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48groups pilgrimage January 19, 2014

Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Music, Travel.
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On my most recent Japan trip I visited Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. Seeing as that’s three out of the four 48 Groups locations, I couldn’t very well do that and not stop by hallowed ground, right? Here follows impressions and directions to sating your AKB/SKE/NMB thirst while on the move in Japan. (more…)

AKB48 Super Festival June 23, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Music, Travel.
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AKB48 Wonda advert

So, clearly I’m quite into AKB48 and on my recent trip to Japan I decided to indulge somewhat in what it’s like to be an AKB fan in the motherland. It was a thrill to be there, particularly around Akihabara, seeing the members plastered on every billboard, every public transport TV, appearing on numerous TV shows and hearing their songs playing across the streets and in stores all week. ^^ (more…)

Documentary of AKB48: No flower without rain June 16, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Film, Music.
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No flower without rain cover

The Documentary of AKB48 films are really special to me. Bearing the production backing of indie director Shinji Iwai and given unparallelled access behind-the-scenes of the AKB machine, it’s fascinating and gripping stuff for anyone intrigued by the circus. Given that these films are also somewhat responsible for me becoming an AKB fan, I’ve been looking forward to this latest one for months. So was it worth the wait? Hell yeah. (more…)

峯岸みなみへ:みいちゃんがんばって January 31, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Music.
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Minegishi Minami

Since becoming an AKB48 fan, Minegishi Minami has been my favourite. Always bright, bubbly and playful, she’s never been as super super popular, but is a founding member and always in the top 20 of the Sousenkyou. So I was pretty upset to read today of this scandal broken in a Japanese tabloid and even more disappointed at the typical AKB management’s reaction to it. Punishment was swift, with Mii-chan demoted to Kenkyusei level for the indiscretion.

On the one hand, you could say this is what all the girls signed up for – the rules on boyfriends, or even to be seen to be doing anything vaguely construed as having anything to do with boys, is pretty clear and it’s not like any number of members haven’t suffered the same paparazzi treatment, scandal and punishment in the past few years. But there’s always the feeling that we, the fans, are far from inconvenienced and more saddened that the reaction to a girl just doing what any normal human being would be doing. And instead of being given a supporting arm around the shoulder she’s shown severe punishment – to the extent that Mii-chan felt she had to shave her head as some form of retribution (I never quite got that as a Japanese self-punishment, but it is one of the few noticeable actions one can do in such a powerless situation, particularly when your hair is one of your most attractive features).

The subsequent apology Mii-chan posted to AKB48’s YouTube channel is totally heartbreaking. (more…)

Confessions of an AKB48 fan July 29, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film, Music, Rave.
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I love AKB48. This might not seem surprising for a self-confessed otaku and firm pop fan, but for the longest time I was dismissive of huge synthetic supergroups.

In my years of fandom, I was surprisingly unenamoured with the likes of Morning Musume, an odd mix of loli idols with constantly rotating members  — the extremity of what many dislike about the Japanese pop industry. When AKB48 came along, I thought, “Jeez, a group with 48 members — that really takes the biscuit”, then got on with my life.

What changed? (more…)