Old and New

27.12.2015
This day would become in most part a repetition of the day before: Venue-hopping for three different groups, again with a lot of traveling involved – Shibuya, Uguisudani, Shinjuku. Contrary to yesterday though, I wasn’t really in the best form, dealing with a slight headache and some tiredness. This would become an issue in the early day.As for my first show I was finally able to attend a live at the Dr. Jeekahn’s for PiiiiiiiN. It was also for free and three subsequent shows were planned on the same day. My plan was just to go for the first performance, as I wanted to head for another live later at a different place.

Finding the place was easy, as it is just next to the Tsutaya O-East. I had to get up by elevator, where I received a sort of ticket by one of the staff. As I came very much in time for the show to start I found the place to be quite occupied already. But as I said, I wasn’t in the best mood anyway so I made myself comfortable in the back of the area, using the (closed) bar to lean on. The venue itself was really to my liking, provided enough space either on stage for the groups as well as for the fans before it. A pity it won’t be used in the future anymore, as PiiiiiiiN will continue doing regular lives, but from March 2016 at the CreAto, located in Ebisu instead. If I understood it right, the group already became to big for the Jeekahn’s.

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It didn’t take long for the members of PiiiiiiiN to appear on stage. To my delight they all wore the old uniform from the beginning of the group, around the time when I first encountered them. It even got more nostalgic: The whole set consisted only of songs from that era as well. It felt like a trip back in time! You can rightly assume that I enjoyed the Live very much, especially as I knew most of the choreography by heart. Watching from a far was also a plus, as it allowed me to observe the group performance in more detail, instead of focussing only on the members who would appear in my limited sight of view, when I stand near the stage. The subsequent two scheduled performances of PiiiiiiiN that day would be delivered the same way: Summarizing each another era of the group (Era. As if the group exist for decades already, lol.), represented by the main uniform worn during those period. Additionally some of the new songs were performed and advertised. The whole event in my opinion a very nice idea by the management.

Afterwards events would take place, providing the last chance for chekis with the group, as those would be limited in availability in the future. But I wasn’t in the mood for it, so  instead I made my way for Uguisudani, where at Tokyo Kinema Club JyuJyu would perform – my first and maybe only chance of meeting them again this trip. Although the group would have some sort of Year End event the next day I wasn’t keen on going for it for the reason of it probably containing to much talks and interviews, things I can not enjoy with my limited Japanese. As JyuJyu is also not one of my Top Groups (currently), it would feel hypocritical to join such kind of event which is, in my opinion, directed more towards the “true” hardcore fans.

Maybe the group will get a better standing with me in the future, but back then they still hadn’t released an album and this is some sort of requirement for me to follow a group much closer, as only an album gives me an understanding about their musical direction. Detrimentally JyuJyu is one of the groups I follow, who will lose an important member in the first quarter of the year 2016, namely with Shirai. The others being Moechi of Bellring Girls Heart and Asuka of Chu-Z. Although with Neu my favourite JyuJyu member will still remain active, it is currently not known, if that means that JyuJyu will continue or if Neu will be part of some new group. The downside of idol groups, with members too young to balance private life (school, University,…) with their job as idol over a longer period of time. But in the days of Idol Wars, for every graduated Idol two new will appear – better, stronger and faster. Or something like that, lol. For the regard of JyuJyu I am now in a kind of limbus state – awaiting what the future will hold. And I want to note something about Shirai specifically, something that Marty will take note of: She was not only a great personality but also one of the cutest idols I ever came in contact with (-_^)

Before we get to Shirai and JyuJyu though I was received at the entrance, at the small counter right opposite the elevator exit, by the shouts of four idol voices, them even using English. I politely nodded to them but otherwise wanted to escape the fishing attempt, until I saw which group they represented: Tokyo Rockets! I wanted to see this group, a sister unit of Party Rockets GT, for so long already. They have been performing here? Why didn’t I know? Anyway, my interest was sparked and additionally, as no one seems to take note of them, I felt some sympathy. So after I had found a place for my luggage downstairs and made certain that it would still be some time until JyuJyu appeared on stage, I started  my way back upstairs, not approaching them directly but first watched from a far, to prepare myself with some words. When I was ready, joyful shouts arose when they saw me returning, especially by the two members standing closer to the floor entrance.

