3-Peat for White Team at 5th Annual AKB48 Kouhaku Taikou Uta Gassen!
AKB48’s 5th Red and White Song Festival (AKB48 Kouhaku Taikou Uta Gassen) took place at Tokyo Dome City Hall on the evening of December 15, 2015. This event takes after NHK’s New Year’s Eve event of the same name, though in AKB48’s case, none of the songs are performed by the original members.
The evening started with a video of the first AKB48 audition in Taiwan. Out of 2,152 applicants, 17 made it to the final audition, and only 1 was chosen to become the group’s first Taiwanese kenkyuusei. Chia-Ling Ma, nicknamed “Machalin”, appeared on stage after the video, nervously introducing herself to the fans in Japanese. The anxiety faded as she performed AKB48’s popular single “Heavy Rotation”, singing the verses in Chinese and chorus in Japanese, as the fans cheered loudly and called out her name.
Red – “Warunyan” (“Waruki”, Miyuki Watanabe) / White – “Dear K” (“Dear J”, Tomomi Itano)
After the hosts and members took the stage, the main event started with solo performances by Haruna Kojima and Yuki Kashiwagi. In “Warunyan”, Kojima, wearing a bathrobe, teased the fans’ imagination as she tried to swoop in and seduce Dear Daniel away from Hello Kitty, who were holding hands on a date. Kashiwagi countered with her sultry and sophisticated interpretation of Itano’s dance number.
The judges were introduced, with the panel including multi-talent Lily Franky, education commentator Naoki Ogi, manga artist Naoki Urasawa (20th Century Boys, et al), commentator Tsunehiro Uno, Minami Takahashi, and aspiring actress Atsuko Maeda, who is a former member of AKB48.
Red – “Shekarashika” (HKT48) / White – “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai” (AKB48)
In a duel of “freshness”, Team 8 members dressed up as Yankii and had a short dialogue on stage with Kyosuke Yabe from Majisuka 5 before launching into the song. Not to be outdone, NGT48 fought off attackers during “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”, ending with center member Minami Kato twirling a baton while doing front flips.
Red – “Toy Poodle to Kimi no Monogatari” (AKB48) / White – “Avocado Janeshi”
This was a battle of rising stars, as Sakura Miyawaki and Rara Goto, dressed in poodle costumes, took on the berry a-peal-ing pear of Mion Mukaichi and Ririka Suto, who were playing “fruit mahjong” before the song.
Red – “Amanojaku Batta” (AKB48 Team 8) / White – “Koppu no Naka no Komorebi” (Love Crescendo)
Dressed in green tracksuits, SKE48 used the full stage – even with a shot from above – to perform their version of Team 8’s regimented dance song, ending with the famous anti-gravity lean trademarked by Michael Jackson. NMB48 then took the stage in white dresses and played the cup game while covering Love Crescendo’s newest single, aptly named “The sun shines through the trees into a cup”.
Red – “Maeshika Mukanee” (AKB48) / White – “Rock dayo, Jinsei wa” (AKB48)
HKT48 band returned for the Red Team with Aoi Motomura on drums, Chihiro Anai on bass, Riko Sakaguchi on keyboard, and Emiri Yamashita and Izumi Umemoto on guitar. The White Team struck back by rocking out to Miki Nishino’s aggressive dancing style with the help of some professional musicians to take on HKT48’s uptempo fan favorite.
As the event reached its midpoint, comedy trio Dachou Club came on stage to show support for both teams and performed their most famous skits that left Ueshima, the leader, in his underwear once again.
Red – “Uza” (AKB48) / White – “Must Be Now” (NMB48)
The best dancers from each team brought it on with two of the franchise’s most vigorous dance songs. (Red Team: Rina Hirata, Manami Ichikawa, Karen Iwata, Minami Minegishi, Yuiri Murayama, Miyuki Watanabe; White Team: Maria Abe, Nana Fujita, Yuria Kizaki, Jurina Matsui, Yuka Tano)
Red – “Christmas Medley” (AKB48) / White – “Christmas Eve ni Nakanai Youni” (AKB48)
The red team, dressed up as Santas, performed a string of the group’s popular Christmas songs and jokingly asked Takahashi for presents at the end; whereas the White Team chose one song and made a music video specifically for this occasion.
Red – “Barebare Bushi” (AKB48) / White – “Ima, Hanashitai Dare Ga Iru” (Nogizaka46)
The red team sent all of the 9th generation members on stage in Edo-era costumes, along with the manager of each group, as well as the general manager Shinobu Kayano. According to Rie Kitahara, vice captain of the white team, fans seem to think that there is a large gap between the looks of Nogizaka46 members and 48 Group members, so the white team chose a Nogizaka46 song, with Madoka Moriyasu on piano, and sent their “most beautiful” members to challenge the claim.
