I was very happy to see the cover art for the new AKB48 single “Kimi wa Melody” (君はメロディー). This will be the group’s 43rd single, and it will commemorate their 10th Anniversary. The single, will have eleven total versions (5 limited editions + 5 regular edition) + 1 Theater edition.
You know me, I get whatever is cheapest on eBay about six months later. Ha Ha. Just kidding. These covers look great!
This 10th Anniversary single also features the return of graduated members Atsuko Maeda, Yuko Oshima, Tomomi Itano, and Mariko Shinoda.
The single is deeply philosophical regarding the graduated members’ return. As seen above — Yuko kissing Acchan represents the leaving of the old guard, with Sakura-tan’s stardom on the rise in the background. The sisterly love is overwhelming. I will leave it to future AKB Historians to debate further hidden meanings.
See more kimono screen shots on the AKB48 Daily blog. Thank you Paul — you are an AKB Scholar!!!
As I wrap up my blogging year with another “top ten” list — perhaps a BOTTOM TEN this time — I want to share my “Top Ten Least Viewed Posts”. I used the new WP Stats page to see how many views each post received. Some of them even received only one view – and that was probably from me when I was not logged in. I will admit, some were rather obtuse. I hope that you can find an interesting title in the group.
“Clean up on isle three … Strange person on isle five” linked here.
Notice: I am going to give my readers a double-dose of my “Kimonos on Monday” post today, because I could not wait another week to share these photos of Atsuko Maeda with you!
I know that I am a few days late with this post. Atsuko Maeda recently attended the London premier of the the last movie in “The Hobbit” series. Although Acchan is not in the film, who could better represent the Japanese entertainment industry than Atsuko Maeda? She wears a lovely kimono as you can see.
There is a great shot of her right at the beginning of this clip:
Most of this clip does not feature Atsuko, but it is still very worthwhile to see the interaction between Acchan and actor Orlando Bloom –who plays the Elf “Legolas” in the film. Mr. Bloom compliments Maeda-san on her traditional dress.
Here are a couple of other photos from this event out there on the Interwebs.
The two expressed some interest in working together. When is Hollywood going to catch on to how great she is???
Once again I am going to let the cantankerous Nebraskan make a guest editorial here on Denny Sinnoh’s Akihabara Starlight. Mr. Turbo?
One of the most endearing moments in AKB history was Atsuko Maeda’s graduation and exit at the Tokyo Dome in the summer of 2012. The song is “Yume no Kawa” which translates as “River of Dreams”. Mr. Yasushi Akimoto wrote these lyrics for Atsuko’s graduation. Here is the YouTube link, however you must click on the CC button on YouTube if you want to see the English translation subtitles. You may also follow the lyrics on this from Stage 48 linked here.
I will also include a higher quality video (1080) but with no English subs here. Acchan says a few words to the audience, then sings the song. The other members (Yuko, Haruna, Mayu, Mariko, Yuki, Miichan, Takamina, Jurina, Tomochin all join in. They pause the song near the end, so that each member can have a hug and say a farewell before Acchan gets in her gondola. Yuko and Minami lead her to the boat, and the song continues.
There is a wonderful, bittersweet moment when Acchan begins to float away. Atsuko is crying so much that she can barely sing the lyrics. The song is about saying goodbye, she knows this, and is choking on her own tears. The other girls notice this, and although crying as well, they forcefully sing the chorus. It is a sweet moment that underscores the comradery the team had. Acchan composes herself, and sings the rest. As her gondola fades away, she sings “when my dreams come true, I will come back for you”.
It should be noted that this is the actual moment that Atsuko left the group. This is not like The Rolling Stones, who have a farewell tour every year. What is Mick Jagger — 100 years old? … but I digress.
When Ms. Maeda’s gondola exits the Tokyo Dome – that’s it — no more Acchan. Of course, when Atsuko’s gondola touches down outside the Tokyo Dome, she is no longer subject to AKB48 rules – if you catch my drift. I bet every Japanese actor, rock star and assistant prefect was there trying to get her number.
Cantankerous old fans like myself see Acchan’s last performances as the peak of the group’s success. To many of us who enjoy the early AKB48 music videos, Atsuko Maeda is still the “face of AKB48”. She could never be fully replaced. Acchan’s departure would also start a wave of graduations. Several of the original members would leave the group within a year.
For more on AKB48 history, please read my AKB biography “Why I Like AKB48” subtitled by Mrs. Turbo as “Oh, You’re Stupid AND You’re a Pervert”.
Thank you Mr. Turbo. I’m not crying, I have allergies. For more information on what Acchan has been up to, see my Atsuko Maeda page on Pinterest here.
Dear Readers: Today I am going to turn my blog over to that cantankerous NebraskanMr. Floyd R. Turbo. Please enjoy his editorial comments on (what he calls) Atsuko Maeda’s “chick flick” video. Mr. Turbo has developed into somewhat of an “AKB Historian” recently, and Acchan was his favorite. As Mr. Turbo puts it: “She has gams like a gazelle”. Old dudes like us, are always clinging to the past. The song is “You’re My” – lyrics by Yasushi Akimoto. Lyrics from Stage 48 are available here. Mr. Turbo, you are on …
My wife is always dragging me to these Romantic Comedies. I watched this Atsuko Maeda music video instead. because I was told that it compacts an entire two-hour long“chick flick” movie into a short 7-minute music video. There are no subtitles, but everything is understandable through body language and context. I had been to Japan during the war, so I can understand a little. Anyone can still follow the story.
