Back in April I purchased two copies of the Jiwaru Days limited edition in anticipation of the national handshake event. I didn’t realize at the time that the event would conflict with another show I had a ticket for, and that I’d be given a bunch of additional tickets from friends who weren’t too enthused about the event line up. To be honest, I wan’t too enthused about the lineup either since the 3rd gen draftees weren’t participating, but at least Zunchan and Zukki were there, so I could use a lot of tickets on the two of them.
I had purchased a ticket to Minyo Girls’ one-man live concert last month, not realizing it was on the same day as this event. As much as I have enjoyed the recent AKB48 mini-live concerts, I decided I would go to the Mingaru show, and then leave prior to buppan and try to make it to Makuhari for at least some of the mini-live. However, those plans changed when I found out that 1) Minyo Girls had a new T-shirt for sale which would get me two handshake/2-shot tickets, and 2) Miyabi-chan would be cosplaying as Hatsune Miku. I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a shamekai with “Hatsune Miyabi”, so I bailed on the idea of making it to the AKB48 mini-live, instead showing up later in the day for the handshake event. After grabbing lunch at Sanuki Udon ( I was really in the mood for cold noodles) I got to the venue around 20 minutes after the handshake event started.
By the way, there were two games/contests you could participate in. One was a chance to take a shamekai with the members of a lane; you got one ticket per each CD you purchased that day, and could apply for any lane you wished. The other game was some sort of “name that tune” game featuring the members of lanes 12-17. I already had more handshake tickets than I needed, and I am never good at these event games, so I skipped on both.
I had eighteen tickets, and there were six lanes I was interested in visiting. I went to all six of them, plus two others. Around 1/3 of the lanes were for Team 8, which I am not a big fan of, although I ended up visiting one Team 8 lane. Oh, and per usual the lines were all long before the lunch break at 4 p.m., and all seem to die down late in the day. In fact, I probably would have been better off just showing up at 4:45. But no matter, these were the lanes I visited…
Lane 14: Maeda Ayaka, Yamane Suzuha, Taguchi Manaka: This was supposed to be my “go-to” lane, although I ended up only visiting it twice (one before lunch, once after) The reason was that I planned on doing matome with Zunchan, and frankly I didn’t have much to say to the other two. Zunchan was happy to see me the first go-round, and I basically complained to the three of them about the hot weather. On my second visit I informed Zunchan that I was selecting her for matome, to which she reacted “Me???” Manaka noted that it was my second time visiting, and I told her it was because it was my favorite lane. I also mentioned to Manaka that I liked the costumes they were wearing.
Lane 4: Yamauchi Mizuki, Murayama Yuiri, Kawamoto Saya: This was the other lane I had earmarked for a visit, but I was almost impossible to enter this line before lunch since it was only open for mini-live ticket holders for a long time, and then when it finally opened for everyone the line got huge. However, I made it the first lane I visited in the post-lunch slot. Zukki always seems surprised when I show up, and I told her that I loved the choker she was wearing. It almost looked like Native American jewelry. Zukki is very stylish. I managed to tell Yuiri that I loved her kenkyuusei stage, and asked her to keep producing. She also seemed surprised that I would bring that up, but was very appreciative. I wish I would have visited this lane for than once, but it was one of the few that had a long queue throughout the event.
I couldn’t find a group shot for this lane, but there’s Komiharu’s new hair color.
Lane 6: Komiyama Haruka, Sasaki Yukari, Ichikawa Manami: This was one of the few lanes that had a short queue in the pre-lunch slot, and I really wanted to see Komiharu. She didn’t disappoint either, since I love her new hair color. In fact, that’s what I told her, and she completed the sentence for me. “It’s good?” Yes, it is really cute! It had been a really long time since I had seen Yukarun, but she immediately called out her “Happiness!” catchphrase, which I repeated back to her.
Lane 17: Inagaki Kaori, Suzuki Kurumi, Asai Nanami: Three girls I used to have a lot of fun playing with when they were doing the “Let’s Go Kenkyuusei” stage, so I knew I would get a good reaction from all three of them. Not to mention I recently saw both Kaori and Kurumin at a post-show high-touch. The problem was that both Lanes 16 and 17 were closed at the beginning of the event due to the members participating in a game on the other side of the hall, and when they came back both lanes were limited to event ticket holders almost until the break. There was a mad rush for the two lanes at around 3:50, and I jumped into this lane since I saw a couple of Wasafans queueing up. In any case, I was able to get in before the break, and it was the usual “Hey, it’s you!” reaction from all three of them.
