On the days of the 28th, 31st and 1st I didn’t do much that is worth to post about, respectively there are close to no pictures. I will therefore summarise these days in one blog post to still give it an adequate length. I apologize beforehand for the lack of pictures. On the other hand, this should tell you, that the still to write blog posts about the 29th, 30th, 2nd, 3rd and 4th will contain much more information and will be done in individual posts. Anticipate it – or not 😉
On this day I caught up on much needed sleep from all the running around on the last days. It would also provide me with only one event I would take part in – Chu-Z would appear rather late at an taiban festival, located at Tsutaya O-East. JyuJyu also held their Year End event that day, but as I already explained for their Christmas show I also skipped, here too I felt no sense in joining it. The whole festival today had only Chu-Z as a group of interest. As I had nothing else to do, respectively wasn’t in the mood for anything else, I still went early to the venue, only to be bored most of the time. At least Stella Beats, Furikake Panic, Linkstar’s, Houkago Princess and Ready To Kiss were present, though none of the groups rank high in my list. I noticed that the amount of groups I favour is already high enough to not bother myself with finding some new one to follow, only if its performance/songs are really exceptional. Anyway the line-up was:
HOT HEAT HEAT GIRLS
READY TO KISS
To my surprise Eddy wrote some time later that he was present at the venue as well. So I went out to the hall to find him, but instead ran into Julian, who was there for the event of Heisei Kotohime. We talked a lot amidst the overlapping queues for the several events that were going on, not bothering much if we interfered in any way. We are stupid foreigners, lol. Meanwhile I also looked out for Eddy, but he was nowhere to be seen. He also left the venue very soon, same as Julian. Me instead still had some hours to kill. Luckily even Marty had found his way to this festival but he was watching a lot of the shows, of groups I hardly appreciated, so conversations between us were limited. It became funny though when Marty was out on participating at the event for Ready To Kiss. Both of us having no idea how it was handled just asked the staff about it. I still can not fathom what the hell he told us, then from what I understood, Marty had to buy something in worth of 3,000 Yen to get a cheki ticket, but as it turned out, he just needed one ticket for 1,000 Yen. It was funny watching him deal with the member of his choice though, and also to observe Sakimo, who played some kind of game with a fan, presenting herself as a great idol. As a side effect her voice got so in my head that later, after the festival ended and I was already on my way to the station, I could recognise her passing by – just by hearing her talk to somebody. Damn, I acquired the right skill for the wrong idol!
Pretty late in the timetable Chu-Z held their performance, which was enjoyable as songs like Boombastic! and Gimme a Chance were part of the set list. As often they also performed Chu me now and Girls on the Run. Don’t get me wrong, these are great songs. But having to see them at basically every live it gets kind of tiring for me. It is a habit that many idol groups share, putting songs in the set list which are fan favourites and probably having the best chance in convincing other people to follow the group. But I wonder: If I would live in Japan and try to see as many lives possible of my favourite group – Wouldn’t I become bored of it very quickly? There is only a certain limit I can endure repetition. So in my opinion seeing Japanese idols only during the short time of a vacation period keeps my interest much more alive than a constant exposure. It also continues to make me perceive idol lives as special events in life. It is why I pity the hardcore fans a bit. No wonder many fans seem to not care for the music anymore, but are only interested in seeing there favourite idols as often as possible.
When the events started I bought myself four tickets. I was kind of lucky: Despite one Solo Cheki (I exchanged it for one of Kana which I later also gave my sister as present) I received one CD Sign and two 2shots. This was great. I could get me a signed CD by Maia, for my other sister and talk to Asuka again, who was put in a special department of the event, to give everyone another chance to congratulate her to her birthday. My second cheki was still undecided. Luna and Kana were the obvious choices, but I had no idea what to say that day, Kana‘s queue was long as ever and meeting with one of the other less regarded members would therefore be welcomed by me. So when queuing up for Asuka first, with her lane looping several times, it became reason enough to erase Kana and Miku from my planing. During the wait I met the Miku fan again who I saw at the festival on Decembre 18th. Also Yutan was present. He just bought himself some event tickets but was not so lucky, not receiving any 2shots. In my generousity I offered him to exchange our tickets – one of my 2shots for one of his Akushukai tickets – and the deal was proceeded. I had no regrets, than I had no need for another Asuka Birthday Photo, as I already acquired it at her seitansai, so a simple chat with her was good enough for me. And as a strong follower of Asuka, Yutan deserves this chance much more, especially for such an occasion.
