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Album Review: AKB48 – Tsugi no Ashiato (Theater Edition) by Dennis A. Amith

akb48-tsuginoashiato

Musically, while the collection of songs featured on the theater edition of “Tsugi no Ashiato” is primarily for those who don’t own the singles, it’s hard to recommend to those who own the singles already. But if you don’t own any AKB48 single, this is a solid compilation featuring some of their top selling hit singles from 2012-2013 and also the c/w exclusive track featured only on the theater edition of the singles.

Image is courtesy of © 2014 King Records

GROUP: AKB48

TITLE: 次の足跡/Tsugi no Ashiato (Theater Edition)

LABEL: King Records

DURATION: 73 minutes

CATALOG #: NKCD-6655

RELEASE DATE: January 22, 2014

BUY THIS ALBUM from cdjapan.com:

or YesAsia.com

  1. 恋するフォーチュンクッキー
  2. LOVE修行
    3. さよならクロール
    4. 強い花
    5. あの日の風鈴
    6. 永遠プレッシャー
    7. 青空カフェ
    8. UZA
    9. 君のために僕は…
    10. 私たちのReason
    11. So long!
    12. ギンガムチェック
    13. 真夏のSounds good!
    14. 大人への道
    15. 散ればいいのに…

It has been nearly two years since the release of an AKB48 album.

The last was “1830m” released in 2012 and here we are in 2014 with “Tsugi no Ashiato” (the next footprints), their fifth studio album which features their 26th CD single “Manatsu no Sounds Good” up to their 32nd CD single “Koisuru Fortune Cookie”.

The album would sell over 960,000 copies for its first week and two weeks later, would become the second album for AKB48 to sell over a million copies.

In Japan, there were four versions of “Tsugi no Ashiato” released. TYPE-A would have two versions, one with two CD’s and one would come with a DVD. TYPE-B would feature a two discs, but a second disc that featured different tracks than TYPE-A. And the regular theater edition which would come with the first disc featured in both TYPE-A versions and TYPE-B but would come with one extra bonus track.

The version that I will be reviewing is “Tsugi no Ashiato (Theater Edition)” which features 16 members of AKB48 on the front cover. The CD insert is a 12-page booklet with the lyrics, production credits but also photos four groups featuring four individuals.

 

The album begins with addictive disco pop song “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” (AKB48’s 32nd single).

I don’t know how many times I have listened to this song but I absolutely love it! The song is pretty much a positive song about having a positive attitude, not matter how bad things can get in life, move on, smile and you will get good luck because the future isn’t that bad. So, like love’s fortune cookie, it’s time to break out of that shell.

The second track “Love Shugyou” (Love Training) was featured in the theater edition of “Sayonara Crawl” and is an upbeat, happy track performed by the kenkyuusei AKB48 members. And the song is about loving someone so much that it can be painful, because the love is one-sided.

The third track is “Sayonara Crawl”, which is a sweet upbeat track. The song is about longing for someone you are with, while at the beach. A girl with her boyfriend at the beach and wanting to spend one’s time with that person on the beach, even sulking a little as the person goes swimming in the ocean. But pretty much feeling that the summer is a tease, as the person just wants to spend time with the person they really love during the summertime.

The fourth track is “Tsuyoi Hana” (which translates to “Strong flower”) is performed by AKB48′s Kenkyuusei (AKB Research Students) and is like a fairy tale song with its gentle arrangement. The song, which was originally featured in the AKB48 single “So long!” (theater edition). The song is about a girl selling flowers at a corner in front of a shoe shop. With the state of the economy, she can’t sell any flowers and despite how beautiful they are, unfortunately these flower will wither. She doesn’t have any money to buy food or feed her mother who is sick in bed. And she prays to God with one wish and that is for God to give her strong flowers that will never wither and die. A beautiful song!

The fifth track “Ano hi no Fuurin” (which translates to “The Windchime from that day”) is performed by Waiting Girls and was featured on the theater edition of AKB48’s “Gingham Check”. The song is a touching ballad about one revisiting a familiar place that one went to as a child, but to return as an adult but wishing to hear the windchime of one’s heart.

The sixth track is “Eien Pressure” (AKB48’s 29th single) and features Haruka Shimazaki, Moeno Nito, Yui Yokoyama, Mayumi Uchida, Mariko Nakamura, Maria Abe, Mariko Shinoda, Miyu Takeuchi, Natsumi Matsubara, Yuki Kashiwagi, Kasumi Ueno, Chisato Nakata, Ami Maeda, Ayaka Umeda, Kanon Kimoto and Tomomi Itano.

The single is a sweet, upbeat track sung by the 2012 Janken Taikai and it’s an upbeat, cute song that I enjoy because of its lyrics. The song is about a person who does not want to become the girl of one’s dreams, because of the pressure. And when the guy confessed that he liked the girl, the girl is wondering why did the guy choose her? She doesn’t like to be watched by people because of the pressure. And she tells the guy to not expect too much from her (due to the pressure), she will be useless like she is now. And she hopes the guy doesn’t compare her to other girls. She’s weird, doesn’t have many skills and feels that love is eternal pressure.

The seventh track is “Aozora Cafe” (which translates to “Blue Sky Cafe”) and is a song that was featured in the theater edition of “Koisuru Fortune Cookie”. The happy track is a summer track of a girl and boy wanting to spend time together talking at the Aozora Cafe near the pool, relax and have fun.

