Posts Tagged ‘AKB48’

AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage ~Matinee~ (2018/08/07)

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It has been years since I have “won” shows so close together. I won a ticket to this stage only eight days ago, so I was pleasantly surprised to see another ‘winning’ email in my inbox on Monday. Granted, it was another Cancel Machi, but I am used to that by now.  I always get Cancel Machi, never win outright.  The difference this time was that my Cancel Machi number was significantly higher than the last three I have won. On the other hand, I have been monitoring how high Cancel Machi has gone for this stage lately, and I knew I had a decent shot at getting in anyway.

So I had Cancel Machi #90. Within a couple hours of receiving the email the cancellations had already reached 20, and the morning of the show they had reached 40. In all of my wins, I had never seen the number get that high so early before, so I figured I was good to go. I headed to Akihabara and had some lunch before going to the theater. Downstairs I ran into my friend Caster-san, who is another Wasamin fan. He said “You won?” When I told him I had Cancel Machi #90 he kinda grimaced, but when I told him the pre-cancellations were almost to 50 he said “You will probably get in then.” In fact, I was so confident at that point I stored my backpack in a locker. I got a bit discouraged when a huge crowd of people jammed the ticket queue at the last minute. Would this be my doom?

The cancel machi call started, and the guy just glided through the 50’s and 60’s with no sign of slowing down. When he got close to 80 he began checking his clicker. Well, at this point I figured at least I will get into the “final ten” group that goes in last. But after a few minutes of re-counting the queue, he started back up again. 87, 88, 89…90! Sweet, I made it to the seat lottery! In fact I just made it as the next guy behind me ended up getting the last spot. As for the last chance winners, it went to #109. (And the evening show went all the way to #150, so all cancel machi got in) Let this be another lesson that even a very high cancel machi number can get you into the show. In fact…..

I had ticket #246, which was in the last group. They started calling the seat lottery. #70-79, #180-189, #240-249. We were third called, Score-a-rooni! I breezed through the metal detector and grabbed a seat in the front row, just left of the pillar. For me this is the perfect spot since Ran-chan (Kobayashi Ran) spends most of the show on this side of the stage. In any case, this was my 45th Theater Show, and my fifth time seeing this stage.

The last three times I saw this stage I was on the right side, so I would be getting a vantage point that I hadn’t seen since the first time I saw Idol Chugyou Chu! Kurumin did the Kage-ana, and the overture began. Here are a few thoughts….

Kobayashi Ran: It took Ranchan less than a minute to spot me in the first row, so I was assured of getting a lot of opportunities to play with her over the next couple hours. Don’t get me wrong, she plays with and appeals to everyone in the audience, but pretty much every time she was near me at the very least I got a glance and a smile.

The Units, and Lip-Synch: At one point early in the show I had Taguchi Manaka right in front of me, close enough that I could actually hear her singing. She sounded quite good. It made me wonder how much of this stage is lip-synched. While watching Blue RoseKurosu Haruka was in front of me, and Otake Hitomi right next to her. Hitomin looks like she is singing live, but t’s a very loud song, so I wasn’t sure. I am reasonably sure the vocals on Nage Kissu de Uchi Otose are pre-recorded. Shinkirou might be live, but my mind always ‘fades out’ during that song, LOL. The most obvious was Tsundere. Now on one hand I love this performance since the members are all so animated and funny. However, Yasuda Kana is so busy expressing herself, her lip-synching is completely off, like not even close. Plus, Sato Shiori stumbled and almost fell during her line in the first verse, but there was no stumble in the vocals. So that song seems to be completely lip-synched. As for Moeka and Mushi no Ballad, I want to believe she is singing live.

Left Side Appeal: Aside from Ranchan, the MVP of trying to get my attention during this show was Honda Sora. I lost count of how many times I was looking at her and she was staring back and smiling. She was directly in front of me during Sobakasu no Kiss, and I was mimicking her and the hand motions throughout the chorus. Taya Misaki was making faces at me, as was Sato Shiori. In fact, this was the first time I remember Shiori trying to play with me, even a little. On the other hand, Hitomin never really acknowledged me at all, despite her being directly in front of me quite often. On one hand I don’t think she toys with the audience much during the show. However, even in High Wave at the end I didn’t get much of a reaction. My biggest reactions during High Wave were from Yasuda KanaInagaki Kaori, and of course Ranchan.


Okada Rina

Newbies: I think this was the second time I have seen Okada Rina perform. The first time I noted how awkward I thought she was. She was a little better today, although she went a bit “gangster” with the way she blew off her opening MC appeal time. She introduced herself, said one short sentence, and was like “That’s it, next…” I think this girl needs some emergency lessons in appealing to fans. On the other hand, I am pretty sure this was the first time I have seen Ishiwata Sena, who is another chibi draft member. She is quite cute, but to be honest I barely noticed her throughout the show.

Since I was in the front row I was one of the first people to go through the ‘high wave’ line. I quickly purchased the Team Photo, grabbed my backpack, and was down the escalator and out. I had a bit of time to kill before I had to head up to Saitama for Wasamin’s furage CD event. So it ended up being a full day. And hopefully this theater win frequency is becoming a trend. As I have said before, I have no luck winning the concerts, but as long as I can see the group in the theater I don’t care. I much prefer the Theater to huge venues.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage ~Matinee Performance~ (2018/07/30)

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Wow, my second win in July, I hope this becomes a trend. Moreover, it was my second consecutive “win” where I originally got a low number cancel machi, and there were enough cancellations to turn it into a win before I even left my apartment. I had cancel machi #23, and the cancellation number was at 15 went I went to bed Sunday night. However, it ballooned to 37 by Monday, and ultimately the cancel machi went all the way to #117. So just because a cancel machi number isn’t good, doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get in. Although I do think the fact that Yahagi Moeka cancelled her performance was a factor, the evening show, which was a seitensei, did not go nearly as high. Anyway…

This was my 44th theater show, and my 4th time seeing this stage. I arrived early to grab lunch in Akihabara, and then sat down for coffee across the street at Excelssior Cafe, making it into the theater around 6 minutes before cutoff. I received ticket #165. Middle of my group. We’ll see how lucky this number is. I didn’t bring a backpack to Akiba, so I had to put everything I was carrying into the tray for the metal detector. I put everything in a plastic bag so I wouldn’t waste any time removing my stuff from the tray. The VIPs, women, and enpou all entered the theater. It was time for the seat lottery….

1. 60-69
2. 210-219 (cancel machi peeps always seem to get a good draw)
3. 80-89
4. 230-239 (again cancel machi people)
5. 120-129
6. 180-189 (the guy calling the numbers looked at our lane when he announced this, I thought we were good to go)
7. 160-169 (Score-a-rooni!)

So my group gets called in 7th (well, 6.5 since 230-239 is only 3 people) I wanted to sit somewhere on the left because that is where Ranchan usually hangs out, but as I walked in Junji-san was directing people to the right side, saying it was practically empty. Sure enough, only the first row was filled, the second was empty. So I quickly grabbed the exact same seat I had at the last show, the end seat in the 2nd row, right next to the little side stage. It’s funny though how most people try to get the inside seats in this row, not realizing that the further inside you are the more the pillar blocks your view. Also, this odd fan was sitting in the back row congratulating people who passed him. Not sure what that was about. Eventually it was showtime, Inagaki did the Kage-ana, and the curtain opened.

So normally I focus on individual members for this report. However, aside from my usual interactions with Ranchan, I wanted to see how Hitomin reacted to me since I met her at the handshake event a couple weeks ago. The other interesting aspect of this show was the performance of Mushi no Ballad, since Yahagi was out. I was interested in who was going to sub in for that song, since it is such a powerful solo. In fact, I think the unit section is one of the strongest aspects of this stage. It has a lot of energetic and fun songs, and I think for the most part the members do a great job. I think the members in the Tsundere unit fit the song perfectly, as I have a feeling that all three of them (Yasuda, Sato, Taguchi) are probably all a bit tsundere in real life. Blue Rose has all of the “mature members”. Granted, Shinkirou is my least favorite song of the units, but it does kinda serve as a palate cleanser between the energy of the other four. And Nage Kissu is one of my all-time favorite “cute unit” songs, plus it has Ranchan…

Mushi no Ballad

I’m not sure, but this may have been Taya Misaki’s first ever public performance of this song. Between this stage, an the original K5 Stage which I saw like 8-9 times, I have seen quite a few different members perform it. For the first time out, I thought Tacchan did quite well. She projected nicely, and for the most part stayed on-key, although she did have a bit of trouble when she had to hold a note, her voice would wobble a bit and go flat. Also, she didn’t over-emote, which I though was a good choice given her lack of experience with the song. It seemed as if she mainly focused on singing it well. Ultimately, with a bit of practice I think she could easily iron out the kinks and be a capable second-stringer for Moeka.

