Only 3 days left for the release of the DVD/Bluray and Memorial Edition of "Sakura Gakuin The Road To Graduation 2014", official video recording of the Graduation Ceremony where Hana Taguchi, Yunano Notsu and BABYMETAL members Yui Mizuno and Moa Kikuchi graduated from Sakura Gakuin. Our group member and collaborator Daniel Fuentes shared his Fan Review of one of the most memorable events of Sakura Gakuin, where the last original members graduated. Read his Fan Review below including an incredible bonus track!
Sakura Gakuin "The Road To Graduation 2014 Final" Fan Review
Fan Review by: Daniel Fuentes from, Mexico City, Mexico.
We also recommend to read his review of: "Sakura Gakuin "Road To Graduation, 'Be Ambitious, Memorial Summit'"
"The first show of the graduation had ended and me and most of the fans couldn’t be on more of a hype. In the following days, I spent some time getting to know the very welcoming Japanese
fandom, whom would even organize meals and karaoke events for us, as well as going to some other Idol and Kawaii-metal shows. One of these events however was remarkably special as it was a very
short performance by former Sakura Gakuin member Ayami Muto, at Sunshine City Mall on March 28th.
Though the concert started at around 2:00 PM, we headed there early for a chance to get VIP tickets, which would mean we would actually get seats right in front of the tiny square where the event was being held, and where half a dozen other small idol groups were already performing. Sadly we were informed the VIP tickets were sold out entirely; however, by buying a CD right there we could get a chance of a brief “Meet & greet” with Ayami! (she would essentially hand you a card and talk to you for some 30 seconds) so naturally I did not think about it twice and went for it. About 1 hr before the actual show, Ayami came out on stage in regular clothes to do a brief sound check by singing a couple of songs, which I found to be a nice gift for those of us who actually stood still for hours. As she was probing the sound, the staff also made the decision to put a little table for her to stand on during the show, as she is very, very small indeed. The actual show started at 2:00 PM exactly and it was everything you would expect from the brightest student from Sakura Gakuin; her singing, dancing and overall charisma combine in her perfectly making her arguably the most complete idol ever to graduate from SG. I should mention that given the shape of the stage, we had the chance to look at the show from a second floor, first row, which gave us a really privileged view (and also great exposure, as Ayami gave us a couple of nods since we were the most noticeable foreigners around). After the show and during the short M&G I had the opportunity to exchange a few words with her (she speaks English just fine, and appeared to understand everything I said) which confirmed to me the sheer professionalism and dedication Ayami has for each and every single one of her fans; she spoke and smiled to me as if there was no one else in the room, a level of attention you can rarely expect from celebrities in the west. Seeing her only made me expect the final graduation of Yui and Moa even more.
We gathered in NHK Hall in the morning of the 29th for the final graduation show. The fans looked different from the ones in the last show: you could see whole families, all dressed up as if they were going to a wedding or an opera show, as this is the protocol for the very formal graduation events of Sakura Gakuin members. Me and my friend Andri from Iceland decided to split as there were two lines for merchandise: one for the general stuff and another to get a signed copy of the Photobook, of which there was only 400 available copies. A very noticeable thing was that the first Diploma to sell out was from neither of the graduates, but rather Megumi’s, the junior student who only joined last year; this speaks to me not only of the amazingly fast rising popularity she is getting, but also tells me Sakura Gakuin is, contrary to what most new fans may think, much more than just Yui, Moa and the rest of the former members.
After a few hours standing in the rainy weather outside the hall, we finally got clearance to go in. The people slowly took their places in their seats and among them one could find most of the very notable members of the fandom, from translators, impersonators, metal fans, etc, all there barely recognizable in their formal clothes as if they were parents, brothers, or in one word fukeis, ready to say goodbye to their long beloved girls.
After a short wait, the show began. The stage lit up fully and the girls came running into the stage to perform the now classic Mezase! Super Lady, version 2014, with an extended
intro by Mori Sensei followed by School Days and Hello Ivy, in very entertaining editions since only 4 of the original singers in them
remain. After this, they followed with the newer Gokigen Mr. Toropikarori (which dance performance is probably the most energetic I’ve seen of them, probably since ever)
and the single Aogeba Toutoshi, which again had me headbanging, this time from my seat in the 13th row. After this there was a short pause with a video show with
footage of all 2014 performances which were never broadcasted or recorded (it was specially entertaining to see videos of the Classical Japanese Drums class and of the very first time the
Wrestling Club performed, at a wrestling event, in which Rinon apparently actually bashed a chair against Hana’s back!). This brief video served
as preparation for the girls to get ready for the sub-units show, starting with the newest (and probably last) formation of Twinklestars performing the new version of
Tenshi to Akuma. A first highlight of the night came when the staff actually brought a wrestling ring to the stage for Spin in the Wind, which is probably the
most exciting and fun song to listen live from all subunits. Starting with a lot of trash talk between Rinon and Hana, they simulate a fight through the whole
song, with Hana eventually winning, only to offer her champion belt to Rinon as an offer of good sportsmanship.
