It was time again for the Mingaru monthly solo live show. Originally this was supposed to be a double-graduation for Izumi and Kako. But then they announced Kako would instead be graduating at the group’s April 1-man live in Yotsuya. Izumi is the first of the non-1st gen members to leave the group, and with Kako’s graduation coming next month, half the original members will have left, leaving Matsuri, Miyabi, Yuua, Rio, and Yutori as the last of the 1st gen. Oh, and little Yutori becomes the group’s oldest member, that blows my mind!
March had been a bit of a quiet month for me idol-wise. I knew this was going to be a tough semester, given the part-time job I am doing, a super-difficult Japanese class, and the seminar-class for my Major, my plate has been really full. I have been pretty much limited to one, maybe two events on the weekends only. Given I hadn’t seen the Mingaru in over a month, and hadn’t seen Miyabi or Yuua in at least two months, I was really looking forward to the show. Not to mention, I was bringing a friend with from overseas, so I was excited about that too.
Yuua and Miyabi
I made it to Shinjuku Marz a bit early for a change, although I didn’t have a high-priority ticket. I wasn’t too worried since you can get a decent spot even if you arrive late. Sure enough, there was plenty of room really close to the stage. However, my friend wasn’t up for being so close since he was a bit overwhelmed the time we went to see FESTIVE together at the cramped Twin Box Akihabara and the entire audience went nuts for the group. I was fine with hanging in the back for a change, even if it meant I would miss out on doing one of my favorite things, playing with Ramukyun during the show. We decided to skip the early queue for goods since the line was really long, mainly people stocking up on the 500 yen 1-shot chekis.
BTW, the members were tweeting in the morning that they wanted everyone to wear pink for the show in honor of Izumi. However, I have no pink clothing with me in Japan. At least I have pink penlights though. The show started a couple minutes late. They entered with their traditional theme music. However, for the second straight solo live they neglected to enter individually, instead just walking out as a group. And of course they were all wearing pink.
l-r Yuua, Matsuri, Minori
The first half of the show pretty much consisted of songs from their two major singles, including Gunjou Homerun, Kirari☆Yume Ondo, and one of my faves, Secret Game. They sang one of their earlier songs, but lately they haven’t been performing them as much, sticking to the stuff on their two major singles. Oh, and at one point Ramukyun had some sort of emergency and ran off the stage. It prompted the members to wonder where the heck she went in the first MC. Did she go to the toilet? Was her shamisen broken again? They went through their entire MC introductions before Ramu came bouncing back onstage to do her opening appeal. And by the way, I had prepared my friend for Ramukyun’s MC antics, which have always been so awkward and cute. But to my surprise she was extremely talkative, and speaking at a normal speed. I mean she still has that “baby girl” voice going in spades, but she seemed a lot more comfortable, and much less awkward.
The also did their usual “fan photo” time early in the show. I was positioned further back than usual, bud I did my best to get decent solo shots of my favorite members, and also Izumi since it was her special day.
The middle part of the show focused on Izumi’s graduation. BTW, Izumi looked absolutely radiant…just beaming the entire time. I’m not sure what circumstances are behind her leaving aside from the official line of “focusing on High School studies,” but she had the air of someone who is “ready” to graduate. Anyway, they did three graduation-style songs, first the younger members formed a unit, then the older members, and finally Izumi led the third song. Unfortunately she is not among the group’s best singers, but she did her best. During the instrumental portion of the third song each member came over and whispered something in her ear.
I forgot to mention, and this happens at every show, but there are two moments during their lives where the fans are asked to kneel, or sit on the floor. One is for the group photo, the other is for the VTR. Now I am not a young guy anymore, and my body does not flex like it used to, so kneeling or sitting down on that hard pavement is quite an uncomfortable endeavor for me. I usually try to position myself over to the side so I can instead lean against the wall. Only this time a guy who came late kinda nudged me further in. I was a bit annoyed at him at first, until I realized he was the head of the graduation committee, so I felt kinda bad for re-positioning myself in front of him. Suffice it to say they are two moments I dread at their shows. The photoshoot isn’t so bad since it is quick, and I usually crouch down like a baseball catcher. But the VTR, which in this case was a retrospective of Izumi’s time with the group and a message from Kako, who wasn’t at the show, was excruciatingly hard on my knees.
The encore call was dedicated to Izumi, and included a long support message read by the guy next to me. We were all given pink disposable glowsticks to use for the encore, although like I said I was already using my multi-colored Minyo Girls lightstick for the same purpose. The final two songs were Mirai, and Ureshii Namida, and included a proper graduation sendoff from the members, and a man wearing a mask (all the adults wear masks when they come on stage during their shows) who presented her with a graduation certificate. At first I thought it was her dad, but I think it may have been someone from their agency. (He looked a bit old to be her father) Whoever he was, he sparked the biggest emotional moment both for Izumi and the other members.
