Costume corner #1: AKB48 & HKT48

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Hello, and welcome to the Costume Corner! It’s been a while, but I’m back from the lethal fog of schoolwork to bring to light the separate aspects of 48 Group/Nogizaka46 costumes that help the members shine as brightly as possible. I’ve reviewed three costumes for this article, so let’s go ahead and take a look!

HKT48 – “12 Byou” 1st Performance / PV Costumes

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After seeing HKT’s outfits in their last single, I’m glad that the costumes this time are more orthodox idol-like. The PV costumes for “Hikaeme I Love You!” leaned a little towards something that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu might wear rather than the energy-filled HKT48, and didn’t seem to fit with the theme of the single at all. Of course, “Hikaeme I Love You!” didn’t actually have a story to its PV, so the costume issue doesn’t matter all that much.

This time, even if the costumes still don’t correspond to the PV all that much, they look much better! There is definitely a marine theme here, and the color combination of sky blue-red-navy blue add eye-catching accents to the ensembles. My personal favorite parts of the “12 Byou” costumes are the flared pleated skirts and the socks-heels combo. The skirts have an interestingly unique color pattern to them that make the 16 girls look like they’re sort of wearing umbrellas, but not in a bad way.

The socks are even more killer, sheer pinstripe ankle socks are definitely attention-grabbing. That plus white chunky heels are probably the best footwear choice I’ve seen since Nogizaka46’s “Inochi wa Utsukushii” Nike Air Revolution Sky Hi use, which…wasn’t that long ago actually. In the end, however, Nogizaka did apparently spend around $130 per pair of sneakers, while HKT probably didn’t need to over generic white heels.

Overall, these uniforms are great. Love the colors, love the skirts, and love the footwear. My only question here is Sashihara Rino’s shortened crop top. None of the other members in that picture, save Moriyasu Madoka, are wearing one (and Moriyasu’s was much longer than Sashihara’s) — is this because of HKT’s happy and almost innocent image versus Sashihara’s adult counterpart role? I don’t think crop tops for the rest of the members would really hurt any reputation here, in fact I think that they would add an elongating effect to the girls’ legs. Then again, Sashihara is known for her own long legs, so whoever designed her costume was probably thinking about that as well.

 

AKB48 – “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai” 1st Performance Costumes

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Around this time of year, AKB48 usually would have announced a summer-themed single with the members dressed in orthodox idol costumes and singing a candy-pop style song…

Until this year! “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai” is AKB’s first dance-heavy single in quite a while, and that calls for an image change in every way possible. The costume designers this time around ditched the bikinis and flouncing skirts for something more elegant, and I am totally digging it. Looking at the pure white colors and transparent cape-like skirt extensions, I see that AKB is trying to convey a more mature image that will make people turn their heads in admiration. This theme more than works for the group; it allows the girls to break the overused and predictable traditional costume theme to allow future singles to deviate from the old path as well in order to keep AKB’s popularity fresh and varied more often.

There are quite a few aspects about these outfits that stand out from the rest, first and foremost the rhinestone accents on every costume. If used in excess with bad color combinations (which happens much more often than not), rhinestones and fake jewels tend to make costumes appear cheesy to the point that the audience won’t be able to take the performance all that much seriously, especially if said performance is of a serious song like “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”. The rhinestones here, however, are used with lesser prominence, and their scattered but few locations on the corners of the skirts/center of the chest areas allow for the focus to go towards the entire costume itself.

Now, Shimazaki Haruka’s dress compliments her in every way in order to bring prominence to the fact that she is center of this single, but the costume I appreciate the most here is Takahashi Minami’s. I get the feeling that the designers took Takahashi’s seniority and leader presence into mind when drawing out the costume, and the resulting effect is a strikingly fantasy-like outfit that combines with her hair extensions to bring the soukantoku’s presence out to the max. If someone had told me that Takahashi Minami was the center of this single, I honestly would not be surprised at all.

 

AKB48 – “Koko ga Rhodes da, Koko de Tobe!” Performance Costumes

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Though the song for these dresses is an idol-like, inspirational brass-filled catchy tune about moving forward, the costumes here look like they would belong to a melody that showcased a calm feeling and a slow tempo rather than what “Koko ga Rhodes da, Koko de Tobe!” actually sounds like. That doesn’t mean that these costumes don’t go with the song, in fact, I feel like regular costumes would make this performance feel less unique.

An obvious theme of the costumes this time around is a historical Greek/Roman goddess-like appearance, and the girls do seriously appear as if they could play the part in a drama of some sort. I’m not exactly that much of a fan of the base of the costume, which is a standard top-skirt set made of what looks like curtain fabric. The pattern would be hideous by itself (and still doesn’t look good up close), but the long attachments of sheer cloth add the right touches to make this costume what it is. The designers chose to overlay the skirts and cloth enough that the outfits make the girls look as graceful as, well, actual goddesses.

My favorite part by far of these dresses are the gold accents that add just the right amount of elegance to the overall appearance. Pulling the sheer fabric into bunches tied off by the golden brooches and hems is something that I have never seen before on an idol costume, and I can’t help but adore it here. Not only that, but the half-sleeves as seen on Kodama Haruka and Moriyasu Madoka transform their costumes into dresses that seem like they stepped right out of a fairy tale. As a video game character design fan, if I had seen these dresses on some box art, I would’ve instantly added that game to my wish list. The designers here really stepped out of the box and played around with the layout of the costume parts to make them, well, perfect.

 
Have any costumes you would like to see reviewed? Go ahead and drop a suggestion on ask.fm, or tweet me @jarunugget. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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