Archive for the ‘AKB48’ Category

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

AKB48, Events, HKT48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 48th Single Negaigoto no Mochigusare Individual Handshake Meeting at Makuhari Messe (2017/07/16)

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AKB48-Group 48th Single Negaigoto no Mochigusare Individual Handshake Meeting at Makuhari Messe (2017/07/16) ~Am I the First One Around Here to Do a Handshake with Cuca-chan?~

This was the leadoff event for the 48th single handshake events. For this release I decided to schedule handshakes for two dates, one this weekend and one for the 2nd weekend in August, although today I had the most tickets (14) I would be visiting most of my usual suspects, with a few new girls tossed in for a bit of variety. BTW, Disney on Ice was going on next door, so there were a billion kids around. I wondered why so many people who looked like they were going to Disneyland didn’t get off at Maihama when I was riding the train over.

A HUGE HALL

For today AKB had not two, not three, but FOUR halls rented out for the event. Halls 5-8 in the main building. It was actually divided into two separate venues, with a wide hallway in between. Halls 5-6 had SKE, NMB, and Team 8 (Lanes 1-96), and Halls 7-8 had AKB, HKT, NGT, and STU. (Lanes 97-187) Here’s a weird thing, the food trucks were in one hall, while the drink stand was in another. WHY??? Actually, most of the sales stuff was in Halls 7-8, while the info booth, manager booth, and drinks were on the opposite side. I hope they do something similar to this when SKE and HKT run simultaneous individual handshake events here in November.

WARNING

I am guessing this is due to the dickhead who decided to have his own fireworks show at the 46-group event, but the lane staff were being quite the jerks when it came to people’s names not being exactly the same on their IDs and tickets. Chara-ani stamped my tickets no problem, so ultimately it was a non-issue. But in the morning it was a pain in the ass as I kept getting questioned at check-in. Ultimately I have changed my name on all the preorder sites to romaji, so hopefully there won’t be a big problem in the future. Although in the case of Chara-ani, the system has an 8-letter limit, so Christopher ends up being “Christop” I hope that isn’t an issue. Ultimately it stopped being an problem after Slot 3, which makes me wonder if something was said to staff since it seemed to be an issue with every ticket I used in Slots 2 & 3.

So I had a total of 14 tickets for slots 2 through 7, including one “same day nomination” ticket. As for who I would use my “open ticket” for? I hadn’t decided, but I had a short list. Anyway, I got to the venue early. Since this was the voting ticket single, I anticipated huge lines. However, it wasn’t too busy when I got there. I got all of my tickets stamped, and it was still the end of Slot 1. I headed over to the other side of the venue for my one Slot 2 ticket…

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 155) – FINALLY! I have been wanting to meet her for so long! Ever since she captured my heart when I saw 16th gen in the theater. She has the cutest face with those big cheeks, and that semi-silly demeanor. As I mentioned before, the lane staff gave me a really hard time about my name on the ticket, but after a short argument where I pointed out their flawed reasoning, AND the fact that my tickets were stamped by chara-ani, they apologized and let me in. It was a really short queue, makes me wonder why her lanes weren’t “starred” Zunchan looked cute as a button, surrounded by bouquets of flowers. I entered the booth, and I got the “shocked to see a foreigner” reaction. “Hello?” I responded to her in Japanese, queue the even bigger shocked reaction. It was adorable. Anyway, I told her that I actually did high touch with her last month. Apparently she didn’t remember, but she thanked me, and then I got the “I LOVE YOU.” That’s nice. I told her I would see her again. She’s like “Really?” I said “Yes, I have more tickets!”

So a good start with Zunchan, and now I had an hour wait until Slot 3. I could have used my open ticket here, but by then I had an idea on who I would be using it for, and that opportunity wouldn’t be coming until Slot 5. After talking to friends for a while, slot three eventually started…

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 117) – A quick stop to see Bibian before I used a bunch of Akiyoshi tickets. She had no line, so I went right up to her. It was basically Bibian being all energetic. “Genki desu ka? Genki desu. Watashi mo!” I then said it looked like she just got her hair cut (It looked a bit shorter) I told her it was very cute, and was on my way. Bibian hasn’t been up to too much lately as far as I am aware, so not much to talk about.

During Slot 3 I ventured over to Cuca’s lane to see how the crowd was. Not surprisingly, most of the STU member lanes were completely empty, including Cuca. I felt bad. But at least she wasn’t alone. I spent a few minutes over there, and nobody came to many of the lanes the entire time I was there. I thought about using my open ticket right here, but ultimately I saved it.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 120) [four tickets] – I had five tickets in total for Yuka-chan, four spread over slots three and four. Yuka looked really cute, with a T-shirt, casual collared shirt over it, and shorts. I was excited to see her since I had just gotten my HKT48 Baseball Jersey (designed to sorta look like a Soft Bank Hawks Jersey) with her name on the back. So I showed that off to her. I later asked her about the T-shirt she was wearing, which had pictures of some characters, and like a vehicle, and the words “Joy Joy Joy Gintama” or something like that. She was trying to explain to me that it was from a manga, and I told her that I would ask my friends who like manga about it. Anyone have any ideas?

