Just flew in from San Fran. Eighteen hours later I began a two day extravaganza of handshakes for the So Long! and Sayonara Crawl singles. The weekend at Makuhari Messe was filled with fun, sweet, and insane moments. There were many lessons to be learned as well. I had 48 (hehe) tickets for the entire weekend, including 18 for Wasamin. So there is much to talk about. I wasn’t alone either. Accompanying me to the event were Tensai, Memorybreak, and Pandadash. We also ran into Jouttex, MecchaMelon, Shining Ojisan and Drazaar!
This is going to be a long ass post, but totally worth the effort….
The Sayonara Clusterfuck…
As busy as we were on Saturday, nothing could have prepared us for the insanity of Sunday’s Sayonara Crawl Event. It seems that management wasn’t totally prepared either. Slots were running overtime for just about every girl, which meant the next slot would start late. Everyone was missing out on handshakes due to overly long lines and late starts. I missed out on using 4 tickets. However three of them were due to my chance to get a 2-shot with Togasaki. Yes! Togasaki 2-shot FTW! And his English is pretty good too.
What did they expect? Had they thought it through they would have known this would happen. Jeez, I even predicted it, warning my friends before the day even started. But I am not going to lay the blame on management, fan over-zealousness contributed to it just as much. Oh, and those Divas that like to be 30-45 minutes late to their slots? They are partly responsible too. This is the backlash of the single selling so well, so everyone will have to buck up and get the job done for the sake of the team.Anyway, those of you who are going to future Sayonara Crawl events. Take this as fair warning. EVERY line is really long, even girls who normally have short queues. Plan accordingly, and prepared not to have much downtime. Rest, food will cost you handshakes.
Trying Something New…
This trip I had resolved to meet a lot of new girls. I have lost a few faves to graduation, and frankly it is fun to mix it up a bit. The following members were among the girls I had first-time handshakes with. They were all very nice, although it was pretty standard faire…
Yamada Nana (NMB Team M): Very sweet. Even prettier in person. She was kind of quiet with me, perhaps because she didn’t know me?
Kawaei Rina (AKB Team A): I was surprised to see her in a frilly dress. I am more used to her in casual attire. I love her smile. I told her I loved her Shukan AKB special episode. Oh, and I yelled “Kawaei!” at her ala Okamura-san from Ninety Nine.
Iwatate Saho (AKB-kks): Genki personality. Looked cute in her jammies, which were the standard AKB-kks attire for the weekend.
Takahashi Juri (AKB Team A): I expected her to act silly as that was what Pandadash told me she would do, but she was surprisingly normal. She was excited to tell me she had been to Washington DC!
Yagura Fuuko (NMB Team M): I told her she was great in the HA! PV.
Uchiyama Natsuki (AKB-kks): Has personality for miles. She really isn’t my type, although I can see why Tensai likes her so much. I spent the handshake telling her how much Tensai loves her, BWAHAHAHA.
There are certain members that I will always enjoy saying hello too. Moeno was on that list, but unfortunately she is gone. Haachan is also on the list, but I lost every time I tried to win a ticket for her. So I guess talking to Haa wasn’t meant to be this trip. I did see her once, but I ducked so she wouldn’t see me.
Yokoyama Yui (AKB Team A): is always a good handshake. I told her I was sorry her concurrency with NMB ended, since I loved Kitagawa Kenji. She kind of laughed it off like “Don’t worry about it”
Ichikawa Miori (AKB Team B): She never really says anything, she just “Oohs”, “Ahhs” and bounces around. It is adorable. Later on (after my meeting with her) she changed into her OKL48 outfit. I was so bummed I didn’t get to talk to her while she wore it, although I got a closeup look since she was right next to Wasamin.
Oya Masana (SKE Team S): Was wearing the cutest shirt. I asked her about it, and she responded in English “This is me!” pointing to the cartoon character. I then realized it was her birthday shirt. Duhhh.
Ishida Anna (SKE Team KII): Looked absolutely gorgeous and dare I say, Sexy! I have long felt she is one of the prettier members. Similar to Yui, I told her I would miss her in Team B.
Hirata Rina (AKB Team K): Actually this is only my second time meeting her. I have resolved to calling her “Arizona”. Anyway, I congratulated her on her promotion and told her that the foreign fans were rooting for her. She is getting really popular. Her queue was pretty busy, unlike the first time I saw her. Then again, it WAS Sunday.
Now for the most notable experiences. These are the moments I will remember for a lifetime! And I am starting with the best (or worst) experience depending on how you look at it…
The Craziest Handshake Ever! (Saturday, Slot 7)
Not surprisingly, it was Matsumura Kaori (SKE-kks). But it wasn’t only Kaotan that made this experience so insane. As I queued up I assessed her surroundings. Kaotan was wearing an oversized t-shirt. Quite casual for a handshake event. Then again, most of the AKB kenkyuusei were wearing pajamas, so…
As I get behind the lines I am red in the face as Kaotan is still hanging out the back screaming “I LOVE YOU” while all the other fans are looking at me and laughing too. Oh gawd, I was so embarrassed. I wanted a do-over! I really did think it was a disaster. But after I told everyone about it they thought it was a total WIN! Funny, it didn’t feel that way at the time. But looking back, I guess it was memorable!…
The Party known as Tani Marika! (Sunday, Slot 3)
“Shot Out of a Cannon” is the most apt description for her. Tani Marika (HKT-kks) walked out of the back area, screaming hello to every queue, the guards, the other girls…everyone! Passed her lane, went down to yell hello to more people as the guards rush over to bring her back to her own lane. Like the rockstar that she is, she proceeds to address not only her queue, but the queues on both sides of her. She, like a few of the other HKT-kenkyuusei were wearing sexy maid outfits. She looked smokin’ hawt.
