Last Stand of the 7 Samurai Girls: UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Minami Sengoku and Ayano Sato Graduation Live
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) returned to Zepp Tokyo for “Kore ga Watashitachi no Ikiru Michi〜Way of Our Life〜”, their final performance as 7 members on September 15, 2017. With what might have been their most powerful performance in their history, it was a proper farewell to Ayano Sato and leader Minami Sengoku.
UPUPGIRLS (PRO-WRESTLING) warmed up the fans with “UPPER KICK, followed by UPUPGIRLS (2) with “Ni no Ashi Dancing”. The energy in the audience surged as Underworld’s “Born Slippy” pumped from the speakers, shouts erupting as each announcement ticked away the seconds until the live was to begin. When the countdown reached zero, a video tracing the 7-year history of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) played on the screen at the back of the stage, concluding with the members sharing their comments on the graduation of Ayano Sato and Minami Sengoku as well as their hopes for the future. The giant monochromatic mural of all 7 members was raised for the last time as the overture began to play, accompanied by the energetic shouts of the fans. Bowing deeply at the waist, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) began the performance with “Next Stage”, Akari Saho stepping forward and singing the opening lines as a cascade of piano notes swirled around her. The tempo sped up quickly, jumping from genre to genre as the members twirled and raced around the stage, Minami Sengoku and Konatsu Furukawa leapfrogging over the backs of Ayano Sato and Saki Mori. Snapping their wrists to the shamisen intro of “Zenryoku! Pump Up!!”, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) kicked up the energy in Zepp Tokyo several notches higher. Ayano shouted to the fans to get more excited as the electricity in the air continued to build.
Welcoming the fans to Zepp Tokyo, the members ran through their self introductions, Minami slashing the audience with her imaginary katana. Akari performed a kata to commemorate the group’s final performance as 7 members, unleashing a fierce shout at the end. Konatsu brought out a catchphrase she had not used in several years for a touch of nostalgia. Ayano promised the audience that there would be no time to be sad before introducing UPUPGIRLS (KARI)’s first original song “Going my ↑”. Thrusting their fingers towards the skies, the members rocked along as the fans called out loudly to them.
Sliding into “Kono Melody wo Kimi to”, the members twirled each other around on the stage, the fans joining in as they swayed from side to side and sang out “Hello! Hello! Hello!” while waving their hands in the air. With the stage soaked in a 7-colored rainbow of lights, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) flashed peace signs during “Seven☆Peace”, Saki receiving a heated shout from the fans as she sang out “Let me hear the voice of love (Ai no koe wo kikasete)!”. The emotions continued to build as the performance continued with “Kimi toiu Kasetsu”, the audience raising their hands in the air in sync with UPUPGIRLS (KARI).
Azusa explained that the songs they had been performing up until that point were selected from profound points in their history, adding that just thinking about it was pretty deep for her. Commenting on the intro video, the members mused that it had been 7 years that they had been together. The mood lightened as they made fun of how much cuter they had gotten since their early days and showed off their new outfits. The following songs redirected the spotlight to the graduating members, beginning with Minami’s fierce neo-Japanese solo dance track “Samuraidol ~Bushi Onnamichi no Ue Yori~” which was full of imaginary sword slashes illuminated by the glow of red penlights. The colors switched over to a deep purple for Ayano’s solo song “Start Line”, the fans calling out her name as she and the other members raced around on the stage.
Ayano commented that the day represented a start line for all of the 7 members of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) before reminding the fans that there would be no time to be sad. The meaning of her words was revealed as she announced that they would be entering the High Spurt (nonstop) portion of the live. Beginning with “Burn the fire!!”, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) blasted their way through a 16-song 50-minute set, challenging the fans to keep up with them as the air inside Zepp Tokyo grew increasingly damp.
Catching their breath and drinking water, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) triumphantly announced the completion of their final High Spurt performance as 7-members, Manami commenting that she felt that the group was a bit crazy for doing such things. Saki added that she felt that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) was synonymous with non-stop performances before requesting that the fans take out their towels as the performance shifted back into high gear with “UPUP Typhoon”, the breeze of the towels mixing with the air conditioning which was working overtime to cancel out the heat rising from the floor and stage. The fans called with glee as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) transitioned into the flirtatious “Bare Bare I LOVE YOU”. Ayano lured Azusa towards her to plant a kiss on her cheek, the emotions spilling over to the others towards the end of the song, which could be best described as a “kissing frenzy”, resulting in Minami on the ground. Kicking and slashing through “Chopper☆Chopper”, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) pumped up the energy even higher, Akari banging her head furiously and Konatsu popping her chest at hyper-speed, leading into a thunderous series of “No Music! No Idol!” call and responses from the crowd.