And that was the show. My friend and I immediately went over to the sales booth since we wanted to get buppan tickets. I knew I wanted three more, (I had two already) and my friend wanted three as well. The line extended upstairs into the bar, and was moving quite slowly. While we were waiting I noticed all the mom’s standing nearby and talking. I have always tried to figure out which mom belongs with which member. I mean I know Yuua, Miyabi, and Izumi’s mothers since I have talked to them, and I had met (graduated member) Fuka’s mom too. Just them, one of the mothers turned and looked at me. There was no more guessing with this one, she looked EXACTLY like Matsuri. What I really want to know is which one is Ramukyun’s mom.
So at this point I was worried were were going to miss out on group shots. When it was finally my turn I purchased a ticket to Kako’s graduation live, and I since it looked like they only had one more XL T-shirt left, I got that too. There were my three tickets. As I left the booth they started doing last call for group shots. Oh shit, we better hurry….
I made it on time, although my friend was still at the booth. Staff called, anyone else for group shots, I called out “Yes, me!” But then the other staff told the girls group shots were over. WTF? The girls spread out to do the next thing. I’m like “Wait a second!!!” The staff member who sometimes does Wasamin events told me to hold on, and then the other guy asked “Oh, you wanted a group shot?” Yes, and I was explaining to him that my friend, who was still at the booth, also wanted one. For some reason he was taking an extremely long time. I was going to help him, since their buppan system is totally complicated, and different types of items cannot be combined for tickets. They eventually regrouped the members and I got my group shot, and by this time my friend had come over, so he got his as well…
Next up were 2-shot shamekai. The way this works; they have three lanes, each with one member. The members continue until their line empties. They then do a “last call” for that girl, and replace them with another member. I had planned on taking three 2-shots, although none of the members I wanted to take one with was among the first three. Eventually Miyabi came out as the first replacement. I tried to find the end of her line, but it was such a clusterf**k that I merely milled around with my phone and a ticket in my hand until the staff called me over…
Miyabi remarked that it had been a little while since we had spoken. I told her that she was one of the members the friend I brought wanted to see, and we enjoyed her performance on The Karaoke Battle a couple months ago. She thanked me for the compliment and I was on my way. Unfortunately due to the price of the tickets my friend ultimately chose to skip a 2-shot with her and only meet with his favorite member, Rio. In the meantime, Yuua came out in the lane next to Miyabi. Her queue was very short, so it was only a minute or two until it was my turn…
Yuua is always genki, although I don’t really have quite the connection with her that I have with Miyabi. In fact, I think I have more of a connection with Yuua’s mother, LOL. But I told her that I was happy to see her again, and that she performed very well. Meanwhile, my friend was still waiting for Rio to come out. Instead, the member I had earmarked for my third ticket entered the lane next to Yuua. It should be no surprise who I was going to see.
Oh Ramukyun, you are so adorable! And I am so happy she seems like she is getting a lot more comfortable talking to fans. Although she is still the Mingaru version of former AKB48 member Komori Mika. Once again, I forgot to talk to her about AKB since she is a huge 48-group fan. Instead I told her that I had watched all of her Tik-Tok videos on Twiitter, and loved her latest “Dame dayo” video. I also mentioned that she did really good MCs during the show. Per usual, she had a huge smile and a thrilled look on her face.
I was done, and went up to get my prepaid beverage while my friend met with Rio. He spent a lot more time with her than is usually allowed, but the staff just kinda let him be until Rio kinda ended it for him. Still, it seemed like they had a really cool first-time connection.
l-r Yutori, Rio, Minori
After the show, my friend and I decided to head over to Ueno Park to check out Hanami. It was super-crowded, but we still grabbed some festival grub and took photos of the sakura. Later that evening I tweeted some of the pics I took during the show. What’s interesting is my tweets about Ramukyun get so many likes and retweets, more than any other member. I mean all of my Minyo tweets usually get a lot of likes, but Ramu just seems super-popular right now.
So next month the Minyo Girls one-man live will be at a new venue, Yotsuya Lotus. As for my next events, this Saturday will be SKE48’s last Kanto handshake event for their latest single, and my final handshake tickets with Matsumura Kaori. Then on Sunday I will be at a Wasamin mini-live in Saitama. Not the best time for me to have a loaded weekend since I have a couple papers due early next week, but I will manage to make everything work out.
CK in Tokyo