Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category

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 

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

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.

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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

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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

Concerts, Events, KissBee, Tokyo CLEARS Idol Extravaganza, Summer 2017! Part One (KissBee and Tokyo CLEARS)

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Although it is late, I am tired, and I have a ton of work to do, I need to get this post done now since Wasamin’s big concert weekend is coming up tomorrow.  Speaking of Wasamin….

It has been almost eight weeks since I have personally interacted with Misaki-chan.  The last event I went to that had any sort of “meet and greet” was her Karaoke party in late May.  Since then the only time I have seen her perform was at her play in Osaka, but even that was over a month ago.  Since Wasamin doesn’t really have any new products to promote and sell, I guess she is taking a bit of a break from fan events until her new “memorial version” of Saba Kaido comes out in late August.  So what’s an idol fan to do when his kami-oshimen is hiding out and not actively doing events???

He goes to see other idols of course.  And that is precisely what I have been up to, especially over the last three weeks or so.  It turns out that a few of the “other” idol groups I like have new releases coming out this Summer, and they are out actively promoting their new products.  This means there are many mini-lives to attend, and quite a few of them are free admission performances.  Since I like to aim for the free performances, this has kept me quite busy in July.  So who have I been going to see?

KissBee

As I mentioned recently on this blog, this is the group I stumbled upon in Odaiba during Golden Week, and I was totally taken with their “ace” member, Tanifuji Misaki.  They are promoting a new single that isn’t coming out until late-August, and they have a huge schedule of free appearances beginning in July, all the way to release week.  Furthermore, they are offering all sorts of bonuses, depending on the amount of events you attend AND the amount of CDs you buy.  The first event I went to was outside of Diver City, the exact same place I ran into them the first time I ever saw them perform…

Unfortunately Misaki-chan had announced the previous evening that she wouldn’t be at this particular event because of a scheduling conflict.  But I took that as an opportunity to meet a couple of the other members I like,  Specifically, Otawa Sakura and Oe Rena.

They were both very nice, but I really like Sakura a lot.  She reminds me very much of former AKB48 member Nishino Miki, both in looks and personality.  Unfortunately, I have already gone “all-in” on Tanifuji, so while I may go see her once in a while, she is not the focal point of my attention to this group.

I got to catch up with Misaki-chan at the next KissBee event I attended, which took place at Village Vanguard in Skytree Town.  This was a weird event for a lot of reasons.  First off, the management of the shop insisted that the music be performed at an extremely low volume.  I mean this is supposed to be a live event, but they somehow didn’t want the performance to interfere with anything else going on in the shop.  It was really ridiculous.  The second problem was that there was something terribly wrong with the sound system.  It got so bad that the girls eventually had to abandon their microphones and sing without them.

Eventually the show came to its merciful end, and it was time for perks.  Like most groups, there is something quirky about their cheki/handshake system.  One ticket gets you a handshake, plus a signature (on a cheki, or picture)  Two tickets get you an unsigned cheki, which makes a signed cheki rather expensive.  They also offer a ‘group shot’ for four tickets, of a shamekai for one ticket.  However, those two items are off the table for these free events.

I took the opportunity to catch up with Misaki-chan and take a cheki.  When I told her that I went to Odaiba, she asked if I had read her blog.  I told her I did, and that I wanted to see KissBee anyway.  She also apologized for the microphones being shitty.  I told her it was funny.  I had one more ticket, and since the girls are giving fans signed photos, I decided to visit a girl that I hadn’t met yet, and was making a lot of eye contact with me during the show.  She is a newer member in the group, and her name is Maeda Rion.

She didn’t have anyone in her line.  She watched me as I slowly walked toward her, almost pretending like I was just randomly walking around.  I then surprised her by pulling out the ticket.  It was kinda funny.  Anyway, she isn’t a very popular member, so I think she was just pleasantly surprised a came to see her.  Eventually I want to meet…well most of the members.

Yesterday I caught KissBee at HMV-Shibuya/MODI, which is quickly becoming a popular place for live events.  I have seen Wasamin here, as well as FES☆TIVE, and Chaki twice.  Once again, they had all sorts of issues with their sound system.  Only this time I think it was due more to the incompetence of the sound engineer.  The music was far too loud, the microphones were totally uneven, and a couple had feedback issues, including Tanifuji’s.

Another bonus they do at most of their lives is play Janken with the fans for a chance to win a signed poster.  In addition to that, some of the chairs had a special letter from one of the members taped to the bottom.  Unfortunately, I was not one of the lucky winners, and I am yet to win the poster Janken.  Hopefully one day I will get lucky.

I used all of my tickets on Tanifuji this time, getting a cheki and a signed photo.  I told her I saw the new music video they did with Sanrio, which may or may not be the new KissBee single.  (I think that’s what she told me)  I also saw this wacky video where she and another member played this weird batsu game with some British Vlogger.  It was funny because she tries to speak English in it.


The good news is that I am beginning to make friends with some of the KissBee regulars.  They have been following and talking to me on twitter.  Not to mention, Misaki-chan likes any KissBee related tweet I make.  In any case, quite a few lives on the schedule, so I am sure I will be seeing them a bunch more…

 

Tokyo CLEARS

I had really missed seeing Rion, so I am glad I have had a few opportunities to see Tokyo CLEARS this month.  The first show I saw was at Omotesando Ground.  There were quite a few other groups playing that night as well, including Idol College, and Hyper Motivation, which I really liked too.  CLEARS were the third group to perform, but what I didn’t know was that this was the kind of show where all the sales booths would be occurring after the show.  This meant I would have to wait almost 90 minutes before I could see Rion.  I decided I didn’t want to wait that long, so I took off after their set.  But not before seeing the group walking through Omotesando picking up trash, since being “environmentally responsible” is their entire M.O.  I suppose I could have gone over and helped them, but I didn’t want to intrude.  Anyway, I would make it up to them a few days later…

The following weekend CLEARS were doing a free live at the Aeon Mall Makuhari.  They were the headlining act, and among the other three groups performing was an idol unit called Barbee, which features former AKB kenkyuusei Sakamoto Rio.  Unfortunately, I read a few days later that Barbee will be disbanding next month.

The biggest issue was that the show was going on outside, and it was an extremely hot day.  I’m not sure how many of you have experienced Japan in the Summer, but the weather sucks.  Hot, humid, sticky, just totally unpleasant.  I had decided that I wouldn’t even bother with the other groups, and would simply wait for CLEARS to come on before going outside.

It wasn’t too large a crowd, and there was a little girl who couldn’t have been older than seven, and is evidently a huge CLEARS fan.  She knew all the dance moves, and knew all the songs.  She was really amazing to watch, and management let her stand in front of the barrier between the group and the fans, so she got a lot of attention from the girls too.

I decided to take a cheki with both Rion and Sayuri, since Sayuri has been especially attentive to me lately.  She is really a nice girl too, and she does all the right things to make me want to oshi her.  Even when they are performing she pays a lot of attention to me.  But, like with Tanifuji in KissBee, I am “all-in” with Rion, so Sayuri will always play second fiddle.

CLEARS weren’t promoting any new single since their latest release came out a month or two ago, but they are promoting a new venue in Naka-Meguro they will be appearing at regularly.  So that’s exciting, and I look forward to seeing them perform there.

I still have two more groups to talk about, but this post has already become long, so look forward to Part 2 coming VERY soon.

CK in Tokyo