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AKB48 2017 Election Comments – Tashima Meru/Sashihara Rino (by request)

Tashima Meru: Hi, I’m HKT48 Team H’s Tashima Meru. At last year’s election, I ranked in at 43rd. Thank you very much for that. Now look at this Merusaurus here, do you know how it was born? Actually, it was born from my mind while I was wondering what kind of character to make as a personal character. At first it was a tiny Merusaurus, but with everyone’s love it started growing bigger and bigger. In this way, I hope it can keep growing even bigger by holding hands with everyone. [sign: Teaming up as one] My goal for the election is to rank within the 30s. Also, please let me tell you the pledge I thought up. I want to give the Merusaurus another shape, just like this one, and convey it to you. Ah, I was able to say it. While coming together in unity, this election I want to get bigger and bigger and rank up! Please cheer me on! Ei~ei~oh~

Sashihara Rino: Hello, everyone. I’m HKT48’s Sashihara Rino. This year’s election will be my last election. The reason for that is that I want to pass the baton to the younger members. And the reason I’m entering the election this year is because last year, even though I didn’t call it my last election, I was able to come in at #1. So I thought that if I didn’t enter this year, it would be like taking my win and running. That’s why I decided to enter this year. I might not be able to get 1st this year. Even so, I want to take up a fighting pose. I strongly believe that one cannot survive in the entertainment world without putting up a “fighting pose” at all times. That’s something I want to relay to my juniors. It’s something I’ve learned from the election. Well, that might have been me trying to sound cool, but anyway, I want to make my campaign pledge here! This year, I want to put on the 2nd Yubimatsuri! The details aren’t worked out yet, but I’ll start working on it if I get #1. Please look forward to it at that time. I’m gonna do my best to get 1st this year! Come at me!

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Liner Notes: Team Surprise “Dessan”

These are the translated liner notes to the new AKB48 Team Surprise song “Dessan [Rough Sketch]”. The original source is here [LINER NOTE | デッサン公式サイト]

(I’m not sure about the name of the writer or a little bit of the musical explanation, however, it shouldn’t be too far off the mark)

———

It’s a song about getting into a fight over an insignificant thing,
with “I [boku]” being the one to step up and compromise.

Listening to this song, the first thing I thought was, “Ah, it’s 6/8”. “6/8” being a song in 6/8 time. “Let me see, are there any other AKB48 songs in this time signature?” but I couldn’t think of any offhand. Slow ballads in soul and country often use 6/8 time, but it’s an unusual rhythm for an idol pop song, because it can’t really be said that it’s suited for group dances.

Of the famous songs in 6/8 time, I soon thought of the following three. “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, called “Futari no kizuna [Our Bond]” in Japanese. The version by Simply Red is famous. The original song is by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. This sweet ballad in 6/8 time is the example of examples. Next is “The End of the World”, titled in Japanese, “Kono yo no hate made [To the end of this world]”. The version by Brenda Lee is famous, but the original song is by Skeeter Davis. Skeeter’s version might just be one of the greatest masterpieces of idol pop ever. One more song, “When I Need You”, titled in Japanese “Haruka naru omoi [Distant Feelings]” is of course a ballad by Leo Sayer. There are also many covers of this song. Being that there are so many sweet, sweet love songs written in 6/8 time, it’s interesting that each of these has a complete Japanese translation.

When it comes to 6/8 in Japan, it has to be this song… RC Succession’s “Slow Ballad”, I suppose. Please try singing it at karaoke. The 6/8 in the A-melody of this song is the real deal.

Now then, in regards to our own AKB48 and songs in 6/8 time, hmm. There are 5 songs I can think of. The one song I can say firmly “This is in 6/8!” about is “Classmate”. From the intro, there’s a full sense that it’s a ballad in 6/8. Just to be on the safe side, I’ll explain little by little. When I say “6/8”, it means it has a rhythm where “within one bar of music, there are 6 8th notes”. “Don ta taa tsu ta taa” is what the rhythm is like. However, you shouldn’t think that you can reduce it to 3/4 time. “3/4 time” is, in a word, a “waltz”. There are 3 beats. However, since “6/8 time” is comprised of “two measures of 3 notes”, we can go as far as to say that these are two different time signatures.
It’s a totally different, unusual rhythm, but one that is just right for ballads.