Lane 15: Nagatomo Ayami, Muto Orin, Yasuda Kana: I was mainly visiting this lane for Orin, but I knew that I would get a kami-reaction from Kana as well. It was pretty much a similar reaction as Lane 17, except that I managed to tell Orin how cute I think she is, and Kana enthusiastically tried to engage me in English. In fact, later on I caught Kana’s eye while I was in another queue, and she enthusiastically waved to me. So I decided to visit the three of them a second time, explaining that the last ticket was fun, and made me want to see them again.
Lane 16: Omori Maho, Tada Kyoka, Kubo Satone: Kyoka always gives me such a great reaction at the theater that I felt she was another “must-visit” However, this was one of the consistently largest queues all day, so I waited until almost the end of the day before finally braving the line. But I must admit that I also like Maho, who gave me a nice reaction since I mentioned I recently saw her at the theater. However, Kyoka was as kami as expected, pulling me toward her and repeatedly thanking me for coming to visit her, throwing a bit of English in for good measure. It’s reactions like hers (and Yasuda Kana) that make Zenkoku events so special since you never know who is going to go the extra mile to make you feel appreciated as a fan.
So those were the six lanes I had committed to visit before arriving, and I got to visit all of them, two of them twice. However, I managed to visit two other lanes on a whim, and both of them were great experiences…
Lane 2: Oguri Yui: One of the reasons I avoid the more popular members at handshake events is that their queues are always insanely long. However, one thing I have learned lately is that at National handshake events all the lanes, including the most popular member lanes, die down at the end of the day. A lot of people have run out of tickets, and others are waiting for matome to begin. I must admit that I have been curious about Oguri since she starred in that Majisuka drama series, and when I saw my friend Matt come out of her lane I decided to see what the hype was all about. I’ll just say that she didn’t disappoint. I got the usual surprised reaction as I explained to her that I have wanted to meet her since she starred in the drama, and she responded with the “doki doki” pumping heart hand-pose that Aoba Hinari from FESTIVE used to always do when I first met her. It touched me in such a way that a little while later I queued up to visit her again just to tell her that when she did that my heart went “doki doki” as well. “Honto?” she exclaimed, and did it to me again, LOL! However, I must note that the OJS guard in her lane was extremely forceful, almost to the point of being a jerk as he was pushing people out of the lane. It was odd, since almost all of the OJS staff I have met in the past have been fairly laid back. Oh well.
Lane 1: Okada Nana: Once again, with the most popular member lanes dying down to almost nobody, I decided to take advantage and visit Naachan. I remember back when she was a kenkyuusei I met her a couple times, and she always left a good impression. Pressed for what to say to her, I decided to quickly talk with her about STU48. I wanted to bring up Cuca, but instead I just told her to please do her best for STU. She replied, “You like STU48? Ganbarimasu!!! Oh, nice Nihongo!” Ya know it’s funny. Sometimes the Japanese just flows out of me, and other times I stumble and stammer.
I had seven tickets left, and the was still plenty of time for me to use more tickets on pretty much any lane I wanted since only the queues for lanes 4, 5, 16, and 17 remained long all the way to the end. But I had promised Zunchan I would do matome with her, and I wanted to have enough time to talk to her for longer than just a few seconds, so I held off. Instead I waited to figure out where they would be starting the matome pre-queue. Luckily I noticed the lines forming, and found Zunchan’s queue fairly quickly, ending up fifth in line…
Lane 14: Yamane Suzuha: So the way they worked it for this event was that the members for each lane went one at a time. So I lucked out when Zunchan was selected first for Lane 14. Not to mention almost all the fans in front of me only had a couple tickets each, so I wouldn’t have much of a wait at all. In any case, I would use the extra time to calmly tell her a little bit more about my history with the group, and some of the things happening in my life right now. It was probably around 35-40 seconds, and at the end she told me she was rooting for me to do my best, and that she hopes to see me more often, which was nice.
And with that I was out of tickets, so I headed back to the station and eventually home.
Ultimately it was fun, although considering I don’t have that many AKB members that I actively root for, I didn’t really need that many tickets. I mean if the 3rd Gen draftees were there that would have been one thing, but they weren’t. I did consider going to a couple of the other lanes, but at the end of the day they didn’t have any members I have cultivated any history with, so I figured “what’s the point?” I got to see the five or so members I really wanted to see, and got some surprising cool reactions from a few other members as well. So at the end of the day I had a good time.
CK in Tokyo