Member Notes

Kobayashi Ran: Since I was on the right side, I figured I wouldn’t see much of Ranchan util the second half of the show. To my surprise she was on my side of the stage quite a bit throughout the show. The first time she came over she didn’t notice me, but the second time she locked on to me and gave me a thumbs-up and a big smile. I didn’t react quickly enough, so she did it again. This time I gave her a thumbs-up. From the point forward any time she was right in front of me she locked on to me until she had to dance away. Also, in one of the late MCs the members were talking about their Janken units, and Ranchan was the only one on stage at the time who hadn’t yet submitted a Janken entry. Everyone was worried about her, so I am glad to read that she now has a 2-member unit with Shimoguchi Hinana.


Hitomin, with Kaori and Saori

Otake Hitomi: Since I met her at the handshake event a couple weeks ago, I wanted to see if I could get some good reactions from her during the show. Unfortunately, Hitomin doesn’t really interact much with the audience during the performance, instead focusing on the performance itself. So she never really reacted to me at all until the very end, where she finally spotted me and waved. I think she is one of the strongest performers in this group. Both she at Sorachan make a great duo. Speaking of which…

Honda Sora: There is just something about this girl, she looks like she would fit perfect in the original SDN48. I’m trying to figure out who in that group she reminds me of, but quite a few members come to mind. She is definitely the most “mature” of the draftees. She is definitely one to watch.


Shiori

Sato Shiori: Ya know, the last time I saw this stage she wasn’t in the cast, and I really missed seeing her. I find myself quite often focusing on her during MCs, since her reactions to the other members are often very funny. She is definitely from the “Tani” school of idols, which I usually like. Plus, she just relished her role in Tsundere. She is the next draftee I want to try and meet. I think she would be a fun handshake experience.


Kyoka

Tada Kyoka: Another group comedienne. Like Yasuda Kana, Kyoka is always looking for audience members to flirt/fish/interact with. I fact, at one point she was right above me on the side stage, and I was watching the way she expresses her self with her eyes.

Saito Haruna: I’m not sure, but I don’t remember seeing her perform this stage before. So this is the 3rd Gen Draftees with the “cute and shy” chara. From the looks of it, she has the potential of being extremely popular. Although during the first MC she said something to the effect of wanting to shed the her current “chara” and be a bit more well-rounded. We’ll see how that goes…

High “Wave”

There were three members I wanted to be sure and interact with, so I scouted where they were beforehand. Hitomin was in the middle, and Inagaki and Ranchan were at the far end, almost next to each other. Hmmm. As I made it down the line I finally got the reaction from Hitomin I was looking for. I also got big reactions from Kyoka and Tacchan. When I got to Kaori-chan, I slowed down enough and just blurted out her Janken unit name (Orenai Kokoro) I wished I had time to tell her why I like her unit so much (she is teamed with Yukachan) but just saying the name got a good reaction. Unfortunately that interaction almost got me pushed passed Ranchan, but I slowed up enough to smile a call out her name the way I do during the show. As I looked back Kurosu Haruka was still looking at me and smiling.


Ranchan and Kurosu

And with that I quickly purchased the commemorative photopack, and scurried down the escalator before the lobby got too crowded. Since I don’t have any AKB handshake tickets for a while, I hope I can win more of these shows as I love interacting with the new members. I am starting to like the draftees as much as I like 16th gen. With this stage, I get a bit of both.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 52nd Single “Teacher Teacher” Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/07/21)

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Today kicked off the Kanto leg of the 52nd Single handshake event festivities. There are two events at Makuhari this weekend, followed by an event in late-August, one more in Nagoya, and then the finale at Makuhari in October. I purchased CDs/tickets for this event, and the October event. Given that I skipped all of the August events for both Jabaja and Teacher Teacher, it is going to be quite a while until I go to an AKB48 handshake meeting, unless of course they offer resale for the August 28th event, or there is a National Handshake event. I haven’t been in the best of health over the last week, as I seemed to have caught a bit of a cold. Plus, I have a toothache, school stress, and it is hot as hell here in Tokyo. I probably would have been better served staying in bed. But, duty calls. I had idols to meet!

For me there was also the issue of “oshi-mashi” Since I have become a new fan of AKB’s 3rd Gen draftees, I kinda want to talk to them. Luckily I had a couple “expendible” tickets that I could use, so no worries. Just as long as the lanes in question were open for oshi-mashi. So I had a game plan, I got to Makuhari right at the start of Slot 2, suffered through the long walk in the hot sun to get to Halls 9-11, got my tickets stamped, and was off to meet idols…

Slot 2

Sakaki Miyu <Cuca> (Lane 69) with Mineyoshi Arisa: One of the unique features of this event was the “doubling-up” of some of the members in the lanes. It didn’t necessarily mean you were meeting both members, although technically you could interact with both. They would call out which member you were there to see, and they would reach out to do the handshake. I had never met, or seen Mineyoshi before, so she just watched. But I asked Cuca if she had fun in her play (of course she did) I mentioned I checked the official website and twitter and saw all the photos and videos of her from the performance. I loved the purple hair! Cuca was like “Yeah, purple” and motioned toward her hair. Anyway, always good to see Cuca

By the way, AKB has re-started their “Dare ka no Tame ni” promotion, I am guessing to help with the flooding disaster in and around Kansai, Chugoku, and Shikoku. When I was at the theater last week the members came out before the show to do a collection. Today, the STU48 members were doing the same thing at a booth in the convention hall. The members came out randomly, and they announced who was there on the big screens. People were milling around the area waiting for their favorite members to come out so they could donate to them. I am guessing Cuca probably participated in the morning, before I got there.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 54) I had three tickets for Yukachan today, one in this slot and two in the next slot. Yukachan was one of the members who they had to add slots for during the initial sale because she sold out so quickly. As a result, none of her slots were starred for oshi-mashi. However, her line stayed pretty short all day. For this encounter I asked about her performance at the AKB48 theater this coming Tuesday. HKT is in the middle of their “business trip” performing at other group theaters. This week Teams H and TII are at the AKB48 Theater. Anyway, she said she would do her best, and I told her that I hoped I won and got to see her.

Otake Hitomi (Lane 94) <oshi-mashi> After seeing the Idol Shugyou Chu! stage for the third time, I had resolved that Hitomi was a member I really wanted to meet. So I ended up using my Komiyama Haruka ticket to oshi-mashi this lane. I am still yet to meet Komiharu, I keep using her tickets on other people, LOL. Anyway, I got to the lane just after they called the 30-minute mark, and a bunch of people jumped into her queue. They ended up bringing over a supervisor to help with the line, and problems ensued. But first let me get the handshake experience out of the way. My first impression was that she looks A LOT younger in person than she does on the stage. A lot younger than 19. She immediately recognized me. “I see you at the Theater!” Yes! I told her I was impressed with her performance, and really wanted to meet her. She happily thanked me, and I was on my way.

When the supervisor took my ticket, she asked me something about my ID, acting like it wasn’t approved, which is nonsense. Then she said my name didn’t match. Now I’m rolling my eyes. She was about to reject me and send me to the info booth, when she noticed my tickets were stamped. She immediately changed her tune. I explained to her that the fact my name doesn’t match is the fault of chara-ani, as it does not give me enough room to spell my entire name. What further ticks off about this is that she is a supervisor. I changed my name on chara-ani a couple years ago based on their suggestion. Nobody has had an issue with it at all until this moment. Moreover, I don’t even need to get my tickets stamped for SKE or HKT anymore. So once again, they need to stop this crap. There is no way these tickets would belong to anyone other than me, despite a couple of omitted characters due to length.

Slot 3

Tani Marika (Lane 35) I queued up early for Tani as I had five tickets for this slot, and figured this would potentially be the longest queue. When they opened the gate, nobody went in, which may have been because there was a fan who I guess had over 100 tickets for Nakano Airi. He was in there for probably between 20-30 minutes right up to the beginning of Tani’s slot. Eventually I decided “screw it” and jumped into the queue. When the guy finally finished I knelt down while fans waved goodbye to her. After check-in I was waiting first in queue at the booth. The girl doing the timing for the lane to my left was totally adorable. She needed to be an idol. She caught me checking her out, smiled, and nodded. I would have more encounters with her later too. Marika eventually came out. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about, so I basically commented about her recent haircut. Marika seemed kinda “whatever” about the entire exchange. Maybe she hadn’t kicked into Tani-gear yet, maybe it was an off day, or maybe she’s just getting tired of dealing with me. We will see next month if she acts similarly at the SKE handshake event.

The next two lanes I went back and forth, despite them being in different parts of the hall. I had time…

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 54) <2 tickets> Once again, quite a short queue considering she sold the slot out early. I had forgotten to ask her about her guitar playing. When she started posting videos of herself on Twitter singing and playing guitar, I was quite surprised and impressed. I told her I play Bass Guitar, and inquired about possibly doing a duet with her, LOL. Laughing, she was like “Yeah, okay.”

It was during this slot I decided to take my ticket necklace off as it was cutting into my neck, and making me sweat. So when I returned for the third time Yukachan immediately noticed my Wasamin T-shirt, although per usual nobody notices the Wasamin part, they just see the big Ebi and Heart on the shirt. When I pointed out Wasamin’s name she said “Wasamin, kawaii!” I explained to her that Wasamin loves Ebi, so we made this shirt for her Seitensai. And with that I bid my farewell, I will see her again at the HKT event in two weeks.

