Chu-Z or The frightening foreigner

This Friday began with a light headache. Luckily it calmed down after we went straight to a cafe for a cup of coffee. Here I experienced something strange: The cafe was split in a non-smoking and a smoking department BUT it wasn’t separated by a door or a wall. Instead it was ONE room. Now find the logic in that.

With caffeine in my blood and smoke in my lungs we took off in the direction of Tokyo Sky Tree in Asakusa. To say it before: I didn’t went up that day. The weather was great but the information board on the outside notified us that Mount Fuji still was not to be seen. As the lanes were also pretty long we didn’t bother lining up. Instead we took a walk through the mall which had some really interesting stores despite the obvious souvenir shops and the Disney store. I bought myself a do-it-yourself dinosaur: A lot of small parts of paper had to be put together to get a 3D-model of a Velociraptor. (When I tried to build it at home, I nearly threw it away for having so small and fragile components.) Later we went to the food court and enjoyed a big meal of tonkatsu. Very good.

Now it was already mid-afternoon. So we decided to head back to the hotel to store our bought stuff. I was thinking of going to bed already as my headache came suddenly back and was really bothersome, fearing already that I catched something. But after taking a quick shower it at least got endurable. I also didn’t want to waste that evening with sleep. Instead I decided to go to the first show at PARMS again and afterwards to the Chu-Z performance at AKIBA. My sister on the other hand went off for Big Star, a Korean male idol group, that would perform at Akasaka Blitz.

Arriving at PARMS this early was a premiere. They always have two shows weekdays, one at 17.30 and one at 20.15, but I have never been to their first show of the day. So I got surprised that when entering, the members of Steam Girls, Armour Girls and Alice Juuban were lined up on the stage already, in that order: Steam Girls were standing front row, behind them Armour Girls, and at the back row Alice Juuban were lined up. The merchandize stall, which was always on the left side, when entering the door, was now placed at the middle of the audience room. It took me a while after I finally realized what was going on: Before the show was an akushukai session. You had to buy one merchandize article and then you were allowed to talk with the girls on the stage, as long as you like, and with as much as you want. This sounds pretty confusing at first, as you would expect a horde of fans getting on stage, blocking each other from talking to their favourite members. But the venue wasn’t good attended (too early on a workday for most) and only a handful of fans bought something and talked to the girls. Some only talking to their oshi’s, others greeting all of them with a quick handshake. It was actually a great idea, all the idols on stage, able to talk freely. But I didn’t do it. One the one hand I would feel strange, if I only talk to some of them, disregarding the rest. And on the other hand I wouldn’t have had much to talk about. Maari okay. Yuki I could have asked, how she knows German. And Kanon praising for her genki-ness and her English *kidding*. But Anna, Nanaka or Nodoka? And from the other groups I hardly know their names. I would just have embarrassed myself. More than usual. So no way.

The spook only lasted for about 20 minutes. After that the girls left the stage and the normal show began. And I must tell you: Never go to an idol show with a headache and try head banging! I soon gave up on most participation. To my regret I must tell you, that I didn’t enjoy the show that day, because of the headache. So I refrain for doing a recap here as my impression would be negatively tainted. After the show I also refrained from doing chekis again, although I thought about meeting Yuki or Kanon directly. Instead I left very early.

It was still enough time for Chu-Z, which turned out to be positive, as this allowed me to get me a Kebab and later a coffee again. After that my headache finally subsided enough to enjoy the rest of the evening. Soon the time for Chu-Z approached and I headed towards AKIBA. There were already a bunch of people, but mostly fans who visited the show before. It was soon my turn for buying a ticket. So I said in Japanese that I want a ticket for Chu-Z. The admittedly sweet girl behind the counter however said nothing, just made big eyes, before uttering a soft “matte kudasai” and anxiously called for her manager – to have him deal with a foreigner! The fun got even better. Despite having approached her with Japanese, which should have – at the very least – made her assume that I am able to understand a bit of the language, she didn’t tell the manager. This one was an equally young guy, without any English knowledge as well. Instead he began drawing on a piece of paper, ‘telling’ me that the entrance fee costs 3,000 Yen. As this situation was funny, I hid my Japanese knowledge from now on and that I was even a ‘regular’ at the place. I paid the fee, got my ticket, my coin for the drink (“eh…eh…drink” and pointed to the nearby board with beverages – I nodded graciously for understanding) and the ‘explanation’, that I have to wait outside until the numbers are called and was even personally lead out the door to the waiting aisle. What a service. And it wouldn’t stop there. When the entry began, the manager himself approached me again, waved me to his side and indicated me to wait. When it was my turn, he lead me, with a bow, to the guy who checks the ticket and then I could finally enter. Of course I bowed back and thanked the manager. What an experience.

Having that behind me I could concentrate on the venue now. The live was good attended, but finding a seat on the benches was no problem. I actually choose a place there as I am relatively new to the group and only know two or three numbers. I don’t even own their album yet. While waiting on my seat for the show to begin I was suddenly approached by a Japanese fan, Yutan. He was well versed in English and was asking me if I was just a casual tourist or if I knew the group. I told him that I knew them, even saw them three days ago. This seemed to be the right answer as he wanted to talk more with me. But the show was about to begin and as a hardcore fan he went to the standing area in the back, right behind me. Great. Now I felt being watched over… The good thing though: I had someone to share my thoughts about idols with and he could help me with the event procedural later.

