Events, KissBee Kiss Bee’s Big Push for Their Upcoming Single, Live in Ikebukuro and Saitama. (August 2017)

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When Kiss Bee put out their promotion schedule for their upcoming single, I am aghast to see how many live appearances they had planned.  Not only that, there are additional events that didn’t even make it on to that original schedule.  Obviously Kiss Bee’s management are truly committed to making the new single, Dokkin Fuyaffuu a big success, an even bigger task since it is releasing opposite AKB48’s 49th Single.  But whatever, there’s room for more than one idol group in this world…obviously.  BTW, here is their new single PV…

 

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Ikebukuro (2017/08/08)

So checking Kiss Bee’s appearance schedule, I noted a few possibilities, beginning with their free live at HMV Isola in Ikebukuro.  This is one of my ‘go-to’ places for mini-lives, since it is quick and easy to get to from my apartment.  I got to West Ikebukuro early to grab some dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the Oedo Beerfest going on in the park across the street.  I did grab a couple of beers (including one called ‘Vanilla Ice Cream IPA’) and made note to come back the next day to enjoy the festival properly (which I did, LOL)  But for this day it was about seeing Kiss Bee, so upstairs I went.

It was the typical Isola setup.  I have actually seen Wasamin here on multiple occasions, as well as FESTIVE and Chaki.  I bought three copies, with the intention on meeting at least two different members, and grabbed a spot around four-back from the stage, which was good since the place really filled up by showtime.  That of course was after I got all of my Kiss Bee promotion cards stamped.  I have one card where they mark all of the CDs you purchase, and another for each event you go to.  You need to purchase A LOT of CDs to win anything with that card, so I will probably just keep that as a souvenir.  But for the event card, I may come close to filling it up.  We’ll see…

This was supposed to me a “mini” live, but they ended up performing for over 50 minutes.  And if you include the pre-event rehearsal, which they do in front of the fans, over 55 minutes.  So this was almost like a small concert.  So the fans really got bang for their buck, or at least for the CDs they purchased.  Afterwards it was time for perks, which always starts with a free high-touch for everyone in attendance.  After that, they offer three perks, in order.  The first is a Group-Shot, which costs four tickets, then a cheki (2 tickets), and finally a handshake/signature (one ticket)  For the signature you can have the member sing a cheki, a cd, or she will sign and give you a photo.  So the system is fairly easy, although I think it’s kinda steep when a signed cheki ultimately costs 3000 yen, which is why most of my chekis with Misaki-chan are unsigned.

When I purchased my CDs, I originally planned on seeing three different members, but ultimately I used ALL of my tickets on Misaki-chan, one for a cheki, and another for a signed photo.  Oh, and a funny thing happened.  When my turn came to do the cheki, Misaki-chan, said “Hi Chris!  Chris is your name, right?  I thought so.”  Like with Miyabi from Minyo Girls, I had never mentioned my name to Misaki before.  In fact I think the only one in the group I had ever said my name to is Reon, but I had a sneaking suspicion how she knew it, which was confirmed at Saitama. (part two of this post)  Anyway, my cheki and autographed pic.  Since Misaki likes making weird faces on stage, I kinda like to do the same with her in photos…

During the handshake Misaki asked me where I was from, and I told her about the festival outside.  In fact, when the event was over I headed back down to get one more glass of that Vanilla Ice Cream IPA, before jumping on the bus back home.

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Saitama (2017/08/15)

So my three-week vacation is turning out to be a total idol fest, despite the fact that Wasamin hasn’t been performing locally at all.  That will change next week when she does her new single promotion.  But for this week my schedule has been filled with events, beginning with the AKB handshake event, Minyo Girls, two Kiss Bee events, and THREE No Plan events, which I plan on writing my next post about.  I also had the opportunity to see FESTIVE on Monday, and was standing right in front of the club entrance, but decided against it since I had already spent enough money that day, and didn’t want to overdo it.

Kawaguchi is the first train stop in Saitama after you cross the Arakawa River, which makes it very easy for me to get to since I live on the Tokyo-side of the river.  Kiss Bee would be doing two shows at the local Ario/Ito-Yokado Mall, which brings back so many memories of going from mall to mall to see Wasamin back in the day.  Yes, I have been to quite a few Ario/Ito-Yokado locations over the years.  The stage was set up in the center court of the mall, which meant there would be tons of foot traffic going by the events.  I got there a little early to check out the crowd, and to have a little bit of lunch before the event started.  Like at Ikebukuro, I bought three tickets, intending on doing handshakes with three different members.  However, once again my plans changed.

I grabbed a standing spot just behind the seats, and was ready to go.  Although the Kiss Bee fans seem to keep the fan antics at a minimum during the mall events, I am pretty sure that is by instruction from group management.  So you don’t here much chanting, or see much dancing.  Mostly clapping, and that’s it.  During the show I am usually paying attention to Misaki, but sometimes I look for members who are also impressing me, and the more often I see this group there is one member who I seem to grow more and more fond of each time, and the funny thing is that she wasn’t even on my radar when I first started liking this group.

So after the high-touch, and almost winning one of the signed posters (I swear I am going to win one of those one day!) I decided to use my first ticket on that member who has been really catching my fancy lately.  I feel bad too, since every event I swear I am going to visit Sakura again, who I like also.  But this time I felt compelled to go and see Reon again.

Reon isn’t a popular member in this group yet, and her line is usually one of the shortest.  But I love her smile, and I do catch her looking at me once in a while.  Anyway, she immediately asked me my name again, and I told her that I thought she did a great job on stage and that I like her smile, which she reciprocated.  Then she asked my what I liked about KissBee, and who my favorite member is.  I lied and told her I was a Kiss Bee ‘MD’ (Minna Daisuki)  But I couldn’t think at the time of how to explain why I liked the group.  I guess that meant I needed to see her again.

When I saw Misaki, she immediately greeted me as Chris, and then she asked me what ‘CK’ means.  Aha!!!!  Apparently another one of my personal Twitter Fan Club, LOL.  So I explained that C is for Chris, and K is the initial of my family name.  I also mentioned that I liked that they were at this location wince I live near Akabane (one stop away)  Anyway, I didn’t do a cheki because I heard they were doing a special costume for the second performance.  However, that meant I had to get at least 1-2 more tickets.

The break between performances wasn’t very long.  I had time to get a drink, plus one lap around the mall (they had some good looking restaurants) before coming back and staking out a spot.  Another interesting aspect of Kiss Bee performances is that they rope off an area for photography.  Yes, you can take pics of their entire show, as long as your are in that section.

Anyhow, the girls came out for their second set.  BTW, a couple of the songs they performed I had never heard before.  One was called Puppy Puppy, which they played in both sets.  One of the things I like about Kiss Bee is that their songs have an interesting style to them.  They aren’t all idol sounding tunes, some of them have a jazzy feel to them, which I think makes them unique.  At the end of the show they were promoting their appearance today at Tokyo Summerland, which I didn’t plan on attending.  Good thing, since it has been pouring rain all day.

I saved my cheki for this event, so I could get a pic with Misaki wearing the different outfit, which I guess was some kind of Catholic School Uniform?  I don’t know.  What do you call that style?  Per usual, I went for a goofy pose, since it just fits her style too well.  I always say that Misaki-chan reminds me of Maeda Atsuko, if Acchan had a goofy personality.  Misaki is ALWAYS making silly faces before, during, and after the show.

After that I had one more ticket left, and I really wanted to see Reon again.  So this time I was prepared, and I explained to her how I stumbled upon the group accidentally during Golden Week, but didn’t do any handshakes after the show, but then came back to see them at Venus Fort.  And that I tweeted photos from their performances all the time.  At the end of the day, I think I found my true #2 girl in Kiss Bee.  Sorry Sakura 🙁

And that was it.  By this time it was raining pretty hard, sI made it back to the station and eventually back home.  I’m not sure when I will have my next chance to see Kiss Bee since my schedule is pretty busy for the next two weeks.  But I am sure I will see them again before the new single comes out.

CK in Tokyo

 

Concerts, Minyo Girls An Afternoon with Minyo Girls at Ueno Park (Yes, Idols Do Check Out Their Fans’Twitter) (2017/08/13)

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This worked into being a perfect day.  I have mentioned on social media that the one thing that makes the sweaty, sticky Tokyo Summer tolerable is all of the Summer festivals.  Like the state and county fairs in America, they are filled with fun, food, and great music.  So when I was going over the schedules of my favorite idol groups this week, I noticed that Minyo Girls would be playing a festival in Ueno Park this weekend.  For me, Summer Festivals + Idols = super-fun tiems.  So Sunday morning I headed to Ueno Park…

As expected, the holiday weekend drew a huge crowd to Ueno Park for picnics, the zoo, the museum, and of course this event, which was the Pakistan & Japan Friendship Festival.  It was the usual festival atmosphere, with tons of booths filled with festival food, drink, crafts, including many Middle Eastern themed dishes.  There was also a wall to wall entertainment schedule of both Japanese and Pakistani artists.  And of course there were plenty of idols on the schedule as well, including P.IDL, Chu-Bit, Banzai Japan, and Caprice.  Minyo Girls were on the Sunday schedule, with two performances in the late morning and early afternoon.

