Archive for the ‘AKB48’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ayamin

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

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

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

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

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

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

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 49th Single #Sukinanda Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama. (2017/11/05)

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Back to Yokohama for the second half of the 48-groups big handshake weekend. This time I had a few more tickets than on Saturday, and I had a variety of different prizes I could potentially win. 1-shot videos, 2-shot selfies, autographed member recipe cards, and the autographed alternate CD jacket. The question was whether or not I would be lucky and win at least one of each prize. I also took pictures of a bunch of the member recipe cards. Let’s get right into the action…

SLOT 2

Tani Marika (Lane 53) I only had the one Slot 2 ticket, so I didn’t really need to get to the venue until after 11am. Tani didn’t have too big of a queue. I checked in, drew on the lottery, and won. Good start! It was a choice of 1-shot video, or 2-shot selfie. Since I suck at taking selfies, and Tani, is so funny, I chose the video…

Looks like I got a girlfriend, eh??? Yatta! In that case, I better grab some Tani gear ASAP! I asked Tani if she was still a Soft Bank Hawks fan, and she replied affirmatively by exclaiming yes and pumping her fist. So I gave her a quick “omedetou” before getting pushed out. In the meantime, I ran into Matto, as well as Naruse . I also ran into a Hong Kong fan who I believe I met once before, but I don’t remember his name. Oh, and I signed a birthday card for Marika (as well as Bibian) and her fans gave me some Tani tissues!

 

SLOT 3

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 55) I decided to queue up early of Zunchan’s lane since it has a tendency to get very long. I lined up around 20 minutes early, just as Aramaki Misaki was finishing up with her last fan. I didn’t win the selfie/video prize, which wasn’t too big of a surprise since she is a bit harder to win for. Anyway, a short time later Zunchan entered her booth. What the hell, she is 20 minutes early? She wasn’t there to start meeting the members, she was there to decorate her booth. Balloons, streamers, toys, stuffed animals. It is amazing watching her do all of this. And it takes her over 10-15 minutes to get it all done. In the meantime, everyone from the neighboring queues are also watching and laughing in amazement. Even Shoji Nagisa came in to see what she had done to her booth. That isn’t even all. She then has a bunch of handwritten signs that she asks the staff to strategically place all over the lane. It is absolutely amazing what she does, and you can see it all from halfway across the hall!

 

Needless to say when it came to my turn I told her I watched her put her booth together, and that it was amazing and totally cute. I then said that her bedroom at home is probably the same. LOL.  She basically laughed along with me. Later on I took my friend Nori over to see it, and he thought it was great. He said he had never seen anything like it before. I have seen members decorate their lanes before, but never to this level.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 62) After Yuka-chan stole my heart on Saturday, I was really looking forward to seeing her again on Sunday. Luckily, I won the 2-shot selfie. But was this really good news? I suck at taking selfies. So while I was waiting in the queue (she did have a bit of a line) I practiced taking selfies so I wouldn’t blow it. I got her in perfect position, I had a good grip on my phone, I extended my arm out as far as I could, cracked a half-smile, and…

 

Success! I finally took a proper selfie. In my quick visit I noted that the sweater she was wearing was just as cute as yesterday, and that she always wears very nice clothes. She quickly thanked me as I got pushed out. But I would be seeing her again to lead off the next slot…

SLOT 4

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 62) This time, surprisingly, I did not win for the 1-shot video. I wasn’t to disappointed though, since I already have three of those with her from recent events. I instead decided to congratulate her on the Hawks win. I noted that I was looking at her twiiter last night, and saw all of her Japan Series tweets, and that I saw she ate dinner with Meru. Anyhow, I hoped I would have better luck when I visited Yuka again in Slot 6.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 73) Keeping with the theme, I had already set up with Maichan that I would be rooting along with her for the Hawks on Saturday night. I didn’t win the alternative jacket prize, meanwhile Maichan had a decent sized queue. However, I guess nomany people were winning since her line went very fast. In any case, when it was my turn she already knew what we were going to talk about, and started pumping her fist and cheering before I even got into the booth. I congratulated her, and she gave me a big High-Five. Maichan is so much fun.

