Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category

Concerts, Minyo Girls Minyo Girls Solo ‘Countdown’ Live at Hamamatsucho Cultural Hall (2017/11/25)

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I mentioned on a previous post how I had scored a ticket to this show after the website declared it sold out. I really do like Minyo Girls a lot. I usually don’t see them very often, despite the fact that they are now appearing regularly at idol live events. However, they usually only perform on weekends, and they are usually the first act in the morning. Frankly, I prefer to see them solo where they have a much longer set. Actually, I pretty much feel that way about most idols. Solo lives are better than multi-act lives.

I took an afternoon nap before the show, and woke up quite late. So I was going as fast as I could trying to make it to the show on time. It was a good thing I knew where this venue was from seeing both Wasamin and Minyo Girls perform there in the past. I got there around five minutes before curtain, passed up the goods table for the time being, and get to my seat. It turned out that my Row J ticket was actually in the very last row….technically. They had seats set up against the back and side walls too, so there were people behind me.

Two cool things about this show. First, they were going to have a photo-op portion of the concert. This is becoming the new tradition for a lot of groups these days, although Minyo Girls have been doing it for quite a while. Second, this was going to be Minyo Girls’ ‘Countdown Live’, the ten most requested Minyo Girls song, voted on by fans on a dedicated website. As for the setlist, I am sorta doing this by memory since I have not seen any setlist posted anywhere on the internet. But here is pretty much what it was…

Setlist
10. Iyouutsu! Kabuki Mono
09. Zashikiwarashi
08. Hanagasa Ondo
07. Himitsu no Yoru
06. Aizu Bandai
05. O-men Men Men
04. Ureshi Namida!
03. SAKURA☆ Kishi
02. Takeda no Komori Uta
01. Let’s Go Takarajima!
(New PV “Making of” VTR)
EN1. Toryanse (New song from upcoming release!)
EN2. Ureshi Namida!
(Note: I might be slightly off with this setlist)

Here is a video of the new song performed in the encore, AND the VTR of the new PV filming.

Overall, I thought it was a really nice setlist, and pretty much covered all of their best songs. My only two complaints. As usual, the song that fans like the most (Let’s Go Takarajima!) is not one of my favorites at all. Contrarily, Oni-san Da~are is one of my favorite songs, but didn’t make the list at all. It was, however, the play-out song as the girls left the stage after the encore.

A couple of thoughts after watching the show…

1) These girls really are superior performers. They are good dancers. They can definitely sing well. Miki is a competent shamisen player. Overall they are a an extremely talented ensemble of young idols. Unfortunately they haven’t quite caught on yet do to 1) their association with enka, despite the fact that they are becoming more of an idol group as of late. and 2) Their ages. Most of them are 12-13, with one 11 year-old, and three aged 14-17. Speaking of age…

2) I really like that they are adopting a more crossover Minyo/Pop style, as it makes them a lot more fun to watch. That said, I think it is important that they maintain the traditional/folk image as I think that’s what truly makes them special.

3) They are all definitely becoming more idol-like in personality, although talking to them it is obvious by their demeanor that they are young kids. It makes it slightly awkward to talk to them at times, but they are doing their best. This is why I almost prefer taking group shots with them as opposed to individual chekis. It feels odd being fished by a 12-year old, and Miyabi is a definite fisher.


Miyabi

4) I still have sort of a difficult time deciding who my favorite member is. I want to say it is Miyabi, since she makes a tremendous effort to get me to oshi her. Even in this show, when they roamed the audience, Miyabi was sure to look directly into my camera a bunch of times trying to give me a lot of good shots. I really like Yua too. She is adorable, and an extremely energetic performer.


Yua

5) At the end of the show, they made two announcements. First, that they would be selling tickets to the group’s Christmas Live Event, which I would love to attend but can’t. They also had tickets to their January Solo Live in Yokohama, which I CAN go to. The second, and biggest announcement was the upcoming release of Minyo Girls IV, their fourth mini-album (not counting their first indie release) Unfortunately for me that will be releasing in December while I am out of town, so I will probably miss most of the release week festivities.


This photo, taken at their latest PV shoot, was sitting on our chairs when we came in

After the show I went down to the lobby to decide which goods I would purchase for handshake tickets. I picked up a ticket to the Yokohama show, but they don’t give you tickets to that. The only items they had which I don’t already own were the T-shirt (too small) and the cheki book. I decided to get the cheki book, which would get me two meet and greet tickets. I could either use one each for chekis with Miyabi and Yua, or take a group shot. Ultimately I decided on the group shot…

When my tun came they all greeted me, and I asked Yutori who the doll was that she was holding. They all yelled in unison “Gangan,” or something like that. I thought it was cute that Yutori would bring a doll out for the event. After the photo I told them all they did a great job, and that I had a lot of fun. And with that, I took my leave. I was in a drinkin’ mood.

Finally, some of the photos I took at the event….

Miyabi

(l-r) Minori, Yutori, and Kako

Yua

Fuuka

Minori

(l-r) Miki on shamisen, Yua, Miyabi, Fuuka

Final Group Shot


I’m in the far back, but you can see me since I am holding a lightstick in front of my face

I can’t stress enough what a great group these girls are. Their music is great, they sing well, their costumes are beautiful, and they are a lot of fun to watch. If you have the chance, please check them out. I already have my ticket for their January live. Hopefully I will be able to catch them before that too.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Acoustic ‘Love Live’ at Hamamatsucho Cultural Hall (2017/11/26)

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We are winding down the year to the last couple of major Wasamin events in 2017. Her ‘Love Live’ Acoustic shows are becoming a twice yearly tradition, dating back to last year. This is not an Enka concert. Wasamin instead sings classic pop songs and ballads while playing guitar in an attempt to branch out and not be pigeonholed into one musical genre. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the first one in September of last year, but I have attended the last two.

This time, Wasamin would be holding two shows, one in the morning, and the other in the late afternoon. The venue, which is in a radio station building across the street from Hamamatsucho station, is extremely small, seating less than 200 people. I got a good look at it the previous evening when I went to see Minyo Girls’ solo performance. As usual, fan club members got first crack at tickets, and I scored pretty good seats; second row center for the matinee, and sixth row center aisle for the late show. I headed out early to queue up for goods, since I didn’t want to miss out on the cool new soccer jersey Wasamin was selling. (as well as her 2018 calendar) The shirt actually came in XXL size, which is a rarity in Japan.  BTW, Wasamin posted a video promoting the new goods…


I got me goods, and immediately tried on the shirt. Slightly snug. Normally in America I wear XL shirts, and I can usually wear an XL in Japan too. But for some reason when it is a Jersey, XXL is more like a regular large. Oh well. I also picked up a couple of CDs since Wasamin would be holding a handshake event after each show. Doors opened at 11 a.m., and since the venue was on the 12th floor, we were taken up in groups of ten via the elevators. The fan club came through with another beautiful flower/ balloon set.

