their popularity and take spots at front and center. Coming from someone like Mayuyu, the speech becomes palatable to them.

The main protoganists


What would an all-star AKB show be without the current #1 girl Yuko Oshima? If there’s a ghost Yuko, ghost Takamina better be back too. (Episode 2 shows that Aki-P went with a cop-out, but at least put an interesting twist, so instead, I expect Takamina to be part of quintuplets.)

I love how Maeda refers to Yuko as the center, especially considering how Yuko ended up taking the #1 spot from Maeda in the previous Senbatsu elections.


Yeah, I know her first name is Atsuko, it’s just that a lot of people refer to her as Maeda. Again, Maeda is disturbed by the death of a beloved friend. Making her Vice President of Rappapa instead of President was a great twist though. And she’s wearing contacts this time, so I don’t know if we’ll eventually see Maeda taking off her glasses again. It was also interesting how Jurina called Maeda “cute as always,” using the word kyuuto instead of kawaii for cute, in reference to her great drama that I just loved that ended a few months ago, Q10 (pronounced Kyuuto), where Maeda played the title character.


I told myself I’d limit this to episode 1, but since episode 2 has come out by the time I post this, I wanted to point out that it still mirrors many events in real life: Ucchi taking the top spot via Janken in both AKB and the series; Kikuchi as Comeback in the series was expelled and came back, mirroring the fact that she was dismissed from AKB and has come back; Team Under chastising Team Hormone by saying if they hadn’t been promoted, they would be the ones running the show, which is a reflection of what has happened with AKB, with Team Under, although being senior members, taking a backseat to popular new members such as the members of Team Hormone; the what should have been eagerly expected fight between Jurina Matsui and Rena Matsui mirroring their fight for the top spot of SKE (with Jurina narrowly beating Rena last Senbatsu election, and what should be an interesting battle this upcoming election); and Tomochin becoming one of Maeda’s top threats, which is also true in real life, with the relevant leap in her rank last Senbatsu election, and a very successful solo debut single, Tomochin is now a viable threat to take the #1 spot from both Maeda and Yuko.

Many times, a season 2 does not live up to how great a season 1 was, but this is off to a very good start! I’m excited to finish this series!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Request Hour Set List Best 100 2011 Performances

OK, so I had the chance to follow the Best 100 2011 results online real time, but it just wasn’t as much fun as watching the results on video for the very first time, so after the first few songs, I stopped following. So as I always had done, I learned the ranking the first time I watched the video. The first time I learned that Heavy Rotation ranked #1 was when I saw the video.

