Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Challenge Stage at Shinseido Kashiwa (2018/05/01)

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I am currently on holiday, which means I can finally go to one of Wasamin’s monthly challenge stages which she holds in Kashiwa every month. But before we get to that, it’s time to flip the Wasa-calendar…

Of all the photos in Wasamin’s 2018 calendar, the Spring photos are my favorites by far. I mean she looks absolutely stunning! Anyway…

It has been a while since I have been to a Wasamin mini-live. Frankly, lately most of them have been way out in the sticks and require at least an hour train ride from Tokyo, sometimes more. In fact, her next few also fall into this category. So I’m not sure how many I will be attending. But I do like to go to her “Challenge Stage” whenever I get the chance, which is like 2-3 times per year since it is held on weekdays around lunch time when I am usually busy.

This is also the beginning of her new concert BluRay/DVD promotion since it comes out in late-May. The gimmick is you can pre-order the concert and get two handshake tickets plus a concert poster. BTW, some of the posters are randomly signed. You can also purchase her latest single for one handshake ticket (plus signboard or sticker) No matter which you buy, you can use two tickets for a shamekai, or one ticket for a handshake. I got to Shinseido around twenty minutes before the event, and filled out a pre-order form. I bought a Blu-Ray, as well as one CD for three tickets. I had a long day ahead of me after the event, so I didn’t open my poster. Instead I put it in my bag and prayed it 1) wouldn’t get bent, and 2) was autographed. By the time I was done, it was almost time for the show. I decided to go to the very back of the viewing area.

At this point, a little old lady with a walker came over and started talking to me. At first I didn’t realize it, but she was speaking English. She was asking me if I was a fan, and how long. After that it was the usual why are you in Japan, etc. etc. I showed her some of my Wasa 2-shots, as well as my Mizumori 2-shot. It was about then that the show started. Here is the setlist…

Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Tegami (Originally recorded by Yuki Saori 1970)
3. Ringo no Uta
4. Sado no Ondeko

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I am familiar with Yuki Saori since she co-starred in an old NHK Asadora I really like. But it was nice to hear Wasamin perform again. Since the stage area at Shinseido is outside on a heavily walked street, she gets the attention of a lot of passers-by. During the MCs Wasamin was asking who was on vacation for Golden Week, as well as promoting her numerous upcoming TV appearances. Once the show ended, the little old lady said goodbye, but before she left I gave her the copy of Wasamin’s single I had purchased. At first she didn’t accept, until I reminded her I was a Wasafan and already have many many copies, LOL. In the meantime, I noticed that the shop also had an autographed Nogizaka46 poster for their latest release…

I waited a few minutes before lining up. Since there were shamekai, the line was moving quite slowly. I decided to take my shamekai first. I couldn’t decide what to talk to her about first. I had a few things in mind. Eventually it was my turn. Wasamin asked me what pose I wanted to do, I said “Hearto-pose, because I love you”

The moment the shot finished, Wasamin wanted to talk about the Enka Festival in Itabashi. You know, the one where I ended up being the center of attention? BTW, Wasamin thought it was great. I told her it was all Mizumori’s fault, as she was the one who got Higashi’s attention and told him to address me. Wasamin knew I was embarrassed, but she thought the entire exchange was cute and that I should be happy about it. I told her after the show everyone in the audience was calling me by name.

I felt a little queasy, but I decided to requeue and use my second ticket. I asked her about the photo she took in Okinawa in front of the A&W. Did she try the Root Beer? I know a lot of Japanese people hate Root Beer. At first Wasamin was hesitant to answer, and told me to ask her manager. Ichikawa-san said she hated it. Then Wasamin admitted she also hated it, LOL. She assumed i liked it, which I do. I then told her that I am excited about the Bus Tour and Bridge Walk, but I am somewhat afraid of heights. She told me not to worry.

I waited for the end of the event, and then took off for Odaiba. Since it is Golden Week, Odaiba is filled with festivals. There’s Niku-Fes. There is also a Beer & BBQ Festival, which has really great food. Finally my favorite, Oktoberfest, which is a real blast. I headed over for a few beers and some Currywurst, before heading back home. Luckily, my poster survived the entire day, and when I opened it…

Score-a-rooni! My first one too. I’m not sure what percentage of the posters are signed, but it didn’t seem like too many people got signed versions, so it was just my lucky day!

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Nagara Group Enka Festival at Itabashi Cultural Hall (2018/04/18)

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Imagine how excited I was when I found out Wasamin and the rest of the gang from Nagara Pro would be coming to my neighborhood for a big performance. It turns out they make this an annual tradition, traveling to different Tokyo Wards for a performance. This year’s show would be a short distance from my apartment, near my local ward offices. Of course this didn’t get past Wasamin, or the rest of the fans. Wasamin knows I live in Itabashi, and she was counting on me to be there.

This was going to be a really big show. All the Nagara Pro regulars were there; Hikawa Kiyoshi, Mizumori Kaori, Tagawa Toshimi, Yamakawa Yutaka, Fujino Toshie, Hayabusa, and of course Wasamin. The show also featured Sasaki Isao, Billyken, Shiina Sachiko, and Nagara Pro’s new regular performer. Tatsumi Yuuto. As usual, the MC was Nishiyori Higashi.

 

There were two performances scheduled, but I wasn’t sure I could sit through a full Enka show twice in one day, so I opted only for the evening performance, which I applied for via the Wasamin fan club. In the meantime, when I met Mizumori Kaori (Wasamin senpai) in Asakusa a month or so ago I also told her I lived in Itabashi and would be at the show. The only thing left was to get my ticket….

 

BAM! Front row! Right on the aisle too. This was going to be great. Or would it be? Sometimes being the token foreigner and being in a high-visibility seat can come with some interesting interactions and responsibilities. And today, well…let’s start by saying by the end of the show everyone in the 1200 seat hall knew who I was. But I digress….

 

I could almost walk there, but I decided to take the train for convenience sake. I arrived a little early since I had never been there before, and wasn’t sure of the layout. There was already a queue down the side of the building. After grabbing a cup of coffee to wake myself up (I have been sick and on medication the past few days) I queued up. Once inside, it was a madhouse! Per usual, all of the artists had sales tables.  Hayabusa, Billyken, and Wasamin were doing handshakes for people who bought their goods. I saw Wasamin’s sales booth, but didn’t see her. Then I found her all the way at the end. So I doubled back to grab two CDs and handshake tickets, fighting waves of obasans coming in the other direction. I got my CDs, and went back to the handshake table. In the meantime, Hikaru from Hayabusa spotted me and started waving hello. Ya know, they are really nice guys, and I always ignore them at these events…

So I went to see Wasamin, and they were being really generous, giving us about 30-40 seconds per ticket. I welcomed Wasamin to Itabashi. She asked how close my apartment was to the venue (hehe) and I told her two stops away, but very close. I just kept telling her how excited I was that she was performing in Itabashi. She noticed I was sweating, and asked if I was okay. I told her it was because of the crowd of people, which was actually half true. I was also kinda weak from being sick, and all the hustle and bustle in the lobby was getting to me. I told her I had another ticket, and would be back in a minute….

 

I doubled back over to the sales booth, and I found what I was looking for. I always tell Hayabusa that I like their latest single, I should finally pick up a copy, which I did. I went back over to the handshake table, but this time to see Hayabusa. Yamato was first, and I basically told both of them the same thing. I see them all the time, and I never meet them after performances because I am always there to see Wasamin or Minyo Girls, but this time I wanted to say hello to them. Hikaru actually tried speaking some English with me, but he wasn’t very good at it. Also, I wasn’t aware that the third member of Hayabusa retired from the group a few weeks ago. I noticed he was out the last time I saw them at NHK Hall, and then I noticed all their new promotional material only has Hikaru and Yamato on it. Oh well…

After that I went back to use my second Wasamin ticket. She was showing me these honey glazed walnuts she found at a conbini, and asked if I liked them. I told her I did and asked which conbini she got them from, but she couldn’t remember. Then I showed her my ticket, and that I was in the front row. She was very happy for me. I mentioned meeting Hayabusa, and also told her the story about taking a 2-shot with Mizumori-san, but she acted like she already knew, so I guess Mizumori-san told her. I wished her the best and told her to have a great show. I got away from the craziness in the lobby and headed down to my front row seat…


Yep, right against the stage!

It turned out I was sitting next to one of the other Wasafan club members, so that was nice. A few fans came up to me and noticed my Wasamin Happi, most of the crowd were Kiyoshi supporters, but there were patches of supporters for everyone throughout the theater. The show started with a group song and introduction of all the performers. I spied Wasamin staring at me a couple of times, and then Mizumori saw me and gave me a little nod and wave. It was the end of the MC, and all of the sudden Mizumori-san tried to get Higashi-san’s attention, and started pointing to me. Oh jeez….

It’s time for “Look, there’s a foreigner in the audience” Today’s special guest? Me! Yutaka-san, who I think speaks decent English, came to the front of the stage and asked my name. At first he didn’t hear what I said, and then Wasamin blurted out “Chris-san!” Higashi-san then mentioned to Yutaka that he had spoken to me previously, and that I could speak Japanese. Well, that was all fun, but it didn’t end there…

Each performer sang a random song, either an older single, or like in the case of Wasamin, one of her new B-side tracks, Yume Shibai. Kiyoshi, of course, sang his classic Kiyoshi no Zundoko Bushi. After that is was time for the guest performances of Sasaki Isao and Billyken. Isao-san sang his famous theme from Space Battleship Yamato. Next were the long MCs, first Wasamin, Hayabusa, Sachiko-san, and Yuuto. After that it was the big guns. Kiyoshi was wearing an interesting suit, which he described as “Keema Curry.”