Kobayashi Ran (Lane 101) <2 tickets> with Katsumata Saori: I was really excited to see Ranchan again after skipping her at the last event. Plus, I had some good reactions recently with her at the theater. This was another one of the 2-member lanes. I have seen Saorin perform before, but had never met her. To no surprise, Ranchan immediately reacted to seeing me and reached out over the railing to grab my hands. I mentioned that I have now seen her at the theater three times, and that I always “call” her name. She paused, and in her best English responded “I can hear you.” She wasn’t sure she said it correctly, and turned to Saorin, who just shrugged, LOL. I told her I understood perfectly, and repeated her words back to her. Before I got pushed out I exclaimed that Ranchan’s English was Jouzu!

I wanted to see her again, so I decided to oshi-mashi my Yamauchi Suzuran ticket. (Ranran, for Ranchan, hahaha) Since it was a 2-member lane, when you check in they put a sticker on the ticket for the girl you want to see. They started to put a Saorin sticker on my ticket, but I said “I want Kobayashi-san!” So they changed it. When I got into the booth, the two of them both noticed my Wasashirt. “Ebi?” So I told them it was a Wasamin shirt. “Wasamin?” She’s an AKB graduate. They both still looked puzzled, so I then went with “Enka singer!” With that it looked like something may have clicked, but I’m not sure. But my time was up, so I quickly said I would see her again before getting pushed out.

Slot 4

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 42) Maichan’s queue only had five people in it, so I got in line before it became to crazy. Her lane was positioned near the curtain where all the HKT members were coming out. When Maichan came through the curtain she looked dazzlingly cute, as always. Keeping the a theme, I asked her about Team KIV’s upcoming performance in Nagoya. I told her if I can win I will come to Nagoya and watch. To this she responded that she hopes I do win because she would like me to see a Team KIV performance. I thanked her, and I got pushed out.

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 91) At this point I am becoming more and more excited about meeting Zukki. One of the other Zukki fans in the queue was asking if I oshi her, and I explained that my oshi is Wasamin. Just then, my friend Kentaro, another Wasamin oshi came out the exit of Miyupon’s lane. He was looking to see who I was going to see and exclaimed “Lucky Zukki!” I had forgotten that part of her catchphrase, so when I came into the booth I greeted her that way too. I complimented her on her cute hat and earrings, and told wished her luck performing with Team TII on Monday. I tried to say that I hoped to win, but stumbled on the verb conjugation of ataru. BTW, I applied for the show, but ultimately didn’t win :(

I only had one ticket for Slot 5, so technically I had around one hour and 45 minutes before I needed to use the ticket. I had spent most of the day keeping cool by eating kakigori at what was by far the most popular food truck at the venue. But I decided to brave the heat and walk back to the mall by the train station and relax for a while.

Slot 5

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 80) Oddly enough, this particular Zunchan slot was open for oshi-mashi (her others weren’t) Given there weren’t a lot of oshi-mashi lanes for this event, the queue would surely become very big at the 30-minute mark. With that in mind, I went to queue up around 3:25. The line was really short. This would be troubling since I wanted to read her signs. I tried to quickly read it, but beyond a few of the easier sentences, I couldn’t get the overall theme. So essentially I told her that I really wanted to read it, but it was troubling because the line moved so quickly. It was cute, as she leaned in really close trying very hard to understand what I was telling her. And she then explained to me that she posts pictures of her signs on her mobame. “So desu ka!?” However, I failed to tell her that I don’t subscribe to any mobame. If I did, her’s would definitely be one that I would read. Oh, and the guard practically yelled “mamonaku desu” right in my ear, which also threw me off.

Slot 6

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 40) I tried to move my Bibian ticket into Slot 5, but her lane wasn’t starred for any of her slots. Her line was around 10-deep when I arrived at the beginning of the slot. Per usual, the always-genki Bibian was dressed very casual and sporty. I was trying to decide what to say to her, perhaps talk about Produce48? But when I entered the lane I noticed she was wearing this really wacky T-shirt with title “Kitty” on top, some blonde haired girl, and a bunch of random writing all over it. I am guessing the girl on the shirt somehow related to Western pop culture, but I had no idea who it was. I asked Bibian, but she said she had no idea. I laughed; “Yeah, me neither.” I quickly wished her luck in Produce48 as I left the lane. Unfortunately on the photo she posted on Twitter she cut off the shirt right at the face.

Around Slot 5, I was toying with the idea of doing oshi-mashi with my one remaining Slot 7 ticket (for Kaotan) since I was tired, fighting my cold, and didn’t feel like waiting another hour and 45 minutes to do one last ticket. So during Slots 5 and 6 I was roaming the venue to see if I could find another girl I wanted to meet. The problem was that since this is the SSK voting single, *starred* lanes are few and far between. I did find a couple of lanes I was mildly interested in, specifically Yamada Noe from NGT and Kurosu Haruka from 16th Gen, but both lanes had huge queues with other people doing oshi-mashi. I decided to abandon the mission, and just wait it out. After all, it IS Kaotan. I think she would be really mad if she knew I used her ticket on someone else, although truthfully it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 34) <2 tickets> Kaotan had a relatively big queue. Well, bigger than it usually is. Also, this is the lane where the cute ‘timer’ girl was working. I had on all my Kaotan gear, so I was getting a lot of acknowledgement from the other fans. I wanted to talk about her horse racing appearances, but I didn’t know how to say it in Japanese. I know horse though. So when I got into the lane I asked her about the horses, and then said “horse racing” in English. She started motioning “around and around” and I was like “Yeah.” I was trying to get out my personal history with horse racing, but the guard was pushing me out pretty forcefully, so I couldn’t finish what I was saying.

(2nd ticket, in Slot 7) I ended up waiting out the 100 minutes, and in the meantime got into a nice conversation with one of the big Kaotan fans. Interestingly, he asked my why I liked her, which is something Kaotan has asked me in the past. It couldn’t be because she is cute. But I countered that I do think Kaotan is cute. Mind you, she’s not the Sakura/Mayuyu/Paruru type, but she is cute in her own way. In any case, we exchanged Twitter. I ended up being first in line, which was a great move for a couple reasons. 1) I got to stand next to the cute timer-girl for like 20 minutes. 2) Like with Maichan, Kaotan’s lane was right by the SKE entrance curtain, and I got to see half the group come out for their slots. And 3) When Sato Kaho came out, she briefly came over into Kaotan’s booth to specifically attempt to fish me. I don’t know if she remembered we had met before, but it was a fun exchange. Anyway…

By this time I had looked up Horse Racing (Keiba) and was ready for my story. Kaotan asked if I liked horses. I told her that when I was a child my dad would take me to the horse races almost every weekend. Even now, it is my Dad’s favorite thing to do. Kaotan asked about my mom. Uhhhh, I didn’t want to tell her my mom passed away 12 years ago. So I said that I only went with my Dad. Anyhow, I think she liked my story. Maybe some other time I will share with her about my mother.

Finally I was done with my tickets. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. On my way home I passed by Oktoberfest. Since it was by the station I had to transfer, I decided to go up and have one beer for the road. However, when I finally got home my body pretty much called it a day. Every muscle ached, my jaw hurt, my cold was kicking back in, and I had been bitten by multiple mosquitoes. I collapsed into bed and catatonically watched the Japanese dub of one of the Transformers movies until I mercifully dozed off to sleep.

Like I said, I have no tickets for the next few AKB48-group handshake events, so unless I get resale for August I will be taking a bit of a break. However, I do have tickets for both of HKT48’s August handshake dates, and today (while I was writing this) I picked up a few handshake tickets for SKE48’s August event. So at least I am covered for Yukachan, Kaotan, Tani, Maichan, and a few others. I have a couple of surprise tickets in there too which I am excited about.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage (2018/07/13)

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Lanterns line the outside of the UDX building behind the Donki, bringing a very festive atmosphere to Akiba

Things are beginning to look up, ticket center-wise. It had been slightly more than two weeks since my last cancel machi (and eventual theater win) for AKB’s Idol Chugyou Chuu! stage, and after waking up Wednesday morning I saw the email that had again won cancel machi for Friday Night.  It was a great number. (#6) With a cancel machi number that low, I would undoubtedly win. In fact, when I checked my ticket center account, it already said that I had won the show, which meant at least six people had cancelled overnight. Yatta! This was going to be my 43rd Theater Show!

So of course I was excited to be seeing Ranchan again. I just hoped that I would get a good draw in to the theater so I was close to the stage. Fast-forward to Friday; I headed over to Akihabara in the mid-afternoon after sweating (both literally and figuratively) my way through three Kanji tests. My brain felt like jelly, so I looked forward to blowing off some steam in the theater. But first I headed over to The Hub for a couple of pre-show cocktails. Eventually I made it over to the theater. I was kinda hoping to get a high lottery number, since I have noticed the times I have been in the theater that the high numbers are often called early. I mean it is supposed to be completely random, but personally when I get a good draw-in, it is often with a high number. The theater wasn’t very crowded at all, so I stored my backpack, and eventually queued up to buy my ticket. I had ticket #121, which meant when my group was called I would be the 2nd person in.

