Seriously Cute: MNL48 Fan Meet (05.29.2016)

AKB announcement of sister group, MNL48
 last 26 March 2016
This project had been first announced a few years ago. It has been so long though that I thought they would scrap the project. Imagine my surprise when they officially announced the formation of BNK48, TPE48 and MNL48 in an AKB48 concert.

I was shocked and ecstatic.

It was finally happening, I could finally watch idols perform up close. That is why when there was a raffle for a fan meet to happen, I was extremely happy but at the same time confused, since as far as I knew there weren't any members yet.

In line outside, Movie Stars Cafe
However, I was still glad to receive the letter informing me that I had a slot for the fan meet.

It would be held in Movie Stars Cafe, Mall of Asia.

The line hadn't been too bad since it hadn't been very long. Unfortunately, it is the middle of summer so the sun was extremely hot. We were practically melting while waiting for the registration to start and be allowed to go inside.

Once inside, we were greeted by waitresses dressed in the cute costumes from the music video, "Iiwake (I'm Making Excuses) Maybe." Not surprising since it is practically one of their signature costumes. It even greatly resembles AKB0048's costumes. It might not be one of my favorite songs or music videos, but it definitely has one of the cutest costumes.

It was comfortable inside the venue. The air condition wasn't set too high, which was really appreciated. The song, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru playing in the background. I always loved this song but felt disturbed at the same time. It is catchy as heck, but knowing the lyrics and how old many of the members were when they sang this sends shivers down my spine. It is a confusing feeling, but it is admittedly still a good song.

Inside, I met a girl named, Veira who had been there alone as well. We struck a conversation and formed a friendship. She was aspiring to be a future member.

She is quite amusing and her smile reminded me a lot of the silly, early-AKB Sae Miyazawa. She is pretty energetic and had a "I'm going!!" type of personality.

I really hope she does make it. I will be cheering for her the whole time.


Hosts, Nica and Angel
The fan meet begins with the familiar sound of ---- "AKB48!" It is the song and visual introduction that we get in every AKB48 concert.

That, "Are you ready?!" really gets you jumping.

We are then introduced to our hosts, Nica and Angel. I found it cute that Angel was already dressed in an AKB costume. It was a costume from their 65th NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen presscon. 

We were then introduced to two important people who are in charge of the project. We learned that they had been negotiating with AKS about the project for three years. It fits the timeline when I first heard about it.

The game of Rock, Paper and Scissors.
To charge people up, they announced a game which is quite fitting if you are a fan. The game was a game of Janken. I was one of the people who made it to the first round, but I was afraid of leaving my belongings unattended. I had learned the hard way to never do that.

I loved watching the unnecessarily over-the-top AKB Janken for the cute costumes and the overall silliness by a lot of the members.

I can't say that this had the same impact with me because of the absence of the elaborate costumes. There was still a bit of the silliness and the prizes were really awesome so it is still good that they had it.

After the competition, we were given food as we watched the full version of AKB48's new music video, Tsubasa wa Iranai. As usual, the quality of the video and production are very nice and I always did like the vintage-type story-lined videos. I won't post pictures of those out of respect for the organizers. It was then followed up with a few concert lives. The ones I was familiar with were Heavy Rotation and Jurina Matsui's Akai Pin Heel to Professor.

Discussion and Possible Hindrances

Girls with AKB48 costumes make their exit. 


Since I wasn't able to record the whole thing because I didn't think about it that time, I am going to write this part of the event using only my memory. This was an interesting portion because it really showed me the big culture difference between Japan and the Philippines despite being both Asian countries.

The first part they wanted to discuss was image and sound, which I thought was a good place to start.

4 girls came on stage dressed in AKB48 costume. With Angel, now we had 5 samples of the costumes. I was only able to get 4/5. The ones from the 4 I could identify were from Heavy Rotation, River and Iiwake Maybe. They asked which ones we found cute and such. I found EVERYTHING cute, so it was all moot.

They also showed us photos of the possible staple MNL48 costumes. We were asked which costume it should be and a few were even able to say why.

Another girl suggested that the they should have a variety of images, and not just cute to keep the group from feeling stagnant. She also wanted something sexy and sensual. I wouldn't have a big problem with this at all and even would have recommended the same thing.

Possible Hindrances

One was also quite adamant about implementing the "Love Ban" rule, which I honestly can't see happening. One thing I notice about young girls is that they love being in love and feeling the "kilig". Also, one of the biggest selling point of current mainstream celebrities is the love-teams. Bailey and Ylona were twelve and thirteen when they were first a love-team. It would be hard to prevent love-teams from happening, especially if members get acting jobs.

One of the male fans proposed that they should follow tradition and have an age bracket of 11 to 20 year-olds audition. The discussion of the sexy and sensual image still fresh in my mind, I didn't at all want to picture a child in that image. I am just going to go ahead and address the elephant in the room. I had to look into this, because I read somewhere that this was illegal. I am sure a lot of other people have too.