Seven of the ten Minyo Girls were at the event.  Notable missing were three of the youngest members, Matsuri, Yutori, and Yua, who is arguably my favorite member.  But no matter, my other favorite member, Miyabi, was there, and given the lack of competition she was definitely fishing me a bit, but I will talk about that later.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, Minyo Girls’ song catalog has become a bit more “idol-ish” after their early stuff was a lot more traditional and folk-y.  For these two setlists, they were singing both kinds of songs.  BTW, the nice thing is that Minyo Girls does allow fans to take photos and film, so both performances are on YouTube.  Here ya go…


 

And here are a few photos I took at the event.  I stood at opposite sides for the performances, so you get both aspects of the show.  And of course I try to get a few shots focused on Miyabi.

 


From the first performance


From the second performance


Miyabi

After the first performance, I was trying to decide what I wanted to buy.  Pretty much everything they had was either 2000 or 3000 yen, and came with a ticket.  For one ticket you could either get a signed cheki, shamekai, or something signed.  For two tickets you could take a group shamekai, which is something I like to do with this group.  The only issue is that I already have multiple copies of all their EPs, so what would I get?  At the end of the day I decided on their second EP, Minyo Girls II, since it is my favorite, and I think I have the fewest copies.  And since I was sweaty, I got their oshi towel.  I decided to take my group shamekai, and Miyabi actually asked to be up front with me.  You see?  Fishing…LOL.


Yeah, the sun was irritating my eyes, which is why they are technically closed

Leaning in, like “this is MY fan!”  These girls learn the art of being an idol very young, don’t they.  But I do like Miyabi, and she was very talkative with me today. Asking me where I was from, how long I have lived in Tokyo, and whatnot.

I should point out, that with the absence of Yutori and Yua, most of the members I interact with were absent.  In fact I think a couple of them didn’t really recognize me from past shows, since I noticed Izumi came up to me like I had never seen the group before and handed me flyers.  But once I put my Happi coat on, they knew I was a fan.  Anyhow, for the second post-performance event, I had decided I would do a signed cheki with Miyabi, and I was trying to decide between their new penlight, which was 3000 yen, or their sensu (folding fan), which was 2000.  Meanwhile, Fuu-chan kept telling me to line up for the cheki, but I didn’t want to be first in line.  I think she was getting frustrated with me, but Kaku was just laughing. (BTW, Kaku was engaging me quite a bit too throughout the day)  So after buying my sensu, I lined up third to see Miyabi, and get my cheki…

Now the funny part was when she signed the cheki she asked me if should sign it to “CK”. The interesting thing is a) I have never told her my name, furthermore in person I do not use my online nicks (CK, Cristafari) So I was puzzled for a second how she came up with “CK”, then of course I remembered that idols read twitter, and that IS my twitter handle. So I asked her if she looked at my Twitter, which she admitted. LOL. I told her she could call me Chris from now on.  But check the top of the cheki, LOL.  She is the first idol EVER to call me by that nickname!

 

After my cheki, I was totally parched (and a bit sunburned) so I purchased an orange smoothie, before finally heading back to Ueno Station, and ultimately back home.  But it was a fun time.  I got to see TWO performances, and Minyo Girls seem to be doing a lot more activities lately, including one-man lives, so I’m sure I will be seeing a lot more of them in the near future.

CK in Tokyo

AKB48, Events, HKT48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 48th Single Negaigoto no Mochigusare Individual Handshake Meeting at Makuhari Messe (2017/08/11)

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This is my “low key” handshake event for this single, and the only one of the three days of events I am attending this weekend.  AKB48 puts on so many more events per single than they did back in the day, so these days my M.O. is to get tickets to two events, one being my “main” handshake event with more tickets, and then my second handshake event, with fewer tickets. In this particular case, fewer tickets meant ten, including one “open” ticket that I could use on any eligible member. I had also condensed this day into three slots, so I wouldn’t be in Makuhari all day. Actually, it was originally four slots, but…well, you’ll see…

The real bummer of the day was that I could not get any tickets to see Yamane Suzuha. I didn’t realize when I originally applied, but today was Zunchan’s birthday, so her tickets sold out very quickly, and of course I couldn’t use my open ticket on her either. It’s too bad, because if I had known I would have picked tomorrow or Sunday to go instead, but I had already won tickets for the 11th, so I was kinda stuck. Oh well.

Anyway, I got to Makuhari at 11:15, grabbed lunch by the station, and made it to the venue just before noon. I didn’t need to get my tickets stamped since that was already taken care of last month.

Slot 3

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 40) <2 tickets> Yukachan was a bit late to the slot. In the meantime the guy in front of me was desperately trying to communicate with Rikopi, and then Aramaki since they were in the neighboring lanes. So I got a quick greeting from Rikopi (who didn’t know I was coming over to her lane right after) It was good timing, since they had just started debuting the B-side music videos from the upcoming single on the big screens. Akiyoshi eventually came out, and I was second in line. So I told Yuka that I had finally graduated from my University last weekend when HKT was at Tokyo Idol Fes. She congratulated me, and also invited Rikopi over to congratulate me too, which was nice. I told Rikopi that I would be over in a minute. In fact my second ticket for Akiyoshi was a continuation of my conversation with Rikopi, so…

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 41) By the time I had finished with my first Akiyoshi ticket, Rikopi’s lane had cleared out, so I jumped over into her lane. The first thing she said was that when she saw me in Yukachan’s lane, she hoped I was coming over to see her too. At this point it was almost time for the debut of her MV from the upcoming single, so I told her I looked forward to watching it.

So the funny thing was, at this point all of Rikopi’s regular fans checked into the lane, and then they held the line up so Rikopi could watch the video. The guards were watching it too. I was standing in the area before check in for Akiyoshi’s line. After the MV we all gave Rikopi a big ovation, including her guards. LOL. Anyway, I asked Yukachan what she thought of Rikopi’s song, and then I told her that I really liked Sasshi’s MV. I had more tickets for Yukachan in a little bit, so I left it at that…

So for my open ticket, I had a few ideas. For some reason I had neglected to get a Tani ticket for this event, so she was a possibility, as was Zukki from 16th gen, since I consider her my favorite AKB kenkyuusei not named Zunchan. But then I noticed that Masanya’s lane was *starred* as well, at least in this slot it was. So I stood in front of the SKE area trying to decide, and if I was going for Tani or Masanya I had to do it in this slot, as they weren’t *starred* for Slot 4. At the end of the day, I have more Tani tickets for the next SKE event, and the next AKB single. This could be my last chance to visit Oya, so…

Oya Masana (Lane 170) Not surprisingly, Masanya’s queue got pretty big once they allowed oshimashi and open tickets in. So I checked in and waited. I didn’t have much to say to her, I just wanted to see her at least one more time before she graduated. I mean there is always the possibility of a National event, but no guarantee of that either. Essentially I just continued the conversation we had less than two weeks ago, and told her a little more about the circumstances behind me moving to Tokyo. So that was cool, and then I said I hoped to see her again. You never know, right?

Slot 4

I decided to stay in halls 7-8 since I had another SKE ticket in the next slot. In the meantime I ran into a bunch of people I know, including @Jeff86 . So we passed the time catching up, and comparing tickets. He was seeing SKE members almost exclusively. Later I ran into a bunch of other overseas fans I know, including BigC, who was hanging out near the Sakura lane (no surprises there) and Pandadash. This was also the point where they started simulcasting the NicoNico broadcast of the Janken preliminaries, which pretty much took the next 2-3 slots.

I should also note that I had virtually no trouble with my tickets, which were the last of my tickets to have my name in Katakana. It makes me wonder if I really should have changed them after all. Anyway…

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 174) It was pretty much a quick ‘hit and go’ with Kaotan today. I spent more time trying to hide from Tani in the next lane, since I didn’t have tickets for her. (I also didn’t have any Bibian tickets, and she looked really cute with her black and yellow outfit) Anyway, I just told Kaotan about my graduation, and she confirmed I was transferring to another school, and then she asked me a couple other questions I didn’t understand. I just nodded affirmatively, LOL.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 40) <two tickets> Back over to the other hall to see Yukachan, it turned out this would be out ‘English Slot’. Again, she asked me in English what I planned on eating for lunch, so I told her I already had a Subway Sub. “An Ebi sub, and fried potatoes”, I added. I immediately looped the line since I wanted to get out of the venue and take a break. I wanted to ask her something in English to see how she responded. I was struggling for a good question, and then blurted out something stupid. “Yukachan, I have a question. Can you tell me where Spider Tower is located?” Now the problem wasn’t that she didn’t understand me. The issue was that she had never heard of Spider Tower. LOL. I thought that it was like a well-known building. Anyway, she told me in japanese that she didn’t know where it was, so I told her it was in Nagoya. Anyway, we both laughed. But I need to come up with better questions for her to answer in English.