The concert from Chu-Z itself was so-so. They have great songs, especially ‘Bow Wow’. Surprisingly they didn’t do ‘Boombastic’. I got a bit bored, when they did ‘My Special’, a song I find to generic considering their potential quality. Seeing them up close was nice and I enjoyed the other members besides Asuka very much. Especially Luna and Maia impressed me. They also did a lot of MCs, neglecting the time for songs. I am not sure exactly, but I presume they performed only eight songs. At least it felt very short. Sitting has been a good idea, as I often struggle with unknown choreographies. I even get out of tact during simple hand clapping. My headache although was completely away right now. This made the show, despite my light critic, very pleasant.

After the show was over, people started to line up for buying merchandize or cheki ticket, which you could buy directly. Too bad I didn’t know that Chu-Z also makes unit shots as well. I only bought one ticket, wanting to use it for Asuka of course. I briefly thought about buying their album or their shirt, but decided otherwise. Their shirt was lame anyway, reminding me of PASSPO‘s, which they released for their ‘Count Up Tour Part 2’, depicting the uniform of the group. I then went back to the venue and saw Chu-Z on stage again, for the mentioned group shots. He I saw Yutan again, already queued up. Obviously he is a regular as the band greeted him by name when it was his turn and acted really friendly with him *jealous*. There weren’t many fans for group shots, so it soon continued with single chekis in the aisle.

Here it was full of people lining up. The narrowness of the place made it even more uncomfortable. This made it hard for me to actually see, what is going on. I saw there were different lines, for each member its own. Luckily I saw Yutan again. As it turned out, he is a fan of Asuka as well and I was allowed to line up behind him. We then and even later talked a lot. He translated me what the group was talking about during their MCs, that some of the group are pretty old for idols (Maia is 26, Asuka will be 25 that year), that fans are called Chupets and he told some anecdotes, like about a fan who goes to EVERY performance of them, no matter where in Tokyo, and that he himself bought once 50 CDs (or more? I forgot.), which enabled him to go to Karaoke with Asuka. I told him that I knew Chu-Z from a PASSPO showroom and that I am a big fan of them. He then suggested, that he would tell Asuka about it, so I can have an easy start with her. He knew she is friends with one of PASSPO‘s members, though he forgot who it was. And he kept this plan, then after he left from his cheki with her, Asuka greeted me first with a handshake and the question: ‘You like Passpo?’. I asked back, if Yutan told her, she nodded with a smile, so I confirmed and that I know Chu-Z from when they were guest in their showroom. Then I tried English on her, as she often uses it in talks and Twitter but realized, she was a “hypocrite”, unable to understand it. Well, I had no hope anyway. The talk was pleasant, besides the language barrier, as there was neither time pressure nor a manager watching over it. Yutan before me talked at least two minutes with Asuka and even with me she was very relaxed. She then asked about my name, then as it turns out, chekis from Chu-Z come with a sign as well. You can imagine myself smiling at this revelation! She had trouble to understand the letters though, but acted quick: She looked for a piece of paper and then I had to write my name for her. She then signed the Polaroid. That is commitment!

Asuka, so small…

After that I got back in the aisle, talking with Yutan again and we added each other in Twitter. I was contemplating about doing another cheki but I took too long, then as I went for it, the sales section was being closed. Mental note: Be more spontaneous! As it was close to 23:00 already, I said goodbye and made my way back to the hotel, were my sister already awaited me. Her show, her first which she attended alone, was great as well. After a quick shower I fell asleep, reminding myself to listen more to Chu-Z and to see them again.

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One thought on “Chu-Z or The frightening foreigner

  1. I have so many similar experiences with the terrified female clerk running to get a male co-worker. I was buying cd’s at Tower and couldn’t figure out how the groups with English names were alphabetized, so I asked the girl staff who was standing a meter away from me. She immediately starting frantically waving for her male co-worker. Another time I was buying some predia cd’s for their 2-shot event and asked the girl if I bought the correct cd to participate. She froze up and slowly starting backing away, similar to how you would freeze up if you are in a forrest and suddenly came across a bear. And it’s not just girls. I was sick once so I asked my hotel staff for advice on how to purchase medicine. They were really helpful and composed a letter describing all my symptoms. So I went to the pharmacy (which are called “chemists” in Japan) and I told her in Japanese that I was sick and handed her the letter written in perfect Japanese. She looked at the letter, looked back at me, looked back at the letter, started trembling, looked back at me, and then ran to get her husband who was in the back on his lunch break. He comes to the front to help me. He looks at the letter, and says “Ok!” and literally turns around, picks up a bottle of pills that were behind him, and hands them to me. She only needed to read the note and turn around and pick up a bottle and hand it to me. And now I’ve been conditioned to avoid interacting with female staff. Your example also reminds me when I saw Ayumi Hamasaki and the staff felt the need to walk me to my seat, which is bizarre when you consider this was an arena with 20,000 people in attendance. I was probably the only person who got this “service.”

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