The 24.03. started the same as the day before – Sakura viewing in a park with friends. This time not the one in Ueno but the Chiyoda Park, where the Imperial Palace and the Budokan are located. The result was nevertheless the same as well: Hardly any tree was blooming. At least the weather was nice, sunny and blue sky. Still the wind made it a little uncomfortable. This I became aware when waiting for Eddy, guy I met via Twitter, being a friend of Allan. I arrived a little early, he a bit too late – to my luck I had cold medicine with me and I would need it starting the next days. Allan soon joined us and later I got to know Jun as well. We spent some time in the area, as mentioned visiting the park, passed by the Budokan where a lot of Japanese girls were present, all wearing Yukata’s, as it happened to be graduation season of the current school year.
Interesting to see but I will never get it why people make such a fuss about it when girls wear traditional clothing. We also visited the Yasukuni Shrine. Too bad the food stands around were not open already, they would with the forthcoming weekend. This would have piqued my interest much more. I had to leave soon, as I had an appointment: Bellring Girls Heart appeared as an act in a small live house show, together with some indie rock groups, in Shimokitazawa. So there was some way to travel and as the area was new to me I didn’t want to arrive at the last minute. But it turned out pretty easy to find the venue. Also the surroundings were optimal, with café’s and some fast food chains around. This was what I did: After making sure of the location I first went to a café, to kill some time and check my mails and stuff. I also needed to check on Twitter, than I was still kind of curious about this type of show. It was my first time where I would attend a live with a mixture of idol groups and regular bands and I wasn’t sure what to make of it, as generally these two don’t match. At least in my assumption. To avoid any mistakes I even refrained from wearing any fan shirts and the like. Another thing confuse me: In their Twitter Bellring Girls Heart at first announced events starting after 21:50, the end of the whole show. But during the day another Tweet came up, changing the starting time to 20:30, with the addendum of extending it to after the end of the show, so that fans could enjoy the other bands as well, without fearing to miss out on the event. This had been my initial plan. But with the knowledge of how long you stand in the queue now for just one member and the late time it could therefore last (didn’t want to risk missing the last train) I was still in conflict. After I finished with my coffee and the updating process of myself through social media, I again made my way back to the venue. As in Twitter there was also a mentioning of some sales one hour before the show, I needed to make sure what it was about: Just day tickets for the whole show or possibly a sale of merchandise before the live would start? Then remember: One of my reasons to go there was also to acquire the recently released live DVD of Bellring Girls Heart. Arriving there I saw no queue or even anyone waiting so I just went in made sure that there really wasn’t anything going on. The Tweet was just about day tickets then. Outside the venue I checked some boards for information, but of course they were entirely displayed in Japanese. While still deciphering some of them, I felt the presence of four figures in black clothing emerging out of the hall that leads to the venue. Totally surprised at first it took some seconds until I realised it being Moechi, Kai, Mizuho and Ayano passing by, apparently on the way to the nearby conbini. The first three just passed by without even noticing me but when Ayano was casually looking in my direction, she suddenly broke out in a bright smile and waved – right back at me! This blog ends here then being recognized by Ayano led to my instant death!
Just kidding. But what a great experience! I now had to adjust my plan,as I wanted to buy some drink in the conbini as well, but following after them now would have felt creepy. I therefore made my way to McDonalds, for something to eat mostly, but more for the reason to calm myself down and to wipe off the grin on my face. The time for the show soon arrived and after buying myself some drinks in a conbini far away from the venue, I entered it. The live house was far from being sold out. This would change shortly before Bellring’s show was beginning, as expected. The show started with a female singer-songwriter, equipped with an acoustic guitar only – not really my genre. I prefer band-sound and electric instruments. Afterwards a band came on stage which was pretty average. The typical Japanese Indie-Band, which I outgrew long ago. Finally it became 19:05 – the turn for Bellring Girls Heart, with it the live house reached a large increase in the audience, nearly filling the place. I tactically made the right decision in going near the front at the start of the performance of the last act, but of course kept a position on the side lines to escape the moshing and such. The glasses incident will always stay with me… The live became as expected – the four remaining members appeared on stage and did some live classics, like C.A.N.D.Y. or Rainy Dance to be later joined by – the three new members Kari, Kanra and Anna – their first ever live performance! Perfect timing for me being there! So the group now up to seven members, but as I didn’t know anything on the new girls I was more inclined on concentrating on the ones I already knew, especially Ayano now. She again made the most direct fan interaction by walking on the shoulders of fans. Even successfully, as she didn’t trip like it happening so often in the past where she then had to change to crowd surfing. Otherwise the difference in amount of members didn’t really made their show anything better or worse. But of course seven members provide much better enjoyment as the stage is more filled and provides the viewer’s eyes more distraction and allowing the group to revel more in choreographies or just plain silliness.