 

I had no Slot 5 tickets. So after visiting with my friend Nori for a little while, I bailed back to Queen’s Square for a late lunch and a cocktail.

SLOT 6

Sakaki Miyu [Cuca] (Lane 32) I had three tickets for Slot 6, and decided to get Cuca done first since she never has a line. However, when I got there, she DID have a small queue. So I decided to wait for it to clear out, but it didn’t. More people kept entering her lane. This is really good news. She is starting to cultivate more fans! Her lane was still “automatic win” for the prize, so I would be getting the autographed recipe.

So I decided to ask her about the recipe. I neglected to tell her that I do not like dishes with cooked tuna in them like that. Instead I asked her if it was an Okinawan recipe since a friend of mine thought it might be. She insisted that it wasn’t. She also sincerely thanked me for coming, and asked if I lived in Japan. Since this is like the 4th or 5th time I have met her, I think she is getting that I really do like her.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 62) One final visit with Yukachan, and I won her recipe card too! It seemed like most people were winning, since in my immediate vicinity everyone had won, save for one unlucky guy.

Her recipe was for a fried rice dish, so I asked her if it was Chinese inspired. She told me that it is actually her father’s recipe, something he makes at home. The guards were calling time, but Yukachan spent extra time on the autograph, even drawing a mikan at the bottom, as well as a special message. So a total score. I look forward to seeing her again at the HKT event in late-November.

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 58) Bibian had quite the queue, I was really surprised. It didn’t really matter, since it would be a while until I could use my final ticket. I didn’t win the 1-shot video, oh well. Bibian was completely decked out in Adidas gear, so I noted that when I entered the lane. And like with the other HKT members, I asked her if she was a Hawks fan. And then congratulated her on the Japan Series win. Short and sweet.

 

So we would have to wait until after the dinner break before Slot 7 started. This is why I usually try to be done after Slot 6. However, oftentimes some of my favorite members, like Tani, Kaotan, Bibian, and even Yukachan only have after dinner slots. In this case one member I like was only Slot 7-8, and since I didn’t even see her at all on Saturday, I would brave the wait.

SLOT 7

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 41) I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to enter Kaotan’s lane early, or wait a while. But her queue kept getting bigger, so I decided to get in there before it got out of hand. In any case, she likes to take her time with the fans. I didn’t win the “alternative CD jacket” prize, but you never know with Kaotan. In the meantime her lane was positioned right next to the Handicapped lane for SKE. So I had a really closeup view of all the members coming over to that lane. It is really interesting how that lane operates too. The first member who came over was Ego-chan, then Ryoha, Hidaka Yuzuki, Suuchan, Obamina, Kaotan, and finally Masanya when I was really close to the front. Masanya spotted me and waved hello too. It’s funny, every time I think I am seeing Masanya for the last time, I end up running into her again. Is it fate? Anyway…

I also noticed that Kaotan seemed to be signing jackets for everyone, regardless of whether or not they won. Cool! Except, when I was five away they switched guard staff, and the one new guard asked why she was signing jackets for people who lost. The exiting guard basically shrugged. So it would be interesting what would happen when it was my turn, since the three people in front of me all won. So it was finally my turn, as expected Kaotan reached for a jacket to sign, but the guard interjected and said “No, he didn’t win!” She was like “Oh, he didn’t? I’m sorry.” I just played dumb the entire time, although I was slightly bummed that I got cock-blocked by the new guard. In any case, I told her I was just happy to see her. I then asked her about her Banana Juice recipe, and if it was better than the Butterbeer she had at USJ a few days ago. She then asked if I was coming back for Slot 8, and maybe I would win the recipe card. But I told her the next time I would see her was at the SKE event at the end of the month. After saying our goodbyes, I was done for the evening.

