AKB48-Group Shoot Sign Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama (2017/06/10)

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

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

Slot 2

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

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

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

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

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

Slot 3

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

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

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

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

Slot 4

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

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

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

 

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

Nako/Miku Singing…

The last pose they did…

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

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

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

Slot 5

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

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

This video includes the performance of Kimi/Suki

Q&A

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

 

Slot 7

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

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

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

Slot 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

CK in Tokyo