And with that, I took a break.

I had three tickets left. Two in Slot 5, and one in Slot 6. But then I realized that the member I had the Slot 6 ticket for had a starred lane in Slot 5. Well, I can just jam all of these tickets out in one slot, since none of them would have long lines, and then I could get out of there early. So that was the plan.

Slot 5

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 37) For some reason I just wasn’t in that talkative a mood today. I kept struggling with what to say or ask each member. So whan I got to Maichan I simply asked her about her janken unit, since the janken prelims were still playing on the screens. In fact, Yukachan’s group had just come on while I was standing there. Anyway, Maichan asked me to root for her duo with Haruppi, which I had forgotten about LOL. I told her I would, and I would see her later.

Sakaki Miyu [CUCA] (Lane 91) I forgot to mention that in Slot 3 when I was deciding who to use my open ticket on, Cuca-chan waved to me from her empty lane. I’m not sure whether she recognized me from our meeting in July, since most of the STU members were waving at pretty much anyone who was looking their way. But I knew I would be seeing Cuca a little later anyway. So I headed over, and Cuca actually had someone in her queue. Nice, I hate to think that she is sitting there twiddling her thumbs all day. But I waited for the lane to clear out before I jumped in. She watched and waved to me all the way from before check-in. As I got closer, she had a look of familiarity on her face, so I knew she remembered me from before. I congratulated her on her Janken Duo with Sato Kiara, and asked what the name of the unit was. Jeez, they have a really long name. I commented, “Wow, that’s long!” (Maiorita Megami to Girigiri no Onna) Anyway, I told her a bought a bunch more tickets to see her for the next single, and she thanked me. Hopefully she will have a better draw.

Nakanishi Chiyori (Lane 108) This was actually a Slot 6 ticket, but since her lane was *starred* I could use it via oshimashi in Slot 5, which I did, and it saved me over an hour of waiting around. This was actually NOT the first time I have had an individual handshake ticket for Chori, as I got one for her around a year and a half ago. But I ended up blowing it off (along with a couple other tickets for Kaotan and Tanamin) since there was a special Wasamin cheki event that conflicted with my evening slots. I did get a chance to finally meet Chori at a Shoot Sign National event earlier this year, and she was really cool. So I looked forward to seeing her again. Anyway, it was really quick. I told her that I was rooting for her unit to win Janken since they had the best members, and then pointed to my Akiyoshi ticket holder. She laughed and said she would do her best to win, all the while being the usual fun and genki Chori that makes her a great handshake experience.

Actually, I am surprised Chori has stayed under the radar for me, because she is EXACTLY the type of handshake experience I really like. Perhaps it is because I spend so much time with SKE and HKT members at AKB single events, I kinda forget about the AKB members. It’s actually another drawback of having all the groups at AKB single events, it takes away from giving the AKB members, especially those that aren’t in Senbatsu, a chance to be the center of attention. Oh well.

And with that, I was done and it was barely past 3:30. 10 tickets in 3 1/2 hours, not bad. I found some friends who were also leaving, so we all went back to Tokyo together. And now there is a bit of a lull between handshake events for me. New AKB single events don’t begin until October, and the next SKE and HKT events aren’t until late-November. I’m not sure if I will apply for the Janken, or Masanya graduation since they are the same weekend as Wasamin’s next big concert. Hopefully some national events will pop up that I can go to.

 

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Pop Idols, Tokyo CLEARS, Yuki Himeri Tokyo CLEARS’ New Home Base, No Plan’s Free Live, and a Bunch of Other Cute Idols

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Vacation Starto!

Yes, I finally completed all of my coursework for the Summer semester, which means I will be graduating from the school I am currently attending with an Associates degree, and moving on to a different school to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree, which is another hurdle toward living in Japan.  However, this will be a short vacation, as orientation for the new University I am attending will begin the third week in August.  In the meantime, I have a bunch of free time, and what better way to get it started than by attending a few idol events.  First up, Tokyo CLEARS…

When Tokyo CLEARS announced that they will be doing a monthly show in Meguro, I promised Riochi that I would attend the first event.  I always do my best to keep the promises I make to idols, so on Wednesday afternoon I headed out to Meguro for the show.

Meguro Rockmayan is your typical little music theater, located in a basement underneath a couple of restaurants.  Actually, this is not your random club after all, as the displays on the hallway walls have signboards from lots of now famous Japanese rock bands.  Among them were Dir en Grey, Glay.  So pretty cool, especially for a dingy little club that could probably fit a couple hundred people at the most.

In addition to Tokyo CLEARS, they announced there would also be guest artists performing at their monthly event.  Gunma CLEARS was there, which was no surprise since the CLEARS sister groups often perform together.  I had never heard of the other two groups.  The first was a trio called expiece (group homepage), who had a cute center girl.

The other group was called Ikoku no Palpitante (group homepage), which I actually really liked.  All of the members were cute, they had a gothic lolita image, and they were extremely fun to watch.  In fact all of them reminded me of 48-group girls for some reason.  The lead singer looked kinda like Ishida Anna, they had a tall girl who looked a lot like Yukirin, a young and cute redhead who was like a baby-Tanamin, and then one girl who I guess was a trainee?  She looked like Naopon from HKT.  The other regular member is like the moodmaker of the group.

A few cool aspects of their show, the trainee member spent the entire time working among the crowd, getting them to cheer, do calls, etc.  In fact, one of the other members jumped into the crowd as well.  They also had one sing where the girls draw sticks in the middle of the song to decide who sings the big solo part.  And, they hold up signs with their names, so if you want to cheer for a member, and don’t know their name…Anyway, here is a video of them in action…

Of course I was there to see Rion, so my focus was on Tokyo CLEARS.  They opened the show with one song, after which the all the groups came on stage to play some kind of “Telephone charades” game.  It’s when the first person gets a word or phrase, and then acts it out to the next girl, all the way to the end then the last member guesses what it is.  I was in the front row, and for the second one Rion asked me if I could read the kanji (I actually knew the second kanji, but not the first one)  However, when Ruka (from CLEARS) acted it out, I knew exactly what it was, so I blurted out to Rion that I knew.  (It was Sadako from The Ring)  However, what was even funnier was the next game, where somehow the girls interpreted the phrase as “Rion taking a stinky shit”  which of course wasn’t the right answer.

The supporting groups got 15-20 minute sets, while TC’s set was at least 30, their opening song is one of my favorites, and is one of the B-sides from their most recent single, called “Fuite Fuite”  It has a fun dance that the fans get to participate in as well.  Oh, and as part of the fun, the members drew on each other’s faces, which made for some interesting chekis.


Rion, and Sayuri

You could tell that Sayuri loved the artwork on her face, as she kept saying “Open eye, close eye!” to me.  Rion, didn’t believe me when I said her artwork was cute too.  But I told her that I was happy to be at their first performance at this club, and that my new school was very close by, so it will be easy for me to see them perform there.

CLEARS’ chekis are a little pricey, and as a result I decided not to do anything with the Palpitante group.  As much as I liked them overall, there wasn’t one particular member who stood out to me.  I mean they all stood out in some way or another, which I guess makes me a Palpitante MD.

NO PLAN

Fast forward to Thursday.  I had an appointment in Shinjuku in the afternoon, and of all the groups I like, the only one playing that day was No Plan, which features one of my favorite idols, Yuki Himeri, who used to be in Alice Project.  They were headlining four groups at Yoyogi Muse, which is a music school near the JR Yoyogi Station.  The best part was, this was a FREE live.  I love those!

Himeri recently announced that she would be graduating from No Plan this month, and I am not sure what she will be up to after that, aside from the occasional gravure work she does.  So I want to see her as much as I can before she leaves the group.  BTW, although I have attended a No Plan meet and greet one before at Shinjuku ReNY, I had never seen them perform before.  So I was looking forward to that as well.  However, I would have to sit through the first three acts before I got to see Himeri…

Doors opened a little after 5pm, this was going to be an early show.  Most of the fans wanted to stand in the back where they could move around more, so I took a seat in the front row.  Why they had chairs set up, I do not know.  Personally, I like it better when it is all standing. But whatever.  The show started a few minutes late, leading off with a duo called Semicolon.  LOL, wait until you hear the name of the third act, it was “Punctuation Thursday” I guess.  However, the one girl in the group was drop dead adorable.  I could not take my eyes off of her.  Unfortunately of the two members, the other one was a far better singer.  But my biggest surprise was when I got home and looked the group up…


Reon

It turns out the cute one I mentioned is actually a well-known gravure idol and anime singer named Kurosaki Reon. (Reon’s homepage) Not only that, she is 26 years old!  Damn, I thought this girl was 19-20 tops.  Now I am really kicking myself for not taking a cheki with her when I had the chance.  They didn’t have much of a line either, so I will count that as a blown opportunity.  But I will keep my eye out for them in the future.