The show started with a music box version of Hatsuzake, as Wasamin hit the stage. For this show, she would have a piano accompanist. She was wearing a very pretty black dress, that from my vantage point really showed off her cute legs. Here is the matinee setlist…

Matinee Performance
1. Snow Halation (μ’s)
2. Chippokena Ai no Uta (Ohara Sakurako)
MC Nagara Pro’s relationship with the Cultural Broadcasting station
3. Kandagawa (Kaguyahime)
4. Nagori Yuki (Kaguyahime)
MC Wasamin doesn’t like Winter, it is too cold. History of ‘Love Live’ concerts
5. Sweet Memories (Matsuda Seiko)
6. Watarasebashi (Moritaka Chisato)
7. Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni (Kamifusen)
8. Fuyu ga Hajimaru yo (Makihara Noriyuki)
MC Summary of Winter themed songs
9. Nora (Kinoshita Yuko)
MC Today’s new goods
10. Himawari no Yakusoku (Hata Motohiro)
MC Special drawing, five fans win a signed cheki
11. Orion (Nakashima Mika)
MC Introduction of the pianist
12. Yuki no Hana (Nakashima Mika)
EN1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (Iwasa Misaki)

END SHOW

Interestingly, quite a few of the songs Wasamin performed had English lyrics. It is no secret that her English is not very good, so I am always interested in hearing her singing in English. It just melts my heart. Her English, as bad as it is, is soooo cute! Also, her performance of Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni was incredible. It is a really powerful song, and Wasamin doesn’t often sing with THAT much power. I was really impressed! For the encore she changed into her new soccer jersey, which looked really cute under her black skirt.

The post-show handshake event was held in the station lobby, down on the second floor. I told Misaki-chan that I LOVED Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni, and that I also enjoy when she sings in English. She asked how her English sounded. I gave her a big thumbs up and said Cho-Kawaii!

We had almost two hours until doors opened for the late show, so I decided to eat lunch at Devilcraft, and have a couple of beers. That may not have been the best choice since the beers started hitting me in the late show, and I suddenly felt really tired. In fact, I think I dozed off briefly. But I was able to shake myself awake and pay attention. I don’t think Wasamin would appreciate me sleeping in her show.

In addition to the goods, they were also selling tickets to Wasamin’s 4th concert in Ebisu, as well as tickets to NagaraPro Enka Matsuri in January. I have already pre-ordered my 4th Concert tickets, but I still hadn’t decided whether I wanted to go to the Nagara Pro NHK Hall Show. The tickets are quite expensive. (10,000 yen!) But since they were actually selling tickets for the special Wasamin cheering section, I bit the bullet and bought a ticket for the late performance. Once is usually enough for me and Nagara Pro Enka Matsuri, even if Wasamin promises to sing different songs in each show. The real stars of the event are Kiyoshi and Mizumori anyway.

Late Performance
1. Kabukicho no Joou (Shiina Ringo)
2. I Wanna See You (Abe Mao)
MC Promoting Cultural Broadcasting
3. Heroine (Back Number)
4. Konayuki (Remioromen)
MC Promotion of the water company Wasamin is the image girl for
5. Sweet Memories (Matsuda Seiko)
6. Watarasebashi (Moritaka Chisato)
7. Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni (Kamifusen)
8. Fuyu ga Hajimaru yo (Makihara Noriyuki)
MC Backstory of Watarasebashi, apparently it’s a favorite of her manager?
9. Nora (Kinoshita Yuko)
MC Promotion of new goods
10. Chippokena Ai no Uta (Ohara Sakurako)
MC Special fan drawing for signed chekis
11. Orion (Nakashima Mika)
MC Pianist introduction
12. Yuki no Hana (Nakashima Mika)
EN1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (Iwasa Misaki)

END SHOW

Around 2/3 of the set was the same, but there were a few songs changed up in the beginning, and toward the end. Wasamin had on the same outfit, but she changed her earrings. And of course the MCs were somewhat different. I was really hoping she would sing Sweet Memories and Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni again, which she did. And there were even more English lyrics in the second set.

And about that drawing. Unfortunately I didn’t win any of the signed chekis, although I did come close. The seat two to the right of me (B-12, I was B-10) won in the early show. Wasamin announced “B…juu….ni!” Dammit, I thought for a second I had it! Instead it was Yukikaze, who I also mentioned in my HKT/SKE handshake report on my last post.

I was one of the first in line for the post show handshake. I thanked Wasamin for the show, and told her she was great. I also explained to her that the #23, which is the number on the back of the soccer jersey, is also famous in America as being the uniform number of Michael Jordan. All the people in line behind me, as well as her manager, went like “Ooohhh” since I am sure they have seen people wear that old Bulls jersey in the past. I think Wasamin knew who I was talking about, although I didn’t confirm it with her.

I wasn’t hungry, so I decided to head home and get some homework done. I also wanted to check out the calendar. As Wasamin said in her video in the above post, it is a cute calendar. The same CD Jewel Box style she sold last year. And I think I will be joying the Spring, as April and May are among my favorite of the the photos.

And here is the soccer jersey…

Next up for me is Wasamin’s River Cruise luncheon on December 9th. I got my official confirmation in the mail this week, as well as a cute little gift from Wasamin…

Cute!!!

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts 16th Gen ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ 16th Gen Stage Live, 4pm Late Show (2017/11/19)

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This was supposed to be an “all-Wasamin” weekend…

Actually this was supposed to be a light weekend. The type of weekend where I could catch up on personal stuff. But then at the last minute Wasamin announced that she would be doing a slew of mini-lives, most of which were taking place around the Northern part of Tokyo, very close to my apartment. So my plan was to go to most of those events, and spend the rest of my time on personal stuff. I was just getting on the train to go to Wasamin’s first event when I got the email…

Sunday Afternoon Show, 16th Gen Kenkyuusei. Cancel Machi #103.

I am always happy to win a show, but this put me in a real quandary. When I was deciding which Wasamin events to attend, the one I was most excited about was the Sunday afternoon one since it was within walking distance to my house. I had also resolved to skip Wasamin’s early Sunday event, since of the four, it was the furthest away from me. But I have a personal rule, which I have mentioned before in this thread. If I win a show, or get cancel machi, regardless of how high the number, I will go.