Then at one point during the MC, Yutaka again turned to me and said “You understand?” Higashi-san was like, “You okay over there Chris?” Ya know, I didn’t really want to co-star in this show, and of course the fans are having a great time with it. It’s one of those things I will look back on fondly. But in the moment, I was dying. “Just leave me alone!”

The final part of the show was interesting. Each star sang their current single, with the music video playing on the big screen behind them. It’s interesting, since most of the PVs are basically the same. Mainly lots of closeups of the singer, alternating with a picturesque backdrop and an in-studio style backdrop. Only Wasamin’s PV, as well as Kiyoshi’s really seemed to have any directorial or production on them. In fact, I really liked Kiyoshi’s song and PV…

They didn’t play Hayabusa’s Mushi Dance PV I’m guessing because the their member left, instead just projecting their performance on the screen. After one last group song with everyone, including Higashi-san singing, the show was over. As I left I heard my name called by various people about a dozen times or so. And of course the other Wasamin fans were laughing at me. I wanted to join them for beers, but I had to go home and study for final exams.

It was a great show. Being in the first row is really a different experience, even from being in the second row. Unfortunately, they didn’t do their usual “walking around the audience” portion of the show. I was really in a great spot if they had done it, but oh well. And now I really want to see Wasamin too so we can talk about all the attention I got. After all, Wasamin always says that I’m famous. LOL

CK in Tokyo

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Events, HKT48, Iwasa Misaki HKT48 1st Album Shamekai Event at Tokyo Ryutsu Center, Plus a Quick Visit & Photo-op With Wasamin (2018/04/15)

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I have been anticipating these HKT shamekai events for a while now. Although I had heard mixed reviews about the event. As you may have noticed, HKT’s album was coming out right before AKB’s album, which meant that HKT fans would have to double-down on album purchases. Not to mention HKT’s album ‘theater version’ was more expensive than AKB’s. This ultimately negatively impacted HKT’s album sales. I know it affected me, as I originally bought only six cds/tickets, three for each Tokyo event, although I ended up purchasing two more in a later resale round to make eight total.

The other thing I heard was “Well, it’s basically the same as an AKB event.” We’ll see about that.

I had also purchased a ticket for Wasamin’s cheki event in the late afternoon, so the plan was to get out of the HKT event as quickly as possible and then head over to nearby Gotanda to see Wasamin.  I arrived at Ryutsu Center at 11:45, shortly after the beginning of Slot 2. The venue is in the middle of an industrial area without much surrounding it, and you have to take the Tokyo Monorail to get there, which is a slight pain, although it does drop you off right at the entrance of the building. There was a big queue to get in, but it went fairly quickly, a little more than five minutes. It was a strange setup, since the event rooms are extremely small, especially compared to Yokohama and Makuhari. In fact, they couldn’t even fit all the lanes on one floor. Lanes 1-13 were on the first floor, and lanes 14-24 were upstairs on the 2nd floor. LOL. The fan area was tiny too, so most people just went outside when they weren’t doing handshakes. Also, it was hot as hell inside, so I had no desire hanging out in there longer than I had to. I went to my Slot 2 lane, said hello to a couple of fans I knew, and headed in…

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 5) I got a message from a friend that Akiyoshi looked lonely sandwiched between Mikurin and Sakura. I told him I was on the way! As expected, she had no queue, all of her fans were hanging outside the lane. She’s still in a cast and on crutches, so she stayed seated. The neat thing is each lane has a special backdrop that is based on whatever the day’s theme is. Today is “Sports Day.” the girls are also supposed to dress sporty. I waited for two people to go before it was my turn. Yukachan greeted me with a big smile and I gestured toward the food on the table. “Tabetai! Of course, I could have been talking about her. (LOL) She asked what pose, and we did the one I usually do with Maichan.

BTW, we’ll give Yukachan a pass for not dressing ‘sporty’. It’s a really nice pic, right? In fact, the first person I sent this to thought we really took the pic in a bowling alley. Anyway, Yukachan said see you again, but I told her that I only had one ticket for today. I think I disappointed her. :(

I went over to the map to see which lanes my other three tickets were, but I couldn’t find one of the members. Where was she? I double-checked the kanji to make sure I wasn’t overlooking her, and then I saw two members were out for the day, one being Tomonaga Mio. Oh no! I found out she recently had knee surgery, so I don’t know if she will even be back for the next Tokyo shamekai event. It’s times like these when I wish they offered oshimashi. I would’ve happily used the ticket on somebody else. Anyway, I spent the next 90 minutes outside. My plan was to do my one Slot 3 ticket toward the end f the time period, and then prequeue for my Slot 4 ticket since I needed to get out of there ASAP to go to Wasamin’s cheki event. Unfortunately, there were ants everywhere, and at one point I had a couple crawling on me. I was sure to brush them all off before I headed back in for Slot 3…

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 21) My one trip upstairs. Surprisingly, it was much cooler in the upstairs hall than the downstairs, but I think that was mainly because downstairs had all the senbatsu, and was much more crowded. Bibian’s lane was completely empty, and I could see her fiddling with her phone while in her booth. She spotted me coming down the lane and began waving to me. It’s nice when the experience begins early like that. I immediately noticed all the basketballs, and the schoolyard court scene as the backdrop. I asked her if I could pick up one of the balls. It was cool, we both grabbed one…

I think this pic is great. In fact, most everyone I have shown it too has really liked it. It makes me wonder what people were saying about it being “the same as AKB’s shamekai” I think it’s completely different. It’s also fun to play off the backdrop. Bibian asked if she would see me again soon. I wasn’t sure if I had any Bibian tickets coming up. Later I checked, and found I have one in July for the last Jabaja event. So it will be awhile. Oh well…

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 3) I got to the queue early, and maneuvered my way around all the Piichan fans who were waiting to say goodbye to her. I managed to get third in the queue, which was good since the queue got extremely long before the lane opened. I got a peak at the decor when the guard pulled the curtain for a moment. It was darts. Okay, bowling, darts, beer drinking sports, LOL. Maichan had a cute little tennis outfit on. She asked what pose, and I suggested that we pretend we are throwing darts. I didn’t notice that there were actual darts as a prop on the table. To my surprise, Maichan reaches in and hands me one. Really??? With all the caution about weapons? The guard immediately lunges over like “Nooo!!!” Maichan quickly grabbed it back from me. I actually left it resting in my open hand instead of clutching it since I had a feeling the guards would have an issue with this. I started laughing since I found whole exchange to be quite comical.

Ultimately, she was able to hold a dart, while I just had to fake it. No problem. It’s another cute pic. As I left the lane I heard the guards discussing with her about the darts. So I doubt they had that issue anymore. But yeah, interesting prop considering the safety concerns.

Ultimately, I really like the way these photos came out. The whole idea of the backdrops and the themed clothing is a really good one. They should definitely think about doing this again in the future. AKB could even do it.

BTW, the other HKT48 Shamekai event in Tokyo is next month. I was hoping that maybe I would be able to do a makeup for Mio’s tickets, but she might not be back by then. My other four tickets for that event are for Akiyoshi (x2) Maichan, and Rikopi. I’m looking forward to it.  Anyway, I had plenty of time to get to Gotanda to Wasamin’s cheki event, so I didn’t need to rush.

 

Iwasa Misaki ‘Sado no Ondeko’ Cheki Event at Tokuma/Nippon Crown (2018/04/15)

When Ichikawa-san announced the dates for Wasamin’s 7th single chara-ani events, I was disappointed to see that the first date fell on the same day as the HKT48 Shamekai event. I quickly checked the second date, and noticed I had nothing else scheduled, so that was a relief. However, I didn’t have very many HKT tickets, so I compared my HKT schedule with Wasamin’s cheki schedule and figured out that my last HKT ticket was at 2:30, while Wasamin’s 3rd and last cheki slot was at 3:30. So I could definitely make it. In that spirit, I purchased one ticket.

Well, all went according to plan. I finished with HKT at around 2:40, and made it to Wasamin’s event by 3:15. When I got upstairs, they had a booth set up to get additional tickets if you wanted. I never saw them announce this, but that’s ok. I wanted to make the most of the trip over, so I purchased an additional cd/ticket. I went into the pre-queue room, and all the Wasafans noticed that a) They hadn’t seen me in a while, since I have missed the last few Wasamin mini-lives, and b) I was wearing HKT gear (LOL) While we were waiting I showed them my shamekai from the HKT event.

Eventually I was called into the main queue. In the meantime I took off my HKT jersey. Sasou-san saw me peaking from around the corner and started laughing. Wasamin eventually saw me and exclaimed ‘KURISUUUU!!!” with kind of a crying face, indicating to me that she missed me, and perhaps wondered where I had been. I immediately noticed she was wearing the dress from her Ebisu Garden Hall concert., and she had on sexy red heels. She asked if I wanted to take a full body shot, but I said the face and torso were fine. I got two pics…

I got most of the dress anyway. Sasou-san is a pro at taking chekis. In the meantime, I was telling her about the big paper that I had to write tonight, and that I also had to write an essay in Japanese. She asked what the essay was about, and then asked if she would be seeing me again soon. (Actually, I didn’t mean to miss a bunch of events, it’s just that her events recently have either conflicted with the AKB handshake events, or have been very far away. Admittedly, I missed one because I had a hangover.) I reminded her that I would see her on Wednesday since she is performing very close to where I live. She was like, “Oh yeah Itabashi!”

