A look at what to expect05 May, 2011 by Chad
The news of the AKB48 Singapore Theater, Cafe and Shop is out. In addition to revealing the juicy details we take a look at Japan’s original AKB48 Theater past and present, to get an idea of what to expect. Along with some informed observations and hopes for Singapore’s own version.
Anyways, first up here’s the local press release. Scroll down if you’ve already seen it.
1. AKB48 THEATRE SINGAPORE “Live” – The Akihabara Experience
Singaporeans will be able to experience the appeal of AKB48’s “live” concerts on a regular basis. Starting 15 May 2011, around 16 members of AKB48 and their sister groups (SKE48, NMB48, SDN48) will fly to Singapore for each concert at the *SCAPE Warehouse. The artistes are expected to be in town for two days in a month, with two performances lined up each day, in 2011.
The line-up of the AKB48 members performing will only be released shortly on the official website before each concert. Each ticket is priced at S$50 and can be booked on the official website and purchased at the AKB48 official shop beginning 5th May 12pm
The first “live” concert of the series will be held on 15th May, at 3pm & 7pm respectively.
2. AKB48 Official Shop SINGAPORE – First in South-east Asia
Fans are now able to buy AKB48 official merchandise right in Singapore. The first AKB48 Concept Store in South-east Asia will open in Singapore in May. You will be able to find merchandise direct from Japan, as well as exclusive limited-edition AKB48 merchandise which are only available at the 360-sq-feet Singapore store.
The Concept Shop will be officially launched at 1pm on 14 May 2011. Lucky customers will have a chance to meet and shake hands in person with selected AKB48 members, who will be there to grace the occasion. .
From T-shirts, to pen cases, to photos of your favorite AKB48 members, fans can bring home a slice of the AKB48 experience conveniently and look out for new product arrivals on the official website.
3. AKB48 Official Café SINGAPORE – A Global Debut Concept
The world’s first AKB48 Café will open its door in Singapore. Fans and members of the public will get to enjoy AKB48 atmosphere which is scheduled to open in the end of June 2011.
Expect Japanese fusion food and deserts available only in this cafe and other highlights include the screening of video clips or messages from AKB48 members as well as related events like Karaoke or Dance contest held on a stage within the café.
Lucky ones may even get a surprise visit from AKB48 members during their meals! More details will be shared closer to date.
SOZO has been appointed as the official Managing Agent for AKB48’s project in Singapore. Members of the public who wish to find out more or get the latest updates on the concerts, concept store and café can check out official website.
Here are some shots of the AKB48 Theater back in 2008. Those who’ve been around the circuit long enough will remember the old 48’s Cafe at the theater. The original theater house in Akihabara’s Don Quijote building was a combined theater-shop-cafe concept too. Providing an all in one environment for the fans to take refuge in. In fact, the theater stayed this way up until December 2009.
An AKB48 cafe just stopped being feasible with the ever increasing crowds and lack of theater space. The 48’s Cafe was canned to make room for coin lockers and the AKB48 shop was moved downstairs so that the theater could be closed up when not in use and fans could continue to visit or hang around the shop at these times.
On paper, bringing AKB48 to Singapore isn’t the most profitable of investments (this mirrors how the AKB48 Theater first started in Akihabara). The Japanese don’t get as much AKB as they would like themselves, evident from the queues of over 50,000 people who pay good money just to shake the girls hands. AKS (the company behind AKB48) could pretty much print anything with AKB48 on it and it’d sell in Japan. Really well.
So why go through all the trouble of flying the girls (and staff) all the way to Singapore to perform to a combined South East Asian crowd of 500 at best?
What’s not to say that in his attempt to recreate the success of AKB48 for the South East Asian market, Akimoto Yasushi has also decided to remind new generations of the group’s humble origins? In a country which is dominated by Korean media, AKB48 is all but invisible to the local Japanese population and its small group of fans. The AKB48 Theater in Singapore, lets the group return (at least a little) to its roots as an unknown band of girls fighting for the attention of an unfazed public.
But regardless of your interest level. AKB48’s appearance in Singapore might the first step in re-popularizing Japanese pop culture in Singapore, beyond the usual fascination with anime or sushi.
Perhaps my only worry is the local middle man’s direction in managing this project. I’ll be completely honest and say that Singapore has a track record of screwing things up. And without stringent quality control or the good mind to make sensible decisions, things can go awry. Taking Hong Kong’s AKB48 Shop as an example, doing we really need AKB48 pencil cases, note paper any other items taken straight from the Singapore Gifts & Premiums Fair with the AKB48 logo smacked on them?
Sure, pretty much anything AKB48 would sell these days. But too much of a good thing can be bad thing too. In fact, much of AKB48’s value lies in the balance struck between the concept’s accessibility and the limited nature of its derived products, be it their latest release, merchandise or the girls themselves.
But as much so as the girl’s hard work, you’ve got to owe it to the shrewd people behind AKB48 to create a resource out of delivering happiness to idol fans. This was only possible with the AKS staff being a small, swat team of talented individuals.
Let’s hope Singapore’s own management consists of a staff who are able to understand AKB48’s concept beyond that of just a simple branding or a foreigner’s fascination with all things “Japanese”. And with any luck, they will hopefully re-enact AKB48’s success here in Singapore too.
Of course, the setting up of the AKB48 Theater in Singapore is a pretty bold step. And like everybody else, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed at this point. This is a pretty amazing opportunity for Singapore on so many levels. Let’s not screw it up.
I’ll end this post with a question. What do you as a fan wish to see the most from Singapore’s AKB48 Theater, Cafe or Shop?Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.