They also had some sort of special event in the lobby, where Inagaki, Yasuda, and  Suzuki Kurumi came out and did a Dare ka no Tame ni donation collection with the fans. I was a bit out of position, so I didn’t get to participate, but everyone cheered for them. It all took about a minute or two. Eventually it was time to call the lottery for seat draw…

1st: 10-19 (Wow, the early birds got one for a change!)
2nd-4th: 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 (Again wow, right in a row, and again the earlier arriving fans)
5th-6th: 230-239, 210-219 (Cancel machi peeps get a good draw)
7th: 130-139 (Damn, just missed!)
8th: 120-129 (Yatta, not bad!)

Okay, I should at least be able to get a seat. How good a seat though? It didn’t help that I set off the metal detector for some inexplicable reason, which slightly delayed my entrance. I wanted to be on the left side of the stage, but that section was beginning to fill up. I wasn’t sure, but the right side seemed relatively empty, so I walked to the other side. Sure enough, only the first row was taken on the right, so I headed over to the second row. First I took the inside seat, but it was next to the pillar, and blocked half the stage, so I moved to the far end of the row, next to that little side stage the girls sometimes dance on. It was further from the center, but a much better view. I brought a lightstick for a change, so I was ready to go. Eventually we heard the Kage-ana, and the overture, it was showtime!

Per usual, since most of you are fairly well-versed in the stage setlists and such, I will focus on my impression of the members. Obviously my focus will be on Ranchan. But I have cultivated a bit of familiarity with many of the 16th gen girls in this show, and there are a couple other draftees I kinda like too, and since Ranchan was going to be on the opposite side of the stage for a lot of the show, I could focus on other members for a bit. So let’s start with….

Members who fished me:

Tada Kyoka: I had never really noticed her before, but I got a closeup view of her last week at the handshake event since her lane was next to Zunchan. She always has a big smile on her face and is often ‘working’ the audience members. She looked at me quite often during the show, and more than once mimicked my response. She’s really not my type of idol, but I gotta give her points for the effort.

Yasuda Kana & Inagaki Kaori: I have been interacting with these two for quite a while now, and Kana is always scanning the audience for who she can fish, she is super-energetic and genki. I have to give her credit for being one of the most dynamic girls on the stage. Inagaki, kinda like Suzuki Kurumi, has really blossomed since I started seeing both of them in the ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ stage. I am also amazed how popular she is. Inagaki easily gets the loudest reactions throughout the show. Speaking of reactions…

Member who made a big impression…on somebody

Taguchi Manaka: I didn’t even see her name on the performance roster, but she was there, and it seems like she gets at least close to center position on many of the songs. She was also getting great audience reactions. She seems to be a good singer, but I have personally never been drawn to her. She also does an amazing job centering Tsundere!

Draftees who I came away with a great impression of (Besides Ranchan)

Otake Hitomi: Okay, I have to admit, I find this girl totally hawt. Adorable face, nice figure, great energy and dancing on the stage. She is a lot of fun to watch. I found myself suddenly really wanting to meet her at a handshake event. There is just something about her face, she looks mature and cutesy-kawaii at the same time. Just my type, sexy and cute. And, she has a husky voice. Love it!

Honda Sora: So yeah, I have been talking up both Hitomi and Sora since the first time I saw the draftees perform, and I have had the same impression each time. Both of them are really cute, and have great stage presence and energy. I actually expect good things from both of them in AKB’s future.

Katsumata Saori: This is the first time I had ever noticed her, but she was in front of me quite often during the show, and I found myself drawn to her stage presence more than once.  She reminds me a bit of HKT48’s Yamamoto Mao.

And then there’s…

Kobayashi Ran (Ran-chan!) I was there to root for Ranchan, but could only get a peripheral look at her for the first half of the show. She slid over to my side a couple times, but only briefly, and our eyes didn’t meet. It wasn’t until Saishuu Bell ga Naru that our eyes finally met, and she locked onto me for a good 5 seconds or so. It was awesome, totally focused on me. From that point forward, she would find me whenever she slid over to my side of the stage. A nice setup for when I meet up with her at the handshake event next weekend.

Notes on other members…

I am used to getting fished by Taya Misaki, but she left me alone for the most part, despite being in front of me for much of the show. Yahagi Moeka did not get as big an ovation as I am used to her getting, and I noticed she fiddles around with her outfit a lot when the MCs aren’t focused on her. But per usual, her singing is top notch. This was the first time I had seen Okada Rina, and she seemed like she wasn’t too comfortable on stage. In fact, her introduction MC was one of the shortest I have ever seen. Oddly enough, she sorta reminds me of a young Meetan.

I wasn’t in the front row, and I wasn’t in the center, but 2nd row far right does have its perks. Probably the biggest is when the girls go to the side stage. At that point my seat becomes temporarily a front-row seat. This is particularly evident during Shinkirou, where Inagaki did her first verse just a couple meters away from me. But the members also dance on the side during Kanojo ni Naremasuka and Sobukasu no Kiss, so I was in a great position for that. I also want to echo what @Riina said a couple weeks ago. The black, red, and silver outfits the members wear for RIVER are awesome!

Eventually the show ended, and it was time for “High Wave,” as I like to call it. I get the usual enthusiastic, and sometimes English greetings. I also tried to make a connection with Hitomi, but I blew past her fairly quickly. I was really waiting to get to Ranchan, who was second from the end. Of course it was my best reaction, and we are really connecting now that she has seen me at three shows and multiple handshake events. I feel sorry for Tacchan though, who was at the end. I was so focused on Ran, that I pretty much ignored her. Oh well.

I headed out to buy the Group pic, and it wasn’t until I got home that I saw the inside has little messages from all the performing members. Another really nice touch, which to me has become an essential part of the theater experience. I am developing a small collection of those Team Picture booklets.

My next scheduled 48-group events are the Teacher Teacher handshake event next weekend, and then HKT’s handshake event in early August. I also have an application in for the #17-#100 SSK thank you concert at Yokohama Arena. We’ll see how good my luck is on that one. In the meantime, this will be a busy weekend as I am seeing both Wasamin and Minyo Girls. Should be a lot of fun.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage (2018/06/24)

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Almost exactly one month to the day from my previous win I received another cancel machi email. Actually, I didn’t realize I had won cancel machi until I saw my friend post about her cancel machi win. I immediately checked my email, and I had one too for the same show, albeit with a somewhat higher cancel machi number (39)

As I have mentioned before, they list a ‘cancellation count’ on the ticket center for those who have cancel machi. It didn’t go very high last evening, and when I woke up this morning it had only reached 15. This dampened my hopes that I would get into the seat lottery, but I still thought my chances were good to get into the show. When I arrived at the theater the count was at 18. However, the last five minutes saw an onslaught of people queue up to buy tickets. In the meantime Riina found me hiding over by the rear lockers, and wished me luck before she queued up for the entrance lottery.

Cancel Machi

Interestingly, the guy doing the cancel machi call was calling in sets of five. (20-25, 25-30) I thought to myself “jeez, they must have a lot of space left.” Unless that is just the way they do it now, I don’t know. He called 30-35, and I thought I was good to go. In the meantime a bunch of latecomers showed up with winning emails, and they let a few of them into the line. I hoped that didn’t dash my chances. Ya know, they used to not do that. If you were late you had to wait until after cancel machi was over. But I suppose it is the nicer thing to do. Anyway…

Staff called #36, and closed it off. SHIT!!! So close. I was still going to get in, but as one of the last people to enter the theater. The bigger bummer was the last 12 cancel machi winners all got a great entrance draw too. Eventually my group queued up as the ‘final 10′ winners’ as they brought us into the lobby. There I saw that Riina was in one of the last groups still not called in. And as I finally entered the theater, I saw her struggling to find a spot where she could see, I went to the far right to the standing area, where I thought I saw a bunch of space. It ended up being a terrible place to watch the show from, too many tall people in front of me. But at that point I was pinned in and had nowhere else I could go…

Part of the problem was this guy who had kinda positioned himself like he wanted a lot of elbow room. There was a bit of space behind him to his left, his right (and in front of him too), so I took the spot to his left, and sorta behind him. He kept creeping backward and almost had me pinned to the back rail, so I moved over to his right against the wall. I could tell this ticked him off, but I didn’t care. He was trying to create this ‘force field’ all around himself, and I and everyone else weren’t having any of it. Plus, he was a dead fish throughout the show. No lightsticks, chanting, clapping, nothing. Oh well…

My 42nd Theater Show, Yatta!

So given that I had a horrible vantage point, where I could sorta see the right side of the stage, and maybe little bit of the left side, there isn’t too much I can say about the girls’ performances. In fact for ‘Blue Rose’ I technically didn’t see the performance at all. I spent most of the show craning my neck around looking for Kobayashi Ran (Ranchan) although I would have probably been best served just paying attention to whoever was at the far right of the stage. Ranchan spends most of her time on the opposite side of the stage, but does come over to the right side in that later portion of the show. I did spend some time observing the members I could see in order to gauge which members I might find interesting. I found two members in particular, Sato Shiori and Otake Hitomi interesting to watch. Not surprising since they were among the same members I liked when I saw this same stage last month.

