Archive for the ‘AKB48’ Category

AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage (2018/07/13)

0 Comments

 
Lanterns line the outside of the UDX building behind the Donki, bringing a very festive atmosphere to Akiba

Things are beginning to look up, ticket center-wise. It had been slightly more than two weeks since my last cancel machi (and eventual theater win) for AKB’s Idol Chugyou Chuu! stage, and after waking up Wednesday morning I saw the email that had again won cancel machi for Friday Night.  It was a great number. (#6) With a cancel machi number that low, I would undoubtedly win. In fact, when I checked my ticket center account, it already said that I had won the show, which meant at least six people had cancelled overnight. Yatta! This was going to be my 43rd Theater Show!

So of course I was excited to be seeing Ranchan again. I just hoped that I would get a good draw in to the theater so I was close to the stage. Fast-forward to Friday; I headed over to Akihabara in the mid-afternoon after sweating (both literally and figuratively) my way through three Kanji tests. My brain felt like jelly, so I looked forward to blowing off some steam in the theater. But first I headed over to The Hub for a couple of pre-show cocktails. Eventually I made it over to the theater. I was kinda hoping to get a high lottery number, since I have noticed the times I have been in the theater that the high numbers are often called early. I mean it is supposed to be completely random, but personally when I get a good draw-in, it is often with a high number. The theater wasn’t very crowded at all, so I stored my backpack, and eventually queued up to buy my ticket. I had ticket #121, which meant when my group was called I would be the 2nd person in.

They also had some sort of special event in the lobby, where Inagaki, Yasuda, and  Suzuki Kurumi came out and did a Dare ka no Tame ni donation collection with the fans. I was a bit out of position, so I didn’t get to participate, but everyone cheered for them. It all took about a minute or two. Eventually it was time to call the lottery for seat draw…

1st: 10-19 (Wow, the early birds got one for a change!)
2nd-4th: 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 (Again wow, right in a row, and again the earlier arriving fans)
5th-6th: 230-239, 210-219 (Cancel machi peeps get a good draw)
7th: 130-139 (Damn, just missed!)
8th: 120-129 (Yatta, not bad!)

Okay, I should at least be able to get a seat. How good a seat though? It didn’t help that I set off the metal detector for some inexplicable reason, which slightly delayed my entrance. I wanted to be on the left side of the stage, but that section was beginning to fill up. I wasn’t sure, but the right side seemed relatively empty, so I walked to the other side. Sure enough, only the first row was taken on the right, so I headed over to the second row. First I took the inside seat, but it was next to the pillar, and blocked half the stage, so I moved to the far end of the row, next to that little side stage the girls sometimes dance on. It was further from the center, but a much better view. I brought a lightstick for a change, so I was ready to go. Eventually we heard the Kage-ana, and the overture, it was showtime!

Per usual, since most of you are fairly well-versed in the stage setlists and such, I will focus on my impression of the members. Obviously my focus will be on Ranchan. But I have cultivated a bit of familiarity with many of the 16th gen girls in this show, and there are a couple other draftees I kinda like too, and since Ranchan was going to be on the opposite side of the stage for a lot of the show, I could focus on other members for a bit. So let’s start with….

Members who fished me:

Tada Kyoka: I had never really noticed her before, but I got a closeup view of her last week at the handshake event since her lane was next to Zunchan. She always has a big smile on her face and is often ‘working’ the audience members. She looked at me quite often during the show, and more than once mimicked my response. She’s really not my type of idol, but I gotta give her points for the effort.

Yasuda Kana & Inagaki Kaori: I have been interacting with these two for quite a while now, and Kana is always scanning the audience for who she can fish, she is super-energetic and genki. I have to give her credit for being one of the most dynamic girls on the stage. Inagaki, kinda like Suzuki Kurumi, has really blossomed since I started seeing both of them in the ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ stage. I am also amazed how popular she is. Inagaki easily gets the loudest reactions throughout the show. Speaking of reactions…

Member who made a big impression…on somebody

Taguchi Manaka: I didn’t even see her name on the performance roster, but she was there, and it seems like she gets at least close to center position on many of the songs. She was also getting great audience reactions. She seems to be a good singer, but I have personally never been drawn to her. She also does an amazing job centering Tsundere!

Draftees who I came away with a great impression of (Besides Ranchan)

Otake Hitomi: Okay, I have to admit, I find this girl totally hawt. Adorable face, nice figure, great energy and dancing on the stage. She is a lot of fun to watch. I found myself suddenly really wanting to meet her at a handshake event. There is just something about her face, she looks mature and cutesy-kawaii at the same time. Just my type, sexy and cute. And, she has a husky voice. Love it!

Honda Sora: So yeah, I have been talking up both Hitomi and Sora since the first time I saw the draftees perform, and I have had the same impression each time. Both of them are really cute, and have great stage presence and energy. I actually expect good things from both of them in AKB’s future.

Katsumata Saori: This is the first time I had ever noticed her, but she was in front of me quite often during the show, and I found myself drawn to her stage presence more than once.  She reminds me a bit of HKT48’s Yamamoto Mao.

And then there’s…

Kobayashi Ran (Ran-chan!) I was there to root for Ranchan, but could only get a peripheral look at her for the first half of the show. She slid over to my side a couple times, but only briefly, and our eyes didn’t meet. It wasn’t until Saishuu Bell ga Naru that our eyes finally met, and she locked onto me for a good 5 seconds or so. It was awesome, totally focused on me. From that point forward, she would find me whenever she slid over to my side of the stage. A nice setup for when I meet up with her at the handshake event next weekend.

Notes on other members…

I am used to getting fished by Taya Misaki, but she left me alone for the most part, despite being in front of me for much of the show. Yahagi Moeka did not get as big an ovation as I am used to her getting, and I noticed she fiddles around with her outfit a lot when the MCs aren’t focused on her. But per usual, her singing is top notch. This was the first time I had seen Okada Rina, and she seemed like she wasn’t too comfortable on stage. In fact, her introduction MC was one of the shortest I have ever seen. Oddly enough, she sorta reminds me of a young Meetan.

I wasn’t in the front row, and I wasn’t in the center, but 2nd row far right does have its perks. Probably the biggest is when the girls go to the side stage. At that point my seat becomes temporarily a front-row seat. This is particularly evident during Shinkirou, where Inagaki did her first verse just a couple meters away from me. But the members also dance on the side during Kanojo ni Naremasuka and Sobukasu no Kiss, so I was in a great position for that. I also want to echo what @Riina said a couple weeks ago. The black, red, and silver outfits the members wear for RIVER are awesome!

Eventually the show ended, and it was time for “High Wave,” as I like to call it. I get the usual enthusiastic, and sometimes English greetings. I also tried to make a connection with Hitomi, but I blew past her fairly quickly. I was really waiting to get to Ranchan, who was second from the end. Of course it was my best reaction, and we are really connecting now that she has seen me at three shows and multiple handshake events. I feel sorry for Tacchan though, who was at the end. I was so focused on Ran, that I pretty much ignored her. Oh well.

I headed out to buy the Group pic, and it wasn’t until I got home that I saw the inside has little messages from all the performing members. Another really nice touch, which to me has become an essential part of the theater experience. I am developing a small collection of those Team Picture booklets.

My next scheduled 48-group events are the Teacher Teacher handshake event next weekend, and then HKT’s handshake event in early August. I also have an application in for the #17-#100 SSK thank you concert at Yokohama Arena. We’ll see how good my luck is on that one. In the meantime, this will be a busy weekend as I am seeing both Wasamin and Minyo Girls. Should be a lot of fun.

CK in Tokyo

Tags: ,

AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 51st Single “Jabaja” Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2017/07/08)

0 Comments

This was the last of the Jabaja handshake events I had purchased tickets for, although there are a few still happening in mid-August. I originally planned to be in California at some point in August, so I have avoided all of the handshake events scheduled for the month (with the exception of HKT on August 4th) However, it is beginning to look more and more like I may remain in Japan for the entire Summer (Ugghh!) The good news is I can get resale on some of the August handshake events, but not all. Anyway…

My ticket schedule was slightly different than usual. Kaotan was not scheduled for this event for some reason (a horse racing event, according to her blog), and Tani was only scheduled for the night slots, so I didn’t see either of them. I also wanted to oshi-mashi and see Ran-chan (Kobayashi Ran) but I couldn’t decide which of my tickets to give up, and she was scheduled for Slot 5 only, meaning I would have waited an extra three hours to see her. I have tickets for all three of them on the 21st, so all good.

I was really exhausted this morning. I have had difficulty sleeping due to stress, which will hopefully subside at the end of the Semester later this month. In fact, I have been for the most part skipping idol stuff until the end of this month. I would have been completely happy blowing this event off as well, except I really wanted to talk to Yuka-chan since I hadn’t spoken to her since she ranked in Sousenkyo. All of my tickets were for the first three slots, so I would simply head down early, get my tickets done, and bail back home around lunch time. I had no trouble making it to Makuhari by 9am…

Slot 1

Sakaki Miyu <Cuca> (Lane 74) Interestingly, this is the first time I know of where Cuca’s prize wasn’t an instant win. This means that she is beginning to sell more tickets in the one slot they give her. She wasn’t sold out since her lane was *starred*, but at least it’s progress. And, I DIDN’T WIN! Heh, it was the 2-shot/1-shot prize. Anyway, her line only had a couple people in it, so she saw me heading down the lane toward her booth. After the obligatory greetings, I asked her about the stage play she is going to be in. She completely lit up, and told me that she was very excited and she would be working hard. I gave her my best, and was off. I’m glad I came armed with something to talk to her about this time.

Interestingly, aside from Cuca the rest of my tickets were for lanes all stuffed in the far left back of the venue, so I pretty much stayed in one small area for the entire morning. I did walk around a bit just to do a bit of people watching.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 40) Yukachan’s lane also offered the 2-shot/1-shot, and this time I won. I was torn which to choose, and ultimately decided on the selfie. Later I noticed most of the fans chose the 1-shot video, and had Yuka-chan do the fashion show. Yuka-chan saw me coming down the lane and smiled. I waved my winning sheet at her, and she exclaimed “Yatta, you won!” Since there was no wait, I wasn’t ready, so I took my time putting my bag in the bin, and getting my camera ready before stepping into the booth. I centered the camera, made sure at least Yukachan was completely in the shot, and fired away!

Okay, my selfies are getting a bit better, although I still do them “two-handed.” So it was my chance to congratulate her on her ‘victory’ of sorts. I told her when I saw the smile on her face after she was called it warmed my heart. Yuka-chan exclaimed that she was so glad I came to see her, and thanked me for cheering for her. I told her I would be back a little later.