AKB’s fourth annual Request Hour Set List Best 100 was held for four days, from January 20 to 23, 2011, and the official DVD was released a few weeks ago. I wanted to limit myself to a small number so I’m just gonna give my top 10 favorite performances, although a lot more were notable. It was great to see many classics stay in, great to see great new songs make it, and sad to see many favorites drop out. One of the things I love about the Best 100 is bringing back graduates, and this had plenty of graduates. Sure, there were a lot of other graduates I wanted to see back too, but maybe next year. Another great thing about this year’s Best 100 is that this is the first Best 100 after the great Budokan Shuffle took effect, so it was really, really great to see the old teams reunited to perform their old songs. It was great to see NMB48 come out and perform Aitakatta, it was great to see a 9th and 10th Gen version of Bingo! (no, it wasn’t an all Kenkyuusei version since the remaining 9th Gen were technically promoted members by then), it was interesting to see the cute Miniskirt no Yousei, the “Kenkyuusei” (well, actually 9th Gen) song reach all the way up to #40, it was nice to see the subunits alive and kicking with No Sleeves and Watarirouka Hashiritai with new unit French Kiss whose two eligible tracks made it in at #93 and #27, I was very happy that Yuuhi wo Miteiruka?, one of the songs I voted for, stay in at #64, and I was very happy at the solos making it, such as Itoshisa no Accel, Yokaze no Shiwaza, Nakinagara Hohoende, Kareha no Station, Mushi no Ballad and Mayu no Tameni. I was a bit disappointed that another song I voted for, Mayuyu’s solo Yasashiku Sasete, didn’t make it in. Mayu no Tameni is just a very cute song, but I really wanted Mayu to give us at least just one performance of my favorite Mayuyu solo. Interesting also to point out was that none of my oshimen’s stage unit songs made it in; I wasn’t surprised Hatsukoi yo Konnichiwa didn’t make it in, wouldn’t have been too surprised that Pajama Drive wouldn’t make it either, but I would have thought at least Zannen Shoujo would. Mayuyu fans were all over the place, after all, it’s not like we’re voting for a girl, we’re supposed to be voting for a song, so while some fans voted for Team B Oshi, some voted for Shonichi, some voted for Watarirouka Hashiritai songs, while I voted for Yasashiku Sasete, so many of Mayuyu’s songs ended up not get enough votes, considering she has so many. Interestingly, Itoshiki Natasha turns up as the highest ranked stage unit song this year. Not necessarily the definitive Sashihara song, but if you wanted to vote for a Sasshi unit, it seems to be her best unit so far. I’m also a bit disappointed that only Gagaga made it in for SDN48. Then again, it’s hard to vote for stage songs when majority of the fans have never even seen SDN’s stage songs since their stage’s videos are never released. I found it hard to fathom that Heavy Rotation beat Beginner for the number one spot. I guess it does go to show that considering Iiwake Maybe was last year’s #1 that maybe the fans are sending a message that they love the senbatsu elections. I did love the encore version of Heavy Rotation, the one where each of them were wearing whatever last costume they wore before the encore, making it a great, interesting, colorful mixture of AKB goodness! Also, if I could have attended only one day of this series, if I knew the setlists, I would have went at day 1. The day 1 concert is so good, if a non-AKB fan wanted me to show them one concert that would exhibit how good AKB is, without considering how big or grandiose the stage is, I would show them this, as the variety was so good, it was a great showcase of the different kinds of songs AKB performs, plus considering how interesting the fact of how the Best 100 is put together, by fan votes, that is. This was a great sampling; they featured a lot of girls from graduates to Kenkyuuseis. Oh, and with the MC parts, Wota 4 (Mayuyu, Lovetan, Nakayan, Tanamin), the Sato’s (Natsuki, Amina, Sumire) and the Natsu’s (Sato, Hirajima, Mukaida, Matsubara) were a big hit with me. Heavy Rotation ranking #1 also breaks CinDy’s streak as being the only AKB girl to be part of the original performers of all songs that have ranked #1 in the Best 100 (CinDy was in the first three, Sakura no Hanabiratachi, Shonichi, and Iiwake Maybe).

#10 Original members of AKB48 perform Dear My Teacher

That’s First Gen for you, yeah! I love it when the graduates come back, and to have all the graduated original members of AKB48 come back, and to have the original members that are now in SDN and those that have been scattered to various teams all gathered to perform such a classic is a rare treat! Yeah, even if they did do it last year! The fact that they can still be completed is great! Fine, Rina Nakanishi wasn’t there, it would have raised eyebrows if she was, considering her current career choice. Mariko Shinoda was probably her official sub since technically Mariko is Generation 1.5. This song ranked #86, so I have doubts if it will still make the Best 100 next year, but I hope they keep reuniting the original members of AKB48 for whichever of their classics!

#9 SKE48 is living long and prospering!

Not necessarily a whole lot of SKE, but enough to satisfy SKE lovers. Their current stage Seifuku no Me contains a lot of great songs and performances, and although only one team song from that stage made it in, I was glad it was the fun Koi wa Kataru Shijin ni Narenakute that’s really enjoyable to watch that made it. Although the unit songs for that stage were great as well, we would at least be treated to three of them in the Best 100, expectedly the powerful songs Kareha no Station and Omoide Ijou and the very cute Okami to Pride. Since Okami to Pride is becoming really popular and is replacing Wimbledon he Tsureteitte as the Kumi Yagami song, it’s just too bad that we’ll probably never see Wimbledon he Tsureteitte performed again with Sayuki Mori and Tsukina Takai… unless they do it at SKE’s Request Hour. This also wipes out all the songs from their second stage Te wo Tsunaginagara, which is one of the best stages in AKB altogether, from the Best 100. SKE’s single songs did ok though. Another thing that I loved about SKE’s performances from this concert is that this was not just Team S, they were sprinkled with a select bunch of Team KII cuties!

Koi wo Kataru Shijin ni Narenakute. I love SKE, I love this song, and I love this performance!

I’m pleasantly surprised at how well received Okami to Pride is. It is a very cute song.

We can never have too much Kumi.

