My last day of this trip had already arrived but I was not even close to feeling homesick. Perfect condition, as today I would have a One Man by JyuJyu, their first, and a Two Man by PPP!PiXiON and PiiiiiiiN on my agenda. The first would start at 12.30, so I decided to leave for it around 10 in the morning. This coincided with the check-out time of the hostel leading to not only meeting Rina from Fruity in the elevator (I refrained from getting in there with her) and running into the whole group down in the lobby. I kept up a cool demeanour, slightly nodded at them in case they remembered me and left the room key at the reception to exit the hostel right away. Allan told me later about Misa and Rina recognizing me immediately. Here it wasn’t the best thing to be an easy to distinguish person (=foreigner).
I include this extra paragraph just for Julian: The hotel I stayed at was the Hotel Maruchu Centro (http://www.hotelmaruchu.com/?hotel=top&lang=en), located in Minami-Senju, three train stations from Ueno. The hotel is more a hostel, as it has common bathrooms and showers. But contrary to Europe, those were kept nice and clean. Typically for Japan. The location was also great for my trips to Yokohama and Saitama, as well as Akihabara, as Ueno is one of the biggest Tokyo train stations, with even Shinkansen passing there. And it is also connected to the Narita Airport. For my next trip, which is situated in summer, I will nevertheless book a “real” hotel, as for the to expected summer heat I prefer my own shower. Because of TIF I also like to be close by to Odaiba. Now you will probably be as curious as me, if this hotel is the one, Julian also stays at and if he now will camp in the lobby, just to catch some “accidental” glimpses at some idols. I prefer the nearby Supermarket and McDonald’s/Burger King for such purposes as well, right Allan?
But running into an idol group that early in the morning isn’t the worst situation to happen, and so with refreshed excitement made my way to Shibuya, as both of the shows would be located in the same venue, the Shibuya Duo Music Exchange. I found the place without problems after my friday trip in the neighbourhood. Before I continue my post, I want to say some words about the venue though: It was terrible in design. The positive detail of it was it being very wide, which allowed basically everyone in the audience to get a good look at the stage and leaving the idols a lot of space to perform to. But the huge downside are the three big pillars right in the middle of the building, making it impossible to get a good view, when standing further back. Like me, who only found space in the back row each time. Especially with JyuJyu it was annoying, as a two-member group doesn’t occupy too much room on stage and the pillar completely blocked the middle of it. Joy!
But now back to the story. I arrived too early at the venue and it was slightly raining. While looking for cover under the nearby entrance to Shibuya O-WEST, therefore skipping on lining up at the merchandise queue, I had a good spot to observe the goods table, with all its offerings. My eyes were caught by a nice shirt on display. No idea about chekis though, but JyuJyu’s website stated something about 3shots that day. After at least an half-an-hour wait the entry began. What I was assuming to be a line for merchandise turned out to be one for the entry. But as of usual admission was according to the ticket number queueing up was pointless from the start. Good for me! Although I had the 214, it felt like a long time until I was allowed entry, leaving me in constant fear of the shirts getting sold out before I was able to get there, since goods were only sold to people already in the venue. So right away, after I was let through, I disregarded the Stage area, which was hardly filled at the time and instead went for the merchandise. Too bad the hoodies sold where only for pre-order so I just got myself the shirt and a 3shot ticket you had to purchase extra. I prefer it that way, separating goods and event tickets from each other. The shirt had an anime design, only at the front. Still I think it turned out great, with displaying Neu and Shirai in stylized way and the group name in Japanese. I would have wished for an indication about the occasion, as it being the first One-Man for the group, it was quite the occasion. I always find something to nag about, it seems…
Now I looked for a place to put down my baggage and placed myself at the back, as I already stated. The stage was as expected for the first One Man of a young, relatively unknown group. Just some banners were put on the wall as background. No further decoration was placed. The attendance was much too low for the venue. My guess would be 400 to 500 people. No idea if this was regarded as a success though, as JyuJyu is very specialized regarding their music and uniforms, for example. The show itself was as usual. The girls even wore the long, black dresses. The performance couldn’t be enjoyed by me because of the pillars-issue, but the music was great, roughly an hour, with most of the songs new to me. It made me excited about a hopefully soon to be released album.
