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Music / STU48

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STU48 and the STU48-go, 2019

STU48 is the sixth Japanese sister group of AKB48 based in the Setouchi Region, founded in 2017. The first 48 Group not to be based in one city (not even one prefecture; there are 7 prefectures in the Setouchi Region, although their management office and ship are registered in Hiroshima). Also the first 48 group to have had their theater on a ship, in operation from spring 2019 to May 2021, so that they could move it between cities in the region for their performances.

The group is co-owned by the Setouchi DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) and has many TV shows and activities to promote Setouchi tourism.

As of June 2020, STU48 has 5 sub-units and 4 junior sub-units for the trainees, each focusing on a different type of activity:

  • Charming Trip and little Charming Trip (Girls' Journey)
  • Katte ni! Shikoku Kanko Taishi and Katte ni! Shikoku Kanko Guide (Shikoku Island Tourism)
  • STUDIO and mini STUDIO (Performance)
  • MiKER and pin MiKER (MC and Sports)
  • Aoi Himawari (Rock Band)

There were two sub-units which have been merged into MiKER:

  • Setomaiku (MC)
  • Seto 7 (Sports)

Like the other 48 groups, STU48 has plenty of other media offerings besides music, including:

  • STU48 no Setobingo! (sister show of AKBingo!, ran for one season in 2018)
  • STU48 Imousu (sister show of AKB48 Nemousu)
  • STU48 Bōsai Kōro ("Disaster Prevention Course", Public Service Announcement series, about one minute each)
  • STU48 Furusato Senden LABO ("Hometown Promotion Lab", a Yamaguchi local show which features Charming Trip members and Yumirin promoting Setouchi in another country, namely Indonesia. Consists of two special episodes so far)
  • STU48 no IttekimaSU! (Charming Trip's show. There's a Thailand Edition featuring BNK48)
  • Setouchi Island (visits to Setouchi hidden spots)
  • STU Hatsu ⇒ Tokyo (they go around Tokyo)
  • STU↗Dentsu (edutainment show about Setouchi Region)
  • SetoChalle (Setouchi Challenge)
  • Kuracon (for the trainees)
  • Hataraku Ishida Chiho (Ishida Chiho and other members try their hands at various part-time jobs)
  • Hamidase! Amidase! on 76.8 FM Okayama
  • STU48 no 7-narabe, a mobile Sevens card game with virtual collectible member photo cards

For consistency, all Japanese names are written in the traditional order (surname followed by given name).

These tropes are ready for departure:

