The day after the final Tokyo Dome concert was an interesting one that requires a tad bit of background information that I did not mention in my recap of the first concert day.
We had just left the Tokyo Dome and were walking towards our celebratory dinner at an izakaya when a Japanese man approached Hiro and I. He had asked where we were from and we responded America and Canada. He then asked if we had just come out of the Tokyo Dome, to which we replied, “Yes.”
He then turned to some other Japanese people behind him, said a bunch of stuff and then asked us whether we were going to watch Maeda Atsuko’s last theater show. We mentioned that we were going to watch it on YouTube or on Hey Hey Hey. Japanese Dude then turned around, said a bunch of stuff to his posse & then formally introduced himself.
Apparently we had stumbled upon an AD (assistant director) for Fuji TV and he was looking for foreign AKB48 fans for a news story to be shown the day after Maeda’s last theater show. He asked us if we wanted to be filmed watching the concert.
Since we were planning to meet up in Vu’s hotel room (he had the baller pad at Hotel Niwa) we had called him, Dave and the rest of our concert going friends to come back up and talk with this guy. After a bit of negotiating it was agreed that we would be filmed assuming Vu’s hotel would clear the deal with Fuji TV.
That leads us back to this day. We headed to Akihabara to visit Yodobashi camera to look around and pick up souvenirs. When we were done we met with the Fuji TV crew outside the store which consisted of an English speaking AD, the director, camera man and the dude who holds the boom mic.
The boom mic guy had the funniest shirt on. It read “Everyone loves the fat guy.” Thing is, he was the skinniest old dude so that made it hilarious. Anyway, the director laid down his plans for this first segment which was to follow us around Akihabara doing our thing.
They initially wanted us to react to Maeda Atsuko entering the AKB theater but those plans were scrapped when we showed up late to the area. So instead we did the follow us around thing that you may have seen on many idol shows. During this segment we were told to act natural as if the camera and the giant boom mic weren’t there.
It was kind of awkward because that shit is all up in your face. It’s hard to be “natural” and pretend nothing was there. We struggled at first but as we started to get closer to the Donki we eventually forgot anyone was there.
Then they asked us to go into Donki and buy some stuff, check out the theater and then exit out. What did I get? I bought an entire box of AKB Puccho. I saw that on our first official day in Tokyo and vowed to buy it before we left. I don’t remember what the other guys bought to be honest. After doing some shopping we tried to go to the café but it was closed for Maeda’s press conference.
So back down the many floors of Donki and to the waiting cameras of Fuji TV. They followed us around a bit more until we hit Akihabara station. We were then instructed to do what we did many days before and that was look up at the Maeda pictures above the Electric Town Entrance and make comments.
Dave being the Maeda fan was specifically instructed to say something about how cute Maeda Atsuko was. Actually, he wasn’t instructed but more politely coerced into saying the following phrase, “No one is cuter than Maeda Atsuko.”
He complied in the most deadpan voice possible while looking up at the pictures above the station entrance. That there was the money shot, the rest of the shoot in Akihabara was icing on the cake after.
While we were filming a lot of people were wondering what the hell was going on and we were getting a lot of curious looks. One older woman starting speaking to Vu and asked what was going on. He explained to her as best he could and at the end she shook his hand.
Vu gets the obaasan fangirl.
During our time with the crew in Akiba we did learn that the director of the piece was a Takajo Aki fan and every time anyone mentioned the name Minegishi he would laugh.
After finishing up we headed back to our hotel to get all cleaned up and spiffy for our national TV debut. We convened in Hotel Niwa around 17:00 and saw that the Fuji Crew was already there setting up.
Much like in Akiba we were interviewed individually telling the director our name, age, how long we’ve been to AKB48 and who our favorites were. And then to act natural of course with subtle hints to wota it up a bit during the program.
Before the theater show started we were asked to show or swag. I had a huge duffle bag full of goods from T-shirts to oshi towels and beyond. After displaying the entire stores worth of stuff we were asked to pick 1 favorite. Hiro chose his Minegishi photos, I chose my Takamina towel, Vu chose the Tokyo Dome bandana and Dave chose his Maeda Atsuko lunch mat.
Why? Because it had the worst case of Engrish on it ever. I don’t remember the exact wording but it’s not something any normal English speaking person would really say. Then on to the actual show.
We did have some difficulties with the YouTube stream as it was overloaded with many fans who could not make it to theater and those overseas who wanted to watch. I’m sure everyone who watched the theater stream was wondering if their connection sucked or if it was Youtube. It was YouTube.
I was told that this particular stage was A6. As a noob I didn’t have a clue what that meant but apparently it means Team A, 6th Stage concert. The lot of us were a bit stiff during the beginning of the show
It wasn’t until Anthony showed up that we let loose and just started shooting shit about everything. Everyone had pink glow sticks except for me, I forgot mine in my hotel room. But I still kept up and learned a few wotagei basics such as The Mix, and when certain choreography should be done. I found it amusing that most people who don’t know the words to The Mix just scream “Tiger” over and over and over.
Near the end of the concert we were asked by the Fuji TV crew to switch to Hey Hey Hey. We did and were happy to get a consistent feed but were kind of sad to see that they cut the concert a little short. So back to the craptacular YouTube stream instead.