More Great First Impressions…
Kawakami Rena (NMB Team M) (Saturday, Lunch Slot) Not that we said anything of major substance. But she is absolutely adorable, and that baby-girl voice of hers is insane!
The Paruru Experience (Saturday, Lunch Slot)
Paruru completely lived up to expectations, meaning that you should have no expectations when meeting her. Now I love Paruru exactly as she is, and I have been saying for months that I hope she gives me the classic “Salty Paru Experience”. I walked in, she had her usual distant smile on her face. I greeted her…no discernible reaction. I told her where I was from…no discernible reaction. I told her that she is great on Saturday Night Child Machine…she sort of raised her eyebrows in acknowledgement. I said something like Paruru is perfect…she softly responded “Arigatou” as I got pulled out.
Let’s Go Fishing!
It’s not a complete handshake event without being fished a few times. I assured myself of getting fished a bit with Suda and Milky tickets. But it is also fun when you get fished unexpectedly. Girls like Kaotan and Marika are “over the top” fishing girls ala Dasu. Then sometimes you get the subtle approach like Milky, and surprisingly, Nattsun.
And the hottest outfit award goes to…
Tanabe Miku (AKB Team B) (both days). To me she is always a winner when it comes to outfits. I must admit that while I was slightly disappointed with her lack of cosplay on Saturday, she totally outdid herself Sunday as she came out dressed as Katsuragi Mitsato from Evangelion. Red leather jacket with the matching hat. Skin tight black from her midriff down. It totally accented her slender body. I know Tanamin isn’t that popular. But jeez, when she cosplays she is Uber-Sexy! Sometimes I am at a loss what to say to Tanamin because she never gets much to do within the group. In fact on Saturday I think I slipped and accidentally called her Wasamin. But on Sunday I managed to ask her about her cosplay, and she told me the character and the anime. It is always great when I can have some sort of actual conversation, although she said the name of the character so quickly that I had to look it up later.
The Dawn of Komorin
Komori Mika (AKB Team B) (both days) I am so happy I am getting the chance to say goodbye to sweet and adorable Mikapon. I am really gonna miss her unique personality within AKB. Komori is notoriously “spacey” during handshakes. But I have seen her enough that she usually acknowledges me as a familiar face. This weekend was a new experience…
Persistence Pays Off!
Takagi Yumana (SKE Team E) (both days) I first talked to Yumana over a year ago when she kept engaging me while I was queued for Wasamin. That set up a funny experience last year at the “Kiss Datte Hidarikiki” event in Yokohama. After an awkward exchange on Saturday when I said it was nice to see her again and complimented her on her outfit, it left me thinking “Hmm, maybe I don’t connect with her as much as I thought I did” I had two tickets for her on Sunday. I was comtemplating skipping them as I was afraid of more awkwardness. However, the two encounters were great. She acted really excited as I walked up. I talked to her about her KII transfer. I told her how she got my attention when she made AKB Undergirls. It was very smooth and we both were happy. So I’m glad I didn’t skip her.
Now for my Belle of the Ball…
Iwasa Misaki (AKB Team B) (both days, all day) Jeez, 18 handshake tickets. This is by far the most I have ever had for Wasamin in one weekend. I have always said that I could do an infinite amount when it comes to her, but truthfully I was scared I would run out of stuff to say. The second problem was Wasamin had been posting that she was under the weather. Oh no, was she going to miss out on the weekend? Would I have to eat 18 more handshake tickets???
Sunday was more of the same. I asked her how she felt, and she said a little better. But I was sure she really meant that she felt like crap. Evidently I was right since she began losing her voice in Slot 2 (It happened much later in the day on Saturday) I think she medicated during the lunch break because her voice recovered. However, she was still somewhat raspy and her eyes were still a bit glazed. At one point I mentioned that I knew she still felt really bad and got the “Sad, puffy lipped” Wasamin look again. Just melted my heart.
The two funniest moments between me and Wasamin were 1) when I told her I was taking the 2-shot with tgsk and 2) when I told her my two favorite things on Saturday Night Child Machine were her singing…and Paruru’s corner. She laughed hard both times. The best moment was later in the day, after I got my Wasamin birthday shirt from the committee. I changed into it and walked in wishing her a happy birthday. She kept tugging at the shirt, and due to proximity…rubbing my belly. Wasamin!
Finally I went in for my last ticket. I always get choked up when I know this might be the last time I talk to her for a while. I thanked her for being such a trooper this weekend, and told her I was sorry she had to work so much this weekend. I then asked her to please take care of herself and that I am always thinking about her. She thanked me. Then I think she said she was taking English lessons??? Great!!! I hope I inspired her to do that.
This is why these events are so important to me. Everything else, all those other experiences are just gravy. But my time spent with Wasamin is complete bliss. This weekend was beyond perfect…
Just don’t tell my feet, knees, thighs, Achilles which are all so sore from walking on that concrete floor for two consecutive 12 hour sessions. This is why I am spending half of Monday writing, I can barely walk!!!
Another handshake event in the books. I hope I can do it again soon!
CK in Tokyo