Produce 48 Episode 1: Reaction and Recap

Produce 48, the show everyone has been talking about! I haven’t watched any of it and have somehow avoided most spoilers, so it’s time for me to finally crawl out from the rock I’m living under and give it a watch.

I was a huge fan of 48G from mid-2013 to early 2016. Since then, I haven’t been keeping close tabs on the groups, but I still watch most of their music videos and will tune in to the occasional variety show or SHOWROOM stream. I’ve never followed K-Pop groups or members, but I like to listen to some of the new releases and quite enjoy a lot of K-Pop music.

Without having seen any of the show, here are the members I’m supporting:

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Miyu Takeuchi (AKB48): Miyu is so talented musically and I find her quite cute too. While her YouTube channel has gotten a little bit of attention and she was the original 9th generation ace, management lost interest in her really quickly and I think this is her chance to succeed.

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Nako Yabuki (HKT48): Nako won my heart the moment I saw the Wink wa Sankai PV and ever since, I’ve thought she was one of the cutest 48G members. I can’t really picture her doing K-Pop songs, but it’ll be fun to see how she does.

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Ikumi Nakano (AKB48 Team 8): I thought Ikumin was a great pick for Team 8 center. She’s so cute and smiley. Not only that, but she’s a good dancer too! Sadly, she didn’t really pick up in popularity like a lot of the other Team 8 members, plus it seems like Team 8 is less active as its own entity with all of the members getting kennin to one of the four other AKB teams. Maybe Producee 48 is her time to shine?

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Mako Kojima (AKB48): Tentoumu Chu! is easily my favorite 48G subunit and I support all of the members in it. I love Mako’s smile and think she has a great stage presence.

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Tomu Muto (AKB48): I think Tomu is easily one of the most beautiful 48G members and I could definitely see her fitting the K-Pop look/style well.

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Ayana Shinozaki (AKB48): I used to always read her Google+ posts and found her quite entertaining and adorable. I’d like to see her get more recognition.

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Miku Tanaka (HKT48): I’ve always paid more attention to Nako than Miku, but recently I’ve realized that Miku is really cute too and a much better singer than I expected.

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Aoi Motomura (HKT48): I love her round face and as the dance leader of HKT48, I think she could do very well in the show.

I’m also a fan of Jurina Matsui (SKE48) and Miru Shiroma (NMB48), but because of their pivotal roles in their current groups, I’d rather they focused on SKE and NMB.

I don’t know anything about the Korean members and I know very little about Erii Chiba (AKB48), Nanami Asai (AKB48), Erina Oda (AKB48 Team 8), Miu Shitao (AKB48 Team 8), Hitomi Honda (AKB48 Team 8), Minami Sato (AKB48 Kenkyuusei), Yuka Asai (SKE48), Cocona Umeyama (NMB48), Azusa Uemura (NMB48), Mina Imada (HKT48), Sae Kurihara (HKT48), or Amane Tsukiashi (HKT48). We’ll see if any of them win my heart, huh?

Apparently these episodes are two hours long, so this could be a pretty long post. Let’s get started!

The show starts by explaining its purpose of combining Produce 101 and AKB48. They want to make the whole world watch their show. 48 48G members and 48 Korean members have joined, for a combined 96 members competing at the start of the show.

Each of the girls write what practice means to them and the narrator goes on to read many of their responses, so I’m assuming they’re going to value improvement and hard work over raw singing, dancing, and performance skills.

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A couple of them are writing in English – are some of the Korean trainees from English speaking countries? Or do they just figure that they should try to use it in order to appeal to an international audience?

12 of the 96 girls will be chosen to form a new girl group that will debut in Korea and Japan. The keyword of the season is “global” and they want to make a group that will perform in the world market. They really seem to be pushing the global thing, but if they wanted to make a truly global group, wouldn’t they be recruiting all over the world? This new group may be a hit for Korean and Japanese audiences, but you’d think a “global” group would at least have one Chinese member, one Southeast Asian member, and a couple members that aren’t Asian. Then again, maybe some of the Korean contestants aren’t from Korea, I’m not sure.

The host (I already forgot his name, I assume he’s a famous Korean guy) explains how to vote. You can go to the Produce 48 website or mobile app and click up to twelve girls you’d like to vote for (regardless of nationality) every day. Seems easy enough.

Now it’s time for the contestant introductions. First are three girls from Yuehua Entertainment, a Chinese agency that also manages entertainment in Korea. Okay, so I’m guessing we have a couple Chinese contestants at least.

