Akimoto Yasushi interview from Weekly Playboy SKE special (published in may 2012), regarding the complete SKE48 set list (except for Team E S2 「Saka Agari」), which wasn’t yet decided at the time of the interview.
Caution : the 1st part is a mix of translation and digests, while the second part (Future of SKE48) is a complete translation.
Caution 2 : 「Sensei-sensei’s words are at time too wise for us mortals to understand」 -rehi- ie, Yasusu likes to speak in enigmatic terms so if you get confused at some point… that’s normal. I was too.
Special thanks to rehikari for proofreading (o°^°)b
SKE48 exclusive producer Akimoto Yasushi comments on SKE48 complete setlist and talks about the group’s future.
Team S 1st stage 「Party ga Hajimaruyo」
Akimoto - Stage with the lowest degree of difficulty so that’s why I chose it at the time. Even though now HKT is starting with 「Te wo Tsunaginagara」 and NMB with 「Dareka no Tameni」.
Q - Did you think a lot about who would inherit the duet?
Akimoto - Of course, like 「No doubt Maeda Atsuko’s position is going to Matsui Jurina 」, 「Mieko or Deguchi (Aki) who have a good voice will be performing 「Anata to Christmas Eve」」, those kind of things.
But in the end it was a complete different 「Party」 from the Team A or Team K one.
Q - After this revival stage, you gave Team S the now so called “Godly stage” (tln : 神公演/ kami kouen), Team S 2nd 「Te wo Tsunaginagara」. Did you have any “expectations” when you created it?
Akimoto - The 1st of them was ”life-sized figure”. At the time AKB48 started selling very well, in a sense they had reached professional level. So I decided to leave Team S to perform songs closer to the audience. That’s also why there were a lot of songs with a school/academy theme.
Q - The title song for the stage is also in this vein right? Like “Let’s hold hands with those friends we just met at school and walk forward”.
Akimoto - In a team there are girls who learn fast and some who don’t. But they have to all progress together. Even if some girls seem like they’re going to fall behind. 「We won’t let anyone on the side of the road, I want us to go on together」, that’s the kind of hope I put into this stage.
After all, teams are groups put together by fate. I perceived that team love in S. 「Te wo Tsunaginagara」 was the perfect phrase to embody this feeling. I constructed the whole stage based on that expression.
Q - Unit songs were all “Godly songs” too.
Akimoto - Matsui Jurina started to shine as an ace, I wanted a song that would show her talent as a dancer, so I chose 「Glory Days」. For Yagami (Kumi), Takai (Tsukina), Mori (Sayuki) who had strong idol vibes, I made an unerring typical idol song 「Wimbledon he Tsureteitte」.
And then I made「Ame no Pianist」 because I was curious about Matsui Rena’s splendor, I wanted to bring out her talent as an actress.
[…] I arranged the interlude so she would show off her amazingness.
- Akimoto knew 「Innocence」 was going to be popular but was surprised by 「Romance Rocket」 being well received.
- Last 「Tooku ni Ite mo」 : message is that even if some members are absent, may it be because they’re in Tokyo or further away, members’ hearts are one.
- Team S 3rd stage 「Seifuku no me」 in a word “potential”. 「This stage brought out the potential, lying under those uniforms, of S as a team」.
- “For example, Matsui Jurina’s unit song 「Omoide Ijou」, maybe it sounds foolish at first to say of a 12 years old girl that she goes 「Omoide Ijou / Beyond expectations」. But if anyone had the potential to go there, beyond expectations, I think that would be that young girl.”
- 「Okami to Pride」 was given to Kumi because she was cute in 「Wimbledon」.
- Akimoto thought both 「Romance Rocket」 and 「Onnanoko no Dairokukan」 were plain when he wrote them.
- 「Pinocchio Gun」 is one song only SKE48 can perform, 「given how stupid or rather, furious」 it is.
Team KII Setlist. 1st stage 「Aitakatta」.
Akimoto - For me it’s the stage that turns the spotlight on the girls, in AKB48 already I wrote 「Nagisa no CHERRY」 to bring out Maeda Atsuko as a star. Then I had to wonder 「Who would get Maeda’s position?」 and such. That’s something I decided by consulting the staff.
Q - Do you proceed like 「If I give that position to that girl she will grow that way」, with a clear goal in mind?
Akimoto - No, no, nothing like that. For example, imagine you have lots of corn grains and you make them fry in a pan called “stage”. What I simply do is watch 「Oh, one popped over there?」「Oh, another one popped over here」. At first, I don’t have any clear objective. So even if I make a mistake, I watch over the result to see what “existence” came out.
2nd stage 「Te wo Tsunaginagara」 (interviewer calls it “SKE48’s soul”)
- “It’s difficult to have different teams in a same group performing the same stage. That was also from there that the rivalry between Team A and Team K arose. Questions like 「Who is getting Maeda’s position?」 「Who’s getting Kojima’s one?」 can’t be avoided.”