Reon Live Solo Performance

After Semicolon, a soloist named Yamashita Haruka performed.  It almost seemed like she didn’t have too much experience, but she did say that she recently performed at Japan Expo in Malaysia.  Unfortunately for Haruka, at one point the sound system screwed up and started skipping on her support music, which made for a pretty funny and awkward moment since she was singing with live-assist, harmonizing with her own backup vocals.  After her, the third act, and the second half of the “punctuation” performed, a four-girl group called Asterisk, (group homepage) which featured two main members and two backdancers.

There were two really cool things about Asterisk.  First off, the two lead girls really could sing, which is always a nice bonus when it comes to idols.  The second thing, one of the lead girls, Minami Nico wore nerd glasses, which to me made her look incredibly sexy.  Good singer, nerd-cute, nice figure, gothic outfit.  What a combination!!!  I almost wanted to take a cheki with her too, and they were cheap (500 yen)


Nico

Finally it was No Plan‘s turn.  As I mentioned, this would be the first time I actually saw them perform, and at first I was surprised there were so many of them, like 8-10 members!  All of their songs were very upbeat and fun, kinda like CLEARS, or FESTIVE.  Of course I had my eyes on Himeri the entire time, and she nodded, pointed, and smiled at me many times throughout the show.  I also wasn’t aware that is she the “Leader” of the group, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise since she was the leader of Alice Project’s Pa-ken Girls too.  But she has such a high and funny voice, it is a hoot to hear her run the group MC.  Anyway, the show ended, and it was time for group perks outside.


No Plan Live

All of the groups assembled in the small reception area in the courtyard outside.  Per usual, it was very small, and difficult to move around.  It turned out most everyone was there to see No Plan, so the line to buy tickets was a bit of a clusterf**k.  It didn’t help that the manager was doing double-duty of selling tickets AND taking chekis.  I kept getting pushed and shoved, and then some jerk started pushing me and yelling at me to be more forceful.  But what was I going to do, since one of the members had already politely asked me to wait a moment.  So I just ignored the guy.  Eventually I got my two tickets…

I couldn’t even get to Himeri, the lines were so crowded together.  Eventually Himeri found me standing in the back and waved to me, but I motioned that I couldn’t get through.  That was when, like Moses and the Red Sea, she moved everyone aside.  “Kurisuuuu, kochi kochi!!!” LOLZ…

The first thing she told me was that she was soooo happy when she saw me in the audience.  I told her that I would love to see her more, but idol shows can be expensive, so i do not go all the time.  I asked about her graduation, and told her I would be graduating too, but going to another school.  She asked what I was studying, and I told her Japanese.  At that point she said she remembered when we first met, and that my Japanese is so much better now.  I told her I was doing my best, but I was still learning.  She apologized, saying she doesn’t really know any English.  But that’s okay, it is better for me to practice Japanese.  Still, she tried to write a little bit of English on the Chekis.  At the end she tried to sell me one of her Graduation T-shirts, but I was a bit low on cash, and told her it would have to be next time.  Hopefully she will still have XXL the next time I see her…

And what a deal, two signed chekis and two Shamekai for 2000 yen.  I love it!  And what I love about Himeri is that she makes such a big deal out of seeing me.  It really makes me feel special as a fan.  She has a bunch more appearances before her graduation, so I will make it a point to see her as much as I can before she leaves the group.

So there ya go, two fun shows, and a few more cool groups discovered, although I don’t know that I will go out of my way to see Palpitante, or Semicolon, or Asterisk, but I would certainly entertain doing chekis with them if I run into them again.  In the meantime, I am kinda busy this week, so I don’t plan on going to Tokyo Idol Festival.  If I decide to go at all, it would be Sunday.  But 8K yen for a one-day ticket?  Kinda steep, and there are really only 2-3 groups I am interested in seeing, not to mention, 10 hours of straight idols???  Too much stimulation for me. LOL

CK in Tokyo 

AKB48, Concerts ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ 16th Gen Stage Live at the Donki, 2:30pm Matinee (2017/07/30)

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I was strolling around Tokyo Big Sight, waiting to use my Slot 2 tickets at the SKE48 handshake event, when I saw I had an email from the ticket center. Hmm, I had a funny feeling I might be winning something soon. I noticed immediately that it wasn’t a win, but a cancel machi. Figures. I then saw the cancel machi number, 137. Yeah right, like I have a chance in hell winning with that number. After all, this is a brand new stage, it is a weekend show, and I haven’t seen the cancal machi go that high in a while. Still, I decided I would go and check it out. Even if I didn’t win, I could catch some of the show on the monitors until I left for my backup plan, to see FESTIVE in Ikebukuro. Also, I firmly believe that you get a few ‘brownie points’ for showing up for cancel machi even if you don’t win. I mean they do take down the names and numbers of everyone who shows up.

The Setup

I got to Akihabara around an hour early, and had lunch and coffee at the Excelssior Cafe across the street. It was a usual busy Sunday in Akihabara, with the main boulevard closed and tons of people walking in every direction. I headed over to the Donki around five minutes before cutoff. Let’s get this over with. However….

When I got upstairs I was surprised to see that there was virtually no line whatsoever for the box office. Furthermore, there weren’t very many cancel machi people standing there either. A couple of minutes later they announced that anyone with cancel machi 60 or below could buy tickets immediately. Wow, so the cancel machi is going to BEGIN at 61? Could I possibly have a chance? From there staff was rapid firing cancel machi numbers, through the 60’s, 70’s 80’s, finally it began slowing down, and he announced the initial cutoff at 90….

After this staff asked all of the people who hadn’t won yet to come forward. Lo and behold, there were only nine of us left. After a short discussion, it was decided. We would ALL be getting to see the show today. WOW!!! (Actually, I think they originally planned to let eight of us in, but when they saw there were nine of us, they decided not to screw over just one person) I have said this many times, I have seen the cancel machi go all the way to 150 multiple times. So even if you think your chances are slim, never say never. But yeah, 137. For me this is the highest cancel machi I have personally ever won with.

So, this would be my 35th theater show, and the second time I won in July. That doesn’t count the July 11th cancel machi I had and lost. So technically, I almost had three wins this month. Glad to see my theater luck has changed for the good. This ALSO meant that I would be getting to see the 16th Gen kenkyuusei’s brand new stage that they just debuted on Friday night. I was stoked, and who cares if I would probably have a horrible vantage point. I was just glad to be part of the show. I was third to last in, and at first I didn’t see anywhere I could stand, so I shuffled all the way to the other side of the rear of the theater and found a spot. A minute later a family of three in front of me decided they didn’t like their spot and moved. So I moved up, and actually had a decent vantage point. The pillar was blocking the center of the stage, but other than that, I could see pretty much everything.

The Show

I had briefly read the stage setlist here on the forum Friday night, so I remembered what some of the songs would be. And frankly, I was really excited. SDN? Watarirouka? Old Team B? Great stuff! And of course I was happy to be seeing my favorite AKB48 member, Zunchan, and my other favorite kenkyuusei, Zukkii. I was really excited to see her solo performance of the Fujita Nana song.

The opening songlist has a lot of high energy numbers, highlighted by one of my favorite Team B songs, Minnasan mo go Issho ni. So in that, it was a lot of fun. However, on more than one occasion the members seemed out of sync with the song. The dancing was a little bit disorganized, the lip-syncing was way off, and the member who did the narrative part on ‘Minnasan’ did more panting than actual talking. (Was that Nanami? I don’t remember) So I think the members still need a bit more practice on this portion of the setlist to tighten things up.

I loved most of the unit selections, and Zukkii’s solo, plus Cross were both highlights. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Yasuda Kana could center a song, especially a song like that. She was fierce. Of course I loved Kanpeki Guu no ne, especially since Zunchan was in it, and she was adorable. However, it seemed like they had the song slightly slowed down? Perhaps I was hearing things, but it just seemed slightly slower to me. the other two songs were alright, but didn’t stand out to me like the other three.

