The past is always more fondly looked upon than the present. The most enjoyable part of any fandom is usually at the beginning.
Everything is fresh and interesting; every new tidbit learned about your new hobby is like opening a present wrapped in the shiniest, most attractive gift wrap. It really is unfortunate that years down the line, or maybe even sooner, it’s easy to become jaded and find yourself indifferent to a lot of news or events that would otherwise be exciting.
The most fun I’ve had in my AKB48 fandom was learning about individual members and listening to their immense library of songs for the first time; catching what I can on Youtube and any streaming sites, reading blogs, watching unsubtitled AKB variety shows trying to understand everything through context and demeanor, and grabbing hold of every precious subtitled material available. I discovered this group in the fall, and the following winter vacation consisted of nonstop, looping marathons of this stuff and stuck with me ever since.
AKB48 is currently the largest and most successful female idol group. It’s absolutely absurd how swiftly they became popular. Selling a modest 20k copies on average for the first eight or so singles, it had jumped to an astounding 90k with the release of ‘Oogoe Diamond’. With the sales climbing with each single, selling on average 130k copies, there was nothing else we could have asked for. But just four singles later, ‘RIVER’ was released, doubling their previous sales with 246k sold. A ridiculous number of singles have been selling ever since, doubling again and again until finally seeming to plateau comfortably at 650k, and carving themselves a place in Japan’s music history.
Having followed 4-5 years of material from AKB, it’s easy to lose sight of their humble beginnings. We fans complain about petty things and are quick to criticize, like we know how AKB should be run and know what’s best for the members. In these times of consistent success, we grow complacent and are harder to impress, even taking things for granted. Being a group with many girls, there are fan disputes, displays of blatant favoritism and even belligerent attitudes towards some members of AKB, signs that they’re losing sight of how they came to like AKB48 in the first place. The next song or stage is no longer “awesome!” and becomes “typical”, “too different” or “doesn’t feature my favorite member enough”.
With all that, and AKB48 currently saturating the japanese market, having tons of news to sort through and media to keep up with makes it easier than ever for me to potentially burn out and have my enthusiam dwindle; but luckily I have a secret weapon.
There’s one particular song that instantly brings back all the emotions, excitement, and unparalleled bliss that I felt when I first discovered AKB48, and that song is:
Yes, the song is named ‘AKB48’, an encore song from Team A’s first stage from 2005. This is the first song I’ve heard from their theater album, and instantly became THE song I associated with AKB48; constantly playing on loop, and the first song I put on my(now enormous) AKB playlist.
The energy, melody, chanting, and overall ambiance of the performance somehow embody everything I loved, and still love about them. All I need to do is play this song and the rare, euphoric feelings of discovery and nostalgia come flooding back, reminding me of what made me a fan in the first place and how it’s still there, if not stronger than ever. This song is amazing.