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There are 96 seats and first place gets a really pimpin’ throne.

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I’m getting AKB sousenkyo vibes. The rest of the top seats aren’t as elaborate, but they’re a bit nicer than the rest of them. The Korean trainees start to walk in and can sit wherever they want. Most of the girls sit towards the top, but none of the early girls take the number one seat.

We are introduced to one of the Korean trainees who has been training with Urban Works for 2 years and 10 months, Min Ju. She starred in an iKon music video, and was in a K-Drama as a child. Min Ju wants to debut in a group and get more acting jobs. When she walks in, the other girls are amazed at her beauty.

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Next, we have two girls from one of the top modeling agencies in the country, YG KPlus. Their names are Ahn Ye Wong and Choi Yeon Soo. Choi Yeon Soo’s dad is a famous chef, but she wants to become famous on her own. Min Ju and the other girls immediately notice their height and beautiful legs. The YG KPlus girls are known for being very tall and thin.

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After that, a number of CNC girls walk in. They have a very young and cute look to them.

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One member from MMO Entertainment walks in. Apparently last year, an MMO Entertainment contestant won first place in one of the Produce shows.

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Many more girls walk in. I can’t keep track of them, but I’m sure we’ll learn more about them later. The Korean contestants seem excited to see the Japanese contestants and want to make friends with them, but are worried about communicating when they don’t know Japanese.

Four girls from Stone Music Entertainment enter the room and some of the girls are immediately shocked and intimidated. They were all members of the 2017 idol show Idol School and Jang Gyuri debuted as a member of Fromis 9, leading some of the contestants to wonder why she’s in Produce 48.

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Next are the major agencies. A Cube trainee, Han Cho Won, comes in next. The girls all have high expectations and are a bit scared of her. Other contestants think she’s cool and has swag and charisma. The agency has a reputation for having great dancers.

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Two girls from FNC Entertainment are next, another major agency that AOA is part of.

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Three Starship trainees come in and immediately greet everyone. I think they were the first ones to do that? All three of them take turns sitting in the first place seat, but don’t stay there. One of the Starship girls, Ahn Yoo Jin, already got a lot of attention before the show and has been in commercials and TV shows. The other girls think she’s really cool, pretty, and cute. A couple of the girls note that all of the contestants are much prettier than the first Produce season.

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Now, Pledis Entertainment. Everyone is nervous and thinks the girls will be really tall. They have two trainees and as everyone expects, they are tall with long, slim legs. Contestants realize that Ka Eun is a member of After School, but she has been on hiatus for a long time. The girls talk amongst themselves about AKB48 and all seem to know Heavy Rotation.

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Damn, it says 48G has almost 600 members now with all groups included. Is that true? They must be counting the overseas 48G groups to get to that number, huh.

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The AKB48 members all come out at once. The Korean girls are shocked by how many of them there are and try to count.

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We get to see a few of their goals. Miho Miyazaki seems excited to debut in Korea. Oh yeah, Myao’s a Koreaboo, isn’t she. Produce 48 will probably be a cool experience for her. Tomu Muto and Juri Takahashi think that they can learn a lot from Korean girl groups and are impressed that even though they are still idols, they have more of an artist feel to them.

The AKB members all greet the Korean members and some even make hearts at them. The Korean girls think the Japanese girls are cute, pretty, and great at fanservice. Juri is able to make basic conversation in Korean and some of the Korean girls can say basic things in Japanese too.

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All of the girls start talking to each other with basic vocabulary and body language and tell each other their ages. They realize that Korean ages are different than Japanese ages because babies are considered 1 at birth.

The much smaller group of NMB members come in next. Juri really seems to be trying hard to use the Korean she knows and connect with the Korean members, which gets her some points in my book.

Only two members of SKE walk in. It seems weird they have so few members participating. When Jurina comes in, many of the Korean contestants are shocked. They recognize her and know that she’s an A-list celebrity in Japan. Only the lower ranking and #1 seats are available now. Many of the Korean contestants think Jurina will take the number one seat and some even think she should, but she decides not to. Jurina says she considered taking the number one seat, but after seeing the beauty and charisma of all the Korean trainees, didn’t have the courage to do so. Side note: this Yuuka Asai kid is pretty cute.

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Oh yeah, Chiyori Nakanishi is an AKB48 member now. I always forget Chori got transferred from HKT.

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We take a break from 48G members and go back to Korean contestants. Now we’re at Banana, EXID’s agency, Woolim, Lovelyz’s agency, and WM, Oh My Girl’s agency. It is Woolim and WM’s first times participating in a Produce show. Some of the girls recognzie Lee Chae Yeon, who has been on several reality shows and is an amazing dancer.

