UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI bid farewell to Arai Manami, Furukawa Konatsu, Mori Saki and Saho Akari with a powerful sold-out (attendance limited due to COVID-19 prevention guidelines) performance at Zepp Tokyo on December 17, 2020. Titled “UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI FIVE SOUL FOREVER”, the concert was a celebration of the group’s history since their formation in 2011 and a glimpse into a future under the leadership of Sekine Azusa.
Opening acts UP UP GIRLS (Pro Wrestling) kicked off the evening with “Ring no Ue ni mo San Nen 〜All Along The Way〜” and “Upper Kick!”. They were followed by UP UP GIRLS (2) with “Tsuyogari Rairairai”, “Ni no Ashi Dancing” and “Be lonely together”.
A silent wave of anticipation swept through Zepp Tokyo as the curtains opened and the overture rang out from the speakers as penlights waved. UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI took the stage, launching right into “Going my ↑”, their first original song, followed by the festive sounds of “Joujou do Konjou” and fierce fist-pumping fury of “Ichiban Girls! 2017”. Switching gears to the hyper-active Eurobeat of “Aiai Fire!!” and flirtatious fan favorite “Barebare I LOVE YOU”, UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI picked up steam, accelerating into “PROMISE TRAIN” and pumping their fists to “Kirakira Mirai”, Sekine Azusa riding across the stage on the back of Furukawa Konatsu for the last time. The members boogied across the stage under a curtain of rainbow lasers to “Upper Disco” and smoldered through the Latin-flavored “Heat Beat Island”
A video dramatically revealed the new members one by one, in total 7 of them. Furuya Yurika, Suzuki Meina, Kudo Sumire (ex-choco☆milQ), Suzuki Ayu (ex-Idol College), Koyama Seina, Aoyagi Yume, and Sumida Haruka then joined the rest of UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI to perform “FOREVER YOUNG” and introduce themselves to the fans before returning backstage.
Revving up into the home stretch of the setlist, the quintet accelerated into “Sora Hallelujah!!” and “Lady→GO!”, roaring through “UPPER ROCK” and downshifting into the emotional “I LIVE YOU”. UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI’s final performance of “Chopper☆Chopper” left nothing behind as the fans answered the “No Music No Idol” call-and-response from the depths of their hearts. The sparks kept flying as they launched right into “Jumper” followed up by the bubbly festive-flavored EDM of “Age no Mix”. In a bit of a throwback to the group’s final performance at Zepp Tokyo as 7 members (September 15, 2017), Saho Akari unleashed a barrage of “Poi poi poi” shouts throughout the entiretly of “Upper Ray”, answering in affirmative to the songs opening question “Are you crazy?”. Jabbing and punching, bobbing and weaving, UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI knocked out longtime fan favorite “Uppercut!” with reckless abandon. Closing out the set with the downtempo “Light it up”, the members took a deep bow and jogged off the stage as the encore applause came in waves.
The encore began with the uplifting “Us (with friend)” and the finality of the moment hit like a brick wall, Sekine Azusa wiping away tears and as she and the others powered their way through the last song they would ever perform together. Giving thanks once again, they took their final bow and slowly made their way across the stage to wave to as many fans as they could before finally disappearing backstage.
A journey that began in 2011 (or possibly even 2004 if going back to their days as Hello! Pro Eggs) came to an end for Arai Manami, Furukawa Konatsu, Mori Saki and Saho Akari but a new one began for Sekine Azusa and the new members as they rang in 2021 at New Year Premium Party on January 2nd. While the bar is set high for a group that earned a reputation for their intensely physical performances and willingness to take on seemingly impossible challenges, it may only be a matter of time before UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI step up to meet and possibly even exceed those expectations.
UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI New Line-Up, from left to right: Suzuki Meina, Aoyagi Yume, Suzuki Ayu, Sumida Haruka, Sekine Azusa, Kudo Sumire, Koyama Seina, Furuya Yurika
— UP UP GIRLS (Pro Wrestling) —
OA1. Ring no Ue ni mo San Nen 〜All Along The Way〜
OA2. Upper Kick!
— UP UP GIRLS (2) —
OA3. Tsuyogari Rairairai
OA4. Ni no Ashi Dancing
OA5. Be lonely together
— UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI —
01. Going my ↑
02. Joujou do Konjou
03. Ichiban Girls! 2017
04. Aiai Fire!!
05. Barebare I LOVE YOU
06. PROMISE TRAIN
07. Kirakira Mirai
08. Upper Disco
09. Heat Beat Island
10. FOREVER YOUNG
11. Sora Hallelujah!!
13. UPPER ROCK
14. I LIVE YOU
17. Age no Mix
18. Upper Ray
20. Light it up
— ENCORE —
EN01. Us (with friend)
Special thanks to the management of UP UP GIRLS kakko KARI for providing us the official photos.
Article by Kai, translated to French by Melody