It had been almost two months since I had met with my 48-group two-top Akiyoshi and Kaotan. I was really looking forward to spending a little time with the two of them, especially since all the news about Kaotan getting married broke after that last event. In any case, I had nine tickets in total, all for members I see on a regular basis. After some interesting reactions at the theater over the past month or so, I was seriously considering using a ticket to oshi-mashi for either Katsumata Saori or Sato Shiori, both 3rd gen draftees for AKB. The problem was that 1) I didn’t have a ticket I was keen to give up, and 2) The slots they were participating in were the two I had the most tickets for, so it was a question of time. Ultimately I would make the decision when I got to the event.
The other news of the day was the return of NGT48 to the handshake events. I’m not sure how I feel about that, as I’m not down with a bunch of weird energy around the event. But checking the venue map, NGT and NMB’s lanes were positioned at the far left side of the halls, while pretty much all of my tickets were on the opposite side. So technically I would have no reason to go anywhere near that part of the event since I had no NGT or NMB tickets. The only tickets I had that were even remotely close to that area were for Akiyoshi, but that wouldn’t take place until the end of the day, and the NGT members whose lanes she was close to were all kenkyuusei anyway.
I made it to Yokohama early, and had lunch over at Queen’s Square. Since my tickets were already stamped I wouldn’t have to worry about that process, not to mention with my address now printed on the front of my Japanese ID, the stamping thing is pretty much unnecessary for me at this point. I had three tickets for two members in Slot 4, my first slot of the day…
Kobayashi Ran (Lane 95) <two tickets> Ranchan’s lane wasn’t as long as I have seen it in the past, so there would be plenty of time to loop the line and make it to my other ticket for the slot. I won the prize, a choice of 2-shot selfie or 1-shot video. Since I took the selfie with her last time, I chose the video. While I waited, they were trying to clear Shinozaki Ayana’s line next to us, which was still fairly long from the previous slot. She seemed to be taking her time signing the posters, and almost everyone at the end of her queue seemed to have won. In fact, when Nagano Megumi came out to start her handshakes, she seemed slightly perturbed that she would have to wait a bit for the Shinozaki line to clear out. Around this time Ranchan entered the lane. I was around 6th in line. This was the video I chose…
I was hoping they would have a “dancing” choice for the video, since Ranchan performed really long videos for the people who won that last time. But alas, it wasn’t an option. I chose this phrase because it looked cute, and it wasn’t too short. (Some of them were like one short phrase) Since I got the video, there wasn’t much time afterwards other than for a quick hello and handshake. I told Ranchan I would loop the line and be right back…
<second ticket> This time I didn’t win, which was just as well. I did a 2-shot with her at the last event, and I wanted a little bit of talk-time with her after all. As I was waiting in line I noticed Katsumata around three lanes over. I decided not to oshi-mashi her lane because I have a ticket for her at the next single event, so I can talk to her then. As for Ranchan, I told her that I love going to the Pajama Drive stage since she always gives me such a great reaction at the end of the show, to which she thanked me and gave me a “Yheaahh!” for good measure. Ranchan is so adorable, and a lot of fun.
My next ticket was fairly close by, but as I got close to the lane I was blocked by a bunch of security and a huge crowd. I thought “What the heck is this? Is an SKE member graduating today?” It turned out to be a birthday celebration for Matsui Jurina, and she was outside the lanes taking pics with the fan-made birthday banner. So I simply stood there and watched the proceedings from the side, which was actually a pretty good view. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I saw another fan tell them he was trying to get into the blocked lane, and they let him through. So I followed suit, and it was perfect timing as it was just as Jurina was walking back through the lane next to me. So it was almost like I got my own private moment with her as she was waving to everyone as she walked back.
Matsumura Kaori (Lane 117) At first I was surprised Kaotan’s lane wasn’t long since she is graduating soon, but then I realized 1) she has a few more events until then, and 2) it still wasn’t oshi-mashi time. Kaotan’s lane also had the 2-shot/1-shot option, which I won. I chose the video since Kaotan is known for making the videos absurdly long and funny. I also find it interesting how Kaotan almost always grabs the fans’ cameras in hopes of helping them adjust for the 2-shots. As for which video script I chose…
I picked the “graduation’ line since she is graduating, and I am graduating from University next month. Kaotan asked what I was going to do post-graduation, and I said I need to find a full-time job. She said she wanted to talk with me more about it, and asked if I had more tickets. I told her no, but I would see her at the MetLife Dome event coming up.
As I had a while until Slot 5 began, I decided to check out the CD sales table since I hadn’t yet purchased any of the non-theater editions of ‘Jiwaru Days’ yet. Per usual, they were offering an additional “mystery” bonus photo for buying the CD at the venue. There were eight members you could possible get. I wanted to buy at least one CD to get the Sasshi solo song MV, and to get Zenkoku handshake tickets. I ultimately bought two, Types A and B. And for my bonus photos I got Ogino and Sugawara. Oh, and for some reason they gave me an extra shop bonus pic, which to my pleasant surprise featured Zukki.
Oh, and at this point they were showing the 17-100 Rank-in concert on the big screens. The part where Kaotan gets dumped into the flour is absolutely hilarious!
Yamane Suzuha (Lane 81) I lined up early, before her queue could get too big. This was the first time ever that I have had the chance to win a member poster as a lane bonus, but I didn’t hit. I was really bummed too since Zunchan’s posters were all very nice. Zunchan had on a black and orange outfit, and was wearing twin-tails. She looked blindingly cute. Also, and this was new, I noticed not only were her usual signs posted all over the lane, but her stuffed frog companion ‘Gabriel-kun’ also had a sign, essentially saying that he loves humans, LOL.