After the live, preparations for the 3shot event immediately started, as well as the dismantling of the stage, for the soon-to-start PPP!PiXiON / PiiiiiiiN live. As event tickets were by numbers as well, if I remember correctly (I had the 130), it took quite a while until it was my turn for queueing up. Meanwhile a red-coloured couch was put in the area and soon after JyuJyu were taking place on it. Fans were expected to do the 3shots on it, with the girls besides you. Of course, many invented different poses, like standing behind the couch, or lying in front of it. To be able to watch this provided some distraction through the long wait, as people were also enabled to a little talk with them. I used the time to think of a pose and decided on the girls doing a surprise look and me playing the ignorant. I quite satisfied with the result. Both girls were very nice and I left with thanking them for the performance.As it was already way after 15 o’clock, I skipped rushing to the Bellring Girls Heart Special Event that day in Meguro. Instead I went for a nice ramen shop in Shibuya, for my first meal that day. Invigorated I made my way back to the venue for PiiiiiiiN, again waiting near the O-WEST entrance, partially to study the merchandise again. They offered a lot of new stuff, amongst it photo sets, member-coloured caps and shirts, a group shirt or a new towel. The latter reminded me a lot of the Hachake Tai shirt, which also has a similar hand, even in the same posture. And I couldn’t get rid of the resemblance to a Micky Mouse cartoon.
Again the purchase was only possible after getting admitted. This turned out pretty difficult, as the ticket system was a little different from what I experienced so far. They were still numbered and entry was according to it, but they first admitted people with tickets purchased directly at their shows, after it general ticket holders, and at last tickets with letters before the number. No idea what these were about, but I had one of it, namely the A4. Luckily I was able to understand the calling for those tickets and I was let in without a problem. Like with JyuJyu my first direction went to the goods stand. Here I also saw that PPP!PiXiON had already released an album, being on sale at the show. But as I am not in this group, I refrained from buying it. (Sorry Shaun!) Instead I concentrated on the PiiiiiiiN merchandise.
I passed on the caps, as I don’t like wearing them. They would have been a great present for Caio though, but he has absolutely no taste in music and still hasn’t fallen for PiiiiiiiN. Hopeless case of a kid in denial. (Recognize the song title?) Instead I bought myself the group fan shirt, which is great in its design, every merchandise coinessieur will agree on.
Of course I couldn’t pass on the members fan shirts, which even surpassed the group one. I mean, every shirt featuring a Gibson Les Paul at its center is a win from the start. The only nice addition would have been the name of the idol, not just the colour coding, but don’t let us be too picky.
These purchases led to the acquirement of six event tickets, an amount I already knew I wouldn’t be able to spend. As the concert was aiming for 1,000 people in the audience, queues would be too much to exhaust all the event tickets, as there was not enough time. And opposite to JyuJyu, who reduced the events to a quick 3shot, PiiiiiiiN took another approach: The tickets were as usual divided in A, B and C, but this time the validation period was extended until 30.04.2015. Great for the Japanese fans, but worthless for me, who would fly back home the next day.
But before I start talking about the events, let’s talk about the show first. The pillars were annoying again but this time at least I was able to see some of the members most of the times. Too bad I stood too far away for anyone of them to see me. The show was short, but longer as expected as they performed one cover song and some new ones. With the encore, which repeated two songs, it lasted roughly 40 minutes. The set list being:
After the performance a long MC took place, where they announced the amount of fans in the audience: 815. They missed out on their goal. But before the atmosphere turned gloomy, on of the staff handed Riko a letter in which it was announced, that PiiiiiiiN would hold their first One Man on May 31st. Now the smiles returned to the faces. The new goal for that show was 500 people, and I can tell you now, that it was achieved: 518 fans were present, which immediately resulted in the announcement of a second One Man. So fast it goes in idol business.
After the show has ended, preparations for the event took place. For this seven tables were put in the stage area, each featuring the name of one member. Fans began to line up and soon the staffs handed out cards. I had no idea what was going on, but I queued up anyway for Ayano. I received a blue coloured, randomly numbered card with the number 19 on it. Now I got it: Those cards decided the sequence on which fans would be able to use their ticket accordingly, me being the 19th person to talk with Ayano then. The 50 tickets were soon exhausted, in contrast to Emiri and Ami, where staff had a hard time distributing all the tickets. For the other members I had no idea, as they happened to be to far away and I needed to hold up my concentration, to not overhear when the staff would shout out number 19. But this wasn’t soon to happen, as basically everyone, including myself, used an A ticket with Ayano, which meant after the cheki a two minute talk. I killed the waiting time in conversation with the other Ayano fan I met two days ago at the Idol Koushien. It also allowed me to observe Emeri and Ami, who had a less hectic time than Ayano, as the line of fans was soon ending. Now randomly fans were lining up, but most of them were just using their C tickets. I believe they would have loved a more “stressful” event.
