So on October 19th of this year, Team A began their long awaited 5th stage, titled Renai Kinshi Jourei. You’d think this would be the like some epic moment for AKB48. Team A is the original team, and thus the lead team of the group. Also, its been quite some time since they had an original stage. After their 4th Stage, the Himawari stages began. After H2 ended, instead of starting a 5th stage, Team A did a revival of the 4th Stage while A and K performed their new stages. When A5 was finally announced, it was pretty much expected that it would be huge.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as huge as everyone thought it would be. And why was that?
Well, Prior to the end of the 4th Stage revival, Team A went through a bit of a shakeup, though most would agree that earthquake is a better word to use in this instance. 5 original members, Narita Risa, Tojima Hana, Nakanishi Rina, Ohe Tomomi and Komatani Hitomi announced their graduations from the group. Now this was a huge blow to Team A, but it survived, and continued on to their 5th Stage. However, this mass graduation was defenitly a blow to the actualy vocal talent of Team A. I know for me, I was not looking forward to the 5th stage after this. With so many members leaving, it would not be the same Team A again.
But the 5th Stage started as would any stage. And one thing was defenitly different…Team A sure seemed different. And why is that? Because most of the original Team A members were not there. Of course, the 5 graduates were gone, and most of the remaining originals were busy with other projects. This meant that Team A was essentially all new members added over the last few months. Some were defenitly not happy about this. The biggest thing with all these absences was the incredibly pro-longed absences of the 3 girls under the OgiPro agency; Takahashi Minami, Minegishi Minami and Kojima Haruna. For those new to Team A, these 3 girls are essentially the defenite leads of the group. Without them, Team A is defenitly not the same. Many others would agree. For a lot of people, 5th Stage didn’t truly begin till the 16th of December, when the 3 OgiPro girls would participate for the first time in the 5th Stage.
So how was it?
Nothing short of Phenomenal! And this is coming from someone who did not care that much for the first 4 Team A stages.
First up, lets look at the Set List for this stage:
1. Nagai Hikari
2. Squall no Aida ni
3. JK Nemurihime
4. Kimi ni au tabi koi o suru
5. Kuroi Tenshi
6. Heart gata Virus
7. Renai Kinshi Jourei
9. Manatsu no Christmas Rose
13. Ano Koro no Sneaker
14. AKB Sanjou!
15. Namida no Shinkokyuu
16. Oogoe Diamond
As you can see, the latest single and its accompanying track are part of this stage, but that comes as no suprise. Team A stages are the ones to usually feature songs used as singles. For me, this is one thing that makes this stage awesome. Oogoe Diamond are 109 are awesome songs, as I mentioned in my post on the single. Though, I would have preferred OD to be the first song, just because I think it would be awesome to have the stage open up with a bit of a bang, which this song defenitly delievers. 109 would fit in just about anywhere, so I think its fine where it is. The stage does open up quite well though. Nagai Hikari does work quite well as an opening song, as it starts somewhat slow, then up the ante and goes into full throttle. Its quite a good song, and introduces us to what I’d like to call the new Team A…which works wonders.
Remember when I said in my Oogoe Diamond post that the song had a new sound to it? Well, that sound is here in this stage. This stage is leaps and bounds ahead of the past Team A stages, and its all thanks to this new sound.
While all the songs are great, I’d like to focus on just a few of them (excluding OD and 109, as I’ve already stated my opinions on those 2 songs), which I see as the true “gems” of this stage, at least in my opinion.
First up is song number 6, Heart gata Virus. I always had a feeling I’d like this song, even before I actually heard it. The title was just too awesome. Thankfully, the song is equally as awesome. It has a very retro vibe to it, sounding alot like something from perhaps the late 70’s to the early 80’s, yet its infused with a lot of modern sounds, which form quite a formidable combination. Also, the vocals are top notch, especially with the combination of Kawasaki Nozomi, Oshima Mai and Kojima Haruna, who are defenitly some of Team A’s best vocalists. All this combines to create a song that is catchy in every way.
Next up is song numer 8, Tsundere!. Now, if you thought Heart gata Virus was catchy, then Tsundere is like catchy on crack. Song is very fast paced, and has a very cool vibe to it. The opening of the song sounds is very rockish, and somewhat harkens back to those old american surfing songs of the past. This unit also has, what I think, is a great member lineup, which consists of Sato Amina, Itano Tomomi and Kitahara Rie. This was actually the first time I have heard Kitahara sing, and she is actually quite good. Amina is also perfect for this song. For thos unaware, Amina is my 2nd favourite member of AKB48, just under Kashiwagi Yuki, so I was thrilled to learn she was selected for a unit song. And its also nice that it became one of my favourites of this stage, if not out of all of AKB’s songs. There’s just nothing not to like about this song. Its extremely catchy, its got an awesome sound to it, and the cutesy vocals of the girls work wonders. Defenitly one of the best songs of the stage.
The last song I want to talk in depth about is song number 14, AKB Sanjou!. Now, this song just blew me away the first time I heard it. It is pure adreneline pumping rock at its finest. This is the kind of song I have been wanting Team A to do for a long time. I’m a rock/metal person myself, so I always prefer this kind of song over others, and Team A hasn’t had a song like this whatsoever as far as I can recall. There’s really not much I can say about this song, other than that it is pure awesomeness. What makes it even more awesome is that its a song entirely about AKB48 itself. This song is defenitly my favorite of this stage, and may just be my all-time favourite AKB48 song now, though a few B3 songs may still hold that position for me. This is one song that is not to be missed.
A couple of other notables would be the title song, Renai Kinshi Jourei. Is is a great song, but I think it lacks a certain “wow” factor for me. The vocals are top notch, but it just didn’t grab me as the other songs did. Its still great though. A couple of other great songs would be Switch and JK Nemurihime. Switch has what I think is a freaking cool intro piece, something that stands out above other AKB48 songs, and JK is just the kind of song that sounds cool to listen too. Both are defenitly great to listen too.
So in the end, Team A’s 5th stage is made of incredible amounts of win. This defenitly suprosed me. I was not expecting the stage to wow me in anyway, yet it did. Its like they took a good look at past Team A stages, and did a full reversal in terms of sound and style. It is lightywars ahead of the other A stages, and perhaps most of the other AKB stages (though it is not at the level of awesomeness that Team B’s 3rd stage is at, though its damn close). So for all of you AKB48 fans out there, you need to watch this stage now. And for those who are not fans, you should still check it out. This is some of the best J-pop ever.