But Cancel Machi #103, sheesh. There were no guarantees with this one. In fact, the odds were on me not getting in at all, which means I could be blowing off Wasamin, and not seeing AKB either. But, I decided to take the chance. And since Wasamin specifically asked me if she was seeing me on Sunday, I bit the bullet, and went to the early event in Koiwa…

So after seeing Wasamin in the late morning, running errands across town, eating lunch in Shinjuku, I headed over to Akiba. Quite the zig-zag, as I was basically going back and forth on the Sobu Line, LOL. After vegging out in Excelssior Cafe for a while, I headed over to the Donki. The online pre-cancels for the show were already close to #40. Additionally, there wasn’t a long line for tickets, and there weren’t too many people waiting for cancel machi. I started feeling more confident about my chances. There was no real last-minute rush, so they started calling cancel machi numbers right at 3:30pm. From the 40’s, into the 60’s, he started slowing down. The call then resumed and went all the way up to #80 before it was cut off. Okay, I wasn’t counting on making it into the seat lottery. I surveyed the room. There were exactly 16 cancel machi people left, and since they usually allow 10 more in via the second chance lottery, I felt I had a decent chance now. I got slightly worried when the first couple numbers were present, but eventually he crossed the 100 threshold, and called my number. I was ultimately the 2nd to last person called, as they cut it off after the guy behind me (#108)

So great, I won the show! Who cares if I was going to ultimately be the 2nd to last person to enter the theater, right? This would be my 39th Theater Show, my fifth time seeing the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei, and my 4th time seeing the “Let’s Go Kenkyuusei” Stage. Right now the 16th gen is by far my favorite AKB team, so I am more than fine winning all of these kenkyuusei shows. As expected, when I entered there was only standing room in the very back, but oddly most people were jammed into the left and right side, the center back was not nearly as packed as usual. So I ended up standing dead center. I had to look over people’s shoulders, but I had a fairly good view of the center stage, although I couldn’t see the sides at all.

I’m ultimately going to do this review slightly different. I mean, you guys know how stage shows work, and I have already talked about this stage three times on this blog. I feel like I am getting to know these members. As such, while I was watching I started compiling a list of the members I like, and why. I will also tie this in with the “high-wave” at the end, since I put a lot of stock into how members react to me, and it affects who I ultimately like.

Zunchan: is currently my favorite member in AKB. I love watching her perform. The way she moves, her expressions, they way she plays with the other members, and the fans. She has an adorable face. And I am not even getting into the experience of seeing her at handshakes. This girl is top notch, needs to be promoted, and when she is promoted, she needs to be prominent in the group. Period! She is always at the very end of the “High Wave” line, and since I see her at handshake events, I always get a good reaction.

Zukkii: Is the other “All-Star” in the 16th gen. And since they put her in the U-17 Senbatsu, and she has a solo unit in this stage, I would say they have plans for her. It is also amazing the way she transforms when putting on the leather and garter for that unit too. Normally she looks very young, and she has has a body like a bean pole. Oh, and I love the “shocked” expression she gave me tonight in High Wave.

Satomina: Right now I call her my #3. She is one of those that I like, but then I am afraid to like her too much since she is kinda ‘babyish’. But it really seemed like she took it to the next level tonight. She was out front for many of the songs, and she was much more outgoing in the MCs. I love that expression on her face, where she always has her mouth open. It’s cute. On the other hand, I got virtually no reaction from her at the High Wave, so I fear if I meet her, she might be a disappointment, personality-wise.

Anyway, those are my top three. As for others who make an impression…


Ayamin

Ayamin, Naamin: The two ‘tall girls’ aside from Zukkii. I must admit that I always notice them every time I see the 16th gen, but I kind of bypass them since I don’t consider them my favorite. All that said, it is time to admit that they always catch my attention since they are always performing to a level to make me notice them. Ayamin also seems exceptionally confident on stage. She is also one of the members who tries to speak English with me during High Wave. I would put both of these members in the upper tier of 16th gen.

Kana: I have gone back and forth in my mind over Kana. Sometimes I like her, and sometimes I think she looks ‘goony’. However, she is the main reason I think the ‘Cross’ unit is so awesome. Her performance is especially fierce, and in my opinion, has the intensity that Team 4’s ‘Confession’ unit is missing. Oh, and she is one of the others who tries to speak English with me, so fishing points for her.

Orin: I originally didn’t care for Orin, or perhaps I should say that I didn’t want to like Orin. I didn’t care for the way that everyone seemed to ‘pile on’ to being her fan since she is Tomu’s sister. She was the one 16th gen (iirc) that made senbatsu, and to me she didn’t necessarily deserve it. Her bloodline got those votes. I also think, like Kana, that she is kinda of goofy looking, LOL. On the other hand, for the last three shows she has tried very hard to make an impression on me, either during the show or in High-Wave. Now, I am usually a sucker for a good fisher, but it doesn’t always work. I have had idols who I had no interest in whatsoever try to fish me, and I thought “yeah, who are you kidding?” Inagaki has done this with me on occasion, but not as consistently as Orin. Anyhow, Orin gets points for effort.

As for the rest. Well, they just don’t make an impression on me, for whatever reason. I will say that I noticed some of them really trying to appeal to the fans tonight. Tacchan in particular comes to mind. But my head is not on a swivel, and I try to pay as much attention to my ‘Top 3″ as possible.

So anyway, I finished high touch, retrieved my bag, and decided to finally purchase one of those photosets they offer after the show. I had always blown them off, until I actually looked at the most expensive set.

It is really nice! With the cute folder you can also put your ticket into. I may get these from now on, they are a nice keepsake. 1200 yen, it is probably a bit more expensive than it should be, but what the heck. What they should probably do is throw in a pic of one member too.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts Team 4 “Yume wo Shinaseru Wake ni Ikanai” Live at the Donki, Chiba Erii’s Birthday Stage! (2017/11/06)

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I originally planned on doing a writeup on this past weekend’s 48-Group handshake event. However, I kinda want to report on this one while it is fresh in my mind. Actually, it was while I was hanging out at Pacifico during the Sunday event that I got my cancel machi email. I was initially surprised because i thought I had already lost this particular stage application. But I checked the ticket center, and there it was. Cancel Machi for Monday’s Team 4 Stage. The good news was that I had a fairly decent cancel machi number (#55) so I figured my chances were good…

I checked my account throughout the day to find out how many cancellations the theater had, and it was stuck on 5 all morning. Around lunch it had risen to 15. Now all of a sudden I wondered how good my chances were. After all, it was a birthday stage, and most of Team4’s big players were going to be there. Oh well, as I make it a rule to show up no matter how good or bad I think I chances might be, I headed out to Akihabara.