All things must pass though and now the exodus of fans from the live house began, leaving the place almost empty in comparison. Me too was contemplating leaving the venue for the event but I convinced myself to at least see one or two follow-up bands, just to get an impression on them and to avoid getting to the event to early. I dislike the confusing commotion events tend to be at the start. I lasted for two bands in successively, again those typical Japanese ones, and left in the middle of the performance of the third one. As time approached 21 and the event began around 20:30 I was pretty sure that now was the right time to go. And it was. The event was already in progress: Located in the underground parking lot of the venue, which was completely empty, probably because of the event, individual queue’s for the members had already formed, welcoming me in a very coordinated fashion – I could even make out clearly which line was for which girl; a big advantage of a spacey area like this parking lot. The only downside was it being a bit chilly, but nothing to demanding. The queues itself seemed quite equally distributed, this mostly contributed to the fact of fans wanting to introduce themselves to the new members. Totally understandable, I even thought about it myself but refused for not making them afraid of foreigners already on their first show. This task I leave for my next encounters. Anyway there was something else to be done first: The purchase of the live DVD! As always, merchandise sales and chekis were separated from each other and as I came later no one was at the goods stand. I recognized the sales lady from the last times, as she is a regular in most shows as well, only at the Sendai Live I haven’t seen her. I asked her for the DVD which she very happily handed me over. Immediately afterwards she inquired me if I have the need for a point card. Obviously my various sales kept me in her memories. I didn’t mind – it at least makes a nice addition to my wallet – and she issued one, putting five stamps in it for the 5,000 Yen purchase. Now having accomplished my task here I left for the hotel. Right, as if, silly! Instead I was getting in line for Ayano and had to wait. As neither staff, members nor fans take it that serious with time limitations, the line moved slowly. But good things come to those who wait and finally it became my turn to talk with Ayano. After the first hello and the agreement on the pose (I wanted to do a boxing pose. Could have been better. Well, whatever.), she came right at me with having seen each other outside before the show. I confirmed and expressed my happiness over her remembering which let to an ‘of course I would’ reply. I then inquired about how she feels of now being in a seven member group. She said it is nice being in companion of more girls but sometimes it gets so annoying, she just has to say ‘Shut Up!’ (Urusai-yo!), which made both of us laugh. I then told her about my purchase of the DVD and even showed it to her to get her fingerprints – just kidding! She explained to me it featuring the six-member incarnation of the group and that I should watch it very often. I promised I do that with complete certainess. As my turn ended we parted with a ‘mata ne’, hopefully soon. As you can possibly guess, I view Ayano as a great idol and a good successor to Yuka, my former and everlasting oshi in the group. The latter following me on Twitter with her private account and even answering me makes her invincible to any attacks of other idols. But Ayano being the person she is and remembering me now as well nevertheless is a great development and increases my joy in following the group. Now how to go on? As I talked with Kai during my winter trip, I decided in getting in contact again with Moechi. She was really funny during our first encounter and my second encounter with her shouldn’t be much less. Then as I waiting in the queue the fan before me approached me and a longer conversation took place, with us trying to communicate in each others language as much as possible. The result was far from great but satisfying, understanding most of it through trial and error. His name was Satoru. Like me, who lost his oshi, he too had a similar experience, having been a fan of Juri. He told me about the new members, we talked about the Shinmen on next weekend, where Bellring would hold a 10-hour-event introducing the new members officially (which I wouldn’t be able to attend – Arrrgh!!!) and random topics: Where I was from, how I got to know them, telling me about other fans, and so on. This lead to the following result: When Satoru’s turn with Moechi arrived, I had to join him in his cheki with her! Boah, this was embarrassing as I at first didn’t know what was going on. Satoru told Moechi about me, and I myself sometimes threw in some comments, like showing her my last cheki with her on my phone, much to her surprise. Moechi being the good sport she is, joined in teasing me as they both now made a huge heart with their arms and I had to look through. But I didn’t lead my guard down and myself made the ‘beautiful’ pose, where you lean your chin on your open hands. This made The Butch, Bellring’s manager and photographer here, laugh so much he had to adjust the position of the camera again. Still my confusion went on after such a surprising turn in events and I wanted to just escape – but was held back by Moechi. The cheki was soon done, she deciding on the heart post in a kind of follow-up to the photo taken before and even signing with ‘LOVE’ (in katakana), explaining it even to me. We then tried to talk but it was fruitless in most parts, but enjoyable nonetheless. She again said random English words, like ‘I am beautiful?’. I got along with it, later replying to the repeatedly question with ‘maji’, to which she replied also ‘maji?’, me repeating again, she repeating – endlessly. The strangest part though being her asking me about ‘How many?’. As I could understand what she was trying to communicate, she made clock-gestures with her arms, which didn’t help in making her intentions any clearer. But it provided a funny interaction, as she was constantly talking about ‘hachi-ji’ (eight o’clock), while gesturing nine o’clock. I made her aware of it, with her reacting in a pretense of shy laughter, correcting her stance in conclusion. Me on the other hand pretended to slap her on the head to which she reacted in playful anger, then continuing in her effort in explaining the clock to me. As the event was still going on, with no end in sight, I continued on my endeavour in revisiting another member I once talked to – Mizuho, the girl who initially spurred my interest when I started liking the group. With her interaction was a bit more troublesome. The start was easy as I just asked her if she knew some English to which she seriously replied ‘little’, which in her case means ‘not at all’. Keeping my focus turned out difficult, then as Mizuho is very small but didn’t further her distance to me, instead staying close by, I basically had to look straight down to look at her, while she herself looked up nearly straight as well – with her dark, round eyes and a gaze obviously intrigued by what I would talk to her next! If I had been an ice cream I probably would have melted on the spot. But being the human I am I just forgot what I talked with her instead. Really. I can only assume it was about my encounters with the group in the past. My memory starts again with parting from her. This probably because she was the only member that day who didn’t asked me if I want a sign. I haven’t inquired either, as I already had one of her. By the way, did you notice that I didn’t mention anything about money for the chekis? The reason being: I paid none. Neither the staff was asking for it, nor the girls and me only noticing it after I had already left. Not the first time it happened, on the contrary – it is a constant when meeting them. It seems foreigners still distract them too much or it is some kind of service to them? Whatever! It leaves me with a conversation topic for my next encounter with them.