With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, January 23, 2012

ACF 1326: Review of NEW PEOPLE's DVD "Documentary AKB48 to be continued"

DOCUMENTARY of AKB 48 to be continued came out on DVD in the U.S. the beginning of this past December from NEW PEOPLE Entertainment. Culled from over 1000 hours of recorded video throughout 2010, it provides an interesting look inside the all-female idol group that is one of if not the biggest phenomenons in J-Pop today.

Just how big a phenomenon is AKB48? Well, here are just a few of the items that have appeared recently at Tokyograph, a news and information website dedicated to Japanese pop culture that was founded in June 2006:

AKB48 was formed by music producer Yasushi Akimoto in 2005. The "AKB" stands for A-Ki-Ha-Bara, the Tokyo district that is a center for electronics and anime´/ pop culture.  As one of the title cards at the beginning of the documentary indicates, the group has a theater in Akihabara that is exclusive for their performances, which take place almost every day. The "48" stands for the number of official members in the group, which is divided into Teams A, K and B, with 16 members in each. In addition, there are "trainees," the number of which varies, who aspire to become members of one of the teams as vacancies occur.

The concept behind AKB48 is that they are "Idols you can always meet" and this comes across clearly in the documentary. The members, who seem to range in age from about 14 to their early 20s, are shown talking directly to the members of the audience. One of the phrases they most often employ, both onstage and in on-camera interviews, is "our dreams" and talking about striving to achieve their dreams creates a bridge of intimacy between them and their audience. Also, in recent years the group has started to hold elections to determine who will be involved in recording singles. in which fans vote for their favorites and the girl ranked Number 1 performs at the center of the group.

The documentary provides interviews with several members and those shown impressed me with a degree of maturity and articulation beyond what I would have expected from those so young. There are also shots of the girls in rehearsal and performing. We also get to see some of them doing "real life" things such as eating out at restaurants, shopping, and so forth. 

DOCUMENTARY of AKB 48 to be continued was produced by group founder Akimoto, so it's clearly an "in-house" type of production. If you come to it expecting a hard-hitting, Michael Moore kind of expose´, you'll be disappointed. This is no "warts and all" kind of film.

But it is an insightful opportunity to enter the world of these dedicated, hard-working and, yes, very talented young women. ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; solidly recommended.

DOCUMENTARY of AKB 48 to be continued is available at NEW PEOPLE, Amazon and elsewhere.

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