As promised I will now devote a post to my experiences with Chu-Z. They became the most positive surprise on my trip. As I have told you before here, I saw them during the FiveStars Festival on 30.12. Their performance was great as I really loved the set list. But don’t ask me to post it here, as I already forgot it. And it doesn’t seem like they post their set lists everytime like PASSPO does, for example. That it included Bombastic! and Girls on the Run shouldn’t come with no surprise. I was even able to do most of the choreo’s. So proud!
The highlight became the buppan afterwards. There weren’t many people at the start and as my plan was to do just do a group shot – to avoid the talking aspect – I used the time to study the merchandise table. Well, that is an exaggeration, as I couldn’t see anything to buy there except cheki tickets. Probably they had some stuff in the suitcases behind the table to sell but how would I know? There was a board laid out that listed the diverse chekis. One stood out to me: The – Attention! – HAREM cheki, for 6,000 Yen! They really call it that! Now this is a tempting name, isn’t it? My assumption was it being a group shot with all members, as a single cheki was 2,000 Yen and group shots are always cheaper. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I purchased the ticket and got – seven small pieces of paper, hold together by a staple. The writing on the first was unreadable (all Kanjis), but what followed were six tickets, each successively featuring the names of the members. Now it dawned me: I acquired 2shots with every member individually and probably a group shot with the first piece of paper. Now you know why I in general refrain from making plans!
There was one last hope for me: The front piece of paper just stated it being a harem ticket and every members name was put behind it to make it easier for the staff to comprehend. I know, a long-shot and it wasn’t that way. But to be truly honest, I was glad to now have the chance to meet all members. Sometimes it is great not to understand the language and playing the foreigner card! The only fear I had: What to talk about with them? At least I already knew all members by name and looks, opposite to my meeting with PiiiiiiiN.
After a while the girls from Chu-Z arrived and opened the buppan. I was still watching from the side to get an idea how it would work out. The fans were again queueing up with the name boards in their hands, for lack of space holding up each to of them. By the way, these boards were foreigner friendly. Although the names were spelled in Kanji/hiragana, each had a big picture of the girl in question next to it – That’s how you do it! Even if I had purchased tickets for every member, my first cheki will always be with the member I like best. You never know what happens! So I was queueing up for Asuka, whose fans shared a line with Luna‘s. But as expected, this would need some time as Chu-Z‘ cheki organisation is somewhat similar to Bellring Shoujo Heart‘s: After the cheki fans were able to chat quite a long time with them. And as Asuka was one of the most favourite members of the group, you can imagine the situation.
This resulted in the following: There was a good amount of people in the line, but it seemed all for Asuka, as very soon the staff called out for fans who wanted to take a cheki with Luna. No one(!) was replying to that. Poor Luna *sob* That is where I took pity of her and signaled my intention for a 2shot! Lie. I was just tired of waiting any longer! The staff now came to me and I showed him my tickets as I didn’t know what to do. He took it, ripped out the piece with Luna’s name on it and then showed me to Luna – who was, in a VERY obvious way, anxiously observing me. The effect of seeing a foreigner approaching! But I became surprised as Luna was not only greeting me in English but also tried her best to maintain the conversation in that language, however stumbling it was. Damn, why did I already chose an oshi with Asuka?!? Anyway it was great to see her showing that much effort with me, so I likewise tried my best with Japanese. It was the beginning of a funny conversation, the two of us trying each other in languages foreign to us. After we took the cheki, using the Chu-Z hand sign, which I adopted later for every other member – lack of space, time and language barrier prohibited other options – I decided to reward her efforts by fulfilling part of a mission I was put in charge of: Few days ago I tweeted with Yutan, the Chu-pet (synonym for a fan of Chu-Z) who helped me out a lot the last time, and promised him to greet the girls and especially Asuka, his oshi, as he couldn’t make it to the festival. As Yutan is well-known by the group members this turned out to be no problem. When I questioned Luna, if she knows him, she nodded her head and I, who didn’t knew then how to greet a person from someone else in Japanese, said in my best effort: ‘Yutan. Hello.’ and pointed to her. As silly as my attempt was, she understood and thanked my enthusiastically. Shows effort AND has good perception. Damn my premature oshi choice again! She inquired how I knew Yutan and I told her that we met the last time during their show at Akiba Cultures. This seemed to impress Luna even more as she now realised that I was not just a random passerby but fan of Chu-Z. Then it came to her mind that she still had to sign the cheki and was asking my name. I told her and as I wanted to spare me the trouble of spelling it to her I just said ‘Katakana wa I desu.’ She gladly took the advice, evidently she would have struggled otherwise. Remember that when you read further!
