I suppose I should talk about Team A’s new stage, shouldn’t I? It has been over a week since it first started, and I have since then watched the stage and given it a good listen through, so I think I have formed a good opinion of the stage right now. And what is that opinion?
Well, A6 rocks, in certain places that is.
First up, the setlist:
00. Miniskirt no Yosei (Zenza Girls)
02. Zenjin Mitou
03. Ibitsu na Shinju
04. Akogare no Popstar
05. Ude wo Kunde (Nakaya Sayaka, Maeda Atsuko, Kuramochi Asuka)
06. Enjou Rousen (Takajo Aki, Sashihara Rino)
07. Itoshisa no Akuseru (Takahashi Minami)
08. Hoshi no Mukougawa (Nakata Chisato, Kojima Haruna, Oota Aika, Iwasa Misaki)
09. Saboten to Gold Rush (Ooya Shizuka, Katayama Haruka, Maeda Ami, Shinoda Mariko, Matsubara Natsumi, Nakagawa Haruka)
10. Utsukushiki Mono
11. Ai wo Kure
12. Matenrou no Kyori
13. Inochi no Imi
14. I’m crying
15. Zutto Zutto
I said before that this stage is really good, but only in certain places. What I mean by this is quite simply that the group songs are fantastic, yet the unit songs falter immensely. Its not normally I say this, as the unit songs are usually the best part of these stages. But to put it bluntly, they kinda suck this time around.
Ok, lets go a little more in depth. First up, we have the third and final Research Student song, Miniskirt no Yosei, and I have to say, I really like it! Its a cute upbeat tune, and its really just a fun little song. If I recall correctly, this is the song being used to premote some toy product in Japan. The girls who sang it (and are featured in the promotions) are Shimada Haruka, Mori Anna and Takeuchi Miyu. They were the ones who were obviously doing the song during the A6 shonichi, and I think the three of them make a great little unit. I’m really hoping that these three can hopefully be made full team members soon.
Of the songs that make up the first set, I think the ones that stand out the most are:
This song is a really cool one. They show all sorts of clips of what appears to be events surrounding the Berlin Wall before the song starts up, and then it all explodes into awesomeness. This song is pure power. The only thing that detracts from this song is the accompanying performance. There is almost no choreography whatsoever, just some hand movements and whatnot. This is probably one of the rare songs that is better when NOT watched, just listened to.
Ibitsu na Shinju
This is without a doubt my favorite song of the entire stage. One thing I find in a lot of AKB songs is that they start strong, but falter the rest of the way through. This is not the case with this song. It starts strong, and keeps up the pace all the way through to the end. That equals a great song in my books.
We then enter the Unit song set, and like I said, this is a weak selection. Of the 5, I only really enjoyed 2 of them:
Enjou Rousen (Takajo Aki, Sashihara Rino)
This for me is the best unit song for a number of reasons. For starters, its got an addictive sound to it, and its another one of those songs that keeps up a strong pace throughout its duration. The other reason; its likely the most fair unit song in awhile. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether Akicha or Sasshi got more lines or screen-time than the other, because I don’t think either did. If you ask me, both got even amounts of time in the spotlight, and that is what I like to see.
Itoshisa no Akuseru (Takahashi Minami)
So Takamina getting a solo song was no surprise to me. Yukirin got a solo, Sayaka got one too, so really it was a given that Team A’s captain get one as well. Thank the heavens though they didn’t just give her another freaking ballad. This solo is what I’ve been waiting for, a dramatic, fast paced song. Its nice to see that solo’s don’t always have to be slow. Not to say I don’t like Sayaka’s or Yukirin’s ballads (I love them, as you already know), but its nice to see a fast paced solo for once.
The one reason I’m not a huge fan of most of the unit songs is the fact that they are horribly unfair to the shuffled members. Once again, its all the original Team A members who get practically all the spotlight. For instance, the first unit song, Ude wo Kunde might have well have just been a duet between Acchan and Asuka, seeing as Nakayan didn’t seem to get anything at all, other than being on the keyboard, but it didn’t seem to work. At one point during the song, someone had to come out and tinker with it for a moment. Mariko’s unit, Saboten to Gold Rush, is another offender. Its practically just Mariko with back-dancers.
This leads me to another point; Let this be the end of Solo Unit Songs. The solo units are great and all, but they screw over the overall balance of the other units. Because of Takamina’s solo, we have Mariko’s unit being somewhat of a leftover group, with way to many girls in it. The whole point of the unit songs, at least to me, is to give each Team Member a bit more time in the spotlight. With the last few stages, we’ve had solo songs in them, and at least one unit ends up having far too many members in them, which, at least to me, defeats the purpose of the unit itself.
The rest of the stage is great, with each song feeling distinct in some way or another, but I’m only gonna focus on the two I think are the best:
I’ve seen a lot of people say that this sounds like something you’d see from boybands like the Backstreet Boys, and…yeah, it does sound like one of those kind of songs. I think this is a great song, just for that reason though. Its got a sound that makes it unique from other AKB songs, and it just sounds cool to boot. Maybe this is a sign, that boyband-ish songs are better when song by girl groups.
The reason I like this song so much is that its finally a song about Team A, and not just about AKB in general. Normally, Team A gets the general AKB anthem for their stages, so its nice to see them change it up for once. Its also a pretty rocking song to boot.
All in all, this is a quality stage, just not when unit songs are considered. The group songs really are what make this stage, and they are defenitly some of the best to date. The only really disappointing thing about this stage for me is that it focuses far too much on the regular A front-girls. I was really excited to see some of the new members in action, primarily Iwasa Misaki (my new #2 favorite member) and Oya Shizuka, and while they were shown somewhat regularly, they kinda got shafted to a degree, especially when it came to their units. At least when they were on screen, they were frakking awesome!
So now that all three of the post-shuffle stages have been released, which do I think is the best. Well, lets break it down:
K6 – This stage is pretty great overall. Both group and unit songs have a decent number of hits, with very few misses. Team K itself is also a very well-balanced team, with a good selection of members of various talents.
B5 – Fantastic group songs, defenitly the best of the new stages. Unit songs are decent overall, but not as good as those in K6. The new Team B has grown on me considerably since first watching B5, so I would rank it well above the new Team K. Overall, B5 is fantastic overall, with only a couple of misses.
A6 – Awesome group songs, up there with B5. Unit songs are some of the worst yet, with the exception of only 2. Team A itself is also kind of a mixed bag. The overabundance of AKB front-girls means too many others get shafted, but the team seems to work well together.
Narrowing it down even more:
Group Songs – B5 – A6 – K6
Unit Songs – K6 – B5 – A6
Team – B5 – K6 – A6
So overall, it looks like I’m still a Team B fanboy. They still appeal to me the most, but I think all 3 of the new teams are fantastic. I guess its safe to say they shuffle was a great success, regardless of our initial feelings about it.