In the next slot I was one of the first in line. And after the first handshake where I basically told her that her outfit was cute, and then complained that my Akiyoshi baseball jersey was slightly too tight, I immediately re-queued. It was at this point that one of the other fans came up and started talking to me in fluent English. It turned out he lived in Europe for 10 years and occasionally did business in America. He reminded me that Yuka-chan is serious about learning English, so I should try speaking to her in English more, and that she would like that. Anyway, we queued together. And I’m sure the two of them were talking about me as she kept looking over to me the entire time. When I came up I mentioned that Koji-san said that she wanted to to hear me speak English more often, except I screwed up the verb conjugation, and it came out more like a demand than a confirmation. It took her a few seconds, but then she figured out what I meant. At least I think she did. I actually got the answer to this question later on in the day…

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 85) – This would be my first venture into the SKE/NMB/Team 8 Hall after being exclusively in the other hall all morning and afternoon. I had no NMB tickets, no Team 8 tickets (yet) and only one ticket each for Tani and Kaotan. So no reasons to hang out on this side. Anyway, Kaotan had a relatively short queue. In the meantime, she was right next to Tani, who spotted me, pointed at me, winked and gave me a quick acknowledgement between visitors. (Don’t worry Marika, I will be seeing you later) Kaori-chan grabbed me into her cross-handed shake, and lamented she hadn’t seen me in a while. I told her not to worry, that I have plenty of tickets for her at the SKE events. She asked how about today? I frowned, and told her this was my only one. Oh well. The fact is that I am trying to cut down on tickets to the 48-group events, especially since both HKT and SKE have singles coming out soon, and I bought tickets for those events too.

And with that, I went upstairs to take a break. The weird thing was that it was really hot and stuffy upstairs. normally it is hot and stuffy in the halls, and upstairs, outside the halls it is cool. But today it was completely the opposite. Anyway, Slot 5…

Sakaki Miyu [Cuca] (Lane 182) – I was really excited about this. After all, I wrote an article about her on my old blog like 8-9 years ago. I headed over to the STU section, and of course Cuca’s lane was empty. But just then a woman walked into her lane. Cuca got all excited, bouncing up and down. It reminded me of how Yakata Miki used to act when I would walk into her empty lane. So I stopped and waited, hoping nobody else would go into the lane until she finished talking to this woman. Luckily, nobody did, and just as she came down the exit I walked in. Cuca immediately started bouncing up and down, dancing the entire time. I finally made it to the booth. She thanked me for visiting her. I told her I have been watching her YouTube videos for a long time, and that I am really rooting for her to do well in STU, so to please do her best. She graciously thanked me, and I told her I would come and see her again (I have a ticket for her in August too)

Ultimately she is a really sweet girl. I was so happy to get the chance to meet her, and from her demeanor (and her lack of a queue) it made me want to come back and see her again. In fact, when I got home tonight the first thing I did was order three tickets for her for the upcoming single!

As I mentioned, I had one open ticket, which I could use on any “starred lane.” The problem was that since this is the voting ticket single, the lanes with stars on them are few and far between. I also prefer to use these tickets on girls that I haven’t met before, or in a while, as opposed to just using them on girls I am seeing anyway. In any case, I made a short list of girls I was considering using this ticket on, including a few 16th gen and Team 8 girls. Ultimately I decided on this member, since she was the one I liked the most when I saw Team 8 a couple of weeks ago…

Takahashi Ayane (Lane 1)
 – Since this was an open ticket, I had to wait until the middle of the slot before I could queue up. It should also be noted that she had four slots, and this was the ONLY one with a star on it. Apparently I was not the only one with this idea, as a few minutes before the middle of the slot, a bunch of fans started milling around her lane entrance, which was at the far end of the hall. About a minute before the call, everyone bum-rushed into the lane. So I joined in. It kind of annoyed me since I had been standing there longer than all of them, but whatever. Her line wasn’t terribly long. I basically told her that I went to the Team 8 show a couple of weeks ago, and that she made the biggest impression on me. She thanked me, and that was basically it. At the end of the day, she wasn’t the most dynamic handshake. But come to think of it, she wasn’t the most dynamic on stage either, so it sorta fits. I came to the conclusion that I merely thought she looked really cute on stage. I did get another ticket for her for the next single. We’ll see if a second visit is a little better…

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 111) [two tickets] – I didn’t go to see Maichan in the earlier slots, instead opting to see her in the afternoon. She had on a cute, light, summery dress with a flower pattern on it. However, when I was looking at it from a distance, I thought it was fruit. So I was already to make a joke about the fruit on her dress, but it got spoiled. In any case, I showed off my new HKT48 baseball jersey for her. She asked me if I had heard the new HKT song and purchased the single yet, but before I could answer I got pushed out.

When I returned (in the following slot) I told her that of course I bought the new single, and that HKT individual handshake events are much more fun than 48-group events. (I actually do mean that. I much prefer seeing HKT and SKE at their own events than at the group-single events) Anyway, she exclaimed “Yeah!” and gave me a high-five and my time ran out.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 155) [part two] – So when I told Zunchan that I had more tickets for her, I failed to mention that they were scheduled for six hours later (Hehe) But I kept my promise. Again, her queue was short. When I entered the queue she was saying something to me that sounded like a play of “osashiburi” It sounded like “hitachiburi” or something. It was a phrase I had never heard before. I kept repeating it back to her, since I didn’t know what it meant. I told her that I had cancel machi last week for 16th gen, bot lost. She gave a little frown, and as a was being pushed out I mentioned to her that I want to watch her perform more often. Ultimately, Zunchan is everything I expected in a handshake, which is a good thing since I ordered a few tickets for her for the next single. And if her lane is starred in August, I will be using my open ticket to see her.