The other four songs are “Haru ga kuru made”, “Mushi no ballad”, “Yokaze no shiwaza”, and “Noel no yoru”. The feeling that it’s in 6/8 time isn’t quite as strong, but it’s there when you count it off. As suspected, they’re all ballads.

This preface has become rather long. Let’s get into introducing “Dessan”. It’s got that “don ta taa tsu ta taa” rhythm from the intro. An instrument that sounds like an electric sitar goes “piyooon”. Takahashi Minami begins singing. After half of the A-melody, Sashihara Rino starts singing. It’s easy to recognize both of their voices, so you’ll know instantly who’s singing which part.

The song’s structure is simple. “A melody, B melody, chorus” are repeated twice, and after the second time around the D-melody (grand chorus) starts. And then a repeat of the chorus. The singing keeps going without interlude. What’s this? This arrangement is a little more elaborate. Earlier, with a self-satisfied expression (although I didn’t actually have one) I said that “6/8 time and 3/4 time have different rhythms”, but what about the arrangement of this duet?? Certainly, it progresses in 6/8 time through the A-melody and B-melody, but the chorus feels different. No matter how you look at it, the chorus takes a “3 beat waltz” rhythm. “Zun cha chaa zun cha chaa” is a waltz. Doesn’t your body just want to sway with the tempo of this song’s chorus, which appears to be a slightly quick tempo waltz?

I’ve got it now. It’s the “downbeat”. Though the tempo hasn’t changed, the way the bass is played has changed. When we enter the chorus, the bass doubles (1 bar is played twice). According to that, the beginning of the verse becomes “zun”, and it starts to feel like a waltz. It’s certainly an arrangement that takes fearsome skill. If this was a quiz, that was a trick question I was on the verge of getting stuck on. By the way, I can’t think of any waltzes in AKB48’s repertoire besides “Honehone waltz”, but I wonder if there are any.

The characters in the lyrics are “I [boku]” and “you [kimi]”, a couple. It’s a song about getting into a fight over an insignificant thing, with “I [boku]” being the one to step up and compromise. “You [kimi]” seems to be dancing in a ballet classroom. Because “you” gave “me” a giggle, it seems the two were able to reconcile peacefully.

The MV has some considerably complex creations. The models and constructions on the set must have been planned out in advance, and even though it’s a duet between Takahashi and Sashihara, it matches each of their separate movements, rotating with them, so the two of them can’t ever meet. The world created in the lyrics also tries to show the listener a picture of this feeling of passing each other by, making it a very ambitious production. Even the costumes – Takahashi Minami in white, Sashihara Rino in black – help create a contrast. When this song, “Dessan”, is performed live, I would like to see the return of the revolving set, if possible. I want to see it live.

-Ishigami Gen

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Sashihara Rino 2013 Election Interview

This interview with Sasshi appears in the “AKB48 Official Election Guidebook 2013”. Plain text indicates Sasshi’s answers, bold text indicates the interviewer.

—–
When she announced she would run for this year’s election, Sashihara made up her mind to have no doubts.

“I talked about this in my appeal video as well. I didn’t have a single ounce of doubt about this. Even though so many people went out of their way to give me so much support last year, I was transferred almost immediately to HKT. So I was full of feelings like ‘I’ve caused so much trouble for others, there’s no excuse for this’. But even as I was, there are people who have kept cheering me on, and there are also people who saw me for the first time in HKT and became fans. There was no reason not to run for election.”