Slot 2

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 36) I decided I would queue up early to see Zunchan since I know her line tends to get long. In fact, she still had a queue from Slot 1 when we were allowed into the lane for check-in. I was second in line, which meant I had a great view of her signs. Since it has been topic of conversation in the past, I decided I would do my best to completely read her signs, and if I could, talk to her about them. In the meantime, Asai Nanami was in the next lane over, and had her booth completely decorated for the Tanabata holiday. In between the slots, Zunchan took a short break, but Naamin stayed in her booth, and at one point walked into Zunchan’s booth to check the decor. Frankly, Zunchan’s decor wasn’t quite as elaborate as usual, but there were lots of signs. Naamin muttered “sugoi” and “kawaii” before heading back into her booth. Zunchan came out with Gabriel-kun in tow. (Her stuffed animal Frog)

By the way, her sign was all about the types of foods she likes to eat in the Summer. Among her favorites were shaved ice, frankfurters, and some kind of potato dish. The sign asked us what our favorite Summer dishes are, and playfully offered to enjoy Summer foods together. After quickly greeting Gabriel-kun, I told her that I read the sign, and that my favorite Summer foods were American barbecue like spareribs, and hot dogs, and that I liked beach barbeques. I think it surprised her, since I was indeed responding to her questions on the sign. When I mentioned the ribs she got very excited, but quickly my time was up and I was getting pushed out.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 40) By the time I made it back to Yukachan her line had emptied out. I didn’t win the signed photo, but I actually already have one, so no biggie. I really didn’t have much more to say to her, so I basically told her about my day during the Sousenkyo, and that I was on a train when people started messaging me about her ranking. Anyway, I repeated that I was very happy for her.

Slot 3

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 33) After talking to my friend Panda for a while, I pre-queued for Zukki’s lane since it tends to get long, which it did. I did have a few guys cut in front of me on the way in, but decided to not make an issue of it. It all worked out however, since I ended up winning the 1-shot video prize. I was reading over the choices, which included a bunch of Summer-related material, and of course the fashion show is always popular, except that’s what I had her do last time. I was between two lines. One was her asking me to buy her shaved ice, and the one I chose…

Yay, Zukki and I are going to watch fireworks together. Sounds like a fun date. I hope she wears a Kimono! I told her I have been following her Twitter, and I like that she posts lots of cute pictures. She protested that her pictures aren’t cute. (Yeah, right) Interestingly, Zukki is consistently becoming one of my favorite handshake experiences. Even more interesting, I had forgotten I even had this ticket, and only noticed it when I was sorting my tickets at the venue, LOL.

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 43) It had been quite a while, but I was finally getting the opportunity to visit with Bibian again. What would I talk about? Produce48? Oh…

So the ‘special’ prize of the day was a signed time-card. What is that you ask? Exactly what you think it might be. An actual time card, which they drop into a time clock at their booth and then sign it. I mean really, this is on the same level of randomness as those signed resumes we won last month. Bibian’s was the only chance I had to win it, and mercifully I lost. Whatever. In the meantime I found a fan’s identification on the ground. I picked it up, and started looking for the person it belonged to. After nobody around me claimed it, I just held it up until either someone said it was theirs, or until a guard came by. Eventually one of the Bibian fans took it and started yelling “Who lost their ID?” Finally a guy in line noticed it was his.

The line was going very slow since it was a signing slot. I wasn’t sure how Bibian would react to me since she gave me a semi-dirty look last month when she spotted me in another lane. However, she was just as genki as usual. She was all blinged out to with a bunch of heart-related jewelry. I mentioned that I laughed at her tweet she made during the Japan soccer match the other day. If you haven’t seen it, it’s very cute.

https://twitter.com/murakawabibiann/status/1013840102487818240

Bibian is awesome on twitter. Her tweets ore often so silly. After shaking Bibian’s hand I headed out, but then the guard called me back in. It seems there was a consolation card for people who didn’t win the time-card. Okay, I’ll take it. And it also meant I got an extra few seconds with Bibian since she reached out to grab my hands once again.

And that was it. I was able to win 2 prizes out of six, which is about par for the course. Although admittedly I was surprised I didn’t win a couple of them. But it was 12:30, and I was heading home to 1) write this, 2) rest, and 3) get on this major assignment I have that’s due in two days. My next 48-group related events will be AKB’s Teacher Teacher event on the 21st, and then HKT’s handshake event in early-August. I have a couple of interesting members scheduled, so we’ll see how it goes.

CK in Tokyo

Tags: ,

AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage (2018/06/24)

0 Comments

Almost exactly one month to the day from my previous win I received another cancel machi email. Actually, I didn’t realize I had won cancel machi until I saw my friend post about her cancel machi win. I immediately checked my email, and I had one too for the same show, albeit with a somewhat higher cancel machi number (39)

As I have mentioned before, they list a ‘cancellation count’ on the ticket center for those who have cancel machi. It didn’t go very high last evening, and when I woke up this morning it had only reached 15. This dampened my hopes that I would get into the seat lottery, but I still thought my chances were good to get into the show. When I arrived at the theater the count was at 18. However, the last five minutes saw an onslaught of people queue up to buy tickets. In the meantime Riina found me hiding over by the rear lockers, and wished me luck before she queued up for the entrance lottery.

Cancel Machi

Interestingly, the guy doing the cancel machi call was calling in sets of five. (20-25, 25-30) I thought to myself “jeez, they must have a lot of space left.” Unless that is just the way they do it now, I don’t know. He called 30-35, and I thought I was good to go. In the meantime a bunch of latecomers showed up with winning emails, and they let a few of them into the line. I hoped that didn’t dash my chances. Ya know, they used to not do that. If you were late you had to wait until after cancel machi was over. But I suppose it is the nicer thing to do. Anyway…

Staff called #36, and closed it off. SHIT!!! So close. I was still going to get in, but as one of the last people to enter the theater. The bigger bummer was the last 12 cancel machi winners all got a great entrance draw too. Eventually my group queued up as the ‘final 10′ winners’ as they brought us into the lobby. There I saw that Riina was in one of the last groups still not called in. And as I finally entered the theater, I saw her struggling to find a spot where she could see, I went to the far right to the standing area, where I thought I saw a bunch of space. It ended up being a terrible place to watch the show from, too many tall people in front of me. But at that point I was pinned in and had nowhere else I could go…

Part of the problem was this guy who had kinda positioned himself like he wanted a lot of elbow room. There was a bit of space behind him to his left, his right (and in front of him too), so I took the spot to his left, and sorta behind him. He kept creeping backward and almost had me pinned to the back rail, so I moved over to his right against the wall. I could tell this ticked him off, but I didn’t care. He was trying to create this ‘force field’ all around himself, and I and everyone else weren’t having any of it. Plus, he was a dead fish throughout the show. No lightsticks, chanting, clapping, nothing. Oh well…

My 42nd Theater Show, Yatta!

So given that I had a horrible vantage point, where I could sorta see the right side of the stage, and maybe little bit of the left side, there isn’t too much I can say about the girls’ performances. In fact for ‘Blue Rose’ I technically didn’t see the performance at all. I spent most of the show craning my neck around looking for Kobayashi Ran (Ranchan) although I would have probably been best served just paying attention to whoever was at the far right of the stage. Ranchan spends most of her time on the opposite side of the stage, but does come over to the right side in that later portion of the show. I did spend some time observing the members I could see in order to gauge which members I might find interesting. I found two members in particular, Sato Shiori and Otake Hitomi interesting to watch. Not surprising since they were among the same members I liked when I saw this same stage last month.

Once again, I really enjoyed the setlist of the stage, particularly the River/Bell/Theater/Kiss set. The last three are all songs I like, and even River is fun to watch live. The opening set is really nice too. All told, Yukirin picked out a nice stage.

High ‘Wave’ 

After clearing out the first row, one of the first areas they clear out as fans leave the theater is the little balcony to the right of the sound booth, so I was able to hoist myself on to the rail and watch a lot of the high touch. I also wanted to strategize who was where so I knew who to pay attention to. That said, most of the High Touch was a quick blur for me, except Inagaki gave me a great reaction, complete with ‘Hisashiburi’ and all. There was one member in the middle who also gave me a big “English’ reaction. I think it was Honda Sora (It may have been Maeda Ayaka too) But of course I got the biggest and greatest greeting from Ranchan, who started jumping up and down as I got to her. It also seemed to surprise Taya Misaki, who was next to her. And with that I was out of the theater. I queued up to get the photopack, and was on to the escalator…

Interestingly, they held the escalator for a minute or so to clear people out, and one guy in particular seemed to be pissed about it. There was also a guy with two big pizza carriers. I am guessing he was delivering lunch for the girls? When I got to the bottom of the escalator I finally got to meet marioworldakb who was at the theater watching the monitors with a few friends. He invited me along to hang out (with Riina as well) but I really wanted to eat lunch. Mario recommended a place behind the theater that I have often considered trying, so I went for it. After lunch I considered heading to the AKB Cafe to meet them, but I needed to do homework and get some rest, so I went home.

So as expected, it is always ‘feast or famine’ for me with seating at the theater. I either get front row, or am buried in the far back. But I am glad I won and got to see the show, and am especially glad I got to say hello to Ranchan. And I guess I should set my watch for another late-month cancel machi in July, LOLZ.

CK in Tokyo

Tags:

AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 51st Single “Jabaja” Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama (2017/06/03)

0 Comments

I originally didn’t plan to attend this event, instead opting for the May and July Jabaja events at Makuhari. However, for some reason Kaotan is not participating in the July event, which kinda left me in a quandary since she is one of my top handshake members. I ultimately decided to go to both June and July, just with fewer tickets. I am glad I made that decision too, as they announced this week that they would be selling some Sousenkyo goods at the event, including the little poster pin badges.

Getting the badges was high on my priority list, but I didn’t really plan it properly arriving at Pacifico 10 minutes before the opening of Slot 2, and my first two tickets. I checked the goods queue. It wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t short either by any means. I could’ve opted to come back later when I had more time, but last year I did that and when I finally got around to getting goods Akiyoshi was sold out. I decided to tough it out, at worst it would cause me to lose out on one of my Slot 2 tickets. Finally, 45 minutes later I made it to the front of the line and got what I wanted.

I affixed each one to my two ticket holders, and I was off to do handshakes…

Slot 2

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 53) Kaotan with a morning slot? That’s unusual. Her line wasn’t very long, so maybe I could make it to my second ticket. The big gimmick of the day were these resumes the members wrote. And honestly, they were the most WTF “prize” I think they have ever offered. The members essentially autographed and wrote a message on a photocopy of the resume, which was like 17×11 and then put into a large envelope. And yes, I won the prize. So I was getting her signed resume…

I told Kaotan that I was watching the video on her Twitter feed, and got worried for a moment. She asked “Why, because everyone was crying?” Yes, and then I explained that somebody in the comments wrote “Kaotan is graduating?” She immediately responded “NAI NAI NAI!!!” She finally asked if I voted for her. I anticipated this question, and didn’t want to be a liar. So I answered. “YES! I voted for you!” What I didn’t tell her was that it was once. (I split my two fan club votes, one each for Kaotan and Yukachan) She made a comment as she handed me the resume about my not being able to read it, but I said I would do my best, especially since I am now taking a Kanji class. She asked if I could read kana, and then I told her I could read some kanji too.

