NYLON’s [Radar Special: Bright Young Things] – JKT48
“ONCE UPON A TIME in Japan (2005 precisely), a music producer/ lyricist/ vice president of ‘Kyoto University of Art and Design’, Yasushi Akimoto had an idea of forming an idol group based in a theater with a concept idol you can meet everyday, not only just on televisions or magazines. That idea was then materialized into ‘AKB48′, an idol group who received Guinness Record as the world’s largest pop group with members consisted of some 50 or more (yup, don’t get fooled by the number ’48’) teenage girls aged between 14 to early-twenties. Based in Akihabara (AKB), Tokyo, the center of the pop culture in Japan, this group became an instant hit, not just in Japan but also internationally, thanks to their bubblegum pop songs with lyrics full of passion, cutesy appeal and the personality of each members, not to forget the group’s concept “Idol you can meet” idea itself which give peoplethe fantasy of cute girls found in Japanese animation seemed to be transformed into the real world. With their successes, other sister group was then created with the same concept in other cities in Japan (Osaka, Nagoya and Hakata) which then followed by Jakarta, who had been chosen as the first AKB48’s sister group outside of Japan, by the name JKT48.
Since its establishments on November last year, JKT48 which consisted of 24 members with the age range between 13 to 21 years old has been consistently raising their reputation by appearing in CMs, music events, variety shows, and news coverage both in Jakarta and also Japan.However, in general, their fans mostly come from fanbase groups of Japanese culture. Well, by observing all these 24 girls singing and dancing on stage with school uniforms being worn, it still somehow feels a bit strange maybe in Indonesia, that is why, there are still so many people misguided and not at all understand of why they are called idol group instead of girlband, or why there are fans spending so much amount of money on them, or why they are buying their merchandises, or why fans always lining up to do high-touch (high five) with every members. Those are some things that encourage me to visit their permanent theater at fX Sudirman Jakarta-the place where they do their theater performances five days a week and has always been visited by so many enthusiastic fans- to have conversations with these 7 members who represents their fellow members about their memorable experience in JKT48, juggling between their life as an idol and their personal life, along with some other fun facts. ALEXANDER KUSUMA PRAJA
I take Agriculture as my major at college. At first I wanted to do visual communication, but I was then recommended from a relative who graduated from this course to take it because this course is good, and when at SPMB(Scholarship Program) I was accepted in this course. I started school 1 year earlier then what I’m supposed to, so now even I am still 20-year-old, I’m already in my 7th semester.
For the activities in JKT48, I need to go back and forth Bandung to Jakarta. Its tiring really, especially when you have some sort of saturated feeling, but this is my life and I need to enjoy it, if I always think positives, it won’t feel so much tiring as it should be.
The most embarrassing moment is when I fell down on stage during live TV. So, when we perform “Heavy Rotation”, at my solo part I suddenly fell down. It was embarrassing because the viewer was not only JKT48 fans. But because the show must go on, so I stood up right away, be cool and keep smiling.
There was one day when a fan come during my lecture. Maybe because he felt so curious of how we are actually like in our everyday life, and he also wanted to give me a gift. But I said to him to just send it to the office, luckily he understood and respects my feeling.
I like to listen to alternative pops like The All American Rejects, Taylor Swift’s, and when I feel like relaxing I listen to reggae, haha. Lately, I felt like going to many concerts, but I was not able to because of the theater schedules. It is true that your own priority should be put at first, so if I have the time in the future, why not?
The significance to be an idol is to be an inspiration and a good role model for others, especially the fans. Even if they are not a JKT48 fans, we should be able to attract their attentions, Thats why you have to come to our theater, get to know every each of us and knows our own personal characteristics. Me myself wants to be known as a kind big-sister figure to every members and others, I don’t want to be known by people as a pretender, I am all really just like this.
At first, it’s hard for me to manage the time because I was just got into junior high school back then, still adapting with the new environment, fortunately peers and teachers at school understand why I always ask for permission to be absent from school. Some of my friends at school knows about JKT48, there are people who like to give fan letters to me or asking for my phone number, there are also seniors who fanboy me, they even come to the theater. Even they are just my school friends, they are still my fans, but when we are at school, I am just like any other kids.
For my extra curricular at school, I chose English Club. At first I wanted to take sports, but eventually I thought of choosing something that could help my lessons in class. And soon I am going to be an OSIS (School Council), hehe.
Before joining JKT48 I often wear style clothes for grown-ups. Even though I am still growing up, my fans always prefer me to act like a young girl, so everytime we have an event I wear clothes which shows the younger side of me, but outsides I’m just gonna wear something more mature.
If I’m having an insomnia. I would normally read mentions from twitter (Nabilah’s twitter followers reach up to 170K more, much more compare to jkt48 official page). I open my Twitter because I want to communicate with the fans from outside Jakarta. Because of the recent rule that we can’t reply to a mention, so I can only read them all, but I believe that all my fans know that those tweets are still so important to me.
I’m regarded as the fussiest member. When I do talk too much or yelling and shouting, my voice becoming hoarse and then I feel sorry for myself, then I ask “why should I be yelling in the first place?”. However, even though I have a soar throat after, I will still keep on talking, hahaha!
Before doing performance, physical preparation is the most important. Sometimes we have a schedule performing 3 days in a row, so we really need to maintain our physical performance. We always do training regularly, and every once a week we have some physical training which are genuinely applied by our trainer.
Song I love the most is “Boku No Sakura”. Because the song is a slow paced song, it is so different compare to the other songs.
The most memorable stage performance is Tokyo Dome. It took 6 years for AKB48 themselves to perform in Tokyo Dome which really is a historical stage in Japan, and JKT48 is able to perform with AKB48 is really something “wow” to me. The viewers are so many, it reach 48.000 people.