Now I wanted to get back in the queue but I must have looked so confused before that the staff member now began acting as guidance to me. This meant pointing me to the next member who was free: Which happened to be Kaede. I actually had no idea about what to talk with her so I pointed to her sunglasses that are featuring the group name and said I find them cool. Her reaction – none. She acted very reserved, in complete opposition to Luna before. I guess she couldn’t tell what to make of me, as her look seemed to express caution. Well, whatever the reason, maintaining a chat was impossible. But she asked me for my name for the sign. This is where Luna reappeared, already out of demand while Asuka was still pretty occupied, a real Sisyphus work! I can’t understand why Luna seems so unpopular, at least today. Anyway after telling Kaede my name, Luna jumped in instantly to tell her, that katakana is okay with me. You should have seen her smile then, as Kaede complied to her suggestion!
The staff gave me no time to rest then as soon as I bid farewell to Kaede I was shown to Maja. She also displayed a similar reserve towards me that even became quite intimidating. Possibly this is an effect of her strong aura she emits in my subjective perception – appearing like a character-strong lady of good upbringing. I hope you get what I mean. This is accompanied by her age, than as Maja was born in 1988 she is way older than a general idol – a fact I prefer and am drawn to. And really, seeing her from up close I must admit, that she is stunningly beautiful! I had no idea what to talk about and she didn’t seem either so we soon came to the sign part. Luna, unoccupied again, resumed her interference and tried to convince Maja about writing my name in katakana but she showed her quality as a leader and spelled my name perfectly – to the disdain of Luna. I tell you, give the girl something to do!
I stood right in the middle of the members who were doing their events with other fans left and right, but didn’t need to move even a centimetre as Kana was now called by the staff to stand next to me for the cheki. When I saw her approaching I waved at her and greeted her with ‘Hey Kana!’ This made her display an immediate laughter, looking at me and repeating ‘Hey Kana’ as a question. I either made a huge cultural faux pas I didn’t know about or she was honestly pleased of being welcomed that way, as it showed me, a foreigner, knew her and the group. I assume the latter as Kana laugh showed no sign of embarrassment. The subsequent conversation confirmed my impression as she displayed a lot of interest in me, asking for my nationality and WHY I like Chu-Z. Tough question to answer in Japanese! I started with ‘Chu-Z ongaku wa -‘ and then had to pause as I knew no suitable Japanese word. Simply saying ‘saiko’ would be too generic, so I instead used the fitting English word ‘unique’. This was no lie. I really believe Chu-Z to be unique when it comes to Japanese idols. Their sound and vocals mixes Japanese Pop with Korean Pop, something I only experienced with Predia, though much weaker there. Whatever, my choice of words turned out to be perfect, as now her face practically started beaming from pride, repeating the word while looking around to find someone to share her joy with, but seeing no one. In a reflex I too looked around for Luna but to my surprise she wasn’t around this time. A rare fan of her has appeared who wanted to take a cheki. This made miss my run-after-me-puppy a bit. But I didn’t need to endure her absence for long, I can promise! Kana, giving up on looking around, turned her attention back to me and wanted to know more: What I regarded as unique? I replied by naming a few of my favourite songs, Bombastic! and Bow Wow, which are close to K-Pop. Making a knowing face, she repeated to herself ‘Ah, Bow Wow.’ and looked up to me, smiling beautifully. I became tempted to change my oshi once again! Seriously! As Luna was still missing I got my name in latin letters once again. Yeah!
When meeting Miku, I found myself reminded to Kaede and Maja again, though in Miku‘s case her behaviour was not cold or anything, but, for lack of words, professional. This was my initial impression of her anyway, as the first time I saw her it was during a PASSPO showroom. There she already had this ‘my pace’ demeanour. And the fact, that she had become Caio‘s oshimen must have left some scars on her mind as well. Or something entirely different made Miku confused: The presence of now two observers, named Luna AND Kana! The buppan was nearly finished, only Asuka still with some fans in line, so both of them seemed to be bored now. Not that this made me any more comfortable. Or Miku. The conversation got complicated as Luna and Kana started to interfere, answering questions directed at me in my stead. And of course the sign of my name! Luna started with her katakana proposal, but as Miku needed to correct it (she first misunderstood my name as Tomi), Kana helped out with the spelling.
