“AKB48’s Rival is AKB48.” Yui Yokoyama Issues Powerful Declaration at AKB48 10th Anniversary Theater Live!
AKB48 celebrated their 10th anniversary at the AKB48 Theater on December 8, 2015 with the 3,781st performance at the small theater on the 8th floor of the Akihabara Don Quihote where they began their journey to becoming Japan’s national idols back in 2005.
Incoming General Manager Yui Yokoyama greeted the audience over the PA system, reminding them to turn off their mobile devices and greeting them cheerfully shortly before the familiar “Overture” reverberated through the tiny theater. When the stage lights came back on, General Manager Minami Takahashi was standing in the middle of the stage flanked by 118 of the other current members of AKB48 to welcome the audience to their milestone performance. Takahashi recalled the group’s first performance where there were only 7 fans in the audience, calling the theater the starting line for her and the hundreds of other members who made their debut there.
The live began with a series of songs showing the fierce determination belonging to the members of AKB48 that was crucial to making them the group that they had become. Starting with Yokoyama Team A performing “Pioneer” (A6), a song chronicling the journey of the founding members to succeed, Minegishi Team K expressed the thoughts of someone leaving their hometown to pursue their dreams in “Saishuu Bell ga Naru” (K4). Just as they did on the first day of “Pajama Drive” in 2008, Kizaki Team B huddled up and recited their declaration before jumping into “Shonichi” (B3). Takahashi (Juri) Team 4 fought to protect their dreams during the cool dance number “Yume wo Shinaseru Wake ni Ikanai” (H2). Selected members of Team 8 took the stage and were bursting with excitements as they tapped their loafers on the stage while dreaming of their bright futures traveling near and far in “47 no Suteki na Machi he”.
Minami Takahashi and the rest of the senbatsu members for “Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby” to perform their leader’s triumphant final center single. Takahashi expressed surprise at Team 8 referring to it as a song that everyone loves when they were finished but Yokoyama assured her that it was okay because their fans are kind. The giant countdown clock from the 9th anniversary live where Takahashi made her graduation announcement was rolled out onto the stage with about 6 minutes left. Yokoyama asked if everyone would countdown along with them but was stopped when she began counting down from 5 minutes and 27 seconds left. Takahashi asked Minegishi and Kojima what their thoughts were as AKB48 was about to reach a historic milestone, as they had been with her on that first day that they performed. None of them really felt anything, thinking that maybe they would sense it when the clock hit zero. Moving on to what the other members were doing back then, Rino Sashihara talked about how she was an idol otaku and a fan of 1st generation member Yukari Sato. Sae Miyazawa expressed her disappointment about failing the Team A auditions and how she would read about how they were doing. Sakura Miyawaki didn’t even know what idols were back then. As the countdown came down to the final minute, the members began panicking about what to do. Yokoyama suggested that they do a jump, which was vetoed by Takahashi but in the end, they jumped when the clock read all zeroes. Streamers burst out from the ceiling and “Namida Surprise”, AKB48’s birthday song, began playing.
Despite not feeling any different than 5 minutes prior, Kojima announced the next song, “PARTY ga Hajimaru yo”, the same song which had started it all for AKB48 10 years ago in that same place. Continuing the set list from Team A’s 1st Stage, the next songs were “Dear my teacher” and “Doku Ringo wo Tabesasete”. Reflecting on the opening songs of AKB48’s early theater days, Takahashi felt that the opening “Yay!” of “PARTY ga Hajimaru yo” was a little hard for her to do at her age and Sayaka Yamamoto felt a little embarrassed about the part in “Doku Ringo wo Tabesasete” where they did sentai poses while singing “henshin!” Despite feeling moved at the sight of so many familiar faces at the 10th Year Anniversary Festival on December 6th, Kojima lamented that they weren’t in the theater since they probably already quit being idol otaku and wondered how much longer the rest of them would be around.
What followed next was a spectacular string of songs featuring graduated members alongside the current members. Yuko Oshima was radiant as she was reunited with Miyazawa for “Gomenne Jewel” (K4), with Mion Mukaichi and Tomu Muto filling in the parts originally performed by Asuka Kuramochi and Yuka Masuda. Yuki Kashiwagi, Anna Iriyama, and Nana Okada heated things up and quickened pulses with “Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate” (B4). Mako Kojima and Nana Owada remained calm and cool next to their idol Tomomi Itano during “Tsundere” (A5). It was a double Takahashi and General Manager special as Minami Takahashi was backed up by Yui Yokoyama and Juri Takahashi for “Bird” (A3). Yamamoto Sayaka, Jurina Matsui, Akimoto Sayaka, and Mariko Shinoda swung their microphone stands while blasting the audience with a dose of the full-throttle rock power of “Confession” (H2). Rino Sashihara, Minami Minegishi, and Yuria Kizaki kept the pedal to the floor with “Itoshiki Natasha” (B4). Mayu Watanabe, Sakura Miyawaki, and Rina Kawaei ensured that many would have a sleepless night with “Pajama Drive” (B3). Tomomi Kasai provided a welcome boost to any suffering from a “Heart Gata Virus” (A5) as she joined Haruna Kojima and Rena Kato. Not even her tambourine getting stuck on the microphone stand could detract from her sparkling performance.