So I was done, and there was still five minutes before gates closed. I was considering doing oshi-mashi with my second ticket, and the member I was considering was in the next lane over. I decided to check which lane might be smaller. Whaddya know, both of them were practically empty.

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 103) <oshi-mashi> I have met Zukky a few times now, but I feel I am really beginning to click with her, and I wanted to keep that momentum. Meanwhile, the ticket I gave up was for Komiyama Haruka, who I have never done a handshake with before. Though I do have another ticket for Komiharu coming up, so not the biggest tragedy.

Like I mentioned, Zukky’s line was empty and she waved to me as I was checking in. It was a quick handshake. I admitted to her that it was an oshi-mashi ticket, but I really wanted to see her today. She seemed satisfied with that. I mentioned I have a proper ticket for next event too. Ya know, the great thing about Zukky is that she is kinda shy and reserved, almost like she doesn’t know she’s an idol.

During the break between the slots I was roaming down the outside hall to see if there were any birthday cards I wanted to sign. I thought about signing Orin’s, but never got around to it. When I got to the far end, the Ricopi committee caught me eyeing their booth. Smelling blood, the grabbed me and brought me over. I explained to them that I do know Ricopi, and have met her multiple times. I also happened to have a ticket for her today. They tried to hustle me for a vote or two, but I explained any vote I have will be going to Akiyoshi (or Kaotan) I exchanged Twiiter handles with them and was on my way. They said they looked forward to seeing me in the queue. BTW, here is the cover of a flyer they gave me (more pages of it toward the bottom of the post)

 

Slot 3

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 3) Since Tomonaga Mio was again out for this event, Maichan was my only Slot 3 ticket. I waited until the slot was half over before heading back in, and Maichan’s line was fairly short. I didn’t win the 1-shot video prize, but I think I already have a couple of those with her. In any case, when it was my turn I congratulated her on the preliminary SSK result, and told her I would be really happy if she made Senbatsu this year. Of course she pointed out that I could help her out with that too, LOL. Anyway, she said she would work hard for it.

After that I took a look at the two “walls” they had built in the Hall. On the far right side of the hall were the election posters, with the members campaign promises. On the far left side were all the members’ resumes, so you could see them whether you won or lost. I took a few pics, and then decided to pre-queue for the line I thought might be the most troublesome since I had three tickets for three different members in the next slot…

Slot 4

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 108) By pre-queueing I managed to be second in line. Since they let us in 10 minutes early, I had some time to 1) read some of Zunchan’s signs that she posts all over her lane, and 2) get a firsthand look at the insanity going on in the lane next door. More on that in a moment. In the meantime Zunchan came bouncing into the lane with her cards for signing, which by the way I didn’t win, nor did the fans in front of me and behind me. When it was my turn I mentioned to her again that I enjoy reading her signs, as it is good Japanese practice for me. She puts so much effort into them too. Then I mentioned her “Majime” face on her poster. She asked how I liked at, and I said “Kawaii!” And with that I was off to the far opposite side of the hall for me second ticket…

I mentioned the lane next door, which was probably one of the craziest lanes I witnessed all day. It belonged to none other that Yahagi Moeka. Her line was gigantic. In fact, after they closed it I saw a couple of people wait for the guards not to be looking and jumped the rope into the queue. People had stacks of tickets they were using to oshi-mashi for her. Oh, and watching her with fans, WOW! Talk about Kami-Taiyou. She gets so close to the fans while talking it is almost like she is about to give them a kiss. Seriously, she gets her face inches away. So yeah, I am starting to get part of her appeal. Not that I want to deal with that queue, but the first time I met her she did come across as a fisher, so not totally surprising…

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 4) Finally getting to see Yukachan. However, when I entered the queue she wasn’t there. Instead Fukagawa Maiko was in her lane signing a HUGE stack of autographed resumes for a fan. It took over five minutes from when I arrived. I’m not sure who long they had been there already. I wasn’t worried as I was 6th in line and still had plenty of time for my third ticket. Oh, and I won the prize. It was a choice of selfie or video. This time I chose the video, and I saw a cute little phrase that I thought would be a lot of fun. In fact, when Yuka-chan read it she giggled…

Looks like I have a dinner date! Meanwhile I congratulated her on her preliminary result and told her that I hadn’t yet voted, so she had more votes coming from me. She thanked me as I told her I would be back in a bit.

Kobayashi Ran (Lane 92) <oshi-mashi> I actually planned to use my Mio ticket here, regardless of whether or not Mio was at the event. I waited five minutes for the half-hour mark to pass, and then entered the lane. Actually, quite a few people jumped into her queue at that point, so she is already starting to cultivate a following, Yatta!

She was wearing cute little cat ears, so I came in saying “Neko-Ranchan!!!” She immediately exclaimed, “You came back a second time!” Yes I did, and I told her that I bought some Ranchan tickets for the Teacher Teacher single too, so I would be seeing a lot more of her. Meanwhile, the guards were trying to hastily push me out, and she was desperately holding onto both my hands. Finally she let go. I asked if I get a business card. She said she couldn’t give me one if I was oshi-mashi. Ahhhh? So I guess when I got one last week it was totally by accident. Well, lucky me I guess.

I had an hour until Slot 5. I decided to go back to the goods booth just to see if either Kaotan or Yukachan had sold out of the badges. Neither of them had, and there was barely a queue. I guess I could have waited after all. The same couldn’t be said for the AKB48 Cafe. I was wondering why they had such a huge line, and it was because they were giving away the SSK poster-coasters with drink purchases. In the meantime I ran into my friend Nori, shortly before both of us headed back inside.

Slot 5

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 4) Again I pre-queued since this was my last slot of the day and I wanted to get home early. I was second in line. (There’s a guy who insists on being first in line for every Yukachan slot. In fact he queues up over an hour in advance to claim it) In the meantime I won the resume prize. When it was my turn I noticed I actually had a choice of three different items to be signed. Two were resumes, and the third was a big card. I chose one of the resumes since it looked like she worked hard on it, although to be honest her writing is quite sloppy, LOL.


She also signed the envelope

I had forgotten before, but I wanted to tell her how cute I thought all those “Calcium NOW” tweets were that she made while she was nursing her injured foot. I also called her “Hidarikiki.” Yukachan knows I am also “Hidarikiki” and asked me how to say it in English. At first I rattled off “Left-Handed” quite fast, and I don’t think she got it. But when I said it slowly she still had trouble with the “ed” part at the end. She understood “Left” and “Hand,” but that last part really threw her off, LOL. I got another “I love you so much” at the very end, which always melts my heart, and I said I would see her soon.

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 18) I headed over to Ricopi’s queue, and was immediately greeted by a couple of her fans who saw me at her seitensei booth. When I entered the lane I didn’t notice who was in the next booth over. It was Bibian. She got a good look at me too. She didn’t smile, or wave. Perhaps she was wondering why I haven’t been in her lane to visit lately. To Ricopi’s right was Ogiyuka’s booth, and it was fun watching her be super-genki with everyone. In the meantime, I ran into another Wasamin fan in the queue. It happened to be one of the guys who also won the duet with Wasamin at her Karaoke Party yesterday. (The Temodemo guy) Funny coincidence, especially since I specifically mentioned him in my post about that experience. And we both agreed that it was awesome to sing with Wasamin. Anyway, back to Ricopi…

“Kurisu! Long time-no see!” Actually, I did see her at the 2-shot event, so not that long ago. I told her that I made friends with some of her birthday committee members today. “You did???” And then I told her that I loved her poster, and it was like a cross between E.T. and Die Hard. She immediately laughed. E.T. Yes it is!!! I was halfway out of the lane at that point. I wished her the best and was on my way. And btw, more pics from the Ricopi flyer I was given…

I still had a lot of Japanese homework to do, so I headed home. AND, I found a quicker route home that Hyperdia (an online guide to Japan’s rail system) has never given me. It was slightly cheaper too. What the heck? In the meantime, I don’t think I have any 48-group related stuff on my schedule until July (my last Jabaja event) So this will be a little 48-group vacation, unless I win some theater show. I do have some Wasamin (and Minyo Girls) events coming up in two weeks, so I am looking forward to that.

CK in Tokyo

Tags: , ,

AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 51st Single “Jabaja” Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2017/05/26)

0 Comments

One of the greatest changes they made to the chara-ani handshake system was the addition of the “oshi-mashi” option. Sometimes the application period for these singles is so far in advance that a fan’s tastes and interests may have changed by the time the event finally rolls around. Case in point, one of the handshake dates for the next AKB48 single is in late October. It’s FIVE months from now. I may feel differently about the members I chose in five months. I may have started to like a new member. Moreover, for me it is a lot more fun to be able to choose a member to meet “on the day” than to send the CD and ticket back for a 1000 yen refund when a member is absent. I bring this up because there are a couple of members who have recently come under my radar who I would really like to meet. If you have read my recent posts (hint: read the posts about NGT48 and the AKB48 Theater Stage I posted earlier this week) you will know which members I am talking about. Under the old system I would have to wait for the 53rd single events (in the Fall? Winter?) to properly meet these girls.

So I had the oshi-mashi option at my disposal, and I intended to take full advantage of it. However, this raised a couple of issues. First, which of my existing tickets was I willing to give up? Second, when I reserved these tickets I had scheduled everything for the late afternoon into the evening. The problem was that one of these members was scheduled for the 9am slot only, meaning if I wanted to see her I would have to get to Makuhari Messe 4 1/2 hours earlier, and then have 3 1/2 hours of time to kill until my next ticket. I would let my body decide. So when I woke up at 5:45 this morning, I figured “Well, I’m up. Might as well get down to Makuhari extra early.

It also helped that my last Akiyoshi ticket was cancelled because all of the HKT members had to catch a plane back to Fukuoka to get ready for tomorrow’s big concert. So that was one oshi-mashi ticket. As for the other, I was deciding among my Tani, Maichan, and Zunchan tickets. Tani was an “automatic” win ticket for the prize, so I kept that one. Of the three, Zunchan was the only one who I had multiple tickets for. So it was decided. I caught a 7:45 train out of Itabashi and made it to Makuhari just after the beginning of Slot 1. Here we go…

Slot 1

Kobayashi Ran (Lane 17) This was the girl I came 4 1/2 hours early for. After Wednesday night’s show, where she made a great impression on me, I really wanted to meet her, and I didn’t want to wait until next week when her slot is mid-day. I got to her lane at 9:20, and I thought I read that the 30 minute oshi-mashi rule was waived for the draftees. My friend said it wasn’t, but they let me through. Perhaps it was because her lane was empty, or maybe they didn’t want to deal with the foreigner. But whatever. Ran-chan was waving to me from the moment I walked into her lane. However, when I got within 30 meters her expression completely changed. I hadn’t even entered the booth yet when she exclaimed “You were at the theater show!!!” She handed me her business card (the ‘gift’ given by the draftees to all visitors)

I told her what an awesome time I had at the show, her performance was great, and that I really wanted to meet her. She just kept thanking me over and over. I promised I would come back and see her next week too. The guards were pushing me out almost the entire time, but whatever. I have made contact. It was a good connection, and I will see her next week.