You made great leaps ahead last year, landing at 4th place, and gained attention and limelight as a sort of heroine. And this year is the first year you will compete as part of HKT48. You’re garnering attention of a different kind this time…

“I’ve become a lot stronger since I transferred to HKT. I’ve started to try to have more fun with everything. Even though I loved it so much, I haven’t been checking the internet (laughs), and thanks to that I’ve been told that my personality has brightened up too. I might be inviting a misunderstanding here, but right now, I’m having the most fun and feeling the most emotionally fulfilled.

A little while ago, Miichan (Minegishi Minami) told me, ‘Sashihara, isn’t it like you came from the future? Since you already know everything that’s going to happen from now on, you can just keep following that path.’ I thought, ‘That’s true!’

That’s why, in this year’s election, though my goal might be shameless, it’s ‘way up at the top’! Fans have told me that it would be nice to see all of HKT take the stage. I also think that would be great, but on the other hand, the election is a battle between individuals. So I have to harden my heart and view the other girls in HKT as rivals.”

Onstage at the 3rd election, a place where members who aren’t normally in the spotlight can shine, Sashihara said of herself in her speech“I’m bad at dancing, bad at singing, and I’m not cute”. She could be called a member who personified those qualities from the start.

“The HKT members often say things like, ‘if I’m in the very back row in the next single, what should I do~?’, but when they do, I tell them ‘Even I haven’t been placed in nothing but the back row. But even if that’s the only position you get, if you properly project your own character, even if you’re not in senbatsu, you’ll have a chance for activities on television’.

Isn’t the biggest chance, then, the election? I’ve always been on the fringes of AKB, but the single that comes out after the election is the one place I would be able to sing in the center, so I really love it. That’s why I ran for the election this year too. Even if my rank falls here, I really think I’ll be able to have fun from the bottom of my heart.”

At some point, the negative, ‘hetare character’ Sashiko had disappeared.

“Of course, even now I still suck at singing and dancing, and I know my face isn’t cute, but somewhere I’ve made that clear. I guess it took a weight off my shoulders. Before, even when I was able to appear on variety shows, I was really nervous. But now, I feel like I should just have fun while recording TV shows.

The other day, when I was able to appear on “Odoru! Sanma Goten!!”, I was able to have fun without being nervous in the slightest, and I was able to participate in the conversations of the other talents who were there. The result of that was receiving the chance to do “Odoru! Hit Shou!!” Everything changed, being able to have fun like that. I’ve become strong. When I was in AKB, I thought many times that I wanted to be left alone, but in HKT, that side of me has faded away. I’ve learned how to have fun both as an HKT member and as Sashihara Rino, the solo artist.”

Since you joined HKT48, I’ve often seen you spot and talk up back-line members on TV shows, and help to raise their power level in talk segments.

“I think there are a ton of really interesting girls in HKT, and even though I still have a long way to go myself, I’d like to help them along the path if I can. I keep thinking, it’s not limited to HKT, but if more SKE and NMB members can become famous, that’s a good thing for the 48 group and for me.

It’s already over, but it’d be nice if we could have more shows like “Hakata Hyakkaten”, where we have conversations about members and their various attributes. Right now Miichan and I are in charge of variety, and we trade off talking to each other a lot, back and forth. I’m very thankful for that, but it would be nice if there were more members like that. I think, if only we could look for girls who seem like they would fit into that box.

Speaking of which, lately, Natsumikan (HKT48’s Tanaka Natsumi) has been really good! I think we’ve discovered an amazing new talent. I also want Miichan to recruit from the ranks of the research students.”

We’re finally facing the 5th AKB48 Senbatsu Election. Sashihara, with a smile that looked like she was having fun from the bottom of her heart, had this to say.

“No matter what happens, I want to stay in HKT, and when I graduate, I want to graduate from HKT. I think there are a lot of girls in HKT that everyone has come to want to support. I understand that feeling too. But I just turned 20, so it’s a really critical time. I hope everyone can watch over me with composure, but if it happens that my popularity doesn’t go up, I’ll understand (laughs). I’ll be counting on your wholehearted support!”
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