A Spanish heart in Japan

The first day that could be used in part for walking around Tokyo. As we had to go for Shimokitazawa in the afternoon, we decided on striving through Harajuku and Shibuya. Nothing special to report. But I used the chance to show my sister the Shibuya live house area, important for her to know, as both of my sisters will travel to Japan in mid-Septembre to attend the tour start of PASSPO in Tsutaya O-East. I influenced them well!

We then went for Shibuya station and arrived soon in Shimokitazawa. Here a small festival, with the Spanish name Corazon Vol. 7,  would be held in the evening, featuring Necronomidol, POP, Rhymeberry and JyuJyu amongst others, the venue being Shimokitazawa GARDEN, where I attended a festival with Bellring Girls Heart in March.

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As I already knew the area, I knew there was nothing interesting to see there. My sister agreed after a quick run-around. No idea why so many foreign tourist were attracted by it. The amount of them was crazy. While waiting on the street for my sister exiting a shop, I nearly bumped into Anna of Bellring Girls Heart, who was shopping with a friend there. Of course I didn’t talk to her, as we don’t know each other and it was her free time. But I am proud of myself to have recognised her immediately (which is not much of a task by idols with orange coloured hair).

Soon we reached the time for entrance and we made our way to the GARDEN, to find that the side of the hall was occupied by merchandise booths of the groups who would perform that day. Only some of them were already open and partially handled by the idols themselves, who ran around distributing flyers. Amongst them were the two members of Rhymeberry, Miri and Misaki, as well as some girl called Mayu, who had made a colab with Miri under the name 2D. The thing is: I didn’t know that at the start, I even didn’t perceive that Misaki and Mayu were two different entities. I only knew Miri, as she was the only original member left and when browsing their merchandise I was just wondering why one CD (the one of 2D) was labeled under the synonym “Miri x Mayu”. I was sure the new member in Rhymeberry wasn’t called that. To my defense I must add, that even my sister wasn’t aware of the different persons and Misaki was rather shy, at least around us and hardly noticeable. The contrary has to be said about Mayu: During the whole evening she was interacting with us – talking, frequent high touches, cuddling my sister, advising my sister when buying merchandise, dancing with us in the audience during the lives. I was astonished to learn later, that this Mayu was actually a member of NEO Idoling, Sekiya Mayu. She told my sister during one of their conversations. Wow. I always thought, that idols from such “popular” groups are much more distant. But I understand now, why Shaun likes her so much! I don’t have to add, that my sister fell in love with her as well and bought the CD of their colab and got it signed by Miri and Mayu. Miri was a bit more shy, obviously afraid of having to speak English, but also quite active around us. After having seen their live performance, my sister was convinced and bought her first idol merchandise, a fan shirt of Rhymeberry – to Miri’s enjoyment and Mayu’s dismay, who wanted to talk my sister into buying the 2D shirt. (At this time we still didn’t know that “2D” was the colab name).

Besides our enjoyment for Rhymeberry and 2D I was impressed by Necronomidol. Their music is live much better then their Youtube videos let you expect. And featuring a green-haired, heavy make-up wearing idol, that jumps in the audience frequently is something I always enjoy seeing. By the way, she too as well as many other idols could be found in the audience during the lives of the other groups. I like this form of barrier-free atmosphere. I would love to attend more of such small idol events. It is important though, that the venue leaves enough space to feel comfortable, which the GARDEN did that day and that fan behaviour doesn’t get overboard.

There was also the appearance of a seemingly new rock-idol group with the name Parallel Japan. They only released a demo-CD so far but I was impressed by their songs. (I imagine Julian would like them.) But as they disregarded me when distributing flyers I didn’t buy any merchandise by them. They still have to make experiences in fan fishing – learn from Mayu!

