Archive for the ‘Pop Idols’ Category

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 

Concerts, Japan, Pop Idols J-Pop Summit San Francisco 2015…Ssshh, Don’t Tell Wasamin I Was Flirting With Another Idol

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This year was the 7th Annual J-Pop Summit in San Francisco, and the 4th time I have attended in the last five years.  It has probably become the biggest Japanese-themed con in the Bay Area.  Well, there is Comic Con in San Jose.  We also had Japan Expo in San Jose/San Mateo which once boasted an idol lineup of Kikkawa Yuu and Dempagumi, Inc.  But it looks like that one may no longer go on.

I almost chose to skip J-pop Summit this year.  Frankly, there weren’t any idols/artists on the bill that I was too excited about seeing.  Over the last few years this event has managed to bring quite a few notable idol acts.  Danceroid in 2011, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and LoVendoЯ in 2013 , Itano Tomomi and Tokyo Girls Style in 2014, plus the US premiere of AKB48’s first documentary in 2011.  I was hopeful this year would bring another fun idol act that could muster up some enthusiasm.

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My TGS 6-shot from last year)

Then of course last year’s event left a slightly bad taste in my mouth with the neighboring Ramen Festival turning the entire event into a complete clusterfuck.  It was next to impossible to walk through the event because the ramen booth queues overwhelmed the entire street.  This year, instead of the traditional free street fair J-pop Summit always was, they actually held it in a convention hall.  And for the first time they actually charged admission.

It wasn’t until some of my friends who were flying in asked to stay at my house that I decided to go.  I’m glad I did.  Despite the fact that they were charging admission, despite the fact that I didn’t really know any of the musical acts, and despite the fact that the Fort Mason location would make it somewhat inconvenient to get there via public transportation, it was by far the best J-pop Summit ever!

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(The food trucks, not bad.  At least the lines weren’t huge, and not difficult to find a seat)

To my surprise the event went off with hardly a hitch.  There were plenty of booths, most of which were highy interactive.  Lots of free food, including a free Shochu tasting booth, Miso Soup, Calbee Products, and Onigirasu (a sandwich shaped Onigiri) served to you by idol group Musubizm.  I entered both days for the H.I.S. trip to Japan contest.   Unfortunately I forgot to go the the actual drawing both times.  Anyway, on to the idol acts…

The first concert took place 15 minutes after doors opened.  The performers were…

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FES☆TIVE: A relatively new idol act who just signed with Tokuma Records.  The same label as Wasamin I might add. (More on that later).  They recently released their first major single, Omatsuri Hero.

 

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LittleGlee Monster: A sextet known for their harmonizing and general singing prowess

 

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Faint☆Star:  An idol duo, also known for their quality singing.

 

The crowd was quite small, which meant their wasn’t too much synergy going on.  But it did mean that everyone there got to be extremely close to the stage.   On first listen I was most impressed with Little Glee Monster.  They really aren’t idols as much as they are a true vocal group.  They mixed their original songs with covers of The Jackson Five’s I Want You Back and Pharrell Williams’ Happy.  I was definitely interested in purchasing some of their CD’s, which I did later on for their autograph event on Sunday.

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FES☆TIVE actually led off the event.  And per usual I let my subconscious mind and eyes decide if there is a member who will catch my fancy.  My friends thought I would be drawn to Suzuki Mitsuki, the petite blonde member.  But if you are familiar with my blog (and my taste) you will know that a gorgeous smile will catch my attention every time.  It didn’t take me long to find the girl I liked.  It was the Orange member, Aoba Hinari.  I just couldn’t take my eyes off of her the entire set.  Not to mention she noticed me watching her, and immediately responded.

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Of all the acts to appear the only traditional idols were FES☆TIVE, and Musubizm who performed later that afternoon as part of the MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON ensemble.  This was another smart move by the event producers.  It seemed that all of the performers came sponsored by the various vendors.  So instead of having to pay for all the talent, I am guessing it was done on more of a barter system for sponsorship and booth space.   FES☆TIVE came in support of the CHEERZ Phone App.  Little Glee Monster, Gacharic Spin, and Eir Aoi seemed to be associated with Kinokinuya, as well as another J-pop music app.

