A toast to the theater
(last of a two-article series in celebration of AKB48’s fifteenth anniversary)
For 15 years since its first opening, the AKB48 Theater had become the place where the idol group fulfill its “idols that you can meet” concept. With just few walks away from the Akihabara JR Station, the Theater inside the Don Quixote Building has not just become the home of AKB48 but also for its fans as if it was their own “mecca.”
But throughout those said 15 years, the Theater had different forms and faces as AKB48 began expanding its operations through its sister groups both across and outside of Japan. From the SKE48 Theater in Sunshine Sakae in Nagoya to the underground NM48 Theater in Osaka to the shipboard theater of STU48 named STU48-go to the JKT48 Theater inside fX Sudirman in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Theaters of every AKB48 Group had became a “second home” to its members.
So why we should consider the AKB48 Group Theaters as an important part of not just the group but also the fandom? We must first look to its origins.
No any pages found in the internet knows when the AKB48 Theater started its construction but as revealed in an episode of AKBingo, around November of 2005, the first members of the idol group, the Original Team A, started training for the songs in first stage, Party Ga Hajimaru Yo, while the interiors of the theater is still building. Hence, it is essential at that time to wear a mask to avoid the dust made from the said construction.
Then came December 8, 2005 -- the opening of the theater. On its first day, only 7 people watched the first Theater Live Stage for AKB48. Despite of that, the members at that time still continue on to provide the show that these 7 people bought. What next are days of handling flyers regarding the theater.
The theater itself is also the witness of the idol group’s first handshake event -- what supposed to be a normal Theater Live Stage turned into a sudden emergency fan-to-idol conversation through handshakes all because of a technical failure.
In its first days, the theater itself became a witness to two events that are important to not just the growth of an eventual future ace or soukantoku or someone that will be a part of the Kami 7 in the future, but also the growth of both the group and its developing relationship with its fanbase.
With that said, every AKB48 Group Theater is important for several reasons -- for a member, it is where she thrive herself and train to be a polished idol. Her sweat and tears “waters” the floors of its stage where her hard work was planted in it. For a fan, the theater is a place where they can become their own, where they can enjoy supporting their oshi and where they can see the members perform in front of them for real.
For 15 years, this is what the AKB48 Theater and its other sister theaters are representing -- hard work and support. Within the 2 pillars that had pink stripes representing the years lies the stories that was shared by the members, the staff and the fans who supported the said representation. And despite the crisis due to the pandemic that temporarily dampen the activities, the theater remained to stay with the help of technology through livestreaming, and will still remain for years to come.
Happy 15th Anniversary to the AKB48 Theater!
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and does not reflect the views held by the entirety of PAKSA MNL and fellow MNLoves.