When I heard about AKB48 coming to Jakarta to do a collaboration concert, I was hesitant on going. On one hand, I really wanted to go but on the other, I was also saving money to go to Japan in May. But, a few weeks before the concert, they release the names of the members that are going to the concert.
- Team A: Matsui Sakiko, Morikawa Ayaka
- Team K: Kitahara Rie, Shimada Haruka, Yokoyama Yui
- Team B: Oshima Ryoka, Uchiyama Natsuki, Kawamoto Saya, Kuramochi Asuka, Takeuchi Miyu, Natori Wakana, Nozawa Rena, Hashimoto Hikari, Hirata Rina
- Team 4: Okada Nana
The moment I saw Shimada Haruka it was a done deal. I bought the flight tickets instantly and quickly booked my place to stay. I know I’ll be seeing her again in May but May can’t come soon enough. I was determined. I’m going to this concert.
20th Feb was a Friday but I was lucky that 20th Feb is a public holiday in my country so I had the freedom to fly off on Friday morning itself. There were lots of things I had to do before the concert. Both of my colleagues (there’s only 3 in my department) are on leave for the week so I had to finish the whole week of work for 3 people before I fly on Friday. Busy was an understatement.
After finishing my work till late on Thursday, I had packed all I needed. I had my light sticks ready in my bag, 3 millions rupiah exchanged, putting 2 millions in my bag and bringing 1 million with me in my wallet. After double checking and triple checking my passport and my concert tickets, I was ready. That is when the first out of many obstacle hits me. My flight was delayed.
I was supposed to arrive in Jakarta at 11am, the morning of the concert. It was ample time for me to check in to my accommodation, then arrive at the concert hall around 2pm to meet up with people from Half48 chatroom & UKN48. Instead, my new delayed flight will make me arrive at 2.55pm. Once landed, I grabbed the first taxi service I could find to take me to my place of stay (I paid 320,000 rupiah which I now know was bloody expensive and I should have haggled the price). I was staying at Jalan Cockroaminoto which I somehow pronounced as CockroAminaSato, a mere 5km away from Kokas aka Kota Kasablanka (the concert place). I did think of going to Kokas straight away but I still have 3 hours till the concert starts and I thought I still have time. Boy, was I wrong. What I didn’t realize is 3pm on a Friday was when the traffic in Jakarta is at its worst. First 15 minutes after arriving in Jakarta and I was face to face with the infamous traffic jam a.k.a macet. The feeling of regret is starting to set in.
After paying 500,000 rupiah for my hotel deposit, I quickly threw my bags in the room and ran to the street to grab a taxi to Kokas. From my hotel to Kokas was only 20,000 rupiah, which was when the reality hit me that I paid an unreasonable amount for the taxi at the airport. After arriving at Kokas, I also realized few other things. I left my light sticks and the rest of my money in my bags at the hotel room. So there I was, in Kota Kasablanka, with 160,000 rupiah (Around 11USD) in my pocket, and 30 minutes till the door is open for the concert to start. The wifi connection in Kokas wasn’t very stable as well, so I couldn’t meet up with the other guys.
People were already queuing up. I tried looking around but there were too many people for me to find any Half48 chatroom or UKN48 people around.
Tired, worried, and losing all the excitement I had for the concert, I head on inside the concert hall. I didn’t have enough money to buy merchandise (I could buy something but then I would have no money left for dinner and for the ride back to the hotel so I decided to be an adult and hold out on the merchandise temptation). Luckily, people were giving away free glow sticks so I at least had something in my hand. The seats were separated into left and right section and since nothing in my day seems to be going right so far, I headed to the left side of the seating area.
Kage-ana started and it was Melody. Her Indonesian was clear and slow enough so I could understand most of it. (I basically can understand a bit but don’t ask me to speak Indonesian, I sound weird). Overture started and the whole concert hall, I’m not kidding, EVERYONE started to chant. The boys, the girls, the old uncles and aunties, even the 6 year old girl sitting in front of me. Although, the guy behind me was shouting “Tiger! Fire! Tiger! Fire! Jya! Jya!” on repeat but A+ for effort.
I won’t bother on posting the setlist but I’ll talk about the performance that sticks to my mind. “Kibouteki Refrain” started playing and the whole 16 AKB girls were in a straight line from one end of the stage to the other end singing the song. As the light shines on the girls, who did I see directly in front of me, singing on the left side of the stage? It was none other than my AKB oshi, Shimada Haruka. I’m probably exaggerating but my whole worry… that whole ordeal of obstacles and happenings and shitty stuff that happened to me before the concert started? It was washed away when I saw her. All the regrets I had for the concert vanished as I watch her dancing energetically with her twin-tails bouncing around.
Sitting on the edge of the hall means I get first hand view of the trolley that the AKB members climbed in on the side. I can’t remember who was the AKB member who got it on the right side, but Yui & Ryouka was on the left. And they were so close. Suddenly my choice of sitting on the left side didn’t seem so bad. I remember Mocchi got on the trolley for the left side on one song and she was breathtakingly beautiful. Just plain gorgeous. Rena was in the center position for most of the song, which was apt considering her history with JKT48. But Naachan got the most cheer whenever she is on screen.
The MC sessions were fun and easy to follow along even though they used a mix of Japanese and Indonesians. The girls were engaging and funny. And I swear I’m not being biased, but Shimada was hilarious. She was not afraid to make fun of herself and I love when the whole hall just burst into laughter every time she shouts the word “Kurus! (Skinny)”.