Once again, I really enjoyed the setlist of the stage, particularly the River/Bell/Theater/Kiss set. The last three are all songs I like, and even River is fun to watch live. The opening set is really nice too. All told, Yukirin picked out a nice stage.

High ‘Wave’ 

After clearing out the first row, one of the first areas they clear out as fans leave the theater is the little balcony to the right of the sound booth, so I was able to hoist myself on to the rail and watch a lot of the high touch. I also wanted to strategize who was where so I knew who to pay attention to. That said, most of the High Touch was a quick blur for me, except Inagaki gave me a great reaction, complete with ‘Hisashiburi’ and all. There was one member in the middle who also gave me a big “English’ reaction. I think it was Honda Sora (It may have been Maeda Ayaka too) But of course I got the biggest and greatest greeting from Ranchan, who started jumping up and down as I got to her. It also seemed to surprise Taya Misaki, who was next to her. And with that I was out of the theater. I queued up to get the photopack, and was on to the escalator…

Interestingly, they held the escalator for a minute or so to clear people out, and one guy in particular seemed to be pissed about it. There was also a guy with two big pizza carriers. I am guessing he was delivering lunch for the girls? When I got to the bottom of the escalator I finally got to meet marioworldakb who was at the theater watching the monitors with a few friends. He invited me along to hang out (with Riina as well) but I really wanted to eat lunch. Mario recommended a place behind the theater that I have often considered trying, so I went for it. After lunch I considered heading to the AKB Cafe to meet them, but I needed to do homework and get some rest, so I went home.

So as expected, it is always ‘feast or famine’ for me with seating at the theater. I either get front row, or am buried in the far back. But I am glad I won and got to see the show, and am especially glad I got to say hello to Ranchan. And I guess I should set my watch for another late-month cancel machi in July, LOLZ.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 51st Single “Jabaja” Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2017/05/26)

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One of the greatest changes they made to the chara-ani handshake system was the addition of the “oshi-mashi” option. Sometimes the application period for these singles is so far in advance that a fan’s tastes and interests may have changed by the time the event finally rolls around. Case in point, one of the handshake dates for the next AKB48 single is in late October. It’s FIVE months from now. I may feel differently about the members I chose in five months. I may have started to like a new member. Moreover, for me it is a lot more fun to be able to choose a member to meet “on the day” than to send the CD and ticket back for a 1000 yen refund when a member is absent. I bring this up because there are a couple of members who have recently come under my radar who I would really like to meet. If you have read my recent posts (hint: read the posts about NGT48 and the AKB48 Theater Stage I posted earlier this week) you will know which members I am talking about. Under the old system I would have to wait for the 53rd single events (in the Fall? Winter?) to properly meet these girls.

So I had the oshi-mashi option at my disposal, and I intended to take full advantage of it. However, this raised a couple of issues. First, which of my existing tickets was I willing to give up? Second, when I reserved these tickets I had scheduled everything for the late afternoon into the evening. The problem was that one of these members was scheduled for the 9am slot only, meaning if I wanted to see her I would have to get to Makuhari Messe 4 1/2 hours earlier, and then have 3 1/2 hours of time to kill until my next ticket. I would let my body decide. So when I woke up at 5:45 this morning, I figured “Well, I’m up. Might as well get down to Makuhari extra early.

It also helped that my last Akiyoshi ticket was cancelled because all of the HKT members had to catch a plane back to Fukuoka to get ready for tomorrow’s big concert. So that was one oshi-mashi ticket. As for the other, I was deciding among my Tani, Maichan, and Zunchan tickets. Tani was an “automatic” win ticket for the prize, so I kept that one. Of the three, Zunchan was the only one who I had multiple tickets for. So it was decided. I caught a 7:45 train out of Itabashi and made it to Makuhari just after the beginning of Slot 1. Here we go…

Slot 1

Kobayashi Ran (Lane 17) This was the girl I came 4 1/2 hours early for. After Wednesday night’s show, where she made a great impression on me, I really wanted to meet her, and I didn’t want to wait until next week when her slot is mid-day. I got to her lane at 9:20, and I thought I read that the 30 minute oshi-mashi rule was waived for the draftees. My friend said it wasn’t, but they let me through. Perhaps it was because her lane was empty, or maybe they didn’t want to deal with the foreigner. But whatever. Ran-chan was waving to me from the moment I walked into her lane. However, when I got within 30 meters her expression completely changed. I hadn’t even entered the booth yet when she exclaimed “You were at the theater show!!!” She handed me her business card (the ‘gift’ given by the draftees to all visitors)

I told her what an awesome time I had at the show, her performance was great, and that I really wanted to meet her. She just kept thanking me over and over. I promised I would come back and see her next week too. The guards were pushing me out almost the entire time, but whatever. I have made contact. It was a good connection, and I will see her next week.

And with that I decided that since I still had time, I might as well do my other oshi-mashi ticket now…

 

Oguma Tsugumi (Lane 81) Technically I met Tsugumin the same day I caught her ball at the NGT event, but that was a brief, 3-second hello. I wanted to “keep the ball rollin,” so to speak and have a proper handshake with her. Her line was only a few people deep, so I only had to wait a minute or two. She greeted me with an English “Oh, hello.” Huh, had she forgotten already? So I told her that before last week I wasn’t really an NGT fan, but after catching her ball she has become my favorite member in NGT48. The cute thing was that she was repeating my Japanese back to me as I said it, as if to be sure she understood every word. Very cute.

My oshi-mashi tickets were done, and it was about 9:45. My next ticket was scheduled almost four hours later. After waving goodbye to Ranchan at the end of her slot, I ended up ‘cafe-hopping’ for 3 1/2 hours having coffee, tea, danishes, lunch. At one point I even dozed off in one of the cafes. Eventually the clock passed 1pm, so I made my way back to Halls 9-11 to begin my original handshake schedule, minus two tickets…

Slot 4

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 40) With the rest of my tickets I was now eligible for the day’s prizes. The big prize of the day were these autographed stickers, which came in different sizes. I didn’t have any tickets for those. In fact, almost all of my tickets, save for one, were for either the 2-shot selfie or the 1-shot video. With Maichan I usually run about a 50/50 chance, and on this day I won the selfie. Her line was very short, so I was in and out fairly quickly.

I asked her about leaving early today to return to Fukuoka, which she confirmed. I wished her the best of luck at the concert tomorrow, and she responded with “Ganbarimasu……oh, I love you” which seems to be the m.o. of every handshake I have with her. We used to have a lot more to talk about. I need to brush up on my Maichan knowledge.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 37) For a moment I thought this was the slot of my Zukky ticket, and almost walked into the wrong lane. Of course Zunchan’s lane was filled with signs and messages to her fans. It is sooooo cute the way she sets her lane up to give fans a different experience. I lost the lottery for a signed card, so it would just be a regular handshake. When I walked into the booth the first thing she said was “You got a haircut???” Wow, I am amazed she noticed. I acknowledged that I did indeed get a haircut, and then I “wowed” her back by saying hello to Gabriel, her stuffed frog. She was like “Yes, Gabriel! You remembered”. I told her that I love her signs because they help me practice Japanese. This made her really happy, and she told me to continue to work hard with my Japanese studying. It was at this point that I sincerely regretted doing osh-mashi with her ticket on someone else. But I have tickets for her next week, so all good.

Slot 5

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 36) Zukky’s line was fairly big all day, although it was slightly shorter than usual when I queued up. The good news was that I won the 1-shot video. Which one should I choose? When I was in Zunchan’s lane I noticed that Zukky looked even cuter than usual. So when I saw there was a “fashion show” option to the one-shot video, I picked it. In the meantime one of the members of her SSK committee gave me a flyer, it is very nicely done.

I also had a nice three-way view of Zunchan, Zukky, and Asai Nanami while I waited. Lots of fun watching those three working with their fans. Finally it was my turn and they handed her my video request. She looked taken aback for a quick second, and then went into full “fashion mode”

Isn’t that a cute video? I told her I selected that because I saw her outfit earlier and thought it was extremely cute. I mean Zukky looks cute regardless, but I love the twin-tails, suspenders, and the choker. Such a great combination. Anyway, this was my only Slot 5 ticket, so I had a big break, and spent part of it eating the new chili-cheese fries at one of the event food trucks.

Interestingly, the rest of my tickets were ALL automatic wins, meaning I was assured of getting the bonus prize for each one. Sad, because I want all of these members to be more popular. However, some of us noticed that there were a lot of very short lines throughout the day, and there were a lot of girls with “automatic win” that don’t normally have it. Perhaps it was because people were saving for the SSK?

Slot 6

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 44) Since I won the bonus prize in all of these slots, there was much less time for talking. Yukachan greeted me with “Yaho Kurisu!” We immediately set of for the pose and took it.

I said “You are leaving early?” She affirmed it, so I mentioned that I had tickets for the cancelled slot. I mean I could have oshi-mashi’d the ticket here with her, or even next week. I simply chose not to use it that way. At any rate, I still wished her the best of luck tomorrow, and I would see her next week. Damn, I keep forgetting to mention the “Calcium Now!” thing she keeps doing on twitter.