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The other nice thing was that pretty much every group had scheduled Meet and Greet and/or Autograph events, only a couple of which were “VIP Only”.  The only group who had no events like that scheduled were FES☆TIVE, which was disappointing to my friends since that was the group they came to see.  Little did we know that they would become the most accessible group of the entire weekend.  Which brings me to the highlight of my weekend, and pretty much why I thought the entire event was so awesome…

MY WEEKEND WITH FES☆TIVE…AND MY NEW “SECRET GIRLFRIEND” AOBA HINARI

popsummit 189(Luckily my friend had a cheki camera.  Note the spelling of “Sanf Rancisco”)

 

One of FES☆TIVE’s Japanese fans had flown in for the event, and he had a dialogue going with their manager.  He let us know that despite there being no “official” fan interaction scheduled, they would be spending a lot of time at the CHEERZ booth throughout the weekend.  On Saturday that meant we were allowed to take group shots.  I was one of the first to go…

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Now the cool thing was that for most everyone else’s shots the fan was the only person in the CHEERZ frame.  But I had been “playing” with Hinarin the entire time.  So when it was my turn she decided to lean into the frame with me.  I took plenty of other photos of Hinari that day, and she always seemed to be striking a pose for me.

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Then came Sunday, and it was a FES☆TIVE “free for all”!  2-shots, Group Shots, Autographs, Conversation.  We pretty much hung out with the group the entire day.  Now on the first day I went pretty much “incognito”, but on the second day I decided to represent with my Wasamin sousenkyo T-shirt.  The first person to notice it was Hinarin, who immediately dropped the bombshell “I know Wasamin, she is my friend!”  Really?  Well, they are both from Chiba (I really seem to be attracted to Chiba girls XD), close to the same age, and they are on the same recording label.  Oh no, this could be a total disaster!  Or…it could be a good way to make Wasamin jealous.  So I told her to be sure and tell Wasamin that we met.  A couple of the other members also noticed my shirt, as well as all of Little Glee Monster.  So Wasamin is well known among idols.

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(Autographs)

Later on Hinarin delivered a message to me via the Japanese fan (who also happened to be a Hinarin oshi)  She wanted to thank me for supporting her, and that she was so happy I became her fan.  Then, as we were leaving her event we again ran into the group in the parking lot.  Hinarin immediately gave me the “heart” hand symbol.  Later that night she was busy favoring a bunch of my tweets, something she has continued to do all the way up until today.  So as far as I was concerned it was mission accomplished.  I managed to find an idol I really liked and made quite the impression on her.

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She wrote on my hand too!)

BTW, here is one of their PVs.  There is a lot of YouTube content on their official site.

 

So that was pretty much my fun at J-Pop Summit.  If you are wondering why I didn’t talk more about the other performing artists.  Well, they really weren’t the type of groups I am in to.  Gacharic Spin are definitly talented and exciting, although I didn’t really care fmost of their songs.  JAM Project was just a trip!  Five Heavy Metalesque singers on stage like they are idols or something.  It was all so campy I couldn’t help but giggle most of the time.  The other highlight for me was running into my old friend “K”, who I hadn’t seen in over 5 years.  K was the author of a blog called Mini Moni Mania, and one of my biggest inspirations to get into blogging in the first place.  In fact I remember asking K for advice when I started my first blog.  So it is always nice to run into old friends like that.  Oh, and then there’s this…

popsummit 155(Finally got to see the award my friend won for producing the Koisuru Fortune Cookie Fan Video)

So all in all a great weekend.  I was happily surprised at how big a success J-Pop Summit turned out to be.  It has instantly turned into an event I am going to look forward to every year…

Now if we can just get Wasamin to come and perform!

CK in California

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AKB48, Concerts, Pop Idols CK in Japan, Fall 2013 Part 3.2…My Week With an Angel

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2013/11/09 Setlist, Iwasa Misaki “Request Covers” Promotional Event @ Ito-Yokado Department Store in Nishikicho, Saitama

Special Opening Act, the karaoke stylings of Jumbo Kobayashi

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BTW, I attended this event with Andy, and my friend Daryl!!!

11am
1. Moshisora
2. Nagori Yuki
3. Tsugunai
Outfit: White Kimono w/ Fiery Red @ Purple Print
Note: Grand prize won by the guy sitting next to me during the show
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Handshake: (won 2-shot) I told Wasamin her Kimono was beautiful. She asked “Aren’t I beautiful?”, to which I responded “of course!” I also told her that Jumbo was my new twitter friend (I attempted to follow him on twitter the previous night, but his account is protected. He came over to me while I was in the handshake queue to tell me that he approved my request  )

2pm
1. Toki no Nagarene Miwo Makase
2. Blue Light Yokohama <3 <3 <3
3. Mujineki
Outfit: Pink Kimono w/ Black Pattern at the bottom (hawt!)
Handshake: (won sticker) She said I was cute. I told her she was cuter. But she said I was cute too. I asked her if she was happy about the tremendous turnout, and thanked her for finally singing Blue Light.