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Back to the Japanese contestants with HKT48. The Korean contestants think the all black HKT logo is cool. Sakura gets a big introduction and she explains that although the 48 groups are popular, it’s not because they’re good at singing or dancing, so she’s not confident in how they will perform on the show. The Korean girls think Sakura is beautiful and like her fair skin and the Japanese girls think the Korean girls are very pretty and have great bodies.

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Next are the last two girls, two Korean girls who were former YG trainees, Park Seo Young and Park Jinny. I guess they skipped NGT48 (unless I missed it?) I’m assuming they skipped some of the Korean trainees too. Since YG is such a huge name that even a lot of the 48G girls reacted to, the other girls figure they must be really talented. They were set to debut in Blackpink and Future 2NE1 and they say they want everyone to wonder why YG let them go. The blonde haired one, Park Seo Young, confidently takes the 1st place seat.

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Now that everyone is seated, we meet the two National Producers, a man and woman. They are both former winners of Produce 101 and debuted in I.O.I. and Wanna One. We are then introduced to the top producers from Korea and Japan that will work on the final group’s debut album, Han Sung Soo and Aki-P. Han Sung Soo has worked with NU’EST, Seventeen, After School, Orange Caramel. I don’t think Aki-P needs an introduction.

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The girls think that only the top 11 will debut like in previous shows, but they announce that the spots have been expanded to one more to 12, which makes the girls happy.

Next, the trainers are introduced. The vocal trainers are Lee Hong Ki, a famous Korean singer and member of FTISLAND, and Soyou, a former member of SISTAR.

For dance, we get Choi Young Jun, a choreographer for Seventeen and Wanna One, Bae Yoon Jung, Kara, EXID, and Girl’s Day’s dance trainer, who says that she hopes they’re not too good because it’s fun if they have room to learn, and May J Lee, the dance choreographer for TWICE’S KNOCK KNOCK.

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Cheetah, Korea’s premier female rapper who appeared on seasons one and two of Produce 101, is the rap trainer. I didn’t realize there would be a rap trainer, but I guess I’m not surprised.

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We also get former After School member and solo singer Kahi as a “one day special trainer”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

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They explain the girls will be sorted into A-F groups for training purposes, with the hopes of them all becoming A level performers. It’s time for evaluation now. Along with all the Korean names mentioned, Aki-P is also there judging.

One of the Yuehua girls, Choi Ye Na, along with her vocal and dance performance does a short comedy routine in Japanese. It’s kind of dumb, but it makes everyone laugh including Aki-P and I give her props for the effort. We get to see that she’s very energetic and a bit quirky. I like her, she’s the first on the Korean side that has made an impression on me.

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Another Yuehua girl, Kim Shi Hyun, was on Produce 101 two years ago as an individual trainee. She says that when she watches performances of herself back then, she thinks she was so hopeless and bad and she’s improved a lot since then. When she was on the show the first time around, she was awarded an F and really wants to get an A this time. The judges think she looks like TWICE’s Tzuyu. I don’t think she’s as cute, but I guess I see it.

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The three Yuehua girls perform Little Mix’s Move. Huh, the first performance we see is of an English song, I didn’t expect that. It’s clear they can both sing and dance very well and their English pronunciation doesn’t quite sound native, but it’s good. One of the girls does some impressive acrobatics. Mako Kojima is distressed by how every one of the Korean trainees is amazing.

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Juri makes a heart at them. I’ve never paid much attention to her, but she’s winning me over.

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Choi Ye Na receives an A and Kim Shi Hyun and Wang Yi Ren receive a Bs. While Kim Shi Hyun wanted an A, the three of them are happy. Many of the 48G members are worried how they will do if those three girls couldn’t all get As.

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Next up are the four Woolim and and three WM girls. They girls see each other as rivals because it’s both agencies first times on the show, the agencies are a similar size, and their main girl groups are rivals.

Right away, the Woolim girls don’t seem confident, as they don’t know where they should stand in their starting formation. We get to see a little bit about Eun Bi, the oldest of the Woolim trainees. She has been training with Woolim for a long time and is like a mom to the other members; helping them with their practices, providing medicine and throat lozenges, and bringing Japanese textbooks for all of them to study in their off time.