While there was no doubt that the appearances made by the graduated members up until that point had been incredible, the loudest applause was reserved for Atsuko Maeda who took opposite sides of the stage with Minami Takahashi for “Migikata”. Even as they moved to the center of the stage, they avoided looking at each other. As soon as Takahashi looked at Maeda, the tears began to flow down her cheeks. Turning to face each other, Takahashi continued to tremble as Maeda looked at her friend warmly. Haruna Kojima appeared on stage doors between them and introduced the next song “Yuuhi wo Miteiruka?” (H1) as the graduated members returned to the stage. The 1st generation (Shinoda, Minegishi, Itano, Maeda, Takahashi, Kojima) started things off retreating to the back of the stage as the 2nd generation (Oshima, Akimoto, Kasai, Miyazawa) continued. Yuki Kashiwagi, Mayu Watanabe, and Rina Kawaei were next and all of the members moved back to the front of the stage for the chorus.
When asked about how they felt performing on the AKB48 Theater stage again, Oshima remarked that it had been a while since she shook her hips so much and experienced a bit of culture shock at the costumes being so revealing, praising Kojima for still being in the group after 10 years. Sayaka Akimoto injured her hand practicing the choreography before the live, prompting Minegishi to tease her about the size of her hands when she held it up to show the mark on it. Itano remarked how it felt nice to hear her name called during the songs since the fans of her solo career didn’t do it during her lives, despite Takahashi trying to come up some on her own. As one of the most recent graduates of AKB48, Rina Kawaei tried to run away from the other graduates when Takahashi spotted her, feeling unworthy to be considered in the same category. Unaware of Takahashi’s graduating being postponed until March, there were several congratulatory remarks. Itano mentioned seeing a news report accusing Takahashi of committing “graduation fraud” as a result. The younger members returned to the stage and talked about their experiences performing with the graduated members, overwhelmed by how much power they had given. Sashihara asked Yokoyama if there was anything else special about the day before interjecting, “It’s Lovetan’s (Aika Ota) birthday!”. Jurina Matsui continued the trolling with, “It’s Ranran’s (Suzuran Yamauchi) birthday!” Yokoyama added that it was her 23rd birthday as well as her mother’s birthday as well but felt a little embarrassed at having to mention it herself.
With the graduated members changed into the red and black outfits from the 10th Year Anniversary Festival and back on stage, AKB48 turned on the time machine with a medley of the group’s most famous songs starting with “Flying Get”. This was followed by “Oogoe Diamond” and “Iiwake Maybe”.
The medley came to an end with “Heavy Rotation”, Yuko Oshima taking her rightful place at the center position. Takahashi joked that Oshima was out of breath after the 4 songs to which Oshima remarked that she hadn’t had to dance in high heels for a while. Minami Minegishi announced that in order to show that Takahashi was transferring her General Manager position to Yui Yokoyama, a special document had been drawn up, presented by Yuria Kizaki and Juri Takahashi. Takahashi read it out loud to the audience and she and Yokoyama both signed it to seal the deal, inciting laughter with the rarely used official sounding language. Takahashi then took out a silver (silver signifies the 10th anniversary in Japan) megaphone with 10 pink strips wrapped around the handle and presented it to Yokoyama, citing that it was an essential tool for her to have as the new General Manager.
A fax machine was placed on the table and Juri Takahashi explained that they would send it to all of the media outlets. As the struggled to figure out how to operate the ancient technology, the members mused on how they were from a generation that had never used one before. Mariko Shinoda pretended she didn’t know what one was before admitting that she had owned a pager as well. With the document transmitted safely, the two shook hands as the press took pictures to commemorate the event. The rest of the current members assembled on the stage for a moving performance of “Anata ga Ite Kuretakara”.
As her first statement as the new General Manager, Yokoyama shared her impressions on the event. Having watched the graduated members on stage and how the fans cheered for them from deep in their hearts, Yokoyama declared that “AKB48’s rival is AKB48.” Even though there are many other idol groups active, she felt that the wall that AKB48 must overcome is the AKB48 that the previous generations have built and that they should keep working to not lose to that history. She vowed to do her best to make AKB48 a group that people would continue to support even 10 years later down the line and asked them to continue supporting them. For the final song of the evening, AKB48’s very first single “Sakura no Hanabiratachi”, several dozen other graduated members appeared and stood in front of the stage to sing with them. It was truly a moment where the history of AKB48 could be felt in the theater. Takahashi admitted that she had been worried about leaving things to Yokoyama, after hearing her speech, she felt like things would be okay. Yokoyama assured her she could graduate with her mind at ease and at that moment Yuko Oshima and the other members resumed with the congratulatory messages and waving to her. Out of nowhere, Sayaka Akimoto began crying out of happiness. Yokoyama again thanked the audience for coming and asked them to continue to support AKB48.
