A recent PM got me thinking that so much can put one at odds initially with a “new” group and that perhaps just the sheer size of AKB48 or their very much unique format may have some reluctant to dive in~? Of course “new” being said relatively speaking as while they’re not new having been a part of ~the idol♥world for now 5+ years, there’s no doubt many who’ve yet to find out what the buzz is all about may have at least a touch~* of curiosity I wonder? And also through the PM I can tell that there are some common misconceptions about AKB as well so I really wanted to share my personal experience of how I went from reluctant fan to loving them so much now~.
Today’s post is a quite candid recollection of how I learned of the group as just a few months ago I was very much the same, first thinking I have my most favorite♥ idols in Hello!Project and even with them scaling down so much with the Elder’s Club graduation could there possibly be enough space and gained interest~* for me to take on another large scale idol♥group with so many questions about them and again just their sheer size? No doubt I was reluctant at first and you can even find comments of me here replying saying that it’s just too much and basically saying that there’ll be no room in my fandom for a group like AKB48…noting also the size of the group which was then for me too much to grasp :/.
In hindsight you just never know what may spark~* your interest and that sometimes it comes from the most unlikely of places, for me it initially began with Chocolove….as denadel, a Vox friend had linked me their pv~♥….but still it wasn’t enough for me to dive in as more than a month would then pass before a chance encounter with the online B.L.T. shop led by another idol interest~* would present just something that I was in awe~* with @ first…..I mean just witnessing from the outside how a single idol♥ could sell 2,000,000 yen worth of merchandise in just over seven hours all by herself (・o・)！ was unimaginable for me, then there was their Kouhaku performance…ultimately leading to my very first AKB48 single purchase and @ such a perhaps odd time in the sense that “Sakura no shiori” isn’t at all your typical idol♥release by any stretches of the imagination and on the flip side the unexpected sound they produced became a breath of fresh air for me in music. Ultimately though it was AKB48’s sub~unit Watarirouka Hashiritai who attracted me so much lending to initially so much confusion for me….I mean, getting back the sheer size of AKB48 one can find their numbers to be too much @ first no doubt, I for one felt very much the same way but going back to my Chocolove post it was CK who then took me under his wing teaching me not only the history of AKB48 but also their inner workings as again this is not your usual idol♥group~…….it was a reply in the form of multiple PMs where he would explain and clear up many aspects of the group to me (we ♥ things* in multiples (*´∀｀)♥) and this is where my true understanding of AKB48 which would begin to lead to this “new” fandom of mine today~.
Today I’ll share the very same tutorials of AKB48 which I received over the past few months and it’s really so much the approach in which CK took here knowing for one that I am and and have been a very passionate fan of all things Hello! Project for now over 12 years so he made it really fun by using a parallel between the two idol♥groups for an easier understanding, also making everything so much easier to relate to~. Yes AKB48 can initially appear as a group which seems too large from the outside but when you truly understand how AKB48 was formed and how they’ve managed to push the idol♥ envelope to its fullest some misconceptions about them may be cast aside as I truly think with a better understanding so many pretenses can be broken down and for an analogy of sorts, I remember reading one of PTom’s earliest of entries on Hello!Blog where he in detail recounts his initial reaction to the overwhelming size of Hello!Project and Momusu then upon first seeing them on t.v. while on a trip to Japan and then scrambling upon returning home to find out who they were as they’d left such a lasting impression~*, and what confusion it initially created upon this chance t.v. meeting of sorts which would turn out to be a H!P concert featuring none other than Aibon & Nono for their graduation if I recall correctly as PTom would begin learning everything there is to know about H!P making him the fan that he is today~. The parallel here I’m drawing towards with PTom’s experience with discovering H!P is that it also took a better understanding of AKB48 and had I not had such a wonderful~* teacher in CK~♥ to help me better understand and learn about the many aspects of AKB48, I just can’t see how I would ever have become a fan of theirs today. After including the lessons taught to me by CK which follow verbatim ↓↓↓↓ (through numerous PMs =) ) I have a complete visual introduction to AKB48 in entirety through scans I’ve done of their most recent visual books although just as H!P has their Eggs, AKB48 also has their “Kenkyuusei” (research students/ aspiring new members yet to be added to the main group) so there are other members not pictured here.
