Now in its 10th year, the seven-member performance group AAA (Triple A) seems to have reached its prime, but its members keep taking on new challenges.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't expect our group would last this long," said Chiaki Ito, 28.
The group successfully finished their first Asian tour earlier this year and released singles for seven consecutive months. They also finished a nationwide tour with open-air performances in Yamanashi Prefecture late last month.
The group comprises five men and two women, and made its debut with the single "BLOOD on FIRE," which was released on Sept. 14, 2005. AAA won the Best New Artist Award at the Japan Record Awards that year.
To mark its 10th anniversary, the group simultaneously released a best-of album titled "AAA 10th ANNIVERSARY BEST" and its 50th single "Aishiterunoni Aisenai" (I love you, but I can't love you) on Sept. 16.
The group's mix of men and women has apparently made it difficult sometimes for the members to manage the group and communicate well with each other.
"Even so, we've continued our group activities, without running away from our problems, and celebrated our 10th anniversary. This is a great achievement for us," said Shuta Sueyoshi, 28.
The group has kept one thing unchanged in their onstage performances: its members' desire to have the audience thoroughly enjoy themselves and always consider how their fans feel. The audience can't enjoy the performances unless the members do themselves - that's what they believe.
"I've never performed while thinking something like, 'I'm doing this onstage because it's my job,'" said Naoya Urata, 32.
The members also pay special attention to the comments they receive from fans through social media. "I'm always thinking about how we should respond to what fans want from us," said Mitsuhiro Hidaka, 28.
The high value they place on their fans also appears to be well known by the people who admire them outside Japan.
Misako Uno, 29, said she was really moved during the group's performances in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan in their first Asian tour earlier this year. "They sang our songs' Japanese lyrics perfectly. I was overseas, but I didn't feel like I was away [from Japan] at all," Uno said.
In Taiwan, some fans cheered Ito with the name of the character she played on a local TV drama.
In late September, the group held outdoor concerts titled "AAA 10th Anniversary SPECIAL" for three consecutive days at the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park in Yamanashi Prefecture, their first time to do so independently.
"It was a chance to show what we've done over the last decade," said Shinjiro Atae, 26, before the concert. Takahiro Nishijima, 29, added: "It'll be a concert so big our fans will think it's appropriate for the first and the last."
The group's 10th anniversary will probably be just a checkpoint on their way to their future goals.
"We want to continue evolving and show our gratitude to our fans any way we can," Sueyoshi said.