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The four of them perform a medley of Ah-Choo by Lovelyz and Bad by Infinite. The Lovelyz song is a very cute one. The vocals are very cutesy and the dance is pretty basic, but paired with the cool dance track from Infinite, it seems like a decent way to show their versatility. The judges notice that they’re very in sync, but want to see them dance to something different. They dance to an English song this time, Superlove by Tinashe. The judges ask why they haven’t debuted and think they’re ready for debut.

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Sakura says they’re on a different level than the 48G members and thinks they’re done for.

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Before they show us Woolim’s scores, we get to see WM perform. Lee Chae Yeon, the girl who was on two reality shows, K-Pop Star and Sixteen, talks a little bit about her experiences and says that although she thought she was getting closer to her dream with K-Pop Star, she was the first to be eliminated on Sixteen. She thought she wasn’t able to properly show off her skills and really wants to show everyone what she’s got this time. She seems hardworking and it would be nice if things worked out for her this time around.

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Everyone has high expectations for WM as far as dancing goes and they choose to perform Shower by Becky G. Well, they definitely didn’t disappoint me, their dance skills were really impressive. It seems Kojimako and Sakura are right about the skills of the Korean trainees. They want to see Lee Chae Yeon perform her own freestyle dance, so she dances to Instruction by Jax Jones. Not only does she do crazy dance moves like it’s nothing, she looks like she’s having the time of her life. Both the Japanese and Korean contestants are floored. Lee Chae Yeon gets an A and the other two get Bs.

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Back at Woolim, Eun Bi gets an A and the other three girls get 1 B and 2 Cs. Eun Bi felt that since she was the oldest, she needed to prove herself by getting an A, so she was very pleased with her score.

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Kang Hye Won from 8D Creative is up next and the judges think she is very beautiful and has a pure feel to her. It’s clear she knows how pretty she is, but she doesn’t seem crazy arrogant or anything. She’s pretty, but is she talented? I’m guessing yes because it’s K-Pop.

Hye Won performs You and I by IU, which is a vocal heavy song that doesn’t have much of a dance to it. Well, turns out I’m wrong. I can’t really judge her dance skills, but although her singing would be okay from a Japanese idol standpoint, there’s definitely room for improvement and it clearly doesn’t impress the judges. She also looks awkward and nervous. I don’t know why you would pick a ballad unless you were an amazing singer, but I guess performing solo narrows down your options.

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The judges say that purity is all she has and give her an F. Damn, that’s harsh.

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Kim Min Ju, another gorgeous 8D Creative girl performs No Matter What by BoA after Hye Won. She fumbles during a dance break and looks pretty lame. The judges say her vocals are weak and she’s hard to hear. They give her a D. I don’t think we were introduced to 8D Creative before, but they must focus on looks. Maybe it’s a modeling agency like YG KPlus.

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Tomu and Saho Iwatate think they’ll all get Fs. The 48G girls are amazed at how strict the judges are.

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We see the Cube trainee, Han Cho Won, and another trainee perform very briefly. The judges think both of their dance skills are lacking and are confused by how Han Cho Won could be in Cube when she doesn’t have her dance basics down. She gets a D, along with the other girl.

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Tomu says that the Japanese trainees only train for a month, so it makes sense that they don’t have the basics down. Kojimako and Ayana Shinozaki say that they didn’t receive voice training or basic training before debut. The trainers talk about the differences between Japanese and Korean idols. In Korea, the agencies teach them everything, but in Japan, they have to learn everything themselves.

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We move on to our first 48G performance. The Korean contestants are really looking forward to seeing them perform. Our first group is Ikumin and Erina Oda. I guess they paired two of the Team 8 girls together. As I said earlier, I’m a fan of Ikumin, but I don’t really know anything about Erina. Ikumin won a dance competition and Erina won a singing competition among AKB48 members, so the judges are looking forward to their performance too.

They perform Get you! by Morning Musume. That’s the song Sasshi was in, right? I’m not sure what I was expecting them to perform, but this wasn’t it. The judges look very unimpressed. I’m really confused why they picked the song, it’s not a good song for showing off either vocals or dance skills. Neither of them do anything that stands out in a positive way and Erina looks to be a pretty bad dancer. The judges say it was worse than they expected and they ask Ikumin to dance for them.

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Some of the 48G girls freak out, saying that they have no idea what to do if they’re asked to freestyle dance, but they think Ikumin will probably be able to do it. They put on Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift and although she’s able to dance for a little bit, she stumbles some and stops early.

