Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 21, 2013 by  

Fantastic, captivating and surprising!  The second documentary of AKB48 “Documentary of AKB48: Show Must Go On” gives viewers an inside glimpse of how AKB48 reacted after the tsunami and earthquake disaster, the competitive nature of the senbatsu elections but also how the group persevered during intense heat during a concert performance, scandals and more.  If you are an AKB48 fan, this second documentary for the group is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 [Documentary of AKB48]. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: DOCUMENTARY of AKB48 Show must go on 少女たちは傷つきながら、夢を見る スペシャル・エディション


DURATION: 121 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Dolby Digital, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY: Toho Visual Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2012

Directed by Eiki Takahashi

Executive Producer: Shinzuke Akimoto, Yasushi Akimoto, Kenji Kitagawa, Yasushi Kubota, Jun’ichi Niizaka

Producer: Yoshihiro Furusawa, Kumiko Isono, Kaori Kishibe, Akihiro Makino, Tadashi Matsumura

Line Producer: Atsushi Obinata, Manabu Shinoda

Music by Hiroto Ohtsubo

Cinematography by Taku Murakami

Edited by Jun’ichi Ito


Maria Abe

Yasushi Akimoto

Rina Chikano

Reina Fuji

Natsumi Hirajima

Miori Ichikawa

Anna Iriyama

Tomomi Itano

Misaki Iwasa

Tomomi Kasai

Yuki Kashiwagi

Ayaka Kikuchi

Rie Kitahara

Kana Kobayashi

Haruna Kojima

Mika Komori

Asuka Kuramochi

Ami Maeda

Atsuko Maeda

Yuka Masuda

Natsumi Matsubara

Jurina Matsui

Rena Matsui

Sakiko Matsui

Sae Miyazawa

Miho Miyazaki

Shiori Nakamata

Chisato Nakata

Tomomi Nakatsuka

Sayaka Yamamoto

Moeno Nito

Sayaka Nakaya

Misato Nonaka

Mina Oba

Aika Ohta

Shizuka Ohya

Yuko Oshima

Rino Sashihara

Sumire Sato

Amina Sato

Haruka Shimada

Haruka Shimazaki

Mariko Shinoda

Mariya Suzuki

Shihori Suzuki

Minami Takahashi

Aki Takajo

Miku Tanabe

Mayumi Uchida

Ayaka Umeda

Mayu Watanabe

Yui Yokoyama

Rumi Yonezawa


「DOCUMENTARY of AKB48+1 」を再編集ロングバージョンにて収録!2012年1月23日にNHK総合でO.AされたAKB48初心者には分かりやすく、コアファンまでをも満足させる特集番組にさらに未公開カットを大幅に加えたディレクターズカット版で収録

When I first reviewed “Documentary of AKB48: To Be Continued”, the first documentary of AKB48 introduced us to the members of the group and we got to learn about their background.

But since that first documentary, I have learned much more about the group.  From their struggles during their initial startup and having to give out flyers to people on the streets of Akihabara in hopes that someone would catch their show.  To only performing in front of seven people in the audience and no one hardly giving a care to this idol pop group.

This was no regular idol group.  These were young women handpicked by producer Yasushi Akimoto and Tomonobu Togasaki was the manager who listened to fans and communicated those needs to Akimoto.  And together with their crew, through a lot of working and trying to instill confidence to these young ladies, that were at its all time low, all Akimoto needed for these young ladies was to believe in him, to put their trust in him and things will happen.

From their beginning in 2006, it was not until 2010, when AKB48 started to gain attention thanks to their single “River”.  But it wasn’t until 2011 when the lives of AKB48 would change.  The group broke records by proving that a music group can still sell over a million copies of a single or album in Japan, the group had a video game release and also would win the artists of the year by taking the Grand Prix Award at Nihon Record Taishou (Japan’s equivalent to the Oscars).

But behind-the-scenes, there were a lot of things going on behind-the-scenes that many people may not realize.  And this behind-the-scenes would be featured in the second AKB48 documentary “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on”.

With the February theatrical release of AKB48’s third documentary “Documentary of AKB48: No Flower without Rain” around the corner, I recently decided to purchase the import DVD version of the second documentary after learning that unlike the first documentary which was released in the U.S. courtesy of New People Entertainment, I received confirmation that there were no plans to release the second documentary in the U.S.

March 2011 was to highlight AKB48’s 3-day live concert titled “Takamina ni tsuite ikimasu” (We will follow Takamina), but on March 11, 2011, the tsunami and earthquake disaster struck Japan and immediately, AKB48 began charity efforts to raise money for victims of the disaster.  Even going to the devastated areas and performing for the children and families  who had lost their homes.

