Nagoya grown 48 idol group visit Singapore for the first time30 July, 2011 by Chad
SKE48, the Nagoya based spin-off to Japan’s top idol group AKB48 were in town this Wednesday, 27th July 2011. Fans from Singapore and a surprising many who had come from as far as the United States were treated to a day of exciting activities that culminated in their first ever high energy concert performance in Singapore
Formed in 2008, SKE48 (or Sakae48) is the first variant of the 48 concept idol group by acclaimed lyricist and producer Akimoto Yasushi. In the same manner as their Akihabara counterpart, SKE48 is split into three teams of 16 members which rotate to perform live “stage shows” almost daily from their theater at the Sunshine Sakae building in Nagoya.
The group is now part of the avex trax label and have had 6 major CD releases to date, the latest of which coincided with their visit to Singapore. Like AKB48, SKE48 top the CD sales charts thanks to their catchy feel good tunes and energetic dances.
This afternoon, three members took part in a SKE48 Special Visit at the AKB48 Singapore Cafe. Ono Haruka (24) and Nakanishi Yuka (22) were part of SKE48’s founding Team S while Abiru Riho (18) was one of the second generation members that make up Team KII.
Similar to the AKB48 Summer Holiday Special Visit held last week, tickets for SKE48’s visit sold for $35 each and covered the cost of a meal at the cafe.
The event began with introductions from the AKB48 Singapore Cafe’s staff. And after serving lunch, fans were screened a video of SKE48’s latest song Pareo wa Emerald. This was quickly followed by the appearance of the day’s guests.
Nakanishi Yuka, Haruka Ono and Riho Abiru introduced themselves in turn. The SKE48 members were pleasantly surprised by the cafe visitors’ familiarity with them despite it being their first time here.
Like the previous event, the guests did not perform this afternoon. Instead, they watched as the cafe staff took to the stage once again for their own renditions of popular AKB48 singles. They then offered their comments on our local talents.
Nakanishi expressed her urge to join in. Commenting that it’d be nice if they would be able to dance together in the future. Ono shrieked with excitement, exclaiming that the staff’s fluttering skirts when they spun around had made her heart beat faster. While Abiru remarked that she may had found her favorite cafe girl.
As the stage was prepped for a short question and answer session, the SKE48 members revealed their initial impressions of Singapore and mentioned that they had enjoyed their visits to both the Merlion and Singapore Flyer earlier in the day.
While the previous AKB48 visitors often resorted to careful, by the book answers, the members of SKE48 were noticeably more open and lighthearted in their replies. When asked by Kai, the event’s MC to describe the draw of SKE48, Nakanishi Yuka remarked that they weren’t particularly well mannered, idol-like or skilled.
Attendees were also given the chance to personally ask the girls questions. And we’d learn that many of the fans this day had come all the way from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States.
When Nakanishi, who is often teased for her boyish looks was posed with the question of which fellow member she would most like to date, she answered Akaeda Ririna, on account of her cute and polite demeanor.
Finally, a Japanese fan asked where did they go for dinner last night, to which Ono revealed that they had ther dinner at the cafe last night with the rest of the other SKE48 members. Like their AKB48 peers before, Nakanishi mentioned that they had autographed some of the chairs in the cafe too.
Next, cafe patrons were pitted against the SKE48 members in turn in a series of mass rock-paper-scissors matches. The final winner of each bout was to walk away with a copy of their latest single, autographed on the spot by the three members present.
Thanks to Abiru, I ended up walking away with the last of the three. This ended up being the highlight of the day, as this editor is quite the fan of Ono Haruka.
Amusingly, while Abiru and Ono were busying themselves in the signing, Nakanishi asked if I was familiar with her. Flipping the CD around she pointed out that they were on the back instead. Hopefully she was relieved when I let her know that I did indeed knew her and had actually seen them live in concert last year.
As customary of such events, the SKE48 cafe visit ended with a handshake session where all the fans present were allowed to meet their three idols up close and perhaps sneak in a few words.
At the same time as the cafe visit, two other events involving the SKE48 members occurred simultaneously that day.
Three members of the group, SKE48 Team S captain Hirata Rikako, Takada Shiori and Matsumoto Rina held interviews with the local tabloids while the remaining ten took to the streets of Orchard Road to promote their concert later in the evening.
The few lucky fans who had opted to give the cafe event a miss mingled around freely with the 10 members of SKE48 as they toured the streets of Singapore, handing out flyers personally to members of the public. A special thanks to Kenneth Ong, for providing these pictures of their walk around Orchard.
Those who witnessed the event commented that they were taken by surprise by the SKE48 members openness as compared to the previous visits by AKB48 and SDN48. The girls actively engaged passersby, showcasing their friendly attitude.
Daryl Song, another reader contributor to this site, was particularly ecstatic when the staff and girls asked if they could use a poster board that he had made for their tour through the city.
That evening, SKE48 held a rather successful first concert in Singapore. Visitors arranged to surprise member Yamada Reika with a secret birthday celebration. Heralded by Jam Translation’s Malciel, fans even chipped in to provide all the concertgoers with free glow sticks in the birthday girl’s favorite color.
With the 48 girls coming on a frequent basis to Singapore now and their repeated attempts to win over new fans, perhaps the public will slowly come to recognize and even appreciate the concept. At the same time, we hope the members from SKE48 have walked away with a favorable impression of this little country called Singapore.
Images courtesy of Malciel and Kohilist.Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.