The latest phenomenon produced by Akimoto Yasushi, Nogizaka46, was in France for an exceptional day during this 15th edition of convention Japan Expo.
WHAT IS NOGIZAKA46?
Akimoto Yasushi is a japanese producer well-known for producing a certain number of idol group, especially super-stars AKB48. In 2011, Akimoto decides to create a new idol group, with a peculiar concept: “the official rivals of AKB48”. Nogizaka46 has now 44 members, from age 14 to 23, including 10 kenkyuusei (trainee members) and one kennin (double-position member who also belongs to another Akimoto group). Nogizaka46’s first generation was born with 36 members, after the first audition in June 2011. “Guru Guru Curtain”, released in february 2012, is the group’s 1st single and sold around 136,000 copies on its first week. The following singles, following a precise release schedule, confirm the huge success for the group, with bigger number of sales at every release. In May 2013, Nogizaka46’s second generation was announced and has 13 members. In July 2013 was released “Girl’s Rule”, Nogizaka’s 6th single, that blows the charts up with 337,000 copies sold within one week. The 400,000 copies in one week stepping stone is reached by their following release, “Kidzuitara Kataomoi”, with a nice score of 457,837 copies. The popularity of the group was proved very recently after Ikoma Rina’s ranking at 14th spot in the AKB48 “Senbatsu Sousenkyo” (general popularity election, with 296 candidates from Akimoto’s groups, for 80 spots, elected by the fans themselves). The Nogizaka46 member, holding a double-position in AKB48’s Team B, got a little bit more than 40,000 votes casted for her, with this election being the first one ever for a Nogizaka46 member. The group is extremely popular and successful. Their 9th single, “Natsu no Free & Easy”, released on July 9th, seems to become soon another success. Nogizaka46 announced, surprising their fans, their guest appearance at the 15th edition of Paris’ Japan Expo.
- Tsuki no Ookisa
- Girl’s Rule
- Romance no Start
- Guru Guru Curtain
- Oide Shampoo
- Aitakatta Kamoshirenai
- Seifuku no Mannequin
- Yubi Bouenkyou
- Natsu no Free & Easy
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Nogizaka46’s showcase was the event I was looking for the most for this Japan Expo. Before the concert, eight Nogizaka46 members participated to a talk booth, on the Rakuten stand, where they introduced themselves and gave their impressions on their trip, their visit of Paris and Japan Expo.
Sakurai Reika is the group captain and she was able to ask questions to the girls who were present (Eto Misa, Ikoma Rina, Takayama Kazumi, Nishino Nanase, Akimoto Manatsu, Wakatsuki Yumi, Hashimoto Nanami and Yamato Rina).
After a short introduction in french for each member, Kazumin introduced these eight girls as Nogizaka’s prettiest members. The first question was: “We were able to visit Paris a little before coming here. Girls, how did you find it?”. There were a lot of diversified answers, like Kazumi’s, who said she thought the city was beautiful and the people were very welcoming, but also said Paris would be her first trip after her wedding. Nanase said if she wasn’t in Nogizaka, she would have come to Paris as an exchange student, and added “Also, the pigeons here are very pretty.”.
The girls had the opportunity to visit the Louvre museum and the Versailles castle, and were also able to enjoy french cuisine, as added by Eto Misa “I tried some french specialties like bread, and I bought some for my family.” and Yamato Rina “I love french cuisine: steak, potatoes, crepes… I gained weight, so when I am back in Japan, I will go on a diet.”
This talk-show ended with small pieces of advice from the girls to the audience so they can enjoy the upcoming showcase the fullest. Let’s follow the advice from Takayama Kazumi: “When we sing, we take a good care at looking at the audience in the eyes. We would like you to look back at us with the same intensity.” or Ikoma Rina: “I’d like to hear you scream. During the concert, I will raise my fist like this, and I’d like you to do the same. It allows us to enjoy it together.”
A rather small event were the only interest was to be able to see the girls from up close.
After this, Nogizaka46 members went to the 15 Years Anniversary Stage for a talk-show that was rather similar to the previous one at the Rakuten booth. The extra interest was to be able to see new faces on stage like Matsumura Sayuri, Shiraishi Mai and Fukagawa Mai. The content was more rich but in the end very close to the Rakuten booth talk, with less advertising and a warmer feeling, thanks to the host who was motivating fans into making some noise. This is were I will talk about the main problem during the Nogizaka46 events: the audience, whose reactions were very shy. It wasn’t “shy” because they were lacking of interest in supporting the group, nor because they didn’t know them, but “shy” because they were lacking interest in “playing the game japanese-style”. Let’s admit that organizing a talk-show between a japanese artist and french fans isn’t the most ideal situation. There is necessarily abrupt cuts in the talk-show flow caused by the interpretor. In spite of this, we really enjoyed participating in this talk-show.
After this was the main event for Nogizaka46 at Japan Expo: their showcase, on the Japan Expo Live House stage.
I can’t help but notice the absence of “Kizuitara Kataomoi” and “Barette” in their setlist, two tracks I like a lot.
It was a immense joy to see them in front of my eyes, for a very high-quality showcase! I was able to take a lot of very pretty pictures and enjoyed it the fullest.
During the MCs, the girls played with the audience and it was the opportunity for fans to express the joy they felt about seeing them.
As I wasn’t in the audience but in the press corner, I asked my friend Nash, 48Group fan since 2009 and Nogizaka46 fan since their debut, who had a difference experience. Here are his impressions about Nogizaka’s showcase in Japan Expo:
They started with a rather weird VTR introducing Nogizaka46 as the ideal japanese women, including all the stereotypes we can apply to them.”
After this introduction, we started talking about the main subject: the concert.
As for me, I loved it. The girls were all beautiful, their performance was well-prepared, the MCs were greatly-led and funny.
About the setlist, it was a big surprise to note the absence of “Barette” and “Kizuitara Kataomoi”, that were the two singles sold at the Rakuten booth, the latter being, in my opinion, Nogizaka46’s best single. But let’s not get too picky.
The biggest problem, for me, during the concert, didn’t come from Nogizaka46 but from the audience. They were a bit slow or composed by a lot of curious bystanders, it lacked a bit of cheerful atmosphere. This is not a criticism though: I would be more than happy if Nogizaka46 gained fans and popularity from this concert, but it is a fact.
No calls, no chants, close to no wotagei, except for these 2 or 3 japanese fans on the first row, but very lonely…
It is very surprising to see that japanese audience is way more dynamic than french audience, as japanese people are often seen as very quiet people.
“ATSUI” (hot) was the word Nogizaka46 used when describing the french audience but unfortunately, it wasn’t very accurate.
Other thing that didn’t go as planned for Nogizaka46: the planning.
The fact they annonced their guest appearance very late didn’t give much time to the fandom to organize themselves to come.
Right before Nogizaka46, living-god Yoshiki was performing on the Live House stage, with a burning fever in the audience… “ENDLESS RAIN!” 5000 fans in the Live House hall screamed all together.
In spite of everything, this showcase was a great concert. It was the first Nogizaka46 for me, and I burnt my throat by yelling everytime I would make eye-contact with Maiyan, Nanaese, Sayrin and everyone else!
An excellent memory that I spent wearing my happi, my Nogizaka46 tee-shirt and muffler, and with my precious glowsticks.
Special thanks to Melody for the english translation !
Nogizaka46’s showcase at Japan Expo 2014 full version :