We watched as the AKB members said their tearful goodbyes and how Maeda Atsuko stoically said farewell to the fans and AKB48. The Fuji TV folks were intensely focused on Dave expecting him to break into tears like the Maeda oshi Hiro & I were making fun of on the final day of the concert series.
I have used this term before, but I think they wanted Dave to have a Yokoyama meltdown of epic proportions. Sorry Fuji TV, that just wasn’t happening.
When the program was done we were interviewed again and were asked to explain what Maeda Atsuko’s graduation means to us, why it’s such a big deal in Japan and what we think it means for her future and that of AKB48.
I’ll be honest & say that my answers sucked. I was making up nonsense that sounded like I knew what I was talking about. I already knew I was on the cutting room floor. And with that done the shoot was complete and there was an exchange of business cards and a gift of a Takajo Aki Tokyo Dome photo card for the director.
I had requested a copy of the completed piece from the director. He said that normally that is not done, but since we were foreigners an exception could be made.
As far as I know this is the very first time that AKB48 has gone through a graduation of a cornerstone of their membership. It’s something that Hello! Project fans have become accustomed to so to me this was been there done that. But it was still rather interesting to see how the AKB fandom was handling this event.
From watching TV that evening and seeing the Twitter feed from Akihabara it seems that many fans were a little too passionate about Maeda. The streets were jammed pack outside the theater. She herself had to go outside and tell people to go home. That’s pretty crazy.
After the Fuji TV crew left we had some dinner and then did a quick photo trading session and off to bed to see the completed edits in the morning.
The next day we all woke up early. We were told the segment would air around 8:20 but apparently some famous Kabuki actor had fallen down or something. That and the fight over a piece of dirt between China and Japan bumped our segment by 30 minutes.
But just before 9 AM there it was. The entire thing was about 10 or so minutes long and broken in half for commercial breaks. Much of the footage was quick cuts and out of sequential order. But the best was that the money shot made it into the final cut.
“No one is cuter than Maeda Atsuko.”
Hiro appeared to be our spokesman as he articulated the best out of all of us. Either that or they just wanted to focus in on the Japanese guy. =P
Of course we Tweeted and Facebooked everything to the masses. In the end the piece was well done and didn’t make us look too bad. Of course, our fellow fans were probably not as agreeable but aside from the opinions of the few who have seen the piece there’s not much to go on.
That pretty much caps off my Tokyo 2012 coverage. I mean I could go on about the other 4 days but that was more to do with trying to get a lot of last minute shopping done.
I have to say that this trip was so much better than my last one 5 years ago. Of course things have changed a little since then and my focus was clearly on idols. I got to experience many different idol fan cultures and met a lot of really cool people along the way.
Before I close this article off I guess I should go on a mini rant here.
A lot of us overseas fans have a real skewed view of how the Japanese idol fandom works. Most think there are a lot of hardline rules that you have to follow in order to truly be like them. After being absorbed nothing but idols for 2 weeks I call bullshit.
From what I observed there really isn’t a lot of protocol to follow. Sure, all groups have their little unique intricacies and fan rituals but for the most part, as long as you’re in the house, cheering on these groups the Japanese don’t really give a damn how you express yourself. Don’t make this all about you. No one is actually watching what you’re doing; there are idols on stage after all.
I also found out that merchandise whoring is fun but it is not what being an idol fan is about. Just because you buy more useless shit than someone else doesn’t make you a super fan.
It just makes you broke and a borderline hoarder.
And yes, I admit that I did buy a lot of shit but I’m actually giving most of it away because I’m a good guy & I want to give you out there the opportunity to own a piece of AKB history. I already got what I wanted on the first day the goods line opened, everything else is for the benefit of you, the Selective Hearing readers.
After this 2-week experience I believe that every idol fan should make the trek to see their favorite acts in their homeland, in a real concert setting. The bones thrown that are anime convention appearances are nice but are absolutely nothing compared to the real deal. It’s like a night and day difference.
Don’t make the excuse that you can’t afford it. A lot of you are buying a bunch of goods on eBay and Yahoo auctions for double or triple their value. Some of you import CD’s and DVD’s from Japan on a weekly or monthly basis.
If you’re doing all that then saving up for a trip to Japan should not be difficult. Sacrifice your goods whoring for the opportunity to go there for and see things for yourself instead. You won’t regret it.
With that all said I would like to give props to the folks who helped us on our journey. A very big thanks goes out to Anthony and Ahmed for being tour guides and/or translators for us who cannot practice our Japanese every day. I look forward to seeing you guys again in the near future.
Much gratitude to AKS for providing the Tokyo Dome concert photos and to Fuji TV for giving us a copy of the news piece we were a part of. We are thankful for the opportunities you have provided during our short stay in Japan.
To the AKB48 café, thank you for putting up with our stupid gaijin asses over and over and over. =) I enjoyed your talent, especially one or two in particular. If I could have caught their names or read their name tags I would have called them out and personally thanked them for being so fine.
Backstge Pass. Thank you for not sucking. Really. I had extremely low expectations and your establishment blew me away. I also enjoyed your talent and many of them sing better than UFA’s current roster or audition hopefuls. Much like the AKB café I wish I could remember the names of the many girls who attempted to chat me up in broken English so I could thank them for being so spanktastic.
Lastly, big ups to Hiro, Dave and Vu. It was great hanging out and sharing this entire crazy experience with you. I look forward to our next adventure in Japan together.