Mikurin celebration. Glad to see my friend Panda got a good spot. I was behind the camera to the right

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 120) [part two] – At then end of my last handshake with Yuka-chan, I was mentioning something about speaking English with her more often, but I wasn’t sure she completely understood, even if she said she did. In the meantime, the Mikurin fans had a huge congratulatory ceremony planned for her since she made it to Undergirls. So I had a view from behind for that since I was queued or Yuka-chan a few lanes over. But to answer my question of whether or not Yuka understood me…

(All in English) “Hello Chris, did you eat lunch today?” Yes, I ate lunch. “What did you eat for lunch?” I had chicken from Family Mart. “Oh good!” She smiled, and I asked if it was fun to practice English with me. She nodded as I got pushed out. Koji-san was right, I should do that with her more often, just to mix it up.

Tani Marika (Lane 84) – For my last ticket, I decided to go out with a bang with the always crazy Tani. Plus, her lane was closer to the central exit of the hall. I had a conversation all planned for her, but she spoiled it with her manic behavior. She asked me what I thought of her look today. I know what happened the last time I didn’t say ‘kawaii” So I told her she was cho-Kawaii, and that she was also kawaii when I saw her do cosplay modeling for a new Kyoraku pachinko machine. She seemed surprised I brought that up, but then she was like “Yes, you like that, huh?” I told her I liked pachinko (partial truth) and it made me happy to see her doing those type of promotions.

Anyway, as expected the day ended on a good note. I had a Caribbean Jerk Chicken sandwich near the station before jumping on a train back to Tokyo. For the next 48-group event I have tickets to many of the same people, as well as Chori and Rikopi. But I am really excited about the new SKE48 single event, which is in two weeks. I have tickets to all my usual SKE members (Tani, Kaotan, and Yuzuki), as well as a few members I haven’t really talked with before, or for a long time (Obata, Soda, Aoki, Masanya) So it should be a lot of fun.

 

CK in Tokyo

AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Team 8 Live at the AKB48 Theater (2017/07/01, 11:30am Matinee)

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I still get surprised whenever I get some sort of “winning” email from the ticket center. In fact, yesterday I originally thought it was another website maintenance email, and only later opened it to find out I had cancel machi for the early matinee show on Saturday. So great, cancel machi. I had a shot.

The last time I had cancel machi was back in April, and I didn’t get in. But this time I had a lower lottery number, so my chances were better, although it definitely wasn’t a “sure thing.” However, by the time I left my apartment to head to Akihabara, the cancel machi number on the website had already reached 30. (In case you aren’t aware, if you win cancel machi, there is a counter on your lottery page that tells you how many people have cancelled via the website, so the higher that number goes, the better your chances) I got to Akiba a bit early, grabbed a coffee at Tully’s across the street. I stored my bag in the lockers behind the Donki (in that little parking lot) and headed up.

Per usual, a huge percentage of people who win show up at the last second, which makes the ticket queue very big leading up to the cutoff. With every person coming up the escalator, I felt my chances getting smaller. At exactly 11am they started calling cancel machi numbers, starting with #32 since they had 32 cancellations already, anyone with cancel machi #31 or less had already won and purchased a ticket. As he got into the 40’s, the staff member kept checking his counter. Uh oh, if he is looking at it that intently, we must be getting toward the end. Miraculously, he made it all the way to #59 before he called it closed. Bummer. However, since it got that high I actually had a pretty good chance of getting into the secondary lottery.

After cancel machi fills, they begin the theater entry lottery. At that point they estimate how many more people they can accommodate. However, these people will be the last to enter the theater. It’s usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 people. Since there weren’t that many people left waiting, I knew my chances were good. He had called all the way up to #70, and only two people were there. Finally, my number was called. They called three more people after me, and then cut it off. So cool, I was going to my 34th theater show. I’d be in the very back, but it was definitely better than losing, and watching on the monitors…

The Show

The last time I saw Team 8 was at their Saitama Super Arena concert earlier this year. It was a decent enough show, but I didn’t come away as a huge Team 8 fan. Moreover, there were no members that really grabbed my attention in a major way. When I looked at today’s lineup, I noticed a few familiar names, but nobody I was dying to see. That was fine, I would just enjoy the show, after all it was Aitakatta, which is a great stage. I grabbed a standing spot just right of center, where I had a decent, but not great look at the stage. I had barely been standing for a minute when the Kage-ana began, and then the show. Like I said before, I love the Aitakatta stage, and it had been quite a while since I had seen it performed live. But it has so many great old songs like Namida no Shounan, Rio no Kakumei, and Nagisa no Cherry. In any case, I wanted to see which members grabbed my attention, and a few did. Here ya go…

 

Takahashi Ayane (Saitama) – This girl is really cute, kind of a Komiharu/Paru type. She also reminds me a little of Kitazawa Saki (which may not be a good thing) Then it dawned on me,she was one of the girls I kinda liked when I saw them at Saitama! Just something about her smile, and I loved the way she danced on Nagisa no Cherry Unfortunately, she tended to “disappear” into the shadows quite often. She isn’t a front line member but I enjoyed her occasional moments up front.