And with that I decided that since I still had time, I might as well do my other oshi-mashi ticket now…

 

Oguma Tsugumi (Lane 81) Technically I met Tsugumin the same day I caught her ball at the NGT event, but that was a brief, 3-second hello. I wanted to “keep the ball rollin,” so to speak and have a proper handshake with her. Her line was only a few people deep, so I only had to wait a minute or two. She greeted me with an English “Oh, hello.” Huh, had she forgotten already? So I told her that before last week I wasn’t really an NGT fan, but after catching her ball she has become my favorite member in NGT48. The cute thing was that she was repeating my Japanese back to me as I said it, as if to be sure she understood every word. Very cute.

My oshi-mashi tickets were done, and it was about 9:45. My next ticket was scheduled almost four hours later. After waving goodbye to Ranchan at the end of her slot, I ended up ‘cafe-hopping’ for 3 1/2 hours having coffee, tea, danishes, lunch. At one point I even dozed off in one of the cafes. Eventually the clock passed 1pm, so I made my way back to Halls 9-11 to begin my original handshake schedule, minus two tickets…

Slot 4

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 40) With the rest of my tickets I was now eligible for the day’s prizes. The big prize of the day were these autographed stickers, which came in different sizes. I didn’t have any tickets for those. In fact, almost all of my tickets, save for one, were for either the 2-shot selfie or the 1-shot video. With Maichan I usually run about a 50/50 chance, and on this day I won the selfie. Her line was very short, so I was in and out fairly quickly.

I asked her about leaving early today to return to Fukuoka, which she confirmed. I wished her the best of luck at the concert tomorrow, and she responded with “Ganbarimasu……oh, I love you” which seems to be the m.o. of every handshake I have with her. We used to have a lot more to talk about. I need to brush up on my Maichan knowledge.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 37) For a moment I thought this was the slot of my Zukky ticket, and almost walked into the wrong lane. Of course Zunchan’s lane was filled with signs and messages to her fans. It is sooooo cute the way she sets her lane up to give fans a different experience. I lost the lottery for a signed card, so it would just be a regular handshake. When I walked into the booth the first thing she said was “You got a haircut???” Wow, I am amazed she noticed. I acknowledged that I did indeed get a haircut, and then I “wowed” her back by saying hello to Gabriel, her stuffed frog. She was like “Yes, Gabriel! You remembered”. I told her that I love her signs because they help me practice Japanese. This made her really happy, and she told me to continue to work hard with my Japanese studying. It was at this point that I sincerely regretted doing osh-mashi with her ticket on someone else. But I have tickets for her next week, so all good.

Slot 5

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 36) Zukky’s line was fairly big all day, although it was slightly shorter than usual when I queued up. The good news was that I won the 1-shot video. Which one should I choose? When I was in Zunchan’s lane I noticed that Zukky looked even cuter than usual. So when I saw there was a “fashion show” option to the one-shot video, I picked it. In the meantime one of the members of her SSK committee gave me a flyer, it is very nicely done.

I also had a nice three-way view of Zunchan, Zukky, and Asai Nanami while I waited. Lots of fun watching those three working with their fans. Finally it was my turn and they handed her my video request. She looked taken aback for a quick second, and then went into full “fashion mode”

Isn’t that a cute video? I told her I selected that because I saw her outfit earlier and thought it was extremely cute. I mean Zukky looks cute regardless, but I love the twin-tails, suspenders, and the choker. Such a great combination. Anyway, this was my only Slot 5 ticket, so I had a big break, and spent part of it eating the new chili-cheese fries at one of the event food trucks.

Interestingly, the rest of my tickets were ALL automatic wins, meaning I was assured of getting the bonus prize for each one. Sad, because I want all of these members to be more popular. However, some of us noticed that there were a lot of very short lines throughout the day, and there were a lot of girls with “automatic win” that don’t normally have it. Perhaps it was because people were saving for the SSK?

Slot 6

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 44) Since I won the bonus prize in all of these slots, there was much less time for talking. Yukachan greeted me with “Yaho Kurisu!” We immediately set of for the pose and took it.

I said “You are leaving early?” She affirmed it, so I mentioned that I had tickets for the cancelled slot. I mean I could have oshi-mashi’d the ticket here with her, or even next week. I simply chose not to use it that way. At any rate, I still wished her the best of luck tomorrow, and I would see her next week. Damn, I keep forgetting to mention the “Calcium Now!” thing she keeps doing on twitter.

Sakaki Miyu [Cuca] (Lane 71) When I met with Cuca two weeks ago I lamented that I didn’t have enough to talk to her about, so winning the prize here alleviated that a bit. I actually had a choice between the video or the selfie, but seeing I was going to have four selfies and 2 videos, I chose the video to ‘even things out.’ Moreover, last time I had the video prize with Cuca I cut off the first couple of seconds of the video. I wouldn’t be making that mistake again.

Frankly, most of the video script choices they offered were kinda lame. This was the only other one I really liked. Other people said they kinda liked the Janken one as well. Anyway, after the video I quickly thanked her and was on my way.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 96) It wasn’t even 30-minutes into Slot 6 and I was already on to my 3rd ticket. Once again, this was an automatic win. However, none of these video scripts fit Kaotan’s personality at all. I decided to pick the fashion show again, not that I thought she would do it, but that I thought it would give her a good opportunity to improvise. In fact, when she looked at the sheet she surprisingly said “Fashion?” I told her to just do anything she wants. And keep in mind that the videos are supposed to last at the most 10-15 seconds…

Holy Moly! A 62-second ramble that covered pretty much anything she wanted to talk about, and she DID do a fashion show of sorts. Of course she took an opportunity to hustle me for Sousenkyo votes. And by the way, 62 seconds!!!!! These videos are supposed to be like 10 seconds or so. THIS is just one of the many reasons why Kaotan is an awesome girl to visit and be a fan of. She really takes care of her fans. But that’s not all…


Your choice of video scripts.

As I was leaving, Kaotan just happened to mention to me that she saw photos of me on the Wasamin Bus Tour. Huh??? After I got over my initial shock I laughed and said “Yes, the bus tour was a lot of fun.” And then I mentioned I would see her in the next slot for the selfie. It’s a good thing, since I wanted to clarify which photos she saw.

Slot 7

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 96) After an 90 minute wait, during which time I saw Yuasa and another staff member head out to the food/smoking area to check something out, I came back in a little early and pre-queued for Kaotan. There was nobody there, so I was first in line. When I checked in, for some reason the girl didn’t give me the 2-shot paper. At first I thought this was because everyone won. But when I saw the guy behind me get one, I went back and questioned them. They said they thought I didn’t want it. Funny, they never asked me. Interestingly, most of the queues were extremely short. Kaotan’s lane had just me and one other guy. Obamina’s lane was completely empty. In fact, when she finally came out she looked completely annoyed. It inspired a pow-wow among a bunch of members, Oba, Churi, Mikoto who seemed to be complaining that all the lines seemed oddly short. Oba kept looking down to the outside saying “Aren’t you guys coming in?” But there weren’t very many people outside either. Kaotan eventually came out. They called me into the booth, and she realized she didn’t have her footstool with her, so I had to wait a minute while she went to get it. As I set up for the selfie she kept trying to instruct me. At one point she got a little frustrated and grabbed my phone to show me, but then gave it back. I eventually set it up to her satisfaction and took the shot.


Hey, I’m getting pretty good at these selfies.

I think this is my nicest selfie of the day. Good job Kaotan. I asked her where she saw the Bus Tour photos. She said she saw them on Wasamin’s twitter, and then she saw a couple more in the responses (One fan took a couple of shots of me picking tea, so I think those are the photos she meant, as well as the group shot) She asked why I wanted to know, and I told her because I also posted Bus Tour photos on twitter. She responded with something I didn’t catch, but I said I would see her next week.

Tani Marika (Lane 87) When I got to Tani’s lane it was completely empty, but before I could enter four guys jumped in. I know Tani gets lonely when her line dies down, so this was good. It was just a couple minutes later that I got my turn.

It was very quick, we took the pic, I thanked Tani, and was out of there. Perhaps she wasn’t as talkative as usual, or maybe the short queues were annoying her too. It is Sousenkyo time after all.

Next week I have tickets to the Jabaja event in Yokohama, and I need to decide which ticket I am going to oshi-mash for Ranchan. I have two tickets in particular that I am thinking of, and since Mio has been a bit flakey about events lately, I will probably use hers, but we’ll see. Tomorrow I have a double dose of Nagara Group, first seeing Minyo Girls’ one-man live in Asakusa, then heading to Minowa for Wasamin’s final 4th Concert DVD release event. So no AKB48 Zenkoku event for me, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

CK in Tokyo

Tags: , ,

AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage (2018/05/23)

0 Comments

 

It looked like my theater show drought was finally coming to an end. I only briefly mentioned it on the NSK Podcast post here a few months ago, but I won my 40th theater show back in early January, and since then I have had 4 consecutive really high cancel machi invitations, and ultimately didn’t get into the theater on any of them. Well…I did win the ‘last chance’ “High Wave” draw a couple of times, where you get to enter the theater after the show and greet the members, but no actual show wins.

On Monday I received a cancel machi email for Wednesday night’s show. The good news was that it was a Fan Club cancel machi, meaning the number (#35) would be a lot lower, thus increasing my chances of winning. I checked the show roster, it was the Kashiwagi Yuki produced stage, which features many the 3rd Gen draftees, as well as some of the 16th Gen kenkyuusei. There were really no members I was a huge fan of, and I had never seen the new AKB draftees before, so I would be going into this fresh, providing I actually won.

One of the Wasafans I hung out with Tuesday night checked the show history, and for this stage the cancel machi has always gone over 50. That’s good. I spent the morning periodically checking the ticket center to see how many early cancellations there were. It was really slow going at first, but after the rainstorm came the number started increasing. I headed over to Akihabara and the Donki a little earlier than usual, and went upstairs around 15 minutes before the cancel machi call. To make a long story short I got into the seat lottery. I was good to go. It was my 41st theater show. Now the question was how good my draw in would be.

There was a slight delay because a couple of the people with family and women’s seats disappeared, and they wanted to find them before beginning the lottery draw. The first group to draw in was #100-109. Oh well, that was never going to be me. Next was #200-209. Damn! Those were the cancel machi people ahead of me. Next #110-119, then #240-250, which only had three people. A moment later, #210-#219, Nice, I should certainly be able to get a decent seat with this draw. After going through the metal detector I scanned the room, and noticed the entire left side front row was empty save for one person. I made a beeline for that row and got the 4th seat left of the pillar…

FRONT ROW BABY!!! THIS IS GOING TO BE GREAT!

It’s funny though, it is usually feast or famine for me with these draws. I either get the first row, or I am stuffed somewhere in a back corner staring above many shoulders. But this meant I was gonna get a really closeup view of the members, and of course it meant I was going to get fished a lot. The question was by who? And how much?

