I had the chance to see PiiiiiiiN quite a few times this trip. I managed to see three lives of them at Idol Koushiens and attended two events afterwards. Right now there is no need to see them more often as they only have five songs to choose from and therefore every live is the same. But what I am sure of: PiiiiiiiN may soon become my favourite idol group. What is missing is a full-sized album, where they hopefully keep a consistent rock-style and a stable line-up. They already had one member graduating (Nina) and two members replacing her (Arisa, Riko). But I am very optimistic! If you still don’t know who PiiiiiiiN is, I recommend to read my post here or watch the nether recording of their 1st anniversary concert from 17.12.2014. Audio quality is not the best though.
My first encounter this trip with PiiiiiiiN was on the 29.12., at the Idol Koushien in Shinjuku ReNY. Right before their live, Bellring Shoujo Heart was performing and holding their event half an hour later. This meant enjoying the performance by PiiiiiiiN, together with Shaun, from very near, as attendance was low, and then immediately afterwards heading into the aisle for the event booths. Of course I couldn’t miss an event by Bellring Shoujo Heart. But as I arrived later, the queue was incredible long and I had to line-up near the entrance to the stage area. This turned out to have its positive sides as all members of PiiiiiiiN were advertising their Twitter account to the fans attending the Koushien and took the strategically perfect spot right beside the doors. I stood just opposite to them! And as a foreigner was neglected. *frown* So I did the unthinkable and called out to Ayano! Surprised looks on all the members faces! (I wish I had in on film.) I took a step forward, as well as Ayano, as having a wall behind left her no other choice but to approach me courageously. Just kidding. Although most members still watched at me carefully, Ayano was obviously surprised at first to be called like that but soon adjusted and cheerfully smiled at me, wondering what comes next.
I just asked: ‘When is your buppan?’
Ayano replied, happily: ’16:45.’
I again: ‘See you then.’
Ayano: ‘I am waiting.’
Then I got back in line, not wanting to talk any longer as I had no idea how to continue anyway. PiiiiiiiN were still advertising for a few minutes and then left, with no further intention of talking to me.
Finally at the event I bought their anniversary shirt (the one with the ferris wheel) which gave me three event tickets. For those of you who don’t remember my first event with PiiiiiiiN back in Septembre, I explain shortly again:
One ticket for 1,000 Yen. A shirt costs 3,000 Yen. Tickets I got were
Type A – cheki on polaroid with 2 minute talk + sign
Type B – cheki on polaroid with 1 minute talk + sign
Type C – cheki on your own mobile, no further talk or sign.
Type A was an obvious choice – my oshi Ayano, also known as Haracho! She asked me how I knew PiiiiiiiN and I reminded her that I saw them back in Septembre during an Idol Koushien at Akasaka Blitz and we even did a cheki together. She apologised for still not remembering. Then I mentioned their scheduled One Man on 29.03., which actually is a Two Man together with their sister group PPP!PiXiON, and my intention to attend that. Curiously she had trouble understanding me saying the English words ‘One Man’, which are the same words the Japanese use. The conversation was like:
Me: ‘Maybe I can go to your One Man.’
Ayano: (puzzled) ‘Eh? What? Oh-Meh?’
Me: ‘One Man.’
Ayano: (confused) ‘won en?’
Me: (losing patience) ‘No, One Man. Ah, forget it.’
Ayano: (contemplating) ‘Aaahh! One Man!’
She then even wrote on the cheki the date of the concert, expressing her hope to see me there. The two minutes were up now, we shook hands and I thought about my cheki with the next member.Well, I exaggerated again. I didn’t have to think about who is next. It would be my Number 2 in the group: Rizu, idol identity is Rizu-sama. So I used my Type B ticket for her. Being in 3rd row during their show paid out, then Rizu told me right away, that she saw me during the live. Attentive girl, looking out for the important. Well, I guess she was just curious about a foreigner cheering for the group, as the career of PiiiiiiiN is still in the beginners phase. She asked me if I like PiiiiiiiN and I told her about our first meeting and how we did the Rizu pose. She then either told me she remembered or acknowledged my truthfulness as I knew ‘her’ pose. Asking me now where I was from, she replied, ‘Ah. Three Piece.’ At first I didn’t know what she meant by it, but later it became too obvious as PiiiiiiiN is managed by an agency that works under the name ‘3 Peace’. Sometimes I am slow. Anyway I like Rizu a lot: Tall, thin, self-confident. She would have been my oshi, if Ayano wouldn’t have that strong aura. As pose we used the regular PiiiiiiiN hand sign. (Does anyone know what she wrote at the bottom of the pick? I can only make out ‘mata’.)
Now I was left with a Type C ticket and I actually had now idea how to use it as I never thought about other members besides Ayano and Rizu. I could have done another cheki with one of them but that would have been lame here. There was also the problem that I didn’t even knew the other members by then. Only Emiri I could name. I therefore looked around and read the name Riko (in hiragana) on one of the name boards and chose the girl named Riko, in the assumption it would be the member I later learned to be Runa. Turned out I was wrong. Well, the difficulties I face with new groups. Learning to distinguish AND memorizing names and faces just by pictures and Youtube videos doesn’t work for me. No matter the reason, Riko even looked better close-up than from pictures and my cheki with her I regard as one of my favourites: Pose, Smile, Lightning! She now occupies Number 3 in my internal PiiiiiiiN ranking!
This finishes my report on the 29.12. Next was the Idol Koushien on the 02.01. I just went there to waste some time until Rhymeberry / Moso Calibration / Bellring Shoujo Heart Three Man. I didn’t take part in any events this time. During PiiiiiiiN‘s performance I was again able to stay near the front. Here Ayano winked at me a few times during songs and waved goodbye to me after the group was leaving the stage. Nice feeling to be remembered. Some let-down though: Right at the beginning of their set, starting with Kaien DASH, the sound system broke. It recovered for the next track but PiiiiiiiN had to finish the song accapella. If this wasn’t a marketing stunt (the girls basically seemed unsurprised) it showed great professionalism and also a fantastic reaction by the crowd, who instantaneously started clapping and supporting the group, who continued singing and dancing. The latter looked a bit funny, especially at the end, when the head banging part sets in. Decide for yourself. as this performance was also released on Youtube.
My next and last encounter with PiiiiiiiN happened again at Shinjuku ReNY, at the Idol Koushien held there on 04.01. My intention for the live was to stay on the left side, as this was practically vacant. But a Japanese fan of PPP!PiXiON noticed me wearing a PiiiiiiiN shirt and dragged my to the middle where other fans of PiiiiiiiN were gathering. They ‘tried’ to embed me into the wota choreography but I failed to follow them. I am not that kind of fan. At least I was able to follow the major moves and I forced to do the group embracing that is always encouraged during PiiiiiiiN‘s last song. I hate that. No special reaction from the girls on stage though but as I was in the middle, right in front of them, I was looked upon many times. This made my feel even more embarrassed.
The subsequent PiiiiiiiN event would be the most intensive one because – I bought me the Live DVD recording of a show by PPP!PiXiON / PiiiiiiiN and another shirt. This summed up to 8,000 Yen which resulted in eight event tickets – 2x Type A, 2x Type B, 4x Type C. I didn’t think about it before buying. At least this brought me some little conversation with the staff member selling the goods. He asked me where I was from and then told me, he has been to Germany for working reasons a few years ago. But his English wasn’t that good and my skills in Japanese either, so it was hard to maintain the discussion. The fan who dragged me to the centre during the performance then reappeared again. He was buying a towel to get chekis as well, although being a PiXiON fan. But then he gave me that towel as a present. I guess out of pity for my poor performance. I wanted to return the favour by offering him a beer, but he explained to me that he was still underaged. Too bad. But my luck as it saved me 600 Yen (They increased prices since last time.) I also have to mention his friend, who also was in the group of fans during the performance and who seems to be a close acquaintance to the members in PiiiiiiiN and especially Ayano. They were talking a lot together (without event tickets) and even sat next to each other chatting when Ayano was unoccupied. I also assume he regularly helps out with transporting the merchandise and stuff, as at the end of the event he helped packing the goods and carried them away with the staff member. I like to see such interactions and support between idols and fans and always wondered why this is not a regular occasion with other groups as well!
Now I had two options: Take A LOT of chekis with Ayano or use them for chekis with every member. I chose the latter as such occasions are rare and I needed to get to know the other girls better. Again I started with Ayano, Type A. She showed good memory skills as she greeted me with my name. Nice! This time I chose the pose. While signing she told me about having attended an English school for a three years, partially in English. But the result of this education was poor, I have to admit (I apologize, Ayano!). She could remember some words, like ‘three years’ but that was it. She also asked the staff member about some words, a habit that was copied by the other members later on.
Now my memory fails me about the sequence I talked to the other girls. I will therefore randomly mention them. This is mainly caused to the fact that there was not much space in the aisle, so when fans used their Type A and B tickets, only three members were able to do the signing/talking simultaneously. Those were then blocking other members from the same activities, only allowing Type C chekis with the rest of the girls. I therefore started switching between my tickets according to the situation everytime this stagnation happened and chose a member that was free at the time. The only thing I was sure of was that I would use my three remaining Type A and B tickets for Runa, Riko and Emiri.