Pre-show

I got to the Donki around 10 minutes prior to cutoff. Surprisingly, the queue to purchase tickets wasn’t very long. On the other hand, the cancel machi group was very big. However, that all changed, as five minutes before cutoff an onslaught of people came up the escalator. WTF??? Ya know, that never ceases to annoy me. Why do so many people show up at the last possible second to purchase their ticket?  The staff was temporarily overwhelmed, which actually caused them to extend the cutoff time for people to queue by five minutes. That actually became kinda significant to me…

Cancel Machi

They finally cut off the line, and got it relatively shorter, and started calling cancel machi numbers. At this point, I didn’t have a great feeling about my chances, but they kept calling numbers. Into the 20’s, the 30’s, the 40’s, the 50’s. Could it be???

Nope, they cut it off at #52. Now remember I mentioned they kept the line open around five minutes past cutoff, and they let around 8-9 people into the queue during that time. This meant that I would have won in the initial cancel machi had they not done that. But the good news was that I was pretty much assured a chance of getting in via the second lottery. Sure enough, I was second in line. Score-a-rooni! Ultimately it didn’t really matter, as the last group of people who won the initial cancel machi got a bad draw-in during the seat lottery, being called 3rd to last.

Team 4, and Birthday Festivities

So this would be my 38th theater show. It would be my first time ever seeing Team 4. It would also by my first time seeing the Himawari-gumi 2nd stage, which happens to be in my Top 3 all-time favorite stages, live in person. I was excited! This show was also celebrating Chiba Erii’s 14th birthday, so when I queued up for my ticket, I was handed a birthday “goodie bag” by one of her committee members. It was kind of anemic. There was a call chart, and a lightstick color chart. However, they did not provide lightsticks, it was B.Y.O.”gs”. Oh well. Oh, and it had a little rubber birthday bracelet! Anyway, I made it into the theater, and found a spot on the right side. It was a crappy view, with the pillar blocking the center stage, but I could see the far right side clearly, and the far left side, and could sorta see the center via the mirror on the pillar, LOL. The show started with a special “Erii” version of “Tiger, fiber…”

I must admit that I forgot to check who was performing in this stage. So I didn’t know that there were A LOT of replacements from other teams on the roster. Among the members not performing were Saho, Juri, and Sato Kiara. In their place were Shimada Haruka (didn’t she graduate already?), Shimoguchi Hinana, Yamabe Ayu, and Nishikawa Rei. But the biggest, and best surprise was that Mio was actually performing. That made it clear who I would be rooting for.

The Show

The crowd seemed to be in a very rambunctious mood. The calls, especially for Erii, were loud and long. Since my best view was on the right side of the stage, I missed what was going on in the center most of the time. However, Komiharu, Kojimako, and Okada Nana spend A LOT of time on this side of the stage, so I saw a lot of them. Additionally, I saw a lot of Nozawa Rena, Hinana, and Yuiri. I was really impressed with how much Komiharu interacts with the audience. I remember seeing her debut in the theater over four years ago, and she has really matured as an AKB idol. In fact, at the end of the show she spotted me and started waving. Also, the more I watch Mio, the more I think she is absolutely adorable. And since she has been growing her hair out, whoah! I spent most of the show wishing Mio would come to the far right side of the stage. She did, occasionally. But she spent more of her time in the center or on the left.

 

Confession, and Notable Performances

When I saw this performance a month ago I noted how I thought it was the worst performance of ‘Confession’ I had ever seen in my life. I felt it lacked energy, and was poorly sung. I wanted to draw a comparison to this performance. However, my view wasn’t very good, so I don’t think I can make a fair comparison. As for who stood out to me (aside from Mio) I mentioned before that I was extremely impressed with Komi’s stage presence. I also thought that Shimoguchi carried herself well on stage, although she isn’t really my type of idol. Murayama seems to be quite energetic too. That said, my MVP goes to Komiharu.

 

High-Wave

After the show, the birthday celebration for Erii, and watching the new single MV, we got to do the farewell “High Wave.” I got the best reactions from Komiharu, Mio (of course), and Nozawa. In fact, when Rena saw me her eyes widened, and as I turned back toward her a second later she was still staring at me, LOL. A couple of the members also started speaking English to me. Okada Nana was one of them, and I think the other one might have been Sayaya.

Anyhow, a fun time. I hope I win at least one more show before I head out of town for the holidays.

 

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Solo Live Concert at Inzai City Bunka Hall, Chiba Prefecture (2017/09/23)

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When this concert was announced back in late Spring/Early Summer, we weren’t sure if it another leg of Wasamin’s “Third Concert,” a “Fourth Concert,” or something else entirely.  They didn’t give it any sort of title like that, nor did they call it an “Acoustic Live.”  What we did know was that we had another solo concert on the schedule, which is a treat for any Wasamin fan.

If you count the “Love Live,” this is Wasamin’s sixth solo concert in 2017.  And we have two more “Love Live” shows coming up in a couple of months, which will make eight, and I’m not even counting all of the other major performances she has participated in.  This show would be taking place in Chiba Prefecture, which is where Wasamin grew up.  Specifically, it was in Inzai City, which is a bit of a trek from Tokyo, fairly close to Narita Airport.  Although it isn’t too far from Wasamin’s hometown.  For those of us in the fan club, we had the opportunity to apply early, which hopefully meant we would be getting good seats.

A couple of weeks before the show our tickets arrived via Yamato Transport.  I got 6th Row Left, one seat off of the aisle.  In the days leading up to the show, it was announced that they would have some of the same goods from Wasamin’s July concert, plus a couple of new items.  A ticket holder, and a cap.

I really like the cap.  The ticket holder itself is kinda generic, but the strap, which Wasamin designed, is really cute.  Anyway, the day of the show finally came, it was time to make the trip out to Inzai.  It was about 50 minutes from Tokyo’s Nippori Station via the Joban Line, with a transfer to the Narita Line.  I ran into a few other Wasafans on the train, and we walked together to the venue, which was about a kilometer away.  We arrived around 40 minutes before doors opened, and hung around until it was time to buy goods.  They also announced that there would be a post-show handshake event, and if you pre-ordered her 3rd concert DVD, yo would get multiple handshake tickets, and a cute little bag, with a Wasamin design on it.  I decided that I would forego the bag, and save my money for the time being, instead opting for one handshake ticket via a CD purchase.

