Choreographer Natsumi Takenaka’s Students UPUPGIRLS (KARI) and PASSPO☆ Go Wild in Shinjuku!
Natsumi Takenaka is a choreographer famous for UPUPGIRLS (KARI), PASSPO☆, predia, Yumemiru Adolescence, Yufu Terashima, Niji no Conquistador, and several other Japanese artists. When it was announced that two of her “classes”, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) and PASSPO☆ would be having a live together, it was a rare opportunity to not just see two exciting groups but also to see how the same teacher could produce two very different styles of dancing. Takenaka commented that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) was very good at doing things as they are supposed to be but, had trouble improvising and that PASSPO☆ almost never did anything as written because they could just go with the flow.
In order to decide who would go first, it was decided that there would be a tug of war between the two groups and the winner could choose. Takenaka commented that PASSPO☆ was the champion of all the Platinum groups (palet, predia, FYT, etc.) but that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) is incredibly strong due to all the challenges they do. The fans cheered as both sides put on gloves and tightened their grip on the rope. PASSPO☆ came on strong at first but they were unable to compete with the physical strength of UPUPGIRLS (KARI), ending up in a pile on the stage in defeat.
Leader Minami Sengoku explained that their strategy was to let their opponent tire themselves out at the beginning. When UPUPGIRLS (KARI) declared they they were going first, the members of PASSPO☆ started cheering and threw their gloves into the crowd as they left the stage. Ai Negishi, the “Charge Girl” for the TV Tokyo morning show 730 Charge (Wednesdays) read an introduction for UPUPGIRLS (KARI), a favor returned by Saki Mori, who is the “Charge Girl” for Monday mornings when it was time for PASSPO☆ to perform.
Starting with “Appaare” and “Uppercut!”, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) did what they always do, deliver a solid physical performance that got the fans excited. Talking about the event, the members of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) mentioned members of PASSPO☆ that they get along with. Manami Arai talked about how happy she was to spend time with Mio Masui since she had been a fan for a long time, making sure that they took pictures and exchanged LINE information. Akari Saho joined in by saying that she went to the restroom with Mio, leading to a discussion about how idols aren’t supposed to say they go to the toilet. Minami Sengoku said she was jealous of Naomi Anzai’s long legs. Ayano Sato explained that she had always wanted to go eat with Shiori Mori (aka Morishi) and Anna Tamai (aka Anya) but, they had never been able to. Saki Mori (aka Morisaki) commented that the groups resembled each other and blurted out that they were like a zoo!
Morishi and Natsumi Iwamura (aka Nachu) joined UPUPGIRLS (KARI) on stage for “Zenryoku! Pump Up!!” and while Morishi was easily bouncing around on the stage playing around with Furukawa and Morisaki, Nachu looked out of her element, missing one of the spins and flipping her fist the wrong way at the end of the song. However, she seemed destined to be the most entertaining member of the event with her continued hijinks. During “Niji Iro Mosaic”, Azusa Sekine changed one of the lines to “I love Nachu” (Nachu daisuki dayo) and almost immediately, Nachu rushed onto the stage to embrace Sekine from behind, having to be pulled away by Anya.
During the 14-member collaboration song “Bijo no Yajuu”, the contrast between the style of the two groups was like night and day. UPUPGIRLS (KARI) moved precisely in the tight formation while the usually carefree PASSPO☆ was tentative. As with the tug of war, PASSPO☆ ended up collapsed on the stage at the end of the song. Nachu remained on the floor until Sekine helped her up.
Returning to their usual performance, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) kicked the live back into high gear with “Jumper!” and “Chopper☆Chopper”. As much as fans look forward to the “Akari-Ban” (part of the song where Akari bangs her head rapidly), Konatsu Furukawa’s movements during that part of the song should also be given some attention for their fierceness. UPUPGIRLS (KARI) thanked the audience for their warm reception. Ayano Sato remarked that it was nice that she couldn’t really tell who was a fan of which group, likening it to a family. Sekine exclaimed, “It’s the best to do a two-man live with PASSPO☆!” Ending their set with “End Of The Season” at the request of Takenaka, Morisaki pulled her on stage to dance with them before she wriggled away from Manami Arai and ran back off stage.