In my lack of decency I totally oversaw that a staff was present (apparently). Just the only fan(?) around caught my eye, as he was talking to the other two girls in the back for quite some time already, blocking my view of the staff behind him. So as the two members at the front were free I went straight for the nearest, as she happened to be the one who shouted the most at me before (In English, I repeat!). I realised I hadn’t thought of a starting phrase but that task was taken from me, as the girl now introduced the group name to me once again, calling themselves ‘Rock Idols’, this in attempting to use as much English as possible, seemingly enjoying that task. That was a plus to me already! With that introduction presented I was able to easily reply as a fan of Party Rockets I already knew Tokyo Rockets by the name, though I sadly never had the chance to see them live. Happiness was displayed after the mention of their sister group and the member next to the girl at the front joined the discussion, confirming the relations of the group. I was also explaining my language skills and used this opportunity to praise their own.

Right in that flow of conversation the former invisible staff came by, but avoided interrupting us. Instead he just put down a board, which displayed the events provided today. The girls took note of it and all three started right away to explain it to me, hilariously switching between one another and between English and Japanese. Chekis were mentioned but as I hadn’t seen the live of the group, this became no option for me – one of my idol principles. Instead I had my eyes on the CDs since the start of the conversation. Two were displayed on the table. So I just mentioned those and to my surprise, signs (one member each) came along with it. In the confusion before I wasn’t able to understand this when they were explaining. As the other fan was still talking with the other two members, there was no problem who I would choose for the signings. Some nice division of labour, lol. The girls seemed very happy about my choice and each were grabbing on CD to start the signing, asking me where they should write, without us stopping the talking.

I continued the topic of me knowing them by stating that I knew their Music Video (posted above) from Youtube and that I really like it. Happiness increased in their expressions and both took effort in explaining the CD were two versions, each consisting of a different B-Side. Finally the two girls were also able to introduce their names to me, when they each returned the CDs to me. One of them turned out to be Momoko, who showed a very shy but open demeanour. In stark contrast the other girl, who turned out to be Miku, showed a lot of energy and was very expressive. As I mentioned she used English a lot and although it was basic, it was specific to the occasion and easily to follow. She told me about being a new member of the group and I should excuse that she still wrote her sign on the CD which hadn’t her face on it.

With talking to them already for what felt like five minutes, maybe even more, we still talked on. The flow of the conversation was really good, both Momoko and Miku showing a lot of effort, without to many misunderstandings. I was tolded about Tokyo Rockets happened to be the Opening Act that day. Because of that their name hadn’t been displayed on the official announcement for the line-up. I again expressed my disappointment of having missed their performance but promised that I will try my best to go for one of their lives in the future. After agreeing on following their Twitter I finally took my leave, in the hope of being able to make good on my promise soon.

Still that wasn’t the last interaction with the group. As I found it impossible to find their website, probably as opposed to Party Rockets GT, Tokyo Rockets name is always displayed in the Kanjis for Tokyo and the Katakana for Rockets. Curiously their Fan Shirt, which is great by the way, shows the name in latin letters. Don’t ask me if that makes sense. Anyway, as I found no information of any schedule (I discovered their Ameblo which isn’t very helpful.) I spontaneously decided on asking the staff directly about where to find it. When I appeared again, the girls exclaimed their surprise, probably expecting me to take part in another event by them. But I didn’t let myself distract me from my goal and headed right for the staff, asking him about where to look up the schedule of the group. He tried to tell me about the website address but it was difficult for both of us to understand, respectively to pronounce. That is why he was looking for some piece of paper, checked his phone for the address(!) and began to write the info down.

This opened up the opportunity to get approached by the member closest to us, namely Sae. On the other hand YuuYuu next to her, the forth member of Tokyo Rockets, kept quietly to herself, whereas Momoko and Miku were too far away and continued to fish for new fans. Sae, in a very shy tone, introduced herself to me and began talking about Party Rockets, obviously having listened to the conversation before. She told me that she knows them too, mentioning especially Haruka, which then lead to us alternately name the rest of their members. It was all a bit awkward, as I wasn’t sure if talking to her was allowed as I hadn’t bought anything. And Sae, although apparently interested, kept her cautious attitude, maybe thinking in the same direction. But to both our luck, the staff was ready now and provided me with the information about the website address. I thanked him for the effort and left Tokyo Rockets by waving to everyone – In the process of it all having found my joy and motivation for the remainder of the day. Will Tokyo Rockets turn out to become the before mentioned substitute for the departing Shirai / JyuJyu? Only time will tell. Music and personality-wise the group is fitting already.