  • Accent Interest: Each of the seven prefectures of Setouchi region has its own dialect. Many members speak in their hometown accents and it's often brought up, especially when they appear in Tokyo.
  • The Ace: The STUDIO subunit consists of members with the most well-rounded singing and dancing skills, and gets the most complex dance routines.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The group's home region counts. The sea itself is called Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海 Seto Naikai), but remove the "sea" kanji (海) and add "region" (地方), and the nai ("inside") becomes uchi, making it the Setouchi Region (瀬戸内地方 Setouchi Chihō).
  • Arcadia: Their music videos showcase the idyllic countryside of Setouchi with its rustic shops and beaches. Even their official profile photos are taken outdoors with the sea as background, unlike those of their sister groups which are usually taken in a studio.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Painted on the sides of the STU48-go is the code UW2, which means "welcome" in ship flag signal.
  • Birthday Buddies: Fukuda Akari, Kudo Riko, and Nakahiro Yayoi share the same birthday (March 29), but Fukuchan is three years older than the other two (born 1999).
  • Break-Up Song: "Daisukina Hito" ("My Beloved") is about letting go of one's lover to let them find happiness. It's one of the go-to songs for graduation performances.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Captain Imamura Mitsuki is calm and collected while deputy captain Fukuda Akari is more outgoing and straightforward.
  • City Mouse: Okada Nana often plays this role in the music videos.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Like in SKE48 and various other groups, members have preferred lightstick colors. For example, Okada Nana asks her fans to wave yellow and blue sticks (the colors of AKB Team 4 and STU) and Kai Kokoa prefers two red sticks (the color of Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team).
  • Cool Boat: Their theater was on a ship named STU48-go (STU48号). As with any registered commercial vessel, you could track its whereabouts in real time.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The group is co-owned by the Setouchi DMO (Destination Marketing Organization), a joint public/private entity. Their ship commissioning ceremony was attended by the Hiroshima governor himself.
  • Country Mouse: The Setouchi Region is mostly rural, known for its seafood and agriculture, and most of the members hail from the rural areas.
    Yumirin, a Yamaguchi native: I've always admired AKB and other idols, but it still feels unreal that a country girl like me can go to Tokyo and do idol things.
    • In episode 4 of their variety show Setobingo, they made friends with top seniors from their sister groups by offering them Setouchi lemons.
      NGT48's Ogino Yuka, really pumped up for some reason: Can you feed me while saying "Oniichan, daisuki!"note ? ... Waaaah!!
  • Cover Version: 48 Group songs are a given, including the Hiroshima dialect version of "Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara", "Kimi no Koto ga Suki Jakee". The second original stage play includes "Teokure Caution" by =LOVE, a group produced by former member Sashihara Rino.
  • Cram School: Takino Yumiko and Kai Kokoa are students at the remote cram school Tadayobi (owned by the company that developed STU48 no 7-narabe and several other idol group-branded games) and their tutoring sessions are published on YouTube.
  • Crosscast Role: The lyrics to "Sunglasses Days" and "Soshite Boku ha Boku Janaku Naru" are from a man's point of view.
  • Crossover:
    • They had a collaboration with Hello Kitty in 2019.
    • A crossover between AKB48 Nemousu TV and STU48 Imousu TV, billed the "Whose Okada Show" (literally "Okada of Which [Group] Show"), have members of AKB (Utada Hatsuka, Taniguchi Megu, and Murayama Yuiri) and STU (Takino Yumiko, Iwata Hina, and Otani Marina) compete for the right to claim Naachan for their group.
      Trash Talk by Ogi Hiroaki, host of Nemousu TV: So you're STU48, huh? You look like country bumpkins, you're not cute at all!
    • There's also the "Cruise & Drive Project" with the Toyota-sponsored AKB48 Team 8, which has a representative from each Setouchi prefecture.
    • They released a collaborative merch series with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball club in 2022, which came in both their sea blue color and the club's signature red. It became one of the costumes for their fifth anniversary concert that year.
  • Cunning Linguist: The English-speaking fandom rejoiced upon discovering that 2nd generation member Kudou Riko is conversational in English.
  • Custom Uniform: While most of the costumes we've seen are identical, the overalls for the "Shukkou" MV are altered in some way for each member.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Some members' individual shows are titled this way to include the group's name, such as STU48 Ishida Chiho no Hataraku Ishida Chiho (STU48石田千穂のはたらく石田千穂 "STU48 Ishida Chiho's Ishida Chiho at Work") and STU48 Yabushita Fu no Fu no Show (STU48薮下楓の楓のショー "STU48 Yabushita Fu's Fu's Show").
  • The Eponymous Show: See the entry above.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Some of the girls are already known as performers with their own fanbase before joining the group.
    • Sakaki Miyu has been known as the YouTube dancer CUCA since 2008, i.e. since she was five years old. She had ~21k subscribers, but removed all her dance videos after joining STU (some were re-uploaded by fans). In December 2018, she opened a new channel called CUCA Channel, where she visits cafes and specialty shops in Kagawa and other places in Setouchi, drinks a lot of coffee, makes bread, and occasionally performs dance covers (now in STU's training studio instead of her own living room).
    • Mori Kaho has gone by her nickname Kahotaru as an independent Showroom streamer before joining the group.
    • Several members are alumni of the famous Actor's School Hiroshima, which holds regular student performances open to the public and released as DVDs (the audience is also allowed to bring video recording equipment, presumably for talent scouting purposes). The school even runs its own idol groups, including Imamura Mitsuki and Otani Marina's former group SPL∞ASH and Ishida Chiho's former group MAX♡GIRLS.
      • In their 20th Anniversary Medley, ASH acknowledged this by covering "Kurayami".
  • Fan Girl:
    • Everybody likes Okada Nana, but Takino Yumiko absolutely adores her. Many clips exist of her gushing about Naachan and showing off her merch collection on live streams and interviews. She proclaims herself Naachan's "Setouchi wife", since there's already AKB's Murayama Yuiri who's considered Naachan's "wife" (and hates being called that).
    • Many members are fans of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team and are often seen with the club's merch. Before joining the group, Yumirin used to sell beer at their home stadium, and as a member, she has thrown out a ceremonial first pitch to start one of their games. Meanwhile, Kai Kokoa played a supporting character in a TV drama about the club's fandom.
  • Fanservice: Downplayed even for the adult members, as the most revealing outfit they'll wear are tanktops and shorts, not unlike Nogizaka46. Ishida Chiho's 2020 photobook contains the first bikini shots of a member (excluding Okada Nana and Sashihara Rino, who have done plenty as members of their other groups).
  • The Fashionista: The Charming Trip subunit's mission statement is to "journey in search of cuteness", both by traveling to find previously unknown cute places and exploring the beauty and fashion world.
  • Flashback Echo: In the "Omoidaseru Koi wo Shiyou" MV, the 1st generation and 3rd Draft members are adults having a reunion at their old high school, and there are flashbacks to their student days where they're portrayed by the 2nd generation members. Of course, centers Takino Yumiko and Rissen Momoka portrayed the main character (even though they're among the tallest and shortest in the group, respectively).
  • Girl Group: The group itself is one, and the subunit Aoi Himawari is an example of the rock band variant (guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and saxophone) and they play live on stage.
  • Gratuitous English: "Kaze wo Matsu" has a few lines of (grammatically correct and well-pronounced) English lyrics.