Yuiri, Zunchan, Naachan
I took the opportunity to confirm with her that she could hear me screaming her name at the theater stage I went to a few weeks ago. (I wrote in an AKB48 stage post how Zunchan was hand-motioning to me during the stage that she could hear my calls) She said that of course she could hear me, and thanked me for doing it. I told her I was sorry I didn’t win the poster, but maybe next time.
Sakaki Miyu <CUCA> (Lane 120) To my pleasant surprise Cuca’s lane was not automatic win for the prize. That said, there was only one other person waiting in the queue when I got there. I ended up winning the prize anyway, which was a signed photo…
I once again told Cuca that I enjoy her videos, and that the Hamachi Carpaccio she made a couple weeks ago looked delicious. She confirmed “My YouTube videos?” Yes. I told her that I have eaten Tako, Saba, and Sanma carpaccio before, but never hamachi. I like hamachi though, so I want to try it. She assured me it was oishii, and thanked me for watching.
I decided to take a break and leave the venue for a little while. After grabbing a drink from the conbini I decided to see whose birthday cards I wanted to sign. Oh, and the table for graduation cards was quite big as well. I ended up signing birthday cards for Cuca and Hidaka Yuzuki, as well as graduation cards for Kaotan and Obata. They also had a big banner for Kaotan, but they didn’t invite me to sign it, despite me wearing Kaotan gear. I was hoping they would, except I don’t think I had ever met the guy running the table at the time. Oh well.
Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 85) This was my only slot 6 ticket. I pre-queued so I would have plenty of time to go to dinner afterward at the mall across the street. To my surprise I actually won the prize, which was a signed card.
I cool thing was that as I entered the lane Zukki immediately exclaimed “Hisashiburi Kurisu!” To be honest her remembering my name surprised me, but I guess since I have won her prizes before perhaps it finally stuck with her. Anyway, I complimented her cute blue hair ribbon, and congratulated her on the senbatsu selection. I then spread it on a little thick and told her she was my favorite member in the senbatsu. She kinda gave me this “look of skepticism” but she thanked me all the same. With that I headed to dinner…
Slightly OT, but I was in the mood for non-Japanese food, and despite it being a pit overpriced, I decided to go to the Yokohama Hard Rock Cafe for a pulled pork sandwich. I ended up getting into a bit of a tiff with the manager though. On the menu it said if you ordered an entree you could get a side-salad for 400 yen, which I did. But when I got the bill it said it was 850 yen. So I complained, and asked to see the menu where I pointed out what I ordered. The guy countered with “Yeah, but this is what you received,” turning to another page on the menu. I replied “But I ordered this” (I even pointed to it when I originally ordered it) Then he was trying to argue that the salad I received was bigger (it wasn’t very big) But is that my responsibility? I don’t know what the sizes are supposed to be. The manager then walked away, but the bar manager fixed the bill for me.
Murakawa Bibian (Lane 49) It was decision time, since this would’ve been the ticket I was going to oshi-mashi for Sato Shiori. Ultimately I decided to stick with Bibian. After all, I bought this ticket because I hadn’t been seeing her as much lately, and she is so much fun. Not to mention that I needed to get home as soon as I could because I had a paper to write, and doing oshi-mashi would require me sticking around a bit longer. I didn’t win the prize, which was a signed photo like the one I got from Cuca. Oh, and there was a small pre-queue waiting for the lane to open up. And just before the opened the gate, a dude walked up and tried to jump the queue. And to our pleasant surprise a guard stopped him and told him to get at the end of the line, LOL. In the meantime, Bibian’s lane had a clear view into Rikopi’s booth. I’m not sure if Rikopi saw me or not, but I felt a bit sheepish since it has been quite a while since I have seen her…
Genki Bibian is always genki. I asked her how it was coming with her English studies. (She had mentioned to me she was practicing on her own time) Sadly, she admitted she hadn’t been practicing very much at all lately, but she promised to get back on it. With that, I told her the short videos she posts on twitter are cute.
Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 36) <two tickets> Finally I was getting to spend a little time with Yukachan. It felt like it had been so long since I had seen her. Her queue was fairly short, and I won the prize. (2-shot/1-shot) I chose the video because I wanted to use that “graduation” script. After all, she just graduated high school. Just before the video started, I blurted out that my University graduation is coming up…
It didn’t give us much time to talk, but I told her I would come back in a few minutes. <second ticket> I looped the line, and again won the prize. Since I won the video last time, this time I chose the 2-shot selfie…
I am always self-conscious about taking these selfies, since I screw them up at an alarming rate. I didn’t help that Yukachan started giggling as I was trying to align the pose and maintain a smile. But ultimately it came out alright. Once again, not too much time to talk. But I did get a chance to tell her that I had wanted to see her since it had been a while. And of course I got an obligatory Yukachan “I love You” before I left.
So six out of nine on the prizes. Once again, not bad eh? Although I was bummed about not winning the Zunchan poster. As for my next 48-group event, it will be the SKE48 handshake event April 6th in Saitama. Then the 48-group “Jiwaru Days” event later in April. At this point I am in a bit of a “holding pattern” with buying handshake tickets since my current visa will end in June, and I have not yet secured any assurance of an extension. So I am working on that at the moment, although it probably won’t be until May that I have that sorted out one way or another.
CK in Tokyo