Note 1: My friend Claudia from Italy is now living in Tokyo, and showed up at the end of the 2nd event, in time to see Wasamin going up the escalator in her Kimono. She looked starstruck, and thought Wasamin was beyond adorable. I was so proud!

Note 2: Between shows I was walking through the food court, and a little old lady came up to me, pointed to my Wasa-shirt and exclaimed “Kawaii, ne?!”

5pm
1. Nada Sousou
2. Moshisora
3. Akai Sweet Pea
Outfit: Light Blue checkered dress w/ Pink scrunchie, Tan thigh high boots
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Handshake: (won postcard) I basically introduced Claudia to her. Gave Wasamin her name and told her she was very nervous.

Note 1: Jumbo was excited not only was San Francisco and Hong Kong in the house, but now Italy was in attendance! Wasamin is truly an international star!

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Note 2: I won the postcard, but Claudia got the 2-shot…on her first try! My tally was now 12 handshakes w/ 4 each of the stickers, postcards and chekis. Yep, right on average.

Note 3: Wasamin delivered a message to me via Claudia. “Please teach Chris Japanese so we can have more conversations” It tugged at my heart that Wasamin really wants to talk with me more, but our language barrier limits what we can really talk about. I wanted to cry when Claudia told me that  Not to mention she had just performed Nada Sousou, which brought me to near tears the first time I heard it. Yeah, I was an emotional wreck for the third performance.

* I had now heard every song on the album performed live

That was the first time I had heard Tsugunai live. It is a great song, so chalk it up as another of my faves. As for Blue Light, it got a huge reaction when she announced it. The fans had noted all day that it was the only song not performed so far. Not only did Wasamin do a flawless job, she actually riffed on the second chorus. I was so impressed that she was confident enough to play with the song on the first live performance!

I think I love that song so much because it really has a sexy vibe to it. Really neat to hear Wasamin sing a song like that!

Note: Crowd was by far the biggest of the week. A majority of the seats for the 11am event were taken over an hour prior to the show. 2pm show was absolutely packed to the rafters. Handshake session for the 2pm show took over 45 minutes, 5pm event’s handshakes took about an hour. (they had traditionally been around 30 minutes)

It wasn’t that Wasamin hurt my feelings, but there is so much I would love to say to her but don’t know quite how to say it. But if there is a will, there is a way. I had a trick up my sleeve for the last day…

Anyway, the final event was upon us. It was going to be bittersweet. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle it, as I was already a little bit choked up…

The Wasa-faithful were already strategizing for the final day. Fans from afar were making the trip early in the morning too. It was going to be great!
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Iwasa Misaki “Request Covers” Release Week Event FINAL, 2013/11/10 at Ito-Yokada in Ageo, Saitama

It was a very emotional day for so many reasons. What Wasamin said about our language barrier was still haunting me. I knew I wanted to give her a gift and a letter, so I was nervous about that. Plus it was the last day, and I wasn’t sure I will get to see Wasamin again this trip. It didn’t help that I was listening to Request Covers on my ipod, and found myself in tears on the train more than once.

Switching gears, I forgot to mention after the Saturday night Wasa-performance I had dinner in Shnjuku with Darryl and Andy. It was an awesome Katsu place. I headed back to my hotel via the Chuo-Sobu Line, which passes right by Tokyo Dome. At Suidobashi station about a million teenage girls boarded the train after watching the Kanjani 8 concert. We were packed in like sardines! But a lot worse places to be than crammed in a train with a bunch of wild young girls!

BTW, there was a 5.5 earthquake in the morning near Ibaraki. It caused everyone to be late, including Wasamin. The JR Takasaki Line, which is the main train to Ageo was running extremely behind schedule. First set got off 15 minutes late.

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Nice sized crowd, but not as big as the previous day’s Nishikicho event. I guess the casuals stayed home to watch the draft? :fp: But her big fans were out in force to support her one more time. Even my friend Wild-san made the 280 mile overnight drive from Shiga!

11:15am Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Kita no Yado Kara
3. Ai no Mama de…
Outfit: Red Kimono, similar to the one on the regular version CD

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2 Handshakes (sticker, sticker) Wasamin leads off with a shot to the heart…”Chris -san, you are older than my dad!” BTW, this is not true. I happen to know how old her Dad is, and he is older than me. Anyway, I have never told Wasamin my age, and most people guess I am much younger than I actually am. So I re-queued the line after I realized what she said to me to make sure she knew I was younger than Papa-Wasa.