Sakaki Miyu [Cuca] (Lane 71) When I met with Cuca two weeks ago I lamented that I didn’t have enough to talk to her about, so winning the prize here alleviated that a bit. I actually had a choice between the video or the selfie, but seeing I was going to have four selfies and 2 videos, I chose the video to ‘even things out.’ Moreover, last time I had the video prize with Cuca I cut off the first couple of seconds of the video. I wouldn’t be making that mistake again.

Frankly, most of the video script choices they offered were kinda lame. This was the only other one I really liked. Other people said they kinda liked the Janken one as well. Anyway, after the video I quickly thanked her and was on my way.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 96) It wasn’t even 30-minutes into Slot 6 and I was already on to my 3rd ticket. Once again, this was an automatic win. However, none of these video scripts fit Kaotan’s personality at all. I decided to pick the fashion show again, not that I thought she would do it, but that I thought it would give her a good opportunity to improvise. In fact, when she looked at the sheet she surprisingly said “Fashion?” I told her to just do anything she wants. And keep in mind that the videos are supposed to last at the most 10-15 seconds…

Holy Moly! A 62-second ramble that covered pretty much anything she wanted to talk about, and she DID do a fashion show of sorts. Of course she took an opportunity to hustle me for Sousenkyo votes. And by the way, 62 seconds!!!!! These videos are supposed to be like 10 seconds or so. THIS is just one of the many reasons why Kaotan is an awesome girl to visit and be a fan of. She really takes care of her fans. But that’s not all…


Your choice of video scripts.

As I was leaving, Kaotan just happened to mention to me that she saw photos of me on the Wasamin Bus Tour. Huh??? After I got over my initial shock I laughed and said “Yes, the bus tour was a lot of fun.” And then I mentioned I would see her in the next slot for the selfie. It’s a good thing, since I wanted to clarify which photos she saw.

Slot 7

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 96) After an 90 minute wait, during which time I saw Yuasa and another staff member head out to the food/smoking area to check something out, I came back in a little early and pre-queued for Kaotan. There was nobody there, so I was first in line. When I checked in, for some reason the girl didn’t give me the 2-shot paper. At first I thought this was because everyone won. But when I saw the guy behind me get one, I went back and questioned them. They said they thought I didn’t want it. Funny, they never asked me. Interestingly, most of the queues were extremely short. Kaotan’s lane had just me and one other guy. Obamina’s lane was completely empty. In fact, when she finally came out she looked completely annoyed. It inspired a pow-wow among a bunch of members, Oba, Churi, Mikoto who seemed to be complaining that all the lines seemed oddly short. Oba kept looking down to the outside saying “Aren’t you guys coming in?” But there weren’t very many people outside either. Kaotan eventually came out. They called me into the booth, and she realized she didn’t have her footstool with her, so I had to wait a minute while she went to get it. As I set up for the selfie she kept trying to instruct me. At one point she got a little frustrated and grabbed my phone to show me, but then gave it back. I eventually set it up to her satisfaction and took the shot.


Hey, I’m getting pretty good at these selfies.

I think this is my nicest selfie of the day. Good job Kaotan. I asked her where she saw the Bus Tour photos. She said she saw them on Wasamin’s twitter, and then she saw a couple more in the responses (One fan took a couple of shots of me picking tea, so I think those are the photos she meant, as well as the group shot) She asked why I wanted to know, and I told her because I also posted Bus Tour photos on twitter. She responded with something I didn’t catch, but I said I would see her next week.

Tani Marika (Lane 87) When I got to Tani’s lane it was completely empty, but before I could enter four guys jumped in. I know Tani gets lonely when her line dies down, so this was good. It was just a couple minutes later that I got my turn.

It was very quick, we took the pic, I thanked Tani, and was out of there. Perhaps she wasn’t as talkative as usual, or maybe the short queues were annoying her too. It is Sousenkyo time after all.

Next week I have tickets to the Jabaja event in Yokohama, and I need to decide which ticket I am going to oshi-mash for Ranchan. I have two tickets in particular that I am thinking of, and since Mio has been a bit flakey about events lately, I will probably use hers, but we’ll see. Tomorrow I have a double dose of Nagara Group, first seeing Minyo Girls’ one-man live in Asakusa, then heading to Minowa for Wasamin’s final 4th Concert DVD release event. So no AKB48 Zenkoku event for me, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

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 11-Gatsu no Anklet Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/03/03)

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It seemed like it had been a while since I had been to a 48-group related handshake event. Since the first weekend of 2018 I had only been to one, and that was kind of a blur since I basically showed up at the end of the night and oshi-mashi’d all of my tickets. So it was nice to spend a proper afternoon meeting with members.

I had eight tickets in total, spread out between Slots 4 and 7, pretty much all for my regular girls. That meant I could cruise into Makuhari in the early afternoon. I actually tried to get there early and have a leisurely lunch before the event, but there was a delay on the Yurakucho Line that caused me to miss my transfer, and get in a lot later than I had planned. I still managed to shovel in a quick lunch before heading to the halls. I didn’t need my tickets stamped, so once I got through security I went to queue up for my first ticket.

And a reminder, the prizes were in play. The usual 1-shot videos, 2-shot selfies, signed photos, and the trump game. BTW, here’s what the back side of the trump game prizes looked like. The other side is the member photo, and signing spot, which you will see below.


They gave you a plastic slip to put these in, but I couldn’t figure out how they fit, until I realized you are supposed to fold them, LOL!

Slot 4 

Tani Marika (Lane 96) Marika’s queue wasn’t very long. However, she wasn’t in her booth yet, and Slot 4 had already started. I didn’t win the signed photo, drats! In the meantime I had a good view into both Goto Rara and Tsuzuki Rika’s lanes. Eventually Tani came out, but she was taking a long time signing the photos for people who won the prize. When it came my turn I congratulated her on her 400th theater show. Tani did her usual “Yeah, let me hear it” pose. However, I mentioned that I have never seen her perform in a theater show, and I really want to win one day. She was like “Yeah, you gotta come see me!” LOL.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 18) <1st ticket> As expected, Zunchan’s queue was really long, and that was just to get to check in. The inner queue was at capacity. Interestingly, she was in the lane right next to Okada Nana, and during Slot 4 actually had a longer queue than Naachan. I didn’t win the prize for either ticket, which were 1) 2-shot/1-shot and 2) signed photo. I have actually gotten to know a couple of Zunchan’s big fans, so I had people to chat with during the wait. There were also other Wasafans in her queue, as well as the queue to my right, so we were talking as well. Per usual, Zunchan’s lane was filled with all the signs and decor. Jeez, I wish I could take a pic, it is all so cute. I already planned what I wanted to say to her for the first ticket, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the signs. I essentially told her that I had gotten cancel machi last weekend, but didn’t make it into the show, so I was sorry I didn’t get to see her.

Slot 5

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 95) <1st ticket> I got to her lane just before it opened, and only one person walked in. So I ended up second in line. Finally I had won a prize, the 2-shot/1-shot. I know I’m a glutton for punishment, but I decided to go for the selfie, despite the fact I am horrible at taking them. Kaotan had a really cute skirt on, which unfortunately wasn’t going to show up in the pic. I mentioned my lack of photo-taking skills to Kaotan, so she helped me steady the camera, and voila! I had a nice selfie!

Afterwords she asked how I was, and I told her that I was a little worried. She asked why, and I blurted out “Don’t graduate!!!” She started laughing, “That was just a joke” I knew that, and told her that I saw it being talked about online. Anyway, we had a good laugh.

It was somewhere around this time that they showed the HKT, NGT, STU, and whatever that other PV was. (They must have shown SKE and NMB’s before I arrived) To be honest, none of them got me too excited, although STU’s seemed quite nice. I was really only paying half attention to them though…

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 18) <2nd ticket> After heading off to another lane, I came back to find Zunchan’s queue only slightly smaller than before. I compared it again to Naachan’s lane, and this time Naachan’s was somewhat bigger. But I point this out to show that Zunchan’s popularity has reached the level of the big members of AKB, and that management should take a look at her potential for being a significant part of the group’s future. Anyway, I couldn’t think of much more to say to her, but I did notice the big sign behind her. It was something about “Hina Matsuri” and eating Chirashi “something of other” The rest was about looking forward to eating it. So I asked Zunchan what it meant, It was Chirashizushi. Okay, I should know that! She asked me if I had eaten it, which I had. So I told her I have eaten it, and liked it.

Slot 6

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 95) <2nd ticket> Again I got there before the slot started, but this time four people jumped in, so I was fifth in the queue. This was important since I had three tickets for Slot 6, and I was trying to fit all the tickets in. Then Kaotan was like ten minutes late to the lane. I passed the time watching Kitagawa Ryoha in the neighboring lane. Eventually it was my turn, and I got to play the Trump card game with Kaotan. It worked somewhat differently than before, and I didn’t really understand it. I just picked a card, and she said I won. GREAT! So I got a signed photo.