———————————————————————————————–

Prizes

I ultimately went 4 for 9, which isn’t a bad percentage. I would have liked to have won at least one of those alternate jackets, and I would LOVE to get a selfie or a video of Zunchan. But oh well, maybe next time.

Recipe Bonus

Here are the recipe cards I took photos of on the wall at the far end of the hall. I mainly took pictures of members that I like, with a few others thrown in for friends. And of course, Tani’s infamous recipe for Cup Ramen…

So rounding out the year, I have the SKE and HKT handshake events on November 23rd, and that is basically it for me and the 48-groups until 2018 since I will be back in the U.S. for 2 1/2 weeks in December. That is unless I happen to win another show. And of course I also have a bunch of Wasamin stuff between now and mid-December. So it’s all good.

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48, NMB48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 49th Single #Sukinanda Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama. (2017/11/04)

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For me, this event was more of an hors d’oeuvre before tomorrow’s (Sunday) event since I originally planned on only going on Sunday. However, during the application period, I saw Team 8 perform in the theater and briefly took a liking to Takahashi Ayane. Saturday was the only day she was appearing, so I was compelled to buy a few tickets for this day. Now the irony is that I actually did an oshimashi handshake with Amane a couple of month ago, and…well, I wasn’t inspired to see her again. So ultimately I ended up doing an oshimashi with her ticket today. LOL

But it was still a worthwhile day, even with the few tickets I had. I had all my tickets stacked into Slots 2-4, which worked out perfectly since I had another event I wanted to attend in Akihabara later on in the day.

Of course this was another event where you could draw special prizes (2-shots, 1-shots, signed photos, etc.) Interestingly, of the six tickets I had, none of them offered any kind of recording or photo prize. They were all either for a signed photo, or a signed drawing the members all did.. Ultimately I won 2 of 6 (well, 2 of 5 since I blew off my Ayane ticket, and you can’t draw for prizes on oshimashi) Anyway, I arrived at Pacifico Yokohama toward the end of Slot 2, which was enough time to get my Slot 2 tickets done. AKB must have had at least 4 halls rented out for this event, as there were over 100 lanes, a stage area, some drawing exhibit, and all the other booths they have (info, Aikabu, etc.) Despite that, 5 of my 6 tickets were all located in the same corner of the hall.

Slot 2

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 73) Yuka-chan didn’t have much of a queue, which is usual for her at the end of the slot. I checked in and immediately won the signed photo. After waiting for 2 fans in front of me. Yuka-chan reached out with both hands and exclaimed “Chris-san!!!” She had on the cutest sweater, kind of 2-tone flesh color and dark green, it almost looked like a low cut blouse, but it wasn’t.

As she signed the card I told her how pretty her sweater was, and I asked if she had a fun birthday, and I saw some of the pictures online. She thanked me and asked if I had heard about their new album. I told her I want to get it, although it is quite expensive. She nodded in agreement, and then out of nowhere she said “Chris-san, I love you so much!” Wow!! I remember when Wasamin said something like that to me a few years back, and I almost got weak in the knees. Same here, Akiyoshi just made my heart flutter.

There was still 10 minutes left in the slot, and I wondered if there was someone available who I could use my “extra” ticket on. Originally I wanted to use it on Cuca, but her slot wasn’t until later in the day, after I panned to leave. I didn’t have a ticket for Zunchan today either, but these days her lanes don’t have the oshimashi “star.” As I walked through the HKT section I found Bibian, Rikopi, and Mio, all starred lanes, all short queues. Okay, this was it. Who would I pick???

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 57) So this is who I ultimately ended up using my Amane ticket for. I like Rikopi, she is usually a fun handshake, and I hadn’t seen her in a while. I could tell Rikopi wanted to say my name, but just couldn’t recall it in that moment. Instead she just started practicing her English with me. I did ask her about the upcoming HKT album, and told her I was excited about it.