When finally my turn arrived, I showed the staff one of my A tickets, and was then enthusiastically greeted by Ayano, who express her joy of me attending the Two Man. Before the cheki I showed her my purchase of the blue fan shirt, which was easier to show than to tell her. This way I declared Ayano as my oshimen. Her enthusiasm grew once more in intensity and she decided to use this as pose for the cheki. In continuation the first words she wrote on the cheki were BIG LOVE. Now I was enthusiastic of joy! We talked further about the amount of people present. That is why she included the 815 in the cheki as well. The enthusiasm level dropped. I then congratulated her for the announcement of the One Man, but already explained, that I won’t be able to attend it – Drop in enthusiasm reached critical zone! – nevertheless that I will come back soon for supporting PiiiiiiiN. Joy was again showing on Ayano’s face. Situation successfully saved. We then talked about her member colour, where I was first inclined to tell Ayano about my liking for Yukimi of PASSPO and her representing the blue colour too, but I refrained in consideration of the enthusiasm level. The two minutes soon reached its end we had to part.
I now still had five event tickets left (two B and three C) and would have loved to talk to Rizu also, but lines where still on going and I didn’t want to hassle myself with the confusing lines of Ami or Emiri. As the time was also getting late and I had to get up early in the morning to catch my flight back home, I left the venue for my hotel, giving the fan I was talking to before the rest of my event tickets. Increase in Enthusiasm level! A bitter note though: For the show the PiiiiiiiN members had handwritten 1,000 pen lights which were handed out during entrance. I didn’t know that, thought of those as products made by fans, and even used the pen lights during the show, hence resulting in the erasure of the text on it. I still hate myself for it! On the other hand I was stopped by fans of Arisa when trying to leave and was convinced to write her a birthday message. Mine was entirely in English and pretty short, as it came too sudden.
But something more worthwhile: The whole concert will be released as a DVD. But not only that: You can find all the recordings of the songs by PiiiiiiiN on their official Youtube page already. The official website was also overhauled and looks promising, as some of the tabs are still under construction. On a more personal note I was able to get in contact with Ayano over her Ameblo blog, with the heavy help of Google Translate. It was a nice feeling, when she inquired about me, asking if I was the Tobi she is thinking about. I notified her about my forthcoming trip in July for TIF of course. Enthusiasm level is now over the scale!
Ayano’s Ameblo reply. And yes, She happened to be a Ganguro Girl.
As conclusion for the review of my March trip I will now list my favourite idols. This has nothing to do with the cross-post I once did, as this time the criteria is only their interaction and the overall impression they had on me. So the general the idol criteria in a way. I only rank those I talked to more often, respectively did something out of the ordinary.
5. Shiori – PASSPO
With this trip Morishi surpassed all the members in PASSPO besides Yukimi in my admiration. She seems to have a good memory and shows no restrictions when interacting with me. She is a born idol.
4. Luna – Chu-Z
Remembering me on her own accord, speaking english and having a great personality – nothing more to say here!
3. Yukimi – PASSPO
I sometimes have bad days with her, mostly caused by the limitation of conversation time to 15 seconds. That is a huge disadvantage. But for being my idol-first, her always pleasant demeanour and for looking stunningly beautiful she deserves a high ranking.
2. Ayano – Bellring Girls Heart
Waving uncalled at me on the streets and being ALWAYS fun to talk too, despite our language barrier! Must be the name.
1. Ayano – PiiiiiiiN
She greeted me by name, after month of not seeing each other! What can exceed that in idol terms?
Honorably mention is Yuka, member of Bellring Girls Heart, who only doesn’t appear in the ranking for now having graduated. Being the first idol who told me to remember me and still being able to write with her on Twitter.
When it comes to my favourite idol groups, then I can put them in different levels. The first would be those groups I basically just like to listen too, without the need for participation in events. Some of those don’t even have accessible events.
Ready to Kiss
Momoiro Clover Z
The second level of groups would be those which I like to listen to and to participate in events once in a while, but didn’t leave an impression good enough to consider them for more intensive following.
Up Up Girls
The third level includes groups I really like but which miss (currently) the qualities to become my most favourite groups for one reason or another.
Himekyun Fruits Can
In the fourth level are those groups which can easily become my top idols but are currently inferior to those groups in my top level, for one reason or the other, like being to short in business.
The fifth and last level features of course my most favourite groups right now. They have everything what I like, not only in music terms.
Bellring Girls Heart
My favourite group of them, of course, PASSPO. They cover all the aspects I love the most in idols, being it their music, their events, their personality and what not. Together with their backing band The Ground Crew as well as their own attempts on instruments with BAND PASSPO the have a huge advantage towards other groups. Every show by them is enjoyable and I can even endure talk shows of them although I hardly understand anything. I like all the members and despite the time restraints in akushukais the feature events of all kinds. What I consider mandatory for a good idol group.