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The 48G girls think Ikumin’s really cool, but the judges disagree. They think her energy is really good, but she doesn’t know how to control it. The judges think she was off beat and don’t understand how she won a dance competition. Bae Yoon Jung says if she continues like this, she won’t ever be able to perform on a stage. The Korean and Japanese contestants alike think Bae Yoon Jung is really scary. I think those words are a bit harsh considering the difference in expectations of Korean and Japanese idols. She’s often performed on stages in Japan and is considered one of the more talented members of the group, so she should at least say that she won’t ever be able to perform on a stage in Korea instead. I think 95% of Japanese idols couldn’t freestyle for shit, so I’m proud of Ikumin for giving it a decent go.

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We see two brief snippets of performances from groups of 48G girls who sang and danced to K-Pop songs. I didn’t recognize the first song, but Yuka Asai and Cocona Umeyama performed KNOCK KNOCK by TWICE. Maybe someone made them do it or they didn’t properly do their research, but it seems like a bad choice when one of the trainers choreographed the song. Obviously expectations will be high.

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The judges say that their skills are worse than that of the season 1 contestants. That’s got to hurt when most of them have properly debuted years ago, but the Korean and Japanese industries are just different. They don’t work with professionals for years before they debut, they’re not expected to be perfect, and they perform and meet with fans a lot more often than K-Pop idols. Chori, Myao, Mogi Shinobu, Manami Ichikawa, and Ayana Shinozaki get Ds. Yuka and Cocona get Fs. Bae Yoon Jung says that she thinks the Japanese contestants will cry a lot and have a really tough time.

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Next up is a large group of HKT girls. Other 48G girls say that HKT are known for having really fun lives, so they think they’ll get A grades. They perform their own song, Tomaranai Kanransha. That seems like a really bad idea for several reasons. First off, it’s lazy and second off, the judges will expect their own song to look and sound amazing.

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Bibian Murakawa gets a solo and damn, girl can’t sing. The judges look like they’re in pain. The rest of the girls sound passable.

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Sakura isn’t even performing with them and looks ashamed.

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Bae Yoon Jung is amazed they got chosen for HKT48 with such bad skills. She wonders what the criteria was for choosing them. Everyone is really uncomfortable. Natsumi Matsuoka says that they were judged on singing and dancing in the auditions and they say they all practice a lot, but the judge says none of them are in sync with each other.

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This is a really awkward conversation, but I keep being distracted by how cute Aoi is.

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Bae Yoon Jung goes on to say that K-Pop idols are famous for their perfectly synchronized dances and asks if that’s not important in Japan. Mina Imada finally steps up and says what all the others are thinking: it’s more important for Japanese idols to look cute. The Korean judges are amazed at the cultural differences.

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Tomu says it’s more important to look like they’re having fun than to sing or dance perfectly.

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Aoi and Mina get Ds, the rest (Natsumi, Amane Tsukiashi, Bibian, Sae Kurihara, and one other girl whose name I can’t make out) get Fs.

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Bibian isn’t very happy about it. The judges try to encourage them by saying that they just haven’t had the training that Korean trainees do and they want to help push them forward. They say that one of the girls who got an F at the beginning of season one ended up debuting. I’m personally really excited to see how much the Japanese members will improve.

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Jurina says that it must be rough for a team that has been performing with each other professionally for a long time to hear that and even though she’s an SKE member, she felt for them.

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Aoi is really hurt by the fact that it’s been seven years since she debuted, but her performance is still being harshly criticized. The girls all cry and feel like they didn’t get any credit for all of the lives they’ve performed up until now. They say it’s important for Korean idols to be good at singing and dancing, but it’s more important for Japanese idols to be cute, lovable, and make their fans happy. After they saw the Korean trainees, they realized they were on a totally different level. Still, they refuse to give up.

Finally, we’re being introduced to the two NGT48 girls, Rena Hasegawa and Noe Yamada. I’ve always liked NGT48, so it would be nice if at least one of them made it in.

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The two of them seem confused and enter from the wrong way. Everyone thinks they’re really cute. The two of them introduce themselves in Korean, but fumble their words. Hey, it’s nice they tried.

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Noepii’s silly side is shown right away.

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The Korean and Japanese contestants think she’s really funny and it’s amazing how she can make people laugh just with her voice. She assures everyone that it’s her natural voice and that she’s had a “husky voice” since she was five and played hide-and-seek in the cold.

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Noepii must have really made an impression on the producers of the show because she’s getting more time devoted to her than Jurina, Sakura, or any one of the Korean contestants. Even Bae Yoon Jung thinks she’s cute.