Note: Speaking of Wasamin’s family, they have been to a couple of events in the past. Her Dad looks very young. And as far as her sisters, they all look alike. Oh, and her older sister is apparently really cute. If you mention her older sister’s looks, Wasamin gets jealous. They say her younger sister looks like Wasamin when she first joined AKB. But OMG, 3 Wasamins in one family? <3 <3 <3

2pm Setlist
1. Nagori Yuki
2. Ettou Tsubame
3. Moshisora
Outfit: Light Blue Kimono with Purple/Silver Sash

Handshake (postcard) I finally broke down and gave Wasamin a bouquet of pink roses. I was so nervous about it I forgot to take a photo of them. I bowed as I handed them to her. Wasamin, said “Flowers?, then in Japanese said “Chris-san, I really love you.” She said to me “Love is over”, and I quickly said “chigau!”

I spent the next break writing a really mushy fan (love) letter to her. I had Andy, and Calvin (a Suuchan fan who decided to check out the event) do the Japanese translation for me. It was a great relief to be able to convey some more detailed thoughts to Wasamin for once.

5pm (final) Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Toki no Nagareni Miwo Makase
3. Akai Sweet Pea
Outfit: Cream colored one piece with brown boots. OMG, this is the sexiest I have ever seen her!

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2 Handshakes (2-shot, sticker) I was having horrible luck picking chekis, so I asked one of her managers Yoshida-san to give me some luck. He shook the box and said “Chris-san, come on!” And whaddya know, I got a 2-shot! I reacted with a bit too much glee, people thought I had drawn the grand prize.  Since Wasamin looked so incredibly sexy, I decided for her to do a sexy pose with me having a shocked look on my face. She looks great, I look ridiculous. I told her I was off to Hakata tomorrow and would be back in Tokyo on Friday. I told her I hoped I would see her again soon.

For the second handshakes there were two random people who were trying so hard to get our attention, so Wasamin had both of us turn around and wave. I barely had time to tell her that Request Covers is wonderful and that I love her very much. I handed her my letter, and assured her that it was “Ego to Nihongo” She then said “Love is Over!”, to which I replied again “Chigau!” She said “Please, Please?” Okay, “Love is over….wait, Love is NOT over!” I’m not sure why I did my last handshake so early in the event. I was watching everyone else for at least 45 minutes after that. I would have gotten one more CD, but I was running low on cash in pocket. And 17 copies of Request Covers is more than enough, wouldn’t you say?

It really is a wonderful CD. All of you need to pick up a copy. Then imagine Wasamin doing these songs live in a beautiful kimono (or a smokin hawt dinner outfit) That has been my week. And I will never forget it. I don’t think Wasamin will either. Same with her manager…Wasamin spent a little extra time at the end acknowledging the staff and telling us how wonderful we had been as fans. Her manager was crying as this was going on. Wasamin got a new manager recently, and this was her first release. She was really great to all of us.

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And that was the end of an emotional day. I later admitted to my friends that I was on Wasa-overload, and I am afraid that I love her too much. But the rest of the Wasafans assured me that was impossible. You can never have too much love for Wasamin! They all love her just as much. But I really do adore her, and when these events come to an end it is goodbye for a long period of time. It really hurts.

But our celebratory Wasa-fan dinner at Saizeria made me feel a lot better.

 

Some additional observations.  First off, the new manager…

I heard a few different explanations regarding why she had a change in managers, none of which made me any more or less worried about Wasamin’s career. I remember the original manager from the Mujineki events. She seemed nice enough. But the new one seemed especially sweet, and interacted very well with the fans. It is almost like having Wasamin’s mom helping out. In fact, all of the staff were extremely nice. It is a nice change of pace from an AKB event, where everything has to be so regimented otherwise fans overstep the boundaries. This is Nagara Pro and Tokuma Records running the event. So a different vibe. Plus, the Wasa-fans collectively put Wasamin before themselves. So there is a lot less jealousy, and more cheering each other on. For example, there are guys going to these events that buy TONS of CDs. You think my 17 CDs were a lot? A few guys bought more than that for EACH DAY. All of the fans realize this means more sales for Wasamin, so it is all good. We cheers these guys on, and thank them for being so instrumental in helping her sales numbers.

She doesn’t have a huge fanbase, so it is a lot more intimate.

A couple other observations. I mentioned before that Wasamin’s average fan has to be at least 40 years old. I’m like a young guy in that group. It is also 99% male. For some reason Wasamin hardly attracts any female fans. (if you leave out all the Obasan that show up to hear enka) Danie (Jouttex) is probably her biggest female fan, but she is very tom-boyish.

It makes a lot of sense, especially with the musical style Wasamin is striving to succeed with. But even in the beginning the older fans seemed to be attracted to her. I think it is that sweet an beautiful smile.