In the second half of the show, the girls seemed to be more into it, especially on Kodoku na Runner, Zutto Zutto, and especially ‘Wasshoi’ (Let’s Go Kenkyuusei) But it was around here that I noticed how much different the fans are at theater shows than they were when I used to go to the theater, and these song were new. Hardly anyone knows the calls to these songs anymore, and barely anyone knows the hand movements. Most of the people there are just waving penlights around. Oh, and I have the feeling hardly anybody there knew SDN at all, as I didn’t hear the distinct fan calls, or see the hand movements, at all for ‘Runner’. To me this is a disappointment. I know it is fun to wave penlights around, but in the old days of the theater hardly anyone brought penlights, but virtually everyone knew the calls and stuff. I think it was a lot more fun like that, and added to the energy of the performance. Penlights just don’t do that.

After the group shot, it was time for ‘High Wave.” There was another member who caught my eye a few times, but I don;t know her name. Oh well, she will have to capture me again. On the other hand, both Zunchan and Zukkii were great, and Yasuda Kana really impressed me a lot. And of course the little loli Sato Manami is cute.

At the end of the day, I was happy that I won the show, got to see Zunchan, and got to see a brand new stage. Since much of my luck seems to be with 16th gen shows, I look forward to hopefully winning the chance to see them perform this again, and perhaps they will be much improved.

CK in Tokyo

AKB48 My Guest Appearance on the 48TALK Podcast

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It is time for me to do a little bit of cross-promoting.  I have mentioned my friend Derek on my blog a few times lately.  Derek and I have been friends for around three years now, since just before he moved out to the West Coast from Pennsylvania.  I appreciate his enthusiasm for everything idol, and his enthusiasm for my blog.  It’s nice to know I have at least one regular reader.  By the way, you can check out Derek’s site here…

http://www.derekvasconi.com/

Anyhow, Derek has been part of a weekly YouTube show called the 48TALK podcast for about a year now, and has been hinting that he wanted me to be a guest on the show one day.  Well, finally that day has come, and I made my 48TALK debut yesterday.  Check it out…


It was a lot of fun to do, and I did my best to be as amiable as possible.  Although I would have loved to promote Wasamin a little more.  But whatever…

I really meant it when I said that I would love to see comments on this blog.  If you click on the individual articles, a comment box pops up on the bottom of the post, and you can leave your comments there.  I would love to hear from the people who actually read this blog.  Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu!

CK in Tokyo

Events, SKE48 SKE48 21st Single “Igai ni Mango” Individual Handshake Event at Tokyo Big Sight (2017/07/29)

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Ahh, so nice to be at an exclusive sister-group event again. As I mentioned to HKT48’s Fuchigami Mai a couple of weeks ago, I prefer going to the Sister Group events over the 48-group events. Some may consider it odd since they don’t offer oshimashi, or some of the other bonuses you get at 48-single events, but I like that they are a bit smaller, and a bit more low key. I also like that these events give me a chance to focus on one group (as opposed to 5 or 6) and see more members from that group, as opposed to when I go to the 48-group events I basically stick to my top two or three members in each group. Plus, I am more directly supporting the groups I like best (HKT, SKE)

Tokyo Big Sight

I cannot remember when the last time was that a 48-group did an event at Big Sight. Perhaps 2011? 2012? I’m not sure why they switched to Makuhari and Pacifico, when in the beginning (when they got too big to do handshake events at the theater) they were almost exclusively at Big Sight. I have heard a few different reasons. (The Halls are too small, The fans caused trouble) NOW I REMEMBER! the infamous “photo robbery” when one of the photo traders got lured into the men’s room, beaten and robbed. I don;t know if that was the reason or not. It could be a price issue too. But no matter, it was just neat to be going to a 48-group event there again.

More ‘name’ issues

Ya know, management needs to get this Western name issue ironed out. I mean it is ridiculous. At one point some of the systems wouldn’t take romaji, so we had to enter our names in katakana. That threw them off. Then, the systems started allowing romaji, but only in double byte characters, and in some situations, only in all-caps. the other thing that they can’t get over is the whole “middle name” issue. “Why isn’t this name on the ticket too?” Uhh, because that is my middle name, and your system only has two name fields. In the case of chara-ani it is impossible to put my middle name, I can’t even fit my entire first name. I doubt Mumo would allow me to put first and middle either, which is over 20 letters. I just wish they would stop making us sweat it every time over our names. It is friggin annoying. At the end of the day, they signed off on it no problem.

Security

I was all ready for another round of heavy duty security after the issues with Nogizaka, and then the beefed up scrutiny at the following AKB handshake event. But to me surprise, they seem to be over that, as the security check seemed to be fairly low-key again. I mean they are still thoroughly checking our hands when we get into the lanes, and they DID have someone in each lane specifically there to watch what you did with your bag before you entered the booth, but it just felt like they mellowed out after being a bit over-zealous at the last event.

Anyway, I had twelve tickets for seven different members all the way from Slot One, through the end of the day Slot 5. Slot One didn’t start until 11am, and I was done in the last slot around 7:30pm, so all in all it was an 8+ hour affair. Let’s get to it….

Aoki Shiori (Lanes 12, 20) <two tickets> This was essentially a first time meeting. Shiori caught my eye when she tried to fish me at the Team KII theater show I saw three months ago. Not only did she try very hard to interact with me, but at the end of the show she aimed and threw the streamer directly at me and told me to grab on to it. Anyway, Shiori was wearing Sailor Fuku, and looked quite cute. She is maturing very nicely, considering I thought she looked a bit baby-ish when she was a kenkyuusei. When I first went to see her I reminded her of the interaction we had in April. I don’t think she remembered it, but she seemed happy to hear the story just the same.

I actually had a second ticket for Shiori in the Lunch Slot. She welcomed me back, and I told her that Team KII was my favorite team, and that I want to see their stage again soon. It was then she noticed I was wearing some Kaotan gear, and immediately grabbed on to it. I wasn’t totally sure what she meant by gesturing toward the Kaotan stuff. I mean I hope she didn’t think I was oshi-ing her already. But I pointed out “Yeah, Team KII member. Best team!” In any case, she is quite cute, and I would see her again.

Hidaka Yuzuki (Lane 9) <two tickets> Despite the fact that she is my #3 SKE member, I mainly see Yuzuki at SKE events only. Well, except that I DID do a 2-shot with her at the last AKB Album event. But she is always super-genki, and a lot of fun to see. On my first visit, after the usual pleasantries, osashiburi’s and whatnot, I asked what her t-shirt said. It was one of those ‘engrish’ type of shirts with a guys head in the middle. She didn’t know, and asked me what it meant. (Which is funny, since her English is actually fairly good) But to be honest, it was written in such an odd, circular way, I had trouble reading it too.


Unfortunately she didn’t post a big enough picture to read her shirt

When I returned, I reminded her that I had seen the KII Stage (A familiar theme since I was meeting a lot of Team KII girls today) And like with Shiori, I told her I really liked the show and wanted to see it again. In any case, it was nice to see Yuzuki again. She is one of those members that actually has a pretty solid following among SKE faithful, but is relatively unknown outside of those circles.

Souda Sarina (Lane 6) As expected, Souda tried to fish me really hard at that SKE theater show, and I wanted to pay her a visit to see if the spark would remain. Unfortunately, Souda developed a case of Pink Eye, and had to cancel out of the event since she was contagious. Yeah, that would be a problem considering it was a HANDSHAKE event. I’m not sure what will ultimately happen with this ticket, since SKE do not let you use a ticket like this on another member. Essentially you are stuck with waiting for management to post what the options will be. Perhaps they will allow me to use it at the November event? All I know is that I am not going to waste my time going through the hassle of arranging for a refund for only one ticket.


Goods

The silver lining was that this gave me a chance to line up in the HUGE goods queue, since there were at least a couple of things I kinda wanted. Ultimately it took 70 minutes to get through the queue, and I purchased a new Matsumura Kaori ticket holder, as well as some SKE Mango Soap (actually they are sweets, good thing I didn’t wash my hands with them), which was relatively inexpensive. By the time I was done, the next segment had just started. I used my first ticket on Shiori (Which I talked about above) and my second on…

Obata Yuna (Lane 21) I had decided to pay Obata another visit, since she was so cute in the Stage I went to. This was the Lunch Slot (between Slots 2 and 3) and the line was really long. I had around 20 minutes until the lane closed, and was really thirsty, so I decided to leave the venue to get something to drink since there was no food or drinks at the event. When I came back, the line was still big, but I decided to brave it, and hopefully it wouldn’t affect my Slot 3 tickets.