Finally, after all this trials and tribulations, it was time for meeting Asuka again, who had finished her meetings with the other fans. Well, to put it correctly, I didn’t meet Asuka alone as Luna was positioning herself right beside her and – I could feel it – the rest of the group behind me, listening in as well. NOW I understood the real meaning behind the ticket being named ‘Harem cheki’! Anyway my first approach was congratulating Asuka to her birthday, which was just three days ago! Always a good start with idols. She was surprised that I knew but managed to thank me. I then fulfilled my promise to Yutan and greeted Asuka from him, in my weak attempt of Japanese phrasing. To my joy Luna became useful now and repeated to her what I tried to express. This apparently made Asuka‘s mind work and, by pointing at me, called out ‘I remember you.’ I was asking ‘For Real?’ and she just replied ‘Akiba.’ Correct! Asuka remembered me!! My oshi!!! How could I have wavered before? There is only Asuka in the world (of Chu-Z)!!! *calmed down now* The signing part then took place, in which Asuka, although checking with me about the spelling, ignored Luna and wrote my name correctly. Was that a tear on Luna‘s cheek appearing?
As I had finished my round through the Chu-Z harem I excused myself and got me a place at the side to watch the end of the buppan. But no way for me to rest as now the girls were positioning themselves for the group shot. I was honestly thinking about skipping that part as I was still overwhelmed by the experience just now and hoped my last piece of paper was just a cover sheet. I didn’t reckoned with the memory of the staff though, who when looking around for further participants saw me, called out and waved me to the group for the photo. I had to succumb! I was greeted again by everybody, this time even got a positive feeling from Maja and Kaede, who seemed to realise from my talk with Asuka that I may not be a Chu-pet, but I am no casual fan either and by far not a tourist who wants to experience ‘Japanese culture curiousities’. Now I felt welcomed! After the picture was taken I was asked by the members who should sign the photograph. Although I should have expected this it still surprised me. Interpreting my reluctance as fail in understanding, each of them tried to rephrase the question to me, some even said ‘favourite member’? Who? How the hell should I know, when six beautiful girls focus only on you? I was shortly contemplating choosing Luna or Kana, even Maja for being the leader, but decided for Asuka in the end. I had all their autographs so I could happily name my oshimen who complied without resistance. This time though she spelled my name wrong – a new version even that I can now add to my list – and wrote ‘Gomen’ under it. Charming!
Now it was finished, you would believe. Nope. Chu-Z where now handing out flyers, which I saw a few days ago already on their Twitter (see below picture). I was taking this as an advertisement for their new soon-to-be released single. But there was more to it. The second half of the flyer included information about a One-Man Chu-Z would be holding four days later, on the 3rd January in Shinagawa, near my hotel even. The girls now one after the other started to gather around me (harem again) and asked how long I would stay in Japan. After some trouble telling the right date (Japanese date system is complicated) they learned that I would be around on the 3rd, which resulted in them trying to persuade me to attend. They confirmed it being a One-Man and Asuka was telling me to come as it will be a ‘Party’. Resistance was futile. Internally I already agreed to go there. But what I didn’t tell them was my initial plans for attending an Idol Koushien that day because of the appearance of Party Rockets and Shaun being there also. But as Party Rockets would also attend an Idol Koushien the day after, I didn’t mind the slightest. The Chu-Z girls were just to convincing anyway. My sister luckily agreed as well later on. Little did I know what really would be taking place on January 3rd, Shinagawa Club Ex!
If I had to use one sentence to summarize what just had happened:
THIS is why I do events – It may fail much of the times but when it works, it is one of the best experiences ever!
Really a big THANK YOU CHU-Z!