 

Oda Erina (Kanagawa) – I think this girl is a champ. She just carries herself like a “pro-idol,” especially the way she toys with the audience members. I know she is somewhat popular, but I am surprised she doesn’t get more “love,” especially when I compare her to some of the Team 8 members who seem to be the most popular. She is also kind of tall. In fact, there was another “tall” members who I kinda liked. At first I decided Erina was better, so I started ignoring the other girl…..

Miyazato Rira (Okinawa) – As much as I tried not to pay attention to Rira, my eyes kept getting drawn to her until she finally won me over. She spends a lot of time in front, and has quite a fun aura. The funny thing is, according to our wiki she is only 155cm? That is even shorter than Wasamin! I dunno, she just came across as taller to me. Perhaps that is a testament to her energy on stage. She plays “bigger” than she is…

 

Yaguchi Moka (Miyazaki) – Her stocky build just draws your eyes every time. Idols come in all shapes and sizes, and this girl is really unique…

There were a few others I noticed, but I couldn’t remember every name. Terada Misaki (Nagasaki) was one, but that was in part because of her first name. Sato Nanami (Iwate) was another “tall” one that kinda stood out for me too. Then of course there’s Kuranoo Narumi. Now I do get that she has good stage presence, but I’m just not on board with her like the rest of the fans seem to be. Sometimes I am just puzzled by the fan’s general consensus. It’s the same with Orin Mutou in the 16th gen. I just think she has so many more talented and cuter peers, yet she gets all the attention. Oh well…

As expected, they had a second encore, which was mainly Team 8 songs, plus the new single. There was also a VTR advert for a a Team 8 documentary on YouTube. BTW, I love Seifuku no Hane, probably my favorite Team 8 song. I also remember really liking it when I heard HKT48 perform it earlier this year. Surprisingly, the new single, and its “waltz” time signature, is quite nice to see live.

Anyway, show ended. Time for “High Wave.” Unlike the last AKB show I won, I was one of the first to go through. I decided to give little “signals” to Ayane, Erina, and Rira to see how they would react. Erina reacted, but the other two didnt. Ayane was at the very end though. I did get a couple of “Hello!”‘s, but I can’t remember from who. I made it out, and was led to the back stairwell to exit. Is that a regular thing now? Maybe because it was a Saturday afternoon, but that was the first time for me that we weren’t allowed to use the escalators to leave.

So I seem to be winning at a rate of “once a month,” which is nice. It is a welcome change compared to what it was like before. And as I have ALWAYS maintained, there is nothing compared to seeing the 48-groups performing at their theater. NOTHING! This is a prime example. I went to see them at a major venue like SSA, and I came away “meh.” Go see them at the Donki, and I am a much more enthusiastic. To me idols are not meant to be seen at Stadiums, or major concert halls. They are meant to be seen in clubs, small places. It is in these intimate environments that you can really get what makes idols so special…

Anyway, that’s what I think.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, HKT48 AKB48-Group Shoot Sign Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2017/06/25)

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I have made it sort of a tradition to limit myself to two events with these AKB releases. Usually that means I focus most of my tickets on one particular date, and then I will get a few tickets for another date. I do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I don’t want to overspend on handshake events. Second, I like to keep my weekends open as much as possible for Wasamin events. So after having a much bigger day on June 10th in Pacifico, this would be my “light” event. When I say “light”, that means that I had four tickets spread over two slots (1-2)

So this post is going to be less about the actual handshakes and more about last night’s incident at the Nogizaka/Keyakizaka event next door. If you weren’t aware, both the 48 and 46 groups were having their big events at Makuhari this weekend, and in the same building. Nogi/Keya occopied 2/3 of the main halls, and the 48-groups had the last three halls down at the end. There was also some sort of Toys/Hobby Event happening in the other building, so there were tons of kids around the Convention Center.

I had to head out early since I had slot-one tickets. I ended up taking an unusual route at the suggestion of the Hyperdia train app. BTW I never go through Tokyo Station, I cannot stand that long-ass walk. Instead I usually take the subway to Shin-Kiba further along the Keiyo Line, or in this case I took the Sobu Line to Nishi-Funabashi, and transferred there. I was waiting for the train when all of a sudden someone comes up to me and asks me; “Aren’t you Cristafari from Stage48?” LOLZ It turns out he isn’t an active user, more of a lurker on the forum. And since he had never been to Makuhari Messe before, I decided to show him the ropes. i.e. Where the hall was, how to check in, ticket stamping, reading the legend, etc…

~Security~

The other issue was what the security situation would be like in the aftermath of the disturbance at the Keya/Nogi hall the previous evening. While I was on my way I messaged a couple of people who were already at the venue. They said it was a bit more thorough and strict than usual, but otherwise not a big difference, and the lines were not severely affected. However, when I got to the hall there was a big queue upstairs. I initially panicked. With a line this long there was no way we would make it to our slot one handshakes…

However, the upstairs queue turned out to be a bit misleading. In an unusual setup, they were doing the check-in bag check, and metal detector stuff downstairs in the hall, and they were only allowing a limited number of people in at a time to avoid congestion. So it actually took us less than five minutes to get to the security lines. As for the check in security? As expected, they thoroughly dug through my bag. However, I anticipated this, and only brought essentials, so that wasn’t a big deal. Also, they made me open my umbrella. I initially comlpained to the guy (who spoke English) “But it’s bad luck!” He laughed, and I opened it, splashing rain on him tool. LOL, serves him right. So not much of big deal, although I would advise people to pack their backpacks accordingly.