Anyhow, I made it to my seat a few minutes before the show.  It wasn’t a bad spot, and it turned out nobody showed up for the aisle seat next to me, so I have a bit of maneuverability when it came to the photo-op portion of the show.  I also had Wasamin’s family seated fairly close to me, so that was kind of a bonus.  Anyhow, here is the show setlist…

1. Hatsuzake
2. Futarizake
MC1: First time doing a solo concert in Chiba, which is her hometown.
3. Flying Get (Enka Ver.)
4. Heavy Rotation (Enka Ver.)
5. Koisuru Fortune Cookie (Enka Ver.)
MC2: Special Guest, Ikeda Megumi, radio presenter from TBS Fine. She works with Wasamin on her ‘Wabi Sabi’ radio show. 2nd Special Guest, Inzai City official mascot Inzai-kun.
6. Wakasa no Yado
7. Kita no Yado Kara
MC3: Wasamin talks about the setlist having songs in “pairs” (“zake” “yado” etc.)
8. Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki
MC4: Ikeda Megumi talking about Wasamin’s history, with a cute little story about why Wasamin decided why she wanted to be a singer when she was a little girl. Also, beginning of the audience photo-op session
9. Blue Light Yokohama
10. Seto no Hanayome
11. Ringo no Uta
12. Shitamachi no Taiyou
13. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
MC5: End of photo shooting, Wasamin talks about her history with the song Seto no Hanayome. Guitar setup brought out by staff.
14. Nada Sousou (Wasamin on guitar for songs 14-16)
15. COSMOS
16. Ito
MC6: Ikeda Megumi hosts a Wasamin quiz where fans can win autographed goods. Also, goods corner, promoting what was for sale in the lobby.
17. Tomonoura Bojou
MC7: Wasamin discusses future events, including the special Mobame event she is hosting tomorrow
18. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
19. Gomen, ne Tokyo
20. Saba Kaido
End Main Show/Encore (Encore lasted about a minute, Wasamin came back out very quickly)
EN1. Kawa no Nagare no You ni
MC8: Wasamin promoting post-show handshake meeting in the lobby
EN2. Mujineki

End Show

Ultimately this show ended up being a lot like the July concerts, so I guess we will call it an extension of the Third Concert series.  The setlist was similar, and the outfit she wore for the photo-op looked a lot like one of the outfits she wore in July.  However, there were a couple of differences.  Mainly the inclusion of Ikeda Megumi from TBS radio as the MC, and the guest appearance of Inzai-kun, the local city mascot.  We didn’t get a chance to take a photo of Inzai-kun himself, but luckily Wasamin posted one (below).  Megumi-chan was mainly there to cover for Wasamin while she did costume changes, but it was a lot of fun to see her.  If you ever listen to old episodes of Wasamin’s radio show, Megumi-chan is the MC that comes on at the end.

 

Wasamin was in a bit of a feisty mood, verbally sparring with the fans a couple of times.  When she was introducing the ‘AKB Enka Version Cover’ portion of the show, one fan up front sorta scoffed at the mention of AKB, and she snapped back “Mehh Janai!  During one particular MC she was talking about being from Chiba, and one fan yelled out “Where in Chiba are your from?”  She was like “Ummm, good question, where am I from?  Uhhh, let’s move on…”  Later on when she announced the last song of the main set, as a tradition we all scream out “EEEEHHHHHHHHHHH?” but this time she mimicked us.  LOL.  Finally, during Ringo no Uta and the ‘photo-op, roaming the audience’ part of the show, she took time to remark, mid-song mind you, that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to pick “clapping songs” while everyone is snapping photos, LOL.  She mentioned it again during Ginza Kan Kan Musume, which by the way is turning onto one of my favorite songs that she performs.

The show attendance was a little bit disappointing.  Inzai Bunka Hall seats around 500 people, and it was about 2/3 full.  So it was a bit disconcerting to see the last 8 rows pretty much completely empty.  Inzai is a bit far from Tokyo, so perhaps some people were discouraged by the long distance.  Her next big concert in February is in a much bigger venue, so let’s hope she picks up some momentum and can fill the place.  Anyhow, here are a few more shots I took of Wasamin at the show.

After the show ended I took my time before lining up for the handshake.  I knew a lot of people got tickets, and the line would be long.  Eventually I queued up, wearing my cap, ticket holder, and of course my Wasamin Happi.  When it was finally my turn, I thanked her and told her that I had a lot of fun.  She said “Really?  I am so glad to hear that!  And you have the cap and holder!”  I responded “Yes, aren’t I Ikemen???”  Of course that got a laugh out of Wasamin and Ichikawa-san, who both emphatically exclaimed that I did indeed look Kakkoii with all of my Wasagear on.  Before I was pushed out I told her that my friend Kenji had gotten some great pictures of her, and she should check them out.  Which according to Kenji, she later did.

And that was the show, Kenji and I made it back to Kioroshi Station in time for the 8:20 train, and celebrated with dinner at Torikizoku, which is a cool Yakitori Izakaya Chain.

Oh, and let’s not forget the flowers sent by the Fan Club…

A few Wasamin events coming up…

Next month she has a couple of mini-live events scheduled.  She is doing another dinner show in late October, this time in Tokyo.  Her Autumn ‘Love Live’ in November will actually be two performances, and she will again be part of the Yamano Music Enka Festival this Fall.  My application is in.  I hope I win.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ AKB48 16th Gen Stage Live (2017/09/15)

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It had be almost a month since my last theater win. I was beginning to think my luck had run out on me, since lately mywin frequency had been like once every 2-3 weeks. Then again, I haven’t been applying quite as much because my schedule limits me to certain days of the week. They also recently made a change to how the ticket center functions. Now, you get winning AND losing emails. To be honest, I am kinda bummed about this since to me it takes away from the excitement of seeing a ticket center email in my inbox. Now I just assume it is just another losing email. I have to open it to be proven otherwise. Anyway…

Thursday afternoon I checked my email, and saw that I had actually gotten cancel machi for Friday night’s 16th Gen show. 16th Gen seems to be my lucky group, since 6 of my 8 wins or cancel machis this year have been for them. It probably helps that Zunchan is listed on the ticket center as my oshimen. I had a relatively low cancel machi number, #69. Given my recent experiences at the theater, I figured there was a good chance that would get into the show with that number, although it wasn’t a sure thing. I was regularly checking the cancellation tally, hoping the number would climb fairly high. (If you weren’t aware, if you get cancel machi for a show, you are given a link to see how many show winners have cancelled their reservation online. It can be a decent indicator of how high cancel machi may go) The pre-show cancellation was at 35, which is about average for 16th gen. When I got to the theater three minutes before cutoff, it had climbed to 37. A couple of minutes later staff began rattling off cancel machi numbers. Up to 40, then through to 50, he wasn’t even really looking at his clicker. At this point I was reasonably certain I was getting in. Through the 50s, into the 60’s. #69, I won!!! And, it wasn’t one of those cancel machi wins where I have to wait for everyone else to go in before I get to grab a spot in the back. I was actually going to be in the seat lottery! Ultimately, the cancel machi went up into the 90’s before it cut off.