While she was signing it, I mentioned that the Trump card game is okay, but Trump the President sucks. She was like “Huh?” I was really surprised that she didn’t get it. After explaining it a couple of times, it finally clicked for her who I was talking about. “Oh yeah, people don’t like him, ne?” After she finished signing, she asked when she would see me again, and I said the SKE handshake event (forgetting the AKB shamekai is a week earlier) Oh well, by then she will have forgotten what I said.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 76) I was actually heading to Akiyoshi’s lane, when I saw that Maichan’s queue was virtually empty. Really? At the January event her lane was ridiculously long. In fact, I ended up skipping her ticket as a result. In any case, I figured I would take advantage, and I won the prize, which was the 1-shot video. Per usual, Maichan looked adorable. Amazing looking one-piece dress, and the twin tails, WOW! Made me very thankful I won the video…

It had been a long time since I had talked to her, and she pointed that out. Probably because she saw me at the last couple events where I didn’t go to her. Anyway, I told her I loved the outfit, and that I hope to see her during HKT’s Spring Tour. She kinda spun around and did a quick modeling for me. She really knows how to melt a guys heart!

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 71) <1st ticket> Yuka-chan had a decent sized queue, and I was in line right behind the old guy who always tried to be first in her queue. This was later in the slot, while he was looping the queue. He and I were talking about Yuka-chan’s trip to Singapore, and how she tried speaking English and Chinese. According to him, she had limited success. So we decided I would give her an English lesson. While I waited I was watching Yamashita Emiri in the next queue, who was wearing a somewhat revealing black top. Finally it was my turn. This was another Trump game, and according to Yuka, I won, GREAT! While she was signing I said to her in English; “Did you Enjoy Singapore?” and then “What was your favorite thing in Singapore?” This time she admitted that she didn’t understand the 2nd question, so I repeated it in Japanese. She said that the Singaporean Chicken and Rice was OISHII!!!

I had to wait an hour before I could use my last Akiyoshi ticket. In the meantime I went out to the food garden, and they have gotten a bunch of new food trucks, including this one!

Skewers!!! Pork, beef, chicken, shellfish, tons of great stuff! So much better than when our choices were pretty much ramen or gyudon. I had a Pork Kalbi and a Sazae skewer while I waited for Slot 7 to begin…

Slot 7

Akiyoshi Yuka (lane 71) <2nd ticket> I pre-queued fairly early, and ended up being 2nd in line, and I won the prize! Again I was tasked with the choice of the 2-shot selfie, or 1-shot video. Since the last selfie I attempted to take with her came out badly, I decided to try and redeem myself. I told her about the last one coming out poorly, so she told me to take my time and make sure the shot looked good.

Well…at least it isn’t blurry. The guard was pretty much pushing me out from the moment I finished taking the pic, but I confirmed with her that she was not going to be performing with HKT at Sendai. She said she would only be at Saitama. I told her I would see her at the upcoming 2-shot events, and was off…

For those keeping score, I was 5 for 8 on the prizes, which is damn good! I got skunked on Zunchan though which was a bummer, and didn’t get any autographed pics. But hey, I was 4 for 4 with my 2-top, Akiyoshi and Kaotan. Yay!

Before leaving Makuhari, I stopped at the 7-11 by the station and picked up my ticket for Horipro Matsuri, which is in a couple weeks. The show is at Zepp Diver City, which is mainly standing room only. I got a great queue number too, so hopefully I will be very close to the stage.

 

I am not attending next week’s handshake event, which means that aside from the aforementioned concert, my next 48-group related events won’t be until April, where I will be attending AKB and HKT’s album shamekai events, plus SKE’s single event. So things to look forward to. And tomorrow is the last day of Wasamin’s 7th single release week promotion. It should be a crazy day!

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts, Iwasa Misaki, Minyo Girls A Quick Update; A Theater Show, and a Cross-Promotion

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A few things…

I wanted to cross promote a YouTube Show I was on last week.  My buddy David (DLJ) from New School Kaidan and I had a nice little conversation.  David and I have hung out in Japan, and when FESTIVE came to San Francisco he bunked at my condo.  In the audio-only video we talked about living in Japan, Wasamin (of course) AKB48, and indie idols, particularly Minyo Girls.  Please check it out!!!

Also…

Earlier this month I happended to win my 40th theater show.  It was once again Team Kenkyuusei (16th Gen) plus a few of the Draft Nominees as special guests.  I have discussed this theater show so many times that it feels like well-covered ground.  However, the cool thing was that it was just a couple of days before the January 6-7 AKB Handshake Events at Makuhari Messe.  So I got great reactions when I met the 16th Gen members (I met ALL of them, except for Orin) at the handshake events since they remembered me from the theater shows.  You can read about those interactions a couple of posts down from this one.

And of course I picked up the commemorative photo pack as a keepsake.

 

Finally, I am starting to get the occasional comment, which is nice.  I was beginning to get really discouraged because it seemed like I was getting readers, but nobody ever bothered to comment.  So please, comments are welcome!

And since somebody asked, here are the best places to keep track of Wasamin’s schedule.

Wasamin’s official Nagara Pro event page
http://www.nagarapro.co.jp/top/artist/concert.php?id=36

Also, Ichikawa-san, Wasamin’s manager’s official blog is a great place for news and info…
https://ameblo.jp/wasamin-staff/

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48 HKT48 10th Single Individual Event, NGT48 2nd Single National Event, AKB48 49th/50th Single National Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/01/06)

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This was originally supposed to be an easy day. I had seven HKT tickets scheduled from 10am until 2pm or so, and I would be heading home. But then they announced the AKB National Event. HKT was my priority, but I would really like to have a little face time with the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei since I have seen them so much in the theater over the past six months. I resolved that I would get a hold of a few AKB tickets, and head on over after I finish with HKT. Easy enough, or so I thought.

I was trying to decide how I would write this up, and decided I would do it in one big post, in time order. It would sound more fun that way, and individually each report is kinda short. I headed out to Makuhari pretty early. Early enough to stop for breakfast along the way. It was around the time I arrived that my friends informed me there was an NGT National Event taking place as well. Hmmm? There was also an Idolmaster concert taking place all weekend, so Makuhari was truly “Otaku Central!” Anyway, I got into the HKT event after passing the enormous queue for NGT, and went to get my tickets stamped, forgetting they had already been stamped at the previous event. So I was all good. I went to use my first ticket…

HKT48 Event (Hall Six)

Slot 2

 

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 9) Always at a loss of what to say to Bibian, I led off by wishing her a happy new year. She was like “Yeah yeah! Happy New Year!” I then noticed she was wearing this interesting necklace, which was kinda “rockin,” so I told her it was kakkoi. She said she bought it in Shiga Prefecture. In any case, I made it through other Bibian handshake. At the end of the day, her genkiness always makes for a fun time.


Special Stages

Part of HKT’s events are the special stages they put on throughout the day. They do not announce who will be on each stage, or what they will be doing. It is usually various games and stuff. After I finished with Bibian I had a lot of time before my next ticket. They were just beginning to form the queue for the first stage. I thought, based on the schedule, that there would be a decent chance that Akiyoshi would be involved in one of the early stages, so I decided to queue up. I was seventh in line, which meant I would be right against the railing. What I didn’t know was that it would be over 45 minutes until the event actually started. I almost considered abandoning the mission, but I had a good spot, so I would take the chance.

The first event finally started, and out walked Bibian. LOL. Okay, at least it is someone I like. Along with Bibian was fairy w!nk, Unjo and Aramaki. Okay, this was going to be a fairy w!nk event. Bibian announced that this would be a “make me laugh” game, where the contestants must make fairy w!nk laugh, or suffer a penalty. Out came the contestants. Murashige…Natsumikan…Komada, and…..AKIYOSHI!!! I guessed right. Yukachan immediately spotted me in the front row and waved to me. It was the first time I had seen her in like a month and a half (I think) It was the typical gag game, with a table of props for the girls to use. Murashige tried her best, and Natsumikan actually got Aramaki to giggle once, but at the end of the day they failed miserably. The penalty was that they had to shove their face into a plate of flour. Oh, and since Bibian’s team failed, she also had to pay the penalty. All of them were covered in flour, blowing on to one another’s clothes. It was a mess. And that was the show.

What I didn’t realize is that they started a new feature with the special stages. After the show, if you buy a CD you can get a ticket for a special lane to meet the members from that stage. Damn, I could’ve had an extra Akiyoshi ticket! Maybe next time. Oh, and I did drop by the special stage a couple other times. One group, hosted by Hokazono Hazuki, did a bento demonstration. I saw quite a few members, but nobody else I wanted to buy a CD to meet. Anyway, onto my next tickets…

Slots 3/4

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) <2 tickets> For some reason when I purchased tickets for this event I only got tickets for three members. So I had two tickets for Maichan in consecutive slots. I pretty much started everyone off with a Happy New Year. I then told Maichan that I went to California. She asked if I had fun, and I was getting pushed out as I answered. So when I came back to see her in Slot 4, I continued by telling her that I had fun, saw family, and the weather was very warm, so I wore short pants the entire trip. She asked if I went swimming while I was there, which I did, LOL.

It was around this time that I went upstairs for lunch. I saw the booth selling NGT singles, and there was a very short queue. So I headed over and bought two copies (A and B) This would give me two handshake tickets to use later. Who I would use them on? I had no idea.