And with that I took off. I rushed home to start my paper, but instead I am writing this report. :fp: I’ll get it all done one way or another.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, SKE48 SKE48 22nd Single Individual Handshake Event at MetLife (Seibu) Dome, Saitama (2018/04/14)

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When they announced the handshake dates for this single, I was slightly disappointed that they jammed two Tokyo events into one weekend, instead of two different weekends. But the decision of which date to attend was easy since I had already purchased HKT48 shamekai tickets for Sunday (not to mention Wasamin’s special cheki event tomorrow, but that’s another issue) So at least I wouldn’t have to worry about filling two days of handshake tickets, and doubling up on buying theater versions. I might’ve had a couple of drinks when I applied for these handshake tickets too. I don’t remember, but I ended up with an interesting set of tickets, and not nearly the usual lineup I go for. Oh sure, I got Kaotan and Tani, as well as a ticket for Yuzuki. But then I also grabbed a few tickets for members I have never purchased tickets for, or haven’t for a long time. So it promised to be an interesting day.

Getting to Seibu Dome is a bit of a ride. I live near Saitama, but not on the side where the stadium is. As a result, I need to go down to Central Tokyo to catch the Seibu Ikebukuro Line back up to the other side of Saitama. Not to mention the stadium is on this separate line that spokes off of the main Seibu train, so it takes four transfers. The nice thing is that the train drops you right at the stadium entrance. Anyway, I made it before Slot 2 started, grabbed a quick lunch, and then headed inside.

It was neat, we were on the field. The handshake booths were set up in the middle of the field, with nothing really behind them, so you got a pretty clear view of what goes on behind the scenes, unlike at Makuhari or Pacifico. I will talk about that as we go. I had a total of nine tickets for seven members…

Slot 2

Suda Akari (Lane 3) I took a chance on getting this ticket, since my experience is that Dasu’s line is always crazy. To my surprise, it wasn’t very long at all. When I bought the tickets, I isolated my Slot 2 and 3 tickets because I thought the lines would be really long. This meant I was going to have A LOT of downtime in-between tickets. Anyway, I spent my time in the queue watching Jurina and Obamina in nearby lanes. Kumazaki Haruka was in the next lane over, and in her downtime, I caught her eye. She gave me a big smile and wave. It was finally my turn. After the hisashiburi, I asked Dasu if she was cold, and then I complimented her cool leather jacket. Dasu was her usual genki self, so it was a good experience. In fact, I have never had a bad experience with Dasu, but I only see her once in a while.


Lanes are empty since I took the pic in-between slots.

I had around 90 minutes until I needed to use my next ticket, so I went back outside. They had opened up the stands, and all of the concessions on the third base side of the field, so it ended up being the perfect place to eat, drink, and relax in between handshakes. You also had an overhead view of the entire event, which was really fun to watch, especially with the games and stuff they were offering. I ended up going over there three separate times during the day.

Lunch Slot

Ego Yuna (Lane 12) This really puzzled me. Why the heck did I get an Ego ticket? Don’t get me wrong, I like her, but I can’t say I like her enough to want to get handshake tickets for her. The only thing I can think of is a) I did enjoy her performance in that SKE48/New World Order MV, which I think I was watching around the time I applied, and 2) this was the lunch slot, when most of the popular members go on break. So I think of all the members who were available in the slot, she was the only one I had any desire whatsoever to meet. I didn’t go in until the slot was almost over, and there were two people in front of me, so not much of a wait. She immediately grabbed my ticket holder, “Kaotan!” Yes, Kaotan. I basically told her that I enjoyed her performance when I won a Team KII show last year, and that she is a very good dancer. She smiled and thanked me. Overall, Egochan is not an overly demonstrative handshake. She smiles, and listens, and is generally very nice. But I don’t know that I will be making her part of my regular rotation.

Slot 3

Matsui Jurina (Lane 1) I finally pulled the trigger and bought Jurina ticket. I make it a point to meet her at pretty much every National Event I attend, but this was the first time I reserved a ticket for her. I went to queue up early, the plan being that I would get it done quickly, and then have a big break until the next slot. I was 4th in line, great! It was just after the Slot opened that management came over and announced that Jurina would be considerably late for the slot, and offered to let people “uncheck-in” if they wanted. This was my only ticket for the slot, so I had no choice but to ride it out…

I played with my phone for a while, and watched Kumazaki again. Kumazaki was great, she was engaging with all of us during her downtime. Smiling, waving, talking, she’s really cool. Also, and this was really neat. I saw the woman who makes all the PA announcements. You know, the one with that really generic, almost inhuman voice? She’s basically standing back there with a wireless microphone, making announcements as needed. She was standing by the Jurina lane since she needed to keep announcing updates on the Lane status. Oh, and she is really cute too. I am guessing she is probably in her 40’s, but she’s tiny, and really pretty. She had on tight jeans, and a white leather jacket. Now that I knew who she was, I was kinda watching for her throughout the day when I was up in the stands, LOL. Anyway, back to Jurina…

Yeah, 50 minutes later Diva Matsui made it out to the lane, and she had all sorts of handlers around her too. But she was like “enough of the coddling, let’s go!” She got excited when she saw me, and I told her that I have fun meeting her, and I want to see her more often. She latched onto my Kaotan necklance. “Kaotan, she is your oshi?” Yeah. “What about Jurina?” Ni-oshi (I lied, LOL) She gave me a crying face as I left the queue. I didn’t want to make her cry, but she would cry harder if she knew the truth, LOL.

 

I took another break. Part of the fun was watching all the extracurricular activities going on in the venue. They had a badminton court to play against members. You could also throw pitches in the bullpen, or throw off the main pitcher’s mound, with select members cheering you on. And of course they had the SKE staple of costumes to try on (If you are a female) These two were on display outside; The 22nd single uniform and Masanya’s graduation dress.

Slot 4

Sato Kaho (Lane 10) Another first time meeting. A few months ago I was queued up for Yamane Suzuha, who was in the lane next to Kaho. I was just fascinated watching her interact with her fans. Not only was she a big flirt, but she was wearing a very loose top, and really giving all the fans a show (if you know what I mean) Needless to say, I wanted to meet her, so I grabbed a ticket the first chance I got. Unfortunately, it was cold in the venue, so she was kinda bundled up, but she got excited when I entered the booth, and leaned in really close to me. I basically told her the story of watching her from another queue, that I thought she was really cute and genki, and I wanted to meet her. She definitely has a bit of a “twinkle in her eye, and I would love to meet her again. Perhaps in the Summer when its warmer. XD By the way, of all the queues I saw or experienced today, hers was the longest. My guess is she will be a senbatsu member soon.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 14) <2 tickets> Finally I’m getting to my regulars. I pre-queued, and was ultimately 5th in line. Kaotan’s lane was right in the middle, so we had a perfect view of all the girls coming and going, plus the pitching event. I pretty much saw most of the members come out. Kaotan was talking with Obamina when she walked over. Since it was her first slot of the day, Kaotan sets the ground rules with the staff. “Don’t push them out, I do it a certain way.” I love it! I showed her my Kaotan-JK badge that I bought at the concert, but she didn’t really react. I mentioned that I had been watching the pitching behind her, and that I used to be a pitcher. She asked when, and I told her High School. And of course she asked how many tickets I had. When I mentioned three, she asked if I would be looping. Yep…

So I immediately looped. It didn’t take very long. I asked her about the “talk show” she did yesterday. (Yuasa mentioned it on his blog) She said it was in Osaka, and when she does it in Tokyo that I should come, so I should keep track on her blog. I promised her I would, and that I would see her next slot,

90 minutes later, it was next slot. I passed the time relaxing in the stands, and had some takoyaki from Gindaco…

Slot 5

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 14) There was nobody pre-queued for her when I came back into the stadium, so this meant I would be first in line. Now the last time I was first in line for Kaotan I kinda got a special treat since she talked to me the whole time while setting up. This time was even better…

Once again, I was watching the people pitch (most of them are awful) and watching the members walk around behind the lanes. Shirai Kotono was in the next lane, and before she started waved to me and smiled. Eventually I see Kaotan walking over with Oba Mina again. Oba is eyeing me while they are talking, although I can’t hear what they are talking about since they are too far away. All of a sudden Oba turns in my direction and yells “Hey Kurisu!” and starts waving. I laughed and waved back. Mind you, I have never met Oba before. My guess is that she said something to Kaotan about her having a foreigner waiting for her, and then Kaotan gave her the scoop, LOL.

Kaotan made it into the booth, and immediately started screaming. Apparently there was a bug crawling across the counter. It was then I noticed they had bug traps and repellents around the lanes, so that must be an issue. I asked her if she killed the bug. She said no, she just brushed it away. She then asked me why I wasn’t wearing a jacket. When I told her I forgot to bring one, she got worried that I was going to catch a cold. I told her I would be fine, although to be honest, I really was cold. And then a few minutes later my nose started running.

Tani Marika (Lane 17) I quickly switched to my new Tani ticket holder and queued up. It wasn’t a very long line. Tani was wearing side braids, which look cute on her, so I immediately commented about it. She kinda turned and showed them to me. Tani was also bundled up. I asked if she had a heater, and she said no and she was cold. I said I’m cold too. At the end she asked when she would see me again. I wasn’t sure, so I just said the AKB event.

I checked, I don’t have a ticket for her until the AKB Jabaja event at the end of May, so it will be a while.