The documentary shows us these efforts as AKB48 performed in those locations but also introducing us to Karen Iwata, a member of AKB48 who was also one of the people who was displaced during the earthquake and tsunami disaster and discussing the challenges she faced during that time.

The documentary then would go to the Senbatsu Elections of 2011 and the tense competition between 2010 #1 senbatsu member Yuko Oshima vs. #2 senbatsu member Atsuko Maeda (who won #1 in 2009).    These two have worked their hardest in gaining fan attention but while it was incredibly emotional for Atsuko Maeda to win the #1 spot once again by a large margin, we see the heartbreak of Yuko Oshima who seemed calm and reserved but broke down heavily after congratulated and hugged by Mariko Shinoda.

This scene was the first time anyone had a chance to see what takes place in the backstage of a senbatsu election, how emotional these young ladies are to take the top positions but most of all, how competitive these elections are.  The election would also be important for members such as Rino Sashihara, who would place #9 but previously placed #19 and Rie Kitahara who was voted at #16 and rose up to #13.  Both who are very good friends and both who were not so visible as members of AKB48, will now have their chance to shine as members of the top 16.

We also get a glimpse of injuries that have taken place during theater performances.  Aki Takajo slipping from the stairs backstage but bounced back, worked hard and was able to move up to the #12 spot in the 2011 senbatsu elections.

We are then introduced to the Kenyuusei members who would receive a surprise that they would become part of AKB48’s fourth team, Team 4.

And continued performances by AKB48  in areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami disaster and expressing how touched they were by the people they met.  Minami Minegishi was touched how these two girls would give her a gift, which was flowers and a pine cone and how being given those gifts by two girls who lost everything, truly touched her.

The next feature would be the Tokyo Dome concert in which AKB48 members were unorganized and it would be one of their most horrendous performances in front of a large audience.  Akimoto was so displeased that he wasn’t sure if AKB48 had what it takes to perform in front of a large audience, if they couldn’t perform well for the Seibu concert.  And Mina Takahashi being a leader and givng an important talk to all members that they need to improve , so much that the group practiced and prepared over and over to get things right.  But because of the mental strain during rehearsals, Atsuko Maeda started to hyperventilate and was taken to the doctor and Jurina Matsui and Yui Yokayama would have to step up as Yuko would fill in for Atsuko Maeda’s role.  But Atsuko Maeda managed to come back just in time to join Team A for the concert.

We also get to see the strain on AKB48 in performing during the high heat and humidity and the group being pushed to the limit and various members started to hyperventilate or to have difficulties breathing when heading to backstage for a costume change.  But we get to see how Atsuko Maeda starting to hyperventilate during a concert performance, Yuko Oshima also having breathing problems and team leader Minami Takahashi collapsing after the concert.  You can tell by the faces of some of the members, that they weren’t feeling well and to do an encore when they were dealing with heat exhaustion.

The next section would feature Team 4 leader Mina Oba and her scandal.  Fans found an older personal blog of Mina Oba where she discussed breaking up with her boyfriend before joining AKB48 and other troubling situations that idols are not to be engaged in.  Minami Takahashi discusses how things are different for these newer members of AKB48, because while her group joined at a young age, before they had experiences with relationships, there are people who have joined the group who have had relationships before entering AKB48.  But how Haruka Shimada had to step in as leader as Mina Oba faced her suspension.

Next to be featured is the overseas fan events that AKB48 members have taken part in and the growing fandom internationally for AKB48.

The next segment will feature the next Senbatsu, the Janken Taikai senbatsu in which a member can become center by winning the rock-paper-scissors tournament.  And at the second Janken Taikai senbatsu, Mariko Shinoda became the second winner.

In 2011, we get to see AKB48 members who accompanied Karen Iwata to her home area to perform for people who have lost their homes and the return of Mina Oba after her suspension, as she ask her fellow teammates for their forgiveness of what she put them through.

And last, the culmination of all the hardwork that AKB48 had put into the year, with “Flying Get” becoming the biggest seller of 2011 and also earning AKB48 the grand prize at Nihon Record Taishou and getting ready to perform for Kouhaku Uta Gassen to end 2011.


“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The picture quality of the DVD is very good, great colors and many outdoor shots featuring a combination of various footage from concerts, theater performances, personal interviews and more. Dialogue and music is clear, there are no subtitles included and is in straight Japanese.

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.