Empowered by the smiles of Tokyo Rockets I felt prepared for the live of JyuJyu. One or two groups were still performing before their appearance, but this enabled me to slowly make my way near the front, only keeping enough distance to allow fans of the currently performing group to enjoy the show. Finally it became JyuJyu time and the girls appeared in their recent very nicely done black clothing – half leather, half tissue. As some songs from the (then) upcoming album were part of the setlist I wasn’t able to participate that much, but this feature I obviously shared with the most people around, most of them also oblivious to the new material; intensified by the fact, that a song like Ikenie doesn’t allow for much idol-type chants. Instead it is a straight metal rock song with a great stage choreography. Of course the JyuJyu standard songs like I-Doll were performed as well and here I was able to do my part, maybe a bit rusty but still suitable. Neither Shirai nor Neu happened to see me in the audience, but that is nothing of a surprise as they mostly look into the center crowd during their lives. But for this cases events are for 😉

 I took no delays and right after the show ended, I went up the stairs to queue up for the purchase of cheki tickets. Some people were already there, but not many. To my dismay, the staff understood me wrong, so instead of giving me two cheki tickets, I just received one. I was thinking of turning back but refrained from it, as I waited too long to make sure, not wanting to interrupt the next fan already present at the sales table. My decision therefore became just to take a picture with Neu. I was a bit nervous about the meeting and the way of our conversation, expecting not to be recognized by any of the girls. But I couldn’t be more wrong. When it was my turn only Shirai was receiving me, as Neu was still working on the camera, exchanging the Polaroid cassette. The moment Shirai saw me, (*fantasy mode ON*) her eyes seemed to become much brighter and around her lips something resembling a smile appeared, a rare sight with the JyuJyu girls (*fantasy mode OFF*). Her ‘hisashiburi’ greeting left no doubt about her having recognised me. The start of the event couldn’t have been much better.

Now Neu was ready and reacted towards me in the same manner. Interacting casually with those two sweet girls was a fantastic feeling. I was now asked by Shirai of my cheki ticket and said that I sadly only bought one today, to use it with Neu. Shirai then received the camera by her, Neu thanked me like only she can do it and we both started posing, telling her to do a sad pose (premonition?), which went completely wrong: My intent was us both leaning against the wall, with each of us looking sad down to the floor. Neu although put her hands to her eyes, pretending to be crying. Noooo! Now her face was covered! But it was too late, the photo was done. Anyway, I used the opportunity to congratulate both of them for the announcement of their second One Man, held at the same venue in March and also on the release for their first album, which I also dated for the same time. But Neu instantly corrected me about it being already released in February. Even better. Now I was asked if I would stay for longer in Japan, for the reason of having my cheki signed, so that I can collect it at the next event. As I was going for the Idol Koushien on the 30th, at which JyuJyu would be present as well, I agreed to the procedure. I finally got the hang out of events with them. I was happy, Shirai and Neu were happy and we parted with a ‘See you soon’.

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Neu – place holder

With no further delay I got my stuff and left the building, for the next show on my schedule, this being a special one: A 90-minute Live by Bellring Girls Heart at Shinjuku LOFT! 90 minutes once again! In regard to Bellring Girls Heart this trip couldn’t become better. The only downside though: Avandando was again the Opening Act for the show, like a few days ago, also at the LOFT. If this continues I have to boycott this venue. Before the show began I was buying myself another stack of Cheki Coins, too much to ever use up on this trip and then searched for a place at the far back, putting as much distance to the stage, and therefore between me and Avandando, as possible. But damn, sound travels further then that, but I endured bravely.

The live itself became the usual: The usual mix of rock and experimental songs, in addition to some new tracks from the forthcoming album, with me first hearing the monster-bass-track Manic Panic and the melancholic dark ballad Room 24-7, posted already here. I remember nothing out of the ordinary: Ayano and Reina were stage-diving, Kanra was hyper-active as usual and the fans crazy as ever, lifting themselves to then climb above each other. Interesting display. I enjoyed watching and listening to all of it, the full 90 minutes!