After this, Shirai and Yunano’s came out to give an MC regarding the merchandise of the event, which serves as a most appropriate intro for Piece de
Check!, the song by the Purchasing Club. It is really interesting that while musically it is Shirai who carries the whole song, Yunano
is actually the real great entertainer, pulling acts of physical comedy through the whole song and at some moment pulling out a couple of surprisingly powerful t-shirt guns for her and
Shirai and literally shoot the crowd with some merchandise all the way to the second and third floor of the hall.
But the real deal came when Mini Patti, the unit composed by Moa, Yui and Hana came onstage; the crowd when
totally crazy about them as the tunes of “Acha, Curry, Tea” started to play, only to give intro later to a medley of all of their songs! In the end, they closed the medley with
the full Hirari! Kira Kira Yami Yami Museum, making of
this long performance an excellent goodbye to what is arguably the most beloved unit by all the fans. After a short set of songs composed by Sleep Wonder, Planet Episode
008, the great performance of the single Heart no Hoshi (the dance version of it, which had us all yelling in unison the spelling of Sakura Gakuin) and
Mikansei Silhouette, the graduation mood began with a long string of songs which seemed to be specially designed to break the hearts of the fans in the room. First, the 4
graduates came onstage to perform the new song Takaramono (which directly translates as “Treasure”) without the rest of the members. Once the song ended, class president came
back alone to the stage to call her classmates, as Suzuka once did, for the start of My Graduation Toss, in a gesture that brought a great response of the crowd
as well as a heavy feeling of nostalgia. The new graduation song, Kimi ni Todoke followed right after. A song that reminisces of the best musical moments of Sakura
Gakuin, it brought most of the fans to tears. In the end they closed with the all time classic Yume ni Mukatte, with the girls barely holding the tears themselves.
Over two hours of performance had passed, which felt like 15 minutes to me, and a brief pause gave entrance to the final graduation ceremony.
Sakura Gakuin’s director appeared and gave a long speech, highlighting the qualities of each of the girls and their performance this
year. One by one he gave the girls their diploma for completion of the school year, which created a slow, heartbreaking process in which most of the girls started crying. Yui in particular
literally had to leave the stage for a few moments as she couldn’t control the tears anymore.
Once the diplomas were given, Rinon took the microphone to give the Kouhai (the juniors) speech. Rinon as usual was not crying, instead taking the role of captain of the crew, talking with a confident smile and thanking each member personally. A funny, mood lightening moment came when Rinon finished her speech and walked towards each graduate to hug them; she accidentally hit Yui’s head with the mic, causing both of them and the crowd to laugh lightly, and she tried to give a hug to a noticeably heartbroken Hana who seemed to back away from it.Moa fully embraced Rinon, in a split second that seemed to last for ages to all of us who were present there, and Rinon closed her speech to give place for the Graduates speech.
Moa took the mic (another lightening moment, as she had to lower the mic from the position Rinon used it like, causing a light cheer and laughs from the crowd) and she began a long speech which ended up breaking everyone in the room; the sounds of sobbing and crying were noticeable, and exacerbated by the looks of the faces of the graduates themselves, who were noticeably desperately trying not to break down in crying (Yui’s face particularly was painful to watch and Moa had to struggle to continue the speech a couple of times). Closing down the night, the graduation ceremony set up was removed for the group to perform their last two songs ever with Yui and Moa and the last time any original member would perform as part of the group.
They began performing Tabidachi no Hini with the members still in tears (I must admit that I, having held my ground reasonably well through the whole show, ended up breaking at this point) and they closed the whole show with what must have been the most emotional performance of See You ever. The song ended with a last MC from the girls, each saying their goodbyes to the graduates. Rinon as usual never cried through the whole show, contrasting with Megumi, who literally broke down in tears and struggled to gain back the posture to finish her talk. In the end, the girls thanked their fans for having walked with them these past 5 years and each of them left the stage, ending with Yui and Moa alone there, thanking again and again the crowd among cheers and cries from the thousands of fans gathered there.
The graduation and a whole epoch in Sakura Gakuin had ended. During my last day in Japan, a feeling of sadness overwhelmed me the entire time as I walked the streets of Tokyo, said goodbye to my newly gained friends and boarded the airplane back home. I plugged in my earphones to distract myself from the feeling. As random songs went by, suddenly Babymetal began to play. My eyes spread wide open as a realization came to mind. “This is not the end” I thought to myself. The careers of Yui, Moa, Hana and Yunano have barely begun; rather, they have just made the next jump to new things, and me and many others, as true fans, will get to follow them and accompany them in their new endeavors. “This is not the end” I thought to myself again; “this is just the beginning”, I said as a smile crossed my face, moments before I got lost again in the music that I’ve come to love. I shall see you again very soon."