Yuna was dressed quite casually, with an orange T-shirt, which I got a good eyeful of when I was in line for Shiori. 30 minutes later, I finally made it to the front of the queue, and went through my usual Team KII spiel. Oh, and of course I also congratulated her for getting the center position. The nice thing was that she was a lot more friendly than the first time I met her a couple of years ago, so I was happy I got a ticket for her. But even more I was relieved that the next Slot had barely started, so I wasn’t going to lose out on any tickets.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 13) <three tickets> I was happy to have a few tickets for Kaotan this time, since I think she was disappointed that I only had one ticket at the 48-group event. Then again, she always asks her fans to invest more in the SKE CD events. Anyway, I wanted to come up with something good to say, but I was struggling finding something topical to talk with her about. But I was also going in tandem with my friend Derek, so at least I could introduce him. When I got to Kaotan, I noticed she had on these really cool earrings, so as she grabbed me into her cross-handed shake, I told her that her earrings were very nice, but Kaori was more interested that I was wearing the new Kaotan ticket holder. She grabbed it and immediately turned it around to see what tickets I had inside, which was awesome since right on top I had more tickets for her. But she wasn’t done. She immediately looked at my address. “Oh yeah, you live in Itabashi. I know exactly where this is!” I said “Yes, near Wakoshi” (Her hometown) But I was really thinking “Does Kaotan wanna come over???” She is certainly welcome…

For my next ticket I told her that I was graduating and getting my college degree next weekend. She got worried though, and immediately asked if that meant that I was leaving Japan. But I told her no, and that I was going to a bigger college for another degree. “Where is that college?”she asked, and then laughed when I told her it was near Shinagawa. LOL. For my final ticket, I told her that Derek thought she was the best handshake experience ever, which made her very happy. She then grabbed my ticket holder again to see what other tickets I had. “Oh, you are going to see Marika?” She then asked how to pronounce my name. At first she asked if my last name was somehow Japanese. I think she got that from the pronunciation, because it could almost be Japanese. When I told her it was Hungarian, she looked confused, I then said Europe. She then asked what my first name was, since they do this really stupid thing on the ticket and split my first name onto two lines. “Your name is Chr?” CHRISTOPHER I responded, pointing to the continuation on the next line. I then said my complete first and last name, which she repeated.

By the way, if you are wondering why these single ticket exchanged seem much longer than 8-10 seconds, well, that is what makes Kaotan handshakes so awesome. They are as long as Kaotan wants them to be. In fact, that last handshake seemed like it was almost a minute long. Oh, and when Kaotan saw me in a neighboring lane later on, she waved to me…twice. So that was nice. She is so great. Again, I highly recommend to all of you who come to these events to get a ticket for her. She is a total Kami-experience, as Derek learned today.

Tani Marika (Lane 17) <two tickets> Unfortunately Derek waited too long to apply, and missed out on getting tickets for his oshi Marika since she sold out. I was fortunate enough to have two tickets for her. The first of which I used in Slot 4. Tani has been dressing very sexy lately, and looking quite beautiful I might add. She had also gotten her hair done recently, and had dyed it jet black. Personally, I LOVE jet back hair. I think it makes girls look really hip and hawt. I remember feeling the same thing about Wasamin when she dyed her hair black. In any case, that was the subject of our first meeting. Tani’s super-cute hair. But sometimes I wonder if Tani thinks I am bullshitting her, because she kinda acts like I am sometimes. But I just kept pressing that I really liked her hair that way, and that she looked really good…


Typical Marika, make yourself up to look beautiful, then pose for a picture looking like a slob, LOL

After the dinner break, I came back in for my last Tani ticket. I reiterated that I wasn’t bullshitting her when I said that I really liked her hair. So then she puts me on the spot. “I am the prettiest one here?” Fishing for compliments, as usual. I was running out of stuff to say, so I also told her about my pending graduation, so she congratulated me. That was nice. Unfortunately I do not have any Marika tickets for the next AKB event in two weeks, so it may be a while until I see her again.

Oya Masana (Lane 14) I fortunately got this ticket right before she announced her graduation, all of her Tokyo slots pretty much selling out in the next round. Unfortunately I didn’t get a November event ticket, and now I am kicking myself for it. As expected, Masanya’s line was really big since lots of fans wanted to pay their final respects. So I saved it for my last ticket since I had no idea how long her queue would take. Ultimately it took around 40 minutes. In the meantime this was when Kaotan kept waving to me from the next lane. I wasn’t quite sure what I would say to Masanya aside from congratulating her on graduation, but the handshake gods were on my side this time…


Looks like someone is having yakiniku for dinner

So as I got to the front of the queue, the guard told me that Oya had to go to the handicap fan’s lane. But Masanya didn’t realize that so she is beckoning me to come over to do the handshake, and kinda confused why I was being blocked. When she realized what was going on she was like “Wait right there, don’t go anywhere!” LOLZ. I few minutes later she returned, and was talking to me the entire time until they were ready to let me in. After congratulating her on graduation, she asked me if I was living in Japan now. When I said yes. She said “I know you don’t come to my lane that often, but I always see you in Kaori’s lane, so I had a thought that you might live here now.” That was so nice. Ya know, I used to go see her all the time, and then stopped. And this is the first time I realized that she probably noticed, especially since she is often next to Kaotan and sees me all the time. So now I feel slightly bad that I kind of abandoned her. But the truth is that I found members I clicked with a bit better, and it isn’t like Masanya is hurting for fans, she has always been relatively popular. But I am glad I got to have that little ‘sincere’ moment with her. Maybe I didn’t tell her, but I ALWAYS liked her, always rooted for her, and always considered her one of my favorite SKE members. Anyway, I wished her the best in her future endeavors.

And that was it. It was pouring rain in Odaiba, so I decided to take the route home that would keep me under as much shelter as possible, only getting briefly drenched when I transferred from the Yurikamome Line to the Yurakucho Line at Toyosu. And by the time I got home the rain had lightened considerably. As for SKE, the only Igai no Mango individual event I have tickets for is the November Makuhari event, where SKE and HKT will be appearing next door to one another. And I only have four tickets (two each for Kaotan and Tani) But hopefully they will have some nice National events to go to.

 

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Picspam From Wasamin’s 3rd Concert at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall

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As I have mentioned on my concert reports, one of the features of Wasamin’s solo concerts is the opportunity for fans to take photos during part of the show.  Wasamin even roams the entire venue and poses for fans while she sings, so you have an excellent chance of getting some choice photos, even if you aren’t seated close to the stage.

So this post is what I think are the 30 best shots I took at the concert, ten from each show.  I probably took between 50-100 pics at each show.  I deleted a bunch that were blurry, or didn’t come out right, and probably kept around 25-30 from each show in total.

 

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 3rd Solo Concert at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall, Tokyo (2017/07/22-23)

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Iwasa Misaki 3rd Solo Concert at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall, Tokyo (2017/07/22-23)

It’s about time that they decided to let Wasamin have more than one solo concert per year. Actually, if you count her ‘Acoustic Love Live’ shows, as well as her solo concert coming up this September, that makes six solo concerts in 2017 (Well, eight. Since this was three shows) This show was announced at the end of Wasamin’s January concert, and we knew that this venue was about half the size of Asakusa Kokaido. But what we didn’t know until we received our fan club mailers was that it would be three separate shows. One on Saturday, and two on Sunday. We also found out that they would once again be offering “Ichigo Seating,” which are not only the best seats in the house, but also offer some kind of special bonus. Ichigo Seats are 3x the price of the regular seats, so would it be worth it to spend so much on tickets to three shows???

Since I am a Wasamin fan, one would think that answer would be simple. But many people, (including me) questioned whether or not the Ichigo Seats were worth it at the last show. The bonus “rehearsal and high touch was kinda short, and rushed. Not to mention we get to shake hands with Wasamin all the time for the price of a CD. So at the end of the day we paid a big premium to be guaranteed the best seats. Also, they were offering a discount if you bought ‘regular’ seats to all three shows. Ultimately, I bit the bullet, and my devotion won out. I headed to the post office and paid to apply for Ichigo Seats for each show. It would take almost four months to find out if I won, and where my seats were. Which brings up another little ‘issue.’

Random Lottery?

One would think, since it was ‘supposed’ to be a lottery, that our Ichigo seats would have been scattered around the front section. But they really weren’t. People who won front row seemed to get it for all three shows. People with sixth row got it for all three shows. I was third row center, for all three shows. I think they need to do something about that. Not that it’s a big deal, since it is a small venue, and third row is still VERY close to the stage, but it doesn’t seem completely fair. Oh, and I don’t think it was favoritism either, since some of the biggest spenders at her CD events did not have front row. But let’s talk about the Ichigo Bonuses.

Ichigo Bonuses


Ichigo Seat Badges, hand-signed!