The Show


Suzuki 

Suzuki Kurumi did the Kage-ana, and the show started a few moments later. This stage is relatively new, and for the most part has a very strong setlist. At least that seems to be the consensus. There is a lot of energy to the stage, and it is sprinkled with quite a few iconic songs like Blue Rose, River, Nage Kisu de Uchi Otose, and Enkyori Poster. It also includes one of my old favorites, Sobakasu no Kiss. My first impression of the show was that all the members were full of energy. It helped that it seemed to be a really rambunctious crowd, even more so than usual. And it wasn’t a minute into the song that I had my first fishing attempt. This draftee member came right up to the edge of the stage and started pointing right at me. She was adorable too, but I didn’t know who she was. Later on in the same song I had a similar interaction with Kurumi, but I could not wait to get to the MC to find out that girl’s name!

First MC

There are quite a few goofy members in this new gens, and there were two members in particular acting crazy through the entire MC. One was Maeda Ayaka, who I didn’t remember being like this. The other one was Sato Shiori, the draftee from Hokkaido. In a way, she reminds me a bit of Zunchan. Her devilish grin also reminds me a bit of Tani. Anyway, Shiori just acts goofy all the time, even when she is performing. I was cracking up watching her dance during Tsundere. Oh, and that cute draftee who fished me? It was Kobayashi Ran, (Ranchan!) Great, now I know who I am rooting for during the show.

Units

 

Blue Rose just happens to be my original oshimen’s unit. That said, I thought all four girls fit the song very well. I was closest to Kurosu, and in a way it felt like she was channeling Meetan. Nage Kissu also reminded me a lot of the AKB ‘old days.’ The chant on this song is always a lot of fun. Kurumi does a good job as center, AND it has Ranchan in it! I had fun all night yelling her name. The ballad was okay. Tsundere! was complete silliness, from Shiori’s over-animated ‘guitar’ playing, to Manaka’s playacting, to Kana-chan’s big goofy smile. And then there was Yahagi…


Yahagi 

By now it is no secret that Yahagi Moeka is a superior singer. She was great control and nuance. In fact, I’d say singing-wise she is superior to Akimoto Sayaka. My only complaint is that she is a bit frozen for the first two verses of Mushi no Ballad, and then goes into ‘spasm’ mode on the last verse. It was a lot of herky-jerky convulsing. So in that respect I think she still needs to work on matching the proper emoting that Akimoto was so brilliant at doing in the original K-Stage. But singing-wise, two enthusiastic thumbs-up!

Post-Unit

One of the funnier MCs was when the girls were discussing what physical or character trait they admire, or want to ‘take’ from the other members. A couple of them agreed that they admired Yahagi’s singing prowess, but I was surprised when Kurosu said that she wanted Ranchan’s oshiri. Really? She’s kinda young. Then again, Kurosu is super-skinny, and probably lacking back there in the curve department. I was ecstatic to hear them perform Sobakasu no Kiss, which is one of my old faves. Moreover, I also know all the hand motions to it, so I was ‘dancing’ along with the girls on stage. That got me quite a bit of attention; first from Kana-chan then Shiori, and finally Taya Misaki who started fishing me really hard toward the end of the show. Although I think she calmed down when she saw me screaming for Ranchan, who was right next to her at the time. Like Team B Oshi, the “fresh” version is just as big a mess, but I do get that it is a bit of a crowd-pleaser. I was wondering how the girls always remember the order, especially with the lineup occasionally changing.

Notable Members (These are the members who fished me, or otherwise left me with a good impression)


Kobayashi

Kobayashi Ran: Ranchan made a wise move by focusing on me so early in the show, since it guaranteed I would be focused on her for the rest of it. I think she has great energy, enthusiasm, and is really cute. She reminds me a bit of Ariyasu Momoka (former Momoclo) and Sato Minami (16th gen) Anyway, she came away as my show MVP, and someone I want to meet during handshake events.


Sato 

Sato Shiori: She didn’t interact with me until much later in the stage, but we exchanged a couple of funny facial expressions toward the end. This girl is all about goofing off, all the time, She was reacting to everyone’s MC, either laughing, or making a funny gesture with her partner in crime, Maeda Ayaka. I can definitely see her following in the footsteps of Tani Marika (SKE) or Yamada Noe. (NGT)

Suzuki Kurumi: I started noticing it earlier this year, but Kurumi is fast becoming a true stage leader. It surprises me since early on I found her to be kinda bland and uninteresting. But she has grown a lot, and is someone to watch.

Yahagi Moeka: Exceptional singer, good personality. She caught my eye quite a bit during the show, and I was impressed overall with her solo unit. At one at the end of the show she spotted me and started waving, then accidentally almost missed her queue to talk. She was caught off-guard, LOL.


Otake 

Otake Hitomi: Reminds me a lot of Anai Chihiro, looks-wise. She was one of two draftees who came across as more mature, both in looks and demeanor, the other being Honda Sora. Both of their presence was abundantly felt throughout the show.


Inagaki 

Inagaki Kaori: I have to mention Kaori. This wasn’t her first show back from injury, but the fans gave her a huge ovation just the same. I almost didn’t recognize her, since it looked like she lost a bit of weight since I last saw her. But Inagaki seemed thrilled to be performing every step of the way. Anyway, she has great energy, and I am happy to see her back on the AKB stage. Finally…

Taya Misaki: Who made a significant effort to fish me during Team ‘Fresh’ Oshi, pointing at me and then herself. She has tried with me before, so she gets points for that.

Ending

Before we left for ‘High Wave’ we were treated to the full Teacher Teacher MV. Visually, I like the PV quite a bit. In fact to me the visual is a lot more memorable than the actual song. And I get why people think the ‘mountain’ scene seemed a bit out of place, but it didn’t bother me at all.

The members returned to the stage, and there was a couple of minutes until we filed out of the room. In the meantime I was lucky enough to get Ranchan and Yasuda Kana right in front of me. Ranchan gave me and the guy next to me a really enthusiastic wave. The other guy told her that her performance was awesome, and I nodded in agreement. She thanked both of us. Ranchan also jumped up and down when I passed her leaving the theater, LOL Kana and I are ‘old friends’ so to speak, so she waved and said hello to me too. The other member to notably focus on me during high-wave was Yahagi, who actually stepped right to follow and try to talk to me, LOL.

I left the theater, and quickly queued up to get the group photo set, which now has a limited edition folder drawn by Miyupon. From there I grabbed my umbrella, and took off for dinner, and then home.

Suffice it to say I am extremely impressed with the AKB 3rd Gen draftees, especially those I mentioned during this writeup. So far I have seen the SKE, NGT, and now the AKB draftees, and to me these girls are the most impressive (I really like SKE’s as well) I was worried when most of the 16th gen got promoted since their stage was my favorite (and easiest) to win. But now I will be happy to watch the draftees perform any time, especially for Yukirin’s stage, which is a lot of fun to watch…

And I will be rooting for RAAAAAAAAAAANCHAAAAAAAAANNNN!

CK in Tokyo

(some photos “borrowed” from ModelPress)

AKB48, Events, SKE48 AKB48-Group 9th Album Shamekai Event at Pacifico Yokohama (2018/05/13)

0 Comments

This was the last of the shamekai events for AKB48’s 9th Album. I chose to skip the three Golden Week events, figuring they would probably be more crowded. It also gave me a little more separation from the 1st event of the series, which took place in early April. My report on that one is around 11-posts ago.

The bummer was that my favorite member, Akiyoshi Yuka-chan, was going to be absent from this event because of her commitment to the Romeo and Juliet musical. They gave us the option of using it as a makeup during any of the Golden Week events, but I was not going to make the trip all the way out to Pacifico just for one ticket. Furthermore, I have two tickets for Yukachan at HKT’s shamekai event next weekend in Gotanda. So I will have a nice sob story to to tell her. Well, actually two, since I didn’t win for her play either. Anyway…

I had six tickets, plus an album jacket signing. I had at least one oshimashi to do, and the possibility of a second one came up during the event. My first ticket wasn’t until slot 4, so I came sauntering into the venue at 1:15pm, well rested, and ready to go.

Slot 4

Sakaki Miyu [CUCA] (Lane 28) At the April event, I managed to go 0-6 on winning the signed cheki and booklet. However, I knew I would be getting at least one today since Cuca-chan was an automatic win. I met with my friend David in front of the queue, shortly before the beginning of the slot. We decided to tandem, and were 1st and 2nd in line. Cuca came out, we took our cheki…

Now the problem was that I didn’t really think this meeting through. As you can see, Cuca took her sweet time signing the book, but I really didn’t have that much to say to her. To her credit, she began initiating conversation with me. She asked where I was from, and how long I have lived in Japan. She also asked if I had gone to any of STU’s concerts. What I find most amazing about Cuca is that every time I see her she seems more mature, idol-like, and beautiful. I’m just really impressed by her. So next time I see her I am going to plan some good stuff to talk with her about.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 74) I waited for David to finish up with Cuca, since we both needed to walk to the other side of the hall. Eventually I made my way over to Zunchan’s lane. I expected the usual huge crowd. To my surprise the line wasn’t long at all. I lt the cheki drawing, and while waiting in the queue I saw Inagaki Kaori in the next lane over. She looked good, and genki. Considering her serious injury at SSA, I was glad to see she was doing well. Anyway, Zunchan remarked that she hadn’t seen me in a while. I think it has been around three weeks. I dunno, not so long, but maybe she missed me, LOL. I asked her the name of her little frog doll she always brings to events. His name is Gabriel. (The way she said it was really cute) So I asked if we could incorporate Gabriel into the shot.

Well, at least Zunchan looks good. I hate when they turn me profile like that. And, this is just another example showing that the closeup shamekai are much better than the long shots. At least that’s how I feel about it.

When I left Zunchan’s lane I walked by Tomonaga Mio’s lane, and it was closed. WTF? If she’s out for the day, then I have two oshi-mashi to do. I found out that she was there for Slots 2-3, cancelled Slot 4, but had not yet cancelled Slots 6-7. (I had Slot 6) What should I do? One of the members I was considering doing oshi-mashi with, Oba Mina, had early slots. If I wanted to see her, I needed to do it soon….

Slot 5

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 84) To save a little time, I decided to pre-queue for Zukki’s lane. I was around 5th in line, and just before they opened the gates a bunch guys started to mill around, I guess planning to cut the queue. I stared daggers at a couple of them, and they walked to the back of the line. However, one guy stayed, and when they opened the gate, he tried to jam into the line, but I blocked him with my elbow, LOL. While we were waiting in the queue, they started playing the new b-side MVs from the upcoming AKB48 single. I loved the Center Exam Senbatsu. The song, PV, all great. They just started the Team 4 Music Video as the queue started moving. I really liked this one too. The video ended with Zukki doing a “Nyan” pose, just as I was next in line. Perfect! Zukki lit up as I entered the both. “You have returned!” I said I loved her in the PV, and we should do the PV ending pose…

I think this is my favorite shamekai of the day. (The Cuca pic is nice too) Afterwards I congratulated her on being in senbatsu and centering the single team song. She said she hoped I come back to see her many times. Yes, I do have more tickets for her for both Jabaja and Teacher Teacher, so I am good to go!