The video begins with a happy young man (played by actor Suruga Taro) at an amusement park with his family. While his wife takes the kid for a ride, the young father sits on a bench and chain smokes. I love it when the hero smokes. He begins to reflect on his life, blows smoke-rings around airplanes, and for some reason begins reminiscing about an old girlfriend/partner he had in his younger days when he attempted to be a comedian. The story is told in a flashback.
Atsuko Maeda plays a young woman “Nabeko” that wants to be a comedic performer. She has a puppet show act. At an improv group practice, she meets, and teams up with our smoker protagonist. After getting “sh*t faced” together (he does not take advantage), the two decide to become a TEAM. Now it is very important to see the comedy duo will live together as a TEAM as they hone their act. Not as a COUPLE however. Strictly business — strictly platonic.
In fact, the Atsuko character has a slew of boyfriends that come into her life as our hero continues to work on the comedy act with Atsuko. It finally dawned on me that this montage of men shown with Atsuko were her one-after-the-other boyfriends. She changes boyfriends and changes hairstyles. It must have been tough for our tobacco-using hero to put up with this. Note: This is the type of thing you have to deal with when you are “close friends” with a woman that is not exactly a girlfriend. Some of the boyfriends are OK, some are idiots, but you can never say anything. He remains her loyal friend and partner, never taking advantage of the living situation.
One night … well … you know what happens.
The night of the big contest finally arrives! The crowd appears to like our team! Will they win the top prize and go on to successful careers?
Well, it sure is not a “Hollywood Ending” — and that is what I like about it. Is it a “happy ending”? Maybe. Maybe things have turned out for the best.
Notes: There is pretty liberal use of tobacco products in the video. No way would this ever be shown in a politically-correct American music video. This music video features a chain-smoking Asian guy … as if you would ever really see that. What is so bad about cigarettes anyway? “All cigarettes now carry the Surgeon General’s warning label. Who is this ‘surgeon general’ anyway? Did anyone ever see him? I don’t trust any ‘surgeon’ who becomes a ‘general’, he may remove my hemorrhoids with a hand grenade!”
Thank you Mr. Turbo. You may also view this video on Jpopsuki at the link here. This starlight took eighteen months to reach my world.
Music videos can be more than just “candy commercials.” Case in point — I want to share this AKB48 solo music video called “Flower” from (now AKB48 graduate) Atsuko Maeda. It’s beautiful. I was drawn in emotionally to the drama and imagery in this little video film. You can do yourself a favor and watch this on full screen on YouTube in the optional 1080 HD!
“Flower” was the first solo single by AKB48 member Atsuko Maeda (now AKB graduate) and was released in June 2011. It took two years for this starlight to reach my world. Atsuko was always one of the most popular AKB48 members, and she was voted #1 member by fans until she graduated in 2013. To many AKB fans, she is still the “face” of AKB48. Maeda-san is now a much in-demand actress and model, and she still records enjoyable pop songs.
“Flower” is an absorbing, heartwarming song. I always loved to see Atsuko Maeda perform it with the group live. The lyrics were written by AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto. Although AKB48 is known for fun J-pop song-and-dance numbers, Mr. Akimoto has also written some very poignant ballads, that I believe hold up and translate well into English. Thank you to Stage48 for lyrics in Japanese, Romanji and English translation.
This video has a look like it was taken from a real movie, however it is just a “stand-alone” music video/drama. Interestingly, the song itself was later used in one of Atsuko Maeda’s films. Although the dialog, and the singing is in Japanese, I do not think that an understanding of the Japanese language is necessary to enjoy this story.
You just have to have a heart.
“As for this flower It’s made entirely of love…”
Music video can be a potent art-form in the right hands. Without providing too many spoilers, there are two compelling scenes I will describe. Both of these are “real moments” that affected me on an emotional level. Such scenes demonstrate the power of the music video format.
At time 3:36: Atsuko and the little girl, are playing out by the gas pumps, waiting for the van to be ready. “Dale” is seated inside the gas station, looking out through the glass at Atsuko and the carefree young girl playing. He feels compelled to get out his wallet in order to look at the photos he carries with him. Dale starts to miss his own little girl, and looks at a photo of his daughter. In might not look like much on the surface, but I connected with that.
At time 3:55: Atsuko knocks on the door of the house, and a male family member comes to the door. Upon seeing the Atsuko character, the actor’s face goes through several different emotions. At first surprise at seeing her, then a brief moment of anger (as if he had been thinking all this time “If she dares to ever show her face at this house again , I’m going to …) , then a moment of acceptance, then empathy, and finally — love. The viewer does not know why Atsuko has been gone, or why she has been on this journey and has taken the big step to return.
Did the ending turn out the way you would expect? I think that even M. Night Shyamalan would have been surprised.
Likes: Pop Culture, Humor, Japanese Culture, Iwasa Misaki, Hanako Oku, AKB48 History, Kurosawa films, Kimonos, Anime, Lolita fashion, Buddhist philosophy, and finding the perfect nicknames for my Pokemon.
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on December 8, 2014