The One About Discovering Japanese Music: AKB48’s “Kaze wa Fuiteiru (Type-B)”

AKB48, the idol group that took Japan by storm and has been one of the few music groups in Japan that continuously reaches over a million in sales thanks to their dedicated fanbase.

Back in 2011, AKB48 released their 23rd CD single “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” (which translates to “The Wind is Blowing”) and a song that features an upbeat, touching song with lyrics to help those who suffered from the March 2011 Tohoku tsunami and earthquake disaster.

Not long after the earthquake, several members of AKB48 had visited areas of devastation and as always, their goal to put a smile on everyone’s faces, the group performed for families who were displaced and living in temporary shelters.

After their first tour, by the second visit to perform in front of families, a new song titled “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” had been created to help ease the pain of those who have suffered so much. And also donating proceeds to the relief process.

Like other recent AKB48 CD singles, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” has been released in 5 versions. A regular and limited Type A, Type B editions (limited editions come with an event ticket) and the theater edition (which includes the first two tracks that come with the other two TYPE’s, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” and “Kimi no Senaka” but comes with second C/W song by Team 4 and KISS titled “Tsubomitachi” and no DVD). Also, Type A and Type B will have different C/W songs.

And once again, in a time where CD sales are lower than ever in Japan, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” became the fifth million selling CD single for the group and going to show that AKB48’s popularity is the real deal!

The version I will be reviewing is the regular edition Type-B featuring Mayu Watanabe, Yuki Kashiwagi and Minama Takahashi on the cover and the songs featured in the Type-B edition are “Kaze wa Fuiteiru”, “Kimi no Senaka”, “Gondola Lift”. The limited edition Type B comes with a random photo (there are a total of 18 available) and comes with a serial number to access a site for voting a song to be performed at AKB48’s Request Hour Setlist Best 100 2012 concert and a promotional for their 2012 box calendar.

As for the CD single, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” is a positive song of how people in despair, should have hope, should search for the light. Also, a song about rebuilding for the future and for one to continue living. How love and hope will continue and that the wind will continue to blow into the future.

My first time listening to the song and I was instantly hooked. The melody was captivating and I loved the harmony among the various members performing the song. But the positive message of hope is what I enjoyed most about this song.

The second song “Kimi no Senaka” (which translates to “Back to you”) is performed by the Undergirls (these are the members of the group who were ranked #22-#30 in the AKB48 senbatsu elections, who get to perform the c/w song). The song is upbeat and continues the AKB48 happy, upbeat idol style. While the song is catchy and a fun song to listen to, the lyrics are actually quite sad as it revolves around loving someone but that person not noticing you. And one yearning to be noticed.

The third track is “Gondola Lift” and is performed by Undergirls Yurigumi. For this single, the Undergirls was split into three groups with Baragumi performing “Vamos”, while Yurigumi performed “Gondola Lift”. The slow ballad is about being a couple, in love and being together with hearts as one and growing old together and also dying together. A touching song!

The three tracks that round out the single are the off-vocal versions of each song, which are pretty much the music no vocal tracks.

The CD insert features the lyrics to the songs plus several images of the AKB48 members.

As for the DVD, the DVD comes with a total of five tracks. It’s important to note that this is a region 2 DVD and will not play on a region 1 player (unless you have a non-region DVD player) but can be played on a MAC or PC using free video playing software such as VLC or Daum PotPlayer.

The first music video is for “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” as AKB48 tries to revive this tree-like being by freeing it from its captivity. Also, a dance portion featuring the group dancing. In terms of the music video, for set design, this is probably an interesting video as it has this tribalistic style to it, with the tree-being almost reminding me a of Studio Ghibli character. As for costume design, the costumes are quite subdued compared to other AKB48 costume design but I liked the choreography on a dirt like setting and seeing the dirt flow while the group is dancing. Overall, a good video.

The second music video is for “Kimi no Senaka” and has more dialogue and features friends who get into a discussion about a guy they like, while another friend is moving away. Like the lyrics to the song itself, it’s happy and upbeat but also a hint of sadness as well.

The third music video is for “Gondola Lift” and this video is actually my favorite video on the entire DVD. Not only is the song beautiful and touching, the music video shows what is behind the windows of an apartment building and we see an elderly man taking care of his sick wife, a family eating dinner and a young couple with a young woman who wants to marry her boyfriend.

The fourth music video is the “DANCE! DANCE! DANCE! version of “Kaze wa Fuiteiru”, so no mystical creature is featured. It’s all dancing!

And the final fifth music video is the “Tokuten eizo AKB48 conte Taxi-hen” featuring a comedy skit with Mariko Shinoda as a taxi driver and Yuki Kashiwagi as a passenger. The skit revolves around a taxi driver who talks too much.

Overall, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” is a wonderful and enjoyable CD single from AKB48. While there are the different versions available for fans who may prefer certain singles showcasing their favorite performer, I personally chose this CD+DVD single because of its inspirational songs. “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” is an inspirational song but “Gondola Lift” was a fantastic and touching Undergirls track with a music video that was just equally enjoyable.

But all tracks on this CD single showcase a nice balance of music from AKB48 as well as its DVD.

Once again, I’m pretty impressed with what Yasushi Akimoto has done with AKB48 and how hard these young ladies have come since 2005. This is another addictive CD single and if you are an AKB48 fan, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru (Type-B)” is highly recommended!


 

Dennis A. Amith