  • The Host: Setomaiku, now merged into MiKER!, is focused on speaking and MC skills.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In their second stage play, produced by then captain and known Chivalrous Pervert Okada Nana, the girls perform rather suggestive tracks, such as "Juujun na Slave" which is about lesbian dom-sub relationship.
  • Idol Singer
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Not very surprising for a group with members ranging from preteens to young adults.
    • Takino Yumiko admits that she often turns to Iwata Hina for emotional support and considers Hina her older sister, even though Hina is six years younger.
    • Mineyoshi Arisa and Mori Kaho are good friends and formed a duo unit for the 2018 Janken.
  • It Runs in the Family: Rissen Momoka is the younger sister of AKB member Rissen Airi, now member of Pimm's. Yabushita Fu's sister is former NMB member Yabushita Shu.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: The Hyogo prefecture is part of both Kansai and Setouchi regions, so members from there have the accent. There's also the Osakan Yabushita Fu.
  • Location Song: "Setouchi no Koe" ("The Voice of Setouchi"). The MV aptly features Scenery Porn from all 7 prefectures, climaxing at the Kuroshima Venus Road, a sandbar forming a natural bridge from the mainland to a trio of islands in Okayama. There's also a version sung by the people of the region.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: The "Iki wo Suru Kokoro" MV features QR code cards worn on the hands of each performer in the chorus, and they also dance on a stage with a huge QR code on it. The codes on the hands go to each member's official profile, while that on the stage directs to a hidden YouTube video.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: "Soshite Boku wa Boku Janaku Naru" ("Then I'm No Longer Me") is about how obsessive love causes one to slowly lose sanity.
  • Love Triangle: "Which is which?" is about two best friends who like the same guy, or Triang Relation Type 9.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Since they're all about going to places, the charms are arrow symbols, such as in STU Hatsu ⇒ Tokyo and STU↗Dentsu.
  • Lyric Video: "Hana wa Dare no Mono?" is the first to have one, which is also a dance video.
  • Music for Courage: "Hetaretachi yo" ("Hey, Losers") encourages the so-called losers to have more confidence and keep doing their best, and even points out that effort is not always visible by others.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The announcement video for the group in 2016 mentioned that the group would have a shipboard theater, with an artist's rendering of a luxurious passenger liner. The actual STU48-go is a much humbler converted ferry.
  • New Job Episode: The premise of STU48 Ishida Chiho no Hataraku Ishida Chiho ("STU48 Ishida Chiho's Ishida Chiho at Work"), where Chiho and other members try out a new part-time job each episode.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The actual phrase "Hana wa Dare no Mono?" is not part of the song's lyrics, but the first line of the first verse comes close, "... hana, dare no mono ka?".
  • The Oner: The MV for "Kaze wo Matsu" is 4 minutes, 26 seconds of uncut drone shot in Onomichi, seamlessly alternating between bird's-eye view and various closer angles. The released version is from the ninth take, and most of the other takes have also been published.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted as usual for the 48 groups. For surnames, there are two Ishidas (Chiho and Minami) in the 1st generation and two Kawamatas (Anna and Yuuna) in the 2nd generation, who are not related. For given names, there have been two Harukas (Mishima and Sano, both graduated) from the 1st generation and two Saras (Shimizu and Yoshida) and two Sayakas (Harada and Takao) in the 2nd gen. There's also 2nd gen's Minami Yurina whose surname is the same as the earlier mentioned Ishida Minami.
    • One of the 2nd generation candidates is named Okada Nana, but written differently than the former captain. Unfortunately, she didn't make the cut.
    • Morokuzu Noa previously went by Mitsuki Noa, and presumably took a stage name to avoid confusion with the captain. By the way, Morokuzu (諸葛) is read as "Zhuge" in Chinese, as in Zhuge Liang.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: The Seto 7 subunit, now merged into MiKER!, aims to light up the sporting events of Setouchi Region.
  • Product Placement: The group is co-owned by the Setouchi Destination Marketing Organization and has many TV shows and activities to promote Setouchi tourism in both domestic and overseas markets. They have two subunits directly related to tourism. This is also why their MVs are full of Setouchi Scenery Porn, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a National Geographic Channel show.
    • In several Setobingo episodes, the girls are asked to introduce and blind taste products from their hometowns, with the hosts jokingly warning that they can't go home if they cannot identify their hometowns' signature dishes.
  • Protest Song: "Hana wa Dare no Mono?" ("To Whom Does The Flower Belong?") was a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and imagines a world without borders, where people won't have to fight over "flowers in the wasteland".
    • It was released along with a short movie about three friends, portrayed by the centers, who fight because Yumiko decides to join the photography club instead of the choir club like Chiho and Mai, and make up when Yumiko and her club offer to document the choir club's performance, after the contest they were going to participate in was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Yumiko also reveals that she's suffering from partial deafness and had planned to join the club if she recovered (this is foreshadowed when Mai calls her from behind and to the right in the beginning, but she turns to the left, since her right ear is deaf).
  • Punny Name:
    • In a TV ad for the Nagasaki-Chan Men ramen chain, Yabushita Fu blows her ramen with a loud "fuu" noise.
    • Imamura Mitsuki's nickname is Michu, so she greets people in English with "Nice to Michu!"
    • Iwata Hina's given name is a homophone for "chick", so her nickname is Hinapiyo, where "piyo" is onomatopoeia for bird chirping.
    • A name like Kai Kokoa is impossible not to pun. For example, her morning Showroom broadcast is titled Morning Cocoa.
    • Shinano Soraha's fans are called the Sora-ha (Sora Faction, which can be translated to Sky Faction).
    • Ishida Chiho's catchphrase includes a wordplay with Setouchi Chihō (Setouchi Region, with a long o).
    • The subunit MiKER! logo is a car, even though it has little to do with cars or driving, because their name sounds like "my car", especially in Japanese pronunciation.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Takino Yumiko is one and occasionally hosts TV shows about Japanese trains or guests at train-related events. She is also very proud of her hometown's steam train, the SL Yamaguchi.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The MV for 2023's "Egao no Chance" by the seven members of Setouchi PR Unit is about the S7 Summit, a reference to the G7 Summit which would be held in Hiroshima that year.
  • Rule of Seven: There are seven prefectures in the Setouchi Region (Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa, and Ehime).note  Presumably because of that, the sports subunit is called Seto 7 and was formed with seven members. The group itself debuted in 2017. Also, their captain is Okada Nana, and Seven Is Nana (she was born on November 7, 1997).
  • Sailor Fuku: Most of their costumes resemble this. And they actually had a boat.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Their second single includes booklets and videos of the members modelling the real uniforms of several schools in the Setouchi Region.
  • Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: Since the 7th single release, the music videos on YouTube have included official subtitles in eight languages.
  • Team Mom: Imamura Mitsuki is the captain and Fukuda Akari the vice-captain as of January 2020.
    • Okada Nana, concurrently an ace of AKB, was the group's captain. Former HKT member and four-time Election winner Sashihara Rino also used to be the theater manager.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Okada Nana and Ishida Chiho like chocolate mint.
    • Kadowaki Miyuna loves onions from her hometown in Awaji Island, even making it her Twitter handle.
    • Sakaki Miyu loves her coffee, and she takes it black. She also likes cheese and bakes her own bread and cakes.
  • Video Full of Film Clips: The "Hana wa Dare no Mono?" MV was made entirely of scenes from the single's companion short film.