Hidaka Yuzuki (Lane 8) My final ticket of the night. Ya know, I really don’t see Yuzuki as often as I should. She is a really great handshake experience, and she is always excited to see me. Not to mention, she is a senbatsu member, so there is always stuff to talk about. She was really happy to see me again. I asked if she was excited to do the event at a baseball stadium, and she emphatically said yes. I know she’s a big baseball fan (Maichan in HKT is too) She said she had never seen a game at this venue, but would like to one day. I said I wanted to see one there too, as I finally got pushed out. I bid my farewell, and headed toward the exit.

Luckily, I was able to use my three tickets more quickly then expected, and was able to catch an earlier train home. I have a somewhat long day tomorrow, with the HKT48 shamekai event at Tokyo Ryutsu Center, followed by the Wasamin cheki event a couple of stops away. It’s lucky that I only have four tickets for HKT, so I have time to make it to Wasamin’s last cheki ‘slot’, if all goes well.

And here’s one last cardboard poster pic, because Obata is cute.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts, HKT48 A Weekend at Saitama Super Arena (HKT48 & AKB48 Spring Concerts) 2018/03/31-04/01

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When they announced that not only HKT48, not only SKE48, but also AKB48 would be performing Spring concerts at Saitama Super Arena, I figured my chance to win tickets were pretty good.  After all, SSA is a pretty big place.  SKE and HKT have been playing at much smaller venues, even when they were arguably more popular.  But I wasn’t sure how easy the tickets would ultimately be to win, so I decided to put in applications for all four shows.  Now I don’t often do this, but it’s time for my rant…

For many of you who have been to Japan, and have tried to win either theater shows or concerts for AKB48, you know how difficult, even impossible it seems to be.  I’ve never come out and said it before on my blog, but there is something seriously “rotten in  the state of Denmark” when it comes to that ticket center.  The reason I say this is not only because I lost for all four shows, in all three rounds of applications, but most everyone I know who won, won all four shows.  It was pretty much feast or famine.  People who won, won them all, people who didn’t win, got shut out entirely.  That, in and of itself is strange.  But it got even stranger…

When they announced the third round of applications, it was because the concerts didn’t sell out.  Wait a second?  Didn’t sell out?  But I lost all four applications?  How can this be???  Moreover, after the third round was over, they announced that it still didn’t sell out, and tickets would be available at the box office on the day of the concert.  This begs the question; Why are people losing, and the show didn’t sell out?  I’m not saying this is exclusive to foreign fans either, since I know a lot of Japanese fans who also got shut out of the lottery.  Not to mention, I also know foreigners who won all the shows.  But this kind of stuff just makes it even more obvious that there is nothing really random about the ticket center at all.  And to be honest, it really pisses me off.  I remember a time before the ticket center existed when the AKB48 lottery process seemed completely random and fair.  I have no idea why the company has turned it into what it is, but it is obvious that they are screening all applications, and deciding who gets to win, and who doesn’t.  Anyway, rant over.

I already knew I was going to the HKT show since I had friends with extra tickets.  As far as the rest of the shows, I really wanted to see SKE, but I wasn’t sure about AKB.  Also, at my age sitting through two concerts in one day is a bit of a hassle.  So I had to decide, which additional shows, if any, would I try to see?  I had pretty much decided to skip the SKE show since ultimately I didn’t know how many extra tickets were available, and I didn’t want to head out to Saitama first thing in the morning to find out that it had already sold out.  However, when I DID arrive at Saitama later in the day, I learned two things…

First, the HKT48 concert ultimately didn’t sell out.  They were still trying to sell tickets just before the show started.  Second, reliable sources told me that there were “lots of tickets” left for both AKB shows.  So I decided that I would head back over on Sunday, and get a ticket for one of the AKB shows too.  So that was my plan, one show for each day.

So after having lunch and meeting my friend in Akabane, we headed over to the arena.  The first thing we wanted to do was check out the goods tables, which were set up outside the arena.  Since the SKE concert was still going on, there was no line for their tent.  However, their selection was kind of picked over.  But I did get this…

Kaotan the JK, I love it!  The girl selling it started laughing at my friend’s and my reaction to seeing the button.  After that we headed to the HKT side.  The HKT booths had been open for a while, so the queue was short.  That is, unless you wanted to buy the manually decorated Uchiwa.  There was a big queue to use the tables for that.  Ultimately I decided to grab a new Akiyoshi ticket holder, and a concert towel.  They had some shirts in XXL, but I didn’t love them.

So after hanging around the arena for a couple hours, we finally got our tickets and headed into the venue.  But not before I had a chance to snap a couple of pics of the HKT flags.  I first found Bibian, but she was in the middle of the photo trading area, so I could only get a long shot.  I couldn’t find Maichan’s flag, but I found Yukachan right at the arena level entrance.  I had my friend hold it steady since it was kinda windy.

We headed up to our 400 level seats, pretty much the top deck.  There is a small Level 500, where you are practically hanging from the ceiling.  But we were low, 4th row, in the back left corner.  It was a direct view, but we were high up.  Anyway, here is my brief review of the HKT48 concert…

They started with a VTR on the proper use of uchiwas.  This is one of the things I love about HKT concerts, their little vignettes in the VTRs are so funny.  The star was Imamura Maria, but Akiyoshi also had a nice little part in it.  At one point Imamura is cheering for Yukachan with a giant onigiri uchiwa, and smashing it into the other fans.  Later on, she has one of the homemade uchiwas, and is cheering for two different members by flipping it around.  Meanwhile, Akiyoshi is peeking from behind the curtain and pissed off, LOL.  Dirty DD!

BTW, some sample video I took during the “camera ok!” time…


After the opening set, they showed a second VTR with certain members “in disguise” complaining about wanting a chance to be center.  The funny part was when it was Imamura’s turn, she was too short and could be seen behind the smoked glass.  Conversely, Natsumikan was too tall.  Finally, Ueki Nao’s chin was exposed, which is kind of her charm point.  This led into a huge series of solo songs by each and every member.  Despite the songs being shortened, it was still a really long set, with 23 consecutive songs.  Among my favorites, Motomura Aoi’s Akai Pinheel to Professor was really good, with really neat video effects.  Nako, Maichan, and Tomiyoshi also had really strong performances too.  Yukachan also centered a song, but it wasn’t really a solo.  Speaking of Yukachan…

I didn’t see it, but at beginning of the concert she fell off one of the stage runways and broke her foot.  Amazingly, she performed the rest of the concert, and only afterwards did they realize that there was a serious issue.  I saw her dancing and running around.  Heck, she even had a big part in the live skit in the middle of the concert.  BTW, I talk more about Yukachan’s broken foot in my previous post.


This is about as close as Tomiyoshi and Piichan came to me

My two biggest complaints were 1) The sound was really bad in the arena.  I don’t know if it was just where I was sitting, but it seemed like all of the sound was in the front of the concert, and we were just getting the echoes in the back.  I noticed that all the speakers seemed to be facing one direction too.  My second issue is that Sakura should not be singing the lead in Otona Ressha in place of Haruppi.  Otona Ressha might be my all-time favorite 48-group song, and I felt Sakura did a weak job of singing the lead.  The concert finally came to an end, but not before they flashed an ominous sign on the screens telling fans to check Twitter in 15 minutes.  Ultimately it was the new single senbatsu announcement.  Not sure why they couldn’t do that in the arena, but whatever.  All I know is that the new single Senbatsu is severely lacking in the Akiyoshi department.  Anyway, on to AKB…

I arrived at the arena on Sunday around 30 minutes before doors were scheduled to open for the matinee.  I went to the box office expecting to see a queue.  Uhhh, like five people in queue.  You had to fill out a form when you bought the ticket, and they asked me which show I wanted to buy for (or if I wanted both)  It was at that moment I decided to go for the matinee since I was already there.  The other option was to go all the way back home and come back six hours later.  In the meantime a friend of mine who is an SKE and Team 8 fan came to get a ticket, so we decided to renban the show.  Nice to have some company.  Our tickets were again 400 level, but on the other side of the venue in row 15.  So pretty much the same view, but out of the opposite eye, LOL.  I went to check the goods.  The line was huge.  Not to mention, there was really nothing I wanted that badly, so I decided to skip AKB goods all together.  We headed in and found our seats.  There were lots of empty spots all around us.  As for the show…

The first thing I was interested in was the sound, and for some reason the sound was much better than the previous day.  Now on one hand, I was in a different part of the venue.  But I also noticed that the speaker stacks were now facing multiple directions, so I think they made some overnight adjustments.  The show started with all the kennin members performing Enjou Rosen, followed by a stupid VTR and another overture.  BTW, I heard some fans were pissed about that, and felt it was somehow disrespectful to the kennin members. (Somebody tried to explain why, but I didn’t get it)

The main theme of the show were the Teams.  First, the current Teams (A, K, B, 4, Kenkyuusei, and Team 8) all performed songs.  Then the new teams came out and performed.  Since it was so high up, I didn’t get a real good feel for any differences in style or dynamic.  But the point was that the shuffle is moving forward.  After all that, we got a few units…

Surprisingly, Sakura’s performance of Maeda Atsuko’s solo debut Flower was surprisingly good.  I never think of Sakura as an exceptional performer, bu she pulled Maeda’s song off quite well.  On the other hand, Nako, Ryoha, and Nagisa’s rendition of Maria was the worst performance of that song I had ever seen.  It had no power, poor singing, just a mess.  She’s Gone, centered by Iriyama and Miru, was just slightly less bad.  They sounded so shrill on the chorus.  BTW, they allowed us to film in this show too.  Here is a sample video I took…



The best part of the show was when they allowed us to record and take pics.  They did this in the HKT show too, but the members came nowhere near us.  This time we got a bunch of 16th Gen get pretty close to us, so that was a lot of fun.

