When I was first chosen, I was nervous. In fact you can read my nervousness down below. “What am I gonna do? Will I have to interview people? Speak in front of everyone? Announce to the English-audience?”
But, of course, there’s no way they would give people that much responsibility. When it was all said and done, there was a definitely a sense of disappointment. The real extent of my involvement was really just a photo with the other reporters and an interview with the Associated Press. They said it was a good interview, so I’m hoping it gets some play and it’s not embarrassing to the point where I can share it with everyone. It would’ve been nicer to get more interviews, and I probably would have if I wasn’t Asian-looking.
(We were also supposed to +1 people on G+ during the election as well as provide continual live updates, but the WiFi device they gave us to connect with ran out of battery just after Nakayan gave her speech.)
But with those feelings of disappointment also came thankfulness. The staff was extremely helpful, I can’t really put it into words. I was treated so nicely. I got a ticket to watch the election, I was flown out here and put in a hotel, things that many fans would love to have. But I really can’t get over how helpful the staff was. It would be great to send them gifts when I return, and I might do that.
As this was my first live AKB event, I was absolutely stunned by the crowd. You can’t feel the energy and the vibes on DVDs. Being there was just a completely different atmosphere, I couldn’t believe it. The way people were into it was amazing. I thought I would be a bit disturbed because of the fans but they were all just as normal as a fanatic could be. I was a bit envious because they all seemed to be in lockstep mentally and I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was still fairly disappointed that it was lip-synched but at the same time, SKE48’s Aishiteraberu was just crazy to be a part of.
My personal interest in the election mostly had to do with people below 16th place. I love stories like redemption, when a member falls from grace and recovers… or stories like people getting in for the first time. I seem to empathize more with the kid that struggles to make the team and see his hard work pay off than the superstar who just barely finishes outside MVP range.
There were definitely a lot of those feelings… starting with 63rd place and the stunning selection of an SKE member I have never heard about in Nakanishi Yuka. 3 of the other reporters selected with me were huge SKE fans so it was fun to watch them go nuts every time they called out an SKE name.
For me, being an NMB fan, I was elated to see Maachun make the Top 64. I was happy to hear Nana’s name called out, and I literally got goosebumps when they called out Ainyan, especially because she finished ahead of Nana. It’s great to hear stories about how Haachan gets to be back in the election, how Kobayashi Kana had a sudden resurgence, how Nagao Mariya finished ahead of Team 4 star Suzuran, to see Nakayan finish in senbatsu after having written a book about she never did, to see Matsumura Kaori finish at 34 purely on the strength of her Google+. Even up until 16 there were some great comeback stories, as Umeda Ayaka managed to hit senbatsu which was amazing to see. When they called Takajo for 17, I remember thinking, “Wait… Umechan hasn’t been called yet? And there’s no way she’s below some of the people here…”
The election was not without its disappointment too. I was disappointed to see Yamamoto Sayaka miss her goal of breaking senbatsu, and her speech was pretty touching to me, as she spoke of the responsibility of being a senbatsu member and felt that she failed the fans expectation, but at the same time she thanked her senpai for raising her properly. You almost never see her tear up, but she almost got there. People missed the goals they set out for themselves… and it was even sad to see as the unchosen members walk out. I was definitely surprised to see Mitsumune Kaoru just stand up and cry, and I wonder if anyone else caught that as well…
After sitting there and hearing so many speeches and how they struggled, learning about their campaigns, learning about how they reach out to fans, I realized that each member really has their own story, one that’s amazing to follow. It’s great to follow a member and see her struggle to get what she so badly wanted, to see them just work so hard to get a slice of recognition, and to finally see it. And this was true for almost all the members this year, including our #1 in Oshima Yuko.
At the same time, I began to think about my life. It was amazing to see so many people support this group of singers and dancers and entertainers and how they worked hard to create a story of their own, to make themselves someone to be proud of. I had to think… what is my story? And what am I doing to make people proud of me?
Before I can worry about other people, especially entertainers with whom I have no true connection with, I feel like I have to worry about myself first and get myself in check first. I was re-exposed to a lot of weaknesses I have in Japanese since being here. I’m still reminded of how I dislike my job, yet haven’t been doing anything to get out of it. I’m still not in shape, which just sucks when I’m almost hitting the year mark since starting Filipino martial arts. I don’t feel like I can really show up and support other people when I can’t even support myself. I guess you can say, in that way, the election is inspiring, not just for other people, but for myself. I definitely need to try and not live this half-assed life of mine.
I’m not sure if going to attend the election is an experience I’d like to do again. There’s just so much of an emotional roller coaster that you travel on, it’s really difficult on the nerves. In addition, it was kinda lonely out there because I didn’t really have anyone to talk to, which was very strange for going to a live event. Maybe it’s because I have to work on my Japanese.
However, in the end, it was definitely an experience I’m proud to have received. I hope I was able to connect to everyone reading this, and that I did you guys proud as well. I’ll continue to update this blog, perhaps even more so as I seek to improve my Japanese by so much more.
As for my free time today, I don’t have much planned so I’m gonna kick back, relax, do some shopping, eat some great food and take it easy as I get ready to return home tomorrow.