The eighth track is “UZA” (the group’s 28th single) which is a slang term for “How Annoying”. As for the song, it’s probably one of the most fiercest, upbeat dance tracks from the group so far. It’s different from AKB48′s usual idol pop tracks and I’m not sure if this is part of the maturation that the group is headed post-Atsuko Maeda but for this track alone, It’s a song that allows the group to show off their choreography and it’s a pretty awesome, upbeat single. Different from past singles and some fans may feel it may be too different for their tastes, but so far, after listening to the song for a long time now, it’s pretty awesome!

As for the lyrics, “UZA” is about love. But not the sugary type of love but more of a suggestion to a person to have love in their heart and love as how your heart is feeling. Don’t hesitate if you love someone. Kiss them, put your arm around their neck to show affection. Try not to be soft or too moral, throw away your pride and just do it! And how that person is so annoying because they don’t act on their feelings.

The ninth track is “Kimi no Tame ni Boku wa…” (which translates to “For You I’ll) and was featured in the “Manatsu no Sounds Good” theater edition. The track is upbeat and has a more rock feeling with lyrics that are much more darker and not so sugary sweet. The song is about a person telling the person they love that they will die for them with no regrets.

The tenth track is “Watashitachi no Reason” and was featured in the theater edition of “Eien Pressure” and is an upbeat track about a girl who wants to know why her boyfriend chose her and wants to hear why he likes her.

The eleventh track is “So long!” (AKB48’s 30th single), a sweet ballad that gradually caught my attention. The single is about one’s final memory with a best friend and friends while in school. Memories about dreams, love and tears. But knowing that this is the final time you will be with friends before graduation and by tomorrow, it’s a new chapter in the lives of those graduating. And saying goodbye to your best friend and despite going separate ways after graduating, that no matter what happens, live strong. If there is hardship, you’ll persevere. It’s a good song that grew on me after listening to it a few times, but still, “Sakura no Ki ni Narou” continues to be my favorite of the spring singles from AKB48 so far.

The 12th track is “Gingham Check” (Gingham Check is the stripe pattern that can be seen on table cloths or dresses) and is AKB48’s 27th single. The song is a fun, idol pop track that I have to admit, it didn’t catch my attention until after I watched the music video. I suppose coming off tracks such as “Give Me Five!”, “Manatsu no Sounds Good!”, “Gingham Check” at first listen felt as if it was a sugary sweet but catchy song. But with more listening, I found myself starting to enjoy the song even more!

The song is about a guy who likes a girl and one day, she is wearing a Gingham Check outfit, the pattern of love, blue, white, blue…he wonders if the girl knows if he likes her. He wants to tell her how he feels but he is too scared to do so. And he wonders if he can tell her how he feels…yes, no, yes?

The 13th single track is “Manatsu no Sounds good!” (which translates to “Midsummer Sounds good!”), AKB48’s 26th CD single. The song is an upbeat, catchy pop track that has the feeling of summer but also an enthusiastic feel due to the many members featured in the song. The song also captures the feeling of summer incredibly well.

The song begins with the girl saying to put suntan oil lotion on her back and as she removed her swimsuit top and lays down, you can smell the sweet scent of the lotion. And with the relationship doing so well, the two discuss moving in another step in their relationship by confessing one’s love but it’s something she has been unable to do in the past. But with the waves sounding good, the midsummer sounding good, the time is right and now she finally has the courage to say “I love you”.

The 14th track is “Otona e no Michi” (the song translates to “the road where we turn to adults”) is performed by Team Kenkyuusei, which are the members-in-training and those who step up for performances or at theater performances when a member of AKB48 is sick or on leave. The song was featured on the theater edition of “UZA”.

The track is a somber mid-tempo track which can probably be summed up as a song about a person about to say goodbye and waiting for the last train which would take her on the road to adulthood. And how tearful the day may be, for one to wipe their tears away and with your face looking forward and live for this brand new start in life.

And the 15th bonus track and the final track featured on “Tsugi no Ashiato” (Theater Edition) is “Chireba ii no ni…” (which translates to “things that disappear”) and is a sad song about a couple graduating and a relationship ending. As the two split and go on different paths, will they find a new love that is better than the first?

Overall, for those who have never purchased the mid-2012 to summer 2013 AKB48 CD singles will probably want “Tsugi no Ashiato” as it includes the single tracks, a few of the tracks featured on the theater edition of singles #26-32 and also a bonus track only featured on this theater edition.

Other than that, if you are an AKB48 fan and own the singles, the theater edition is for those who are hardcore and has to own every AKB48 release, get it for the one bonus track or for handshake tickets. Because TYPE-A and TYPE-B is what most will want to get for the second disc on both types and the DVD on type-A (which features the air handshakes featuring a few AKB48 members).

Musically, while the collection of songs featured on the theater edition of “Tsugi no Ashiato” is primarily for those who don’t own the singles, it’s hard to recommend to those who own the singles already. There are no surprises and unlike their last album “1830m”, the latest marketing for this album is similar to the singles that favors those who buy multiple editions of the album. Even with “1830m”, there were surprises with the regular edition than “Tsugi no Ashiato” and you got much more with that release.

But if you don’t own any AKB48 single, “Tsugi no Ashiato” a solid compilation featuring some of their top selling hit singles from 2012-2013 and also the c/w exclusive track featured only on the theater edition of the singles.

BUY THIS ALBUM from cdjapan.com:

or YesAsia.com

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