SLOT 3

Tani Marika (Lane 54) Despite the fact that I promised Marika I would wear Tani-gear in the future, I failed to bring anything of her’s to wear. And frankly, it has been slim pickings at the goods booth for this single. I actually do have some Tani stuff in my storage unit in the U.S., but that doesn’t do me any good here. Anyway, I won the signed photo, so at least that would keep her occupied.

Oh, and she was wearing a “Chucky” (from Child’s Play) t-shirt. So I immediately got her talking about that as I pointed and said “Chucky!” I then told her that I saw her Halloween cosplay tweets. She asked if I thought they were cute. I took a chance and said they were “scary and cute,” and noted the white contacts she wore. At the end she again reminded me that I was supposed to be wearing Tani accoutrement. So I didn’t get off scot-free after all.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 62) Maichan had the only really long line I went to all day. I don’t seem to have good luck drawing Maichan’s prizes, and alas, I didn’t win. After around 20 minutes in the queue I finally got my turn. Now I know Maichan is a big Soft Bank Hawks fan. Actually, lately all of the HKT girls have been posting about the Hawks, but Maichan supports them all season. So I asked Mai if she was going to watch the game tonight. I didn’t totally get her response, but I think she said something to the effect that she wouldn’t have time. But she did say that she hoped that they win tonight. So I told her I would root for the Hawks too, and for that I got a High-Five. I told her I would see her tomorrow as the guard pushed me out.

SLOT 4

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 73) When I entered the queue shortly before the start of the slot, there was still a bit of a queue for Jitoe Nene, and one guy in particular who had a ton of tickets, so they ended up moving the rest of her queue into another lane. In the meantime, while we waited for Yuka-chan to come out I was watching Matsuoka Hana playing with her fans in the next lane. Eventually Yuka-chan came out. It was my goal to get this ticket, and my final ticket in this slot done as quickly as possible because I needed to hustle to Akihabara by the late afternoon. BTW, here is Yuka-chan in her pretty sweater I talked about before…

Surprisingly, I didn’t win the prize. But that’s okay since the cooler prize was the first one, which I did win. In any case, I decided to ask Yuka-chan if she is a Soft Bank Hawks fan too. She said yes, and then pointed out that I was wearing my HKT48-Hawks Baseball Jersey. (In fact, I got comments from a lot of people today around Tokyo assuming I was a Soft Bank Hawks fan, LOL) Like with Maichan, I told Yuka that I would root for the Hawks to win. After telling her I would be at the event tomorrow too, I hoofed it over to the far end of the hall for my last ticket…

Ichikawa Miori (Lane 5) Miorin had a fairly short queue. Since I lost the prize when I visited her last time, I really wanted to win this time. The fan in front of me had three tickets, so he pressed the button three times, and he won ALL THREE. SHIT, I just knew the next one would be a loser, and almost pulled my ticket and ID back, but it was already too late, they had marked my ticket. And of course, I didn’t win the prize, again. So I would have to come up with something to talk about with Miorin. Well, she was wearing this cute and fuzzy little hat. So after the usual pleasantries I commented that her hat was very cute. I also mentioned at first I thought the fuzzy stuff sticking out was her hair. She immediately, and almost defiantly said it wasn’t her hair. As I laughed, the guard, rather forcefully, pushed me out.

I immediately bailed back to Tokyo, and to my little event in Akihabara. Tomorrow I have a few more tickets. I again have tickets for Yukachan, Maichan, and Tani, plus tickets for Zunchan, Kaotan, Bibian, and Cuca. Not to mention many of the prizes I am trying for are video and 2-shots, so hopefully my luck will be a little better than today.