Red – “Migikata” (Atsuko Maeda) / White – “Soredemo Sukidayo” (Rino Sashihara)
In another duel of solo songs, Sayaka Yamamoto performed an acoustic version of Atsuko Maeda’s hit single, while Mayu Watanabe chose Rino Sashihara’s solo song with Takarazuka back dancers, and was pleasantly surprised by fans tossing paper ribbons on stage.
Red – “Yume no Kawa” (AKB48) / White – “Sakura no Ki ni Narou” (AKB48)
9th generation members took the stage again to serenade Mariya Nagao, who announced her graduation from the group on December 7, 2015. As the intro to “Sakura no Ki ni Narou” began to play, Aki Takajo surprised everyone by announcing her own graduation from the group.
Red – “Ippome Ondo” (AKB48) / White – “365 Nichi no Kami Hikouki” (AKB48)
The team captains face each other in the final matchup of the main event. With everyone of the red team on stage, Yui Yokoyama and professional dancers performed the song in traditional Japanese kimono, while the rest of the white
team joined Rino Sashihara to sing the popular opening theme for NHK’s morning drama.
After the main event was over, a video was shown on the screen to announce that Team A would receive a new original theater set list, its first one in 5 years and 6 months, titled “M.T. ni Sasagu” (Dedicated to M.T, presumably Minami Takahashi) with a scheduled start date of February 10, 2016. Since the new stages have been delayed repeatedly, some members were not quite sure if this would happen as planned. “There is no other evidence besides this video, so I’m still skeptical,” said Haruna Kojima.
Nana Fujita, the winner of the group’s 2015 Janken Taikai, took the stage to perform her new single “Migiashi Evidence”, which will be released on December 23, 2015. Those who ranked 2nd to 16th in Janken Taikai performed the coupling song “Kimi wa Ima Made Doko ni Ita?” in frilly, pink costumes that were made to match the preference of Chiyori Nakanishi, who lost to Fujita in the final and became the center of the coupling track.
After all the performances were over, the hosts came back on stage with the voting results. Out of 63 screens that were broadcasting the event, 61 chose white, and fans at the venue also chose white, though with a significantly smaller lead, as the final score was 824 to 807. Captains already voted once for their own teams, so at this point the score was White 3, Red 1.
The judges then came on stage to cast their votes, and the final count was White 8, Red 2. Lily Franky was the only judge that voted for the White Team.
Just when everyone thought the event was ending, another video was shown to announce the group’s 43rd single, which also commemorates the group’s 10th Year Anniversary and will be released on March 9, 2016. The biggest surprise of the night came a few seconds later, as it was revealed that graduated members Tomomi Itano, Mariko Shinoda, Yuko Oshima and Atsuko Maeda will join senbatsu, along with Minami Takahashi, who only heard about the arrangement the day before the event. The members joked that the 42nd single is no longer Takahashi’s last single, but rather “the last single where she stood center.” The evening ended with a performance of “Kuchibiru Be My Baby”.
The DVD/Blu-ray for AKB48’s 5th Kouhaku Taikou Utagassen is already available for preorder so don’t miss this chance to relive this incredible night over and over again! Perhaps because this will be Minami Takahashi’s “final final” single with AKB48, perhaps this means she will have another “final final” handshake event as well?
Senbatsu Members for 43rd Single (Release date March 9, 2016)
Anna Iriyama, Yuki Kashiwagi, Rena Kato, Yuria Kizaki, Rie Kitahara, Haruna
Kojima, Rino Sashihara, Haruka Shimazaki, Jurina Matsui, Minami Minegishi, Sae Miyazawa, Sakura Miyawaki, Mion Mukaichi, Sayaka Yamamoto, Yui Yokoyama, Mayu Watanabe, Atsuko Maeda, Tomomi Itano, Yuko Oshima, Mariko Shinoda, Minami Takahashi
01 Heavy Rotation
02 Warunyan (Red)
03 Dear K (White)
04 Shekarashika (Red)
05 Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai (White)
06 Toy Poodle to Kimi no Monogatari (Red)
07 Avocado Janeshi (White)
08 Amanojaku Batta (Red)
09 Koppu no Naka no Komorebi (White)
10 Maeshika Mukanee (Red)
11 Rock dayo, Jinsei wa (White)
12 UZA (Red)
13 Must Be Now (White)
14 Christmas Medley (Red)
15 Christmas Eve ni Nakanai Youni (White)
16 Barebare Bushi (Red)
17 Ima, Hanashitai Dare Ga Iru (White)
18 Migikata (Red)
19 Soredemo Sukidayo (White)
20 Yume no Kawa (Red)
21 Sakura no Ki ni Narou (White)
22 Ippome Ondo (Red)
23 365 Nichi no Kami Hikouki (White)
24 Migiashi Evidence
25 Kimi wa Ima Made Doko ni Ita?
26 Kuchibiru Be My Baby
AKB48 Official site: http://www.akb48.co.jp/
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