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Noepii and Rena perform Gee by Girls’ Generation in Japanese. A lot of the Korean contestants are excited to hear the song. The two of them don’t look or sound amazing, but they’re not bad at all. Everyone is amazed by how cute they are. I thought NGT would be basically ignored, but that doesn’t seem to be the case!

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The judges think Noepii’s facial expressions are amazing. Noepii and Rena hug each other after the performance is done.

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Noepii said she wants to be a main dancer, so she’s told to freestyle. We see a montage of some of the Korean trainees freestyling. Chinese contestant Wang Yi Ren from Yuehua does a traditional Chinese dance, which is pretty cool.

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Park Seo Young, the former YG trainee who sat in the first place chair, really wowed the judges with her freestyle dancing.

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More cute, quirky Noepii. Everyone watching this is definitely going to remember her.

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They tell Rena to freestyle too. They play Ricky Martin’s Livin La Vida Loca and she has no idea what to do, but the judges try to get her excited.

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The Korean trainees think it’s hilarious. Noepii starts getting into it and while she’s not doing anything technically impressive, she looks like she’s having the time of her life and makes everyone laugh. The judges say she reminds them of MOMOLAND’s Joo Yi. I don’t know her and neither does Noepii, but it’s clear the judges like her. The other 48G members are happy that a 48G member finally made a positive impression on the judges.

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The judges want to give her an A because of her star quality and spirit, but give her a C when taking her skills into consideration. She gasps of happiness, which makes all of the judges laugh. Rena gets a D.

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While Bae Yoon Jung scares everyone, the contestants all love Soyou. They say she’s nice to the contestants and has a sweet voice. She helps out the contestants who forgot their lyrics and lets them try again if they mess up. Soyou says she knows what the trainees are stressed about since she was one herself not too long ago.

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RBW and FNC are next and since they’re known for having good vocalists, they expect good things from the trainees. While the Korean trainees so far are pretty much all solid dancers, many of them can’t sing well. The two trainees from FNC perform Power by Little Mix and Park Hae Yoon sings while the other trainee raps.

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She has an incredibly powerful voice with a great range that gets her an A. I’m already hoping she makes it in the final group, we need a vocal talent like that.

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RBW perform Pretty by Seventeen. It’s a cute song and they look adorable, but the judges want to hear another song that showcases their voices.

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You couldn’t tell from the Seventeen song, but Na Go Eun has a beautiful voice. There’s been a lot of bad song choices. They give her an A and say she has the steadiest voice so far. The judges think her voice is similar to that of Girls’ Generation member and soloist Taeyeon.

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A new trainee named Kim Do Ah steps up that the judges think resemble Produce 101’s So Hye. She’s cute, but looks really young. Another, So Yeon, steps up that resembles Produce 101’s Sun Mi. She has a very striking look to her that I like.

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Both are listed as dancers, so the judges hope they can dance well. They sure can! Both are clearly in their element when freestyling. Even with such a young and cute looking face, Do Ah is really cool when dancing.

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I’m interested in this So Yeon girl, she’s so pretty.

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Both girls get As.

Another big agency is up next: Starship, the agency that the judge Soyou is from. Everyone is intimidated, but they make a silly entrance. All of the girls are really tall, thin, and have long legs. Jang Won Young was born in 2004 and is the youngest of all the trainees, although she looks older. She says she is 168 cm (5’6″) when they ask and one of the judges calls her a giant baby.

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The Starship girls all seem silly and cute. They like playing with the cameras.

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Yoo Jin is a model for a contact lens company. She feels a lot of pressure because she thinks that people think she only has her looks going for her. She wants to try her best to show people she’s more than that.

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Soyou says she will be tougher on Starship if they aren’t good because they’re representing her agency. They perform to Wings by Little Mix. Dang, there’s so many Little Mix songs. Are they especially popular in Korea or something? All three of them sing really well. They can dance too.

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They ask them to dance some more and we get to see Cho Ga Hyeon freestyling to Everybody Dance Now (or Gonna Make You Sweat, whatever that song’s called). She’s one of the coolest freestylers yet and makes everything look effortless.

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Surprisingly, none of them get As. All three get Bs. The contestants are all shocked, including Miru.

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The judges say overall, they aren’t good singers yet. Were we listening to different performances? They sounded good to me. Oh well, they all seem fairly happy with their Bs, but want to move up to A.

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After Starship, we move on to three trainees from HOW Entertainment, Kim Min Seo,  Yoo Min Young, and Wang Ke. All three have been trainees for eight months or less and look very young and fresh faced.

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The colorful polka dot outfits they were wearing before in the crowd are really cute.