According to Republic Act 7658:

 Children below fifteen (15) years of age shall not be employed except: 

  • (1) When a child works directly under the sole responsibility of his parents or legal guardian and where only members of the employer's family are employed
    • It is allowed but a guardian needs to be around at all times. It also sounds like that they also had to make sure that it doesn't get in the way of the child's education. It would be very inconvenient if the child misses practices and appearances because of exams or a guardian couldn't be found to go with the child. 
  • (2) Where a child's employment or participation in public entertainment or information through cinema, theater, radio or television is essential: Provided, The employment contract is concluded by the child's parents or legal guardian, with the express agreement of the child concerned, if possible, and the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment: and Provided, That the following requirements in all instances are strictly complied 
  • (a) The employer shall ensure the protection, health, safety, morals and normal development of the child; 
  • (b) The employer shall institute measures to prevent the child's exploitation or discrimination taking into account the system and level of remuneration, and the duration and arrangement of working time; and 
    • I have to admit that this is another of my worries. The kind of idols AKB48 is includes bikinis and photobooks. This can easily seen as child exploitation, especially if the church gets wind of this. All they have to do is find Heavy Rotation, find out that the then 13 year old Jurina Matsui is there and call it exploitation.  I already know some people who find the video exploitative and criticize me for my "questionable" taste. 
    • It isn't just the church, the masses would probably think the same because a lot of people listen to church. I don't think the company needs this kind of negative press, especially when they are still in the experimental stage of the market. 
    • Maybe the children won't be involved in these kind of promotions though, so there might be some way to get through this. This is really about being very good at Marketing.
    • There would be plenty of adjusting to cater to them. For example, the proposed theater time was 3:00PM to 10:00PM. I hope it isn't expected for minors to perform that long. From school, practices and performances, they might burn out.
  • (c) The employer shall formulate and implement, subject to the approval and supervision of competent authorities, a continuing program for training and skills acquisition of the child. 

The next argument people might point out of that proposed age range is the:  "Republic Act 7610; Article 5." 

Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act: Obscene Publications and Indecent Shows

"Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows, whether live or in video, or model in obscene publications or pornographic materials or to sell or distribute the said materials shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period. 

Definition of child according to this act: "Children" refers to person below eighteen (18) years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition;"

And as I mentioned before that the AKB48 image can be interpreted as exploitative for people who don't understand. Having older members might prevent this from becoming an issue, because I can't be the only one who is willing to look into the legal part of the project.

I do acknowledge that having younger members seem to work in JKT48 and SNH48. I also do understand that having younger members can still can work since it has worked for shows like Pinoy Big Brother and such, Maybe they can have young members be a part by being simply a part of a training division until the time they are old enough. It would be a shame to not cultivate someone who is really talented.

My vision of a perfect would be something cute and classy. I think it is much more feasible to start with older members and maybe later adding younger ones once the group has a stable operation going on, so it would be much easier for the younger generation to find their footing. Once the group is more accepted by the masses, maybe then it wouldn't be that much of an issue.


While the time and date of auditions hadn't been announced yet, They wanted to talk about how the auditions were going to be conducted. One guy said that they should conducted in a way people from Mindanao and Visayas can also join, which I agree wholehearted to since I know people from those areas who want to audition. Another suggested I think that it should be televised to get the whole country involved, which is also a good idea to promote the members people really want in the group.

Theater Practices

I am alright with the no phones and camera rule. That is actually basic theater courtesy, However one of the things Veira and I were really worried about if the "No bringing of Food and Water inside." I am wondering about this as well since I get parched and overheated a lot during concerts or anywhere with close spaces. I understand that they are concerned about litter, but can we at least be allowed to bring water jugs?

Performances and Ending

Movie Stars Cafe Performers entertained us
 with Aitakatta and Heavy Rotation
We talked about few more things, such as merchandising and scheduling but nothing stood out to me that I wouldn't need to repeat. To end the meet, the Movie Stars Cafe performers with Angel danced a couple of AKB48 favorites, Aitakatta and Heavy Rotation.

One group was dressed in Iiwake Maybe costumes and the other group was dressed in Team 8 uniforms from when they visited the Philippines last time.

It was a great way to end the meet and I really am glad that I went and really would be happy to go to the next one.

I really hope that MNL48 can bring the AKB flavor without making too much scandalous headlines because other than cute girls and costumes, AKB48 also sells a sort fantasy of your favorite members.

I am sincerely worried about this project because I really want this to happen, This does still have the potential to be something great and when it does, I can really say that I was there for the beginning ...


  1. Thanks for posting about the fan meet! I didn't win the lottery so I really wanted to go haha;; Your post was really elaborate! <3


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