Once inside, there was really no difference in the process. Well, there was one. Check-in to the lanes was normal, as usual you store your bags in the bins when you get close to the front, and as usual you show your hands to the ticket taker to make sure you don’t have any contraband, or foreign substances. However, when it was your turn the guard next to the member had you show them your hands, and you had to keep them exposed until you shook the girls’ hand. Actually, that was always part of the procedure, it was just something they had become lax about enforcing. Anyway, I only had four tickets, for two members. One for each of them in Slots 1 and 2.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 25): For both of the members I had tickets for, the first slot offered the chance to win some signboard, while the second slot you drew for the 1-shot video. I lost both chances for the signboards, but won both of the 1-shot videos. From what I saw and heard, the signboard was kinda lame this weekend, so it was no big loss. Although I was kind of annoyed since in both lanes the person before me had five tickets, and both won multiple signboards (first guy in Akiyoshi’s lane won 4, in Maichan’s lane the guy won 3) I was like “Jeez, give me one!” Akiyoshi immediately noticed my Wasamin shirt and started asking me about it. I guess she forgot that I have told her before that I am a Wasamin-oshi. Anyway, she acted kind of surprised. nd for the second slot, here is my 1-shot video…

This time I took my time picking which phrase I wanted the girls to say. I thought this one looked cute, and it had that multiple “chu! chu! chu!” thing at the end. Yes, that was written on the paper. I didn’t get the chance to talk about Sousenkyo with her, but that was probably for the best since she didn’t rank. But I did tell her that despite the fact that Wasamin is my Kami-oshi, that she is my 48-group oshi. She was like “Honto???” I think that is the first time I have actually told her that.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 29): I didn’t have very far to go to get from Yuka-chan to Mai-chan, as their lanes were both tucked in the back-right corner of the venue. BTW, I forgot to mention that for the signboards they had switched to using the i-pads to decide who won. I guess the girls’ generosity the first weekend backed up the lines too much, so they decided to limit it by making it more random. At then end of the day the lines went much smoother, so I’m not complaining. Mai-chagave me her usual kami-reaction, and I told her that I watched the SSk on television, and congratulated her on her ranking. She then struggled to remember what her ranking even was. Frankly, I had forgotten too. But after a moment she remembered. And of course here is my 1-shot from Slot 2…

Nice photobomb by the guard at the end. Once again, I took my time in picking. And I knew this line would be a good one. Like Kaotan a couple of weeks ago, she asked if I wanted Japanese or English. I said Japanese was good. But like Kaotan, she threw some English in there anyway. I should also note that the guards told you when to start, and when to stop your video, which they didn’t do two weeks ago. fter the video, Maichan mentioned that she heard that I had a conversation in Japanese with some of her fans while in queue (a couple of her fans decided to strike up a convo with me) She was like “Really, it was in Japanese? That’s great!” So happy that I could impress Maichan. She’s so cute!

It was 10:45, and I was done.  I left the venue, but not before quickly signing a graduation card for Tanamin.  There were a bunch of indie idol shows I was thinking of seeing in the afternoon/early evening, but I was really tired, so I decided to go home. Perhaps if I got some rest I would be up for a show later. But instead I took a long nap. Probably for the best anyway. The next AKB handshake events will be for the 49th single next month. I am looking forward to finally having a handshake with Zunchan. I have a few other new members on my itinerary too, including Cuca from STU, so I am looking forward to that. Oh, and thank heavens SKE and HKT have new singles coming out, so I can focus on my favorite members from those groups.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, HKT48, New Release, SKE48 AKB48-Group Shoot Sign Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama (2017/06/10)

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This weekend marked the first Kanto dates of AKB48’s 47th single. Interesting that they are all occurring AFTER the release of the 48th single, but whatever. The 48-groups over-stuffed handshake event schedule causes things to get backed up once in a while. Of the five events planned for the general Tokyo area, I bought CDs/tickets to two of them. Most of my tickets were for yesterday’s event, and then I have a much smaller (four tickets) schedule for one of the events coming up in two weeks. I try to limit myself so I don’t over-buy, and one day on a weekend is plenty of idol-time, as far as I’m concerned. Also, I always have to be conscious of the possibility of Wasamin scheduling something for the same weekend. However, this weekend she is in Osaka. So no worries.