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They’re new and think their dancing is weak compared to most of the Korean trainees, but they want to show everyone what they’ve got. The three perform Celeb Five, a song popular in Japan that was covered by Korean comedians and made popular in Korea too.

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Many of the 48G members get really excited when they recognize the song.

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Their dancing looks clumsy, but they’re having a great time with it. Their energy is ridiculous and it was a really fun performance. Sakura says they made the stage theirs and she could tell they had what it takes to be celebrities.

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The judges think they deserve an A for their passion and attitude and it was a great song choice. The girls say they thought everyone would do girlish and pretty songs, so they wanted to do something different. Wang Ke is especially praised for her hilarious expressions.

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Yoo Min Young is a rapper who writes her own lyrics, so they ask her to perform a rap. She starts hyperventilating and is clearly very nervous, but transforms out of nowhere and starts rapping with mad flow.

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Yoo Min Young gets an A. Wow, I didn’t expect that, but I guess they judged her on the basis of her rap skills. Wang Ke gets a B and Kim Min Seo gets a C. All three expected Cs at best, so they’re satisfied and Yoo Min Young is elated.

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Back to 48G! Most of the judges can’t speak any Japanese and don’t understand anything the 48G girls are saying, but vocal trainer Hong Ki can speak it pretty well, though he has a noticable accent and makes some mistakes. His group is really popular in Japan, so he worked really hard on his Japanese.

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This performance is a trio of Miyu Takeuchi, Moe Goto, and Saho Iwatate. Finally Miyu’s up! They chose Yoko Oginome’s Dancing Hero, an idol song from the 80s, which Celeb Five later covered, meaning it was the same song that the HOW trainees performed earlier. The girls are worried because the HOW trainees are better dancers and they knew they would be compared. While it’s the same song, it’s a slower and jazzier arrangement that focuses more on the vocal side of things. The judges and contestants are immediately impressed by Miyu’s strong voice.

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Wow, Moekyun’s expressions are intense. She’s a good dancer too!

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Overall, the three did a really good job.The judges tell Miyu they are impressed with her voice and she tells them that she rearranged the song by herself. While Moekyun was expressive, the judges realize she didn’t sing at all, though she wants to be a vocalist. She starts talking and it becomes clear that she completely lost her voice. She really wanted to sing and is upset that she couldn’t.

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What I find odd is that she didn’t even seem to lip sync. Isn’t it more professional to hide it? Moekyun apologizes and says that a pro should be careful to not lose their voice. The judges liked her unique dancing and expressions, but said they had to give her an F since they couldn’t evaluate her on the thing they most wanted to evaluate her on. Miyu gets an A and Saho gets a B. Moekyun is frustrated, but said she will do her best when her voice comes back.

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Pledis is next, another agency that excites a lot of people. The two trainees, Lee Ka Eun and Heo Yun Jin, are very tall and introduce themselves as giraffes. Lee Ka Eun goes on to address the judges in Japanese. She sounds really natural and while she was saying some pretty basic introductory phrases, it was clear she’s studied the language. They ask her about her time as an idol and she says she debuted in After School in 2012, but went on hiatus with the group in 2013. I forgot she was the one in After School, but that makes sense since her Japanese is good and they promote in Japan a lot. Ka Eun seems to have gone on hiatus because she didn’t like being a K-Pop idol, but then realized she really wanted to return but couldn’t after watching Produce 101. She seems really pained talking about it and I have a feeling that she struggled with anxiety, depression, or similar issues.

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She wishes she could turn back the time and is now 25 years old (well, in Korean years. Everywhere else she’s 23). She thinks Produce 48 is her last opportunity to become an idol again. Pledis is known for having good dancers and Ka Eun and Yun Jin perform Camila Cabello’s Havana. Ka Eun’s expressions, dancing, and singing are all very good. Yun Jin isn’t bad either, but Ka Eun grabbed my attention way more. She’s so pretty too…

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Ka Eun’s still technically a member of After School, so one of the judges asks her what her plans with the group are, but the decision isn’t up to her. Since Ka Eun’s manager told her it was okay to join Produce 48, she assumed she wouldn’t be in After School again. I assume things will work well for her. She’s getting a lot of screen time on the show, so even if she doesn’t make it in the final group, I assume her manager will want her back in After School for the publicity. Ka Eun gets an A and Yun Jin gets a C. They say Ka Eun looked like a professional, you couldn’t tell she hasn’t performed for five years, and they look forward to seeing what she will do next.

