AKB48 Team 8 at Anime Expo
Interview Date: July 7, 2018
On July 7, 2018 AKB48 Team 8 participated in the final night of Anisong World Maturi’s three-day event at Anime Expo. This was their first performance in Los Angeles with a set list that included AKB48’s signature song “Aitakatta” along with other hits such as “Everyday Kachuusha”, “Iwake Maybe” and “Koisuru Fortune Cookie”.
Selective Hearing had the opportunity to sit down with AKB48 Team 8 before Anime World Matsuri’s Japan Kawaii Live to discuss their time in Los Angeles, their experiences as members of Team 8 and their goals for the future.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Before we begin, how have you enjoyed Los Angeles and the United States thus far?
Yurina Gyoten: We tried to do a lot of touring, but it was so hot that we gave up midway! Instead we went over to Santa Monica beach which was a lot of fun.
Team 8 was formed in 2014, and grew from being this unknown entity to becoming what Akimoto-sensei is now calling the “next big thing”. How have you changed since joining the group?
Akari Sato: Before I joined Team 8, I used to be pretty negative, but ever since I joined, the activities that I’ve participated in have really turned me around to become a lot more positive and forward thinking.
And what about in terms of Team 8 in particular?
Hijiri Tanakawa: From the beginning, Team 8 was very different from all the other teams of AKB48. In a way, that difference has become our selling point now – it’s what sets us apart from everyone else. This concept has become our group’s character, turning us from a group that at first didn’t really have any fans into a group that is able to hold much larger events – even ones overseas like here in Los Angeles for our foreign fans.
Given all of the activities that you have done thus far, what would you like to do next, both personally and as a group?
Akari: Because of our concept we’ve been able to do many things all over Japan, but I’d like us as a team to be able to reach the next level, going to venues like domes or stadiums as a group and performing in those sorts of places for our fans.
Yurina: I want to be able to show more sides of both my members and myself to fans, through more TV shows – maybe even a comedy show – so that fans would get to know us better.
So turning back to the group’s image for a second, this most recent single (“Teacher Teacher”) is incredibly interesting since the A-side has this sexy, cool dance song, but the Team 8 B-side (“Hachinosu Dance”) has this cute, fresh vibe to it. Which does each member like more?
Hijiri: Choreography-wise, when it comes to dancing, I like songs that are cool and mature so while I love them both, personally I like “Teacher Teacher” more.
Nanase Yoshikawa: I like “Hachinosu Dance”. This song truly embodies Team 8 – everything from the style to the lyrics of the song truly makes it THE Team 8 song. It has everything that we’re known for, including our energy and freshness.
Akari: While I like them both too, if I am forced to pick one it would have to be “Teacher Teacher”. I’m personally very tall as an idol and sometimes I want a cool track that fits my appearance and mood. The songs that we get aren’t really like that, so I find Teacher Teacher very refreshing in that regard.
Yurina: I also like “Teacher Teacher” as well. Of course I like them both as well, but compared to “Hachinosu Dance” which is a very “THE IDOL” style song, “Teacher Teacher” has something different. “Hachinosu no Dance” is very much about the smiles and energy, whereas “Teacher Teacher” has more of a cool and edgy expression which is a new challenge for me.
Ayaka Hidaritomo: I would choose “Teacher Teacher”. This is a pretty rare song for AKB, especially since it has this mysterious angle to it, and it’s a song that makes both Japanese and foreign audiences go “wow, this is cool”. As Yurina mentioned we can really express ourselves in a different way through this song. Of course “Hachinosu Dance” is different – it’s the fresh, energetic song that is really true idol-like, but in its own way it is still a difficult dance number.
Yuna Hattori: I like “Hachinosu Dance” – when I first saw the choreography, I realized how intricate and complex the moves were. I really came to like this song and what it meant for both Team 8 as well as the members. Also, I feel like this is the kind of song that I should enjoy while I’m still young!
In a way, it seems like the songs for Team 8 tend to be skewed towards pop dance songs – what has your experience been?
Yurina: Our performances have had a good mix of both ballads and pop songs, so we’re able to really show both sides of ourselves to our fans.
So what sort of songs would you like to have next for the group?
Nanase: I really want more songs like “47 no Suteki na Machi e!” Our fans go all out with the calls, and seem to shout it as if their lives depend on it – it looks like they’re having so much fun. The energy turns into something so powerful that we’re able to enjoy performing that with the fans. Hopefully we’re able to show our foreign fans this and I want to be able to have our foreign fans get that energy and feel from our performances.
It would be great if we could hear it today too, hopefully!
In a similar vein, what was your favorite AKB48 group song to date?
Yuna: I really like “Heavy Rotation!” I first saw it in elementary school, and it was that AKB48 that I saw in the music video – the cuteness and energy of it all – that made me become a fan of the group.
Ayaka: I can’t stop talking about how much I like “Teacher Teacher”! It’s such a fun song, and I was so hooked on it that there was a point when I would go home and practice the dance every day.
Yurina: My favorite is “Oogoe Diamond” – not only was there a moment in my life when I would watch the music video every day, but now as a performer I particularly like how in the dance I’m able to interact with my fans through this one move. The fans themselves really enjoy getting “fished” through the performance, so it’s just one more way that we can interact. It definitely helps that the lyrics are both energetic and encouraging at the same time.
Akari: I like “Shojotachi yo”. I watched AKB48’s documentaries, and through that I came to love the duality between the stars shining on the stage versus how hard they worked behind the scenes. The lyrics are a key point of this song, encapsulating that sense of “hard work” and “passion”.
Nanase: My favorite has to be “Manatsu no Sounds Good!” Before I joined AKB48 I bought this CD to attend a national handshake event with Maeda Atsuko right before she graduated, which was a major moment for me as a fan. In fact, I actually listened to it recently on the flight over – I was almost going to cry because of the emotions that the song brought up in me.
Hijiri: Mine would also be “Teacher Teacher”, not just because of the fact it’s such a cool and sexy song, but also that Oguri Yui, a fellow team 8 member, was the center of it – for us, this is a really special single.
It looks like our time is up. Again, we would like to thank you for chatting with us. Good luck with your performance tonight. We fans will try our best to gachikoi.
Excited reaction to potential foreign gachikoi from the members officially concluded the interview.
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We would like to thank AKB48 Team 8, Anisong World Matsuri and RESONANCE MEDIA for this interview opportunity.