You may notice that I skipped days 5-7. That is because aside from one SDN48 show, I spent much of those three days doing non-idol related things like shopping, sightseeing and meeting friends. I needed to save my energy because the weekend promised a whole bunch of activity beginning with Friday night at Tokyo Tower…
I make it a tradition to visit Tokyo Tower at least once per trip to see the Tokyo Tower girl Umeda Ayaka spin records for a couple hours. It was at this event that I got a first hand look at how popular AKB48 is getting. But first I stopped at Pizza-LA for a quick bite, and who did I see? It was Pete from Hello!Online! I had met Pete last year at the Tanaka Reina birthday show. He had been in Japan for about a month with fello H!O-er Oroburous (sorry if I misspelled your handle). They had been traveling around the country seeing various H!P acts, and had even found the time to catch AKB48 and Momoclo. Anyhow, the three of us caught the elevator up to the observatory…
It is amazing how popular AKB48 is. Two years ago I came to the Umechan event, and maybe there were 20 or so fans there. Last Spring it was more like 50-60. But this time? Wow! At least a couple hundred to see her spin records and chat for a while! I could barely get close enough to see her. But she was loose, and having fun with the fans. I excused myself a little early because I figured the elevators down would be a madhouse after her show ended. But still a fun time…
This was the first time I have gone to a release event like this for AKB. I did go to Momoclo’s CD release at the same venue the other day. I am so glad I went, it was so much fun.
I got there late, and everyone was lining up to go up to the room. I asked the guy running it if the show was sold out, he said no and quickly grabbed a copy of her DVD for me to buy. Cool, although I think there was some sort of screw-up as I didn’t get the ticket for any of the goodies. That would end up being a cool story later…
Yukarin came out in a cute little outfit wearing this silly thing on her head. It looked like a triangular pillow with masking tape on it. The moderator interviewed her about the photoshoot for the DVD, all the while with SDN48 songs playing in the background. It went on for 20 minutes or so. Then it was time for the first photoshoot….
You had to bring a regular camera (not a cellphone) and you could take from one to four shots with her posing for you. They said the ticket I had was good for one shot, but when I got to the front they asked where my other ticket was. I said this was all I was given. I told them it was okay and turned back to my seat when one of the other fans ran up and handed me a ticket. So I got to take one shot. When I got up to her she said “Oh, hi!” which got a laugh from the crowd. There were about 100 people there in total…
From my own camera Yayyyy!
Ofter another short interview segment it was time for handshakes and autographs. She had pre-signed the CD covers. And when it was my turn I was determined to talk to her in Japanese. Once again as I shook her hand she said “Hello, thank you!”. I said in my best Japanese “Thank You Yukari-san, I think Gagaga is really great! I love SDN!” She thanked me and asked me something. But I didn’t know what she was asking me. I just said “Hai” and she said “Okay” Once again, giggles from the audience.
When I got to the goods table once again I didn’t have the right ticket, but her manager gave me one autograph sheet. That was fine, it was all I really came for anyway. To be honest I don’t know why I wasn’t given that other ticket. I did everything the sign said in order to get the goods from the event. But whatever…
Finally at the end it was time for 2-shots. I had already played my “gaijin-card” twice, so I decided not to push it and skipped this part.
At the end she thanked everyone as she left. But at the last moment she stuck her head back out and looked for me. When she spotted me she said “Thank You!” and waved which was too funny. Got a laugh from everyone, including her manager!
I was really happy because of all the SDN girls, I have never really “connected” with Yukarin during all of the High-Touches I have been through. So to connect with her at this event made me really happy. I’m sure the next time I do High-Touch with her it will be a totally different experience.
Makuhari Messe “Chara-Ani” Handshake Event 11/14
Let me start by saying my legs and feet are killing me after spending 12 hours in that place meeting idols. But it was well worth it. Got on the train at 6:45 to make it down to Chiba for doors. The goods line was already huge! I had no idea how long the handshake lines would be, so I blew off goods for the time being. Although the line was pretty short to exchange unwanted beginner pics for Suuchan and Lovetan, so I did that. I had 23 tickets for 10 different members, I also had a few exchanges with members I didn’t have tickets for. My god there were soooo many people there, tons more than the 2-shot event at Big Sight in the Spring.
They were playing a loop of videos on the monitors, including the Yoyogi DVD, the latest Shukan DVD, K5, Beginner PV, Hebirote PV, Yokohama DVD and the 19th single Chance no Junban!!! Also, my name on the chara-ani sheet was a Katakana version of my “not Japanese” name, which got many chuckles from the staff.
I did manage to pick up three of the microfiber towels (Wasamin, Moeno and Mikapon) and the Shukan DVD when the goods line died down. Also, the birthday committees for Yukarin and Suzuran both came up to me and specifically asked me to write a birthday greeting in English for their oshis. Yukarin’s fans remembered me from the Ishimaru event.