#8 Tengoku Yarou

This year’s Kurukurupaa, CinDy’s hope from last year’s Best 100 materializes with the first original unit she centers ranking a good #57. I would have ranked this much higher, if CinDy was the one who did the monologue. I don’t understand why it was Korisu who did it when this is the CinDy unit, especially considering she isn’t even really a part of this unit, she took Nakayan’s place. (Nothing against the pretty Korisu though.) CinDy seemed happy that this made an appearance at the Best 100 anyway. This fun song is my favorite unit song from Team B’s fourth stage. Harugon seemed to have a lot of fun going crazy, while Kyururun looked so fine.

#7 Shonichi

Though dethroned as the top team song, the upset #1 song from 2 years ago ranks well at #21. This year also marks the disappearance of all the other team songs from preshuffle Team B. My favorite preshuffle team is Team B, so for them to be able to reunite for only one song was kinda sad, unlike with Team A and Team K which had a lot more preshuffle team songs make it in, giving them more chances to reunite. At least it was nice to see that Team B still be able to reunite with this song. At least their preshuffle unit songs are still ranking and the greatness of old Team B lives on with Shonichi. It kinda miffs me though that they still don’t bring back the Team B graduates for this song. I want the Team B graduates too! Instead, unofficial members Komorin and Ucchi are there (they were Kenkyuuseis for Team B in the past) and Korisu and Kyururun, who actually became members of Team B for their fourth stage (Shonichi is from third stage).

When they started out with new captain Yukirin calling out the Team, my first concern was, “Where is CinDy?! Don’t tell me you’re not bringing out CinDy for this?!” And then someone started the Team B chant. “Wait, is that CinDy’s voice?! That sounds like CinDy?!” And yes, it was still CinDy leading the Team B chant! It would not have been the same otherwise. And check out darling CinDy’s glamorized hair style.

#6 Team Ogi Matsuri!

OK, not really, but it started to seem like it. Not that I’m complaining, since I loved Ogi Matsuri! (I hope they do another one! OgiPro is probably my favorite agency!) #97 featured No Sleeves Kiss No Ryusei, #96 followed with Watarirouka Hashiritai’s Seishun no Flag, #95 went back to No Sleeves with Seishun no Komorebi, and #94 came back to Watarirouka Hashiritai with Shiroi Tulip. For those that don’t understand what I’m talking about, Ogi Matsuri is the concert by talents within Ogi Production, the agency that handles No Sleeves, Watarirouka Hashiritai and all its members.

Lie was the only No Sleeves lead track that didn’t make it to the top 100 (as I would have expected) while Kimi shika’s additional track made it in, the aforementioned Seishun no Komorebi, while although the very simple but very cute Shiroi Tulip stayed in the Top 100 this year, its lead track Yaruki Hanabi was nowhere to be found. Other No Sleeves and Watarirouka Hashiritai songs appeared, better spread out in the Best 100. No Sleeves’ alter ego from Mendol, Persona was back with 3 Seconds too.

I love these serious, no-smile performances. I’m not sure, but this could be the first time Seishun no Komorebi has been performed, and although it is an additional track to Kimi shika, just to make the series of performances continuous, a costume change was eliminated and they performed it wearing the Kiss no Ryusei outfits.

Same with Watairouka Hashiritai, although we have seen the custom-made costumes specifically for Shiroi Tulip from last year’s Best 100, Watarirouka performed it this time wearing their Seishun no Flag uniforms to eliminate costume changes.

#5 Kioku no Dilemma

This is one of my most favorite AKB songs so to see this performed by its original performers most probably for the last time was kinda sad. It was nice to see graduate Mai Oshima back for this (and nice that this fell on the day where the graduates were on) and it was nice to see Yukari Sato and Kayo Noro, who have already been transferred to SDN, rejoin Yuka Masuda. The original version is just a joy to watch and listen to so to see the original four, though already scattered, reunite to perform this is such a nice treat. Since it ranked #100 this year, it will most likely drop out next year, pushed out by newer songs, and it is highly unlikely that the original four will reunite to perform this on any other concert, but at least we got to enjoy it again even if it may be the last time. This was a great opener for the whole concert series.

#4 Temo Demo no Namida

They actually brought a Team B graduate back! And what’s most interesting about this is that even though French Kiss already has their own version of the song recorded in their first single, with Akicha even already performing this duet last year even before the French Kiss unit was announced, this year Yukirin is rejoined by her original partner Mikachi! Fans really wanted to see the original version, and bringing back Mika Saeki was just a good idea by Management. This song is still ranking well at #30. Now that they finally brought Mikachi back, I wonder how well the song will fare next year. I bet it will be higher, but with new songs in the competition, who knows.