Once again the floor of Zepp Tokyo trembled as the live roared on with “Jumper!”, the fans jumping and shouting along. As if on a mission to outdo her earlier efforts in the showdown versus ANGERME at Zepp Diver City, Akari let loose with a burst of “poi poi poi” shouts throughout “UPPER RAY!”, even taking down Minami as she did. Ayano shouted out to the fans, asking them to give them power as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) rang the bell on the final round with “Uppercut!”, summoning their strength and swinging their fists and jumping in the air.
Konatsu slapped her flushed cheeks, exclaiming, “I feel like I’m going crazy”, while giggling. Announcing that the last song was the last one, she received a loud and long protest from the fans, Manami jokingly retorting, “Are you trying to kill us?”. Rocking and swaying with their fists raised high, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) brought the live to an end with “Way of Our Life”, jogging offstage after taking their bows and thanking the audience.
A “Miiko (Minami Sengoku’s nickname) Ayano” encore call accompanied with alternating red and purple penlights began as soon as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) left the stage, bringing the members back after a few minutes. Sharing their individual thoughts on the live and their 7 years together, the members were full of excitement and gratitude, Manami drawing cheers as she hoped to return to Nippon Budokan and even admitting she wanted to perform at Tokyo Dome someday. Minami lightened the mood as she forgot what month is was as she began to speak and stumbled over her words. Ayano asked the rest of the group to promise her to perform again 5-10 years after that day, drawing protests from even the youngest member of the group Manami.
Racing around the stage to “FOREVER YOUNG”, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) set the pace, the fans jogging along with them and calling out to them. Akari announced that the next song was really the last one of the night, lasers shooting through Zepp Tokyo as “Summer Beam!” began to play. The finality of the moment seemed to take over the members, Azusa hugging Ayano from behind as she sang and the other members piling on top of each other at the middle of the stage. A rainbow of streamers fluttered down on the audience as they waved their hands from side to side and sang along to close out the song and the evening with an overwhelming feeling of unity. Thanking the fans and taking a bow, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) huddled together before making their way off stage.
Ayano and Minami lingered behind, lowering their microphones and shouting their final thanks to the fans, the mural being lowered out of sight as they left the stage. A video played, symbolically showing the 7 members of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) becoming 5 as Ayano and Minami stepped out of the frame as the group walked towards the camera. It announced their first performance as a 5 member group would take place during KMF 2017 at Yokohama Arena on September 24th and that they would begin a 3 city (Tokyo/Osaka/Nagoya) KA-Re:START tour in November to be accompanied by a double A-side single on November 28th, in addition a yet unspecified “new project” to begin on September 23rd. Perhaps most impressive was the news of UPUPGIRLS (KARI) to hold a concert where they would perform all of the songs in their catalog in 2018.
In the 7 years since their formation UPUPGIRLS (KARI) have battled their way through every challenge set before them, climbing Mt. Fuji, training with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, running marathons, and even built a stage to perform on in the wilderness of Japan, earning them a reputation as one of the most powerful groups in all of Japan. In a year where many groups have disbanded or lost members to a graduation, with the efforts that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) have been and continue to put in towards reaching their goals, it should not be long until they overcome even more seemingly impossible odds.
01 Next Stage
02 Zenryoku! Pump Up!!
03 Going my ↑
04 Kono Melody wo Kimi to
06 Kimi toiu Kasetsu
07 Samuraidol ~Bushi Onnamichi no Ue Yori~ (Minami Sengoku solo)
08 Start Line (Ayano Sato solo)
09 High Spurt Nonstop Medley
– Burn the fire!!
– SAMURAI GIRLS
– Itadaki wo Mezase!
– Run Run Run
– Shooting Star
– Seinshun no Namida
– Party People Alien (DJ WILDPARTY Remix)
– Rainbow (New Remix)
– Bijo no Yajū
– UPPER DISCO
– UPPER ROCK (Disco Remix)
– Wild Seven (y0c1e Remix)
– (KARI) wa Kaesuze☆be your soul
– Survival Girls
10 UPUP Typhoon
11 Bare Bare I LOVE YOU
14 UPPER RAY!
16 Way of Our Life
E1 FOREVER YOUNG
E2 Summer Beam!
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official site: http://www.upupgirlskakkokari.com/
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/uugirlsofficial
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/upupgirlsofficial/
UPUPGIRLS (KARI) YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/upupgirlsofficial
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