Keep in mind that most of my convos were in my horrific Japenglish, and for every girl below I had at least two tickets. Also, each interaction was about 5-10 seconds. It might seem short, but for a moonspeak-challenged gaijin like me it is a godsend!
Wasamin: I had four tickets. I spaced them out for one each hour she was there. All of my interactions with Wasamin are always pure heaven. I showed her the 2-shot we took in the spring. We talked about the Singapore show (she said she liked Singapore). I congratulated her on her Karaoke win and told her I saw her Ude wo Kunde performance. And of course I told her how much I adore her. I got two seperate “I Love You”‘s from Wasamin. And everytime she would see me soming up her line she would turn to me and smile. Yatta!
Next to Wasamin was Anna from KII, who smiled and waved to me a couple times. I also ran into Shiichan as she entered her booth while I left Wasamin the first time. Apparently they were fiming Shiichan as a follow up to that recent Shukan episode. Also, Nakatsuka Tomomi was in the end slot, and leaving that area always brought you within two feet of her, so I saw a lot of Kurisu
Haachan: I am pretty sure Haa remembered me from the Spring. I commented on how cute her haircut is, and that Gold Rush is my favorite song from A6 (well, that and Zuttox2). I think I mentioned that I think she gets the best units. Just goes to show, the last time I met her it was kind of awkward since I had never spoken to her before. But this time was better.
CinDy: Had her cute little Tiara on. I imitated her Suppon no Onnatachi narration voice. And told her how much I like Gagaga. She asked me what my name was and where I was from. Not that she didnt remember me, but I guess I had met her enough that she decided she wanted to know. CinDy is always great!
Komori: My first time seeing Komori. She is sooooooo sweet, and had the hottest pair of shorts on in the place. She listened intently as I said the Komori version of Hebirote is the best, and she should come perform in the USA. (Just stretching to come up with stuff to say). I said I love watching Komori. For a first time meeting I thought it was great!
Moeno: I wasn’t sure if she remembered me from LA, so I asked and she said she did. Okay, so maybe. I got sort of tongue tied but I did manage to tell her that Bungee was kakoii! She asked me my name as the guard pushed me out, and she stretched her arm out like to say “No, come back!” Cute!
BTW, I walked right past Miichan and Mayu coming back from break as I left Moeno. But the security was there so I just kept walking…
Chaki (SDN): I have seen a lot of Chaki this trip as I have won quite a few SDN shows. I told her I loved her sexy scene in Eros no Trigger, and she went “Yeahhhhhh!!!!!”. And of course I mentioned how much I love SDN, which I’m sure she already knows. Chaki is adorable.
Chenchu was next to Chaki, and didn’t have much of a line. She waved to me while I waited for Chaki and gave me a sad little frown.
Tanamin: First time I have met Tanamin. Her little hippy “Batman” outfit was too cute! I have to admit my conversations with her were slightly awkward. I was trying to say I had wanted to meet her for a long time, but it just didnt come out right.
Harukyan: Poor Harukyan looked exhausted. She isn’t used to having six slots at these events. She stayed seated throughout the slot I saw her in, and repeatedly put her head down. I believe they shut her line down early to give her an extended rest. I was attempting to mention how much I love the phrase “Harucan Doit”, but then she proceeded to tell me her name was Haruka and asked me my name…Huh? Yeah, she was tired. Still, Harukyan is so cute!
Nakayan: First time actually talking to Nakayan, I met her very briefly last year, and did High Touch with her last week. I was attempting to tell her that I love coming to Japan and seeing AKB48. She asked where I was coming from. I basically told her it was nice to finally meet her.
Ahh, too funny…While I waited for Nakayan the first time Nonti was in the next booth with nobody coming. She kept daring me to jump the rope and come to her instead
Last but not least…
Meetan: I had three Meetan tickets. The first thing she said was that now she knew what I was saying to her at High Touch last week. (I said I would see her this weekend) Meetan always asks me if I am coming back around again to see her. Whe I came around again she said (in Japanese). Wow, this is third time right? We talked about Gagaga. I told her I saw her Music Japan appearance live. I told her how cute her outfit was. Meetan does that happy noise she makes when she gets excited. I loved every minute of it. Once again, it gets easier to communicate (even with the language barrier) when I meet people like Meetan multiple times.
Oh, later on while I was waiting on my last Nakayan ticket, Meetan went full “Hug/Kiss Attack” on Chikarina in front of everyone! Gotta love her!
I also got closeup looks at Sae, Tomo-mi, Kitarie, Natsumin, Sakippe, Suuchan, Sayanee, Kato Mami, Machiko, Amina, Aamin, Yuko, Maachan, Umechan, Uchida, Reinyan and Myao since they were all in booths close to the girls I had tix for.
It was an awesome event and a total reminder of why I am an AKB48 fan! And I sa a lot of old friends I had met on previous trips over. Now I need sleep!
CK in Tokyo