Overall, I liked the AKB show a bit more than the HKT show, but that was mainly because of the sound.  These days I’m a much bigger fan of HKT than AKB.  But since the sound was louder and more full, it seemed more exciting, which makes a big difference.

After the show ended, I briefly contemplated buying a ticket for the evening show.  But ultimately decided I would be happier not shelling out the extra 8000 yen, and instead wemt home to enjoy the rest of Sunday.  After seeing that the evening show was pretty much more of the same thing, I was happy with my decision.  I’m more of a theater guy anyway.  But it was nice to at least experience some of the 48-groups’ Spring Tour.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 9th Album Shamekai Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/04/08)

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Today was the first Shamekai event for AKB’s latest album. Of course I made the mistake of getting tickets for the first event of the promotion, which is always a total clusterf**k. Many of the queues early in the day seemed to take forever to navigate. I didn’t arrive at the venue until 1:35, but it still seemed like an incredibly long day.

To be honest, I didn’t get to talk very much with any of the members since they seemed to be pushing people through quickly. Unless of course you won the opportunity to get something signed. Aside from the signed CD cover, which they did for the most part the same way as last year, you had the opportunity, instead of the normal shamekai, to win either a short 2-shot video, or a signed cheki (with a signed booklet). Unfortunately for me, I went a perfect zero for six on the prize. It was funny, after I lost the 4th one I was kinda routing for the “perfecto” I really wasn’t interested in the video, and while the cheki and booklet are nice, and I would like to win one, ultimately I can take it or leave it. So here are my six shamekai, with a few small anecdotes thrown in…

FYI, chara-ani is still doing the “stamp thing”

Slot 4

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 21) I was going to bail on getting my tickets stamped, since it’s debatable whether or not I really need it. After all, I do have a Japanese ID card with matching address. However, my name is cut off due to length. When I saw how long Zunchan’s queue was, I thought I better get them stamped, just in case. There was no line at the info booth anyway, so it took less than two minutes. Anyway, after 90 minutes in Zunchan’s queue, it was finally my turn. You know, Zunchan kinda reminds me of a bunny rabbit…

BTW, Hiwatashi Yui was next to Zunchan, and she’s adorable! Anyway, after the shot I told her that after reading her sign at the last event, I went out and had chirashizushi. She had this semi-confused look as I told her the story, but the moment I said “chirashizushi” it all clicked for her, LOL. Anyway, I entertained the idea of having her sign my CD, but her Slot 4 queue was going to run so late, and the queue for her CD signing was already huge, I abandoned the mission. I really didn’t have much of a choice about it anyway, as you will soon read.

I had all of Slot 5 off. I decided I would queue early for one of my two planned tickets in Slot 6, but I didn’t know which one would be best. I first went over to the CD signing lane I wanted to do, but the pre-queue was already huge. So I went over to Maichan’s lane, who I had a ticket for, and there were like 4 people waiting. OK, this is cool. They opened the lane, and some a-hole who wasn’t even queued jumped in first in front of all of us. Whatever. Then, one of the staff came over and told us the slot would be delayed, and they brought this mass of people from another lane to finish their previous slot. I was so pissed, I literally exclaimed out loud “Oh, f**k you!” This looked like it would take at least half an hour. So I went back to the CD signing lane. It was friggin’ huge, but it looked like it was moving. I’ll give it a shot. If I miss out on Maichan, so be it…

Slot 6

CD Signing Lane Akiyoshi Yuka (w/ Yamada Marina & Ueno Haruka) (Lane 133) The way the three person lane worked is that only one would sign at a time, while the other two just watched and talked. Not too efficient, but I think they counted on the lane to be collectively short. That was the first issue. The second issue with this lane is that Mariri is graduating soon, so there were a ton of people there just to see her. In fact, I would say it was 70% of the line. The third issue was there were multiple guys in the queue with huge stacks of CD covers and tickets. One guy had 20, another had around 40, and the third guy had 12, and they were all in front of me. I kept thinking “there’s no way they’re gonna let them do this, it’ll take an hour just for the three of them. Finally a staff member told them it was “no-go” so thankfully they left the lane (along with a 4th guy I didn’t see) Thank god! In the meantime, Yukachan spotted me in the queue and waved, then threw me a “heart” and pointed me out to Harutan. I got another “heart” a couple minutes later. Finally it was my turn…

This was the one time I got a chance to talk to Yukachan for a while. I asked her how bad her foot still hurts (she said it really hurts) I told her I broke a toe a few years ago, and I know it’s really painful. While she was signing, I turned to Mariri and congratulated her on her graduation, and then I told both she and Harutan that I am Yukachan’s English teacher, which got a laugh from Yukachan. She finished signing, and said “I really love you Chris-san!” I told her I would see her next slot. In the meantime, I had four minutes left to get to Maichan’s queue.

BTW, there was a girl in line behind me for the CD signing. She was so cute! She looked a lot like Kawaei Rina. In fact I thought it was Kawaei. The funny thing was that she ended up behind me in Maichan’s queue too, and kinda gave me a little nod and smile when she noticed she was behind me again.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 108) I was happy that I wouldn’t have to oshimashi this ticket, since I always seem to bail on Maichan when I am pressed for time, LOL. The line wasn’t very long, and I got to the front relatively quickly.

One of my favorite shamekai is from last year, when Maichan and I did this pose. So I chose it again. Maichan is so cute. I told her I went to the SSA concert and liked her solo.

Slot 7

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 111) Once again I couldn’t decide which queue to get in first, but Yukachan’s looked a lot more manageable. (The entire SKE area was slammed with people) At first I thought her prequeue was huge, but then I noticed it was for Mariri. Yukachan’s queue was five deep, and in the queue was one of the Socal fan club guys. (I forget his name :(, but he won the cheki ) It took them a few minutes to get her situated, and they had her legs covered with a blanket. I asked her which pose we should do, the “Itai” pose (crying) or Onigiri pose. She chose crying…

Oh, my poor little Yukachan. So painful. But look at her though. She worked all week, did the HKT National event on Saturday, and worked today for the shamekai event. What a trooper!

Tani Marika (Lane 50) I quickly changed ticket holders from my new Yukachan holder to my new Tani holder. Her line wasn’t very long, which was good as I could get a break between slots 7 and 8. Since I have been well-trained, I immediately greeted her with a “Wow, Kawaii Marika-chan!” She was like “Me, I’m kawaii?” Yes! “Am I beautiful?” “Yes, Marika-chan is beautiful!” “Well then let’s do heart pose”

She asked me if I was cold, since I was wearing shorts and short sleeves, but I told her I have a sweatshirt (paa-ka) in my bag. Anyway, it wasn’t cold in the venue. I now had plenty of time until Slot 8…

I knew I wouldn’t have any issues getting my last two tickets done, but I decided to pre-queue for Yukachan again anyway. In the meantime, the Akiyoshi Birthday/Sousenkyo committee came over to me and asked if I wanted to be part of their LINE group. Of course I said yes, so they added me in. I’m not sure how good an idea this was, however, since I have been inundated with LINE messages all evening, LOL. But I am glad I am part of the team now.

Slot 8

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 109) Yuka-chan was moved to another lane. In the meantime I was third in the queue. While we waited, I had the perfect angle to see “backstage” where the girls come out, and I was really interested to see how bad Yukachan’s foot really was. Out she came, on crutches! She also had a hard cast on her foot, going up to about her ankle. They eventually put her crutches backstage, but then she had to get up. She was hopping around. Oh no, my poor Yukachan! I felt so bad, but in a way it was really cute, LOL! I decided we should do the Onigiri pose after all…


My onigiri seems to be more diamond shaped

After the 2-shot I told her I saw her on her crutches backstage, and that I felt really bad for her. “Poor Yuka-chan” I told her to keep doing her best, and I would see her next week.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 81) What would a 48-group event be without a visit with Kaotan? Kaotan’s queue was relatively short. However, it took a painfully long time since it seemed like everyone in the front of the queue had won the signed cheki. She was taking quite a long time to sign each one. What should have taken 10 minutes, ended up taking 35. But finally it was my turn. What pose? I had no idea. Actually……

Perfect! It’s my favorite shamekai of the day! A nice way to end the evening. I was finally heading home.

However, I made the mistake of stopping by the station for dinner, and by the time I finished eating some concert got out and there was a mass of humanity trying to board the train back toward Tokyo. There are a few shamekai events still to go, most of them around Golden Week. However, I only have tickets to the last event in mid-May. My itinerary is slightly different. I have tickets for Zunchan, Cuca, Mio, Zukki, Kaotan, and one oshimashi (since Akiyoshi won’t be there) I have a good idea who I am going to use it on. My CD signing ticket, on the other hand, I have no idea. Those lines are the worst!

