Nogizaka46 – End of a Summer. The Captain leaves the Circle.
On Sunday 1st September 2019 was the final day of the “Manatsu no Zenkoku 2019 Tour” of the Japanese idol group Nogizaka46 and it has become a tradition for Nogizaka46 to celebrate this final day at the Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium, Tokyo. This year’s summer tour featured eight concerts in Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka and Tokyo and mobilized 290,000 fans. During the three days in Tokyo alone 35,000 fans per day, 105,000 fans in total. Due to the special occasion and extreme demand, the concert of the last day was broadcast live in 232 cinemas with 250 screens all over Japan and 70,000 fans had the opportunity to follow the concert.
Before each concert a small greeting with a rule of conduct is usually transmitted by members of Nogizaka46 to the fans and even before the concert began a cheer went through the masses of fans. This time the speech was given by the group “Tulip”, which includes Ikuta Erika, Takayama Kazumi, Wada Maaya and a special member Himura Yuki from Bananaman.
A video showed opening clips from the tour and the members of the first generation going to the Jingu Stadium, joining together in a circle and then climbing up to the stage. The scene was shot the day before and many members like Akimoto Manatsu, Ikuta Erika and many more were in tears. At the same time they cut to the main stage and you saw the Nogizaka46 members appear on stage. Standing side by side with Shiraishi Mai as the center, she enthusiastically asked the fans: “Jingu, are you ready to celebrate? Are you excited yet? To the finale, let it all out” and the fans replied with cheers. With “Jingu be noisy” she started the classic Nogizaka summer song “Girls Rule” and the mood in the whole stadium rose enormously. Saito Asuka fired on the fans during “Taiyou Knock” “Your love, show it” and Hori Miona during “Natsu no Free & Easy” “Jingu, be the loudest this summer!” As the members gathered on the main stage from their excursion to the side stages and the car, which this time was loaded with two giant cocktails this summer, “Hadashi de Sommer” was intoned and the crowd cheered as the fourth summer song in a row was performed.
During the first moderation Shiraishi Mai explained: “The time passed so quickly until the last day and when this Jingu is finished, the summer is over. – I will touch many members at this concert”, she explained to the audience, “I have already touched Asuka-chan twice”. When Matsumura Sayuri demanded, “I am waiting!” she replied with laughter from the audience, “Then wait!” A scene from the manual of the “Bakacouple”.
Shinuchi Mai reminded of the special occasion of the day the graduation of Sakurai Reika, who leaves the group after the concert. “Today is the last day of the tour, but for Reika it is the finale” and Sakurai showed a bitter smile, “I have only cried since the rehearsals”. Shinuchi struggling with tears shouted to the fans afterwards: “Look at Reika from behind and from the front!” – At the end Sakurai confessed laughing: “At the opening I made a mistake! – So Ponkotsu!” Akimoto, who saw the incident, “With ‘Hadashi de Sommer’ only one raised her hand”. “I thought we do it as usual”, Sakurai replied laughing and the spectators joined in.
The presentation ended with a video about the 3rd and 4th generation. Pictures of the new generations, which will be the future of Nogizaka46, introduced the block of the 3rd and 4th generation. And the block started with a surprise. Ozono Momoko, who missed the entire tour for health reasons, brought a breath of fresh air to the stage as the center of the 3rd generation song “Sanbanme no Kaze”. She acknowledged the cheers of the fans with her typical smile. Afterwards the 4th generation, who joined the group last year, presented their song “Yonbanme no Hikari” for the first time to the audience. Both generations presented together “Tokitokimekimeki” and “Kissu no Shuriken” in a unique presentation, which delighted the fans with their Kawaiiness.
Later, during the moderation, the 3rd and 4th generation was responsible, Yoda Yuki told that in “Jikochuuu de Ikou!” she always touched Saito Asuka the center and demon of the “Daruma-san ga koronda” transition and she fears that this will become boring. She also explained that she hugged and kissed many. From time to time she hugged someone from behind in her own way, which looked more like a headlock. When asked what she wanted to do today, she replied: “I want a kiss from Asuka” and the crowd became attentive. “I don’t know if I can make it at the show, if it’s something special.”
In the last years, during the sub-unit part, the members were allowed to let their creativity run free and presented Nogizaka46 songs in a new composition and changed performance. Hori Miona started with “Jiyuu no Kanata” together with the members Sasaki Kotoko, Ito Riria, Yoshida Ayano Christie, Sato Kaede, Kitagawa Yuri and Hayakawa Seira and presented the song with an emotional choreography. The duet Saito Asuka in red with Endo Sakura in blue followed. Both showed with an expressive choreography the song “Hoka no Hoshi Kara”, which was originally shown by Sakurai Reika and Nakada Kana.
Whenever the Nogizaka46 wunderkind Ikuta Erika can produce her own show segment, the fans have to anticipate surprises. This time she reworked the song “Hakumai-sama” of the popular Nogizaka46 sub-unit Sayuringo Gundam and presented it with the new sub-unit “NOGEAMGIRLS” in the style of a 1960s Las Vegas show. As members for “NOGEAMGIRLS” she chose the members who are known to be good singers, Ito Junna, Kubo Shiori and Kaki Haruka.
At the end of this part Sakurai Reika showed what Nogizaka46 understands by being Cool. The song “Jibun Jyanai Kanji” of the 3rd generation started with a solo dance performance by Sakurai Reika, who then collected Sakaguchi Tamami, Kanagawa Saya, Nakada Kana and Wada Maaya on her way to the main stage. There they presented the song in a breathtaking and energetic performance.