#3 Tonari no Banana

Now that Erena Ono has graduated, and since her graduation was too recent to bring her back, who would take her place as Tomomi Kasai’s partner in a performance of this rather old song? Ichikawa Miori, the very popular 10th Gen Kenkyuusei! I have to say this was a genius decision. This is probably the first time Miorin performed on a big stage with the spotlight on her, and she made a very good impression, pairing off with someone like Kasai, no less. The performance suits her too, although I think Erepyon’s bag wasn’t a perfect fit for her. Her catch phrase “Fresh Lemon ni naritai no!” (I want fresh lemons!) is indeed a winner and is just so adorable no wonder it catches so many hearts. This was such a great idea, having her perform such a fitting song where she can properly do her catch phrase! If you’ve never seen Miorin do her catch her phrase, this is a great watch. Just look out for your heart as you’ll probably soon be going “Awww!” Her voice is so cute! It’s kinda hard to imagine that someone like Kasai would end up as if she was taking a back seat to a Kenkyuusei on her own song. But Kasai is cute too! What am I saying, Kasai is a beauty.

#2 Sakura no Hanabiratachi, graduates version

An all graduate version of Sakura no Hanabiratachi! Now that’s a treat! Sakura no Hanabiratachi is the first single AKB released and they have been performing it since their first stage, so graduates performing this classic is such a great idea. This song was also the #1 song of the first Best 100. Graduates from Team A and Team K who performed earlier in the night in various songs converged for the night’s last song (not counting the encore) as this ranked #76. The interview at the end by some of the remaining original members was pretty funny too.

The graduates are still looking good. I hope we get to see more of them.

Takamina: “Kaorin is really pretty isn’t she?!”

Kaorin: “Really?”

Hana (talking to Takamina): “You sound like an old woman.”

Acchan shows Shiho much love.

Kayano Masuyama is pretty taller than most of the girls now. She was AKB’s original little girl, but now if anyone will have that title among the original members, maybe it will go to beloved Takamina.

Takamina (to Kayano): “Who are you?!”

MaiMai (to Takamina): “You’re wearing your high heels, right?”

Acchan (to Kayano): “You used to be this tall, right?”

#1 Team B Oshi

I haven’t noticed the girls this excited to rank so well since Shonichi ranked #1 two years ago. I guess ranking as the top stage song of the year has that effect. The modern day Wasshoi B! ranked very high at #5, beaten only by singles’ lead tracks. I have to admit, that among corny songs, this would be my favorite. Yes, I think the song is corny, but I would be lying if I denied that I love this! Some people could classify this as a novelty song, but the performance is such a winner, it exemplifies what I’m talking about when I say AKB is more than just a song and dance group, they are a theater group, and in this case, very theatrical indeed! And with the extra excitement of top ranking stage songs, I think this is the best performance of this song that I have ever seen! The girls had a lot fun and it was really fun to watch! No gimmicks on this one, I think new Team B’s joy that this could be a sign that they could be the number one Team just made it extra special. And the theme of Team B Oshi, the same way the theme of Shonichi when it ranked #1, just fits the situation. Too bad only three from original Team B remain with Team B, but I’m glad Mayuyu, Yukirin and Nacchan get to have that again. Team B favorite!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Top 20 Favorite AKB48 Tokyo Aki Matsuri Karaoke Tournament 2010 Performances

The AKB48 Tokyo Aki Matsuri was held on October 9 and 10, 2010 and the DVD was released weeks ago, and although I haven’t done one of these in a while, even if the past concerts were great as well (Yokohama, Yoyogi, Ogi Matsuri, SKE concerts), I couldn’t help myself from making another one for this.

One of the best things I love about AKB is that they are so innovative. You get to see things they haven’t done before in past concerts. And although the Tokyo Aki Matsuri Evening Performances were good as well, it was the Karaoke Tournaments before them that made this a spectacular event. There were two “Karaoke” Tournaments (even though not all of the entries were karaoke performances), one for each day of Tokyo Aki Matsuri. One of the best things about this was that they performed non-AKB songs, not showing any lack of confidence in performing songs from even their rivals; they are not insecure to acknowledge other artists exists, and that they even like them. The various live performances were impressive.

