It was obvious from the start that Bellring Shoujo Heart are different from regular idols. The latter would just have stood there at their event stand, carefully freshened up and politely but distant awaiting the event to start. The Bellring girls although were all running wildly around the place – drinking, playing, chatting and still sweating from their show. Ayano was even in the middle of applying new make-up.
Problem for me now: As there was no CD for preorder like with Party Rockets I was curious how I would get tickets for the event, as there were also no other merchandize to buy. So I had to ask a fan in the queue and he pointed me to the table. There was a young woman (some kind of manager maybe?). I approached her and asked for cheki and for how much. She replied it was 500 Yen. Really? That cheap? Next question was if I could do a cheki with the whole group, as I don’t really have an oshi (I prefer Mizuho, but only because I lack information about the other members). Next reply was that I could just buy 6 separate chekis and do single chekis with each girl! I was surprised as I haven’t thought of this and didn’t think they would prefer this over a fast group shot. But she said that it wouldn’t be a problem so I bought me 6 coins for 3,000 Yen. For this price I would only get 1 ticket for a PASSPO Cheki!
Bellring seems to have a system of coins: You buy one for 500 Yen and then can exchange it for either cheki, autograph, akushukai – whatever you want. The coins are collected by the girls themselves in a little purse. So if you for example talk with Juri, you will give her the coin, either at the start or the end of the conversation. I think that is great as you can still decide spontaneously how to use your time with them. Of course I had no idea before and only acquired this knowledge during the event itself.
While buying the ticket Moechi was always around, looking curiously at me. Although Bellring has many foreign fans (not this day) it still seems to be something special. Anyway, during the quiet gaps of my conversation with the manager woman, she frequently approached me with English, mostly repeating the phrase “I am beautiful”, spoken like a question. I had honestly no idea how to react to that. So I repeated the question to her, but this only lead to the same phrase as answer “I am beautiful?” Well, I was left with no choice then and replied kindly: “Yes, you are beautiful” Who had now believed that she would go away, happily smiling, couldn’t be more wrong. She continued, obviously wanting to make sure, the phrase all over again: “I am beautiful?”, soon followed by a convinced “I am beautiful!”, only to fall back to the questionnaire manner: “I am beautiful?” Of course I always agreed with her, as every attempt for changing the subject failed, as her knowledge about English only seemed to be this 3 words. Maybe she is a bit narcissistic. Finally I came to the end of my coin purchase and the manager woman told me that I now can queue up and that I should not forget to hold the sign board, which declared me as the last in line. I understood this and repeated to her the procedure in my broken Japanese. Probably a bad idea as she seemed to be of the impression, that I was clueless what to do. She therefore tried to explain again. But this just brought Moechi, who hadn’t left, back into play – excitingly exclaiming that she will help. She looked at me, waved her hand and said “Come” (which makes the fourth English word) – then leading me herself to the end of the line and handed me out the sign board with big enthusiasm. With a bright smile and waving goodbye, she went back to the other girls again. This proves again, that being a foreigner can be of advantage in Japan, at least when interacting with some of the idols.
Now the cheki session began for me. This was quite the experience. I told the photographer (Bellring used Polaroid images) that I would like to take a cheki with every member. He understood and called the nearest girl who was currently available to him, in this case Yuka. He then took the photo and handed the print out to her. He then waved me to the side and said “Talk time”. I was confused again but it actually is like this: After the photo shoot the member will talk with you, while keeping the photo until you paid her the coin. And it is not the 15 second talk, I experienced with PASSPO, but actually completely free of restrictions. This is great – or would have been, if I were able to actually talk to them in proper Japanese, as English was useless again (of course). Still I managed to spend 2-3 minutes with every member, helped later by Norman, who would translate for me (He is not a fan of them. He just arrived as he wanted to leave the festival already to go back to his hotel.). Anyway, it was quite the fun and every girl tried her best to keep the conversation with me in flow. The talk in most cases only ended because the next member was free for cheki and the photograph was telling me to come. You can imagine how occupied I was then, always switching between photo shoots and talk sessions. That is how an idol must feel. Norman’s presence also proved useful as with his help I was able to buy the official shirt of Bellring Shoujo Heart, as he was asking the manager woman, if they sell those here at Idol Koushien and its specifics (Size, price). Cheers, mate! This shirt is one of my favourites in regard to its design. (This reminds me to make a post about group shirts some time in the future.)
My chekis with them in detail (as much as I remember):
Yuka was the first. Although the youngest in the group she was boosting of self-confidence. In general she asked me where I was from and if I like idols. I told her that my favourite group is PASSPO. We then talked about it a bit.
Kai was strange as she was intrigued by my glasses and immediately took them off to hold it into the camera. Don’t know why. Norman wasn’t there that time. Maybe she wants to be an optician? Whatever the case, we talked about how I knew them and later even pinky promised that I would see them again tomorrow at TIF.
Moechi again started the “I am beautiful” conversation. This time I answered in Japanese, that she is beautiful. Which in consequence lead to the cheki pose. This was the time when Norman arrived and he helped me with his translations to intensify this conversation. It ultimately lead to a statement by her that she also found me beautiful, what promptly made me call her “Usotsuki” (liar), in a jokingly fashion. She denied it earnestly and affirmed she wouldn’t lie. Of course I didn’t take it seriously but this idol obviously knows her job and how to please her fans.
Ayano was tough, as the moment I saw her up close, I forgot everything. She is known as the happy member and her big smile confirmed it: She is sooo cute that way. Ayano though also must have been similar overwhelmed by me as she refrained to let go of my hand before and during the cheki. Probably just wishful thinking on my part. Maybe she was just shocked to interact with a foreigner. But during our talk she even forgot to collect the coin from me and I forgot.
Mizuho is a lovely yet shy girl. No surprise here as she is one of the youngest members. With her I put the coin, I ‘gained’ from Ayano to good use: I asked her to sign my cheki with her. Norman even told her to write my name on it, which she did, in katakana, of course. Beside that I told her that I really like their album. She then asked me about my favourite songs of them. She also told me that she is learning English currently but she didn’t try it with me. Figured.
Juri inquired me of how I know them. As I told her from Youtube she asked me if like their song C.A.N.D.Y., as this was there recent single release. We then reached the subject of my origin, suspecting me being American. This lead to interference by Moechi again, who was observing us from near, and shouting “Germany”. I taught her the German name of my country afterwards (Deutschland).
After receiving the signed photo from Mizuho (she did this during my talk with Juri) I left this mind blazing event and also the venue together with Norman and his friends Henry and Allan, despite it was still ongoing. But none of us was interested in the groups that would appear. They took some photos with the Gundam statue in the background and while chatting, headed to the next subway station, calling it a day soon as tomorrow we would probably meet again at Tokyo Idol Festival.