 

CK in Tokyo

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

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

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

Pre-show

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

Cancel Machi

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

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

Team 4, and Birthday Festivities

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

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

The Show

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

 

Confession, and Notable Performances

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

 

High-Wave

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

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

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48, New Release, NMB48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 49th Single #Sukinanda Individual Handshake Event @Makuhari Messe. 2017/10/15

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This was the first Tokyo weekend for AKB48’s 49th single handshake events. Since I usually don’t attend both days of a 2 consecutive day event, I chose Sunday, hoping that if Wasamin held an event this weekend, it would be on Saturday. Luckily I was invited to go on a very cool excursion to Kamakura on Saturday, where I got to spend the evening in a famous Japanese Minka and participate in a traditional tea ceremony. So it all worked out…kinda. Wasamin did end up scheduling an event on Sunday. Oh well, can’t win em’ all. I had a lot of tickets for Sunday, so I wasn’t going to bail on this event. Not to mention, Wasamin’s event was for a concert DVD preorder, so one less copy of the DVD/Blu-Ray I have to buy. LOL.

Today’s event was filled with thrills and unexpected surprises, beginning with first thing this morning. I was lounging around my apartment, waiting to get ready to leave, when I decided to check the AKB48 Blog to see what halls the event was in. And since I was checking the site, I might as well see which lanes I will be visiting. This is when I noticed that there was a change in the schedule, and one of the members I had Slot 6 tickets for had been switched to Slot 1. SHIT! I never got an email about this, and I don’t read every single 48-group blog post. I rushed to get ready, and out of the house as fast as I could. It was still early enough that I could make it to Slot 1 if I hurried. I arrived at Kaihimmakuhari Station 28 minutes before the lanes would close. 10 minutes later I was getting my tickets stamped. There was no line, so that went quickly. I was all good. Still had 12 minutes to go, I was even able to loop the line…

SLOT ONE

Sakaki Miyu <CUCA> (Lane 13) So I made it in time for my two CUCA tickets, and per usual she didn’t really have a line. Although the good news was her line was a bit busier than last single. The 49th single has various prizes you can win for each lane and slot. For Cuca the prize was a choice of 2-shot Selfie, or 1-shot video. She was also an “automatic win” lane, which was no surprise. I opted to do one of each. Unfortunately, I was so unraveled from rushing around I screwed up both the selfie and the video. I’m just really bad at taking selfies, and my phone was not registering my slightly sweaty finger. In both cases I asked the lane staff if I could do it over, but they were dicks and said no. Oh well. Here are the remnants of my pics…

There is actually more to that pic, but I look so stupid in it, so I mercifully cut myself out. Oh, and I’m so bummed that I cut off the part of the video where she said my name! Anyway, CUCA was a sweetheart as usual. I did quickly ask her if she was having fun being in STU, and of course she said yes. I would love to see her get more popular, but alas, she seems as if she is destined to be an STU Theater girl. That is, if they ever do get a theater.

SLOT TWO

Between slots I ran into Matto outside the NMB lanes. We briefly chatted about our game plans for the day before we headed to our respective lanes.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 41) I was really excited to see Yuka, since it had probably been at least 2-3 months since I last visited her. She even gave me an ‘osashiburi’ when I came in, which I felt really bad about. By the way, she was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood…

 

The prize for this slot was an autographed photo, which I didn’t win, so I just got a handshake. After we established that she was LRRH, I told her I was the ‘Big Bad Wolf’. Hurr hurr hurr, bad joke, I know. But since this is Japan, I doubt she had heard that too many times. I would have another chance to talk to her later.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 36) I had already seen that Maichan was wearing some sorta gothic nun outfit, which was damn hawt. Her line was pretty short, and whadd’ya know, I won the prize, which was the 2-shot/1-shot choice. Once again, i am really bad at selfies, so I chose the video…

Just a quick handshake and hello, and I told her I would see her later, although that turned out to be a lie.  But it wasn’t entirely my fault. I had over an hour until Slot 3, so I decided to head upstairs and get some lunch.

