Finally the New Years Day had arrived which meant – The Final of PASSPO‘s 5th Anniversary Tour at Tokyo Dome City Hall, their biggest venue up to date! They promised a lot for, mainly that they will perform ALL of their songs. How this would be accomplished was still a mystery and there was also the fact, that this flight would be the last with Okunaka Makoto in the line-up. How will they cope?
Me and my sister got early to the venue at 11:00 to secure us the tour shirts. Shaun and Caio would meet us later there, around 13:30. When we arrived at Tokyo Dome City Hall, there was already a long, slow-moving queue for the merchandize. To make things even better, after the temperature reached incredible 16 degrees the day before, it now declined to the freezing point, even light snowflakes were falling. Of course I was dressed for warmer temperatures which made the three-hour waiting time outside even more pleasant. But anyway, me and my sister acquired the tour shirts – a task Caio failed at for arriving too late when all the shirts were sold out. Now I can show off with wearing evidence of my attendance! *heh heh* I was shortly contemplating of buying me some of the limited surprise bags as well, each signed by one of the members, but skipped this: The signatures were not given directly and I know myself too well that it therefore would held no emotional value for me. While waiting I met the teacher again I got to know at their Nagoya performance back in summer. Ah, summer. Sun, Warmth. *head shaking* Back to topic. Shaun was also nearly punctual. Caio arrived, well, later. We waited for a while together, had a light quarrel if we should enter the venue together as well – Shaun had a higher number than us – but me and my sister were allowed to go in first, as we are the PASSPO passengers. We promised to secure them a good place in the venue if possible.
Inside we were greeted – by idols. Members of Palet and Predia were handing out flyers to the attendees. I only recognized Mizuno Mai from Predia though. After walking down several stairs / escalators we arrived in the venue itself – and it was huge, with several stories of balconies. The stage was very high, allowing a clear view from idol head to toe later on, and stretched out nearly completely as the width of the venue. As for our place: We were surprisingly able to stay at the outer right side, only few rows from the stage, allowing us to see the whole show from up close, often members of PASSPO coming near us for cheering with the crowd! Caio and Shaun soon joined us. And soon after the show began, me in constant fear that for the expected length of the show I would have to use the toilet. But I can reassure you already: I endured! And I have to praise the members of PASSPO, who showed no signs of fatigue, instead highly professional skills, delivering a fantastic and unforgetable show!
To be correct, the real show didn’t really start. First there came an opening act, namely Hachake Tai, the PASSPO sub-unit consisting of Yukimi, Shiori, Naomi and Natsumi, performing Hachake Sensation. After a longer wait again, the show finally began and would last for a stunningly 6 hours and 20 minutes! That I was able to walk afterwards is a miracle. Tokyogirlsupdate made nice summary of the show, the often fantastic photos in this post are taken from it, so I keep my thoughts short and just concentrate on the facts most important to me. The show was separated in different parts: First came a regular idol show with pre-recorded music, featuring mostly older tracks in their complete form. This was followed by short sub-unit part with Hachake Tai performing Kibun wa Saiko Saiko Saiko! and the other members, I call them Aipon to Tomodachi, doing Shang Shang Chandelier, practically a solo song by Ai. Then came a longer medley session, which changed into the Band PASSPO part, including a powerful rendition of Break Out. Afterwards the Live Band part began and the show closed with two encores (Mako-cores), both in regular idol style again. The parts were often seperated with different videos on the big screen.
Several costume changes happened as well. I am not so fond of the Perfect Sky uniform which is too dull and dark for my tastes, so I was glad when they changed to their Tracks dresses, although those also give room for critic. For the first encore the changed into their usual tutu and a special Makoto graduation shirt, the last encore featured the uniform back from the days when the music video to Shoujo Hiko was recorded. Special moments were:
– Natsumi‘s good looks – she obviously made a diet
– Annya starting to cry in the middle of Mudai – I was shortly worried as I didn’t know what was going on
– Makoto calling Sako “a strong woman” – made the audience laugh and Sako looking angrily at them
– Bubbles during Bathtub
– Mio on the Bass for Himawari-
In summary the concert was great but I have some minor points I want to address: The intro video was fantastic and built up a great start, but the lack of stage decoration was a bit underwhelming. I missed something that signified the specialness of the occasion. I also have to agree with Tokyogirlsupdate about the emotional value of the graduation: The little stage play was a nice touch but the actual farewell speech was much less endearing than the announcement back in Septembre. But maybe the impact back then was much stronger because of the unexpected suddenness of the declaration. Anyway, Goodbye Makochan!
And Hello, PASSPO 8! On the 10th January PASSPO would have their first performance as an eight member group at a festival celebrating the foundation of the radio channel TOKYO FM. The venue was an Akasaka Blitz. This already made this show special for me but also the fact, that other favourite groups of mine were performing at it, namely Babyraids, Himekyun Fruit Can, Doll Elements, Up Up Girls and Idoling!!!, the latter I have never seen live before. The show was split in Part 1 and Part 2. I had tickets for both. When I was inside the venue I realized it was being sold out. This meant for me only a place in the back of the venue, far far away from the stage. Still I enjoyed the performances. PASSPO as an eight member group is not much different from before, when they had nine. Maybe the fact, that Makoto never had my attention, plays a part. The only things that stayed in my mind were them performing Baby Jump (incredible song!), Natsumi singing Makoto‘s part in Uhae and Yukki having cut her hair, now to shoulder length. They also performed Wanted, Candy Room and Himawari, with the first being another favourite of mine, so I have no complaints about the set list.