I’m going to say early that I didn’t list any of Yuka Masuda and Natsuki Sato’s songs. I know Yuttan has one of the most powerful voices in AKB, but I think her song choices were poor. Yes, I think the lyrics of the songs were great, but they didn’t showcase her powerful vocals as much as “Maria” would have, for example. Of course, performing a song she normally centers would have been uninteresting though. Nacchi’s voice is so beautiful, but I thought her song choice was rather boring. And this is interesting considering the duo performed my favorite AKB song as a duet. I guess this wasn’t the best venue for them to do it. Special mention goes out to Sasshi, Myao and Kitarie performing Wimbledon he Tsureteitte. Normally, I wouldn’t give a thumbs down to a performance of my favorite SKE unit song, but this was so funny, the judges immediately raised their X signs and they had to apologize to SKE in the end. And who would have thought Reina Fujie and Rina Chikano’s song for that commercial they did with the cow costumes would ever get performed in an AKB concert. Special mention also to Minegishi’s vocals on Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~. I was also so hoping that someone would sing an Utada Hikaru song.

Here’s my top 20 favorite performances.

#20 Mayu Watanabe, Aika Oota, Sayaka Nakaya and Miku Tanabe Perform Happy Material

Wota 4 materializes and performs an opening theme to the anime “Mahou Sensei Negima”. Wota 4 has been an unofficial group of manga and anime superfans between members of original Team B for years now so to see them come out and perform a song like this was such a treat! Very, very cute! I hope they do more!

#19 Mariya Suzuki and Sakiko Matsui Perform Tonari no Banana

What I loved about this was how much they tried to suck up to the judges and host by placing messages on the bananas they gave out while performing; messages like how much judge Maeda was their #1 favorite member, how much they want to see Hawaii (which was the tournament’s prize), and how handsome host Ijirii is. They got all X marks anyway. Cute and very funny.

#18 Yuki Kashiwagi and Sae Miyazawa Perform Infinity

I wasn’t fond of the idea of Yukirin and Sae entering a song they performed in Infinity in a Karaoke Tournament, but I’m sure a lot of people wanted to see them perform it again. The vocals and performance were still beautiful.

#17 Misaki Iwasa and Aika Ota Perform Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou

The judges were complaining about how this wasn’t enka, but I was so excited to see Wasamin and Rabutan perform this. I was hoping they would finish the song.

#16 Suzuran Yamauchi, Manami Oku and Haruka Ishida Perform Tenshi no Shippo

I wasn’t quite fond of the idea of AKB songs being performed at this tournament as I thought the selling point was that they got to perform songs from other artists, but this version was just good. Not as great as the original but I loved the vocals. Very cute. I agree with judge Shinoda though, I wanted to see dancing.

Harukyan is getting prettier.

#15 Oya Shizuka and Mayumi Uchida Perform Suirenka

What I liked about this was how much Shiichan, Ucchi and just about everyone else enjoyed the performance. They had a good time.

#14 Minami Takahashi, Haruna Kojima and Minami Minegishi Perform One Night Carnival

Awsum funny! No Sleeves performance of this Kishidan song was so good on so many levels!

#13 Tomomi Itano, Tomomi Kasai and Atsuko Maeda Perform Choo Choo Train

What J-pop fan doesn’t recognize the opening dance to Exile’s Choo Choo Train. The good friends had a lot of fun with this one, especially Acchan, who loved keeping in role. The dancing was great, of course! Such handsome boys!

#12 Tomomi Itano and Tomomi Kasai Perform Go! Go! Heaven

Sang on the second day, this was the second Speed song they performed. It was a bit harder for them to sing than their song choice for the first day but I still enjoyed it.

#11 Tomomi Itano, Tomomi Kasai and Atsuko Maeda Perform Heavenly Days

Heavenly Days was just a hard song for these three good friends to sing, but it was a beautiful song choice regardless, and the concept of this trio, also three of AKB’s top Senbatsus, singing a Yui Aragaki song is just a treat, considering how Yui is one of my favorite J-drama actresses as well. I want this trio to rehearse this song more and perform this for us again.

#10 Haruna Kojima and Yuko Oshima Perform Melodies

The two lovers, I mean, good friends chose such a good song for their duet! Gam’s Melodies was a great fit! This was such a great performance! This is a must watch for those who love the Yuko-Kojiharu pairing. Yuko going for Kojima in the end was especially funny. This was brilliant!

#9 Mayu Watanabe and Yuki Kashiwagi Perform Wasshoi B!

What is a duet version of Wasshoi B! like? Mayuyu – Yukirin – Mayuyu – Yukirin B! B! B! Wasshoi! Mayuyu – Yukirin – Mayuyu – Yukirin B! B! B! Wasshoi! Only these crazy girls can come up with something as funny as this! This was such a great opener for the second day. It was also funny how even though they are part of the original performers of this, they still forgot some of the lines, considering how long ago they last performed this. This concert was just good times!