I was considering seeing Zunchan for the Jacket Signing, which was in this slot. But after checking her queue, which was pretty long, I decided there was someone else I would rather to the Jacket Signing with. I instead left the venue since I had over an hour until my next ticket. I went all the way out to the Food Truck area before I found a seat. Here I met another Stage48 lurker named Paul. It was Paul’s first 48-group handshake event, so we talked for awhile about what he thought, and shared a few war stories about meeting the members, before heading back in. I wanted to get back in a little early since my Slot 6 schedule had the potential of becoming a little hectic.

Slot 6

Matsumura Kaori (w/Saito Makiko) Jacket Signing (Lane 51) I debated using this ticket first, or one of my handshake tickets. I’m glad I decided on this one, since the interaction completely changed my game plan for the rest of the day. This was another joint autograph lane, just like the first event I went to when I had Yuka-chan sign my CD. Luckily, I managed to be second in line, so I was getting a good head-start on the slot. I knew I wanted to have Kaotan sign my CD, except that Tani was in the next lane over. Moreover, I did not get any Tani tickets for this day’s event. This could be an issue if she sees me, and then doesn’t see me in her lane. In the meantime, Takeda Tomoka was in Tani’s queue, still with a huge line of people. So I might luck out after all. Around the beginning of the slot Murakawa Bibian came walking over, fresh off of her Produce48 activities, and I have to admit, Bibian looked radiant. Not to mention the cute little black shorts she was wearing. I’m not sure why she came over, she talked to the guards for a minute, and then left. After that, Tani came out. The trouble was, they had just cleared out all the fans who didn’t get to see Takeda, and hadn’t let Tani’s fans in yet. Everything was a mess, plus Kaotan and Makiko still hadn’t come out. Finally, a few minutes later, here they came…

The first guy in line chose Makiko, and she signed her CD relatively quickly. It was then my turn. Since Makiko was there, I decided to relate the memory of one of my earliest handshakes with Kaotan, the time when she started yelling at me, and then Makiko and Mikitty started laughing at me. Kaotan and I were trying to figure out how long I had been seeing her, but then when I said the part about Kaotan screaming “Why Why Why???? I Love you I Love you I love you!!!” Makiko started laughing. Not only that, Tani was laughing at us. I think after I related that part of the story, Makiko seemed like she might have remembered it. In any case, I am glad I made everyone laugh, including Tani. Kaotan asked me if I was coming for shamekai, and I pointed to my ticket holder, which I had strategically placed my Kaotan shamekai ticket right on top. (Hehehe)

Yamauchi Suzuran (Lane 43) <oshi-mashi> I had considered quite a few members for my oshi-mashi ticket. Komiharu, Mutou Orin, Sato Kaho, Minarun, even Yuihan. But I have wanted to meet with Ranran for a long time. Plus, I had a story that I wanted to tell her, and I wanted to do it before the story became too old. So this is where I decided to use my Akiyoshi ticket. I got over to her queue around 10 minutes before it opened for oshi-mashi, and spent the time talking to my friends Nori and Keita, who were also waiting to oshi-mashi with different members. Her line wasn’t very long at all, so I still had time to use my other ticket for this slot afterwards. In the meantime I was watching Jurina in the next lane over. However, I never made eye contact with her. She does a great job of focusing on her fans in queue. When I stepped into the booth, Suzuran immediately pivoted to “Oh Hello!” We sat down and I quickly suggested the peace pose, trying to save as much time as possible for my story.

I wanted to talk to her about HoriPro Matsuri, which I went to see around a month or so ago. Suzuran sang a duet of Sakura no Hanabiratachi with a classical singer named Okamoto Tomotaka, and it was really good. I wanted to tell her that I really enjoyed it. She thanked me, and asked if I came to see her, which I replied “of course.” Actually, I’m not sure what she really meant by that, but the fact is I really did want to see her. She said goodbye to me in English, and asked me to come back again. She’s really nice. I had always heard she was a big ‘fisher’, but I didn’t really have that kind of experience. I think perhaps because I kinda controlled the conversation.

Tomonaga Mio (Lane 60) So Mio did come back for her evening slots. But I had somewhat of a dilemma. Since Tani had interacted with me during my jacket signing with Kaotan, I felt really bad about not having a shamekai ticket for her. When I went to Mio’s queue I noticed there was hardly anyone in line. Moreover, there were a bunch of signs hanging in front of her lane. I couldn’t read what they said, but they usually put those up if the member isn’t feeling well, can’t talk, or something adverse like that. It was at that point that I thought that I would really rather go see Tani than see Mio, so I took off. In any case, I may have the opportunity to see Mio next week at the HKT event anyway. I found out later from a friend who went to see her that she seemed fine to him, and she looked really cute in his picture too. As a consolation I will show you what the outside of the cheki book looks like…

BTW, I was running into a few Wasafans during the day. Since Wasamin is out of town, many of her fans found their way to 48-group events. One of them told me that Wasamin apparently mentioned me on a radio show she guested on? When I met with Wasamin last week, I mentioned to her that the name of the show she was going to be on that week was the same as the name of the city I grew up in. So apparently Wasamin related that story to the host of the show. Cool!

Slot 7

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 37) After the dinner break, I headed in a little early to pre-queue for Kaotan, and I managed to be 2nd in line for her slot. Plus, I won the cheki, Yatta! I ultimately went 2-4 on chekis today (I had two ineligible because of oshi-mashi) While I was waiting for Kaotan to come out, Tani was in the neighboring lane, and spotted me again as she headed to her booth. That cemented it, I made the right choice by saving a ticket for her. Anyway, Kaotan came out, and I had a couple minutes since the girl who was first in line also won the cheki. When it was my turn, Kaotan exclaimed “Yatta, you won!” Yes, I was very happy about it too. She asked what pose, I said “smile pose.” Kaotan remarked, “You are very basic with the pose suggestions.” Yeah, I know.

I guess now I need to come up with interesting poses for her, although I thought the one we did in April was funny. (What, me worry?) We continued with my story about some of the first times I met with her. I will have to go back and look to see when it was, and if it was an SKE event or AKB. The incident I was talking about was an AKB event, but I am sure the first time I saw her was at an SKE event. In the meantime, she asked me how to spell “Smile” She had written it, but omitted the “e” at the end. She also asked if I had more tickets. When I told her I would see her next at the Jabaja event on the 26th, she asked how to say that in English. At first she said “two weeks ago,” but she kinda knew that was wrong. Then she said “two weeks later,” which I said was okay. I then told her “in two weeks” She repeated it twice, like she was happy she learned something new. Always fun with Kaotan, she hung out in the doorway chatting at me as they had me check the photo one more time, and didn’t leave until I was halfway down the exit. Kaotan runs on her schedule, LOL.

Tani Marika (Lane 35) <oshi-mashi> I had to wait 15 minutes before I could queue up for Tani. Plus, her line wasn’t short. So this had the potential to take a while. That’s okay, I really wanted to see her at this point. I ended up waiting around 35-40 minutes before I made it to the front of the line. She immediately suggested a heart pose, but after Kaotan made fun of me for being basic, I wanted to do something at least a little different. I had a couple of ideas, but ultimately decided on the Sailor Moon pose…

Yeah, not that groundbreaking, but it’s slightly different from what I usually do. I asked Tani if she liked the story I told Kaotan. Tani asked me about the shirt I was wearing. “Ebi shirt?” I then showed her the whole thing, it is a Wasamin shirt! She puffed her lip and said the she wanted to meet with Wasamin, and gave me a heart sign. I love that Tani and Wasamin are fans of one another.

It was time for me to go, just as the passing rainstorm was at its heaviest. The nice thing is that there is a covered walkway all the way to the station from Pacifico. So despite it raining all day, I never once needed to open my umbrella. Well, except to show the guards that I wasn’t hiding any contraband. Interestingly, of my seven tickets, ultimately I used none of them on HKT members. 4 were used on SKE, 2 on AKB, and one STU. Considering that I think of myself as an HKT fan…Well, next week is an HKT exclusive event, so I will make up for it then.

CK in Tokyo

AKB48, Concerts, HKT48 A Weekend at Saitama Super Arena (HKT48 & AKB48 Spring Concerts) 2018/03/31-04/01

0 Comments

When they announced that not only HKT48, not only SKE48, but also AKB48 would be performing Spring concerts at Saitama Super Arena, I figured my chance to win tickets were pretty good.  After all, SSA is a pretty big place.  SKE and HKT have been playing at much smaller venues, even when they were arguably more popular.  But I wasn’t sure how easy the tickets would ultimately be to win, so I decided to put in applications for all four shows.  Now I don’t often do this, but it’s time for my rant…

For many of you who have been to Japan, and have tried to win either theater shows or concerts for AKB48, you know how difficult, even impossible it seems to be.  I’ve never come out and said it before on my blog, but there is something seriously “rotten in  the state of Denmark” when it comes to that ticket center.  The reason I say this is not only because I lost for all four shows, in all three rounds of applications, but most everyone I know who won, won all four shows.  It was pretty much feast or famine.  People who won, won them all, people who didn’t win, got shut out entirely.  That, in and of itself is strange.  But it got even stranger…

When they announced the third round of applications, it was because the concerts didn’t sell out.  Wait a second?  Didn’t sell out?  But I lost all four applications?  How can this be???  Moreover, after the third round was over, they announced that it still didn’t sell out, and tickets would be available at the box office on the day of the concert.  This begs the question; Why are people losing, and the show didn’t sell out?  I’m not saying this is exclusive to foreign fans either, since I know a lot of Japanese fans who also got shut out of the lottery.  Not to mention, I also know foreigners who won all the shows.  But this kind of stuff just makes it even more obvious that there is nothing really random about the ticket center at all.  And to be honest, it really pisses me off.  I remember a time before the ticket center existed when the AKB48 lottery process seemed completely random and fair.  I have no idea why the company has turned it into what it is, but it is obvious that they are screening all applications, and deciding who gets to win, and who doesn’t.  Anyway, rant over.

I already knew I was going to the HKT show since I had friends with extra tickets.  As far as the rest of the shows, I really wanted to see SKE, but I wasn’t sure about AKB.  Also, at my age sitting through two concerts in one day is a bit of a hassle.  So I had to decide, which additional shows, if any, would I try to see?  I had pretty much decided to skip the SKE show since ultimately I didn’t know how many extra tickets were available, and I didn’t want to head out to Saitama first thing in the morning to find out that it had already sold out.  However, when I DID arrive at Saitama later in the day, I learned two things…

First, the HKT48 concert ultimately didn’t sell out.  They were still trying to sell tickets just before the show started.  Second, reliable sources told me that there were “lots of tickets” left for both AKB shows.  So I decided that I would head back over on Sunday, and get a ticket for one of the AKB shows too.  So that was my plan, one show for each day.