For my cheki with Arisa I first needed to know her name. Luckily her sign board was in hiragana so I could make out ‘Ari’, so I figured her name should be ‘Arisu’, the Japanese version for ‘Alice’. This is how I approached the staff member who was unoccupied and – was corrected. I cursed inside but didn’t let anything out, thus I am pretty sure my mistake was taken as a foreigner’s trouble in pronouncing Japanese correctly. Pweh, crises averted! As it was a Type C ticket, there wasn’t much time for chatting though I had the impression that with me they made an exception, as every member I used my Type C for tried to involve me in some conversation. Arisa tried too, but I forgot what it was about. Shame on me.
As accidental as my first cheki with Riko was, it convinced me to get myself a cheki with an autograph by her. This meant Type B. I don’t really remember what we talked about again. Damn, I should take notes. But it probably was one of the general topics (heritage, praise for performance, language skills). But Riko gave me a great suggestion: As I was still holding my bought merchandise in my hands everytime, she recommended me to put it down next to the window. I complied for the next chekis!
Somewhere in between it was time with Rizu again. I chose a Type C, as I had my talk with her just a few days ago as well as the pose, repeating here the one I took with Haruka from Party Rockets. She also saw my bought merchandise, which I now put down and praised me for the towel. When the picture was taken, Rizu was looking at me with high intent, obviously awaiting further chatting. How to rescue this situation? The only reply that came to mind was another expression of thanks and that I want to see PiiiiiiiN again soon. This seemed sufficient as her reaction was a satisfied smile. Phew, another crisis aversion! I should find a job in emergency management.
Runa was a member that came to my positive attention when watching the videos of PiiiiiiiN. She is one of the tallest, behind Ayano and before Rizu, and seems to lead the MCs. But I guess the latter is caused by her love to talk – a lot! I observed that when she was chatting with other fans during the event. Even with me she tried her best, showing her English ‘skills’ and introducing herself with ‘My name is Saitou Runa.’ Anyway Runa impressed me and therefore I used a Type B ticket for her. Together with her enjoyment for talking she also seems to have no fear in contact, putting her head so close to mine during the cheki that I had her hair in my mouth. Tasted like cherry. Just kidding.
Ami carefully approached me, a little uncertain how to interact with a foreigner. But after greeting us I didn’t expect her to tell me right away, that she herself was half Filipino. Wow, what an introduction as I thought such topics being more or less a tabu in Japan. I showed my surprise but to lack of skills couldn’t add anything else. But that wasn’t needed. Ami smiled and we parted, making me realise her being a sweet girl.
The next chapter is about the member called Emiri, the girl who always appears to me like she is on the verge of crying. This made me neglect her when I saw her the first time as I couldn’t interpret this. But what was obvious from the beginning was her liveliness and her being a special character. Emiri‘s reaction when she heard that she had to talk to me (Type A ticket) was priceless: I have to talk in English? she was asking the staff member, with her face turning on-the-verge-of-crying. I couldn’t refrain from laughing about it. But being the gentleman I am, I comforted her with some Japanese words and decides to lead the conversation this time. I even had a topic prepared. As Shaun likes her, I told Emiri that one of my friends is her fan. Emiri was surprised and then said something about ‘having seen’. What she meant exactly escapes my knowledge. She could either have said, that she saw him already (PiiiiiiiN shouldn’t have much foreigners in their fan base, as seen by the reaction showed towards me) or simply just asking if Shaun has already seen a show by PiiiiiiiN. Anyway I answered that he has been to their show yesterday (another Idol Koushien), which she found interesting. Whatever the case, I am sure of one fact: That my impression of Emiri changed with this conversation. I now like that funny girl, who had trouble spelling ‘Thank You’ for the cheki and therefore scribbled over it, to try a new (this time successful) attempt. She even signed her name in the English form. See, you can do English, Emirin!
Now left with only a Type C ticket I of course did the obvious: I started with the best, I would end it with the best. Therefore it was Ayano‘s turn again. I chose a new pose to which her reaction was: ‘Kakkoi pose!’. She then wished me a Japanese ‘See you again’, to which I replied, ‘Maybe for the One Man.’ (I still didn’t know it being a Two Man.) She expressed her thanks and we parted.
Shortly after my last cheki the event by PiiiiiiiN was at its end as well and the girls left for the backstage area, on their way passing by me. Here Ayano again waved at me, called me by name(!) and told me to meet again soon. THIS became the reason I am now seriously contemplating about attending their Two Man with PPP!PiXiON at the end of March and why I regard PiiiiiiiN this highly, as all members were fun to interact with.