CK in Tokyo

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Events, KissBee, Tokyo CLEARS Hisashiburi CLEARS, Hisashiburi KissBee! (2018/03/26-29)

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It had been quite a while since I had last seen Tokyo CLEARS and KissBee perform.  I last saw KissBee in early December, just before I headed to California for the holidays.  For CLEARS, it had been much longer.  almost eight months.  It’s unfortunate since I really adore Rion from CLEARS, and I had developed quite the rapport with Tanifuji Misaki from KissBee.  But such is life, when I decided I needed to curtail my idol spending.  Indie idols were the first casualty.  That said…

This week I noticed that 1) CLEARS was doing some free lives in support of their debut album, and KissBee had just started promoting their own debut album.  So here were some chances to visit these groups without a big admission layout, see a performance, and talk with the members for the cost of a CD.  I was in.  First up, CLEARS…

Tokyo CLEARS at Shinseido Sunshine City, and Naka-Meguro Club Try

I actually went to two different CLEARS events for their new album, “We Are CLEARS”.  The first one was on Monday at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, where they were doing an in-store live along with Gunma CLEARS.  They had two events scheduled, at 5pm and 7pm.  I didn’t think there was any way I could make it to the early show, which was fine.  However, I arrived earlier than expected, and was actually there by the time the live was just ending and the handshake event was starting.  But I decided to stay hidden, and just wait for the later show.

I came back around 6:20pm, and was checking out the rules/benefits of the event, when all of a sudden the door to the dressing room opened, and out came Rion.  Her manager had their dinner.  Rion immediately spotted me, and completely lit up.  “Kurisuuu!”  Rin Asahina also came out to see what the commotion was, and waved to me.  Anyway, my next stop was to do the preorder, but I didn’t understand the benefits at all.  They were quite confusing, and looked like you had to buy multiple copies of the same version, and some video shooting.  I was like “Screw that, I’m not buying five albums just to do benefits.  The people at the cash register were kind of confused too, and went to ask the group manager manager.  Ultimately what the chart didn’t say was that you could still do normal benefits with the purchase of one or two CDs, like chekis and handshakes and whatnot.  So I preordered the limited version, and got three tickets.  I was ready to go.

It was 7pm, and there were literally like eight fans standing there.  WTF?  So I got a spot front and center.  Since there were so few people, nobody was really doing any calls.  Just clapping.  At one point I started calling for Rion, and she pointed her microphone toward me.  The crowd did fill in a bit as the show went on, then some random foreigner came fumbling into the live with her camera raised, and they had to stop her.  Later there were a group of little kids who came by, and we cleared the front of the stage for them to dance along.  It was very cute.  They stayed for the entire rest of the show.

I had three tickets, which I was going to use for a signed cheki with Rion, and an unsigned cheki with Sayuri.  Rion was going on and on about how she missed seeing me, which I also repeated back to her.  I really did miss her, possibly more than any of the other idols I hadn’t seen in a while.  I also mentioned that I sometimes have a hard time figuring out when and where they are appearing, and it was mainly because I saw her tweet that morning that I was there.

Sayuri was a lot more opportunistic.  When I mentioned that I came for the release event, she immediately asked when I would come again, and mentioned the actual release event on Wednesday.  She made me pinky-promise to come.  I remembered reading that it was only 1000 yen to get in, so I was like “Sure, I’ll come.  It is fairly close to where I will be anyway.”

Fast forward to Wednesday…

I had a couple hours to kill before the live, so I went to Devilcraft to grab a couple of quick pints.  I stayed a little longer than expected, and was rushing to get over to Naka-Meguro in time for the show.  It was odd though, I had never seen this many people on the Hibiya Line all the way to the end.  It wasn’t until I got there that I realized why…

It turns out that Naka-Meguro is a huge Hanami-Sakura Viewing spot, since the river cuts right through the middle of the area.  So there were tons of people pouring in and out of the station.  I finally made it out, and tried to figure out where Club Try was, which I had only been to once before.  It took me about five minutes to figure out I went in the wrong direction, and had to backtrack through the huge crowd to the other side of the station.  I was worried that I was going to miss the beginning of the show, arriving at 7:02.  I got upstairs, and paid my admission.  Luckily, I misread the time.  It didn’t begin until 7:15.  there were still a few seats left, so I grabbed one in the third row, but not before buying the regular version of the CD.  This would afford me a signed cheki with Rion, and mean that I had one of each CD version.

This show featured four of the CLEARS groups.  Tokyo CLEARS, who I was there to see.  Then you had Gunma CLEARS and CLEARS SMILE!, neither of which really grab me.  Then there was Chiba CLEARS, who I had never seen before.  OMG…

The girls in Chiba CLEARS were adorable.  All of them.  I was watching them, deciding which one I wanted to meet, but I was having trouble deciding.  There were like four of them I liked, including their brand new chibi member, LOL.  Each group did two songs in the live, and then appeared all together at the end.  As they were setting up for the handshake event, I went and grabbed my prerequisite drink.  I also went to check out Chiba CLEARS’ system.  (All the groups have their own sales tables)  They weren’t selling the CD, they were doing a preorder for something else.  I had no idea what it was, and didn’t feel like spending any more cash, so I will have to meet Chiba CLEARS another time.  I went to line up for Rion…

I still had a slight buzz from all the beer I drank earlier, so I boldly decided to tell Rion that I had checked out some of her old gravure work that was on YouTube.  This stuff is all from about 8-10 years ago, before she was in Ebisu Muscats.  I confirmed that she was a teenager when she did most of those gravure DVDs.  Anyway, I told her that she was a very cute teen.  She said she hoped to see me again soon, and I was on my way.  I went to do a little Sakura viewing on my own before getting back on the train for home.

KissBee at Village Vanguard, SkyTree

It has been a while since I have posted her about KissBee.  Actually, I was getting ready to do a post in December about all the release events for their last single, but I got sidetracked by the holidays, and ultimately never wrote it.  I prefer going to their CD events since they are usually free, as opposed to their non-release events, which usually cost upwards of 3000 yen to get in.  Since this is an album promotion, I probably won’t be going to too many events.  In fact, they have already been promoting the CD for a couple weeks, and this was the first event I had been to.  It was quit convenient though, since I had an appointment near SkyTree, it was easy for me to come over after I was done.

 

KissBee’s new album is called “Pop Honeycomb.”  And like CLEARS, there are two versions, although both versions are the same price.  I got there over two hours early, and the shop hadn’t even started setting up for the show.  So I went over to the food court and got an early dinner at Gindaco.  After wandering around for a while, I headed back to the venue, and saw that the regular fans had already camped out their front spots.  Which reminds me, a small rant…

Back when Wasamin first started her solo career, I noticed that many of her big fans often stayed in the back of the venue when she had events.  Eventually I asked them why, and they said because they are already big fans, and see her all the time, they would rather let newer fans have those spots, so hopefully they become big fans of her too.  I have always taken that philosophy to heart, and usually stay out of the first few rows at Wasamin events.  So I have to be honest, when I see these KissBee fans ALWAYS taking these spots, never allowing anyone else to be in the first row, it kinda rubs me the wrong way.  I once mentioned this to one of the KissBee fans (not one of the front row guys) and he seemed surprised to hear me say it, but he understood.  Anyway…

The other big change is that two of the members seemed to have left the group.  Well, I’m not sure if they left, or are on hiatus, but they are not promoting the CD, aren’t on the cover, and aren’t even listed on the website anymore.  This includes my #2 KissBee girl, Maeda Reon.  I knew Maeda was on hiatus, since I read her Twitter.  I asked what her current status was, and they said she is still considered on hiatus.  I feel badly about that, but it makes things easy for me, as I will focus all my attention on Misaki.

Another interesting issue, this particular Village Vanguard has a history of being over-regulating when it comes to idol events.  In fact, it makes me wonder why they have these events at all.  Fans aren’t allowed to do “calls,” they demand the volume of the music be kept down to a surprising low level, so “not to inconvenience other shoppers,” and they try to stuff everyone into this tiny little space, regardless of the amount of people there.  Luckily, this time they allowed the music to be at more acceptable levels.

It was the usual KissBee live, four songs with a couple of MCs, then it was time for 2-shots and handshakes…oh and the high touch, which is free for everyone.  They weren’t offering the group cheki at this event, but they DID offer a shamekai option, which I suggested to them before.  “Why not give a choice to the fans, and shamekai don’t require you to use any film.”

Anyway, I took a cheki with Misaki-chan, and then later lined up for a handshake, and to have her sign the cheki.  As usual, Misaki had the longest line, and I was toward the back of it, but I eventually got my turn.  She had asked why I hadn’t been around, and I explained that I had cut back on idol events for financial reasons, but I did enjoy their CD promotions, so I would come to a few of those.  I also mentioned that I liked her new hairdo, and the bangs looked really cute on her.  BTW, I also like the album costumes.  To be honest, I thought their costumes for the last two singles looked cheap and ugly.  These are definitely an upgrade.

And that was it.  I had a busy weekend planned with all the 48-group Saitama Super Arena concerts, which I will talk about in my next post.

CK in Tokyo 

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Concerts, Minyo Girls Minyo Girls: “Mingaru Dream Paradise” One-Man Live at Asakusa Gold Sounds (2018/03/25)

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~Fuuchan and Mikorin Graduation Stage~

I guess I didn’t realize how “big” this graduation would be until I experienced it. Well, maybe that is only partially true. For one, these are not the first graduations from this group. Minyo Girls lost a couple of members in the early days, but that was before the group really started taking off and forming any sort of significant fanbase. In the case of Fuuko and Miki, both of them are original members. Fuuko, is in many ways the captain, centering most of the MCs, while Miki on the Shamisen is the true backbone of the group, and a big part of what makes them special. Neither of them are the most popular members, but their contributions to the group are going to be missed. So yeah, I am very sad to see them go. But before that, there was a show to do!