#8 Tomomi Kasai Performs River

Tomo~mi played the intro to River on a Taiko, a Japanese drum. She was really good, I wanted her to play more. I wanted to see more of these talents we’d never know about without these kinds of events.

#7 Yuko Oshima, Kayo Noro, Ayaka Umeda and Natsumi Matsubara Perform Nageki no Figure

Original Team K members who perform Endroll and pride themselves as one of the best unofficial dance units treat us to an original tricked up hip-hopish dance version of a remix of an old AKB song, Nageki no Figure. No singing in this one, this original dance that stayed faithful to the theme of the original version was a huge treat. I’m so glad we got the opportunity to see this. Very good.

#6 Tomomi Itano and Tomomi Kasai Perform Wake Me Up!

I love the TomoTomo duo and the style of Speed’s Wake Me Up! just fits them. Nice song choice. I hope they release more Aki-P songs with this style as a duo. Probably not gonna happen again because of Tomochin’s successful solo single but at least we have Love Wars and Summer Lips.

#5 Mayu Watanabe and Yuki Kashiwagi Perform a Dog Show Skit

Cutest thing! Yukirin plays the trainer while Mayuyu plays the dog where she has to perform tricks with her trainer in this adorable and funny skit! Mayuyu’s barks were so cute!

At one point, Yukirin tells Mayuyu to strike a sexy pose, which Mayuyu cutely refuses. A fan shouts out something not very audible, something to the effect of “I wanna see that!”, which causes Mayuyu to cutely, angrily point and bark at the fan.

The second to the last bit where Minegishi asks for a flying kiss was really cute and funny, and so was the ending where Yukirin asks her to do a stunt she keeps saying she can’t do.

#4 Yukari Sato, Minami Minegishi, Oya Shizuka, and Rino Sashihara Perform Imitations of AKB Members

Very funny bits that the members themselves loved.

Yukarin starts off with a Minami Takahashi impersonation.

Miichan continues with Aika Ota singing Kanpeki Gu-no ne. Mii already did this in the Shuukan Pool Games Special though. This is especially funny for Ota since Mii is Rabutan’s oshi.

Shiichan does some of Haruna Kojima’s common gestures.

Sasshi continues with Asuka Kuramochi’s arm fetish, and then quickly walking away as if nothing happened when called.

Although not really forgotten, Yukarin is an original member of AKB who was transferred to SDN, and when Yukarin imitates Kenkyuusei as they meet the very popular Tomomi Itano and herself…

Kenkyuusei (very excitedly, coming up to Tomochin): “Tomochin! Good morning! Please support us!”

Kenkyuusei (turning to Yukarin): “Who are you? Wazzup?”

Kenkyuusei: “No way! We would never do that!”

Miichan impersonates Tomomi Kasai and her chiyuu.

Shiichan impersonates Aki Takajo’s dancing.

Sasshi impersonates Yuki Kashiwagi’s exaggerated reactions.

Yukirin tries to knock Sasshi’s block off for it at the end of the concert.

#3 Yuki Kashiwagi and Haruna Kojima Perform Koi-ing

This normally would be an odd pairing, but Yukirin was cut in her audition for Morning Musume before she auditioned for AKB, while Kojiharu is known for an old AKBingo episode where she acknowledged how much she used to want to be in Momusu, so how fitting is it that at the top of AKB’s career, they would sing a Morning Musume duet. Their vocals were so beautiful, I could listen to this over and over again. I hope they do more duets. This is confidence from AKB.

#2 Mariko Nakamura Performs Tairyo Matsuri

Tairyo Matsuri is a 2008 song originally sung by Maya Sakura, the preteen enka singer Minegishi interviewed on the Feb. 28, 2011 episode of Shuukan AKB (who was already 12 at that time). Enka is a popular Japanese music genre reminiscent of older, traditional Japanese styles, and this was a very impressive performance, especially of such an old-style song. These girls can shut up their critics. Nakamura performed this 2 months before her surprise promotion along with the other remaining 9th Gen Kenkyuusei.

#1 Misaki Iwasa Performs Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki

Just when I thought Nakamura was impressive, Wasamin gives us more enka, this time a song by Sayuri Ishikawa. Many fans are aware of how powerful Wasamin’s voice is, and her prowess at enka. This performance deserved the win it got.