Yesterday I had fifteen tickets for essentially six members. Two of my tickets were for special stages, so I would see a couple of additional members there. The handshake events for this release also features special bonus prizes you could win, from signboards, to 2-shot selfies, 1-shot videos, etc. This are fun additional bonuses to win, however in some cases (the signboards in particular) they can make the queues go painfully slow. I ran into that on more than one occasion. Anyway, I got to the venue shortly before the beginning of Slot 2 and immediately went to get my tickets stamped. It was the longest queue at the information booth I had ever personally experienced. It didn’t take too long, around 15 minutes, but the delay slightly screwed up my Slot 2 schedule. Let’s get to the experiences, shall we…

Slot 2

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 1) After getting my tickets stamped, I immediately queued up for Maichan, whose lane was near the info booth. It was a medium to long size queue, however since it was a signboard lane it was going very slowly. This was an issue since I had THREE Akiyoshi tickets for the same slot. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have gone to see Yuka-chan first. But oh well. After two turns, the lane went slightly faster, but there was less than 20 minutes left in the slot. I finally got to Maichan…

For the signboard, you had to pick which hand the heart-shaped ‘guitar pick'(?) was in. Of course many of the girls “help” you win. I was watching Mikurin in the next lane, and she would shake the hand that the pick was in. For Maichan, she “accidentally” showed me the pick for a brief second before she clasped her hand. Needless to say, I won. Maichan gave me a special bonus by writing on both sides of the signboard, which was cool.  I congratulated her on her preliminary SSK ranking, but then admitted I really hate the Sousenkyo, and gave her my reasons.  She then asked if I was going to Okinawa, I said no.  She actually nodded like she wasn’t surprised to hear this, as I am surely not the only one who feels that way.  Finally I thanked her, and was on my way. Slot 2 was almost over…

Akiyoshi Yuka x3 (Lane 16) I didn’t have too far to go to get to Yukachan’s lane. The line was fairly short, so I figured I could ‘loop’ the line once, and use my last two tickets together. However, that didn’t work out as planned because this was also a painful slow line due to the signboards. There was less that five minutes before the Slot closed, and I was sixth in line, so I went back to the check-in table and changed to use all three of my tickets at one time. It was a smart move since the person originally in front of me was just finishing when they closed the gate, so I wouldn’t have been able to loop. On the other hand, I probably shouldn’t have bothered, and kept those as ‘open tickets’ since the girls took as long as they wanted to sign the boards, regardless of how many tickets you were using.

I finally got to Yuka-chan, and we were so busy talking we forgot to play the game. She just began signing a signboard for me. Not technically, I could have (and probably would have) won more than one, but I didn’t care. As I have always maintained, the bonus prizes are fun, but they are totally secondary to me. I have just as much fun talking to the members I support. While Yuka-chan was signing, I mentioned that I saw the recent HKT stage where she bragged about having Kaigai fans. She smiled, and kinda winked at me. Not that I’m her only foreign fan, in fact she recently made a G+ post about her fans from Thailand. But I know that I am among that Kaigai stable she is proud of.

Anyway, two lane visits, and two signboards. Not bad. I hoped my luck would continue the rest of the day. And I also hoped that I wouldn’t run into any more time problems. However, that was wishful thinking…

Slot 3

Tani Marika – part one (Lane 81) I had to go to the other side of the event hall to gt to Tani’s lane. BTW, AKB had rented out the entire of Pacifico for this event, so the event hall was huge! I got to Marika’s lane early and queued up. I considered using both of my tickets at once, but her line was short, so this wouldn’t take forever. Boy was I wrong…

By the time Marika showed up, the queue got considerably longer. I was fine for my first ticket, but I wondered how long it would be for my second, since Tani is just like Kaotan, and ignores the time people. Plus, this was another signboard. Anyway, I got to Marika, and I was ready to tell her how sexy she looked, when she asked me, “Do I look beautiful today?” I responded that she looked really sexy. Unsatisfied, she asked if that meant that she didn’t look beautiful. Haha, Tani always looking for reassurance. I told her I really liked her denim jacket. She did a big Tani-styled signature on my signboard, complete with a little Unko-character. When I left the queue, the line had gotten really big. I originally planned on taking a break after the next ticket, but if I waited I wouldn’t have time. So I decided to take a break now and come back for the second ticket a little later…

Tani Marika – part two (Lane 81 Lane 79) I eventually came back to the lane 10 minutes before the gates were due to close, and 40 minutes before the end of Slot three. The line was still pretty big. In fact, there was even a short queue to even check in. Usually that only occurs for the top Senbatsu members. I wasn’t too worried, however since even if I had to wait a little bit into Slot 4, I would still have plenty of time to do my three slot 4 tickets. That nonchalance turned to worry as time ticked away, and the queue was moving at a snail’s pace. One of the three tickets I had for Slot 4 was a Special Stage, so I needed to get my other two Yuka-chan tickets done within the first 45 minutes of the slot, otherwise I could miss the special stage. At the beginning of Slot 4, Marika’s line was still long, so they moved all of us to a different lane to complete the slot. The problem was that Marika was letting everyone win the signboards, even if you have multiple tickets. So if a fan came up with like 10 tickets, she would do like eight signboards for them, and it would take forever. So there were people in there for like 5 minutes at a time. Ugghhhh…

After 90 minutes in queue, I finally got my turn. I decided to make it up to Tani by making a big deal of how beautiful she looked. However, she wasn’t buying it one bit. She gave me the stink eye like “Meh, too late” Marika noticed I had on a bunch of HKT gear, including an HKT concert shirt. So she commented that I am an HKT fan. “But I like SKE too!” “Who is your favorite SKE48 member? “Tani Marika! And also Kaotan. Tani and Kaotan are my 2-Top” I told her that I recently won an SKE Theater show, but it was for Team KII, and that I would love to see Team E. She said that she wanted me to see her perform. Anyway, I got another cool Tani signboard, and I was off to try to use the rest of my Slot 4 tickets.