It was the first time for me to see former Pla2me in their new shape as POP. Without Mari, only Saki left of the duo, joined by four other girls. And what can I say? The music still sounds like before and that is a great thing. They performed Plastic2Mercy, who even my sister admitted to being a superior song and the rest of the set list was evenly nice. A funny occurrence happened during their self introductions: The present fans gave each girl a hat or cap of their own to wear during their next song, but when it was Saki’s turn, hats where out so someone gave her a jacket. Her joy was underwhelming, as you can expect. But soon she showed a smile, as she found some money in it! I wonder if it found its way back to its original owner. I summary I liked the songs, the performances and the stage presence of the girls. Fan behaviour was complete within the limits. So no idea, why some days later, POP was expelled from TIF. I heard that Saki was to blame for it, frequently having acted against the agencies policy. She should still be on an undetermined hiatus. I can’t say I agree with it. Anyway, check out the group. Best way would be by listening to their songs on Soundcloud (click the image):

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But now to the group I was there for: JyuJyu. Their live in regards of set list was great. What was disappointing was the lack of MCs, as those are always hilarious with those two, acting shy and cute. Anyone who has seen them already, knows what I mean by that. At the end of the show Rhymeberry was performing, with Shirai and Neu from JyuJyu as surprise guest, even dressed in Rhymeberry fan shirts and base caps, participating in the rapping. A sight to see, completely different from their usual style.

After the live was finished, some of the groups were still not around for the events, so my sister made some of her above mentioned experiences with Rhymeberry and Mayu, whereas I rather talked to the beautiful staff girls selling the merchandise. They engaged in a talk with me, asking me about my shirt (fan shirt of JyuJyu) and we *tried* to talk about Rhymeberry, of me knowing them and such. But mutual understanding was hard to be found. Still it was fun. Some of the fans even took chekis with one of the girls that reminded me in looks of PASSPO’s Aipon. Well, I am not that desperate to take photos with a random girl.

I left my sister alone when I saw JyuJyu preparing their event and fans started to line up. It took a while until it was my turn, but it gave me the opportunity to be spotted by Shirai. No idea if she had recollections of me but she smiled when seeing me. Obviously forgot already. The fans before me all seemed to have event tickets already – no idea where they got those – so when the staff, by the way one of the most friendliest staff persons I ever met and if I am correct also their producer, talked to me while still facing the fan leaving, he inquired for the ticket. Then after seeing me, adjusting his behaviour to ask me about my intend, so explained with some difficulty that I wanted one 2shot with each member. Under some laughter we soon managed to understand us, after I rephrased “Shirai – cheki. Neu – cheki.” Meeting the girls was great, as they always are more than nice. I would understand anyone following them just for their looks and personality. Shirai was first and I greeted her with saying “Yo, Rhymeberry-san.” We then decided on a fitting hiphop-pose. The shot was done and Shirai switched with Neu. I was out on fitting poses but I remembered Shaun once doing the LA (Los Angeles) pose with Morishi. LA has a hiphop community, right? Whatever, it is American and if I don’t know, the Japanese wouldn’t know either. I therefore showed Neu the sign and she was rather impressed. Something new to her obviously. After the shot was done, the staff in cooperation with the girls now tried to tell me something about the chekis, which I couldn’t understand in the least. But that wasn’t needed. From my last experience I knew that JyuJyu would keep the chekis to sign them at home and you could collect them at a later show by them. I acted like I understood everything and told them I am okay with it as I already made plans to see them again on Thursday and Friday. ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ came as response from all three, with Shirai’s trademark exclamation, the unenthusiastically pronounced ‘Sugoi. Ureshii!’. For chronological sake I will display the chekis here already. My sister watched the procedure from close and even she was captivated by JyuJyu. Them smiling at her frequently added to this opinion, I am sure.

This time we stayed much longer to wait for Mayu, Rhymeberry and JyuJyu ending their events and send each of them away under a round of applause. Back at the hotel my sister assigned me the task to look for the next opportunities to meet Mayu or Rhymeberry again. You see how she more and more turns into a Japanese idol fan herself! With Mayu I had no luck, but there was the chance to at least see her at TIF. Rhymeberry was another matter. On the flyer we received from Miri, a show was scheduled for Wednesday, a festival at Shinjuku Loft Bar, with the groups 8mm, Oyasumi Hologram, some solo singer and Maison Book Girl, the latter the only group I knew from a show back in January. My sister was overjoyed to meet at least Miri again and the festival itself should become a great experience in many ways. But this is a tale for another time.

I end this post with a video by JyuJyu. I love the interaction to it, the clapping, the shouts (“Neu-chan”, “Shi-ra-i”) as well as the hugging/dancing part to the refrain, though at first I struggled with getting the directions right – or left. The Japanese fans to my luck didn’t know better either.

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