Tropes specific to Setobingo!

  • Brawn Hilda: Andou Natsu.
  • Cat Girl: In episode 9, they have a feline-themed sport tournament (all participants wear cat ears and paws) documented by Igarashi Kenta, a photographer specializing in cats, who recently released a photobook of Setouchi cats.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Punishments for losing a game include being put into various wrestling submission holds by Andou Natsu.
  • Cute Sports Club Manager: Two episodes feature the members roleplaying as a club manager who made bento for and confesses her feelings to her crush on the team.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kazlaser is one.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: In an episode, four members become the "Brides of Setouchi", where they walk around a small island in wedding dresses and interact with the locals.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Kazlaser mentions Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki in episode 3, Ishida Chiho scolds him and claims that only okonomiyaki from Kansai region needs the adjective "Kansai-style", while okonomiyaki from Hiroshima is just "okonomiyaki".
  • Pun-Based Title: The Setobingo segment Setonaikai, which features members chatting over a meal, is a homophone of Seto Inland Sea, but the kai is written with the kanji for "meeting" (会), so it translates to "Seto Internal Meeting".
  • Pungeon Master: Kazlaser, especially when attempting Setouchi's various accents.
  • The Xenophile: In episode 8, Otani Marina portrays a member of a mystery research club going UFO hunting and made bento with blue rice for her love confession roleplay (colored using Blue Hawaiian syrup and tastes like the same). She takes several members UFO hunting again around the TV studio in the final episode.
    Marina: I messed up. I recited the alien summoning chant incorrectly. It should be "Ventra Ventra, Space People, Space People" but I said "piaple".
    Kazlaser: Yeah, I also felt there was something wrong.