With that in mind, I see a lot of talk around the forums about “creepy older otaku”. But if you went to any event you would see that the older fans are usually always the most dedicated, and the most well-behaved. AKB was founded on an older male audience, and back then there didn’t have to be rules about everything because common etiquette usually prevailed. It was when the younger fans grabbed on to the group that all the crap started happening that forced Togasaki to implement a million rules for every event.

One of the many reasons I would love to see more people go to these events IN JAPAN so they can see what it is really like.

Notice the rope barrier? So close to Wasamin but there is always that fine line.   That said, I was surprised that her manager would quite often invite us to get in closer to one another for the shot. Here are a couple more of my cheki, “Hearto Version” and “Mujineki Posu” (I got 5 in all)

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BTW, Here is the final tally of how many times each song was performed…

Moshisora 8x
Mujineki 7x

Ai no Mama de… 4x
Akai Sweet Pea 4x
Ettou Tsubame 4x

Nagori Yuki 3x
Toki no Nagareni Miwo Makase 3x

Hanamizuki 2x
Love is Over 2x
Tsugunai 2x
Nada Sousou 2x
Kita no Yado Kara 2x

Matsu wa 1x
Blue Light Yokohama 1x

Quite funny that my favorite song, and Andy’s (Matsu wa) were the only two songs performed once. But she mentioned us as the two that came from far away to see her at least once per day. So she was still thinking of us.

 

I can’t believe she performed at the theater tonight after that surely grueling week. Although I think Wasamin really enjoys performing, and the adulation she gets when she does.

BTW, my big wish was that Wasamin would be at the National Handshake event next weekend in Iwate. But it was just announced that she will be performing in the theater that day. So my only chance to see her will be if I win that show. Even if I don’t win, I think I will stay in town and watch the show in the lobby.

I listened through the album a couple times again while on the Shinkansen. It is a truly wonderful CD. Her voice just does it for me…

Someone asked if the songs are true to the originals, or are they all done enka style. For the most part, they are true to the originals, but Wasamin does indeed put her stamp on them.

The next day Wasamin posted on her Ameba Blog.  A couple people had wondered if the post made me cry…

It did. I really wanted to understand that one part of her post properly. Part of what I wrote in that letter was how much I want to be there to support her all the time, and how frustrating it is to only to be able to see her once in a while. Also that there was so much I wished to communicate with her, but not knowing quite how to say it when I am standing in front of her. And that my biggest wish was that we could communicate better with one another. So yes, that post spoke to me quite a bit.

I think I have sort of “graduated” in my fandom. I went to the HKT theater for the first time tonight, and watched their new Pajama Drive stage on the monitors. It was fun, but there was something missing for me…Wasamin. I think going forward any trips I make over here will be based on what Wasamin is doing, rather than AKB.

So that’s it for now.  I am still enljoying the CD, and thinking about Wasamin on these long trainlines out of Shin-Osaka  I DID enjoy my visit to the HKT Theater.  I am truly in love with her,  She means so much to me.  I just long to see that beautiful smile beaming at me every chance I get

 

Anyway, that’s it for now.  Time for sleep!

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Pop Idols What’s Better Than a Weekend Double-Dose of AKB and Kozue???

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Alright, paying another visit to my blog!  So what have I been up to lately?  Well…selling a whole bunch of idol stuff I’ve been accumulating lately.  I was getting tired of seeing piles of merchandise I had doubles, triples, even quadruples of.  Might as well sell the stuff, and at least make some cash I can use for future purchases.  Anyway…

I just love when my favorite idols come visiting my backyard.  Not that it has really ever happened before.  I am still waiting for AKB’s first visit to the San Francisco Bay Area.  But if it couldn’t be the adorable Wasamin, or the super sexy Meetan, at least it was the next best thing…

KOZUE!!!

Yes, San Francisco’s Japantown held it’s annual J-pop Summit this past week.  This year the event was dominated by Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid, which I just love.  And since Miku was going to be such a huge part of the event, it only made sense to invite her #1 human backdancers, DANCEROID featuring Aikawa Kozue.  Of course you all know Kozue by now.  I, as well as many others have posted about her awesomeness many times.  After missing her appearance earlier this Summer in L.A., I was finally getting the chance to see her in person.  Yayyy!

But it wasn’t without pre-show drama, as I was originally told I wouldn’t be able to get off work in time to see the show.  But I persisted, and won out.  After sweating out the horrific traffic on the Bay Bridge I was able to find parking and hoof it over to Peace Plaza just in time to snag a seat in front.