- “Certainly, Mukaida (Manatsu) who had the same position as Matsui Jurina got compared to her a lot”.
- Mukaida’s image grew different from Jurina’s one as she herself grew up and being compared to her (Jurina) all the time must have been hard.
- Akimoto recognizes he let that stage go for too long and remembers how Akane addressed him directly during 2011 elections, asking for an original stage.
KII 3rd stage 「Ramune no Nomikata」
Q- […] Takayanagi-san reported that the first time they heard the song of the same name, the whole team broke into tears. There is little doubt you actually wrote that song “specifically for KII to sing”, am I right?
Akimoto - No, actually I didn’t think that far.
- The hardest part in making a stage is to narrow down the selection to only 16 songs.
- “I’ve to choose among 1000 songs for the singles. I keep those I think would be interesting for stages and end up with around 100 songs. I think of an order and organize them. Once done, I start writing the lyrics”.
- “I sometimes change the songs order depending on the lyrics I come up with. Of course I keep the members in mind but the most important thing is to get the most perfect possible program as a whole. To achieve that, before inserting the lyrics, is probably the hardest part”.
- For example, initially 「Wimbledon」 was in 3rd position and I thought of including 「Disco Hokenshitsu」 in too.
- “I chose Hata (Sawako) for 「Kodoku na Ballerina」 after watching a demo-tape of her dancing.”
- 「Akushu no Ai」 is similar to B’s 「Theater no Megami」 or 「Shonichi」 : brings to reality, an abstract but important “concept”. Akimoto’s message to Akane and all the KII members he judged to be “too serious” via this song is 「Don’t be so much on the edge. If you don’t look on the long run, you’ll exhaust yourself.」
Team E 1st 「Pajama Drive」 (Last performance was celebrated one month before the interview).
Akimoto - Truth be told, Team E isn’t quite there yet. But that’s also part of AKB48 group concept, to show them progress.
Q - But isn’t 「Pajama Drive」 an extremely hard stage to start with?
Akimoto - But it’s also a very idol-fitting program, so it’s interesting, right? With cute song like 「Gokigen Naname na Mermaid」 or 「Hissatsu Teleport」 and more serious ones likes 「Inochi no Tsukaimichi」. I was looking forward to seeing how Team E was going to manage that gap.
SKE48’s future (complete, no digest)
Q - And now the Team E 1st stage has ended. We would also appreciate to see a new S stage soon. So I’d like to talk about SKE48’s future if you want…
Akimoto - Regarding an eventual original stage, right now I’m writing team N stage for NMB48. Next will be…. for Team S maybe….? I’m still not sure….
Q - We will look forward to it (laugh)! Also, in March during Saitama Super Arena concert, it was announced that Matsui Jurina and Watanabe Miyuki would respectively be temporarily transferred to Team K and Team B. Fans’ reactions have been really scattered. Some brought out that 「They’re from different groups, so why the rental?」 for example…
Akimoto - But, they all belong to one big group in the end. SKE48, NMB48, HKT48 too. If they are around for 6 or 7 years, I believe they will achieve the same popularity as AKB48. But it’s a process that takes time. That’s why I selected sister groups members, so they would be noticed 「This girl is cute! So that’s Watanabe Miyuki?」「Ah, so that’s Matsui Jurina?!」 , and from there I hope they will want to look into NMB48 or SKE48.
Q - Like when in 「Oogoe Diamond」 you put Matsui Jurina as double center with Maeda Atsuko, it raised SKE48’s degree of familiarity among the public, right?
Akimoto - At the time, AKB48 fans reacted with a 「Ehーー?!」. But I think that’s what triggered the passage of the group as major. Also, Jurina and Watanabe holding two posts at the time now is vital to the preparation of post-Jurina and post-Milky. Because anyone is meant to have a chance. It should stimulate Team S and Team N too.
Q - And then after the SSA announcement, you posted this astonishing message on Google+ 「If this decision turns out to be a mistake, I’ll resign from my position as SKE48 and NMB48 producer.」
Akimoto - … But I’m thinking 「If I cease to be their producer, won’t it finally allow the sister groups to be responsible for their individual finances?」.
Q - Ehh?!! Is that true?? Please don’t abandon them!
Akimoto - No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m including sister groups members in AKB48 senbatsu, I’m making sister groups members play in 「Majisuka Gakuen」but…. wouldn’t it be better if they were independent? For example, if another producer was to produce SKE48 and NMB48. If it was to happen, that would probably be interesting I think.
Q - God only knows how serious Akimoto-sensei was here…. What is sure however is that SKE48, NMB48 and AKB48 are all moving forward to a new, the 2nd, chapter of their history. What will become of SKE48 in this AKB48 group?
Whatever that might be, I’m looking forward to it!