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Last up are Sakura and Jurina. They are worried because all the Japanese trainees are getting Ds and Fs and very few Korean trainees got Fs. The judges say that Jurina is a famous person in Japan and debuted even before Soyou did. Sakura, too, is mentioned as famous and the center of HKT48. Sakura says that she realizes now that while Korean idols are recognized for their skills worldwide, the praise for Japanese idols stops when they go outside Japan. It makes her upset and she wants to show that Japanese idols can be impressive too.

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Before they perform, we see Aki-P with the Koreans judging the performances. Aki-P is impressed by the dance and vocal skills of the Korean contestants and the Korean judges are impressed by the individuality, charisma, and passion of the Japanese contestants. The viewer votes casted during the episode are shown at the end.

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The 48G members in the top twelve are Sakura (#1), Jurina (#4), Miru (#9), and Kojimako (#12). While #5 says Gotou Moe in hiragana, apparently that was a mistake and the Korean says Lee Ka Eun. Pretty major mistake. The ranking definitely shows that so far, group popularity is what matters, not how they’re portrayed on the show. Heck, Miru and Kojimako barely showed up at all.  I’m not surprised Sakura won, she’s very popular in Japan and seems really popular with Koreans too for some reason. The Korean contestants in the top twelve are Ahn Yoo Jin (the contact lens model from Starship, #2), Jang Won Young (the Starship giant baby, #3), Lee Ka Eun (the After School member, #5), Jang Gyu Ri (the Fromis 9 member, #6), Choi Ye Na (the girl who did a Japanese comedy routine, #7), Lee Si An (one of the Idol School Stone Music girls I guess, #8), Jo Yu Ri (another Idol School Stone Music girl apparently, #10), and Wang Yi Ren (the Chinese contestant who did a traditional Chinese freestyle dance, #11).  And that’s the end. Either they’re going to show Sakura and Jurina next week or not at all, which is kind of ridiculous.

So what are my overall thoughts? Well, it was a lot of fun. It’s interesting to see such a variety of contestants and see two totally different idol systems collide. I’m glad the 48G members weren’t totally trashed, they acknowledged that the systems were different, and they realized that the 48G members have a lot of individuality and personality. It felt like they spent more time on the Korean contestants, but it wasn’t too one sided. I’m really surprised how much time they spent on Noepii, though – I figured if anything, they’d be spending the whole episode trying to push Sakura.

Who won my heart in this episode? Let’s start with the Korean contestants:
Choi Ye Na – Her comedy routine was really cute! I want to see more of her silly side.
Eun Bi – I liked her mom side and it would be nice to have a good leader in the group.
Lee Chae Yeon – She’s a really good freestyler and I want her to succeed after being on so many shows.
Wang Yi Ren – Her traditional Chinese dance was impressive and I want to see more.
Park Hae Yoon – I loved her powerful voice and would like a vocal like that in the final group.
So Yeon – She’s really striking, as well as a great freestyler.
Cho Ga Hyeon – All of the Starship girls are cute, but she seemed the most talented.
Wang Ke – Her expressions are hilarious and she seems fun.
Yoo Min Young – I’d like a good rapper in the group. She’s cute too.
Lee Ka Eun – I can tell how much she wants this and it means to her and she’s gorgeous, super talented, and good at Japanese.

The Japanese contestants:
Juri Takahashi – We didn’t get to see a lot of her, but she was cute and it was nice to see her trying so hard to use Korean.
Ikumi Nakano – The judges might have trashed her, but I was impressed that she gave freestyling a good shot. Most Japanese idols couldn’t do that.
Noe Yamada – I forgot exactly how funny this girl is and she seems to have already won over the heart of the show producers. She would be a really fun addition to the group.
Miyu Takeuchi – Easily the best singer of the Japanese contestants and also arranged their performance.
Moe Goto – She might not have been able to sing, but her dancing and expressions are something else.
Sakura Miyawaki – I still don’t really want her to get in, but her determination is impressive.

My twelve votes would go to (in no particular order) Park Hae Yoon, So Yeon, Wang Ke, Yoo Min Young, Lee Ka Eun, Juri Takahashi, Ikumi Nakano, Noe Yamada, Miyu Takeuchi, Tomu Muto, Aoi Motomura, and Miku Tanaka. A mix of Korean and Japanese contestants and my previous favorites and girls I thought stood out in this episode.

The main contestants I’m rooting for are Miyu Takeuchi and Lee Ka Eun.

Well, I still have a lot more to watch. Don’t spoil me! What did you think of the first episode? Let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Produce 48 Episode 1: Reaction and Recap

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