Public sampling of Japan’s otaku pop group16 December, 2010 by Chad
Are you tiring of these STGCC and AKB48 posts. But there’s more! There’s still Wilson’s photo tour, an in-depth article on the meet-the-fans session coming up and possibly some final rants. But till then, here are some happy moments from their appearance on the main stage.
Three members of AKB48, Nakatsuka Tomomi, Uchida Mayumi and Ishida Haruka were having a brief appearance in the main hall of STGCC. The trio had flew in a day earlier than the rest of their comrades, arriving in Singapore sometime in the morning.
When the event was first announced, Kuramochi Asuka was one of the members slated to appear for Friday’s introduction. Sadly (for me), she was rotated out in favor of Nakatsuka Tomomi. Then again, I’d be hard pressed to think of any songs Kuramochi could had performed with the other two.
This was their most public appearance in Singapore so far, since anyone who had entered STGCC on Friday could see their performance on the mini-stage. As an added bonus, it was announced just prior to the event that the first 50 fans would be rewarded the chance to shake hands with the girls. The guys and girls from the Singapore AKB48 fan community which I shall collectively refer to as SGP48, Philippine Wota 48, Stage 48, Nihongogo and some random Nikkeijin all headed down early for this purpose. The official queue started at 12 noon, so they spent at least a full 4 and a half hours patiently in line.
As before, a bunch of the fans were decked out in their original pink t-shirts and brought along glow sticks. Locally, the fans didn’t have access to the official AKB LED sticks so everyone had to resort to other measures. Michael brought the three giant LED batons he imported from Rakuten just for the sake of this event. Nao made these sticks himself from a torchlight and what looks like a sawed off pipe. Dedicated.
Everyone waited eagerly as the scheduled time drew closer. In the meantime, a couple minute long anime clip looped on screen. The bass from the speakers, literally shook my pants.
Finally, the anime stopped and the screen above appeared. The MC came up on stage to introduce to event. Despite the management’s repeated pleas not to, half of the audience were already busy recording.
Personally, I felt a little guilty taking photos myself, despite having been granted the permission to do so. Was afraid the shutter sounds would distract other people.
Photography is probably unavoidable in Singapore as most people believe it is their right to take pictures anywhere. AKB48’s management have been pretty lenient so far regarding photography but they’ve always taken a strict stance on video. But no sooner than the performance ended, and you could find videos of it online already.
Now I’m sure some fans from overseas would definitely appreciate the chance to see the performance on video. Who wouldn’t love to have something to re-watch too. But at least keep it discreet and not throw it up publicly. It may seem absurd to you but is it really so hard to respect their policy? Now some junior producer somewhere has got to spent the next week scouring the internet. I’d love to see people try to pull this stunt in the “best Korea”.
And all this is after they asked politely weeks in advance not too. At least think of the public image you’re portraying of Singapore. It’s only a matter of time before overseas artists start giving up on this country and started looking for more cultured (and profitable) audiences elsewhere.
Alas, there was a good show of support by the fans. One Indonesian (I think) fan was fully decked out in his Wota gear. He had flipped his AKB48 Janken Senbatsu book to Uchida’s page and was wildly waving it about. Yan’s reaction was that he could never do that, as the book is too precious to him.
The crowd soon caught sight of Nakatsuka Tomomi’s yellow windbreaker peaking out from behind the stage and soon concluded that they were going to perform Tsundere. Lots of people starting shouting the girls names.
The girls emerged promptly, with Ishida Haruka taking center for a Watanabe Mayu trademark song, Zannen Shoujo.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the girls were singing live! And they were doing great. Considering how complicated some of the choreography for their songs are, most won’t blame a pre-recorded performance. As with any other artist, not all of the AKB48 members could pull off live vocals, some like Komori Mika have trouble even when when just lip-syncing…but well her fans love her for that.
The three girls here today were among the less popular members of AKB48, so their personal careers aren’t as successful as some of the others. That meant that they were veterans when it came to performing live, on account of all the times they’ve had to sub for some of the more popular members at the theater.
This wasn’t the first time I was seeing Zannen Shoujo. I’m not a Watanabe fan, so I’m being honest when I say that when it comes to showmanship the girls still have a way to go but vocally Ishida was no pushover.
The fans cheered enthusiastically and they continued to do so as the girls began to perform their second song. Putting on their glasses, it was time for Tsundere. Lyrically the lines for Tsundere are much more evenly spread out among the three performers so they each had their chance to shine. As with the first song, Ishida Haruka took the center spot (originally Itano Tomomi). Uchida replaced Kitahara Rie and Nakatsuka took Amina Sato’s spot, though the later two switched costumes.
Zannen Shoujo and Tsundere would be the only two songs the trio would perform today. After they were done, there was a short MC where the announcer came on stage to ask them a few questions about Singapore.
This time they brought in a translator to assist in their MCs. She would also help to interpret for the interview as well as the next day’s performance.
The host asked the girls a few simple questions that she had prepared like what they thought of Singaporean guys. “Cool!” they replied. To the question of what they thought of Singapore, they answered “We like it very much”. And when asked about Singapore’s food they said it was delicious, which is of course the polite thing to say.
The host also asked if there was anywhere they wanted to visit and Nakatsuka promptly replied “Night Safari”. Something she would repeat again in the interview.
After the short Q&A, the girls headed backstage for a breather while the staff brought in tables for the handshake session. They returned a few moments later and those who had been queuing the whole day finally got what they were eagerly waiting for.
Since there weren’t as many people, the fans weren’t rushed as much. Many found the time to pass along some words of encouragement to the girls or even have a short conversation.
I’m sure that some people in the audience were probably less than impressed, but the mood was really high to those whom the event mattered to. The positive feelings were so contagious that some of the security guards started smiling too. Security guards…smiling? What blasphemy!
I’ve never taken much notice to Nakatsuka Tomomi, Uchida Mayumi or Ishida Haruka in the past. They’re probably not going to move up my list anytime soon but I definitely have a new found respect for them. Vocally they were good and Uchida handled herself professionally.
Yan commented that Nakatsuka looks way better in person than in her photographs and I must agree. Her Caucasian-like (she’s totally Japanese) features don’t photograph well under harsh lighting and the pictures here don’t do her any justice.
We were definitely expecting the girls performing in Singapore to find new supporters. And no sooner than after the handshake, some fans had already found new faves. From asking around it seems that many were won over by Ishida Haruka’s energetic performance.
Since they’re often neglected, it’s great to see this newer generation of members getting the chance to represent AKB48 here in Singapore. It’s a large responsibility for someone as young as themselves but no younger than when their seniors started working toward making AKB48 a success. Hopefully…just hopefully, the public’s opinion of AKB48 has slightly improved from this appearance too.Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.