Slot 4

Akiyoshi Yuka x2 (Lane 16) I was already late to the pre-queue of the Special Stage, but I had a few minutes. I decided that if Yuka-chan’s queue was short, I would loop the line. Otherwise I would have to use both tickets at the same time again. Lo and behold, her line was very short. So I checked in with one ticket. It also turned out that her lane was “automatic win” for the 1-shot video. Hmmm, that’s not good. It means she sold very few tickets for this slot. I quickly chose one of the pre-selected sayings for Yuka-chan to do, and made it up to her within a minute or so. I quickly asked her if #7 was good, and she said it was. Here’s the video…

Cute! While I did the handshake I quickly asked her which of the phrases she recommended, but she said she did n’t really know. Oh well, I would take a wild guess on the next one since I was running out of time. I ran back to the entrance and re-checked in. With the form I quickly checked off a random phrase, and re-queued. While I was waiting, I hear my name being yelled. “Kurisu! Kurisu!!!’ I turn and look around, it is Sakaguchi Riko! Haha, Rikopi is pushing hard for me to be her fan, LOL. I quickly told her that I would see her at her Special Stage later on, and she said “Okay, see you there!” Her English is pretty good, too. I made it to the front of the queue, and got ready to shoot my video…

Oops, my birthday isn’t for another six months. Hahahaha, I guess I will save that one and play it back in December. I thanked Yuka-chan, and told her I would see her (and Rikopi) at her special stage later on. I hustled over to the special stages, there was less than 10 minutes before it started. I was still okay…

 

Yabuki Nako, Tanaka Miku, Fuchigami Mai (Special Stage C12) As I got to the C-stage check-in, they were just starting to let people into the room. I quickly checked in, and got my ticket. It was #225. Not good, but at this point it didn’t really matter since they had already let most of the first 100 people in. Eventually my number was called, but I didn’t hear it since the neighboring stage was really loud. But eventually I realized that they were past my number, so I went in and positioned myself in the standing area, around three people back. I tried to find a spot where I would have a semi-unobstructed view. Anyway, I took a couple of short videos during the event.

Nako/Miku Singing…

The last pose they did…

They were doing a bit where they would pose based on a scenario, like “Your best gravure pose, or “Sasshi pose” It was cute. I was there to see Maichan, but Nako/Miku were definitely the ‘stars’ of the stage. However, there were a lot of Maichan fans in the room, so she got good support too. After this I had a bit of time, since I only had one ticket for Slot 5, and my Yuka-chan special stage was just before the beginning of Slot 6, so I took a lunch break at the food trucks outside.

Here was my lunch, a Kimchi-Steak Bowl. If was actually really good. A bit over-priced for the size, but whatever. I would definitely eat there again. I also did a couple other things during this break. I went to the goods line to get the SSK pins they were selling. Unfortunately they were already sold out of the Akiyoshi pin, but I decided to grab a Kaotan pin, especially since I would be seeing her later on.

I also signed a Zunchan birthday card, and her fans gave me a few little tokens of appreciation. Yamane Suzuha is my new favorite AKB-girl, but unfortunately I do not have any tickets for her until the next single events. I would have happily traded in one of my tickets yesterday for her, but she did not have a star (*) on her lane, so same-day nomination was not available. Oh well…

Slot 5

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 1) Back to Maichan, who I just saw at the special stage. This was also a 1-shot Video lane, but I didn’t win. It was my first loss of the day :( Oh well, when I got up to Maichan she immediately commented that she saw me at the Special Stage, and asked if I got any good pictures. I got lots of them, but unfortunately on many of my photos Maichan was turning profile to talk to Nako/Miku. Then Maichan admitted that she had forgotten my name. Interesting, since she had signed it a few hours ago. But that’s okay, I told her my name again, and was off. She is one of the few I have tickets for at the June 25th event.

Akiyoshi Yuka, Sakaguchi Riko, Tomiyoshi Asuka (Special Stage C16) Unlike the morning, all of a sudden I had loads of time to kill before I could use my next ticket on this stage. I took a walk around the venue to see who had the longest queues. They also had all of the SSK posters on the far wall, with all of the member ‘promises’ should they achieve their ranking goals. Eventually it was time, and I queued to get my entry ticket, #76. Not terrible, and many of the numbers in front of me weren’t selected at all, so I ended up getting in within the first 30 people. I got a seat in the second row, on the left side, and was ready to go. Luckily, Yuka-chan was positioned on that side too, so I chose my spot perfectly. Like the first special stage, I shot a couple of short videos, starting with the intro…

This video includes the performance of Kimi/Suki

Q&A

Essentially they were answering questions from the audience, and at the end they all sang Kimi/Suki, which was fun. Rikopi has a very nice singing voice. Asuka, on the other hand, was a bit shy and would only sing the chorus. After this I had two hours until my evening tickets, so I left Pacifico and went to Queen’s Square mall for a dinner break.