Until the members of Chu-Z became visible to me while I was still waiting in the lane for Asuka, I noticed that the run on Kaede and Maia had already been finished. Only once in a while a random fan came by to interact with them, so both girls began more or less supporting the staff by organising the lanes or doing advertising activities. Poor girls. Luna soon joined their predicament. I wasn’t able to think much further about their situation, as my time with Asuka drew near and I had to contemplate about what to say. Nevertheless I kept this piece of information in the back of my head for later use. Despite having dealt with quite an amount of people already, Asuka was still in a good mood, as the professional she is. Greeting me with her smile and by name we were kidding around, me wishing her again a Happy Birthday, she jokingly thanked me for the congratulations. Now a pause appeared, during which I thought as a last resort of asking her for her sign on the cheki from last time, but Asuka soon broke the awkwardness by telling me she had turned 26, asking me how old I am. After hearing my answer she immediately began calling me “Onii-san”. I caught up on her joke, continuing it by addressing her with “Imouto-san”. We both laughed about each other and parted already, as time with Asuka was shortened because of the demand. Awww, leaving my newly acquired little sister…
The use of my CD Sign ticket was the next agenda on my list. So I got in line for Maia, but as this was shared with the lanes for the other members except Asuka, it took a while until it was my turn. Luckily the staff in the form of Kaede was asking around for the member of choice and not worked the lane one by one. With this conjunction I told Kaede about later queuing up for her. I felt some pity for her not having anything decent to do. Kaede thanked me. My talk to Maia on the other hand became strange. The staff introduced to her the CD Sign and her first reaction towards me was the question if it was for my sister, but her face was blank and showed no emotion. At least she enthusiastically took my CD and began signing it. In contrast to Luna some days before she wrote directly on the plastic case, not on the inlay paper cover. This actually was a good idea, as a black writer on an mostly black CD cover is hardly visible (it is why Luna wrote most of it on the red coloured title of the CD). Maia was asking for the name of my sister but was able to remember the first part of it. That is something deserving respect. The further discussion had my sister in the centre of the topic and when it ended, I guess both of us were glad.
My meeting with Kaede went much better, though Kaede acted more polite than euphoric. Still it was nice. She wore a hat, part of the Gimme a Chance uniform, and already had her hair partly blond-coloured. Kaede thanked me again for taking a 2shot with her and we continued talking about how long I stay in Japan and similar stuff. It was a stumbling conversation as understanding was limited, but nevertheless pleasant.
This was mostly everything I can tell you about that day. I went to Shibuya Station with Marty to go back to my hostel, were on my way I noticed the before mentioned voice of Sakimo from Ready To Kiss on the streets. The very next day would contain my first of three shows at the Zepp Tokyo – Predia was on the schedule. I then would also meet a friend of a friend for lunch at the restaurant of former Bellring Girls Heart member Yuka, but this is a story for another post.
Instead let us continue with the events on New Year’s Eve. I slept for a big part of it to later meet with Allan and Marty in Akihabara. We three wanted to eat together before we would head towards PARMS for the Alice Project Countdown. Allan had a great surprise for me. He has been to Sapporo the days before, to attend shows of Hokkaido-Idols Fruity and his favourite ex-member of the same group, Shirai Misa, which I came to know some month ago. So when we met he handed me a present: A signed copy of Misa‘s first solo CD, signed and with an individual message!! I was speechless. Really a great surprise and now one of my most important memorabilia!
When Allan chose an Japanese style All-You-Can-Eat at the Yodobashi food court, Marty excused himself though, not sharing the taste, it seemed. Me on the other hand was impressed: Frying of diverse sorts of fruits, meat and the like at your table, free ice cream, free drinks, a chocolate fountain – it couldn’t have been much better. Saturated me and Allan then went for the Alice Project evening live, as there was nothing else to do. It became the usual show, but I have to admit I am not into it any more. The music is still likeable, but I lost connection to the whole thing. My favourite members had already graduated, so my rejection of the whole theatre-performances-at-every-goddamn-day finally took the upper hand. What can be special for me about a group that you are able to see daily? Where is the effort? Where the growth? Not even the venue changes. Obviously I didn’t take part in any events. A funny side-fact though: We confused the starting times, so when we entered we only managed to see the last 30 minutes of the show.
Later we went for TwinBox to collect two friends of Allan, the known to me Eddy and Aaron, a guy from Singapore and big fan of Arc Jewel and especially Haruna of Lovely Doll. It so happened that Twin Box hosted an Arc Jewel Year End Live that day, with the five major groups of them (Jelno, Stella Beats, Ange Reve, Luce Twinkle Wink, Lovely Doll) each performing individually one after another. For each performance though tickets had to be purchased individually as well and where limited to 100 each. As expected the shows were all sold out. Otherwise I would have loved to go there. It was made worse when Aaron told me later that he could have ordered tickets for me if I told him. But how should I have done that if I didn’t knew him then? As the live of Lovely Doll had also just ended, it would have been possible for me to participate in the event, meeting Yuriko again. But I refrained as I would find it inappropriate to go there when not having been to the live before.
