If you are wondering why I start this post with a photo of a crying Makochan, you still don’t know what happened on that fateful day, the 28th of Septembre 2014 at the PASSPO Flight in Shinjuku BLAZE. Find yourself in a tale of blood, sweat and tears. Well, no blood. And sweat during a concert is a given. And tears. Yes, a lot of tears.
Going to a concert, just any, you are required to think about a lot of things in preparation: What to wear, how to get there, money and others. When arriving at the subway station I realised that I have forgotten something else entirely important: The tickets! I left them at the hotel! My first mistake that day. I therefore had to let my sister wait at the station and hurried back to get them.
When coming back we were talked to by two foreigners, asking us for directions to Tokyo Tower. We were able to show them, as the Tower can be easily spotted from Tamachi station. This has been my first good deed that day. But incredible that we could actually help someone out in Tokyo.
Arriving in Shibuya afterwards was a piece of cake, just that we had to wait for Caio now, who as expected, took the wrong exit and got delayed. Although living in Japan for quite a few years he didn’t assimilate their principle of punctuality. This was Caio’s first mistake that day.
After he finally arrived at 10:30 we made our way to the BLAZE and found out, that there wasn’t hardly anyone waiting there. My suggestion was to stay in the area, as soon people would come and line up for the merchandize sale. As there would be events later on, I was pretty sure of a long queue. I remembered how fast people accumulated for Babyraids and also thought of the flight reviews by infzer0. Caio on the other hand was totally sure this wouldn’t happen. “It is PASSPO, not some famous group.”, “We still have time later on.” was the things he said. This was Caio’s second mistake that day.
We therefore went around to search for something to eat and decided on a conbini, getting us some food and some alcohol. As there was nowhere for taking a seat we just sat down on a small fence near the pavement. We are foreigners anyway. And it is not as if it was the first time we did that. (see here and here) We took our time and were chatting a lot, which was very pleasant. And I have to announce my gratitude for Caio here, as he handed me out the concert tickets for me and my sister for the PASSPO Flight on January 1st, the Tour Final at Tokyo Dome City Hall. Honestly:
THANK YOU CAIO! You are a great guy which I consider a friend!
Nearly an hour later we decided to head back to the venue though to realise our dilemma: A huge – wait, I must make it more specific – a VERY HUGE AND LONG LANE has been queued up in the meantime, obviously far too long to get our merchandize before the show! For trusting Caio it apparently became my second mistake that day. Though is it really: Trusting someone who lives in Japan and has been to hundreds of idol shows already? He later apologized and told me to never trust a Brazilian. This is what I do from now on!
Disheartened we lined up anyway and killed our time by joking around. Fans were collecting money for the coming birthdays of MioMio, Sacotee and Makochan. For Sacotee I gave 500 Yen, certain I wouldn’t be able to attend her birthday event. Still in some regards she is my favourite. When I think back I saw no one collecting for Morishi although she happens to have her birthday only two days prior to Sacotee. Why was that? Whatever. After waiting for like half an hour and without much movement the line dissolved: Staff was getting ready for admittance to the venue and the merchandize table was now relocated so you could only buy something after you entered. As our ticket numbers were pretty high we were one of the last to enter. So our plan: Fast acquiring the needed goods for supplying each of us with event tickets and then rush into the hall, hopefully being able to get a good place despite the odds. Events today would be either a group shot for three tickets or akushukais for one ticket each. Tickets were limited to five for each person and you only got them for buying photosets excluding those for the recent single ‘Himawari’. So, so mean. As the merchandize table was right at the entrance with limited space it was quite a hassle. As I wanted to be quick and have no use for photosets anyway, I just decided on five random members and the current ‘Himawari’-photoset of Yucky. As a result I got: Sacotee (Truly), Nachu (Growing Up), Aipon (Step & Go), Annya (Step & Go), Aipon Truly. I also bought me a blue member towel of Yucky, the current tour shirt and a blue light stick. After everyone got their stuff, we hurried in the venue, me and Caio stopping short by the toilet – to hear that the show was now starting as the intro song was playing. So Caio’s mistake in anticipating the demand for merchandize made us miss the first minutes. Bad, bad Caio. At least he redeemed himself: By knowing Shinjuku BLAZE already from former concerts he showed us a side entrance so we stood relatively near the stage, like 10th line, despite the show being sold out. Enough for seeing the girls up close and them seeing us. A fantastic result regarding our high numbers.
I can’t tell you how great it was to see this girls up there again, although it had only been two months since our last encounter. And even better seeing them in their Himawari costumes. Bright colours just fit the girls more! The setlist for Part 1 was the following:
05）BEAST IN YOU
06）Tap My Toe (Sacotee remix)
10）SOS (Pink Lady cover)
18）Let It Go!!
