Talk about ‘hisashiburi’! I consider Tokyo CLEARS to be one of my favorite idol groups, and yet I hadn’t seen them perform in almost nine months! The last time was for their previous single release. Now I check their performance schedule regularly, but I couldn’t find the time to see a show. That all changed this week. But before I get into the events, let me backtrack a bit and give you a bit of my history with this group, since I’m not sure if I have spoken about them much on this blog before.
A couple of years ago, my friend David, a former 48-group fan who had gone the ‘indie-idol’ route, was trying to get me visit P.A.R.M.S., the home theater of Alice Project. I was originally resistant, but eventually acquiesced since he came to a couple of Wasamin events with me. I didn’t exactly love Alice Project, but it did plant the seed for me to start paying more attention to the indie idol scene. A few months later I went to see an Alice Project show, and they had a few guest idol groups on the bill. This wasn’t the first time I had been there where they had done that, and usually the groups that played there didn’t impress me that much. However, one night I caught this one group, and one girl in particular caught my eye. Short, reddish-brown hair, really cute, but with this ‘devilish’ expression on her face, and a certain twinkle in her eye. I was immediately drawn to her, and began watching her intently on the stage. It didn’t take long for her to notice me watching her, and she immediately started gesturing to me. Smiling, waving, winking. She just hooked me right in. That girl was Sawabe Rion, and the group was Tokyo CLEARS.
When I finally met her, she was really nice. Down to earth, mature, and a lot of fun. I later learned that not only was she a former Gravure Idol, but she was also a former member of Ebisu Muscats. She was the perfect combination of sexiness and kawaii. what I also loved was that I could talk to Rion about anything. It wasn’t always idol-ly B.S. It was almost like talking to a friend, or a peer. Anyway, I made it a point to see CLEARS as often as I could. And I did. They were in my regular ‘rotation’ of groups a often saw. However, last year I decided to cut down on my indie idol spending, especially since Wasamin was draining my wallet on a regular basis. As a result, I failed to go seeCLEARS for the better part of a year. I really felt bad about it too, and wondered if Rion felt like I had abandoned her. But I really didn’t. I was always planning to see them, I just never pulled the trigger. However…
A week or so ago I noticed that CLEARS were releasing a new single. BTW, I call them CLEARS because the group actually has branches all over Japan. In addition to Tokyo Clears, there’s Yokohama CLEARS, Gunma CLEARS, Kawagoe CLEARS, and a bunch more. Oh, and the theme of the group is “Cleaning.” One of their monthly events is to go clean up litter around Tokyo. Yes, you can go out with the group and pick up trash with them. Fun Tiems? Anyway…
First Event at Sunshine City, Ikebukuro (2017/06/06)
They were doing two release events in Tokyo. The first was on Tuesday in Ikebukuro. However, I had already made plans with my friend Derek to have dinner with him. I asked him if we could augment the plans, but he wouldn’t budge. Oh well, I wasn’t going to break plans with a friend just to see an idol group. I would just have to settle for the second show on Wednesday. However, we ended up finishing dinner rather early. If I hurried, I could make it to Ikebukuro and catch some of the event. So with Derek’s blessing, I took off, and hustled to Sunshine City as fast as I could.
When I got to the venue, I was surprised to find out that the event was actually going to start a half hour late. It was perfect! I hadn’t missed anything! I checked out the goods table. The new single came in four versions, and with each copy you bought you got a member-specific meet and greet ticket. They were also giving away the promotional poster for the single. I grabbed a copy of each version, and got four Rion tickets. I then took my place in the standing area. It was just about showtime.
Tokyo CLEARS took the stage, and it took Rion all of about 10 seconds to spot me in the crowd. She immediately lit up and started waving to me. I was so happy! They started with their new song, “Heart Wash” which I had never heard before. It’s a cute song, and has a fun PV. Here is a short version from the official Avex channel…
Eventually Tokyo CLEARS left the stage, while Gunma CLEARS, Yokohama CLEARS, and CLEARS Smile entered to further promote the single. I actually took off to the bathroom at this point, and came back closer to the end when Rion came back on stage. I was mainly there to see her anyway. Eventually the show ended, and it was time for benefits.
Tokyo CLEARS is the flagship group, and had the longest line by far. I immediately queued up, and decided I would do a signed cheki with Rion. She had a big smile on her face as she reached out to me with both hands. “I’m so happy to see you again!” As she signed the cheki I was busy apologizing to her that I hadn’t seen her in so long, and that I had been going to far fewer idol events. (A ‘partial’ truth, as you know from reading this blog) She said it was okay, and that she was happy that I was there now. Anyway, I got my cheki, and I was happy. I immediately went to re-queue. However, I forgot to mention that there is another CLEARS member, Yamato Sayuri, who REALLY likes me, and is ALWAYS trying to fish me. All of a sudden I felt bad for only getting Rion tickets. I went back to the table to see if I could change one of my Rion tickets for a Sayuri ticket, which they allowed me to do. I had a little plan anyway. I could have both of them sign my poster, which was another benefit they were offering.