Slots 4/5

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <4 tickets> With four tickets today, and three the next day at the AKB event, I would have to come up with a lot to talk about with Yukachan. Fortunately that special stage gave us a nice starting off point. When I got into the booth she immediately commented on how I was in the first row. I told her that I queued up hoping she would be in that stage, and got lucky. I also checked to make sure she got all of the flour off of her clothes and hair, LOL. Later on I told her a bit about my trip to California, pretty much the same stuff I talked about with Maichan, and I added the part about it being warm enough for me to go swimming. I also mentioned that it was the first time I had seen my father and brother in almost two years, which kinda took her aback. She realized I have loved ones back in the states that I do not get to see. Finally, I told her I would be seeing her tomorrow. Oh, and at some point I mentioned that I loved the dress she was wearing. It was really cute.

So that was it for HKT. After visiting with BigC and Panda for a few minutes, I headed upstairs to figure out this NGT thing.

NGT48 Event (Hall 4)

The mini-live had ended, and they kicked everyone out of the hall while they re-formatted the hall. There was an enormous queue outside waiting to be let back in. Oh well, I guess I better line up. It probably took the better part of 30-45 minutes, but I eventually made it into the hall, dreading how long these queues would be. However, when I got inside none of the queues seemed very long at all, at least the ones I was interested in going to. Where did all those people in the queue disappear to? And who would I go see?

Let’s see, in NGT I know Nakai…and, uhh, Nakai. And…is Kitahara still in the group? Oh, I know that girl who did well at SSK, but I don’t care about her at all. And then there was that girl I liked when they were brand new. What was her name? I went to the one lane I was sure I wanted to go…

Nakai Rika, Yamada Noe (Lane 8) I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of Nakai, but I do know who she is, and I do think she is cute, so I thought I would give her a shot. To my surprise, there were a bunch of Wasafans in the queue, and the queue next to us. As I got close to the front, a friend of mine came over and warned me that Noe was especially genki today, and would likely give me a good experience. Anyway, I made it to the front of the queue. First up was Nakai, so I explained to her that this was my first ever NGT event, and I was happy to meet her. But then Yamada came bombing over, like “OMG!!! Hello Hello!!” She basically tore me away from Nakai, LOL. And as I got pushed out, then the “I Love You”‘s came. I responded “Whhoooahh” as everyone in the queue, plus the guards were laughing since she was screaming so loud. Safe to say that Noe made an impression on me, although TBH she isn’t really the type of idol I go for. So we’ll see.

Nishigata Marina, Takahashi Mau (Lane 9) Since Nishigata was the first NGT member I was ever interested in, I decided I should meet her at least once. So I chose her lane. A couple of my Wasafan friends were queued ahead of me. So when they came out I asked them if Marina was on the left or the right, just in case I was confused when I got into the booth. Marina was up first. I basically told her that this was my first NGT event, but I had liked her for a long time, and I was so happy that I finally got to meet her. She was like “Hontoni?” and gave me a crying face. It was a nice little connection. In fact, I hardly remember Mau at all since I was still sorta talking to Marina while I was in front of her, saying that she is doing a great job. The nice thing was that they seemed to give the fans a little extra time, despite the fact that it was a National Event.

So ultimately that didn’t take very long at all. And now I can say I have met a couple of the NGT members. Too bad I didn’t see the mini-live. I had eight AKB tickets, and was hoping I could get a couple of them done before the break…

AKB48 Event (Halls 9-10)

My main goal in going to the AKB event was to meet with the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei. Luckily most of them were bunched together into three lanes. However, two of the members very high on my list to meet, Zunchan and Orin, were not participating in the handshake portion of the event. Instead they were participating in a game on the main stage, hosted by Ijiri-san. However, they would be participating in the matome portion of the event, so I would save some tickets to see Zunchan at the end. When I arrived, the place was packed, and it seemed like every queue was enormous. Oh well, I decided to first head into the queue I wanted to go to the most, and I would play the rest by ear…

Lane 9: Asai Nanami, Suzuki Kurumi, Taguchi Manaka, Yamauchi Mizuki Mind you, there were a lot of members in the 16th Gen lanes, so many of my pass-throughs went by like a blur. However, I did stop in front of Asai long enough to say that I long yelling her nickname at shows. And after quick hello’s to Kurumi and Manaka, I got the same awesome reaction from Zukki that I get in “high wave.” I told her that I love 16th Gen, and that she is extremely skillful on stage.

Lane 15: Nagatomo Ayumi, Hari Nanami, Homma Mai, Maeda Ayaka, Michieda Saki, Yasuda Kana I was trying to decide which of the remaining 16th gen lanes to visit first, just in case I ran out of time. Both lane 14 and 15 had relatively short queues, but I decided on this lane since Kana tries to fish me at the theater shows. Nagatomo was up first, and immediately noticed my Akiyoshi ticket holder. “Akiyoshi-san, MIKAN MIKAN!!!!” Yes, Mikan! As I passed through the next four I again thanked them and told them that I enjoyed their show on Friday. Yasuda was last, and immediately recognized me. She was like “It’s you!” and I was pointing back to her. “Kana-chan is awesome!” I said. Yes, she is.

Lane 14: Inagaki Kaori, Umemoto Izumi, Kurosu Haruka, Sato Minami, Shoji Nagisa, Taya Misaki Of the three 16th gen lanes, I considered skipping this one. There really wasn’t anyone I was too excited to see. Well, I do like Sato Minami, but she always ignores in in “high wave.” Then there’s Kurosu, who I kinda like. But I wanted to be complete, so I queued up, hoping to get the ticket in before the break….

Amazingly, of all the lanes these girls all immediately recognized me from the shows. Even Minami, who turned to give me a huge smile as a came toward her. I quickly told her that I always cheer for her at the theater. Actually, I shouldn’t have been that surprised, since both Misaki and Kaori have tried to fish me in the past, but it was a pleasant surprise to get the warmest welcome from the one set of 16th Gen members I was least enthusiastic about visiting.

Lane 9: Asai Nanami, Suzuki Kurumi, Taguchi Manaka, Yamauchi Mizuki <round two> After the break, I went straight to this lane since I wanted to talk to Zukki a little bit more, and I wanted to get into the queue before it grew too long again. For some unconscious reason I didn’t remove my Akiyoshi ticket holder at the other events, and it did not go unnoticed. As I got close to the front of the queue, Shiichan and Myao, who were in the neighboring lane, we like “Wow, HKT! Who is your HKT oshimen?” Chori, who was in the lane with them, also got into the act. So I yelled over that I am a Wasamin fan. They all looked confused. I was like “Yes, Wasamin!” Chori was beckoning me to come over, so I said okay. Chori was mimicking my hand gestures, LOL. In any case, I told the 16th Gen that I had fun at the theater show on Friday, and to Zukki I told her that her unit is my favorite part of the show. And without fail, I got the same “In awe” reaction. It is similar to the reaction Akiko and Serina used to give me at SDN shows back in the day.

Lane 8: Oya Shizuka, Miyazaki Miho, Nakanishi Chiyori, Shimoguchi Hinana It was around two minutes later that I was in front of the AKB “seniors,” and Shiichan was like “Ahh, you are here!” I was addressing both she and Myao, and reminded them that we had the EXACT SAME conversation at the last National Event, that I am a Wasamin fan. And since we are all friends with Wasamin, that means that we are friends too, LOL. Shiichan seemed to remember, while Myao seemed like she was trying to recall the conversation. At that point Chori grabbed on to me and gave me a big “I Love You.” I have done individual tickets with Chori many times, but never talked about anything substantial. She is still fun to meet with. Finally, after a quick thank you to Hinana, I was out of the lane. I would save the last of my tickets for matome.

Lane G: Yamane Suzuha <matome, 3 tickets> I decided to save the rest of my tickets for Zunchan. Actually, I considered using one ticket on Lane 1, which had Yuihan, Juri, and Tomu, but the queue was very long. Plus, I anticipated Zunchan’s matome queue to be long, which it was. So I hung around where I thought Zunchan’s lane would be, and I guessed right. I ended up being 5th in the queue. Actually, I should have been second or third, but the guy waiting right at the gate was in a wheelchair, and I didn’t want to be rude and pass him. Unfortunately, a few people didn’t care and literally jumped over him to get in line first. Jerks. Suzuha came out early, which was good since none of my friends were doing matome, and were waiting to go to dinner. When it was my turn, I asked her if she had fun playing with Ijiri-san. She said she had a great time, and asked if I enjoyed it. Now to be honest, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the stage, but from what I saw it looked like fun. They were doing some kind of archery competition. So I told her that it looked like it was a lot of fun. I said I would see her tomorrow, and was on my way.

At the end of the day I got to meet up with every 16th gen. member, with the exception of Orin, which is a bummer since she is another member who really pays a lot of attention to me at shows. I need to make a point of visiting with her one day soon. Ultimately, it was a very long day, and my feet were killing me. I dreaded doing it all over again on Sunday, but I would tough it out and do my best to have fun. And as you can see on my previous post, it was a lot of fun

 

CK in Tokyo

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