I wanted to continue my trip review from where I left of the last time, but recent events require a different approach. Therefore I pour you some GIN!
What happened? On the day of PASSPO‘s Tour Final on 04.04. in Roppongi EX, two news became hot topics:
1. Makita Sako going on an indefinite hiatus because of health reasons.
2. PASSPO announced a big change on the special One-Man held on 31.05. They even put a counter on their website for this occasion.
As you can imagine, speculations run amok now – from a complete disbanding to the integration of new members everything is possible, by their assumptions. Well, as much as I fear for the future of the group as well, I decided not to concern myself with it too much: On the one hand, PASSPO already announced their participation in festivals after the 31.05. Furthermore there will be a new album and I don’t see every member just quitting. And all this commotion for a future disbanding of the group – seems highly unlikely. My guess (or better: hope) is that the BAND PASSPO concept will get a higher emphasis, even though I doubt their instrumental skills. But who knows? I am in for it, and enjoy the anxiety right now! For your interest here is the video announcement they released about it, not giving any real hints, but enough unclarity to fuel the uncertainty of their future.
But now back to the regular work: Trip reviewing! I left of with the PASSPO flight in Yokohama. On the day after the Saitama flight would take place. In my prior scheduling I was omitting my participation there for the sake of seeing some other groups in festivals, mainly Stella Beats, Lovely Doll and Chu-Z. But after experiencing a PASSPO flight again, I realized my misconception! It awoke the passenger in me again and recovered the certainty, that PASSPO is and will continue to be my number 1 idol group. In contrast to festivals with a multitude of groups, where most of them are unknown to me or not interesting to me, the attendance of a full live show of one of your favourite groups makes much more sense, in every regard. I know the chants and choreographies (sort of), I have a connection to the members (to their disdain) and I LOVE the songs, so much that even a partial disbanding wouldn’t stop me from following PASSPO! I am not the oshi type-of-guy anyway. I try to explain about a more when I reach my blog post about PiiiiiiiN. If I don’t forget about it… Anyway, the meeting of the girl fans convinced me to try to get some tickets at the door. Of course I knew before them, that the Saitama shows were not sold out, but an impersonal Twitter announcement has much less effect then being told by some cute Japanese girls directly. And don’t let us forget the reason for this trip: It was my careless mentioning of attending the PiiiiiiiN One Man on the 29.03. to Ayano, that made me feel indebted. (More to it when reaching the PiiiiiiiN post.) See the continuity there? The present of a ticket to the evening flight by Hyon Su secured my determination. But the most convincing factor became the events: signs and chekis! It has been ages since I was able to interact with the members directly or had the chance for 2shots with them. The last time being the Flight on 28.09.2014, and here they “only” had the group shot. (I don’t count akushukais.) And here the girl fans again made me positive towards it, telling me about the possibility of purchasing more event tickets despite the limitation per person: Just by queueing up again in the goods line!
So much about the reasoning. My trip to Saitama went smoothly, after I had figured out, which line to take in Ueno. Just took me 30 minutes. The line I was sure about taking me to Saitama was only named once. But there no frequent train was leaving, just some that was called Cassiopeia, apparently an object of interest to train otakus, proved by the amount of people there taking photos of it. The lines next to it though had the regular trains going. Just didn’t make it that obvious. The Japanese – such pranksters to foreigners! Arriving at the station Saitama-Shintoshin and finding the venue was one of the easiest tasks to date: Just past the Saitama Arena (all the Alice Project fans should take notice) straight ahead, Heaven’s Rock appeared – or how MioMio pronounced it – Heaben’s Lock! (Don’t worry. I equally allow Japanese making fun of my Japanese. But during the shouts – Mio shouted Heaven’s Rock, and the audience had to reply the same – I never knew if I should join the misspelling or shout the correct version. Need guidance from other foreigners here.) The weather was sunny, the queue still short and a conbini just across the street – perfect conditions! I therefore spoke with the staff at place to make sure there are still tickets left – still needed to wait one hour for purchase as it would start together with the merchandize sales – shopped some drinks and food and got myself in the waiting line, position number 7, the sun shining on me – I even needed to open my jacket to feel comfy. After some time Hyon Su arrived as well and sales began, me a bit nervous, as I had to buy the entrance ticket at the venue sales counter, not at the goods stand directly, which was outside. But I reckoned, with my position in the queue, that I would be finished fast with the goods purchase and had more than enough time to get me the entrance ticket. There wouldn’t be high demand for it, would there? But the waiting in the line took longer than expected, but it happened to be my own fault: The queue for the merchandize was split in three lines at the stand. I placed myself in the middle line. As I saw the right line moving slowly, as some fans took too much time for contemplating about what to buy, I let one person from that line take the place before me. Why? Out of politeness and to make some plus points as the obvious foreigner I am. But bad decision: That guy turned out to be someone who wanted to buy EVERYTHING new on merchandize, PASSPO had to offer that day. This meant photos, a bag, the two tour shirts, towel, some stickers and what not. In the meanwhile I could observe not one, but several people entering the venue and coming right away out again, with just purchased day tickets. In my mind I was beating the crap out of the guy in front of me! But finally it became my turn. Six event tickets was today’s limit, rewarded when buying older photo sets, so I purchased six random photos and one new photo set, which comprises four group shots with four members each. Nicely caught on film! I even purchased one for Caio, as he was so kind to give me th new Lyrical School album and the new Afilia Saga single as a present the other day! Now fully equipped I made my way to the venue, greeted the female staff member who recognized me from yesterday’s shows, and got myself the ticket for Part 1. Mission accomplished! Now all that was left was waiting for the entry to begin. I positioned myself way at the end of the waiting queue, then my number was a B, as expected for a day ticket. On my way there I met the girl fans from yesterday again, showed then my ticket and we equally wished us much fun at the show.