The concert started with AKB then a few songs mixes AKB members with JKT members. After a few songs, JKT48 starts to perform. My attention immediately went to Team T, the newly formed team when they sang “Wink wa Sankai“. The MC after the JKT48 performance was an AKB vs JKT game which was awesome. It felt like I was watching a variety show, except in a huge hall with all my friends.
After the little competition, it was a bit of a shuffle as they mix up a few AKB and JKT members to sing songs. Mocchi stands out so much in “Blue Rose” but Naomi from JKT wasn’t about to give in. She fit in quite well with Mocchi, Chikarina and Aaya because for a second there I was wondering which AKB member was the 4th girl before I realized that she is from JKT.
Rena, Ayana & Andela performed “Heart Gata Virus” and it was clear that this is Rena’s song. The special video at the beginning of the song focused on her. Here is a girl, who traveled here and there during her childhood but somehow ended up in Jakarta. She found a home in JKT48. And it shows. The reception of fellow JKT members and the fans towards her was so apparent, it was touching. I don’t think if Haruka or Chikarina goes back to Japan would they got this level of attention. Even through her performance I could feel that she is saying to her fans, “Tadaima” or “I’m back“. I even forgot the fact that this is a 3-person unit as all my eyes could focus was on Rena at the center. Only when the other fans started chanting, “A~yana! A~yana! Ayana! Ayana!” then I realized, “Oh yeah, my JKT Oshi is in this unit too. Haha.”
“Ame no Doubutsuen” was the first song that some other girl stole my attention from Shimada. Kinal was playful and energetic, teasing JKT and AKB members alike. She truly captures the spirit of the song, and I find myself difficult to stop watching her. Yui & Melody sang “Temo Demo Namida” and Yui went up the left trolley. I hate to brag but she basically sang that song while looking at me. Well, not directly at me but towards my general area.
The concert goes back to AKB performing and then back to JKT performing, with MCs to keep us entertained in the middle. The highlight for me was the last song, “Sakura no Hanabiratachi”. During MCs, the fans constantly needed reminder to be silent. Members and other fans keep shushing and telling us to keep it quiet in order to hear what the other member is saying. But not for this song. As the spotlight hits Sakiko, without anyone telling us to, the whole concert hall fell silent. She plays the first few piano notes, perfectly playing the familiar sounds of bell chiming in the beginning of Sakura no Hanabiratachi, and captivating all of us with her fingers.
Once the song start, everyone in the hall altogether started singing the lyrics in Japanese (romaji lyrics on screen helped). Every time the camera focuses on the girls, there were looks of surprise and awe. All of us were swaying our glow sticks from left to right and singing along with the girls. In that moment, it felt like all of us were one. As the song ended, I can’t help but feel teary eyed. I don’t know whether it was the lyrics of the song, indicating graduation and end of a journey as if this concert is coming to an end, or the unity of the fans and the members.
The girls bid their farewell and for the first time in this concert, I checked the time. Almost clocking 2 hours plus and I didn’t even realized it. I really enjoyed the concert but the minute the concert ends and I had two thoughts:
- Damn, I wished they sang “First Rabbit”
- Man, Shimada didn’t even get to ride that trolley thing at all (left or right side)
I was waiting for someone to start an encore shout and was glad someone started just a few minutes after the concert ended. The curtains open back again with all of them singing “After rain” followed by “10 Nen Zakura”. Then, my miracle happened. The familiar first few beats of “First Rabbit” started and I immediately recognized it. But I look on my left to find out that Shimada was on the trolley and I just lost all my shit. I think I lost my voice that night after shouting her name so much. It was a bloody perfect encore.
I managed to get a proper wifi connection after the concert ended. I met up with Mocil, Ixarus, Ryan, Araishikeiwai (Or Rick as I call him) and a few friends of theirs. I met Ryan when he came to my country a few weeks prior so there was no mystery there. But meeting Ixa, Mocil and Rick was awesome as I’ve been chatting with Ixa & Mocil in our Half48 chatroom for almost 2 years and this was the first time for me meeting them. It was the first of many for me to actually go out and meet my online friends. Before, I always hide behind my online profiles but “Half” is my first one that makes me feel that I really made a connection with people. So, I decided to break out of my comfort shell and actually meet my online friends. They were just the lucky ones to meet me first, and more in the future was yet to come.
They took me to eat Sate Padang. Which was good, because I was starving. Lucky for them, the 160,000 rupiah I had was enough for the food and the ride back home. I really didn’t want to be the asshole who borrows money the first time we meet, haha.
Too bad we couldn’t get in so we opted for Japanese food instead. I’ve watched JKT48 theater before back in 2013 and I can’t remember why I didn’t apply for theater tickets on this trip. Either there was no show or I felt like I didn’t have the time.
On Sunday, I was already in an early flight back home and my 3 days in Jakarta ended quickly. Looking back, the concert was the best 3 hours of my night. And to think my flight was delayed, I had 3 hours to get to the concert, 2 of those hours was stuck in traffic, with little money, and couldn’t find my friends, feeling down as hell but the girls were so energetic and funny and amazing and it just made me feel glad that I decided to come after all.
Between attending the concert and actually meeting other fans, I was so glad I came. And it got me proper excited for my Japan trip in May. I will be attending my first 2-shot event and making my first trip to Japan. Just thinking about it makes me nervous and excited.