So the next question was, how good a spot would I get? I had ticket #226, which is actually the first person in line for #220-229 (220-225 are enpou tickets) I didn’t even hear the first group called, which was #140-149, next was #100-109, then #220-229. Whaddya know!!! We got in third! and that made me the 21st person into the theater. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason I set off the metal detector. So I got sidetracked for a minute while security gave me a good pat-down. In the interim, two people behind me passed me up. But when I got in there were still seats in the front row, albeit on the left and right ends of the stage. I grabbed a seat three spots down from the left pillar.

First row, Score-a-rooni!!!

This was my 37th Theater win, 3rd time seeing the Let’s Go Kenkyuusei stage, and the 4th time I have gotten a first row seat. (The other three were SDN48 Chen Qu Seitensei in 2010, Team K Waiting Stage in 2012, and 15th Gen KKS debut in 2013) It also dawned on me that this would be my first time watching 16th gen from the left side of the audience. So a different perspective, and also a chance to play “Who’s gonna fish the foreigner???” 


Zunchan (Yamane Suzuha) My #1 AKB-girl

After being given “first row rules and instructions” by security (Don’t raise your hands or lightsticks above your head, don’t put your hands or feet past the guardrail) the show was about to start. Immediately I had Sato Minami and Zunchan right in front of me, and Zunchan gave me an immediate smile and wink. I knew Zunchan spends considerable time on the other side of the stage too, but she seems to gravitate from one end to the other, so no worries. Minami, on the other hand, is barely on this side of the stage, aside from the very beginning and very end. My other favorite 16th gen, Zukkii, didn’t come near me at all, until the encore portion of the show. I did get a few new member impressions, but before that…


Sato Minami

The Show Overall: This is my third time seeing this stage. And there was some discussion a couple months ago about whether or not it was good, or perhaps boring. Obviously seeing the show in person offers a different perception than watching DMM, and of course being in the front row does add another element of excitement. But after seeing “Let’s Go Kenkyuusei” for a third time I still say it is a very enjoyable stage. That said, I think the Units might be the weakest part of the stage. The reason I say that has a lot to do with personal taste, but I believe Ai no Iro is kind of a throwaway song, and Wagamama, while cute, isn’t really captivating. But that doesn’t take away from the All-Star performance given by Zukki on Migiashi Evidence. It actually inspired me to seek out Fujita Nana’s single, which I didn’t purchase when it came out.


Yamauchi Mizuki (Zukkii)

On the other hand, the highly energetic opening set really keeps the audience engaged, regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the sings individually. (Personally, I love Minnasan) The post unit set has two great audience participation songs in Runner and Zutto Zutto, and the set finishes with an audience favorite (Wasshoi) and a song that I have recently grown really fond of (Team Zaka) I still notice the lip synch issues here and there, particularly from Sato Minami. At the end of the day, I am still not bored with the stage overall, although honestly during the units I am pretty much just waiting to see Zukkii.

Member Impressions: At this point, the only member of 16th gen I have established any kind of personal connection with is Zunchan, and that is because I have met her at handshake events, and I am always paying attention to her during the show, chanting her name, etc. So I know she recognizes me, and gets that I am fond of her. However, there are other members I like too, particularly Zukkii. Unfortunately she spends very little time on this end of the stage, until the end of the show. So when she did finally make it over to my side I tried very hard to cheer for her directly.


Kurosu Haruka

I got to see a lot of Kurosu Haruka, and the more I watch her the more I like her. In a way she kinda reminds me of Fuchigami Mai. On the other hand, I am completely conflicted about Yasuda Kana. I think she has great energy and stage presence, but she often makes these weird facial expressions that drive me crazy.


Yasuda Kana

The three members who at times focused on me in particular were Suzuki Kurumi, Taya Misaki, and Mutou Orin. Unfortunately none of them are really my type of idol. One of the reasons I was getting attention (aside from being an obvious foreigner) is that on certain songs I know the hand motions/gestures, and I try to follow along with them. This happens in particular on Zutto Zutto, Minnasan mo go Isshoni and Kudoku na Runner. These days fewer fans actually do that, as most of them simply wave their glowsticks.

Also, at the end of the show right before the “High Wave” I was sitting right in front of Zunchan, and Inagaki Kaori. Both of them spent that minute or so trying to engage me in English. LOL.

And that was the show. Since I was one of the first people out of the theater, and I had no backpack, I bailed down the escalator before the big rush. Once again, I am very happy to be winning any kind of theater show, and I love that I am regularly getting to see the Kenkyuusei. It will make me very sorry when these girls all get promoted. Maybe they will make them all one team, like Team 4. I would enjoy that. We’ll see.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Yuki Himeri Yuki Himeri’s Graduation…and Birthday! ‘No Plan’ Live in Shinjuku (2017/08/19)

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Sometimes when idols leave their groups, it is the last time we, as fans, will ever get to interact with them.  I can think of many idols who I was a fan of, who have moved on to the next stage in their lives.  In some cases I knew they were graduating when I last saw them, in other cases I didn’t.  It is those idols, the one’s I never gave my proper ‘best wishes’ to, that I feel the saddest about.

Of course, just because an idol graduates from their group, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll never get a chance to see them again.  I remember when Meetan and Chaki graduated from SDN48, and I thought “Well, this is it.”  But I DID get a chance to see Meetan again a few months later when she released her final gravure DVD.  And of course Chaki has continued on as a solo performer, so I have had many opportunities to support her singing career.  In the case of Yuki Himeri, she graduated from Alice Project while I was in America, so I never got a chance to say a final goodbye to her.

Luckily, my friend Anthony had kept up with Himeri, and knew that she had started a new Twitter account, and was doing various appearances around Tokyo as a freelance idol.  I vowed to see her again, as she was one of the sweetest idols I had been fortunate enough to meet.  And when I found out that she had joined a new idol group, ‘No Plan’,  was very excited since I knew it was a matter of time before I ran into her at some idol event.  And I did.  Unfortunately, not long after that fateful reunion a couple of months ago, she announced her graduation from this new group.  But she would be leaving in August, so that gave me plenty of time to see her before she leaves.

I had the opportunity to see Himeri perform twice in her final week with ‘No Plan’.  The first time was at a huge idol event called “Akihabara Idol Party Vol. 13.” which was an all-day affair featuring over two dozen groups on three stages in Akihabara.  I was really only interested in seeing Himeri’s group, who were playing at Twin Box Garage at 5:45pm.  Coincidentally, FESTIVE was also playing at Twin Box that evening, on the basement stage, but it wasn’t part of the Idol Party, so it required separate admission, despite the fact that it was in the same building.  In fact, I got a good picture of the flower/balloon stand for Piano’s birthday.