Not the worst choice of songs. Though putting ‘Material Girl’ at the beginning is to early and the cover version of ‘SOS’ was needless. PASSPO has enough own songs and the style of the track didn’t fit in. The ‘Tap my Toe’ remix was nothing special. It is one of my favourite songs but here they only extended the instrumental part to allow some extra dancing, in majority by Sako and Anna, but it made the song loose its drive. Still, better the remix version than none at all. During ‘Kucha Love’ everyone hold out their white lightsticks in celebration of Aipon‘s birthday, which had been just the day before. A great seitansai experience again and nice reaction by the captain. The finish, starting with ‘Wing’, was phenomenal and gave you no time for a rest. During the show I tried to change my focus to every member and get a better impression on each of them, which was not that successful: I as always was automatically drawn to watch the current singing member, which led to much focus on Aipon and Morishi. In ‘Beast in you’ it was with no surprise Annya who had my attention. Most of the times I tried to watch the girls performing close to me. Of course everytime they caught my eye I became embarrassed and looked away. Still I was able to wave Yucky and Naomin, who *supposedly* waved back at me. In the end I didn’t find out anything new and already forgot all the specifics of each performances.
After the show ended and the fans left the hall, the preparations for the events began. It didn’t last long until we could enter again, seeing that they started with the group shots. Me and my sister decided on taking one, internally crying about the spending of three tickets. My sister as it was her first meeting with PASSPO and she wanted her picture with Morishi, me as I like group shots: You don’t have to decide on one girl but just take everyone. I am greedy here. And who knows if I would ever be able to complete my PASSPO cheki selection with the all-to-famous members. This was the easiest way to have them in a photo with me! The only sad part is that you won’t have any time for conversation with the girls, as it was sit down – photo – leave, all rushed to the extreme. But that’s understandable, as otherwise it would just delay the procedure. Caio already had his cheki from another event some weeks ago, so he waited for the akushukai later, contemplating how to use his tickets. (His experiences you can find on his blog, but you should read it only after finishing my post, as it would spoiler some very important information still to come *cough* Makoto *cough*. I will link you to the exact post when it is safe to go there.) Getting in line for the group shot was my next move, practicing in my mind to congratulate Aipon on her birthday. But when it became my turn, everything changed, then as it was my turn and I approached them, Naomin was shouting loudly “Bonjour”, Yucky fastly joining her, soon followed by the whole group. Okay, I should have regarded this as prove that Naomin remembered me, as otherwise she would have said ‘Hello’ or something more general, but to be considered as a French? Come on, this is a huge affront for a German, as well as the other way around! It’s like confusing a person as Japanese although being Korean. Or not knowing the difference between an african swallow and the european one. When I think about it though, I never told Naomi my nationality. Still Yukimi or Sako SHOULD have corrected her. I demand my idols to be remembering all ten thousands of people they met in their career. These are the basics. This topic therefore was in desperate need of correction, no doubt! So what was the result: Shocked I just bowed slightly and stammered a ‘Hello’, sat down, let the picture be taken and went away, again with a bow. My intention for congratulating Aipon being thrown in the wind. This had been my next mistake that day. (I already gave up counting them.) At least the picture result was okay, if you disregard Naomi. Or Anna. Or Natsumi. Well, at least with Annya I can imagine her remembering me. That’s why her mischievous face. Probably.
My sister had her picture taken as well and was happy for Morishi being right behind her. She even got patted on her head by her. Lucky girl! We then prepared for the next stage: The akushukais. Caio used his for Nachu and Sacotee as well as, for his first time, with Aipon, Annya and Makochan. Talking with Makoto resulted in his next and biggest mistake, as we would learn soon. But I come back to that later in my post. My sister used hers for Morishi of course and for Aipon, as she had nothing to tell the other girls and her she could at least congratulate. For myself I chose the obvious candidates, Yucky and Naomin, starting with the latter, then how does the saying go: Save the best for last. Naomin was in good mood, better than last time I spoke to her. As I resolved before I directly asked her why she had greeted me with ‘bonjour’ earlier and that I am no French. She looked surprised, telling me that this was her assumption and asked if I was American then. I told her me being German. She just went ‘Aaaah!’. I then handed her a pink Harrod’s bag with cats on it (I bought it in London few months ago but found no use for it), filled with German christmas cake in a nice box, showing the city of Dresden. *Maybe* Naomi remembers about me correctly next time. Or regards me now as an obnoxious Brazilian-type-of-guy. I will never know – until our next meeting! But otherwise the chat with her was great: She understood what I was telling her and I did the other way around.
