“This is what Rock-and-Roll is all about.” was a phrase often utilized in Creem magazine in the 1970s. If you ask this old geezer music historian, it perfectly applies to the short-lived AKB48 sub-unit the Watarirouka Hashiritai (the hallway runners). Yes, I am serious. This outfit, with songs by Yasushi Akimoto, were one of my favorite all-time pop groups.
Unfortunately, the Watarirouka Hashiritai group disbanded, then gave their last performance in 2014. I wanted to make sure that I wrote about this piece of AKB History before the end of the year.
What is an “Innovation Wave” you ask? This is when a new idea or phenomenon diffuses across geographic space and throughout social hierarchies. The analogy is when a trend or fad (like hula hoops) spreads from one area to another. In this case, a wave of popularity is flowing through this Japanese suburb, as the Watarirouka team performs. The date is August 8, 2010. AKB48 is growing in popularity in Japan, although their tickets were not yet as impossible to get as they are today. AKB48 subunits would sometimes perform smaller shows for a specifically targeted audience. In this case the Watarirouka Hashiritai subunit were performing for a student audience. I believe these three videos capture the WH innovation wave. Please watch in the available HD!
The girls are singing to “canned” music of course. That is OK, they do not have to play their own instruments in order to be a good power-pop/bubblegum outfit. The thing to evaluate here is not so much the performance, great as it is – but to see the reaction and interactions of the AUDIENCE. These guys are jumping out of their socks!
Watch this first video “Seishun no Flag”. In this, (Denny switches to his “baby talk” voice:) Mayu is just the “widdlest” soldier here. The crowd is very fired up. They have never seen anything like it. I can empathize with them — to be that close to the wonderful Mayu Watanabe when her star was just beginning to rise. Now this was before Mayuyu became one of the more popular members. I have to think that this was the greatest thing these guys have ever seen. I love how they are jumping around, cheering and calling out the names of the girls. It is almost like some type of nationalistic political rally — but I mean that in the positive way.
Be careful at time 0:35 seconds. Mayu’s skirt twirls up, and you see her bloomers (look away if you must). Notice I said “bloomers”, not “panties”. She is wearing bloomers – like your Grandmother would wear.
Look for all the great shots of the audience, such as these:
Did you see that big goofy-looking dude? I feel like that guy is me, or would be me if I was there. I feel a lot of love looking at this audience. I wish I was one of them. All the girls look great in their “grown-woman-in-school-girl-outfits”. So cute. Ayaka Kikuchi has a great curvy figure, and her blouse is always coming out at all the right times. The audience loves it.
I wish I was there to observe – I can feel the INNOVATION WAVE pass through due to the emotional reaction of the audience. I WISH I WAS ONE OF THOSE JAPANESE KIDS! … or at least knew the language! Such joy is written on their faces! (See the photo at the top of this post.) My heart is exploding with happiness …
The videos capture a very exciting period – the time when AKB and WH were getting better and better with each release. The fan base was growing like an expanding wave — increasingly larger, and as seen in this audience – more and more dedicated. What a great point in AKB48 History! This next video is the girls at their most kawaii. Oh that Aika Ota! Love-tan – you are killing me!!! DOKI DOKI!
I love the AKB girls! I love the WH! Mayuyu! Lovetan! Nacchan! Ayarin! Haruna! I love every one of those kids in the audience!!! I wish I could have been there to feel the innovation wave. I would have liked nothing more than to be there — but if I were — I would probably have to take a VIAGRA just to keep from pi@@ing myself!!!
PS: You can watch the entire performance at this YouTube site, but it is very low res. It still sounds GREAT though. It is a great BUBBLEGUM power-pop show. The audience is very exuberant. I suggest just minimizing the YouTube, then listen to the concert with headphones in your cubical.
Unfortunately, this will likely be my last Watarirouka post. Would anyone be interested in a WH photo retrospective collection?
I am not sad that Watarirouka Hashiritai is over. Even good things come to a conclusion, and the individual members will be moving on to other things.