A video about the development of Nogizaka46 in the last eight years was shown and Saito Asuka told about her life and dreams with Nogizaka46. The following block was introduced by Shiraishi Mai on the central stage, who walked under bombastic sounds to Saito Asuka, who was waiting on the main stage. A blazing intro started “Influencer” and the fans let the stadium shine in red with their light sticks. With the start of “Inochi wa Utsukushii” the stadium turned into a dark blue. The hits “Nandome no Aozora Ka?” and “Synchonicity” followed. The two UNDER songs of the 22nd and 23rd singles made the block. “Kassouro” with Terada Rance as center of an elegant performance followed by “Nichijou”. In “Nichijou”, which is characterized by a powerful message and aggressive beat, the members presented impressive solo performances and fascinated the audience with an energetic choreography and stage show with Kitano Hinako as the center.
UNDER by Nogizaka46 brings together all members who do not belong to the senbatsu of the title song in the current single. With each single, this group part gets their own songs, which until now have only been presented by members who once belonged to UNDER. But after eight years there are only a handful of members left to whom this applies and therefore this year it was decided to present UNDER songs by all members.
The first song was “Ano Hi Boku wa Tossa ni Uso wo Tsuita” with Ikuta Erika as center. She took over the center role from Inoue Sayuri, who missed the tour with knee problems. The fans made the stadium shake with “Koko ni Iru Riyuu” with Terada Ranze, who instead of EX-Nogizaka46 member Ito Marika, took the center position. “Futogou” with Saito Asuka finished this impressive block.
Excerpts from the current documentary about Nogizaka46 introduced the next block and the title song “Boku no Koto, Shitteru?” of the documentary Nogizaka46 appeared in beautiful dresses embroidered with flowers. The first generation appeared on the main stage and walked over the main axis to the opposite stage. The second and third generation followed. Together they greeted the fourth generation who closed the walk and they formed a circle as a sign of togetherness. Under the leadership of the upcoming Captain Akimoto Manatsu, Nogizaka heated up the fans with “Sonna Baka na” and “House!
A short moderation between Captain Sakurai Reika and her successor Akimoto Manatsu followed and left time for a small stage modification. Afterwards Saito Asuka showed her talent on drums in a drum duel with the drummer of the live band, which started the final block.
With songs like “Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover” and “Oide Shampoo” with the famous “Nakada Kana” transition Nogizaka46 once again really livened up the mood. When “Jikochuuu de Ikou! was started, the tension in the audience increased immensely. “Whether Yoda Yuki gets her kiss today”, the fans asked themselves. But Saito Asuka only gave Yoda an indirect kiss in her typical cool way. The disappointment of Yoda Yuki was audibly reflected in the audience and also the amusement because of her sweet facial expression.
The main part ended with the title song of the single “Sing Out!”, which Nogizaka46 released for the start of the new Japanese Reiwa era. The audience clapped enthusiastically to the song and many fans followed the arm choreography. On the screens fans from all over the world were shown, who clapped and connected Nogizaka46 with the whole world. Fans from Paris had the honour on the final day and were broadcast live into the stadium. An atmosphere of togetherness spread through the stadium, and an enchanting fireworks display burned down over the stadium.
Since Sakurai Reika was leaving the group on the final day, the encore became a graduation ceremony. After a video showing the years of Sakurai Reika at Nogizaka46, Sakurai Reika appeared in a charming white dress. In her speech to the fans she spoke about her feelings during the Meiji Jingu concerts; the difficulties in her early days as captain; the highs and lows in her career; the help she has received from staff and members and which she is very grateful for; her work with the members of Nogizaka46 and finally about her hopes and wishes for the future of Nogizaka46. Then she sang her graduation song “Tokidoki, Omoidashite Kudasai” and one could see that Nogizaka46 not only lost an excellent captain but also a talented member with a charming voice. When the rest of the members appeared on stage and the entire stadium held up images of a cherry blossom (Sakura), Sakurai Reika could no longer hold her tears and her voice failed. In the following moderation she explained that she was only present in the music video for the title song “Yoake Made Tsuyogaranakute Ii” and that she would like to present the song on stage for the graduation. After this song “Romantic Ikayaki” followed and to the delight of the fans Inoue Sayuri appeared on stage at the end of “Boku Dake no Hikari”. After Akimoto Manatsu had read a letter of thanks to Sakurai Reika, Nogizaka46 and the fans in the stadium tuned into “Nogizaka no Uta”.
For the second encore Sakurai Reika recalled the early days of Nogizaka46 as rival of AKB48 and intoned the Nogizaka46 version “Aitakatta Kamoshirenai” of the AKB48 song “Aitakatta”. After thanking the fans again, she walked through the stadium on a lap of honour. Behind the counter stage she was stopped by a person with a bouquet of flowers. When she recognized the person, she let out a scream of joy. When the audience realized who had stopped Sakurai Reika, the fans broke out in deafening cheers. Sakurai Reika was stopped by one of the most popular Nogizaka46 members and her best friend since the foundation of Nogizaka46, former member Wakatsuki Yumi. Wakatsuki Yumi congratulated Sakurai Reika on behalf of all the former members gathered in the stadium on her graduation form Nogizaka46. When Sakurai Reika returned to the main stage, all Nogizaka46 members gathered in a circle. A short time later the members cheered one last time with their slogan, with which they cheered on each other before a concert, and the fans joined in. The summer of 2019 of Nogizaka46 ended with one last thank you to the fans.