I came back to Rion, and asked her to sign the poster. Somehow in the 5-10 minutes since the cheki she forgot how to spell my name, which is funny since she spelled it right on the cheki without even asking. While she was signing, I also told her the news that I would be in Tokyo even longer than originally planned. (I’m hoping to make it a permanent residence, but one step at a time) She congratulated me, and asked me for details. It was then I noticed that she was signing quite a lot of the poster, so I asked her to leave some space for Sayuri to sign as well. Sayuri immediately came running over…”You are talking about me, Chris???” Hahaha, Sayuri gets a bit jealous about my fawning over Rion. I told her that I would be coming back around for her to sign the poster. I got back to the front a few minutes later, and had Sayuri sign the poster. I also apologized to her for not seeing them for so long. It was then that she made me promise to come to the Wednesday night event. Pinky out, “Yakusoku???’ Ummmmmm, okay fine!
(Rion signed on the left (and bottom right), Sayuri on the right. BTW, Rion is on the far left side of the poster, and Sayuri is just above her.)
And with that I was done, I waved goodbye to both Sayuri and Rion, and made my way to the bus stop to go home. Oh, and when I read Rion’s blog that night, she mentioned seeing a fan she hadn’t seen for quite a while. Wow, that is actually the second time she has referenced me on her blog!
Second Event at Naka-Meguro Club TRY (2017/06/07)
After a long day, I made it over to Meguro in the afternoon. Actually, I went to Ebisu first since it was early. I decided to grab a couple of beers are Yebisu Brewery Museum, and hit Shake Shack for dinner. After that I would walk over to Naka-Meguro, which was less than a kilometer away. I eventually found the club, which was steps away from the station. There was short queue, so I decided to line up early. I’m glad I did, because there was actually seating for this show. And since I was one of the first people in I could grab a front row seat! I bought three more copies of the CD, got another poster, and three member tickets. Two for Rion, and one for Sayuri.
The show started, only this time the other groups, Yokohama, Gunma, and Smile performed first. I’m not a big fan of Gunma CLEARS, but the Yokohama girls are ALL cute. There is one girl in Smile that I really like too. But I wasn’t going to go crazy, especially since I was again, mainly there to see Rion. Yokohama also sang my favorite CLEARS song, Kansha Fanfare. Unfortunately the one girl who was trying to fish me was from Gunma CLEARS, and I kept trying to avoid her gaze. “No, I don’t wanna be fished by you!”
The main group finally came out, and I immediately had Rion positioned about three feet in front of me. Since I was in front I was getting the chance to interact with all of them, although I think they all know I am Rion’s. Of course that never stops Sayuri, but was paying a lot of attention to me throughout the show. Oh, and Tokyo CLEARS has a c/w on the Type-B version called Fuite Fuite, which IMO the best song of the release. Rion is the center of it, too!
For my first ticket, I decided to visit Rion to have her sign one of my CDs, since they were offering that benefit for this event. While she was signing I asked about the ‘Fuite’ song, and that was when she told me that it was a c/w for this release. I was stoked, since that meant I could put it on my ipod. I then re-queued for Sayuri to sign another version, and she promptly misspelled my name (forgot the H, a common mistake) She managed to jam an H in there. I reminded her that I kept my promise to show up to the event. She was like, “You did, Thank you Chris!” For my last visit with Rion, I decided I wanted a signed cheki, but I needed another ticket, so I broke down and bought one more copy, which gave me two complete sets of the single. I suggested the “namida” pose (from Fuite Fuite). While she signed she said something that really touched my heart…
I started by telling her how happy I was to see her two days in a row, and that I was really sorry I didn’t come for so long. I just said I was busy, and the lat semester at school was quite difficult. Her response was amazing. She told me that she had noticed I wasn’t coming. She went on to say she never forgot about me, and often wondered what I was doing. I was floored when she said that. Now I could be cynical and say that she is just saying that as a fishing tactic. But I think I know her personality pretty well, and I don’t think she would just make that up.
Anyway, I was done, and my wallet was actually empty. I had about 450 yen in change in my pocket, so it was time to go home. Rion reminded me of why was so enamored with her to begin with. Let’s hope it doesn’t take me so long to see her again. In the meantime I have another idol show to go to tomorrow. This has been a very busy week for me, idol-wise. AKB48 16th Gen, Wasamin (still need to do that writeup), CLEARS x2, tomorrow FESTIVE and KissBee together in Shinjuku, then finally the AKB Shoot Sign event on Saturday, where I will get to play with Akiyoshi. I think I will need a short idol break after this!
CK in Tokyo