 

I had pre-bought my ticket back in January, which was a good thing since the show was ultimately sold out. Asakusa Gold Sounds is just a short walk from Kuramae Station on the Oedo Line, and very easy for me to get to. I arrived around 20 minutes before doors and took my place in the queue. Once in, I bypassed the bar, goods table, and flower displays and immediately claimed a spot. I was three back from the stage, dead center. Cool. After camping out my spot, I decided “Hey, I always see the other fans dropping their bags, and coming back later on, so I decided to do the same. I went to the bar and grabbed a beer, and I went to the goods table. I knew exactly what I would be buying, a ticket for their next two One-Man Lives in April and June, that would get me two cheki tickets. Interestingly, when I returned to my bag there was another drink ticket underneath it. Nobody around me wanted to claim it, so I would be getting an extra drink later. Yatta!

In the meantime, while I was in line the graduation committee asked if I wanted to be part of the group, and sign the exclusive card for people who contributed to the flowers. Of course I said yes, although it ended up costing me 1000 yen per member. But hey, it’s the least I can do. I didn’t have change outside, but once I bought goods I was able to pay them. After this, the show was about to begin….

Now back in January, at their challenge stage, the members drew colored balls to separate themselves into units. This ended up being Minyo Girls’ “Unit Matsuri” BTW, apparently Yuua had gotten a nosebleed just before the show started, so she came out with a bunch of tissue in her nose and in her hand. After their usual introduction, the members explained how the show was going to go, and each unit had their own unique style…

Unit 1, Kako & Yutori: First of all, tiny Yutori on guitar!! Now before we got too excited, the song they performed basically had one guitar chord throughout (basic A minor), so she essentially had to hold that one chord for 4 minutes and strum. Kako solo’d the song, which was a traditional song from one of their early releases. Kako is a very good soloist, so ultimately this was a great unit.

Unit 2: Matsuri & Yuua: They also chose a traditional song, and did a very good job. I also liked their choice of outfit; white t-shirts with black shorts. Very cute. They also used the song to unfurl a banner thanking Fuuko and Miki at the end. Good job! And I was further impressed with Yuua since she sang very well despite still having a tissue stuffed in her nostril, LOL!

Unit 3: Miki, Rina, & Izumi: WTF was this??? They were basically lip-syncing to a rock song, with male vocalists! They actually had their mics up, but you could barely hear them over the song. Weird choice.

Unit 4: Fuuka & Minori: Idol fans at heart, they chose to sing Momoclo’s Chai Maxx. They weren’t bad, but it looked like they were basically up their goofing around.

Unit 5: Miyabi & Rio: Whoah!!! A ballad? And harmonizing. They were truly great. This wan’t really a contest, but if we had to choose a winner, this would take it by a mile. They also used the song to deliver flowers to the graduating members.


I didn’t realize it during the last concert, but your raffle number is on the back of the photo you received

After the units, they did a giveaway of laminated and autographed large photos of each of the units. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but they looked very nice. They performed two more songs, with a photo-op section before leaving the stage. Personally, I just snap away and hope for the best.


Minori, Matsuri, Kako (w/ Miki)


Yuua, Fuuka, Yutori (w/ Minori, Kako, Miki)

And of course I take lots of pics of Miyabi and Yuua, which is quite easy since technically they are the performing centers of this group. They are both excellent singers, and Yuua in particular has excellent stage presence. In fact, I think their personalities show up well in the photos I take. Miyabi’s catchphrase is “cool beauty,” and Yuua is extremely energetic. Anyway, here are a few Yuua/Miyabi pics…

I took around 150 shots in total, but deleted close to 100 of them on the train home. Anyway, the encore started immediately. Well, eventually it got started. The guy leading the encore got a bit creative, and confused the audience. He wanted us to do “Fuuchan! Mikorin!” but most everyone started doing “Fuuchan! Fuuchan! Mikorin! Mikorin!” Ultimately we got it together, and the girls were back on stage rather quickly anyway. Fuuchan immediately started making fun of the fans for screwing up the encore call.

The encore started with a VTR retrospective of both graduating members. Sometimes we forget that they have been around for four years. They were like babies in the early days. You could hear lots of sobbing coming from the stage as they showed all of this old footage. After that was a video congratulations from each member. It was all very nice. After that, both Fuuchan and Mikorin made a speech, and then finally their signature ending song, Ureshii Namida (their 2nd PV), for which we were given special pink glowsticks to use. Obviously there was lots of crying and hugging happening onstage. Interestingly, the one who seemed in the most distress was Rina, who is still brand new. I kept wondering, why is she crying the hardest? Matsuri and Miyabi were both also crying very hard as well. That was the show. Of course we still had lots of post-show benefits.

I had two tickets, and my plan was to use them on Miyabi and Yuua, as I normally do. But first they do the group pics. I kept asking myself if I wanted to do a group pic instead, and decided to go for it. I went back to the goods table, and bought some of their new buttons. You draw them out of a hat. Of course I was hoping for Miyabi and Yuua. I drew Kako, Rina, Minori, and one other I couldn’t see. But it ultimately fell back into the box, so I had to draw again, and I got Yuua. Nice! However, by the time I got back into the stage area, they were finishing group shots. Oh well, I would go with “Plan B”


Miyabi

I lined up for chekis, and both Yuua and Miyabi were busy with fans, so when they asked who I wanted to see I chose Yutori. Just as I said it Miyabi walked over to me, so I quickly changed it to Miyabi. The way they work it, you don’t really have any time to talk during the cheki. But after all the shooting is done, you again line up to get all of your chekis signed. It is at this point that you get to talk to the members. In the meantime, I circled the line and took a cheki with Yuua, and finally with Yutori. It was the first time I have taken a 2-shot with Yutori, and she was very thankful.


Yutori

After having my second drink at the bar, and saying hello to Yuua and Miyabi’s parents, I queued up for autographs, first going to Miyabi. I was trying to tell her that I like her new hairstyle, but I’m not sure she was listening. But I also told her that her unit song and harmonizing were great. That she heard and understood. Next, I went to Yutori. I wanted to tell her that I had been reading her English tweets She got really excited when I mentioned it, and I told her that I even responded. Ultimately, she is the first member I ever met, and she has always been very nice to me, so I am glad I finally took a 2-shot with her. Finally, I went to Yuua and asked her how her nose was. She said she was fine. I basically told her good job.


Yuua

After that I took off, but not before taking pics of the graduation flowers. I had errands to run, and I wanted lunch. I walked over to Yoro-do to pick up some pre-order CDs. It was funny, the lady assumed I was there to pick up Wasamin CDs, but was surprised when I pulled out my Mizumori Kaori order slip. LOL. When she said she was surprised, I then pointed out my Minyo Girls T-shirt. Although I don’t think that surprised her quite as much.

So I have a ticket to each of the next two solo live events, and I have much lower numbered tickets. So hopefully I can work my way to the front row next time.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, FES☆TIVE FES☆TIVE One-Man Live at Twin Box Akihabara (2018/03/19)

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With the pending graduations of Yuna-chan, Koto, and Miki looming, I decided to go and see FES☆TIVE one last time in their current formation, especially since I won’t be able to see their graduation stage this coming weekend. Since my friend Anthony is a fan of both Yuna and Kotone, I invited him along.

According to their official blog, they were expecting an unusually large crowd, and highly recommended making a reservation, which I did. Although it seemed for the most part like the usual crowd size at Twin Box. If you have been to that venue before, it is tiny and cramped, even more so than Twin Box Garage upstairs. A had a couple of cocktails at The HUB before heading to the venue. Not to mention I have a bunch of Twin Box drink tickets leftover from previous shows. I thought I would be able to spend a few of them, but when I told my friend he handed me a few more, since according to him he never uses them, LOL. I guess I need to there one night and just drink!

I was trying to decide who I wanted to purchase cheki tickets for. Of course I would be getting a Hinarin ticket, that was a given. I thought I might want to meet with one of the pending grads, but I have skipped seeing Hiyo-chan the last two events I have attended, and she’s my #2 girl in this group. I would hate to skip over her for someone else, so I got a second ticket for Hiyo.

It was your usual Twin Box live. Loud, lots of fans going wild. My friend and I stayed in the back because he has some sort of inner-ear issue, and didn’t want to be close to the speakers. That’s fine, I’ll get less sweaty that way. They opened with some 3-nin unit I wasn’t familiar with Hinarin, Koto and Yuna. The song was really good though. When I hear a song I’m not familiar with, I always assume it is from their album, which I have never purchased. In fact, they did a few unit songs during the main part of the show as well. There was one song in particular that I liked, something “Nichiyoubi.” But I couldn’t find it on any of their tracklists.

All three of the graduating members looked really loose and carefree on stage, in a good way. Kotone was really getting into the performance, working the crowd. It’s interesting, I really like Kotone a lot, although for some reason I have never really clicked with her at handshakes. But tonight I had my eyes on her for much of the show, almost as much as Hinarin. They referenced the fact many times that this was the last Twin Box performance for the three members, and during the last song Piano started sobbing uncontrollably. It was a cute moment.

It was the usual clusterf**k setting up for handshakes. I usually run for Hinarin’s lane right off the bat since it usually gets very long very quickly. However, I was slightly confused since some of the signs were different, and I couldn’t tell where her line was. Moreover, the two HUGE queues didn’t seem to be hers. Finally, I found this extremely short queue with just 3 girls in it. This was Hinarin’s lane? What happened??? I’m hoping it was for the graduation since the lines for Kotone and Yuna-chan were huge. I wish I could say the same for Miki’s queue, but alas… Anyway, I was 4th in line for Hinarin, so I made it to her fairly quickly. I had planned on what to talk to her about, but they took our cheki quickly, so I got thrown off explaining the pose we did (It’s supposed to be the dance move from their last single) She laughed when I said that, like “Oh yeah!” She then mentioned that she could see me all the way in the back, and thanked me for bringing a bunch of orange glowsticks. (I don’t bring them all the time) I was basically apologizing for not seeing her in a while, neglecting to mention I skipped her birthday show. When I said the last time I saw her was at Tower Shibuya, she remembered. “That’s right, that was the last time” But I told her I really wanted to see everyone one more time before the group changed. My time was up, and it was time for me to go visit Hiyo-chan.