Online here it’s been sort of an ongoing diary of me learning more and more about AKB48 and you can visit any one of my ramblings through this link~ ＾ ＾。 An early misconception of AKB48 for me was thinking that the entire 48 or more of girls would perform on their single songs but it’s not the case as “senbatsu” as learned above helps to decide which girls are featured on any one main a~side with coupling with songs working accordingly in similar fashion. The term “Undergirls” represents the non~senbatsu girls who aren’t either producer chosen/fan voted/ or now jan~ken~po’d into becoming senbatsu as the world of AKB48 surely always keeping fans on their toes with so many surprises~* ＾ ＾。 AKB48 also shuffles their members which occurs during the “Senshurraku” where some girls may be appointed to a different Team (Teams A, K & B) and also new members (“Kenkyuusei”) may be added to a Team upon an opening. Graduations much like with H!P have been known to occur at times unexpectedly and while some are management’s decision to graduate them they sometimes also occur by a member’s own choice. Musically AKB48 is produced and written by Akimoto Yasushi who has a very special connection to idol group’s past through his marriage to a former member of Onyanko Club which was a very sizable idol group made popular during the 80’s and one can imagine that it is this very connection which has inspired him to write and produce AKB48 with a sound very much reminiscent of that time. The resulting style of AKB48 is therefore a meeting between J~Pops storied past heard with a modern twist of today’s styles all the while remaining faithful to that golden era in music~.
And in closing of this introduction, in the end music is music and idols are idols….so why cut yourself short of possibly missing out on so much as I may have done so myself. And I know the passion of being faithful may hold you back and the thought of “how can one possibly love another” while their passion is first and foremost seeded in another but much like our parents loved The Beatles or the Rolling Stones or The Beach Boys all in the same era, in hindsight had they kept themselves from experiencing another’s music no doubt they would have missed out on so much =(. And so much of the same case can be said today. I’ve been as dedicated as any H!P fan could be since the very debut indies single “Ai no tane” (<– note that that linked post is dearly in need of updating as it’s from a few years ago XD) and they’ve been my world~♥ and yet there’s so much more space in one’s heart to love so much more in idols/music. AKB48 is a group that’s doing everything right from fan accessibility which is unprecedented on their level and they’re simply taking the torch~* of idol♥ groups past and present and running with it in their very own unique way, truly they’re a symbol and a celebration of just how far the idol♥ music industry has evolved over time. And AKB girls are also known fans of Hello! Project which is so awesome!! I can’t reiterate enough about how learning what AKB48 is from the inside and out has meant in me further embracing them as I really wasn’t seeing myself ever becoming a fan and through the following series of tutorials (originally Vox PMs) from CK, AKB isn’t what it may seem from the outside for terms such as “Teams”, “Senbatsu”, “Senshurraku” and “Kenkyuusei” amongst others will bring into light an idol♥group while with unique terms, isn’t so different from the idol♥group(s) which you love today. And now please meet AKB48 as taught to me as an introduction to a possible new fandom over the past few months and notably these PMs are very candid in nature and in context of the moment of questions I had @ the time and a special~* thank you to CK for allowing me to share these with everyone ＾ ＾。
Team A: think of them as Morning Musume. The original group. The flagship. Most of the old-time members are here. Many of the most popular members are in Team A
Team K: they came around about a year later. Think of them as Berryz Kobou. Team K is well known for being a very cohesive unit, with very few changes or graduations since inception. They are also known as the best dancers.
Team B: was the last of the main groups formed in 2007. Think of them as C-ute. This is the young-lolli team. Very cute, extremely energetic.
Each group performs independently of one another with their own material. They also have a version of the H!P Eggs, called Team Kenkyuusei, or “research students” Like the Eggs, these girls do their own performances. But they also serve as subs for the main three groups when girls are out ill or for prior commitments. So if you say, went to see Team K, it wouldn’t be unlikely that there would be a couple of Kenkuusei on the Team that night, if a few girls are out filming or something.
Each group performs their “stage” (think of it as an album) for approximately a year, until the stage is called complete. Then the Team gets new material and begins a new performance. Right now Teams A and K are on their 5th Stage and Team B is on their 4th.
They also have sub-groups. There are three current active groups like this…
Watarirouka Hashirtai: all four members are from Team B. You know about them
No3b (or No Sleeves): Three members of Team A. They were formed in conjunction with the TV show Mendol, which they also starred in. BTW, you should watch that series. It was great!
And now a new sub-group named “French Kiss” whom are yet to make their debut release.
Natto Angels: I think they are a one shot deal. But their song was cute!
Chocolove: an old sub-group that was really popular, especially their song Ashita wa Ashita no Kimi ga Umareru wo. The video for that song is amazing
ICE: was a one-shot sub-unit, but their song was so pretty
The Singles releases: This is where they stray a bit from H!P’s model. When they put out a single, they select girls from each team to participate. They are called Senbatsu. So the girls all work hard so they will be selected for Senbatsu.
Big Concerts: Are a lot like H!P winter and H!P summer. They do a lot of shuffling of the girls, so you may have a mix of A and K girls doing a Team B song. Stuff like that. But it is usually a big showcase of their best stuff.
That is basic AKB…and just to give you a taste…
SKE48: they are trying to reproduce what they have in Akihabara down in Nagoya. It is the same model. Team S, Team KII, and soon there should be a Team E.
SDN48: is a brand new concept. Older idols performing more adult material, They perform in the AKB48 Theater twice a week. Saturday night, and one random night mid-week
Here is a list of Albums by AKB48.