During the press conference held outside the AKB48 Theater entrance after the performance, several of the key members talked about their impressions about the live and the 10th anniversary of AKB48. Atsuko Maeda was amazed that AKB48 had come so far. She credited the songs, which continue to excite people and are popular at karaoke as one of the group’s strong points. Yuko Oshima likened the live to a festival since it gathered together so many members and added that coming back was a lot like going back in time and returning to club activities at school. When asked about their physical condition, Mariko Shinoda admitted that she had been working out in preparation for the event, drawing the admiration of the other members who she compared to a family working together with the fans. Tomomi Itano again mentioned the calls from the fans as giving off a warm feeling. Haruna Kojima drew a few laughs when she lamented that many of their original fans had become “grandpas” (ojisan) but Oshima corrected her by saying that the current fans included a lot of younger people. Yui Yokoyama hoped that they would grow older with AKB48 as well. Unfortunately, Kojima admitted that even after the live, the impact of it being the 10th anniversary has still failed to sink in.
Here are some of the other pictures from the event, including the decorations put up around the Akihabara Don Quihote and the AKB48 Cafe. There are also some pictures from AKB48’s early theater performances, which definitely convey the progress that the group has undergone over the past decade.
Congratulations on your 10th anniversary AKB48! We can’t wait to see what will happen in the next 10 years!
02 Saishuu Bell ga Naru
04 Yume wo Shinaseru Wake ni Ikanai
05 47 no Suteki na Machi he
06 Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby
07 PARTY ga Hajimaru yo
08 Dear my teacher
09 Doku Ringo wo Tabesasete
10 Gomenne Jewel
11 Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate
15 Pajama Drive
16 Itoshiki Natasha
17 Heart Gata Virus
19 Yuuhi wo Miteiruka?
20 Flying Get
21 Oogoe Diamond
22 Iiwake Maybe
23 Heavy Rotation
24 Anata ga Ite Kuretakara
25 Sakura no Hanabiratachi
Yokoyama Team A
Anna Iriyama, Karen Iwata, Shizuka Oya, Nana Owada, Mayu Ogasawara, Natsuki Kojima, Haruna Kojima, Yukari Sasaki, Haruka Shimazaki, Miru Shiroma, Minami Takahashi, Kayoko Takita, Megu Taniguchi, Chiyori Nakanishi, Mariko Nakamura, Rena Nishiyama, Rina Hirata, Ami Maeda, Miho Miyazaki, Sakura Miyawaki, Yui Yokoyama
Minegishi Team K
Moe Aigasa, Maria Abe, Haruka Ishida, Manami Ichikawa, Haruka Kodama, Ayana Shinozaki, Haruka Shimada, Hinana Shimoguchi, Mariya Suzuki, Aki Takajo, Yuka Tano, Chisato Nakata, Mariya Nagao, Nana Fujita, Jurina Matsui, Minami Minegishi, Mion Mukaichi, Tomu Muto, Shinobu Mogi, Sayaka Yamamoto, Ami Yumoto, Satone Kubo, Nao Nomura
Kizaki Team B
Misaki Iwasa, Natsuki Uchiyama, Ayano Umeta, Ryoka Oshima, Yuki Kashiwagi, Rena Kato, Yuria Kizaki, Kana Kobayashi, Moe Goto, Miyu Takeuchi, Makiho Tatsuya, Miku Tanabe, Seina Fukuoka, Nako Yabuki, Aeri Yokoshima, Mayu Watanabe, Miyuki Watanabe, Kira Takahashi, Rei Nishikawa, Ayu Yamabe
Takahashi (Juri) Team 4
Miyabi Iino, Rina Izuta, Saho Iwatate, Rio Okawa, Miyu Omori, Ayaka Okada, Nana Okada, Saya Kawamoto, Ryoha Kitagawa, Saki Kitazawa, Mako Kojima, Haruka Komiyama, Kiara Sato, Nagisa Shibuya, Juri Takahashi, Mio Tomonaga, Natori Wakana, Miki Nishino, Rena Nozawa, Yuiri Murayama, Erii Chiba
Hijiri Tanikawa (Akita), Akari Sato (Miyagi), Kasumi Mogi (Fukushima), Maria Shimizu (Gunma), Ayane Takahashi (Saitama), Nanase Yoshikawa (Chiba), Yui Oguri (Tokyo), Erina Oda (Kanagawa), Shiori Sato (Niigata), Ayaka Hidaritomo (Yamanashi), Ai Yamamoto (Mie), Moeri Kondo (Nagano), Nao Ota (Kyoto), Riona Hamamatsu (Tokushima), Yurina Gyoten (Kagawa), Rena Fukuchi (Saga)
Sae Miyazawa, Suzuran Yamauchi, Anna Ishida, Mina Oba, Nao Furuhata, Sumire Sato, Riho Kotani, Reina Fujie, Fuuko Yagura, Ayaka Umeda, Miori Ichikawa, Rino Sashihara, Aika Ota, Rie Kitahara, Haruka Nakagawa, Rina Chikano, Rina Ikoma
Sayaka Akimoto, Tomomi Itano, Yuko Oshima, Tomomi Kasai, Rina Kawaei, Mariko Shinoda, Atsuko Maeda, etc.
AKB48 Official site: http://www.akb48.co.jp/
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