So after having lunch and meeting my friend in Akabane, we headed over to the arena.  The first thing we wanted to do was check out the goods tables, which were set up outside the arena.  Since the SKE concert was still going on, there was no line for their tent.  However, their selection was kind of picked over.  But I did get this…

Kaotan the JK, I love it!  The girl selling it started laughing at my friend’s and my reaction to seeing the button.  After that we headed to the HKT side.  The HKT booths had been open for a while, so the queue was short.  That is, unless you wanted to buy the manually decorated Uchiwa.  There was a big queue to use the tables for that.  Ultimately I decided to grab a new Akiyoshi ticket holder, and a concert towel.  They had some shirts in XXL, but I didn’t love them.

So after hanging around the arena for a couple hours, we finally got our tickets and headed into the venue.  But not before I had a chance to snap a couple of pics of the HKT flags.  I first found Bibian, but she was in the middle of the photo trading area, so I could only get a long shot.  I couldn’t find Maichan’s flag, but I found Yukachan right at the arena level entrance.  I had my friend hold it steady since it was kinda windy.

We headed up to our 400 level seats, pretty much the top deck.  There is a small Level 500, where you are practically hanging from the ceiling.  But we were low, 4th row, in the back left corner.  It was a direct view, but we were high up.  Anyway, here is my brief review of the HKT48 concert…

They started with a VTR on the proper use of uchiwas.  This is one of the things I love about HKT concerts, their little vignettes in the VTRs are so funny.  The star was Imamura Maria, but Akiyoshi also had a nice little part in it.  At one point Imamura is cheering for Yukachan with a giant onigiri uchiwa, and smashing it into the other fans.  Later on, she has one of the homemade uchiwas, and is cheering for two different members by flipping it around.  Meanwhile, Akiyoshi is peeking from behind the curtain and pissed off, LOL.  Dirty DD!

BTW, some sample video I took during the “camera ok!” time…


After the opening set, they showed a second VTR with certain members “in disguise” complaining about wanting a chance to be center.  The funny part was when it was Imamura’s turn, she was too short and could be seen behind the smoked glass.  Conversely, Natsumikan was too tall.  Finally, Ueki Nao’s chin was exposed, which is kind of her charm point.  This led into a huge series of solo songs by each and every member.  Despite the songs being shortened, it was still a really long set, with 23 consecutive songs.  Among my favorites, Motomura Aoi’s Akai Pinheel to Professor was really good, with really neat video effects.  Nako, Maichan, and Tomiyoshi also had really strong performances too.  Yukachan also centered a song, but it wasn’t really a solo.  Speaking of Yukachan…

I didn’t see it, but at beginning of the concert she fell off one of the stage runways and broke her foot.  Amazingly, she performed the rest of the concert, and only afterwards did they realize that there was a serious issue.  I saw her dancing and running around.  Heck, she even had a big part in the live skit in the middle of the concert.  BTW, I talk more about Yukachan’s broken foot in my previous post.


This is about as close as Tomiyoshi and Piichan came to me

My two biggest complaints were 1) The sound was really bad in the arena.  I don’t know if it was just where I was sitting, but it seemed like all of the sound was in the front of the concert, and we were just getting the echoes in the back.  I noticed that all the speakers seemed to be facing one direction too.  My second issue is that Sakura should not be singing the lead in Otona Ressha in place of Haruppi.  Otona Ressha might be my all-time favorite 48-group song, and I felt Sakura did a weak job of singing the lead.  The concert finally came to an end, but not before they flashed an ominous sign on the screens telling fans to check Twitter in 15 minutes.  Ultimately it was the new single senbatsu announcement.  Not sure why they couldn’t do that in the arena, but whatever.  All I know is that the new single Senbatsu is severely lacking in the Akiyoshi department.  Anyway, on to AKB…

I arrived at the arena on Sunday around 30 minutes before doors were scheduled to open for the matinee.  I went to the box office expecting to see a queue.  Uhhh, like five people in queue.  You had to fill out a form when you bought the ticket, and they asked me which show I wanted to buy for (or if I wanted both)  It was at that moment I decided to go for the matinee since I was already there.  The other option was to go all the way back home and come back six hours later.  In the meantime a friend of mine who is an SKE and Team 8 fan came to get a ticket, so we decided to renban the show.  Nice to have some company.  Our tickets were again 400 level, but on the other side of the venue in row 15.  So pretty much the same view, but out of the opposite eye, LOL.  I went to check the goods.  The line was huge.  Not to mention, there was really nothing I wanted that badly, so I decided to skip AKB goods all together.  We headed in and found our seats.  There were lots of empty spots all around us.  As for the show…

The first thing I was interested in was the sound, and for some reason the sound was much better than the previous day.  Now on one hand, I was in a different part of the venue.  But I also noticed that the speaker stacks were now facing multiple directions, so I think they made some overnight adjustments.  The show started with all the kennin members performing Enjou Rosen, followed by a stupid VTR and another overture.  BTW, I heard some fans were pissed about that, and felt it was somehow disrespectful to the kennin members. (Somebody tried to explain why, but I didn’t get it)

The main theme of the show were the Teams.  First, the current Teams (A, K, B, 4, Kenkyuusei, and Team 8) all performed songs.  Then the new teams came out and performed.  Since it was so high up, I didn’t get a real good feel for any differences in style or dynamic.  But the point was that the shuffle is moving forward.  After all that, we got a few units…

Surprisingly, Sakura’s performance of Maeda Atsuko’s solo debut Flower was surprisingly good.  I never think of Sakura as an exceptional performer, bu she pulled Maeda’s song off quite well.  On the other hand, Nako, Ryoha, and Nagisa’s rendition of Maria was the worst performance of that song I had ever seen.  It had no power, poor singing, just a mess.  She’s Gone, centered by Iriyama and Miru, was just slightly less bad.  They sounded so shrill on the chorus.  BTW, they allowed us to film in this show too.  Here is a sample video I took…



The best part of the show was when they allowed us to record and take pics.  They did this in the HKT show too, but the members came nowhere near us.  This time we got a bunch of 16th Gen get pretty close to us, so that was a lot of fun.

Overall, I liked the AKB show a bit more than the HKT show, but that was mainly because of the sound.  These days I’m a much bigger fan of HKT than AKB.  But since the sound was louder and more full, it seemed more exciting, which makes a big difference.

After the show ended, I briefly contemplated buying a ticket for the evening show.  But ultimately decided I would be happier not shelling out the extra 8000 yen, and instead wemt home to enjoy the rest of Sunday.  After seeing that the evening show was pretty much more of the same thing, I was happy with my decision.  I’m more of a theater guy anyway.  But it was nice to at least experience some of the 48-groups’ Spring Tour.

CK in Tokyo

Tags: , ,

AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 9th Album Shamekai Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/04/08)

1 Comment

Today was the first Shamekai event for AKB’s latest album. Of course I made the mistake of getting tickets for the first event of the promotion, which is always a total clusterf**k. Many of the queues early in the day seemed to take forever to navigate. I didn’t arrive at the venue until 1:35, but it still seemed like an incredibly long day.

To be honest, I didn’t get to talk very much with any of the members since they seemed to be pushing people through quickly. Unless of course you won the opportunity to get something signed. Aside from the signed CD cover, which they did for the most part the same way as last year, you had the opportunity, instead of the normal shamekai, to win either a short 2-shot video, or a signed cheki (with a signed booklet). Unfortunately for me, I went a perfect zero for six on the prize. It was funny, after I lost the 4th one I was kinda routing for the “perfecto” I really wasn’t interested in the video, and while the cheki and booklet are nice, and I would like to win one, ultimately I can take it or leave it. So here are my six shamekai, with a few small anecdotes thrown in…

FYI, chara-ani is still doing the “stamp thing”

Slot 4

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 21) I was going to bail on getting my tickets stamped, since it’s debatable whether or not I really need it. After all, I do have a Japanese ID card with matching address. However, my name is cut off due to length. When I saw how long Zunchan’s queue was, I thought I better get them stamped, just in case. There was no line at the info booth anyway, so it took less than two minutes. Anyway, after 90 minutes in Zunchan’s queue, it was finally my turn. You know, Zunchan kinda reminds me of a bunny rabbit…

BTW, Hiwatashi Yui was next to Zunchan, and she’s adorable! Anyway, after the shot I told her that after reading her sign at the last event, I went out and had chirashizushi. She had this semi-confused look as I told her the story, but the moment I said “chirashizushi” it all clicked for her, LOL. Anyway, I entertained the idea of having her sign my CD, but her Slot 4 queue was going to run so late, and the queue for her CD signing was already huge, I abandoned the mission. I really didn’t have much of a choice about it anyway, as you will soon read.

I had all of Slot 5 off. I decided I would queue early for one of my two planned tickets in Slot 6, but I didn’t know which one would be best. I first went over to the CD signing lane I wanted to do, but the pre-queue was already huge. So I went over to Maichan’s lane, who I had a ticket for, and there were like 4 people waiting. OK, this is cool. They opened the lane, and some a-hole who wasn’t even queued jumped in first in front of all of us. Whatever. Then, one of the staff came over and told us the slot would be delayed, and they brought this mass of people from another lane to finish their previous slot. I was so pissed, I literally exclaimed out loud “Oh, f**k you!” This looked like it would take at least half an hour. So I went back to the CD signing lane. It was friggin’ huge, but it looked like it was moving. I’ll give it a shot. If I miss out on Maichan, so be it…

Slot 6

CD Signing Lane Akiyoshi Yuka (w/ Yamada Marina & Ueno Haruka) (Lane 133) The way the three person lane worked is that only one would sign at a time, while the other two just watched and talked. Not too efficient, but I think they counted on the lane to be collectively short. That was the first issue. The second issue with this lane is that Mariri is graduating soon, so there were a ton of people there just to see her. In fact, I would say it was 70% of the line. The third issue was there were multiple guys in the queue with huge stacks of CD covers and tickets. One guy had 20, another had around 40, and the third guy had 12, and they were all in front of me. I kept thinking “there’s no way they’re gonna let them do this, it’ll take an hour just for the three of them. Finally a staff member told them it was “no-go” so thankfully they left the lane (along with a 4th guy I didn’t see) Thank god! In the meantime, Yukachan spotted me in the queue and waved, then threw me a “heart” and pointed me out to Harutan. I got another “heart” a couple minutes later. Finally it was my turn…

This was the one time I got a chance to talk to Yukachan for a while. I asked her how bad her foot still hurts (she said it really hurts) I told her I broke a toe a few years ago, and I know it’s really painful. While she was signing, I turned to Mariri and congratulated her on her graduation, and then I told both she and Harutan that I am Yukachan’s English teacher, which got a laugh from Yukachan. She finished signing, and said “I really love you Chris-san!” I told her I would see her next slot. In the meantime, I had four minutes left to get to Maichan’s queue.