 

Slot 7

Tanabe Miku (Lane 40) This is the final weekend Tanamin will be doing handshakes, so I was glad I had a ticket for her. I queued up early, since the was a possibility of her line being unusually long. This was a signboard lane, and for the first time, I lost for the signboard. With Tanamin, there were no hints, just a 50/50 shot. Anyway, I congratulated her, and said I remembered the first time I saw her live almost 10 years ago. Tanamin said not to worry, and that we will surely be seeing each other at Wasamin concerts. Hahaha, does that mean that Tanamin is planning on joining the Wasamin fan club? Quite a few of Tanamin’s fans also like Wasamin, so her comment got a bit of a chuckle from the people behind me.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 80) Kaotan’s lane was not too long. I checked in, and immediately won the 1-shot video. Cool, my luck had returned! I was watching the people in front of me, and Kaotan was ignoring the phrases and giving everyone a personalized video. Cool! However, I noticed the girl in front of me didn’t press record for her video. I tried to point it out, but the girl ignored me. Then Kaotan asked her if the video was okay, and she said yes. She then looked at me, looked at the girl, and asked “Are you sure?” She confirmed it, although I could see that her video was only one second, and that one second was at the end after I told her she wasn’t recording. Oh well. Eventually it was my turn, and I asked her to give me a special Kaotan greeting. She asked me if it was okay if it was in Japanese. I said that would be fine. So here we go…..

Bwahahahaa! So she went for the English anyway. According to Kaotan, I am a “nice boy, a beautiful boy” Oh, and after she started laughing I stopped recording, but then she kept going. Oops, I interrupted her, and told her I stopped recording already. She was like “Chris!!!” :fp: For the handshake, I told her I had a lot of fun at the Team KII show back in April. She was like “Oh, that’s right, you were at a show!” She thanked me continuously as I made my way out the exit, I would be turning around to see her in just a little while anyway…

Slot 8

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 80) I normally don’t stay for Slot 8, but since Kaotan and Bibian were both late slots only, I decided to stick it out. I also was interested in winning the 2-shot selfie they were both offering. I queued up early for Kaotan, and was fourth in line. Upon check in, the first three people ALL won the 2-shot. Damn, I knew what was coming. I pressed the button…Not A Winner! Oh well, I won in the previous slot. We queued up and waited for Kaotan, who I knew would be late since her previous slot went almost to 8pm. In the meantime…

I forgot to mention earlier, that Kaotan and Tani’s lanes were right next to the ‘handicapped lane’. It was the first time I got a really good look at how they run things in those lanes. In fact, a couple of my Wasa-fan friends use those lanes at AKB events. It’s neat how they set up an itinerary for the girls to come over and see these fans. There is also quite a bit of camaraderie among the fans that use those lanes too. Oh, and the main guard running the SKE handicapped lane was so cute! And she was great, she had wonderful demeanor, and of course she knew sign language, which I’m sure is a prerequisite since many of the fans that use those lanes are hearing impaired. I think the hardest part of the job is trying to arrange the popular members, who have very big queues. Not surprisingly, many of these fans also have tickets for girls like Jurina, Sasshi, and Sayanee. So it is quite the challenge. I saw Jurina over there a couple of times, as well as Masanya, Ryoha, Kanon, Ego, and Dasu. Anyway, back to Kaotan…

Eventually she came out. The funny thing was that none of the fans seemed to know how to take a selfie. They didn’t now how to reverse their camera, or how to position it. Kaotan would have to show em how to do it. Anyway, it was my turn, and Kaotan was very apologetic that I didn’t win. But I told her that I got my extension, and I would be living in Japan quite a bit longer. She got very excited, and asked me if I would continue to live in Itabashi. Wow, she still remembers exactly where I live, LOL. I told her I would be seeing her in a couple of weeks, and was off to use my final ticket…

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 13) I went all the way across, back to the other side of the hall. Bibian’s lane was relatively short, and BOOM, I won the 2-shot. It was only a couple of minutes until I made it to the front of the queue. But like the fans in Kaotan’s lane, I am also a bit of a novice when it comes to taking selfies. I positioned the camera as best I could, and kept asking Bibian if it looked okay, then I finally took the shot. Ladies and gentlemen, behold the WORST 2-shot selfie in history…

LOLZ. I love my famous “trying to balance the camera and hit the button” look, coupled with Bibian’s “photobombing” from the bottom right. On the other hand, it is moments like these that make the events even more memorable. So it’s all good. Since I won the 2-shot, I barely had time to say hello, cool poster, and thank you to Bibian before I was pushed out. And that was it, I was done for the day.

As much as I say that I don’t really care about the special prizes they now offer, they do add a bit of excitement to the events, even if in some cases they can cause lanes to get backed up. At the end of the day I didn’t have to eat any tickets. Makes me wish I had a few more tickets for two weeks from now. But what I am really looking forward to is the new SKE release, since I prefer the SKE and HKT exclusive events anyway.

CK in Tokyo