Team A currently has 4 Albums…
1. Team A 1st Stage
2. Team A 2nd Stage
3. Team A 3rd Stage
4. Team A 5th Stage
*You may notice that Team A 4th Stage is missing. This is due to contractual issues with DefStar, AKB48’s former label, an album for the 4th Stage never got released, although a DVD did.
Team K’s Albums…
1.Team K 1st Stage (which is the same songs as Team A 1st Stage)
2. Team K 2nd Stage
3. Team K 3rd Stage
4. Team K 5th Stage
*again, same issue for Team K’s 4th Stage, but a DVD is available
Team B has one album…
1. Team B 4th Stage
*there are no albums for Team B’s 1st three stages, although B3 was their first original stage. B1 was a redo of K2, and B2 was A2.
“Himawari-Gumi” was AKB’s All-Star Stage, and there were 2. H1 and H2, but neither were ever released on album.
Currently there are two “best of” type albums, with a third one to be released this Summer. You have “Kamikyou Tachi”, the other is called “Setlist, Greatest Songs 2005-2007”
For SKE, Team S has 2 (S2 and S3, and Team KII has their one album, which is the same as S2. Team S’ first stage was actually a redo of A2, and team KII’s 1st stage was a redo of K2.
Oh by the way, everything by SKE is available through online retailers.
However, your response triggered another topic…LIVE CONCERT DVDs
There are quite a few. These are concerts in venues other than the theater. The first couple of concerts from the early days are available through online retailers, although they are fairly high priced. However, early on AKB started packaging their concert series’ in Box Sets that were 1) expensive and 2) only available through their site and in Japan. That said, these are my favorite items they sell…I will give some examples,
Shibuya AX Setlist Concerts. Their annual January event. Four night concert of Top 100 songs as voted by the fans. Comes in a 5 disc set (the 4 shows plus 1 backstage disc) with photobook and collector cards and usually sell for around $200 USD There are three of these 2008, 2009 and 2010
AKB104 Sokaku Matsuri (aka the Budokan Box Set) 7-Disc Set featuring the three concerts at Budokan. Team A Live at Fukuoka, Team K live in Osaka, and Team B live in Nagoya. plus Photobook. Retailed for about $310 usd
Their JCB Hall Concert Series and NHK concert series are also available in 2 or 3 disc sets. I’m not sure since I don’t have them.
Yokohama Arena Box Set should be coming out soon, and I guess it will be a 4-disc set and retail for about 150-200 usd.
By the way, many of these items ARE still available through AKB48’s shop, which you can buy from via your deputy service.
TV Show Box Sets…
Some are available via the regular buy sites (like Majisuka Gakuen, Mendol and Nemousu TV), some are Theater/Website exclusives (Shukan AKB) And of course AKB-Infinity (their play) is also a theater exclusive.
For your perusal, AKB48’s Online Shop
Hahahaha! That is one of the most infamous aspects of the AKB48 theater. It is on the Top floor of the Akihabara Don Quijote. The entire space is oddly shaped, and there are quite a few pillars, probably containing vents and holding the building up. So in the theater itself there are two huge pillars in the third row. So anyone sitting behind them has an obstructed view of the stage. This is why their “seat lottery” is so important. If you dont draw early you will probably have somewhat of an obstructed view. So people strategize their seating by knowing where their girl usually dances.
Funny story, if you ever see their first ever big concert, they opened with two huge pillars on the stage, LOLOL. During the first song the girls “pushed” them out of the way. Hahahahaha!!!
BTW, as far as the kenkyuusei are concerned they all have to re-audition when a new generation is announced. So Sara wasn’t fired in the traditional sense, she was “cut”, along with a few other girls. In fact recenlty most all of the kenkyuusei were cut, only a few made it to 9th gen.
The photos I’m using are scans that from AKB48’s most recent visual books where there’s one for each Team and being that these are B.L.T. publications they include those hard sought after member photos which are randomly inserted in sets of three for each book you purchase~.
I was most excited~* to find Takamina♥!, Wasamin♥! and Kojiharu♥ in my photo sets!! Aside from auctions where you can always find an abundance of non~stop postings of these B.L.T. photos (also many are theater/book/DVD/CD photos) these are my very first B.L.T. ones which I’m receiving firsthand from a release~*..it may sound silly but it was most exciting to finally get to open one of those B.L.T. secret photo envelopes while in anticipation of which members I’d receive ＾ ＾♥。
I was at first thinking of scanning one page per member but eventually as these books are so beautifully photographed I ended up scanning two per member so here will follow 96 scans which lol! took me a couple of days to complete in my free time :P. Here you can meet the 48 of AKB48 in most pretty~♥ fashion and all girls are listed here in order of the Japanese “alphabet” as they are in the books for ease of perusing or finding a particular member~. A wonderful little feature in these pages are the “tag~line descriptions” of sorts which give a little bit of insight into each member’s either personality, aura in the group or just a little tid~bit about them.