Appearing in Indonesia is a chance to promote JKT48 in our home country. Because in Japan, AKB48 and other sister groups are already very known, whereas in Indonesia we are not that really known by many people, that become our challenges to show to all people what is JKT48.
At College’s “orientation week’, I wear a name tag written ‘Stella Cornelia’, someone then asked ‘why is your name similar to JKT48’s personnel?” I was just being quiet, then after that he opened my twitter account and said “What the hell, even your face?” finally he realized that that really is me. There is also someone that say something like “hey, I heard there is someone from JKT48 at this college!” funny though he didn’t know that person was actually sitting next to him, but I just acted stupid, hahaha.
I like it simple when it goes to my personal taste, but I’m really crazy about vests. Sometimes I could mix and match one vest with tanktops and t-shirts.
There’s still no leadership system in JKT48 for the time being, but we might have it one day since we have a lot of member so we need a leader figure, especially when the second generation members will join us.
My favourite JKT48 song is “Shonichi (first day)”, Because the lyrics really paint the word picture our struggle. There’s nothing impossible, as long as we have a dream and want to make some effort : There must be goof outcome from our efforts.
The most memorable present from a fans is a hancrafted musical box. An Electrical Engineering University student give it, saying that he wants to make it for his thesis and make it as an example. He made the musical box from a cookies jar made of Styrofoam (lost in translation here, since I never see a cookies jar made of Styrofoam) with two speakers. I don’t knwo how he made it, but when I opened the lid of the jar, it produces music.
Since I am already in the 9th year of school (TN : roughly 3rd year of junior high school), I am preparing for the National Exam. It’s now kind of difficult finding time to study when I’m not at school, so I seriously study when I’m at school, although sometimes I fell asleep during lessons , haha.
I love dance since I was a kid, but it’s different kind of dance since it’s for children, the movement was not as complicated as JKT48 dances, so I have to keep practicing to be able to sing during dancing.
I can speak Japanese, so when meeting our sister groups from Japan, I ended up being the translator for other members who can’t speak Japanese. Rena (Rena Nozawa, JKT48 member who is a native Japanese) actually able to be a translator too, but there’s still many Indonesian words she don’t understand yet.
Members also hanging out together out of JKT48 activities, especially dining out or watching movies together. Sometimes we come earlier for practice so that we can watch movies or eat together before we practice. Now we see each other almost everyday in the theater.
Jealousy when seeing another member have more fans than us is sometime not avoidable. Although we’re in the same team in JKT48, but we compete each other in a positive way. I hope we can be together forever and be friends although one day one of us might be graduated.
At first, my motivation joining JKT48 first audition was in hope of being able to go to Japan. Well, it’s okay not being famous in Indonesia as long as being famous in Japan, ahaha. Now I study Japanese Literature so that I’ll be able to communicate well.
We’re basically not a dancer or singer, I myself know nothing about it, at first. But then we learn how to dance and sing, and how to communicate with others and fans. Well, actually no one teach us about how to communicate with fans, but as the time goes we learn from our experiences and also from fellow member
My first experience boarding on an airplane was when I went to Japan with JKT48. I go to Akihabara , the center of otaku culture (fans of japanese manga/anime). I really enjoyed it. Ve and I went to a really huge toy shop. Ve bought stuffs for her brother, while I buy some Kamen Rider toys.
Eye contact with the audiences is very important. But some fans put away his face when I look at them, simply because they’re feeling shy. When there is an autograph session, there’s someone who’s trembled heavily when giving his book to signed.
I really put a line between my school life and my idol life. When I’m at school , I dressed like a lame nerd wearing glasses and stuff, wearing no makeup. It’s different when it come to stage, since I perform to make the audiences happy.But sometimes my friends at campus or my lecturer simply made some jokes like “C’mon, don’t forget to perform at your theater” ahaha.
It’s hard to manage my time. Before JKT48 Theater was opened, it’s not really hard. I just begin my study in Visual Communication Design department which gives a lot of homework. Sometime I bring it to the theater, thinking I could do it, although it mostly ended up untouched because I am really busy.
I like watching Japanese Dorama-s (Japanese TV Series) so I learn Japanese a bit from them and know a bit about Japanese actors/actresses. When I joined the audition I didn’t really know about AKB48, just like “Oh, the group with so many members”. But when I actually saw them face to face, I’m so excited since I only saw them in posters or TV appearances.
My fans sometimes confused with my real name since it is quite long (Jessica veranda Tanumihardja) but my nickname is only “Ve” ahaha. Sometimes I get called by “Ve-Chan”. But in my campus I preferred to be called “Jessica” so it will made a different feeling between my ordinary life and my job as an idol in JKT48.
One of the most memorable time with my fans : After a performance , we were walking to our car passing through some crowd of fans. Someone kept calling my name so I waved to him, and when I passed him, suddenly he shout “Oh My God, it’s Ve! I’m so ‘confused'” (TN : don’t know how to put galau in english here, so I put confused). Everyone then started laughing. I then think to myself, why should he feel confused, haha. Furthermore, it happened not really long after our debut, so I didn’t really get used to fans attention at that time.
Sometimes little conflict happens, and it’s reasonable. It’s quite common to happen during our age, especially we’re all girls. Girls are quite sensitive, especially when we’re having PMS or when we’re tired. For a quick fix, we usually read the situation and try to understand each other, just like a family.
Alexander Kusuma Praja (@Alkupra)
Unofficial English Translators
Sergio Mario (@Sergio_Mario), RedRanger48 (@theRedRanger48)