BTW, there was a girl in line behind me for the CD signing. She was so cute! She looked a lot like Kawaei Rina. In fact I thought it was Kawaei. The funny thing was that she ended up behind me in Maichan’s queue too, and kinda gave me a little nod and smile when she noticed she was behind me again.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 108) I was happy that I wouldn’t have to oshimashi this ticket, since I always seem to bail on Maichan when I am pressed for time, LOL. The line wasn’t very long, and I got to the front relatively quickly.

One of my favorite shamekai is from last year, when Maichan and I did this pose. So I chose it again. Maichan is so cute. I told her I went to the SSA concert and liked her solo.

Slot 7

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 111) Once again I couldn’t decide which queue to get in first, but Yukachan’s looked a lot more manageable. (The entire SKE area was slammed with people) At first I thought her prequeue was huge, but then I noticed it was for Mariri. Yukachan’s queue was five deep, and in the queue was one of the Socal fan club guys. (I forget his name :(, but he won the cheki ) It took them a few minutes to get her situated, and they had her legs covered with a blanket. I asked her which pose we should do, the “Itai” pose (crying) or Onigiri pose. She chose crying…

Oh, my poor little Yukachan. So painful. But look at her though. She worked all week, did the HKT National event on Saturday, and worked today for the shamekai event. What a trooper!

Tani Marika (Lane 50) I quickly changed ticket holders from my new Yukachan holder to my new Tani holder. Her line wasn’t very long, which was good as I could get a break between slots 7 and 8. Since I have been well-trained, I immediately greeted her with a “Wow, Kawaii Marika-chan!” She was like “Me, I’m kawaii?” Yes! “Am I beautiful?” “Yes, Marika-chan is beautiful!” “Well then let’s do heart pose”

She asked me if I was cold, since I was wearing shorts and short sleeves, but I told her I have a sweatshirt (paa-ka) in my bag. Anyway, it wasn’t cold in the venue. I now had plenty of time until Slot 8…

I knew I wouldn’t have any issues getting my last two tickets done, but I decided to pre-queue for Yukachan again anyway. In the meantime, the Akiyoshi Birthday/Sousenkyo committee came over to me and asked if I wanted to be part of their LINE group. Of course I said yes, so they added me in. I’m not sure how good an idea this was, however, since I have been inundated with LINE messages all evening, LOL. But I am glad I am part of the team now.

Slot 8

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 109) Yuka-chan was moved to another lane. In the meantime I was third in the queue. While we waited, I had the perfect angle to see “backstage” where the girls come out, and I was really interested to see how bad Yukachan’s foot really was. Out she came, on crutches! She also had a hard cast on her foot, going up to about her ankle. They eventually put her crutches backstage, but then she had to get up. She was hopping around. Oh no, my poor Yukachan! I felt so bad, but in a way it was really cute, LOL! I decided we should do the Onigiri pose after all…


My onigiri seems to be more diamond shaped

After the 2-shot I told her I saw her on her crutches backstage, and that I felt really bad for her. “Poor Yuka-chan” I told her to keep doing her best, and I would see her next week.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 81) What would a 48-group event be without a visit with Kaotan? Kaotan’s queue was relatively short. However, it took a painfully long time since it seemed like everyone in the front of the queue had won the signed cheki. She was taking quite a long time to sign each one. What should have taken 10 minutes, ended up taking 35. But finally it was my turn. What pose? I had no idea. Actually……

Perfect! It’s my favorite shamekai of the day! A nice way to end the evening. I was finally heading home.

However, I made the mistake of stopping by the station for dinner, and by the time I finished eating some concert got out and there was a mass of humanity trying to board the train back toward Tokyo. There are a few shamekai events still to go, most of them around Golden Week. However, I only have tickets to the last event in mid-May. My itinerary is slightly different. I have tickets for Zunchan, Cuca, Mio, Zukki, Kaotan, and one oshimashi (since Akiyoshi won’t be there) I have a good idea who I am going to use it on. My CD signing ticket, on the other hand, I have no idea. Those lines are the worst!

CK in Tokyo

Tags:

AKB48, Concerts Horipro Thursday FES 2018 ~Spring Song Battle~ at Zepp Diver City (2018/03/15)

0 Comments


 

A lot of odd events occasionally show up on the AKB-Group Ticket Center. I wasn’t sure what this event was, despite the “Hori” at the beginning being a major clue. It wasn’t until I checked the details that I got really excited….

Tomochin?
Ishida x2?
Kasai?
MaiMai?
RanRan?
Meetan?

MEETAN!?!?!?!?!?!?

 

My first true oshimen, and I have not seen her since shortly after she graduated from SDN48 when I went to her Gravure DVD release event at Tower Records Shibuya. That was what? Six years ago??? This was the clincher for me. Not to mention Ishida Anna and Tomochin, two former 48-group members who I enjoy visiting would also be there. On the other hand, it had been quite a while since I had actually won a concert via the ticket center. So I was truly surprised when I got the winning email.

I received a second surprise when I picked up my ticket and saw that I had entry #26. Diver City can fit over 2000 people, although I didn’t know how many people were actually coming, especially since the Horipro website said the show wasn’t sold out. But needless to say, with that ticket I would be very close to the stage.

Anyway, I got to DiverCity relatively early, had lunch, and then hung out at Tully’s waiting for doors to open. I checked the goods on the website, and frankly nothing appealed to me at all, so I had no interest in the “early bird” goods table. At 5:30 pm, they didn’t line us up. Instead everyone was in this mass of people as they called people in one by one. That seemed like quite an ineffective way to handle the queue, but whatever. They also made you buy a drink ticket, which I thought was slightly lame considering the cost of the show ticket. Oh, and the crowd was a sea of orange Ogino Yuka T-shirts. It seems like at least 1/3 of the crowd was there to see her. The only other performer I saw any evidence of a support group for was Yamauchi Suzuran.

When I got in, they quickly checked my bag. I ran over to the bar, and quickly grabbed a beer (took about 15 seconds) and then jogged in to get a spot. There was a walkway in the middle of the arena, so you could either go to the left side or right. Everyone was going to the right, so I took off for the far side, and got a spot right against the rail. Not really close to the center, but a good spot nonetheless.

I mentioned a few of the members who were performing. Let me give you the full lineup. The majority of the performers were current and former 48-group members….

The hosts were Ijiri-san and Oshima Mai
Current 48-group members were Myao, Suzuran and Ogino Yuka.
Graduates (other than MaiMai) were Meetan, Iwata Karen, Kasai, Tomochin, Harukyan, and former Nogi member Nagashima Seira. Ishida Anna was supposed to be there, but ultimately wasn’t. I didn’t read the reason for her absence, but I was kinda bummed out about it.
Non-48 Women: Kojima Ruriko, Sasaki Moyoko, Hamaguchi Junko, Yamane Chika, Koso Yoko
Male Talent: Ueda Kandai, Sadaoka Yuho, Okamoto Tomotaka

This was a “Spring Song Battle,” and the performers were put into two teams, red and blue, captained by Meetan (blue) and Kasai (red). The members chose teams by picking balls out of a box, which was shown via VTR at the beginning of the show. BTW, Anna WAS in the VTR, which made it surprising not to see her performing. Also, Kasai had some sort of throat condition, and was not allowed to speak. Instead she carried a art book with pre-written lines in it. As for their outfits, all Team red members wore some kind of red themed outfit, wile the blue team wore blue or white attire.

The first half of the show featured members singing various songs in various pairings and groupings. Interestingly, the Horipro members all have varying degrees of skill when it comes to singing. I’m a Meetan fan, but I am painfully aware that she is an awful singer. There’s really no one among the 48-girls who is an exceptional singer. Karen probably comes the closest, and Myao is surprisingly decent. Ranran’s not bad either. On the other hand, the other talent really carried the show, singing-wise, especially Koso and Uedo. Oh, and Okamoto Tomotaka, well….

This guy is amazing. He is billed as a classical singer. He’s gigantic. He towered over everyone in the group. He’s huge, from shoulder to shoulder he looks like a human wall. Couple that with the long and flowing gown he wears, he is quite the site. And, his singing is incredibly powerful, which is even more surprising considering he is a Soprano. He did a duet with Ranran that for me was probably the biggest highlight of the show.

The second half of the show was the AKB Battle, where they for the most part sang all 48-group related songs, and Tomochin performed her solo song OMG with two backdancers. They sang a lot of short versions of songs, and for the life of me I can’t remember all the songs they performed. I do remember Only Today, Korogaru Isshi ni Nare, Sakura no Hanabiratachi (Ranran/Okamoto duet) and Heart Gata Virus. I would have loved to see a performance of Oshi/Meshi, but since Kasai couldn’t perform. Speaking of Kasai…

It was nice to see the graduate members, and most of them looked for the most part the same. Iwata has the short blonde haircut, which is quite cute on her. However, I did not recognize Kasai when she first came on stage. Her entire face looked completely swollen. Now it IS possible that whatever her ailment is might be affecting her face, since I didn’t notice this in recent photos. Moreover, the rest of her body looks fine, so it isn’t like she is putting on a lot of weight. But yeah, she looked different. Meetan, on the other hand looked really good. I like the short top w/side-ponytail look on her.

As for the non AkiP-Idols, the one that stuck out the most for me (aside from Okamoto) was Kojima Ruriko. Let’s just say she has a slammin’ figure. It was fun to watch the non-singing idols trying to perform AKB songs. One of them commented (I think it was Hamaguchi) that after performing these songs, she had a newfound appreciation for the work if idols.

The end of the show was 1) the vote, and 2) the photo-op portion of the show. We were all given a red and blue glowstick to use during the show, not only as a cheering tool, but to ultimately vote on who won the battle. In the beginning, my glowstick refused to work properly, but after smacking it a few times, I finally got it to light up and stay lit. I was in a quandary, since I wanted to vote for Team Meetan, but I was standing against the Team Red side of the stage, so they would clearly see me voting against them, including Tomochin. Nut what the hell, I voted for Team Blue anyway, and we won. Yatta! It was pretty much a given since Ogino was on the blue team. But it was close, there were a lot of red sticks too.

I was looking forward to the photo ops, but ultimately was disappointed in the way they carried it out. In other shows I have been to, when they offer this benefit the performers will move around the audience to meet more people. However, in this show they stayed stationary throughout the song, I ended up with Iwata Karen right in front of me, so I got lots of great closeups of her. But Meetan and Suzuran were far away from me, so I didn’t get any photos of them. Bummer.

After the show there was a promised High Touch. A couple of the older non-48 group related performers didn’t participate. It was quite a line, and you were pushed through fairly quickly, but I was sure to pause when I got to Meetan. Actually, I saw her eyeing me from when I got about three away from her too. I also got nice reactions from Ranran, Tomochin, Iwata, and the Nogi girl Nagashima, who started speaking to me in English.

And with that I was out of the hall and ready for dinner. But unfortunately last order at all the Diver City restaurants was 9:30, and I got out at 9:31. So I was out of luck. Ultimately the show was fun, but I was mainly happy that I got to see Meetan again. Who knows when/if I will have another chance to meet with her. But never say never, right? It had been almost six years and here came another opportunity

CK in Tokyo

Tags: ,