BTW, Hiyo-chan was once again waving to me while I was in Hinarin’s queue. I was really happy I had a ticket for her this time, since she remains cool with me even if when I don’t have a ticket for her. While I was waiting for Hiyo, Saria started smiling and waving to me. That was a first. I am used to Miki and Piano doing that, but not Saria. I was at the front of the queue fairly quickly. Interestingly, Hiyo-chan remembers that I take Japanese classes, and was asking me how it was going. I told her I go three times a week, and am also studying Japanese history. It was right in the middle of this conversation when the camera showed up. In fact I didn’t even remember taking the shot, LOL. Hiyo-chan said my Japanese was improving, and wished me luck.

My friend was just using his first ticket, but I was done, and itching to get out of that stuffy club despite the fact it was raining outside. An interesting side-story, I went for a little walk, and was approached by some random guy offering me “Sexy time” with an idol, and was showing me photos on his phone of young girls, who I think he might have pulled off the 48-group websites. I told the guy I didn’t want any trouble, and then told him I only had 3000 yen on me, at which point he got the message and walked away. I can only imagine what kind of scam that was, but I’m sure whatever it was, it wasn’t going to involve “sexy time” with an idol, LOL. But back to FES☆TIVE.

This is kind of an end of an era of sorts. I first saw FES☆TIVE in San Francisco three years ago, and it was such a memorable experience. For the past 2 1/2 years I have maintained that “Idol-fan relationship” with them. After these three leave, that’s pretty much two-thirds of the original group gone. Lucky for me, my two favorites have both hung on since the beginning. And I must admit, Saria and Piano have ultimately meshed in very well with the group, which was something I wasn’t sure about last year. The rumor is they are lining up three replacements as we speak, so what this group turns into will be interesting. My friend Anthony pretty much said he would be retiring from idols after this (he also likes Alice Project), but he might go and see KissBee with me if I catch him on a good night. For me, as long as Hinari is still there I will stick with them….I think.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts Horipro Thursday FES 2018 ~Spring Song Battle~ at Zepp Diver City (2018/03/15)

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A lot of odd events occasionally show up on the AKB-Group Ticket Center. I wasn’t sure what this event was, despite the “Hori” at the beginning being a major clue. It wasn’t until I checked the details that I got really excited….

Tomochin?
Ishida x2?
Kasai?
MaiMai?
RanRan?
Meetan?

MEETAN!?!?!?!?!?!?

 

My first true oshimen, and I have not seen her since shortly after she graduated from SDN48 when I went to her Gravure DVD release event at Tower Records Shibuya. That was what? Six years ago??? This was the clincher for me. Not to mention Ishida Anna and Tomochin, two former 48-group members who I enjoy visiting would also be there. On the other hand, it had been quite a while since I had actually won a concert via the ticket center. So I was truly surprised when I got the winning email.

I received a second surprise when I picked up my ticket and saw that I had entry #26. Diver City can fit over 2000 people, although I didn’t know how many people were actually coming, especially since the Horipro website said the show wasn’t sold out. But needless to say, with that ticket I would be very close to the stage.

Anyway, I got to DiverCity relatively early, had lunch, and then hung out at Tully’s waiting for doors to open. I checked the goods on the website, and frankly nothing appealed to me at all, so I had no interest in the “early bird” goods table. At 5:30 pm, they didn’t line us up. Instead everyone was in this mass of people as they called people in one by one. That seemed like quite an ineffective way to handle the queue, but whatever. They also made you buy a drink ticket, which I thought was slightly lame considering the cost of the show ticket. Oh, and the crowd was a sea of orange Ogino Yuka T-shirts. It seems like at least 1/3 of the crowd was there to see her. The only other performer I saw any evidence of a support group for was Yamauchi Suzuran.

When I got in, they quickly checked my bag. I ran over to the bar, and quickly grabbed a beer (took about 15 seconds) and then jogged in to get a spot. There was a walkway in the middle of the arena, so you could either go to the left side or right. Everyone was going to the right, so I took off for the far side, and got a spot right against the rail. Not really close to the center, but a good spot nonetheless.

I mentioned a few of the members who were performing. Let me give you the full lineup. The majority of the performers were current and former 48-group members….

The hosts were Ijiri-san and Oshima Mai
Current 48-group members were Myao, Suzuran and Ogino Yuka.
Graduates (other than MaiMai) were Meetan, Iwata Karen, Kasai, Tomochin, Harukyan, and former Nogi member Nagashima Seira. Ishida Anna was supposed to be there, but ultimately wasn’t. I didn’t read the reason for her absence, but I was kinda bummed out about it.
Non-48 Women: Kojima Ruriko, Sasaki Moyoko, Hamaguchi Junko, Yamane Chika, Koso Yoko
Male Talent: Ueda Kandai, Sadaoka Yuho, Okamoto Tomotaka

This was a “Spring Song Battle,” and the performers were put into two teams, red and blue, captained by Meetan (blue) and Kasai (red). The members chose teams by picking balls out of a box, which was shown via VTR at the beginning of the show. BTW, Anna WAS in the VTR, which made it surprising not to see her performing. Also, Kasai had some sort of throat condition, and was not allowed to speak. Instead she carried a art book with pre-written lines in it. As for their outfits, all Team red members wore some kind of red themed outfit, wile the blue team wore blue or white attire.

The first half of the show featured members singing various songs in various pairings and groupings. Interestingly, the Horipro members all have varying degrees of skill when it comes to singing. I’m a Meetan fan, but I am painfully aware that she is an awful singer. There’s really no one among the 48-girls who is an exceptional singer. Karen probably comes the closest, and Myao is surprisingly decent. Ranran’s not bad either. On the other hand, the other talent really carried the show, singing-wise, especially Koso and Uedo. Oh, and Okamoto Tomotaka, well….

This guy is amazing. He is billed as a classical singer. He’s gigantic. He towered over everyone in the group. He’s huge, from shoulder to shoulder he looks like a human wall. Couple that with the long and flowing gown he wears, he is quite the site. And, his singing is incredibly powerful, which is even more surprising considering he is a Soprano. He did a duet with Ranran that for me was probably the biggest highlight of the show.

The second half of the show was the AKB Battle, where they for the most part sang all 48-group related songs, and Tomochin performed her solo song OMG with two backdancers. They sang a lot of short versions of songs, and for the life of me I can’t remember all the songs they performed. I do remember Only Today, Korogaru Isshi ni Nare, Sakura no Hanabiratachi (Ranran/Okamoto duet) and Heart Gata Virus. I would have loved to see a performance of Oshi/Meshi, but since Kasai couldn’t perform. Speaking of Kasai…

It was nice to see the graduate members, and most of them looked for the most part the same. Iwata has the short blonde haircut, which is quite cute on her. However, I did not recognize Kasai when she first came on stage. Her entire face looked completely swollen. Now it IS possible that whatever her ailment is might be affecting her face, since I didn’t notice this in recent photos. Moreover, the rest of her body looks fine, so it isn’t like she is putting on a lot of weight. But yeah, she looked different. Meetan, on the other hand looked really good. I like the short top w/side-ponytail look on her.

As for the non AkiP-Idols, the one that stuck out the most for me (aside from Okamoto) was Kojima Ruriko. Let’s just say she has a slammin’ figure. It was fun to watch the non-singing idols trying to perform AKB songs. One of them commented (I think it was Hamaguchi) that after performing these songs, she had a newfound appreciation for the work if idols.

The end of the show was 1) the vote, and 2) the photo-op portion of the show. We were all given a red and blue glowstick to use during the show, not only as a cheering tool, but to ultimately vote on who won the battle. In the beginning, my glowstick refused to work properly, but after smacking it a few times, I finally got it to light up and stay lit. I was in a quandary, since I wanted to vote for Team Meetan, but I was standing against the Team Red side of the stage, so they would clearly see me voting against them, including Tomochin. Nut what the hell, I voted for Team Blue anyway, and we won. Yatta! It was pretty much a given since Ogino was on the blue team. But it was close, there were a lot of red sticks too.

I was looking forward to the photo ops, but ultimately was disappointed in the way they carried it out. In other shows I have been to, when they offer this benefit the performers will move around the audience to meet more people. However, in this show they stayed stationary throughout the song, I ended up with Iwata Karen right in front of me, so I got lots of great closeups of her. But Meetan and Suzuran were far away from me, so I didn’t get any photos of them. Bummer.

After the show there was a promised High Touch. A couple of the older non-48 group related performers didn’t participate. It was quite a line, and you were pushed through fairly quickly, but I was sure to pause when I got to Meetan. Actually, I saw her eyeing me from when I got about three away from her too. I also got nice reactions from Ranran, Tomochin, Iwata, and the Nogi girl Nagashima, who started speaking to me in English.

And with that I was out of the hall and ready for dinner. But unfortunately last order at all the Diver City restaurants was 9:30, and I got out at 9:31. So I was out of luck. Ultimately the show was fun, but I was mainly happy that I got to see Meetan again. Who knows when/if I will have another chance to meet with her. But never say never, right? It had been almost six years and here came another opportunity

CK in Tokyo

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