“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” comes with the following special features:

  • Documentary of AKB48: AKB48 + 1 Directors Cut – (1:03:18) The following is the “Documentary of AKB48: AKB48 +1” which was shown on television but is the director’s cut.  Using each letter in the alphabet, we get to learn of AKB48.  For example, A stands for Akihabara and we get a look at the theater where the members  perform train and perform early in the morning.  B is for band in which the AKB48 members had to learn how to play instruments for “Give me five!”.  C is for “Coming of Age Ceremony” for the AKB4 members who turned 20-years-old and so forth.
  • First Rabbit Music Video – (5:15) The music video for “First Rabbit” which features the members singing the song at the studio and rehearsing on stage or at the dance studio.
  • Commercial – (:46) “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” commercial.
  • Theatrical trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on”.


“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” comes with two DVD’s and a black slip case, with a large pink obi.

Since watching the first documentary, it allowed me to learn more about AKB48.

Being one of the first people in the U.S. to be approached to cover AKB48 since the release of their early stage albums, typically I have see how idol groups have gotten their members through auditions, through television shows and eventually had the aid of TV to help make them popular.

But for AKB48, this was a group that had to work hard to get where they were at and by no means, was this group an overnight success.  It took five years for Japanese audiences to warm up to the group, to support their music and eventually the members on television and accept them.

In 2011, while I was familiar with AKB48’s headline on the news, primarily for their dominating sales and eventually winning the Grand Prize at Nihon Record Taishou, after watching “Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on”, I never knew how things were behind-the-scenes.  The last and their first documentary, “Documentary of AKB48: to be continued” was more about introducing people to the group’s top members.

But for this documentary, 2011 was a busy year as the group were dedicated in raising money for the earthquake and tsunami victims.  Meanwhile, the competition for senbatsu elections and who would be the center ace on AKB48 singles and music videos was very competitive, especially between Atsuko Maeda and Yuko Oshima.

And it was the first time that I was aware of how much that top spot meant to those two members and literally see the agony of defeat, when previous #1 winner, Yuko Oshima lost to Atsuko Maeda and seeing her breakdown in front of her friends.

But possibly the biggest shocker for me was to see the concert.  It’s no surprise to see how summer and humidity can make things a bit uncomfortable in Japan but to see members being treated for heat exhaustion and literally passing out or experiencing hyperventilation issues, this was a surprise.

I was wondering how AKB48 would adjust to losing a member such as Atsuko Maeda or Yuko Oshima but also how strict they are upon themselves when they know they did a crappy job onstage.  Producer Yasushi Akimoto is very direct with them, while AKB48 captain, Minami Takahashi spares no punches knowing that if they do bad, the show won’t go on if their fans are disappointed.

We also get to see the scandal that hit AKB48 in 2011 with Team 4 captain Minami Oba (which pales in comparison to what took place in 2012 and will be featured in AKB48’s third documentary in theaters in Feb. 2013).

But we get to see the good and the bad of AKB48 through this documentary.  We get to see members in an emotional state as Yuko Oshima loses to her rival Atsuko Maeda, we see Karen Iwata returning back to the place she once called home and performing in front of an audience who no longer have homes due to the tsunami and earthquake, especially since she and her family lost everything as well on March 11th.

Other memorable moments include Mina Oba returning back to Team 4 after her suspension but also coming face to ace with her good friend but also the person who replaced her temporarily as captain, Haruka Shimada.

But if there is one that will forever stick in my memory is the concert and seeing everyone with oxygen masks, members passing out due to heat exhaustion but also seeing Atsuko Maeda hyperventilating and no one knowing if she is going to come back.  We can see her on stage, her face not all right at all, but yet not wanting to disappoint her fans and feeling terrible, she goes out there and performs the best she can.

But also to see Yuko Oshima giving her 100% but also succumbing to the heat and also wanting to come back.  And of course, AKB48 captain Minami Takahashi, the glue of AKB48 trying to keep everyone together, keeping everyone motivated and focused but then when all is done, seeing her collapse and literally was out after the concert ended.

“Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” allows us to see more of each member working as a team and no matter how bad things get, they know that the show must go on and they must persevere.

As for the DVD, it’s important to note that there were two versions that were released.  This special edition features two DVD’s and comes with the Director’s Cut of “Documentary of AKB: AKB48 + 1”, while the four DVD-box set comes with the first two DVD’s featured on the special edition plus two DVD’s featuring longer interviews with various AKB48 members.  Also, the limited edition comes with an 84 page booklet.

With the third AKB48 documentary is about to hit theaters in February, so far the first two documentaries for AKB48 have been stellar.  And while this second documentary will not be released on DVD in the U.S., fortunately you can find it for under $20 online.  Also, you can find English fan subtitles online as well.

Overall, “”Documentary of AKB48: Show must go on” gives us a upclose look of what takes place behind-the-scenes of AKB48.  The good, the bad but also showing us that despite any hardships or challenges that this group has to face, they find a way to get back on their feet.  But also knowing that no matter what happens, the show must go on!

AKB48’s second documentary is highly recommended for fans!

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