Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Giving AKB48 a Chance: The 3 Day Challenge - Day 1

All opinions within this post, and all over this blog, are my own and no one else's. Please respect everyone's opinion, and in return, they will respect yours!

I find it quite strange that I am posting this after Maeda Atsuko's graduation, however I have been wanting to do this for a while, and finally I have done it! After a lot of thinking, and a few comments from fans of AKB48 telling me to give the group a chance, I decided that it was time to do this post.

As a lot of my readers know, I am not an AKB48 fan as such. I am more of a casual fan, someone who dabbles with AKB's music every now and again for a little break from the other Idol groups I listen to, before deciding to call it quits and go back to Morning Musume, though of course how I talk about AKB48 and how I view them has gained me that wonderful pet name 'Hater' on one occasion, but also, it has left AKB fans sometimes asking me if I even listen to other AKB48 songs, and if not, how can I judge them?

Well, I actually judge on what happens in the present, and not the past - the same actually goes for Morning Musume. I care very little for their past songs, though I do like some of them such as I WISH and Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru and a few others, but I don't really care for most of their past songs like I do their present songs, or the ones that I was around when I found the fandom, so honestly, AKB48 is no different than Morning Musume in how I treat their singles. What happens now is what I care about now.

However lately I've been thinking about what I can do in order to familiarise myself with AKB48, and to see just why their fans love them so much, as well as to find out why they are asking me to take a look at their past singles and discographies despite the fact that I am looking at the current formation of AKB and not the past.

And then I remembered...

The 3 Day Challenge. Originally posted in October of '11, The 3 Day Challenge was originally created to help me get into the Jpop boy fandom that others had suggested I try, and to also allow me to give them the chance that I hadn't beforehand. It actually helped me a lot, and I found a liking for some JE groups (I don't follow them faithfully, but I do listen to their songs now and again) and opened me up to a different side of JPop which I had originally intended to ignore and never venture.

And that's basically what I want to do here, but this time with AKB48 and their past singles that I haven't listened to, or parts of their discography which I never cared to look at. This challenge will give me 3 days to look at the old AKB48 and how they worked back then as opposed to now, as well as allowing me to familiarise myself with the group more and to try and fall for them like their fans do, because to be quite honest, yes, I am rather judgemental when it comes to this group - but that's only because some of their songs, as of recent, have been quite poor.

Anyway, it seems that I am venturing back to the 3 Day Challenge in order to give AKB48 the chance I haven't really given them, and to see if I can, or will, change my mind on how I view this group.

Day/Night 1:

To begin with, I will admit that when I first came into this fandom, I did not like AKB48 after I found out more about them from the days where I began taking a fancy to Idols. In a way, I felt threatened by this group - they were best sellers, which meant that they were better than Morning Musume, and as a naive and new fan, I was unhappy with that. I thought that Morning Musume was a great group, and so, I never gave AKB48 a chance. Basically, I was a close-minded fool.

But I have started to like them more and more - if I didn't, I would certainly not take the time to review their works on this blog... or at least the songs and PV's that interest me. I do honestly think that AKB48 are a great group and they have some solid singles, but some I feel are clearly better than others.

In the end of it all, I think that people feel I judge AKB48 too harshly, and honestly, I think I do as well, and I put that down to the fact that I had my little history where I just took to hating on a group I never even listened to. It's the same with male groups - because I didn't like them in the past, I didn't feel the need or want to like them in the present, even though my tastes had ultimately changed.

So, before I ramble off again, I am going to get into this post and the first few songs that I will be taking a look at.

Let the Games Begin...

To start off this challenge, I asked for the help of Nia from Nia's Wonderland, as she is more familiar with AKB48 and has a better understanding of the group than I do. She has suggested songs to me, ranging from her favourites, so that I can get a leg-up in this 3 Day Challenge. The first song that she suggested is actually one I have listened to before, but have not really given my full attention.

Song 1: Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou

Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou is a dark video from AKB48, from the days when being risky didn't involve corsets and bikini's. This PV is definitely haunting, with the dark messages littering the video and the theme of school bullying taking on the plot and showing us the darker side to Japan's youth. What makes the video even more sad, and a lot scarier, is the suicidal reference it has when Oshima Yuko stands on the roof and looks down to her fate, with the song ending in one of the most haunting ways I can think of - a sudden stop to the song, as if it is slowly falling and dieing down, to its death before the girls turn, and look to the camera.