Anyway, I got to Twin Box around 20 minutes before No Plan’s set.  The small club was packed, but I slowly maneuvered myself closer and closer to the front each time a group finished performing.  By the time it was No Plan’s turn, I was fairly close to the stage, so I was all good.  Each group’s set was only about 10-15 minutes, so it was a short performance, maybe like 3-4 songs.  But actually, I was there more to see Himeri than to see the performance itself.  You see Himeri was personally selling T-shirts for her Birthday/Graduation Live, and I wanted to get one before she sold out of XXL. (Ah, the perils of being a big dude)  Anyway, I was first in line to see Himeri after the show, and after a quick greeting, the first thing I asked her was about the shirt.  And YES, she still had XXL…

To sign the shirt, she had four of us hold each corner to stretch it out, since there really wasn’t any table or other flat surface to write on.  But I had my shirt, and I was happy.  I told her I had planned to see the rest of her performances, including the graduation.  But ultimately I ended up skipping the Yoyogi free live on Thursday since I had won the AKB48 16th Gen show, which I wrote about on the previous post.  Upon leaving the club, I contemplated going next door to watch FESTIVE, since their show was about to start.  But I was already 6-7K yen in the hole for the day, so I decided to skip it…

 

Fast forward to Saturday night.  I was really excited to be going to see No Plan’s one-man live, which was taking place at Zirco Tokyo in the Kabukicho neighborhood of Shinjuku.  I headed out a little early in an attempt to beat the incoming thunderstorm.  My plan was to hand out at The Hub, which is right upstairs from the theater.  However, when I got to Shinjuku it was pounding rain.  Not only that, but the main cell of the storm seemed to be right overhead since huge thunder crashed and lightning bolts were raining down from overhead.  I mean the thunder was so loud it sounded as if the lightning was striking the building.  However, I knew a roundabout way to get closer to the venue underground, so I headed back into the subway and walked through the underground city in Shinjuku until I finally found myself at Kabukicho.  From there it was only a half-block walk to Zirco, and The Hub.

After spending an hour in the bar, I headed down to line up.  It was my first ever visit to Zirco Tokyo.  It is a really nice venue.  It has a big stage, and a decent sized viewing area.  The bar was gorgeous, and had an extensive menu.  Himeri was actually in the bar trying to see the last of her T-shirts, so I quickly wished her a Happy Birthday while I enjoyed my cocktail.  In the meantime, some of her committee came over to thank me for coming.  They called me by name too, which took me by surprise.  I’m guessing since I am part of the graduation book they made for her as a gift, they knew my name from there.  There were also members of her family in attendance, including a her mother.  I think it was her mom, as she looked just like Himeri, only older.  LOL.  As it got closer to showtime, the crowd grew.  I was close to the front, just to the right of center.  Finally, the lights dimmed…

Unfortunately I don’t really know the names to any of No Plan’s songs.  In fact, I am not sure how many of their songs may be covers from other groups.  I DO know that they sang a few Alice Project songs, including Zenkai Hero, which is one of my favorites from the Alice Juban catalog.


They also sang a few AKB48 songs, including GIVE ME FIVE and Heart Gata Virus.  They performed for over two hours, and to my knowledge they don’t have any CDs, so it is no surprise that their setlist would have a few covers.  Meanwhile, the fans were in full wota mode.  Luckily, I was just on the edge of their circle, so I got to participate with them in the calls and other antics.  At one point toward the end of the show, they pushed me up front and center, so I had to go full-wota mode so not to disappoint them.  They had probably noticed that I was participating throughout the show.

Overall, they put on a very nice show.  I love most of their group songs, which are very high energy AND a lot of fun.  They also did a lot of solos and units throughout the live, and some were better than others.  Although I did think that Makino Momoka, aka Momo-san, the one with the pink hair, was a decent soloist.  Probably the best of the group.  To be honest, Himeri isn’t a very good singer at all, but she tries her best, bless her heart.

 

The show finally came to an end after a heartfelt final song, as well as a very emotional speech by Himeri.  She had the entire group in tears behind her while she spoke.  She also received gifts from the fans, as well as a cake.  There was also a balloon/flower arrangement in the lobby, as well as a banner on the wall.  All in all it was a very nice sendoff.  It was a fun, powerful, and emotional show.

I ended up buying two cheki tickets.  I knew I would use one on Himeri, but I wasn’t sure about the other.  As expected, Himeri’s line was extremely long, extending out of the venue and into the lobby.  Luckily I lined up quickly so I was 5th to see her.   I congratulated her on her graduation, and confirmed that she would be continuing to use the same Twitter account (she changed when she left Alice Juban)  According to her fans, she recently signed with an agency, and has something new in the works, but for now it is a secret.  After signing the cheki, she also write my name on the special card we received when we entered the venue.  Ultimately I told her that it was a great show, and I was so happy I came.  After she confirmed that we would see each other again, I was on my merry way.

So what to do with my other ticket?  At this point I felt it would be anti-climactic if I lined up to see Himeri again, and there are a couple of other girls in the group I find interesting.  But after watching the total fanservice Momo-san was giving the fans who came to her, my decision was set.  Her line was only three-deep too.

The first thing she asked was if I was an American, Yep.  From California? Yep.  Disneyland?  Yep, I used to work for Disney in Anaheim a long time ago.  LOL.  This girl is quite the psychic!  She asked how I discovered No Plan, and I mentioned that I knew Himeri from her previous group.  Anyway, I told her that I really liked her solo performance.  And that I am living in Japan and learning Japanese.  She told me my Japanese was already pretty good.  (I had a few cocktails earlier, so yeah.  The more I drink the better my Japanese apparently gets)  Eventually our conversation turned to idols, and Wasamin.  She was surprised I was into Enka, and when she found out I had seen Hikawa Kiyoshi perform live before, she started singing Kiyoshi no Zendoku Bushi with me, LOL.


I think she was surprised I knew the song.  It is a pretty well-known song though, even for people who aren’t necessarily into Enka.  After signing the cheki she offered to take a Shamekai with me.  So I went for it.

And that was it.  I had no more tickets, so I decided to leave the club.  As a journeyed home I thought about whether or not I would continue to see No Plan since Himeri has graduated.  They are fun, but usually for me to actively seek out a group’s shows, there has to be a member I really want to see.  And I’m not sure there is anyone in No Plan that really fits that description anymore.  But we’ll see.  Hopefully they will be showing up at idol shows where other groups I currently like are playing.  In that case, I will definitely check them out.

