Happy New Year! 2018 has been a wild ride for MNL48 and its fans. Now, with several projects lined up for January alone, fans are hoping that 2019 will be a better year for their idols.
The group is also starting to gain some recognition as they continue with their activities. The girls can really perform consistently well now, and people are starting to flock to their performance slowly but surely. There’s always a risk that the MNL48 management will make another risky decision that can affect their momentum. I really hope they don’t but we can’t really say for sure what goes on in Producer Paolo Kurosawa’s mind.
As a fan, I do have a “wish-list” with regards to MNL48. Chief of this is my hope that MNL48 will have their own “stage”. No, I’m not talking about the physical stage where they perform. I’m talking about a theater performance called a “stage”. The Theater is still a few months away from opening, but the group is earning a reputation of holding good live performances that the need to sustain the momentum is crucial.
The group currently has monthly events like the seitansai, and the “Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie” mall tour is scheduled for January. But as the Christmas mini-concert shows, the fans really love the Theater-like performance and much of what will define MNL48 will come out of their ability to consistently put out good performances.
Speaking of the theater, the MNL48 Theater is slated to open this March. But it really should have been done a long time ago. Granted, most of Hallohallo Entertainment’s budget seems to have gone to building the new Movie Stars Cafe as well as funding the training and production of MNL48. But with a competing group that also has a theater about to start their activities, MNL48 is placed in an awkward position of having to catch up to a rival group on a concept that they should have pioneered in the first place.
But even though they lost the initiative, MNL48 can still make up for it by being consistent with their performances, as well as refining their current systems in place like the registration, the baggage counter, customer handling, etc. They have months of data that they can analyze to determine areas of improvement, as well as strong points they can capitalize.
Moving on, the MNL48 Online Store which can be found in the Hallohallo Mall, needs an over-haul of its system. Their fraud-checking needs refinement as people paying via credit card are being bothered with these checks. Same is true with the “pay at the venue” option where a customer service agent will have to call me to verify my order.
The only payment method I never had problems with is via 7-11. No calls, no hassles, and the payment is made in real time too. But really, we should be improving the pay-by-card option because that is the most convenient option for many people.
Another important thing they need to do is work on the pre-orders. When people pre-order an item, it is because they want to recieve the item early. What’s happening is that MNL48’s pre-ordered merchandise always arrives later than everybody else’s.
While I understand that a huge part of the problem lies in their courier service, this has happened for the second straight single now and the fans are starting to notice.
With the current system, fans who made a pre-order received theirs after everybody else has secured their copy via Lawsons or through their events. This pretty much nullifies the purpose of pre-ordering. Sure, ‘Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie’ pre-order includes a bonus handshake ticket, but pre-orders are not just for gimmicks but for getting the item early.
Lastly, I really wish that the group is stable for the whole of 2019. Surprises are a huge part of entertainment, but it depends on the surprise and the current state of the group.
People may say that surprises are “part of the fun”, and that might be true. But I believe that stability and credibility are more important in the long-term, because fans are bound to place their trust in a stable and credible group during surprise announcements.
People are bound to trust the system more than the people running it, especially when something goes wrong or if the management did something the fans do not agree with. The reason why many fans stopped following during the audition (and even several months after it) is because the whole process no longer felt “authentic” and took the fans into uncharted territory they did not want to go to. At its lowest point, the audition felt like “It’s Showtime’s” other gimmick segments, totally disconnected to the what fans recognize as authentically AKB48.
It doesn’t matter if AKS put a stamp of approval on each and every change that happened: once the process stopped feeling like a 48 Group audition, people simply stopped following it. To this day, there are still a few circles of wotas that refuse to associate MNL48 with the 48 group, treating it as just another one of the indie idols running around.
All of that could have been avoided had the credibility of the process was prioritized. 48 Group fans would hardly abandon a sister group to the wolves had they felt a palpable connection between it and AKB48.
Through the combined efforts of the staff, the coaches, and most especially the members, MNL48 has proven that they are “worthy” and authentic sisters to Japan’s biggest idol group. The girls have also become credible performers, idols bearing the “48” name. But the road has not been easy, and they need to be stable and let things grow before another toss-up can be made.
That is all for now. I really love this group and have high hopes for its success. Next event will be the January seitansai for Jan, Cassey, Grace and Aly on January 13. I hope more people will be there to witness it and have fun.