By the way, as cute as Kozue looks on her dance videos, she is 1000x cuter in person.  Just adorable as hell!  I’m not sure how many people there knew who Danceroid was, but there were at least a few fans there.  One person even screamed a marriage proposal to Kozue (and I think I might know who it was, too  Hehe)

The show was everything you would expect it to be.  Ikura and Kozue’s awesome dance routines while the mouthed the words to a few Vocaloid tunes, pretty much all of which are featured on their recent DVDs.  I was just excited about the fact that I was finally getting to see her up close after all these years of admiring her on NicoNico and stalking her room on Ameba Pigg.

By the way, you can find some great professional photos of the event here!

After the show they announced there would be an autograph/handshake session at the gift shop across the street.  Unfortunately for me I already had copies of every DVD and CD they had for sale.  But I just had to get in on this event, so I purchased another copy of the Danceroid Soundtrack.  And I bought two overpriced plushies just so I could have something new.  Twenty bucks apiece?  Sheesh!  But I had my swag, so it was finally the moment I would get to meet the girls.

Unfortunately there weren’t too many people buying their stuff.  I would say they signed less than 50 items during the hour they were there.  I opened my CD at the register so I wouldn’t fumble with it at the table.  I approached Ikura and laid my CD in front of her.  Both of them just stared at me.  Huh?  So I smiled and said “Onegaishimasu? ”  Both Ikura and the manager laughed and Ikura began to sign.  I told them (in my terrible Japanese) that I loved Danceroid’s new box set.  Ikura digested that for a second, smiled and thanked me while Kozue signed the CD.  After Kozue signed it she handed it back to me and smiled.  So adorable!  I thanked both of them, bowed and walked away.

The bummer was that I didn’t realize until later that they would have taken a photo with me had I asked them to.  Oh well, at least I ended up in the “Team Photo” their manager took after the show.  So yes, it was my second appearance on Kozue’s blog if you count the time she took a Pigg photo of the two of us in her Pigg room and posted it.

Ahhh, the memories…

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Day 2

Now you might find it interesting that I hadn’t posted until now that the weekend event also featured the world-premiere of the Documentary of AKB48 with English subtitles.  I already own a copy of the DVD for this film.  But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is a lot I don’t understand in the film, and seeing it with subs would make the film a lot more interesting to me.  The problem was that it conflicted with two other Kozue events taking place on Sunday.  At the end of the day, face-time with an idol I adore is much more appealing than seeing a movie I have already seen.  But by the time I decided to go to the Kozue events they were already sold out.  So onto the film I went.

That ended up being a blessing in the end.  Not only did I get to meet up with a couple of friends from Stage48 and Nihongogo, but I also ran into my friend Yuta who I had met at the Sakura handshake events in Japan last June.  So that was cool.  Even better, it was announced that Danceroid was judging the Vocaloid dance contest later in the afternoon.  So I would get to see Kozue one more time after all!

After spending over 90 minutes watching a bunch of little girls (and one dude!) dance to the same three songs over and over, it was time for Danceroid’s final mini-performance with the contest winner!  Which brought the next WTF moment as I actually knew the girl who won the contest.  Her name was Tiffany, and she is another NicoNico Douga regular!  I was really stoked that she was the winner of the prize and special dance.  Good for her, she’s awesome!!!

Anyhow, another cool little J-pop interlude while I prepare for my next trip over to Awesome Island this fall.  Maybe this time I will finally get a chance to see Danceroid perform on their home turf.  And maybe, just maybe Ikura and Kozue will remember me from San Francisco…

People always ask me how I get so lucky with these special relationships I seem to have with certain idols.  And the answer is simple, persistence and repetition.  Idols meet so many fans that it is hard for them to remember each one.  Only with Wasamin did I ever have a  mutual “love at first site” experience with an idol.  The rest I have had to work at.  They see me once, i am forgotten two minutes later.  but when they see me enthusiastically coming to see them over and over they get that I really am a fan, and they begin to get comfortable.  During this event I admittedly didn’t make a huge connection with Kozue.  But that’s okay because I will eventually see her again.  And eventually she will recognize me.  And that will be the moment I know I have made an impression.  The look of recognition and true appreciation…THAT is the ultimate victory…

And now you know one of the biggest reasons why I go back to Japan so often!

CK in California

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Pop Idols Gotta Love Kozue…Gotta Love Danceroid!

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Kozue <33333333  Another awesome autograph to add to my collection!