CK in Tokyo 

AKB48, Concerts ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ AKB48 16th Gen Stage Live, Yamane Suzuha’s Birthday Show (2017/08/17)

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There are some who say that who you list as your oshimen on the AKB48 Ticket Center actually matters, and that it improves your chances of winning your oshimen’s birthday show, or any show that they are performing in. There are others that say that is a bunch of hogwash, and that it is purely by chance. But it should be noted that four months ago I changed my AKB48 Oshimen on my account to Zunchan, and lo and behold, not only have I won a lot of 16th gen shows, but I also won her seitensei performance. So I am a firm believer that who you list on your ticket center account actually does matter, and not only from this experience, but I have other firsthand experiences that tell me the same thing. Anyway, I won my “AKB48 Oshi’s” birthday show via ippan. What could be cooler than that? Except…

I actually already had plans for Thursday night. Another idol I am a big fan of, Yuki Himeri, was performing a free live in Yoyogi on Thursday night. Himeri used to be in Alice Project. After graduating she joined a group called No Plan, but is graduating from that group this weekend. I am definitely going to the graduation performance, but I also wanted to see this show since it featured another idol I saw for the first time recently and have developed a little crush on, Kurosaki Reon, who is an anime singer an gravure idol.


Reon-chan

I think she is really cute, and am amazed by the fact that she is in her LATE 20’s!!! Anyway…

I was off to Akihabara, which was good since my computer mouse crapped out the day before, and I needed to pick up a new one. So after my quick trip to Yodobashi Camera, I made my way to The Hub for a quick pre-show cocktail. As I was walking near Akihabara Station I noticed someone really familar standing by the taxi area on his cellphone. I couldn’t be sure, and I didn’t want to bother him, but I was almost positive it was Sasou-san, who is one of Wasamin’s assistants. My suspicions were correct when I saw what Wasamin was up to on Thursday afternoon.

So Wasamin and I crossed paths, sorta. I guess she was at the theater to give Jiina tips on singing Saba Kaido. I’ll have to talk to her about this when I see her next week. So back to the show. This is my 36th Theater win, 34 in Tokyo and 2 in Nagoya. I finally got up to the theater around 25 minutes before the check-in deadline, found a locker to store my stuff, and went to purchase my ticket. I got ticket #101. Cool, that means when my group gets called I will be the 2nd one in. Hopefully we will get called in early. After chatting with a couple of fans who wanted to know who my oshimen was, as well as seeing another Wasa-fan who also won the show, I went to line up. I tried to get some photos of Zunchan’s birthday flowers, but there were too many people crowded in the lobby at the moment. The lottery finally started, the first group to get called in was #110-119. Damn!! I should have waited a little longer to show up. Second, #120-129. Group after group was called, and my hope for getting a seat, or a good vantage point sank lower and lower. After eighteen groups had been called, I was in the final five groups (40-49, 80-89, 90-99, 100-109, 151-159) Finally we heard our number. After going through the metal detector, and quickly gathering my stuff, I looked to see where I could possible stand…


My ticket, and the button we received in our seitensei goodie bag

As I walked in they announced there was one seat left, but before I could grab it another fan ran past me and took it from me, drats! I considered standing in the center, which was only two people deep, but then I saw the upper rail was practically empty. This was perfect!!! For those of you who have never been inside the theater, just to the right of the tech booth there is an elevated standing area, which allows you to see over the heads of anyone below. So while it is in the back of the theater, it pretty much gives you, aside from the right pillar, an unobstructed view of the stage. So as bad as my draw-in was, I still got a relatively great spot. Satisfied with my ultimate luck, I got ready for the show…


Birthday show instructions, front and back

One of the discussions we recently had in the thread for this stage on the  Stage48 forum, and in the forum chatroom, is whether or not this is a good setlist, and suitable for the 16th gen kenkyuusei. Some say it is a bit too heavy on B-sides, and obscure theater selections. Personally, I think that is what makes the setlist great. In fact, I contend that these theater songs are some of the most beloved of theater fans back in the day, and it is great to see them getting revived. The one issue I had was that the first time I saw this stage, which was the second ever performance, I didn’t think the girls were well-practiced enough, and at times the performance was lackluster and disorganized, especially in the beginning. After watching this performance, I still say the members need more practice, although this time the problem that stuck out to me was bad lip-synching. In fact at times it seemed as if some of the members weren’t even sure of the lyrics. LOL.

Since it was Zunchan’s birthday, the opening MC was all about her. However, there was a point in the MC where everyone congratulated Umemoto Izumi for finally getting a chance to perform. She became very emotional, but unfortunately she was standing in the exact spot that the pillar blocked me from seeing, so I pretty much missed it.

As for the standout members, I cannot overstate how much I think Zukki is a total pro who is totally ready for promotion. Normally she looks very young, and skinny, but she transforms during Migiashi Evidence, and absolutely owns the performance. I had also mentioned before that there was a member who stood out to me last show who I really liked, but I didn’t remember who she was. I may be mistaken, but I am fairly certain it was Kurosu Haruka. Just something about her presence that I like. I will also say that Yasuda Kana continues to impress me with her performance intensity, and that I am starting to like Asai Nanami.


Zunchan birthday uchiwa, which we all waved after the last song

But this show was all about Zunchan, so like many others there, I paid a lot of attention to her throughout the show. I am amazed by her overall stage presence for so many reasons. First of all, that adorable face and smile just melt my heart. The one big thing I notice about her is she is always emoting. Always! There is never a point where she isn’t expressing herself with her face. Whether it be a smile, a silly face, a gesture. She never loses it. The other thing is that she ALWAYS looks like she is having the time of her life up there. She has tremendous positive energy. I just think it is hard to watch her perform and not smile. This was her seitensei, so she was in very high spirits anyway. But she is always like that. It just confirms to me why this girl is quickly rising to be among my favorite 48-group members.

Since I was fairly far back, I didn’t get much facetime with the members, that was until the end. At the last MC Ayamin noticed me in the back and was trying to get me to wave at her. I noticed her glancing at me a few times again right before high touch. She gave me an elevated greeting during high touch as well. Also, Orin gave me an English “Hello!” as did Zunchan who is becoming more familiar with me, especially since I have done handshakes with her at events.

I forgot to mention, before high touch, they showed the SHOWROOM Senbatsu Music Video while staff got everything set up. All in all, it is a very cute music video, and a great showcase for Nakai Rika But Zunchan’s lack of screentime was noticeable, especially at her birthday show. You could tell that fans were waiting to cheer for her when she was on screen, but she is barely in the video, and usually just for a split second. Ultimately, I like the MV, but the song is just okay. Anyway, as I exited the theater, I had my chance to get a better photo of the birthday flowers, and then I headed out for a late dinner, and ultimately back home.

Next week I am very excited because Wasamin will be holding events all week to support the release of her ‘new’ Memorial version of Saba Kaido. It has really been a while since I have had a chance to properly talk to her. So I am really looking forward to it. If any of you are in town, she will be at Tower Ikebukuro on Tuesday, and Tower Shibuya on Wednesday. So come on 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

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