Thank You & Good Bye: Yuuna Arakawa, Natsumi Ishikawa, and Saori Funaki Graduate From Akishibu project!
Akishibu project turned another page in their history as they said farewell to members Yuuna Arakawa, Natsumi Ishikawa, and Saori Funaki at Akasaka BLITZ on July 27, 2017. It was not only the final performance of the 10-member formation of the group but it was also the end of the journey of the 3 young women who made their debut on that very same stage 4 years earlier.
Giant portrait banners of Natsumi, Saori, and Yuuna with lights in their member colors shining down on them decorated the stage. Hinako Kera greeted the fans and made some announcements from backstage, assuring them that the performance would begin shortly. The lights dimmed and the overture began to play, the fans waving their penlights and shouting along as Akishibu project ran out to get the live started.
Pillars of CO2 shot out from the stage as Akishibu project waved their fists and took aim with their finger guns, blasting away to the grinding guitars of “Creation” and breezing along to “flower×flower”. Rewinding to the early days of Akishibu project with “Fighting Stars” and “Dreaming up”, the voices of the fans rose even higher as the performance was off to a heated start.
Natsumi thanked the fans for coming out and asked them to enjoy the evening until the very end, the rest of the members taking their places on stage to introduce themselves. Saori asked the audience to call out her name as loud as they could because it was the last time and expressed her wishes to graduate with no regrets. Leader Yue Miyatani promised that Akishibu project would do their best to give a performance sure to remain in the hearts of the fans on their final day as a 10-member group.
Saori shouted that they would be continuing the live with their longest string of non-stop songs yet: 15 songs! Metallic blue and silver streamers burst from the stage as Akishibu project launched into “Summer☆Summer”, the members fanning their hands as the temperature rose quickly in Akasaka BLITZ, the fans calling out loudly and jumping along. The situation continued to heat up further with “Eternal Blue ~Kimi to Boku to Sora to Umi~”, the members rocking their legs like pendulums and smiling brightly as they sang. The fans surged forward as Natsumi took her solo, holding out their purple penlights in support.
Pink lights colored the stage as Akishibu project waved their hands in heart kechas and skipped along to “Candid Love”, Natsumi and Saori holding hands as they stepped forward to sing their lines. Miiro Taguchi shouted out her love for the soon to be graduated members. Fans with green and red penlights rushed towards the stage as Yuuna and Saori took their solos. Clapping their hands and pointing while confessing the feelings of a love-stricken girl during “EVERYDAY”, Akishibu project turned the tables with the following song “Gachikoi Revolution”, their arms moving like an ouendan and cheering loudly to the foot-stomping rhythm.
The punchy intro of “Answer” pulsed forth from the speakers, augmented by the chants of the fans as Akishibu project shifted into overdrive, pumping their fists steadily and singing intently. As the performance rolled along into “Midarekami Fighting Girl”, a barrage of “Kera” calls accompanied Hinako as she sang her lines. A wall of kechas rushed forward for Yuuna and Saori and the floor shook as the fans jumped along with the members, their numbers increasing for the hyperactive electropop of “LOVE & PARADISE”.
The steamy emotions of Japanese summer were turned up to 11 as Akishibu project fluttered their folding fans to “Setsu Natsuri”. Bouncing along to the bubbling synthesizers of “RIVAL”, the members rode another rising tide of momentum as they floated through “Manatsu no Serenade”.
The floodgates were thrown wide open and plumes of CO2 filled the air as Yue unleashed a shout to begin “Akishibu Way”, the members jumping and moving around the stage sharply, the fans matching their intensity every step of the way. Yuuna and Saori shouted to the fans that the end of the live was approaching, news met with an increase in energy rising up towards the stage as the performance continued with “Kagayaki License”. The familiar intro of “New World” was accompanied by a wave of kechas and the fans roaring out a MIX as they swung their fists and danced along. Natsumi and Saori shared a quick hug and Yuuna broke down in tears as her fans rushed forward during her solo. Picking up their towels, Akishibu project whirled their way through “Re:Start”, closing out their 15-song nonstop blast by throwing them into the crowd for some lucky fans. Yue and the others thanked the fans for keeping up with them, took their bows, and left the stage.
The fans shuffled about in the darkness, starting their encore calls a few minutes after Akishibu project had left the stage. Hinako, Saori, Yue, Miiro, Yuuna, and Natsumi returned a few minutes later in , performing “White” for the last time together. Mizuki, Yurina, Ruka, and Mahiro returned to the stage as the encore continued with the emotional ballad “Yumemita sono Basho he”. Midway through the song, the venue lit up with the glow of purple, red, and green cyalumes. Overcome with emotion, Natsumi, Yuuna, and Saori wiped tears from their eyes as they kept singing until the end.
Yue and the others thanked the fans for the encore. When she asked the graduates to be how they liked the surprise, they admitted that it had made it difficult to keep singing but that the gesture was very much appreciated. Natsumi, Yuuna, and Saori were presented bouquets and gifts from the fans and were read diplomas, making it feel like a school graduation ceremony. The solemn occasion was interrupted by laughter as Hinako misread Natsumi’s family name as “Ichikawa” and the members scrambled to help Miiro read some of the kanji on Saori’s certificate. Taking a commemorative photo with the fans in the background, the graduates gave their parting comments.
Saori remembered how Akishibu project’s first performance was at Akasaka BLITZ and how she saw some people who had been there in the audience that night as well. She cited her 4 years as an idol as a treasure and thanked her family, the fans, staff, and group members for loving her. Yuuna also remembered her first time as Akasaka BLITZ and how things had come full circle as it was also the venue for her last live as an idol, struggling to find the words to express her gratitude. Natsumi thanked the fans for taking time off from work and school to show up early for the live on a weekday, rambling a little as the finality of her graduation seemed to settle in, searching for the words to finish her speech.
Yue thanked Natsumi, Yuuna, and Saori for pulling Akishibu project along for the past 4 years and reassured the fans that the group would continue on, breaking into tears as she asked them to keep supporting them. The members stood in a row spanning the stage under warm orange lights, waving their hands and joining their voices together for “Sing a Song”, Yue calling out for the fans to sing along with them.
Yuuna shouted out that the final song had finally arrived, the fans responding by shouting out the MIX and waving their lights as they danced along to “Dream in a sea”. However, this was a happy false alarm as the members picked up their towels for another round of “Re:Start” to bring down the curtain on the evening.
Just as the cultures of Akihabara and Shibuya are always changing, Akishibu project enters another new chapter of their story, their paths diverging from those of Yuuna Arakawa, Natsumi Ishikawa, and Saori Funaki. New members Mizuki Tsushiro, Yurina Kato, Ruka Okonogi, and Mahiro Hoshino have grown considerably as performers in the short months since beginning their first tour back in April of 2017, and will continue to evolve as time goes by. Until the day when their dreams come true, they will keep moving forward because that is the Akishibu way.
Photos by Nathan Gey
03 Fighting Stars
04 Dreaming up
06 Eternal Blue ~Kimi to Boku to Sora to Umi~
07 Candid Love
09 Gachikoi Revolution
11 Midarekami Fighting Girl
12 LOVE & PARADISE
13 Setsu Natsuri
15 Manatsu no Serenade
16 Akishibu Way
17 Kagayaki License
18 New World
E2 Yumemita sono Basho he
E3 Sing a Song
E4 Dream in a sea
Akishibu project Official site : http://akishibup.net/
Akishibu project Official blog: http://lineblog.me/akishibuproject/
Akishibu project Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/AkishibuProject
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