Before I dip into reviewing my latest idol shows I give an overview about general things I experienced that trip. I have been to Japan 3 times the last year, over the course of 6 months (July – Septembre – Decembre). Some would say, I should be bored already, but on the contrary: Coming back to Tokyo and finding most places familiar, often not in the need anymore for looking up directions (ATMs for example), gives me a pleasant feeling. This is accompanied by slowly taking in the behaviours and differences of the Japanese culture, which enables me to move around more relaxed than on my first trip. This includes idol events as well.
As I already mentioned idols, I have to admit, that those became my major reason for traveling to Japan now, and mainly Tokyo. I am still interested in seeing new cities or exploring or revisiting the different wards of the capital, but it all went in to the background, only being an option now, when I have to rest a day, no idol show is scheduled or, in case of the Bellring Shoujo Heart concert in Sendai, an idol show is scheduled outside Tokyo. On the same note I now learned to take the whole situation much easier and give myself more space, not necessarily running from one event to another, even skipping possible shows. During this trip I could have visited a Lovely Doll show at Akiba Cultures, could have gone to more Idol Koushiens or PARMS. In the case of Lovely Doll I reclined because I collected my sister from the Airport, which happened to be on the same time. It didn’t matter much to me though as I just saw them perform the day before at FiveStars Festival. For my sister is was different matter, with Lovely Doll being her favourite group and not being able to see them on her trip. Idol Koushien and PARMS I still like to attend but for me it is more fun to have a certain amount of time between shows. Otherwise it gets kind of repetitive and boring, especially PARMS. And seeing basically the same groups at Koushien everytime is not that much better. Here the participation of events from my favourite groups play a major role, allowing me to leave the venue for some distraction and recovery (sort of, as queueing up in crowded aisles for chekis is not really that enjoyable).
I even state here, that the same thing applies for One-Man’s of my favourite groups: For example seeing PASSPO mini lives few days in a row wouldn’t be as much fun as seeing them, let’s say, on a weekly basis. PiiiiiiiN is a good reference here. They can easily become my new No. 1 group in the future, but seeing them perform on the 29.12., the 02.01. and the 04.01., always the same setlist, takes a lot away from the pleasure. With Bellring Shoujo Heart it became the best arrangement, starting with a short set on 29.12., followed by a longer set a few days later on the 02.01. during a Three-Man, ending in a proper One-Man a week later on the 09.01. Everytime different songs, different atmosphere, different fun at the events.
One important thing became obvious for me: Since my youth I was always interest in the classic eras of rock music, especially the 60s and 70s. Songs, albums, performances had a more refreshing vibe to them than most of what you hear today, even when it comes to indie-groups, who bore me the most with their lame and generic attempts of creating something exciting, but only repeating already walked paths and what is worse: Totally lacking in musical skills – feeling proud when playing three accords on guitar but being unable to perform an adequate solo on it. Idol music on the other revived my faith in music, although it being so much more artificial. But the creative minds behind it use the idol genre to their benefit, creating an accessible diversity and mind for experimentation that I so miss in todays mainstream and independent scene.
What also is quite obvious: Attending shows together with same-set-minded friends are much more fun than alone. Though Shaun needs to do more events next time. He only told me he took chekis with Doll Elements, but I never saw the proof. I promised myself to drag him to PiiiiiiiN-events next time, so the shy guy can finally talk with Emiri! Caio is the total opposite, just lacks the money. Otherwise I can imagine him lining up again and again for whomever, only if the girl looks good enough! My sister, who still has only a small amount of groups she really likes, took at least a group shot with Party Rockets and a single cheki with Fumika, her favourite member (proud!). However there is still much room of improvement for her!
On the funny side there where quite a lot hair style changes this times, most obvious in Akari from Party Rockets, Yukki from PASSPO and Miku from Chu-Z.
Akari decided on cutting her bangs. This I totally reject! Not that she looks ugly now, but the long bangs suited her so much more.
Party Rockets has enough better suited examples of the short-bangs-fraction in Haruka and Fumika. Don’t you agree?
Naomi from PASSPO is a good example for long bangs as well. Compare her current hair style with the on two years ago. So much better! (Not that she looked so much worse before, admittedly.)