SLOT THREE

As I was trying to decide which lane to queue up for first, I ran into my friend Wayne, who is a fan from Hong Kong. I was glad to see Wayne made it back to Tokyo, since earlier this year he lost all of his IDs and missed a whole bunch of events while he waited to get new ones. Wayne recommended doing any lanes with Halloween Cards last, since they seem to take the longest. I took his advice and went to meet a member I have not seen in a VERY LONG time…

Ichikawa Miori (Lane 20) I was trying to remember the last time I met with Miorin, and I am pretty sure it was around the time OKL48 came out, since I remember her wearing that outfit at the event. So five years ago, right? Jeez! I wasn’t sure if she would remember me, since I used to see her quite a bit. I didn’t win the prize, which again was the 2-shot/1-shot choice. I would have to come up with something to talk about. Oh, Miorin was dressed as a cat…

 

Suffice it to say, there were many “nyan nyan”‘s being said by the both of us. Since I hadn’t seen her in a while, I mentioned that I think she looks really cute with short hair, to which she gave me a thankful “nyan” We will see if I can re-establish a bit of a connection with her, since I do have tickets for her in November, and I think I won tickets for Miorin for the 50th single too.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 85 72) When I was deciding on which lane to enter, they announced that Zunchan would be moved to a different lane due to the huge line to see Goto Moe. I didn’t know Moe was that popular, but her line was indeed huge when I went over there. In the meantime, Zunchan’s line was pretty huge too. I had lots of time though, so I entered the queue to sign in. The problem was that the line was barely moving. Like my friend said, this was a Halloween Card slot, and the cards were not too difficult to win, so Zunchan was spending a long time with each person. However, that wasn’t too big a problem, for a very interesting reason. You see, Zunchan was in the lane right next to Sato Kaho

First of all, Sato Kaho is soooo cute. I was watching her interact with her fans. She is great! Awesome smile, great energy. And then there was her outfit. She was wearing this cute top, but it was kinda loose. And every time she leaned forward to sign the cards, she was giving pretty much everyone a ‘show’ (if you know what I mean) I’m sure she had something on underneath, I wasn’t close enough to tell. But it was enough to give nosebleeds to pretty much every guy in her queue. I need to get a ticket for her ASAP! But back to Zunchan…

 

The moment Zunchan saw me she exclaimed “KITA!!!” I have seen her so many times at the theater, so it was nice to get to talk to her for a minute. Zunchan was also tasked with explaining to me how the ‘Halloween Trump’ game was played, since I had never played it before. I wasn’t getting it at first, but after her third try, it finally clicked. LOL. And I WON! I apologized to Zunchan and the guard for my denseness, but they were both cool about it. I told her I would see her later.

As I left I noticed Zunchan’s queue was still really big, and the Slot was almost over. This would become a big issue later…

SLOT FOUR

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 41) I queued up for Yukachan a little early, and ended up being 5th in line. Since this was a Halloween Card slot, this was a good tactic. I won the card too, so I would have a little more time to talk with her while she signed it…


And if you are wondering what the back of the card looks like

I told her I had been reading her Twitter, and that her interactions with Sasshi are great! I also mentioned that some of my friends who like Sasshi are also now reading her Twitter. It was good to briefly catch up with Yukachan, and she also drew a cute little Onigiri-chan on the card.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 85) Zunchan was back in her original lane, which was on the right side of the hall.  This side of the venue was mainly AKB, NGT, and the Special Stages. I went to queue up, except her sign was down. Had she fallen ill? Then I noticed that she was in her booth, and she had a huge queue. It turned out she was still finishing her Slot 3 tickets. Uh oh, this could be a problem. Depending on how late they open this lane for Slot 4, it could really mess with my Slot 5 tickets. I hung around close to the entrance for over 30 minutes, waiting for my chance to jump in since there didn’t seem to be any organized queue. Eventually they opened the gate, and people jammed in from every direction. I made it in around 25th, which wasn’t too bad. With around 15 minutes left in Slot 4, she finally finished Slot 3. She promised she would take a super short break, and ran off. Oh, and she was dressed as a little devil, with all sorts of Halloween decorations and messages all over her booth.

 

True to her word, she was back in less than five minutes. This was a signed photo slot, which I didn’t win, but it promised to be relatively faster. Around 15 minutes into Slot 5, I finally got my turn. Again, she greeted me with “KITA” So I mentioned that I have seen four Kenkyuusei Stages in the past few months. She replied. “Yes, you have come to many!” I even got front row last time! I told her that I love watching the 16th gen, and I enjoy cheering for her. She thanked me, in English, and I was off. I rushed back over to the other side of the hall to hopefully use my Slot 5 tickets, briefly stopping to say hello to my friend Panda, who was also lamenting about the long queues and the amount of tickets he wasn’t getting to use…

SLOT FIVE

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 47) Initially I figured I would be in Kaotan’s lane last, but her line wasn’t too long, and the lane for my other ticket (Maichan again) was HUGE. So I went with Kaotan first. While in the queue, I changed out of my Akiyoshi accoutrement, and into my Kaotan gear. Although her line was short, it was extremely slow since Kaotan ALWAYS takes her sweet time with her fans. Not to mention this was another Halloween Card lane. Eventually it was my turn. Kaotan turned over a Queen. Of course I guessed lower, and she turned over a King. Jeez! Even Kaotan was pissed. Pissed enough to say “Screw it, I’m signing the card for you anyway!!!”

 

I had noticed that while I was in line there were a lot of children in Kaotan’s queue. I had never seen so many kids in a member queue before. Although to be honest, I am rarely in the most popular member lanes. So I had commented to her that she must be really popular with children. At first she was slightly confused by what I was getting at, but I thought I had said it in clear Japanese. So she got it. She was like, OH, you mean all the kids that were here. I had another ticket for Kaotan in the next slot, so I would be right back.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 36) I went back over to Maichan’s lane, and it was even bigger than before. Now this could be a major issue. There was only like 35 minutes until the beginning of Slot 6, and if this lane goes long it could screw up my tickets for that slot. I mentioned to the guy standing next to me that the line was so much longer than earlier, and he told me that her Slot 4 (With the Halloween cards of course) ran really long, and Slot 5 was just starting, which is why the queue was so big. In the meantime, he must have been from her Seitensei committee since he gave me this…

 

So I weighed my options. Of the three tickets I had left, which do I want to use the most. I had a Tani ticket, who I hadn’t seen yet. I also had my second Kaotan ticket. I had already won the video with Maichan earlier, plus I get tickets for her at every event. So I decided to blow this ticket off for now, and instead use it later as an oshi-mashi. Sorry Maichan. :(

SLOT SIX

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 47) They hadn’t opened Kaotan’s queue yet, so I decided to hang around and hopefully be one of the first in line. In the meantime, I struck up a conversation with another Kaotan fan, who was really cool. He was asking me all sorts of questions about how I came to be a a Kaotan fan. I told him my infamous story from five years ago when she, Mikitty, and Makiko all ganged up on me one day, and as a result I instantly became a fan of she and Mikitty. He also kept grilling me on who I liked more between Kaotan and Yukachan, but I kept insisting it was a tie. And in any case, my OSHIMEN is Wasamin. Eventually the gate opened, and I was second in, but the guy in front of me changed his mind, so I ended up being first. Oh, and I won the prize, a signed photo. Kaotan finally finished her Slot 5 people, and went to take a break. While waiting I checked Tani’s lane, which was a few rows down. It wasn’t too long, so I wouldn’t have a problem using my tickets. Kaotan took her sweet time, so my new Kaotan-buddy and I were just commenting the members in nearby lanes, including Suda Akari, who came walking by. Kaotan finally made it back. Kaotan was excited to see that I won the photo, and started to sign it. Just then…

Jurina comes walking by behind Kaotan. She sees me, and stops dead in her tracks. With this huge smile on her face, she begins mouthing “Hello”, just totally flirting. Meanwhile Kaotan was totally oblivious, even though at one point I think I said “Oh, Jurina” She didn’t notice. Kaotan kept asking me questions, but I was half listening. Jurina has to be one of the biggest, and most shameless fishers I have ever encountered in the 48-groups, LOL

 

I eventually asked her about the T-shirt she recently tweeted about. One of her fans had one on. It has baby pictures of her, Dasu, and Goto Risako. The baby picture of Kaotan is really cute too, and you can totally tell its her. As usual, she asked me when she would see me again. I told her November, so she was good to go.