Now it was Yucky‘s turn. But instead of talking casually with her, I succumbed to the influence of the good result I had with Naomin before and chose to start the same way: Telling her I am not French. She then replied with a lot of words of which I could only pick out ‘aisatsu’. She therefore *seems* to have just joined Naomi in her greeting, without teaching her otherwise. Don’t tell me you forgot too, Yucky *sniff* But this just tells me that Naomin has been the main culprit. Uuh, I am anxiously awaiting our next meeting already! Of course I had a present for my PASSPO oshi too: Stuff related to Arielle, her favourite Disney princess. No idea how Yukimi took that after my lame chatting attempt. Again an idol meeting gone wrong. Therefore another mistake of mine – it never ends.
After all of us were finished we had to leave the venue again and used this time to get something proper to eat in a nearby restaurant. As there was no sale of merchandize before the beginning of Part 2 because no further events would take place for that day, we were able to get into the venue much quicker. There was still time for the start of the show and many people were using their drink tickets. This allowed us to get in on the side entrance at the left side, where it was still much space left. Too bad this didn’t last. We kept our place anyway and were therefore able to stay around the fourth row – perfect view and as we were on the side, relatively unharmed from excessive fan choreographies. The setlist this time was as follows:
04）Tap My Toe (Sacotee remix)
10）SOS (Pink Lady cover)
During the show I had the opinion that the setlist was too similar to the one of Part 1, especially after ‘Break Out!!’ and ‘Tap my Toe’ were performed at the beginning as well. Caio shared my view that time. But when looking now at it, it wasn’t the case at all. A mystery. Despite some lackluster numbers like ‘Sakura Iro’ or ‘SOS’ again it featured many of my favourites and a bunch of great songs. As examples I only name ‘Love Diary’ and ‘Mudai’. It was also nice to hear ‘Hachake Sensation’ again – the unreleased song who was a standard song during their ‘Count Up Tour Part 1 ‘ in the summer. It became a good performance – in part because we have been so close to the stage. Later I find out via Twitter and Ameba that Fumika and Akari of Party Rockets have been in the crowd as well. Now I like them even more – showing such great taste!
But this show should become something memorable, but with one of the worst incidents known to idol business: During the last MC Makoto was left alone on stage, which led to surprised mumbling in the audience. The reason became obvious soon: She announced her graduation from the group, effective after the final Count Up Tour concert at Tokyo Dome City Hall on the 1st of January 2015. That’s right: Makochan is leaving PASSPO! Although she is my least favourite member, Makoto is still very likable with her introspective and vulnerable character. It was also expected to happen soon, as she became too big of a name, being the most famous member of the group with some successful work outside the group (like Kamen Rider Wizard or model for Vanquish). Still it was a shock to all in the audience. Makochan was constantly losing her voice while crying during her emotional speech, as well as a lot of passengers that were followers of her. I had to fight my tears too, seeing this lovely girl crying her heart out, surrounded by the sobbing of grown-up men. Seriously a moment I won’t forget! I hope for Makoto, that she will find the success and happiness she longs for. She won’t be forgotten and I will miss her singing parts in ‘Kimi iro no Samba’ or ‘Pink no Parachute’. But as Annya was saying later: Idols aren’t forever. So let us enjoy the moment as long as it lasts! Maybe that is why the last song became ‘Shoujo Hikou’, an anthem for going forward positively, despite the odds!
This was my second trip to Japan this year and I was again witness of a graduation, or in this case, a graduation announcement. My first was the one of Megumi of Cocoro Odoru, but that being by far less emotional for me. Here it concerned my absolute favourite idol group. I hope this unlucky streak of mine doesn’t continue. PASSPO needs the time to adjust, Party Rockets already had its bunch of graduations in the past and consist only of three now from starting with seven members, and Bellring Shoujo Heart already had its share of line-up changes as well. *sniff* TIRA *sniff* But one thing is for sure: The biggest mistake of Caio that day was talking to Makoto and therefore being the reason for her graduation decision! She was fed up with being an idol for quite some time already, but to have to deal with him now, a person she was certainly warned about by Nachu, his appearance must have put her in so much fear during their akushukai earlier that the only option she saw available for her was leaving the idol business – in the hope of not dealing with the sort of fans like him again. I am kidding of course, but this is what we joked about later on.
We were then leaving the place, obviously talking about what we just have experienced. I was able to lighten up the mood when I was handing out some presents I bought for Caio in Germany and Korea that I had stored in a nearby coin locker in the early morning. I hope he was happy about it. If you are curious what it was, look up his blog post. Now that the Makoto graduation was handled by me here, it is now spoiler free and therefore safe to take a look. We then parted at the station as we had to take different subway lines, already sure we would meet soon again.
Good thing that I decided on the group shot before, as there won’t be a chance for me to ever get a photograph with Makochan in the future. As the occasion demands I will finish this post with some pictures of her – in remembrance of Okunaka Makoto and the PASSPO 9.
Makoto‘s official graduation announcement: