“Hard Work Will Always Be Rewarded” : AKB48 Minami Takahashi’s Graduation Concert “Dreams from 148.5cm” at Yokohama Stadium
On March 27, 2016, 48 Group held 2 concerts at Yokohama Stadium – “The 1st AKB48 Group East vs West Uta Gassen” and “Minami Takahashi Graduation Concert” as part of the “Minami Takahashi Graduation Celebration – Dreams from 148.5cm”.
East Came from Behind to Win the Group’s 1st East vs West Battle
The morning of Day 2 of the Celebration started with the “AKB48 Group East vs West Uta Gassen.” The group was divided into East (AKB48 and SKE48 led by Yui Yokoyama) and West (NMB48 and HKT48, led by Sayaka Yamamoto) and must compete against each other with performances. This was the group’s first time trying out this format.
Since the concert was held in Yokohama Stadium, the battle between East and West was divided into innings with baseball rules and elements. The event started with an introduction of each team’s starting line-up, much like a baseball game. The opening number, “Show Fight’, set the tone for the rest of the concert.
Fans also sat according to the groups they support, as East Side fans sat above First Base and West Side fans set up camp above Third Base, further contributing to the competitive atmosphere.
The 1st inning saw groups showing their unique colors through singles or theater songs that featured all the members. Makiko Saito, newly appointed SKE48 captain, led the group in a superb performance that elicited loud cheers from both East Side members and crowds.
2nd inning was battle of units, as East Side sent Yuki Kashiwagi and Mayu Watabane to perform “Shonichi” with Rion Azuma of SKE48 on keyboard, and West Side countered with “Boku no Eureka” with Sayaka Yamamoto on guitar and both Yamamoto and Miru Shiroma on vocal.
The theme of 3rd inning was “Full Power MIX Calls” with fan participation being factored into the final score. So fans at the venue joined in and took the concert to a new high, with East Side winning at the end with 17 points and turning the tide.
The final score was 19-8 with East winning by a landslide and the first inter-group battle came to an end. Yui Yokoyama, the group’s soukantoku, commented that this event brought out the best in each group and hoped it will inspire one another to do better and propel the group forward.
Takahashi Centered 31 Songs with Both Old and Current Members
It was finally time for the graduation concert of Minami Takahashi, who announced graduation plans in December 2014. The live opened with a video of her smiling with members in the past 10 years. Her name was called as soon as she came on the stage, and Atsuko Maeda appeared to perform “Omoide no Hotondo” together.
After the song, the two shed tears and embraced each other, but they were interrupted by Yuko Oshima, who told them to “stop sulking.” They were then joined by ex-members Tomomi Itano and Mariko Shinoda to perform “Heavy Rotation”, “Ponytail to Shushu” and other hit singles on stage alongside current members.
Takahashi then proceeded to perform with each of the sister groups, starting with NGT48, who made their theater debut this year, followed by Team 8, HKT48, NMB48, SKE48 and finally AKB48. She spent her time between changing, hugging members on stage and singing.
Unit songs followed after, starting with “Itoshisa no Accel” (with Sae Miyazawa and Sayaka Akimoto), “Bird” (with Jurina Matsui and Mariko Shinoda), and “Glass no I Love You” (with Yuki Kashiwagi, Mayu Watanabe and Tomomi Itano). This segment ended with a performance of “Junai no Crescendo” with Haruna Kojima and Minegishi, the two remaining 1st generation members who are also in the subunit No3b with Takahashi .
The concert also showcased members’ dance skills, as Takahashi perfomed “Beginner” with each group’s dance senbatsu members and “RIVER” with the legendary members.
The atmosphere took a turn with “Yuuhi wo Mite Iruka” as she sang along happily with graduated members and members from her own generation.
As the concert was nearing its end, over 200 current members roamed the stage with Takahashi to perform. When “Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby” was over, she had performed 26 songs in a row.
During encore, she took the stage among a sea of pink penlights and “Minami” calls to give a 6-minute long speech that saw her repeating her mantra, “Hard Work Will Always Be Rewarded” and expressed her gratitude to the group as well as her determination to move forward.
Then 19 graduated members from the group’s early days took stage and performed “Sakura no Ki ni Narou” and “Sakura no Harabira Tachi”. Including encore, Takahashi performed and was center for all 31 songs.
When the time came to say goodbye, she hugged members, held their hands as she gave each one last message. “I am leaving the future of AKB48 in the hands of those who are here today,” said Takahashi as she ascended the stairs and stood with the graduated members before leaving the stage.
“I felt that the first chapter of AKB48 is really over. We would like your continued support,” said a crying Yui Yokoyama at the end of the graduation concert. This was also when Chapter 2 of AKB48 started.
In other news, Takahashi’s graduation performance at AKB48 theater will be held on April 8, 2016, her 25th birthday.
Minami Takahashi Graduation Speech
AKB48 was the first thing I was serious about. I was 14 when I entered, and I’m 24 now. Lots of things happened – there were happy times, and there were difficult times. I met many members, and said goodbye to just as many. “If it gets too difficult, just quit,” my mother said to me once. But I didn’t quit because I really liked AKB48. I liked what I’ve become once I entered AKB48 and I enjoyed working hard for it. So I wanted to stay here, with all the members. But I also knew that was not possible. The members who graduated before me taught me that if I really loved this group, which I do, then I have to move on. There are still many things I want to do to challenge myself. So today is the last day I will reflect on the past 10 years. I want to move on. I am sure there will be many moments in the future where I will feel powerless. But when I look back, I will see my friends and younger members, and I want them to see my journey. So please allow me to make a promise. I will prove to you that “Hard Work Will be Rewarded” after my graduation. This is the least I can do to repay AKB48.
For the past 10 years, I was supported by everyone’s kindness and warm words. Without you, I would not be here. I would like to thank everyone who braved the cold and came today, and everyone who loves the 48 Group. Also to members who always listen to me drone on, thank you very much. And thanks to the costume and makeup team, who always make beautiful costumes and turn us into idols. To the movie team, we’re really sorry that we are not the nicest people to be around, but your videos are our precious memories, so thank you very much. As for the staff and manager team…you’re all really weird and not at all what staff and managers are supposed to be, but we love you because you work so hard for us, thank you very much. And finally, Akimoto sensei, thank you very much for creating this terrific group. I was very blessed.
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