Tani Marika (Lane 44) Finally, a chance to see Tani, and I really wanted to win the 1-shot video. Lo and behold, I did. COOL! I entered the booth, and the first thing Marika notices is the Kaotan gear that I ‘forgot’ to take off. Oops. I had a funny feeling that she might play this into the video, but she played it fairly straight. Well…fairly straight for Tani…

Of course once the video was over, she was back to her jealous rage about me wearing Kaotan gear. I tried to tell her that I love her too, but she wasn’t buying it, basically calling Bullshit on me and telling me that I should be wearing Tani gear next time. I can make that happen, although I generally don’t like being “that guy.” You know, the guy that changes his outfit every time he goes to a different lane. But I can make an exception for Marika, since I know she wants me to.

So now there was this matter of what I would do with my Fuchigami Mai ticket. There weren’t very many “starred” lanes. although Tani and Kaotan were both available. I already felt ‘complete for the day’ with Kaori-chan, although I could go another round with Marika to try to convince her of my love for her. But I would first check to see if any other member caught my eye. I scanned the lanes as I headed back to the other side of the venue. Miichan had a very short queue, but I didn’t really have anything to say to her. Same with Myao, Chiichan, Mogi, and Shinozaki. Then there was Chori, who I do like visiting, although her line was pretty long. I was about to go to that lane, but then I found it. The member I wanted to talk to. I met her for the first time earlier this year, but she was really nice, and I wanted to see her again…

Oomori Miyuu (Lane 100) I met Miyupon for the first time at a National Handshake event this past Summer. She ended up being one of my top handshakes of the day. She was really genki, and fun. So yeah, she was perfect. She did have a semi-long line, but it wasn’t too bad. So i decided to go for it. I wasn’t in line for more than a couple minutes when her Setensei committee gave me a gift.

 

Perfect, it was really hot in this corner of the venue, so I immediately made very good use of the uchiwa. Eventually it was my turn. I wasn’t expecting it, but it seemed like Miyupon did remember me from before right off the bat. As I related the story about meeting her over the Summer, she got this look of satisfaction on her face, and thanked me in English as I was being pushed out. She tossed in an “I LOVE YOU” at the very end too for good measure. I could also hear her talking with the next fan about me as I was gathering my bag. LOL. Here is what she was dressed in. I fished this pic off of twitter.

 

And with that, I called it a day. And if we want to tally the scorecard, I won 8 of the 12 prizes. Well, 7 if you count that I actually did lose the first time with Kaotan, she just vetoed the loss. And technically, I never got a chance to draw for the second Maichan ticket. Interestingly, I had the worst luck with the signed photos, as they accounted for 3 of my 4 non-wins.

1-shot/2-shot: 4 of 5
Halloween card: 3 of 3
Signed Pic: 1 of 4

It had been a while since I had done a marathon handshake event like that, and my feet were really sore. I couldn’t wait to get home a take a good soak. I do have tickets for both of the early November events. Pretty much all of the same members as today, plus a Bibian ticket. I also have a ticket for Takahashi Ayane from Team 8, but I may oshi-mashi that one as I am not as big of fan of her as I thought I might be at the time I bought it. We’ll see.

 

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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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

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

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

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

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

Slot 3

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

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

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

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

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

Slot 4

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

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

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

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

And with that, I took a break.

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

Slot 5

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

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

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

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

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

 

CK in Tokyo

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

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

The Setup

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

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

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

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

The Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

CK in Tokyo

AKB48 My Guest Appearance on the 48TALK Podcast

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

http://www.derekvasconi.com/

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


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

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

CK in Tokyo