Each show had a different Ichigo Bonus to go with the premium seating. Obviously they wanted to make sure fans wanted to enjoy all of the bonuses, since if they made them all the same it might cause people to just buy one. The Saturday night bonus was a “Post-Show After-Party” where we would also be getting to take some kind of personal video with Wasamin. After the show they led us into a medium sized conference room, where they had snacks and water for us to enjoy while we waited. They asked us to get into a loose circle (there were around 50 of us) where they explained what would be happening. Eventually Wasamin came in, followed by her manager, Ichikawa-san, and a cameraman. (By the way, they were filming everything around this concert, including the fans outside the venue) Wasamin went into the center of the circle, and started asking us how we liked the show. We basically chit-chatted about the songs she hose, the costumes she wore, and whatnot. After a few minutes it was time for the ‘video shooting’ The way it worked was that in groups, we formed semi-circles of 15 people, and then Wasamin made a short speech, and then came around and gave each of us a quick ‘Thank You’ message. Here, check it out…

“Uhh, Hello Wasamin!” After this we got back into a circle, and Wasamin started asking us about the Ichigo Bonus. She said that she had read some of the comments online last January where people questioned if it was worth it. So this time she said she really wanted to do something worthwhile for the fans. Furthermore, she said she would do her best to think of something really fun to do the next day so we all felt good about spending so much money on Ichigo Seats. After that, we said our goodbyes, and she left the room, with us being allowed to leave a short time later…

The Sunday morning bonus was similar to the Ichigo Bonus we got in January, an opportunity to watch some of the rehearsal and soundcheck. Only this time, instead of being delayed at the end of the event by the press, she did her press interviews before the rehearsal, which ultimately caused us to be a half hour late getting in, so it was a good thing this was being done two hours before the show. The other bonus was that we would be getting to take a group photo with Wasamin on the stage, which we did in three groups.

The other nice thing was that we got to see MORE of the rehearsal. In January it was a quick MC, one song, and done. This time it was two longer MCs, and two songs. So a bit more…

For the final bonus on Sunday night, we got to enjoy a second encore. This was really nice too. Wasamin’s family was in the audience for this show, and also stuck around for this. When the show ended, they told us to stay in our seats while the rest of the fans filed out. Then after a 5-10 minute break the lights dimmed and the curtain opened again. It was extremely intimate, quite like one of her mini in-store lives. After a quick talk, the first song she sang AND performed on guitar was Nada Sousou. After this she once again brought up the Ichigo Bonuses, and asked us if we thought they better than last time. She also asked us which one’s were our favorites. (I chose Saturday night) After that she asked us if we were going to her September concert, or her October dinner show, and then she finished by performing Kikyou. So at the end of the day I think they did a great job making sure the Ichigo Seat bonuses were worth our while…

Outside The Venue

Yomiuri Otemachi Hall is actually upstairs in the main offices of the Yomiuri Shinbun in the business district near Tokyo Station. It was the weekend, so the neighborhood was pretty much deserted, and most of the restaurants were closed. The nice thing was that the building is directly over Otemachi Station, which also happens to be on the train line by my apartment, so very easy to get to and from. On the third floor waiting area, they had placed all of the flowers, as well as one table where you could pre-order Wasamin’s upcoming CD. Then on the fifth floor they had the goods tables, a small bar, and a booth to buy ‘day of’ tickets since none of the shows actually sold out. I actually bought one of every souvenir they had on the first day. However, they had a different acrylic stand for each day, so most fans lined up the second day just to get the second stand. Also, they ran out of L-size T-shirts the first day, so some people had to wait until the second day for that too. In addition, they were offering an autographed Saba Kaido clear file if you pre-ordered the CD. At first I bailed on this, since I already have multiple autographed Saba Kaido clear files. But when I saw that it was a new version of the clear file, I broke down on got one on the second day.

You can see the goods on this post in the Wasamin thread on Stage48…
http://stage48.net/forum/index.php?…asa-misaki-wasamin.1886/page-145#post-1344620


Fan Club Flowers

Also, they had a huge film crew for this show. It was almost as if they were filming a documentary, as they seemed to be filming everything going on the entire weekend, both inside and outside the venue. Even when the fan club members decided to take a group pic after the show, the camera crew ran out and recorded us doing it. However, they did cause one big issue the first evening. When we got into the venue, they had cameras and crew set up in a lot of seats. Unfortunately, people bought tickets for these seats, and they were GREAT seats. At first they were telling people where they could sit further back. But the fans were not going to accept this, and eventually the camera crews were all moved somewhere else. Ultimately it caused a fifteen minute delay to the start of the show. This didn’t seem to be an issue on Sunday though, as the cameras were back to their original positions. In fact, for the last show I was right behind the cameraman, and could watch his monitors with all of the camera angles.

The Setlists

They promised that all of the setlists would be different, and they were, although not completely. Some of her singles moved around the setlist, and they changed the songs during the guitar segment, and the ‘roaming around the audience’ segment. Oh, and they also added Seto no Hanayome to Sunday’s performances due to the death of singer/songwriter Hirao Masaaki, who many of you may know as one of the judges on the AKBingo! DIVA Championships.

——————————————————————————————————-

Saturday Night Setlist (7/22)
01. Mujineki
02. Kanashimi Honsen Nihon Kai
MC (Wasamin winging it)
03. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
04. Shitamachi no Taiyou
05. Nangoku Tosa wo Ato ni Shite
MC (Monthly challenge campaign)
06. Yume Shibai
MC (More on the challenge campaign)
07. Omoidezake
08. Futarizake
09. Hatsuzake
MC (VTR Highlights of Wasamin ‘Love Live’ show in May)
[Next segment on guitar]
10. Misaki Meguri
11. Kandagawa
12. Ito
MC (Introduction of photo shooting session)
13. Momen no Handkerchief
14. Watashi no Aoi Tori
15. Heart no Ace ga Detekonai
16. Sailor Fuku wo Nugasanaide
17. Koi no Dial 6700
MC (End of photo shooting)
18. Nora
19. Ihoujin
20. Ajisai-bashi
21. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
End of Main Show
(VTR- Deleted scenes, making of Saba Kaido PV)
EN1. Tomonoura Bojou
EN2. Gomen ne Tokyo
MC (Wasamin 4th concert will be held February 4th at Ebisu Garden Hall!!!)
EN3. Saba KaidoShow End

Sunday Matinee Setlist
Ichigo Seat Holder Special Rehearsal Setlist
(All Ichigo Seat holders got to take a group shot with Wasamin before the performance)
R1. Saba Kaido
MC: (Congratulations to Ichigo Seat holders. Wasamin didn’t realize the ichigo rehearsal bonus was two hours before the show, LOL. I guess that’s why there was a 20 minute delay)
R2. Mujineki
01. Gomen ne Tokyo
02. Kanashimi Honsen Nihon Kai
MC
03. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
04. Shitamachi no Taiyou
05. Nangoku Tosa wo Ato ni Shite
06. Yume Shibai
MC (Monthly challenge campaign)
07. Seto no Hanayome
MC (Looking for audience members who came from far away)
08. Omoidezake
09. Futarizake
10. Hatsuzake
MC (VTR Highlights of Wasamin ‘Love Live’ show in May)
[Next segment on guitar]
11. Thank You
12. Kaze ni Naru
13. Ito
MC (Introduction of photo shooting session)
14. Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu
15. Natsu no Ojousan
16. Natsu no Tobira
17. Toshishita no Otokonoko
18. Aoi Sangoshou
MC (End of photo shooting, goods presentation w/ discussion of which colors represent which singles)
19. Nora
20. Ihoujin
21. Ajisai-bashi
22. Mujineki
End of Main Show
(VTR- Deleted scenes, making of Saba Kaido PV)
EN1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
EN2. Tomonoura Bojou
MC (Wasamin 4th concert will be held February 4th at Ebisu Garden Hall!!! Also, it is decided. Official song penlight colors are: Mujineki=white, Moshisora=skyblue, Tomobojo-red, Hatsuzake=green, Gomen ne Tokyo=yellow, Saba Kaido=dark blue)
EN3. Saba Kaido

Show End

Sunday Night Finale Setlist
01. Tomonoura Bojou
02. Kanashimi Honsen Nihon Kai
MC (Wasamin winging it)
03. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
04. Shitamachi no Taiyou
05. Nangoku Tosa wo Ato ni Shite
06. Yume Shibai
MC (More on the challenge campaign)
07. Seto no Hanayome
MC
08. Omoidezake
09. Futarizake
10. Hatsuzake
MC (VTR Highlights of Wasamin ‘Love Live’ show in May)
[Next segment on guitar]
11. Marunouchi Sadistic
12. Silly
13. Ito
MC (Introduction of photo shooting session)
14. Dancing Hero (Eat You Up)
15. Watashi no Aoi Tori
16. Shoujo A
17. Playback Part Two
18. Kazari Janai no yo Namida wa
MC (End of photo shooting)
19. Nora
20. Ihoujin
21. Ajisai-bashi
22. Gomen ne Tokyo
End of Main Show
(VTR- Deleted scenes, making of Saba Kaido PV)
EN1. Mujineki
EN2. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
MC (Wasamin 4th concert will be held February 4th at Ebisu Garden Hall!!!)
EN3. Saba KaidoIchigo Seat Members Exclusive Bonus Encore Performance
EN-2A. Nada Sousou (on guitar)
EN-2B. Kikyou

Show End

————————————————————————————————-

It had been a while since many of her fans had seen her perform live, aside from her performance in the play she did in Osaka, since she hasn’t really had any CDs to promote. But many of the fans remarked after the first show that there was something slightly different and more professional about Wasamin’s performance. Her singing was top notch, and she was also using her body in a much different way. You could tell it was having a positive effect on her singing.