The shows itself today became pretty much a repetition from yesterday: The structure being the same, and even the songs were mostly kept, with the exception of just a few – a direct contrast to the Count Up Tour last year, which featured completely different set lists every time. So in that regard my attending the shows was, I won’t say boring, but a bit unnecessary. No matter how much I enjoy a group, I don’t need them to do exactly the same performance in such a short amount of time. Here are the set lists from that day. I leave it up to you to compare it with the one from the day before.
3)BEAST IN YOU
5)Wish On A Star
14)Dear My Friends
4)Go On A Highway
But as I said, my presence there was much more stimulated by the events, which took place right after the end of Part 1. As Hyon Su queued up again for goods I let him buy for myself the Himawari photo set of Morishi, explanation coming later. The event for me started with, of course, Yukimi. Finally again an opportunity to get myself a cheki with her. As I was as ever totally ignorant about a pose I let her decide and we agreed on the L-size pose. I think it is nicely done. Even her name is present in the shot in the upper right. I like that.
I now was using my extra ticket for the Morishi photo set for an akushukai with Naomi. Been ages since I last talked to her. But I presumably will never figure that girl out. After recognizing me and asking me, in reference to our last conversation, if I am an American, I tried to talk further with her, but to no avail – she seemingly didn’t understand me, which was a bit frustrating. But instead she was initializing a double High-Five with me, accompanied by her bright smile. Nevertheless I sometime have the feeling that she doesn’t like me, a question I will ask her on my next trip, if I have the chance for conversation again.
Afterwards, as PASSPO announced just hours before via Twitter the integration of sign events for that day, this combined with the increase of event ticket limitations from five to six, I now opted for a sign, this time from Morishi. Just for one reason: To have a present for my sister, which as you may remember, is a big fan of hers. Her line was surprisingly short. Caio was telling me some other day, when I mentioned this towards him, that he bases this on the fact for her liking beer so much and talking so openly about it. Well, if that is true then I am quite the contrary. May it be my German descent, but a girl like her loving beer – LOVE! When I reached her, I told her my intention – that I wanted her autograph for my sister. Morishi was surprised about it and I am not quite sure how she tought about it or if she even believed me. But I was about to find out another day, this I can already tell you.
Also it started something with her that I don’t know if I should like it. During the Part 2 there happened to be short intermission between two songs, were Morishi frequently asked the audience, if they have fun! When she was asking for the third time she was directly pointing and looking at me, intentionally – there is no doubt here. I was a bit shocked about it, as I never expected her or any idol in general to interact that clearly with a foreign fan from who they know doesn’t speak the language that well. But crisis averted – with me some other fans were shouting in response, so my own meek voice and reaction became undetected. But Morishi has a good memory and in the near future some similar occasion would occur – with different results! (A lot of appetizers for further reading this time!)
Now I was out of event tickets, but as I learned, this doesn’t have to be the case so I went again for goods and decided on three new photo sets, hence three new event tickets. Why only three? As you can see from my posted cheki with Yukimi above the lightning of this place was terrible. I would have loved to use the opportunity for taking more chekis, maybe even with members I still haven’t managed to meet so far (Aipon, MioMio) or with Natsumi, with which I only talked one time during her seitansai last year. But all of them happened to occupy a space with equally bad lightning and a black wall behind it. I therefore decided on a cheki with either Anna or Sako, both of them being before the PASSPO banner, so much better results could be expected from a photo. As Anna‘s queue was a tad shorter than Sako‘s I lined up there. I also liked her look that day, much more mature in my eyes. As the queues happened to be very confusing, some were looping and unconcerned onlookers were occupying space right in the middle of the tracks, I was asking some fans before me, if this was the queue for Anna. They laughed and replied it being Sako‘s queue, obviously of the impression I failed to read their names displayed in kanji. But this time it really was just for the reason of the confusing queueing up. When it was finally my turn, Anna looked tired, was even yawning. No words were exchanged despite the agreement on the peace pose. Well, it is Annya. Always hit or miss with her. But as expected the quality of the photo turned out much superior!
Another reason for her being ‘unresponsive’ – apart from me being a foreigner and her maybe knowing me to be a Yukimi passenger, which awoke the question, what the hell I am taking a photo with her – it could be the fact, that the lines for her seem much longer than from last time I appeared at an event. So the presumably popularity of the members now looks like that: Aipon and MioMio being by far the most popular, followed by Sacotee and Annya (The latter gathering former fans of Makochan? I doubt that, as personalities are contrary.). Morishi seems to have a decline in fans (Because of her affection for beer?), whereas Nachu, Naomin and Yukki are by far the least popular. One thing is for sure: The implementation of cheki and even sign events as well as the stronger emphasis on older, more idolish songs, which legacy seems to be continued in the new album, taking Honey Dish as indication, shows that PASSPO is trying to not only keep fans that may have left together with Makochan‘s departure, but also attracting new in the community of idol wotas, something they had neglected in the past in my opinion, which focused more on rock fans.
Apart from some further interaction with the girl fans (we showed each other our chekis with Yukimi) nothing worthwhile to report had happened. My PASSPO weekend came to a close, but luckily this wouldn’t be my last encounter with members of PASSPO on this trip, as Hachake Tai announced their appearance on the Kami Festival the next weekend, so stay tuned!