Aaron soon parted from us whereas Eddy had the idea for visiting an idol café nearby, but when we arrived there, we found there to be a long queue. Still we got in line and waited for maybe 15 minutes, a time I used with Eddy to exchange each other redundant copies of Idol CDs. Allan refused to take any, probably having more than enough already, lol. The lane wasn’t moving any further and therefore we changed plans: Taking a meal at the Honey Toast Café. Eddy‘s attempt on getting a ticket for the Countdown Show was futile, so we just ate. I ordered nothing as I wasn’t hungry, or rather not convinced by the menu which was brought by a waitress, that would fit perfectly into a German restaurant – emotionless, unfriendly, lifeless. What a rarity in Japan. Should have made a picture. Probably had to work in substitute for a colleague that wasn’t keen on working on New Year’s… Anyway after that only me and Allan stayed at PARMS, unable to locate Marty, but he too has been present somewhere. We met him in the venue, where he more frequented the bar for alcoholic drinks than watching the show on stage, lol.
The live itself happened to be pretty much the same as last years. Two more or less uninterrupted live sets, with an extended MC in the middle, where EVERY member held her little Year End speech. Usually I like my lives to have small MCs now and then, but even if I had understood what the members of Alice Project said that night, I highly doubt that I would had taken interest in it. Too many of the girls I have no connection with. Marty made it most obvious of being bored during the speeches, not showing the patience and grace of us “professional” wotas 😛 He and Allan later took part in the events, after which Marty couldn’t stop to complain about his favourite member of OZ, with whom he took a cheki with – she didn’t wrote him a sign on it, although every other member did during their events. His meeting was also very quick. Who knows what happened there. Me and Allan later went home for our hostel, whereas Marty wasn’t in the mood for stopping already, as with his words – “It is New Year!” So he decided to join Julian, who was close by for another live. From the stories I heard and read(!) about it later I am lucky I wasn’t there. Getting hopelessly drunk, to find yourself waking up in the middle of nowhere and flirtations with mothers of idols would have been too much for me – and sooo embarrassing 😉
On the day before (which I reported above) Allan told me he would attend the Moso Calibration Tour Final, happening at Zepp Tokyo. It didn’t take long for me to decide on accompanying him. Not because I like the group that much, but I had nothing else to do that day. It was disappointing there being so few Idol lives. Just thinking back exactly one year ago – Those were the days… The ticket was soon bought at a nearby Lawson’s and the next day we met early afternoon in Odaiba. Here I wanted to suggest the Yakisoba restaurant I visited a year ago with Shaun, located in the Aqua City mall. But when Allan‘s gaze saw the words “American Buffet” at one of the restaurants close by, plans were changed spontaneously. Not to my disappointment, as the meals offered there where fantastic – Spanish inspired wraps, German-style roasted beef, Tempura, fruits, ice cream and – of course – the chocolate fountain. The best thing though was the great view on Tokyo Bay from our seats. Definitely a place to return to.
On the near balcony Allan also convinced me to video record a birthday message for his favourite Idol, the now turned solo artist Shirai Misa I told you above. How embarrassing. It took several takes until I was able to deliver something proper. Hopefully Misa will like it, as I only spoke in English. Well, I wouldn’t wonder if Allan subtitled it for her, lol.
Heading for my (then) second Zepp Tokyo Live later was a piece of cake, being close by. Nostalgic memories of TIF appeared in my mind. By chance I also found out that Rick from Finland, whom I saw/met during Japan Expo Paris and Hyper Japan London, was present at the show as well, but we didn’t see each other at the venue. The live itself became okay. Although we arrived only minutes before the show was starting, we secured ourselves a good place on the right flank, with a good view for the stage. Moso Calibration aren’t the worst to listen too, but I fail to get into them. Dempagumi Inc., the group most similar to them in my opinion, is still far above in quality. So it was a nice surprise that during the show Pinky of Dempagumi Inc. appeared on stage, to perform a song together with Nia from Moso Calibration, as the Duo NiaPin. Nonetheless the show was enjoyable and it is always a difference when you are at a show together with friends, instead of being alone. Not much was done in regards to the stage decoration. They put up a big designed wall featuring a screen that showed the live footage as well as intermission videos. It was nice but nothing to get excited about.
Afterwards neither of us took part in the events. I was shortly contemplating of buying me some merchandise, but nothing really stood out. Whereas Allan was heading back for Aqua City to meet with another friend I went for my hostel – Tired and with my next Zepp Tokyo Live already on my mind. This being the most important one of my trip as well!