Getting that photo simply made my day!  BTW, I won’t go into a long dissertation on why I haven’t posted here in almost three months.  In short, I just haven’t had anything to say.  I am still as big a J-pop fan as ever.  For obvious reasons my “CK in Japan” series has been temporarily postponed.  I did have a trip planned for late-March, but I have rescheduled it for the Summer.  Anyway…

So why did a simple “GETS” post bring me back to this blog after a 3 month hiatus?  If you have followed my multiple blogs over the years you surely know I have had a fascination with YouTube/NicoNico star Aikawa Kozue.  Like Momoclo, who I first saw when they had 40 fans in the audience, quite a few of us have been watching Kozue since she was a very special, but regular girl trying to get noticed on the internet.  But for the past 1+ years she has been making her mark in the idol world with the J-pop dance troupe Danceroid.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be paying too much attention to them if it wasn’t for Kozue.  But she is there, so I love them!

What I also find fascinating is that this relatively new ensemble has already released a Box Set!  The moment Kozue announced the release on her blog I knew this was going to be a “must-have”.  Two DVDs, one CD and some autographed Pics.  This is going to be awesome!!!

First and foremost, I wanted to see who’s autographs came with my set.  As I opened the package (the thin packaging giving a similar experience to opening a box of breakfast cereal) I could immediately see the first pic, it was Maamu.  Oh well, I had one more chance to get the autograph I really wanted.  I carefully opened the package to reveal the second photo…and there she was.  Yayy!!!  I was so excited that I immediately sent her a message on her blog, on Twitter. I wanted her to know that her set had already made it to the U.S. shore 🙂

Anyway, wall of its low-budget cheeziness, I just love this box set.  Each DVD has eleven tracks.  There are 10 songs total, and each has 2 PVs, one being a dance shot.  There are also 2 live performances and as Maamu describes, plenty of “surprising offshots” 🙂  I’m not sure if any of these songs are original compositions.  As expected, there are quite a few Vocaloid songs here, as well as IOSYS’ Miracle∞Hinacle, which is one of my favorite song/PVs of the entire collection.  There is no YT upload of the video, but here is the original song and anime…

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A preview of the DVD set…

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So for all of you supposed Kozue fanatics, here is your chance to really support her pursuit of idol stardom!  You can order the Box set right now from Danceroid’s Official Store, or you can wait a month since Danceroid is partnering with Kawaii Girl Japan to sell their products overseas.

I know a lot of you are rooting for Kozue.  I am pretty sure she is aware of her overseas fans on YouTube, and seemed especially proud on her blog that this set would be made available overseas.  So don’t let her down!

CK in California

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Japan, Pop Idols CK in Japan Extra…Aso Natsuko, and a Continuing Search for Kozue

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Actually I have been home for about six days.  I swear I am going to finish up this Japan series as I have more to share, including more of my ‘GETS’.  And that reminds me…

During my many trips from JR Akihabara Station to the area of the DQ.  For some reason I like taking the escalator up to UDX and crossing over to the DQ instead of walking out to Chuo Dori (hehe) and walking with the crowds.  There is a giant screen on the side of the UDX building playing random videos.  Yes, the same one I saw Kozue’s PV playing.  During the first few days I was there they kept playing this manic PV from some cute idol I had never seen or heard of before.  It wasn’t until I checked Ishimaru’s appearance site that I figured out who the girl was.  Her name is Aso Natsuko and the song is called More-more Lovers.  At that point I had to buy the CD!

And whaddya know?  She is on the same label Momoiro Clover originated from, Stardust!  The cool thing was she had a handshake appearance scheduled for Thursday.  Even when I bought the CD the guy at the counter invited me to go to her appearance.  But unfortunately I couldn’t go as it coincided with one of the SDN shows I had won.  So many idols…So little time 🙁

I was also disappointed that the CD didn’t come with the PV, which I think is great!  It has finally shown up on YouTube, so here ya go.  Enjoy!

Oh, and I also finally found Aikawa Kozue’s ‘Ruka Ruka’ CD.  Silly me, I figured the best place to look for it was at the many Anime/CD stores that line the streets of Akiba.  But none of them had it.  Where did I find it???  Tower Records, DUH!!!

I love the back cover.  So sexy Kozue!!!  What I didn’t know is it came with two Kozue dance PVs.  So well worth the buy, and I love the song!  Anyhow, more to come…

CK in California

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Pop Idols CK in Japan EXTRA…Kozue Lights Up Akihabara!!!

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So I am walking from the JR Station to the DQ to see my final SDN48 show for this trip…and what do I see???

 

OMG!!!  It is Aikawa Kozue on the Jumbotron at Akihabara UDX doing her new dance video to Luka Luka Night Fever!  I am so excited for her!  And I am still looking for that CD!

 

She also announced on her blog that she will be performing with Danceroid at Akasaka Blitz next weekend.  Awwwwwww.  I so wanted to see her on this trip. 

