=LOVE Surprises and Delights With Energetic Debut Performance at Tokyo Idol Festival 2017!

=LOVE Surprises and Delights With Energetic Debut Performance at Tokyo Idol Festival 2017!

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Tokyo Idol Festival 2017 was full of exciting surprises, and one of them was the very much-anticipated official stage debut of AKB48 Group superstar Rino Sashihara’s first produced idol group, =LOVE (pronounced “Equal Love”)!


=LOVE is the result of a collaboration between Sashihara and the famous voice acting school Yoyogi Animation Gakuen, also known as “Yoani”. The 12 member unit aims to be the next generation of “seiyuu (voice actress) idols” and their very first stage performance on the Hot Stage of Tokyo Idol Festival 2017 was one of the weekend’s highlights!

=LOVE started their Hot Stage performance with an introduction, each one of the members stating their name for the audience and potential new fans. Emiri Otani stirred quite some excitement, as she was already well-known in the independent idol world as a former member of Akishibu Project (She graduated in April of 2016). =LOVE’s center Hitomi Takamatsu asked the audience to cheer for them for their very first performance, and the group took their positions on stage.

The familiar chimes of AKB48’s “Iiwake Maybe” resonated through the venue, pulling the curious audience into their rapidly expanding sphere of excitement. The group then performed HKT48’s “Melon Juice”, rocking out with their full efforts. The third song of the setlist was Nogizaka46’s summer single and fan favorite “Girl’s Rule”, and the segment ended on AKB48’s “Oogoe Diamond”, a game of call and response starting between the fresh new idols and their enthusiastic fans. This choice of songs, all of them being from the catalogues of 48 and 46-franchise fan favorites, seemed to have been a successful strategy to get even the most dubious people in the audience quite excited.

Another surprise was in store for this debut performance, as the group then announced they would make their major debut under Sony Music on September 6th, with their first major single, “=LOVE”! Last but not least, the fresh unit then performed their first original song and single as a send-off for the audience. “=LOVE” is a upbeat and happy idol pop tune, and its chorus will not stop heavily rotating in your head until a long while!

It looks like =LOVE have reached their first goal as they seem to have left quite a big impression on the Tokyo Idol Festival audience, and probably gained new fans! “=LOVE” was successfully released, debuting at the second position of the Oricon ranking on their first day with more than 11,000 copies sold. Rino Sashihara’s first solo production is off on an amazing start, and we cannot wait until we see more of it!

Photos by Nathan Gey

Set List
01 Iiwake Maybe
02 Melon Juice
03 Girls Rule
04 Oogoe Diamond
05 =LOVE

=LOVE Official site:
=LOVE Official Twitter:

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Webdesigner slash idol enthusiast living in Tokyo. Resident token foreign wota and accidentally unofficial international PR for Chubbiness. Former AKB48 fan. Loves shopping, food and Grey's Anatomy a little bit too much.

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