When it came to the events afterwards I was hoping for PASSPO, but them would only do handshakes this time, something that bothers me for a while already – their current trend to refrain from proper events at their shows. In most occasions, you either have none or the akushukais only, often also with a limited event ticket supply. As much as I love this group: I expect from idols that they regularly make easily accessible events, especially with chekis, if not even signs. I understand that this can only be done by less known groups as otherwise the idols would be rushed and soon be overworked, but first thing: PASSPO is NOT a big group and secondly, there are ways to avoid such situation, like selling specific event tickets with the regular entrance ticket, limiting the supply of event tickets for each group member or simply do frequent shows at smaller venues, hence less amount of fans. They could even sell tickets for the latter at a much higher price as people will gladly pay more for the chance to participate.
Enough of my rambling. I looked around for their buppan – but couldn’t find it! There were also a lot of people in the aisle, making further search routes unavailable. As handshakes are not my thing with them as the time for it is too short, I instead decided on buying the two albums by Doll Elements. This would allow me to participate at their event, which included chekis. I got six tickets for it. I knew from Twitter, that there wouldn’t be individual chekis today, but nothing else. My plan now could only be to observe what was going on and act accordingly. Doll Elements held their event in the middle of the venue itself, with Siam Poptune also on the opposite side. There was more than enough room for everyone, so it became very comfortable and made my task easier to first observe what was going on. The first event was a group shot on a regular sized cheki, for two tickets. Group shots are great so I lined up. There was nothing special about it, as the arrangement of the photo was already decided – Haruka, Runa and Yukino standing, while Natsumi and Rika squatted with the fan. Time to talk was none, I was only asked by Rika, which hand sign I would prefer.
Next came the second part, another group shot (Yeah!), this time on a larger sized Polaroid. This would cost four tickets, quite expensive I thought. Anyway, the same procedure as before. After taking the shot was directed by a staff member to line up again – this time the cheki would be signed, by all members, and you were enabled to chat with them while they were writing. Annoying fact first: Each member signed in the colour assigned to them but the pens were terrible. As you can see below I wore a dark jacket and the background of the venue was dark black too, which makes the signatures practically unreadable. I never understand why idols don’t use better pens, like for example the ones Bellring Shoujo Heart used during their One Man. Now I have to hope that the Polaroid colours are fading, which isn’t really a thought I am looking forward to.
No matter the pens, the event itself was better. Troubles appeared as I had to concentrate on three things at once:
1. The idols looks – I have never seen the girls that close in person before,
2. trying to understand the idols words and
3. my own replies in Japanese.
A pretty tough task. If only one of these points take too much of my attention, the other two will lack excessively. But I basically managed. The first in line to talk to was already my oshimen Yukino. Although not being the usual candidate, as she is a bit on the voluptuous side, she is the most idol-like: Always smiling and full of energy, comparable to Kotoka from Stella Beats. She was high-spirited when greeting me, immediately pointing to the logo of my jacket, praising me for it. It is from Khujo, a general brand in Germany. No idea why this impressed her so much. Either way, I had to go on and she released me with a high touch. Which brought me to Runa, the first blonde coloured idol I talked to. She asked me if it was the first time seeing them and I replied with telling her I went to their One Man few days ago. While still explaining I was forced to change members again without a care and landed by Haruka, who luckily had listened to my talk with Runa, so I continued from there, confirming to her that I meant the show two weeks ago. I realized that if I had to choose a member just by looks, Haruka would be my Number One girl in Doll Elements. Next in line came Rika. Here the thing occurred that I described before: I was concentrating so much on her looks that I hard problems following her. She impressed me during the lives with her long legs, but from the photos I knew her face being a bit strange, with a weird shaped nose. But as I like such features more than the perfect beauty image I was drawn to her and wanted to confirm my impression. The last was Natsumi. She showed leader skills by asking me where I am from and then telling me that she likes German food! Now this is oshi material, but No! No! Yukino‘s place is solid!! But I replied with a praise for her taste and then already had to leave, in good mood.
On a side note, I saw a bit of a performance by Bakusute Sotokanda Icchome, an idol group consisting of maids from the Akihabara Backstage Pass Café. For this festival they appeared with ALL their members, leading to 50 members (or more?) on stage! They filled up the whole stage. This is overkill! Their music on the other hand is listenable. This is why I feature a video of them in this post.
I then left the venue, passing by the still going on group handshake event from Up Up Girls in the aisle, looked for something to eat outside and returned for the Part 2 later. This time, although entering with a ticket number above 400, I could acquire a place near the stage on the right side. It would have even be possible to go to the front. Fantastic. The opening act was a young group called Parallel Dream, originating in Nagano. I found the song they performed on Youtube so I feature it here. In it are only three members, but they now consist of five.
After them Idoling!!! appeared, who impressed me with their good-looking members, nice outfits and well-timed choreography. But as they have too many members this group will never get my attention enough to follow them. Right after them PASSPO had their performance, this time starting with Step&Go, followed by Baby Jump, Candy Room and Himawari again, but adding Material Girl. This as well is a nice set list. What was annoying that during both parts Ai introduced the group like they were founded just recently and unknown to the audience, telling about being an airline themed Rock idol unit and so on. Why PASSPO has to do that, after five years in business?
After their performance I already left the venue for the hotel. Events wouldn’t happen after Part 2 and I was tired from my trip to Sendai, from which I just returned this morning. The next day I had to go to the airport to catch my flight to Seoul, to collect my sister and then leave for Germany the day after, thus ending my winter trip. In summary I was very satisfied with it: I have met several friends again, saw great shows, took part in even greater events and got to know a new bunch of idol groups. What more can I expect?