When it came to the events afterwards, it became a huge mess. The members were still not around, so fans were rather confused where to line up. Obviously some already knew the arrangement for the girls later, as queues were formed. Still with the place being very crowded and a lot of people continuing to ask around where to go, the situation didn’t improve fast. I watched this for some time, noticed that the member signboards were now being displayed, and Moechi was again in such a high demand that her queue alone made up half of the area. Impossible to get in line, as this would mean missing out on Ayano again. Instead I went for the direction I saw the sign for Ayano, to find her queue also starting to loop already. The mess was even increased by two other queues crossing hers and a fluent amount of fans still joining each lines. Did I mention already how I hate such crowded spaces? Worst thing is by being alone at such an event you have nothing to talk to for killing some time.

Anyway, after a while the girls appeared but instead of the start of the usual event it was announced, that people without a ticket for their upcoming Zepp Tokyo Live could buy them now, with the reward of getting an all-member-cheki! What the hell?! That is something very rare to get with Bellring Girls Heart, an Zen’in Cheki. I want it to!!! Damn, I bought a ticket as soon as it was available and got no reward. Something is definitely wrong with such a system. Some fans used this opportunity, but then the regular cheki event was finally starting.

It took ages until it was my turn. The price of just 500 Yen and the long conversations uses up a lot of time. Ayano appeared the way as her self-introduction always says: Bellha no smile no tanto – responsible for the smile in the group. I felt it even being brighter than ever, but this was probably just my wishful thinking. I had no say in the matter for the pose, as immediately Ayano was deciding on the heart. To start the conversation I asked her how the learning of the guitar turned out. Her reply was honest, telling me it was very difficult and that her finger tips hurt a lot from it. My recommendation was to practice a bit every day, then the fingers will hurt less over time, but I wasn’t able to phrase that in words, so I assume my explanation got lost. Ayano saved the situation though by asking me if I also played guitar. When I replied that back in the days I owned an electric guitar, her  immediate response was “Please teach me!”, accompanied by a bright smile. Damn, how I wish I could. Meanwhile she continued writing on her cheki, thinking about some random stuff as usual. Me with no further things to say wished her good luck for the Zepp Tokyo show, she herself wished me to enjoy it and I took my leave.

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During my talk with Ayano I overheard that further queuing for any member has been stopped now. Damn it, this meant I had spent over an hour in the lane. Nevertheless I made my move for the queue of Kanra, which was just next to Ayano‘s. Satoru was holding the signboard for her and organising the lane, so I wanted to confirm the announced time limit. During our short talk I mentioned it to be a pity that I can’t speak with Kanra anymore today, but Satoru came to help, allowing me to still line up, convincing the official staff by telling him I am a fan from far away, specifically Germany, and no further question were asked. Sometimes being a foreigner has its advantages. I was both thanking and apologising to Satoru at the same time for allowing it.

Kanra that day had placed herself on a blanket, sitting down on it. Any fan who came to her had to do the same, as she was not standing up. I was afraid she had hurt herself again like in the summer. When it became my turn, my first question after greeting her and the cheki was shot, was if she was okay. She told me intently that she was and I expressed my relief. We struggled a bit with understanding each other. Kanra asked me something about English and German but I had no idea what she meant. However we came to the next topic is also a mystery to m, but suddenly I was asked if I was tired and I confirmed, telling Kanra that I am happy to go to sleep soon. This she made the center for the writing on the cheki, lol. As communication troubles continued I broke off the conversation and we said goodbye. During all this I forgot to ask her about my cheki from the day before. She also seemed to have already forgotten about it. I wonder if I will ever see it. The event ended here for me and as I told Kanra, I was heading straight for my hostel, needing sleep.

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In celebration of Bellring Girls Heart and the great idol Moechi has been please enjoy this short video, an advertisement for the recording of Moechi‘s graduation live, fantastically depicting the essence of the group!

I am ending with a live recording of a Rhymeberry performance in summer 2015, of which I am not sure if I haven’t posted it already. Anyway, at one point I can be spotted in it. Also Sari of Necronomidol is easily visible in the crowd with her neon-green coloured hair. A reason for posting this is also the fact that Rhymeberry and Necronomidol both take part at Tokyo Candoll, a competition of idol groups for participation at the Japan Expo in Paris.

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