The Spec Kit

Tracing the growth of Watarirouka Hashiritai

25 December, 2011 by

Released this past November, THE SPEC KIT Watarirouka Urikomitai (THE SPEC KIT 渡り廊下売り込み隊) follows the growth of one of AKB48’s most popular sub-groups, Watarirouka Hashiritai. The B5-sized book chronicles the group from the start. A picture timeline and essays from those involved with the group traces the milestones in Watarirouka history.

At first glance, one can already tell that the book is a little different from others. The obi, usually a narrow sash of paper with promotional type, is a lot wider in Spec Kit and instead of duplicating the cover (as they normally do), provides graphics to an otherwise bare front. The faux-leather texture and gold lettering are reminiscent of bounded journals that one would find in a university library, a rather poignant cover given the theme of the book.

The plain cover of Spec Kit without its obi.

The book starts off with the expected group photos of the girls, as well as a tongue-in-cheek set of instructions on how to get into an exclusive event.

Appealing to Shoujo-ai fans.

Content page adorned with anime illustrations.

As can be seen by the content page, each member has a set of pages dedicated to her. Of course, the prerequisite gravure shots are present, but the girls also get a few pages in their sections for their own works. Hirajima Natsumi becomes Hirajima-sensei, dishing out mock relationship advice (yes, the irony is not lost) to readers that write in. Iwasa Misaki speaks of coping with her unique voice, it begins with a quote about her disappointment at having a non-cute voice and entering Watariouka Hashiritai.

Bikini photos are par for the course.

Tackling two fetishes at once.

Watanabe Mayu draws an anime version of Watarirouka Hashiritai 7.

Wasamin's short essay.

After the individual pages, the book shifts focus onto the group itself. A pictorial timeline greets the reader with rich photographs and text showing Warota’s growth from a 4-member unit to the relatively large 7 that they currently have.

A timeline with photos of the group.

Some fans would definitely be interested in the sections that follow; an essay on the happenings in Watarirouka since its formation in 2008, and a section where various people who have worked with Warota (like Yamasato Ryouta) write on their opinions of the group.

The gossip rag look is not coincidental.

Akihiro Kiuchi & Toshiro Kunikawa give their take on Watarirouka.

To close off, the book ends with a few more group shots, and a retro-styled series of photos, which in the opinion of this writer looks the best of all the photos in the book.

Hirajima Natsumi

A parting shot and some messages from the members at the end of the book.

Released by Wani Books, the book has a slightly steep price point of 1500yen. However, fans who are interested in Warota should see no waste in this expense. The uniqueness of the book’s cover alone should give it a decent place in any collection. Unlike the first photobook release, this does not have as many photos, but the inclusion of personal write-ups are a nice addition to the photographic contents of the book.

Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.


Writer who also doubles as the photographer during event coverage. Mus' interests in Japan lie in the language, literature, popular culture and underground rock bands. Having an academic background in Japan, Mus is also particularly interested in the study of Nihonjinron.