The video for this song is quite dark, and the sound and style of the instrumental suits the emotion of the video as well. It's quite creepy, actually, and has the viewer wondering what must have happened to make these girls targets of bullying. There is a lot of thought and meaning put into the creation of this video, and considering this is one of AKB48's earlier works, it is a rather amazing piece and shows that, even as new Idols who were quite unknown and not as popular as they are today, they still brought a certain quality to their work.

The video is eerie in its own way, with a dark plot and a sad ending. It's a song which speaks out to victims of bullying and the harsh reality of how it can affect people and how they see themselves. It's haunting, yes, but the meaning behind it is a powerful one, and it strikes a chord with me.

The second song that Nia helpfully suggested to me was none other than Keibetsu Shiteita Aijo's b-side, Namida Uri no Shoujo, another sad song depicting the loneliness of a girl as she wishes to be seen by people, and how she views herself as the match-seller girl. The song has no video, but much like the A-side, the song also plays around with the notion of death.

This song has a really nice beat to it, one which is quite saddening but also quite catchy and up-beat in its own way. It has a certain appeal to it, and slightly reminds me of something from Pink Lady with an old-fashioned, familiar feeling to the sound. This sort of beat to the song sets Namida Uri no Shoujo apart from the A-side, and allows it to be its own song. I like the emotion within the song, and how both the A-side and the B-side have dark undertones and deep messages hidden in the lyrics.

Seifuku ga Jama wa Suru is apparently a rather infamous song and video for its sexual undertones, and how it hints at enjo kosai (an act of compensated dating). One of the riskiest songs from AKB48 that I know of, this song and video is certainly interesting to look at in terms of seeing how much AKB48 itself has changed as well as their image. Something this dark and daring is quite intriguing actually, and allows the girls to show the vulnerability they have throughout the video whilst also showing that these girls are no longer innocent and have taken a step to a darker part of their lives.

The video is indeed controversial, with its dark meaning and a well constructed plot to lead the viewers into believing that something took place despite the youth of these girls. From the darkness of underage sex to how the girls carelessly allow themselves to be taken into the world of enjo kosai, this PV is visually and lyrically interesting, and how the video itself was edited is extremely interesting and helps to keep the viewer wondering what has happened to certain girls, and why they are doing this.

The darkness of the video helps to set the tone for the entire song, showing us scenes of the girls dancing in a tunnel with untidy uniforms, hinting at the acts that they have all committed the night before, as well as scenes showing the girls preparing themselves for what they about to do. The video is quite sexualised, even for the early days of AKB48, showing off the girls in a part of their culture that many people don't look into when they think of the country and its Idols. The approach itself is risky, but AKB48 pulled it off well, allowing the girls to look, feel and act vulnerable whilst fully aware of what they are doing.

The video is very good, and whilst it is rather infamous, I actually like the risk that was taken with both the song and the video. It shows us more darkness to Japan that we didn't know about previously, and the video is well edited, and the locations well thought out, giving references to the plot and what the girls have been doing.

Song wise, this has to be one of the best songs I have heard from AKB48. It's catchy and dark, and I am enjoying the sound of AKB48 from this time.

Song 4: Tobenai Agehachou

Tobenai Agehachou is the B-side song to Iiwake Maybe, and the first song to feature the Undergirls. Nia explained that she likes the overall musical feel of this sing, hence why she sent it to me.

Now, I am actually quite unfamiliar with Undergirls - I am not the sort of person who takes a look at B-sides from a group I listen to casually, so of course, I've never really heard any Undergirls songs at all. There was probably a day in the past where I took a look at a PV from the Undergirls, however that would have been long ago when I was just starting to care about AKB48 a little more.

Visually, this video is actually quite appealing. Whilst there is no plot, there are plenty of shots to keep the viewer interested Many of these shots use a lot of movement, following the feet, bodies and overall movement of the girls in the video. The location is also quite nice, showing the girls in a warehouse with a water strewn floor. Even the tone of the video feels quite cool and even sexy when you watch it, and the pacing of the editing and how it fits well with the girls' dance moves and the song itself works in favour of the song, and makes a good video despite the simplicity it has.