Yukki decided on cutting her long hair! This was quite a shock. I always loved that feature of her. Still not getting used to it.
Morishi has done some slight adjustment to the back of her hair as well. But these are minor changes, so no commentary here.
Miku from Chu-Z has done the same as Yukki. I can not really object. After the first negative impression the new look grows on you. Still I am glad I got my cheki with her, when she still had her long hair.
Again I tried to buy me some new fanshirts. Most events though didn’t sell any (Chu-Z, Party Rockets), the place was too crowded to get me in the shopping mood (Predia, Stella Beats), or the design was awful (Hime Kyun Fruits Can). But some groups had pleasant surprises!
1. PASSPO – Tour Shirt
Finally some good design – in PASSPO terms. It still lacks the images of the members and the front is in desperate need of some colours. But the (not anime-stylized) picture of the airplane and the map of the world are at least far from being embarrassing. The letter depiction is great as well, displaying the group name really nice.
The back is as expected, listing all the shows of the tour. I am still amazed, that I was able to go to four of the dates mentioned there!
Good Job this time, designers! Probably MioMio was not around this time (or they hid from her).
2. PiiiiiiiN – Fan Shirt #1
Big picture of a ferris wheel and under it the letters “3 Peace Land”, the agency label or something. For the general public it looks like some shirt bought in an amusement park. This is what appealed to me here. I can wear this shirt in public without getting a raising brow by passerbys. But on the back you can see the group name. Although I didn’t directly go to their first anniversary, I saw them just one week later. That is basically the same.
3. PiiiiiiiN – Fan Shirt #2
Their first fan shirt, which also comes in blue coloured lines. Nothing special here. At least it has the group name on the front which made me buy it. As the group is still new, I have enough hope that they will improve their budget very soon and therefore their designs as well. But I thought the same about PASSPO…
4. Bellring Shoujo Heart – Fan Shirt #1
An anime style shirt – this is risky for me, as it makes me look like an anime otaku here in Germany, which I am not. But in my desperate need for finding fan shirts with depictions of group members I made an exception here. I like the art style and it fits the group so well. Although I have trouble recognizing which character stands for which member. I should have asked Ayano about it when I had the chance, but well. This girl always has something up her sleeve and makes me forget what I was preparing beforehand. Anyway, my guess is, starting from the top left: Mizuho, Tira, Juri, Kai, Yuka, Ayano, Moechi. And yes, one girl must be Tira, then you, as an attentive and knowledgable reader, have already discovered that the picture displays seven girls, although the group only consists of six members right now. Four with the start of February, as Yuka and Juri will be graduating. But that’s not important here.
5. Bellring Shoujo Heart – Fan Shirt #2
THIS was actually the shirt I was looking for. If I hadn’t attended their One-Man in Sendai I would have never had the chance to own it as it was only sold there. It is colourful and depicts the members in the form of a group photo, not drawn or anything (slighty reworked though). Two minor issues are still left: The group name is to small and hidden. Also the whole picture is an ironed the shirt which makes it a bit stiff and I also fear to damage it in the future. Why can’t things be perfect (like me *cough*).
6. Bellring Shoujo Heart – Tour Hoodie
The first time I bought a hoodie. Why? I liked the design on the back. Simple as that. It is nothing too special, but it tells the name of the tour and, a bit hidden, the tour dates. Also the group name in proper Japanese. Too bad it is black and white. Otherwise you could make out the rising sun flag more.
But now I have a good accessory to combine with other fan shirts and still show my devotion for Bellring. Probably not TIF, as the heat would soon regret my style decision.
An honorable mention is reserved for Doll Elements shirts. They had the PERFECT shirt – group members on the front, easily readable group name, names of the members on the back – except they failed in one important aspect: The colour happened to be pink!!! PINK for God’s sake! And it was the only version they sold. Even more frustrating as I saw a lot of fans walking around in member-colour-versions with the same design… I was thinking shortly for buying a shirt for my BFF as a souvenir, who happens to LOVE pink (as any girl), but decided on getting her a Funashi instead later. Oh, before I forget, I finally bought myself a Funashi as well!!!