Oh well, there is always next time 🙁

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Momoiro Clover, Pop Idols, SDN48, SKE48, Television CK in Japan Days 3-4…A Lot of Major Acts in One Big Place + Momoclo!

Comments Off on CK in Japan Days 3-4…A Lot of Major Acts in One Big Place + Momoclo!

Yes, I am still in Tokyo.  I will be here a couple more days.  I have been so busy and have been up to so much that I really haven’t had time to chronicle my trip like I usually do.  Instead I have been highlighting certain events in the forums.  To give you a quick rundown of events I have attended so far.

One AKB48 Team A Show
SDN48 I have won four shows
Berryz Kobo live at JCB Hall
Momoclo Mini-live and release event at Ishimaru Soft
Music Japan TV Taping with SDN48, SKE48, KARA, Perfume, SPEED, Ikimono Gakari, News, AAA at NHK Hall
SDN48’s Sato Yukari DVD Release Event/Handshake/Autograph/Photo Meeting at Ishimaru Soft
AKB48 Chara-ani Handshake event at Makuhari Messe in Chiba
AKB48’s Umeda Ayaka Tower Girl Appearance at Tokyo Tower

Yep, a lot of stuff!

SDN48 and SKE48 at Music Japan

My friend Miitan scored a ticket to the Music Japan taping on Monday. These shows will be airing over the next couple of weeks. The ticket was for two so he invited me. Not only was SDN48 going to be performing. Not only was SKE48 going to be performing. Yeah, the show already sounded awesome. But throw in a lineup of Perfume, SPEED, KARA, and Ikimono Gakari…This was going to be an incredible show.

So the way they do the seating is by random chance. As you walk in with your ticket they exchange it for a seat. You could be front and center or last row of the balcony. Who knows? So when Miitan and I got our tickets they looked as if they were second row of the 2nd section on the floor….

Only there was no first section, that is where the cameras are. And there is no first row of the second section. So actually we were in the very first row. Not only that, we were directly opposite where the groups sit. So we were literally right in their faces! Miitan and I had the best seats in the entire building.

How bout dem apples?

 

 

Anyhow, the show was lots of fun! I have always wanted to see Perfume live, and I liked SPEED before I had ever heard of AKB48. So seeing these groups was an awesome experience. The best part is we got to interact a little bit with the groups as they often talk and wave to the audience members while other stuff is going on. So when SDN finally came out Meetan noticed me there about 10 seconds after we sat down. I also caught Nonti and Chen’s attention early on. I never really succeeded in getting anyone in SKE to notice me, although I was calling for Akane and Masanya. I don’t have a history with them like I do with SDN. Then again, two big gaijin right up front? I’m sure they ALL noticed Miitan and I at some point. BTW, I DID get A-chan from Perfume to wave at me and smile. Such a neat experience!

 

 

It was fun to see each group perform their upcoming singles. Both SKE and SDN did an amazing job! I was so proud of Meetan because I had read her blog earlier in the day. I knew she was nervous about this appearance, so it made me so happy to be that close to her so she would know I was there to support her. Oh, I forgot to mention how hawt the girls of KARA are up close. SKE was really getting into it when KARA performed too, as were the fans. They had the biggest support of the night for sure!

After tonight I will definitely look into doing this again. It seems like every week Music Japan has a great idol act featured on their show. This one had a bunch!

I believe the first episode that I saw is up on the H!O tracker, so check it out!

Momoiro Clover Live in Akihabara…CD Release Day!

 

This was another event I was really looking forward to.   Awesome show!!! Admission was buying a regular version of the CD. Once we were in, for every ltd. version you bought you got handed the CD and a handshake from the girl of your choice.  Unfortunately there were no 2-shots for this event.  They brought those back for the Thursday and Friday events but unfortunately I had other plans and couldn’t go.

 

It was a typical Momoclo show on a tiny little stage.  I lucked out in the seat lottery and ended up in the first group.  Which meant FRONT ROW BABY!!!  The girls performed two of the three songs from the new single, and did a couple of old faves like Momoiro Punch and one of my favorite covers they do Saikyo Pare Parade!


 

I bought all three versions, and recieved my CDs and bonus photos from Momoka, Shiori and Akari. I was hoping they would remember me from the 1st major single release events, but I don’t think they did. :( But it was still a lot of fun. I was thinking of going back on Friday because I hoped to meet Ayaka again! I wanted to go to her, but like last time I saw Akari all by herself with nobody in front of her and felt badly. And I ended up having the best interaction with her too!

More to come…

CK in Tokyo