The song itself is actually musically interesting. I really enjoy the sound and feel of the song, and how it fits the maturity of the video. It has quite a nice beat to it, something that reminds me of a sexual song watered down with something a bit sweeter and more demure, as if the song is playing a game of hard to get in a way, though the song itself isn't sexual at all, but instead it is about the one sided love of a girl who wants to keep her lover to herself, even though he believes her love to simply feel only passion for him, regardless of what she says.

The song is quite passionate, actually, and very well written. I think that both of the song and the video work quite well together, allowing the viewers to see the passion and love the girls are sharing with us through their dance moves and their emotions.

Song 5: Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara

The last song on my list for today, this is actually a song which I clicked on randomly from the featured videos via AKB48's official youtube channel, and boy am I happy I did! Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara is the b-side to the rather popular RIVER, a song which I tend to ignore but will eventually talk about through this challenge, however right now, I've been drawn in by another Undergirls song, this time with another theme of love, but with a more positive and innocent approach.

The PV is a summery affiar with a carefree feel, showing the girls dancing in a field (it reminds me of NMB48's Oh My God! PV) and cleaning out a pool or hanging out with each other. It's a nice little PV, though nothing special either. It has a summery, carefree feel to it which is really nice to watch, and the energy and happiness in the video is extremely catchy too!

This song is really cute, really catchy... and also, quite generically AKB48! I find that it has that familiar tune that I hear in the new, popular AKB48 now, but it is really pleasant to listen to. It helps that this song is typically quite happy and energetic, with that nice summer feel to it whilst still creating a calming atmosphere with the beautiful blend of voices and the sweetness of the song. I'm really enjoying the sound of the Undergirls in this. They sound cute and happy, and listening to this song and that the energy the girls put in makes me feel happy, and even brings a smile to my face.

It's really cute, and by Gaki am I happy that I clicked on the video out of random curiosity!


Once again, I am embarking on a mini-journey which will hopefully help me to come to terms with my dislike for AKB48, and to help me learn more about them as well as to see how the girls started and to also see how much they have changed themselves as Idols. So far, I have liked every song that I have listened to today, and it has helped me quite a bit to look into the beginning of the group and how different they were back then compared to the Idols that they are today.

I know that I am already familiar with AKB48, but I hope that with this challenge I will be more open to the group itself and to become a bigger or better fan. Much like my original JE challenge, I wanted to learn more about the group and try to like them more, and give AKB48 the chance that I keep avoiding to give them. Hopefully I will be able to like them more by the end of this 3 day Challenge, and hopefully I will have a lot more respect and different views on this group, because right now, my opinion on AKB48 as a group is generally not a favourable one.

So, any suggestions from anyone? I do have suggestions from lovely Nia, but if anyone can send in other songs that they enjoy and think that I might like, please send in a suggestion. Any group within the 48 banner is actually welcome, and it might actually help me, or ease me into, liking NMB48.

Anyway, I think that's all for tonight... it's nearly 4:00am here, and I've been up writing this post, but it was honestly worth it for me.

Peace out guys!


  1. I'm happy that you are giving the group of chance, but from an AKB fan: if you don't like them, then you don't. I don't really like Morning Musume's current stuff; people have different tastes. You should look into their stages. They are current, but aren't singles. There is a lot of variety beyond the singles.

    Seifuku ga Jama wa Suru is one of my favorite singles, but only the video may suggest compensation dating. I've seen no official confirmation that it was the intended theme. Aki-P likes discussing sex, and there are a number of songs (from other groups too) that look at it. The song is about a young girl's frustration of wanting to experience sex, but felt held back by society. Society's standards are represented by their uniforms. (A similar stage song would be Virgin Love.)

    1. Thanks, but I honestly don't hate them - I used to for stupid reasons, and whilst I am fine with them, I haven't really looked into the other stuff which I think I should have done.

      Apparently the stages are all good, so I might take a look into them~

      Also, I must have interpreted it wrong then. Sorry~

    2. No biggie, I looked at the lyrics a bit because of the controversy around the video to see if there was anything to it. About not liking them, I wasn't saying that you still hate them. I was justing saying that it is perfectly okay if you don't love them. Some fans get upset if you don't like the same groups as they do, and I hate that. As long as you are open minded when writing about AKB, then I'm content. My favorite stages are A3, B3, and H2.

    3. ^^ I've wanted to actually do a 3 day challenge involving AKB for a while now, so it was something I was ready to write about anyway xD I just want to be even more open minded towards them and look at their older stuff, cos it's what people said I should try to do xD