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Set List
03 Zenryoku! Pump Up!! w/ Shiori Mori and Natsumi Iwamura from PASSPO☆
04 Bare Bare I LOVE YOU
05 Niji Iro Mosaic
06 Bijo no Yajuu w/ PASSPO☆
09 End Of The Season
PASSPO☆ also brought with them a set full of songs to get the crowd moving, the energy shifting to a much looser freer mood as the fans sung along to “WANTED!!” and jumped wildly to “Baby Jump ~ Tengoku he no Toujou-bin~”. PASSPO☆ talked about the members of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) and Ai Negishi appealed to their fans by asking them to support her since the group didn’t have anyone in charge of white. Mio Masui declared herself to be the “Araigunmachan of PASSPO☆” (Araigunmachan is a yurukyara that Manami Arai plays to promote her home prefecture of Gunma) and Anna Tamai said that she and Ayano Sato (both purple) were deep down good girls despite looking kind of scary. The members sang backing vocals for Nachu as she professed her love for Azusa Sekine (also orange). Yukimi Fujimoto bemoaned that fact that Mio had “taken” Arai, going on about how well she gets along with Morisaki and Konatsu Furukawa and how she and Sato always trade likes on Instagram. Naomi Anzai expressed her admiration for Minami Sengoku, even going so far as to say that she loves the word “sengoku” (仙石 or 戦国). It was not clear which one she meant. Expressing their thanks to Takenaka for being their choreographer since the very beginning, the members of PASSPO☆ began pretending to cry but, Nachu began snorting which ended up making the audience laugh. Despite the failure at being over dramatic, even the fans in the audience bowed deeply to Takenaka who was off stage.
After “HONEY DISH”, “Love Diary”, and “Cosmic You” Ayano Sato and Morisaki came on stage to become honorary members of the Hacchake-tai during “Kibun wa Saikou! Saikou! Saikou!” It seemed that Nachu temporarily forgot about Sekine because she was hanging all over Saki during the song. As the Hacchake-tai members went off stage at the end of the song to change, Ai Negishi and Anna Tamai decided that they should give Sato and Morisaki special names like the other members. Sato became “Ayankii”, a combination of her first name and “yankii” (the word for delinquent) because of her tough appearance and Morisaki became “O-iroke” due to her sexiness (iroke 色気 is a Japanese for sexy). It was at that moment that all 4 of them noticed that a very enthusiastic Morisaki fan had also put on a happi coat to match as he jumped and shouted out to her with his green pen lights blazing.
The rest of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) and PASSPO☆ assembled on the stage for the second 14-member collaboration song of the night, “Material Girl”. Nachu returned to her stalking of Sekine and the rest of the members of PASSPO☆ repeatedly barged their way on to the side of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) to disrupt their formation and help them learn how to ad lib. Konatsu Furukawa turned 2 cartwheels as Anna Tamai did her usual spins during the middle of the song.
Manami Arai exclaimed, “That was way too different from rehearsal!” and Nachu attempted to defend her creepy behavior by explaining that she was trying to be like a photographer, which only made it sound worse. Tamai explained that PASSPO☆ overdid things to help UPUPGIRLS (KARI) become stronger.
After “Pretty Lie” and “YOU”, it was time for Akari Saho to do the one thing she had wanted to do, stand at the top of the human structure that Morishi usually occupies during “Himawari”. Both times, Akari shuffled tentatively into the formation, sang her lines and scurried away shyly. It was the complete opposite of her usually aggressive and powerful stage presence with UPUPGIRLS (KARI). PASSPO☆ ended their set with “Dear My Friends” and “Shojo Hikou”
PASSPO☆ Set List
02 Baby Jump ~ Tengoku he no Toujou-bin~
03 HONEY DISH
04 Love Diary
05 Cosmic You
06 Kibun wa Saikou! Saikou! Saikou! w/ Ayano Sato & Saki Mori from UPUPGIRLS (KARI)
07 Material Girl
08 Pretty Lie
10 Himawari w/ Akari Saho from UPUPGIRLS (KARI)
11 Dear My Friends
12 Shojo Hikou
Takenaka returned to the stage with UPUPGIRLS (KARI) and passed a list of comments she had made throughout the performance for them to go over later. Wanting to do something for their teacher, the members decided to toss Takenaka into the air several times (in Japanese it is called “dou-age” 胴上げ), much to her dismay. Takenaka announced that the final song of the night would be her favorite summer song performed by a 7-member group, which turned out to be “Summer Reggae! Rainbow” by the Hello! Project shuffle unit 7-nin Matsuri (2001). Nachu chased after Sekine and kissed her, again having to be pulled away. Takenaka was pulled out on stage twice and she ran away both times.
After the performance ended Ai Negishi, Nachu, Anya, Morisaki, Akari Saho, and Konatsu Furukawa read off the list of comments made by Takenaka while demonstrating what she was referring to. Anya and Nachu showed how to properly do (or overdo?) a kabe-don. Akari (too shy) and Konatsu (too much) showed their parts from “Niji Iro Mosaic” and the low height of Mio’s “popcorn jumps” during “HONEY DISH” (the fans on the floor were going higher than her) were among some of the more entertaining highlights. Despite all her criticism, the final point on Takenaka’s list affirmed the love she has for her students despite their faults.
Since the members of PASSPO☆ and UPUPGIRLS (KARI) switched uniforms for the fan-meeting event before the concert started, here are some of the pictures from their Twitter accounts. Make sure to follow them all, even Takenaka Sensei because she posts a lot of great pictures!
PASSPO☆ Official site: http://passpo.jp/
PASSPO☆ Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/passpo_staff
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official site: http://www.upupgirlskakkokari.com/
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/uugirlsofficial
Natsumi Takenaka Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/723takenaka
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