Just one month after their last single, AKB48 returned with an updated version of their first indie single, the graduation themed Sakura no Hanabiratachi. The eventful Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008 would become AKB48’s last single released under the DefStar Records label.
20 members were chosen for the single Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008, the largest group since Aitakatta. Additionally, all 44 girls were included (at least as extras) in the song’s music video.
It was the first time since Aitakatta that Narita Risa and Matsubara Natsumi were chosen for a single (and Narita’s last as she later graduated that year). Sakura no Hanabiratachi was also Oota Aika’s first appearance.
Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka?’s director returned for Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008’s promo video. And comedian actor Ebisu Yoshikazu was hired to portray the role of one of the school teachers.
Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008’s video is notable for being over 10 minutes long, with half of it compromising of drama scenes depicting events from around graduation time. Maeda Atsuko, Yuko Oshima and to a certain extent Kasai Tomomi play key roles in the story sequences. There seems to be some sort of love triangle going on where Kasai has a crush on a foreign teacher, only to have her heart broken. Dramatic pause later, she is comforted by Oshima, much to the jealousy of Maeda.
Like Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka? and Romance, Irane, Sakura no Hanabiratachi was released as 3 separate versions. However only one additional track, a choir version of the single, was added into the Limited B this time.
On its first week, Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008 sold an almost identical 22,000 copies to its 2006 release, reaching the same #10 spot on the Oricon charts. However, as expected from a re-release, the single did not fare quite as well as the original, selling only 25,000 copies in total as opposed to the original’s 46,000 copies back when AKB48 was less popular.
With the release of its new single, DefStar Records initially planned for an exclusive AKB48 Spring Festival for those who managed to collect all a set of 44 posters (one for each member) given out randomly with purchases of the single at their theater. This lead to a large scandal questioning the label’s crazy gimmicks to increase sales. The idea was eventually scrapped by DefStar as it was in violation of the law.
To “take responsibility” and to avoid the bad publicity surrounding the event, AKB48 self published their next single Baby! Baby! Baby! as a digital download before shifting over to Kodansha’s King Records. They have stayed with the label ever since.Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.
Click here to search CDJapan for Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008 and other related items.
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