January 3rd. Chu-Z One-Man. The place was easier to be found than I would have imagined. But it still makes me curious how Japanese concert venues are often near or even in shopping centres. We, that includes my sister and me, arrived in time and waited for the doors to be opened. When they did we bought us two door tickets. There was still a good portion left, so the show wouldn’t be sold out. The venue itself was like a big Ballroom: In the middle a round stage and around it an arrangement of five rows with cozy chairs. Now that was something new to me for an idol show. When looking for our seats we also realized soon: We had places directly at the main side of the stage. This meant not only us having a perfect view (4th row) but also the group members would be looking in our direction most of the time. Merchandise, to my disappointment, wasn’t sold. Only some sort of lottery was taking place, but I didn’t take part in it. Instead I recognized Yutan in a group of fans nearby and greeted him as soon as he looked in my direction. He also recognized me and came towards me, dressed in a costume that seemed to resemble a bear. He explained it being the same sleep wear that Asuka uses. Ecchi! I then reported about my accomplished mission, having greeted Asuka and even Luna from him. He then surprised me by knowing already. Luna has told him the day before during another Chu-Z event! Great to see when idols don’t forget their biggest fans and keep them updated, as it was the case here with Yutan. Of course I was happy that Luna remembered me as well *whistle*. Soon we had to part as the show was supposed to be starting. As I reached my seat again I was surprised again that before me a small family with a girl, maybe 3 to 4 years old, was sitting, the girl singing along to Chu-Z‘ Girls on the run which was coming from the speakers. Impressive diverse fan base!
The show turned out very enjoyable. It first started with Chu-Z coming out and doing a chair dance to their new song Brand Boy. Afterwards they left and on the big LCD screens their new music video Hana no achi was shown.
When the song ended, a longer Chu-Z set list began, starting with Iroha Music. Can’t be better than that. What became obvious: I was really sitting in front of them and although the girls kept a professional smile all the time I could see by their frequent looks in my direction that they recognized me, one by one. This was terrible, as I never knew where to look from now on. I am never comfortable with idols taking attention of me. As expected they also included a longer MC about New Years, with Kaede making un-idolish jokes. To say it with Predia: Warui Onna. Than an intermission followed, with WenDee performing. I found their style mediocre as well as their members. So I was glad when it was over.
Now the most crazy part began: Their manager came out and made a longer speech. I couldn’t make out much, only that he taught the audience the choreography to Brand Boy quite elaborately. When leaving, the lights went out and the members from Chu-Z were walking in, to the music of the song. The crowd was cheering louder than usual so it seemed part of the choreography as well. Everyone then tried to do the movements seen before but even I could make out most of them failing. What was strange: The girls were now lip-syncing. Hmm… The song ended, the girls left, manager came back on stage and – repeated the choreography once again, this time in more detail, telling the audience to put in more effort. Manager left, Chu-Z appeared, again lip-syncing Brand Boy, then leaving, manager back on stage, encouraging the audience for the third time to do the choreography better, leaving the stage only to see Chu-Z returning, Brand Boy playing once more. What was going on here? But then I noticed the cameras around who haven’t been there before. An assumption grew in me. But no time to think about it, then – I had to concentrate on the choreography. This time everything worked out and the manager, satisfied, expressed his gratitude – for participating in the filming of the MUSIC VIDEO!!! We became extras in a music video shot – incredible! Here is the result. If the preview picture from Youtube is not reason enough to watch the video, then I don’t know what is. Also take attention of the fact, that the three members on the left – Luna, Asuka, Kana, those who I had the best interaction with – are all looking in the same direction – exactly where I stood in the audience. Coincidence? I think not! *dream mode*
A short pause followed and then Chu-Z returned for a longer set again. Performing some of my favourites, like the K-Pop reminder Boombastic! or the fantastic J-Idol song Girls on the run. When they performed Love Parade, I noticed a similarity in a specific part of their choreography they share with Korean idol group T-ARA, who I have seen just a short time ago and their song Sugar free. It is not really important, but I still find it interesting as it one of my favourite dance movements, although the actual motion is not really worth mentioning. But finding the same dance moves between Japanese and Korean idols is rare, as both styles aren’t usually comparable. If you are interested, you can check out both songs. I posted them below.
Here is Love Parade by Chu-Z, already time skipped:
And for comparison T-ARA with Sugar free, also skipped to the important part:
The concert ended with an encore and their last song, being as always, Choose my Life. I found a recording of it on Youtube as well, and this time I can easily recognise me. My sister is upset though: The picture frame ending right at the point where she would have been shown. *hihi*
This concert experience was great and it convinced me to buy some CDs by Chu-Z the next time I went to a Tower Records. And just a few days ago I read in Twitter that Chu-Z has released a Live DVD now (not from this show). Another must-buy for me, maybe even on my next trip. Included are now 5 Live DVDs: PASSPO, Bellring Shoujo Heart, Party Rockets, Chu-Z, Babyraids.