One of the other features of the three shows was that she wore different costumes for the guitar and audience photography portions of each show, which was also a nice touch. Speaking of that, like I mentioned before she switched up the songs she performed on guitar, and the songs she sang when she roamed the audience. These are the highlights of the shows because they are in many ways the biggest surprises of each show, seeing what songs she will perform. I must admit I was shocked when she performed Sailor Fuku wo Nugasanaide and Koi no Dial 6700, not to mention Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu. She also had a few nice choices for her guitar songs, including the Leo and Sheena Ringo songs. Wasamin still has some work to do on improving her guitar work, but it is neat to see her on stage doing her best every time.

Of course they also had a photo-op portion of the show, where fans were free to take photos. I put a couple of examples on this post, but I will try to do a photo collection post here a little later. They also announced Wasamin’s 4th concert will be taking place on February 4th in Ebisu, not to mention she will be doing a Winter ‘Love Live’ show in November. So lots of concerts to keep the fans happy.

Oh, and a couple other cute stories.
1) Wasamin’s family are usually in the audience for her big concerts. For this show they came for the last performance. However, it was the first time I have ever seen Wasamin address them in the middle of the show. While she was performing in the audience, as she passed them she stopped, pointed and said. “It’s my Mom and Dad!” Cute!
2) this will be good for those of you going to see her in San Francisco, but part of one of the MCs was to talk about the goods. All of us really like the penlight which has a preview function where you can scroll through the colors without changing the color of your glowstick. During the third show we were having races to see who could change their glowstick to a specific color the most quickly. But in the second show Wasamin decided each of her singles has a distinct “Official Color” So here they are…
Mujineki=white
Moshisora=Light Blue
TomoBojo=Red
Hatsuzake=Green
Gomen ne Tokyo=Yellow
Saba Kaido=Blue

Anyway, you guys going to her San Francisco show can have fun with that. But be sure and tell them how you found out.


(This was the first photo we took, the one with her manager we took later)

After the shows the fans took one last group pic, which Wasamin’s manager joined in on, and then we went on our merry ways. Overall the shows were a lot of fun, and to me they never got boring, especially since she switched up so many of the songs. Next up for us is her September concert in Chiba. But in the meantime she will be doing a bunch of promotional appearances in late August to promote the ‘memorial’ release of her 6th single. So plenty of Wasafun in the wings

 

CK in Tokyo

Events, FES☆TIVE, Minyo Girls Idol Extravaganza, Summer 2017! Part Two (FES☆TIVE & Minyo Girls)

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Continuing from my previous post…

I remember when Wasamin graduated from AKB, and I resolved to devote most of my “idol energy” toward her solo career.  However, I would go and see other idol groups “once in a while”.  After all, I was really only into two groups, Tokyo CLEARS and FES☆TIVE, so it wouldn’t be too difficult.  Unfortunately for me, that list of “other idol groups” has continued to grow to the point that every week I am checking 7-8 different websites for idol schedules, seeing if there are any shows I would like to see.  That said, I think I have done a half-decent job of exercising some restraint.  I didn’t go to see Chaki, or No Plan, or Hyper Motivation, despite the fact that all of them have been active this month.  Oh, and then there is Kozue’s dance-idol unit “I LOVE YOU”, who I would really like to see one of these days.  See, the list continues to grow…

 

FES☆TIVE

Like KissBee, FES☆TIVE are out promoting a new single to be released in time for “Tokyo Idol Festival,”  and the song is appropriately titled ‘Let’s Go Fes!’  The group is maintaining their usual, busy performance schedule, but are also throwing in a few free in-store lives to support the release.  The event I went to was held at Tower Records Kinshicho, where I saw Wasamin back in May.

The funny thing about FES☆TIVE is that the share the same label as Wasamin.  As a result, they share quite a few of the same label reps at events.  At this event, there were FOUR people from Tokuma who I regularly see at Wasamin events, including Yamaue-san, Sasou-san, the sound engineer, and one other guy whom I don’t know the name of.  Even funnier, when I first saw FES☆TIVE back in 2015, I had asked the Tokuma reps at Wasamin’s “Gomen ne Tokyo” event about them, and it was Sasou-san who called them a bunch of “busu-idols” (ugly girls!)

The new song is a lot of fun.  And the good news is that their two newest members, Piano and Saria have settled in quite well as permanent members.  I was worried about that since the group lineup had been static for so long.  Anyway, the new single is a lot of fun, and maintains the type of energy you would think a song like “Let’s go Fes!” would have…

FES☆TIVE’s post-show perks are pretty standard, and the same as what they usually offer.  One ticket for a shame or cheki, and a second ticket if you want to have the cheki signed.  (Actually, at their paid events it is only 500 yen more to get the cheki signed)  Per usual, I queued up for Hinarin as fast as I could since these days she is BY FAR the most popular member of the group, and her line stretches all around the store.  I don’t even bother trying to see her more than once.  I just line up for her quickly, and then use the rest of my tickets on other members…usually Hiyo-chan.

FES☆TIVE is going to be busy over the next couple of weeks with major idol events like TIF, but they will be squeezing in a couple of release events next week, including one in Akihabara.  I will do my best to make at least one of those events.

 

Minyo Girls

My guilty pleasure.  Actually, they really are a very talented group, and they have a very special gimmick.  Plus, you have to remember that both Wasamin and her manager have enlisted the Wasafans’ help in promoting them.  Throw all of that together, and I am proud to support them.

Speaking of ‘gimmick’, it is interesting to see them kind of go in a similar direction that Momoiro Clover went when they were signed to a major label.  (Remember early Momoclo? When they all wore Yukatas and had a ‘minyo’ sound mixed into their songs?)  When Minyo Girls first started they were strictly covering traditional Japanese folk songs.  However, once King Records signed them they seem to be breaking away from that genre a bit and doing more ‘idol-sounding’ material, albeit with a minyo/enka spin.  In fact, with each release they seem to be transitioning more and more into pop-idols.

Minyo Girls have yet to release an actual single, instead they release EP/Mini-albums with 5-6 tracks.  The event I went to see was outside the Cultural Broadcasting Radio building in Hamamatsucho, a place where I have seen Wasamin AND Hayabusa on more than one occasion.  I did not know until I got there that this event was celebrating the release of their third major label EP, ‘Minyo Girls III’  Since the show was right down the street from Devilcraft, one of my favorite places in Tokyo for Beer and Pizza, I went there first to ‘warm up’ for the event.

When I got to the venue, I think the people at the booth thought I was a random passing foreigner, that was until I bout four copies of the new CD, AND pulled out my Minyo Girls Happi.  The guy was like “Whoah, where did you get that???”  I wasn’t kidding when I told them I was a fan.

My three favorite Minyo Girls

After the event, where they played most of the songs from the new release, they were offering to sign copies of the CD jacket.  At first they said it would cost one ticket, but then someone else decided it would be free to anyone who bought the CD so cool.  Then it was time for handshakes, cheki’s and whatnot.  There were only six of the ten members in attendance, but all of the members I like were there.  So it was all good.  I first chose to do a group shot, which is a little more expensive, but it has become sort of a tradition for me with this group.

It looks like I am practically sitting on Yua, LOL

That is the FOURTH Minyo Girls group shot I have taken.  They are all fun to pose with.  I had tickets left, so I decided to do a signed cheki with one member.  Now I say that Yua is my favorite member of the group, but I also like Miyabi almost as much, not to mention the tiny Yutori, who always seems to remember me best.  Since I went with a Miyabi cheki the last time I saw them, I decided to go with Yua this time, despite the fact that Miyabi gave me real kami-treatment during the CD signing.

One of these days I want to take a cheki with Miki, the shamisen player.  She kind of sticks out as being much older, and not really that cute, but she is a major reason for their uniqueness, and sometimes I wonder if the other fans appreciate that.  Oh, and one more thing…

Their new PV!!!  ‘Ureshi Namida!‘ is from the CD ‘Minyo Girls II.’  They have been talking about releasing a single.  Perhaps this will be the one???  Anyway, Wasamin’s big concert is in just a few hours.  So expect that big report coming up soon!

CK in Tokyo