Winter Trip 2019-2020

25 Dec
I’ll be in Japan for the 2020 Winter Olympics which are being held in Tokyo. This will be my first time attending the Winter Olympics in Tokyo and I am very excited to attend the Winter Olympics in Tokyo. Go #TeamTanzania

December28 Devil Anthem. 5th Anniversary in Shibuya
December29 Magical Punchline 1st Album event in Shibuya
December30 Silent Siren Year End Live in Yokohama
December31  
January 1  
January 2 New Year Premium Party Day 1
January 3 New Year Premium Party Day 2
January 4  
January 5 Tokyo Hobo Orchestra @Ueno Zoo
January 6 Women’s Only Onsen (All day pass)
January 7  
January 8  
January 9 Marquee Matsuri @TSUTAYA O-WEST
January 10 =LOVE Winter Tour @ Zepp Nagoya
January 11 SUPER GiRLS 5th album event in Osaka
January 12 Return to Merica

May 12 Update: After school is over in a few weeks, I’ll write a mini-recap of this trip considering a lot has changed in the world since January. Just a few months ago, the Summer Olympics were still scheduled for 2020 and I was planning on returning to Japan in June for SUPER GiRLS 10th anniversary concert and =LOVE’s tour finale at Tokyo Dome City Hall, two concerts I was really looking forward to. Now, optimistically, the earliest I could travel is during my school’s winter holiday again, which is late December through early January, but having traveled to Japan during winter twice now, it’s a little too cold and gloomy during that time of year, and more importantly, I don’t even know if international travel will be possible this year.

SILENT SIREN “Girls Will Be Bears Tour”

24 Jul

SILENT SIREN “Girls Will Be Bears Tour” Finale
July 13 & 14, 2018
@Toyosu Pit (Tokyo)

I bought tickets to SILENT SIREN’s tour during their first lottery, which followed the initial fan club sales. Fast forward seven months, the first ticket was… A600. That’s okay considering it’s a 3500 person venue. In order to collect the tick–[What about the second ticket?] As I was saying, in ord–[You haven’t mentioned the second ticket. wHaT aBoUt ThE sEcOnD tIcKeT??] I don’t want to talk about the second ticket! Second ticket is dead to me!! Jk, second ticket was A2399. At least it wasn’t A2400, amirite??

The ticket pick-up process was new to me. Typically I would go to 7-11 with a confirmation number and have the ticket printed by the cashier. Or I would have the physical tickets mailed to my hotel. This time, I received a confirmation number and instructions to use Famiport, which is the self-serve terminal at Family Mart. Speaking of Family Mart, for years I intended to photoshop “Gemily Mart” and add it to the “Sponsors” banner, but I was too lazy. And now GEM is gone. 

The ticket process was easy enough, although I probably looked like an idiot since I was at the Famiport machine for over 20 minutes and the staff kept glancing at me. [“What is that gaijin with awesome hair doing? Is he trying to buy groceries with Famiport? OMG HE IS TRYING TO BUY GROCERIES WITH FAMIPORT!] After 20 minutes of trying to buy groceries with Famiport, I correctly used it to collect my Idol Yokocho and Silent Siren Tickets. For tickets, you press the button in the upper left corner (highlighted in the first photo), enter the complete ticket number, and then proceed through the confirmation screens (all in Japanese of course). Eventually the receipt will print out and you take it to the cashier. There was no fee to collect the tickets, but in certain situations I think there could be a small processing fee (like 108 yen).

I didn’t mention it previously, but for Idol Yokocho, I was able to use Rakuten’s Japanese site to purchase the tickets. I never knew this was possible, although I recall Tobi telling me it was. I always had problems entering a valid address, and then gave up. The morale of the story: don’t give up. Anyway, this is great because with Rakuten, tiget, and peatix, it is much easier for oversees fans to purchase tickets on our own. *thunderous applesauce*

Overall, both concerts were just okay. I was in the center of the 10th row for the Friday concert and much further back for the Saturday show. Wasn’t thrilled with the setlists ( I never am) or outfits… or Suu looking like she just rolled out of bed. She dyed her hair purple and it didn’t look healthy. She looked like a witch with unwashed and tangled-up purple witch hair. No offense of course! This is typical behavior of some naturally good-looking people who take their looks for granted and either sabotage their appearance or do nothing to embellish it. It’s insulting. For me, it takes hours to make my hair awesome and many, many surgeries to make me look good. (Kidding)

During the Friday concert, the group asked if anyone came from outside Tokyo. Someone yelled Saitama. No one laughed. Another fan yelled Hong Kong. I never say anything even though I get occasional curious glances.

They performed their newest song, which is kind of cute. The song and video promotes Tenkaippin, a ramen chain that sponsored the tour.

Despite being the tour final, they didn’t make any future announcements. I was hoping for dates for their end of the year concerts and US shows (assuming they visit again).

Thinking back, my favorite concerts have been their two Los Angeles shows (front row makes a big difference), “Dream On” (their New Years concert in 2017), and “Mezamashi Live” (the first time I saw them in 2015). The rest have been blah, which were all tour dates. Lesson learned. I’ll only go to their LA shows and big concerts from now on.

Probably.

And only if Suu washes her hair!

SUPER GiRLS Event, NEO Fes!!!, & Trip Recap

23 Jul

SUPER GiRLS @ DiverCity Festival Square
NEO Fes!!! @ Tokyo FM Hall
July 16, 2018

My last day in Japan was hectic (in a nerdy way), but it was worth the hassle. SUPER GiRLS had release events in Odaiba and Monogatari was part of an all-day idol event in Chiyoda, a district of Tokyo that includes the Imperial Palace and several foreign embassies. Since this was my last day, I also had to check out of my hotel, stow my luggage somewhere, and eventually get to Narita Airport, which was a slight complication, since I usually fly out of Haneda, which is closer to Tokyo.

After checking out of my hotel, I went to Chiyoda and stowed my luggage in a coin locker. Although I was going to the SG event first, my plan hinged on an available locker at the station nearest Tokyo FM Hall, since I wanted to go to Odaiba free of my luggage so I could enjoy the mini-live and shop for souvenirs. This was the part of my plan that I was most concerned about, because I’ve had nightmare experiences in the past trying to find a locker.

Fortunately, there were several lockers available. The midsize can fit a carry-on roller luggage and a backpack/messenger bag and still have room to spare. That’s so GEM!™

It all seemed too easy and I had to punch a random person in the face to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I was then off to Odaiba! On the way, I daydreamed about Kome‘s creamy, creamy skin and her slender and silky smooth perfectly toned legs–[What about her ample bosom?] Please let me finish! And of course, her ample perfectly proportioned bosom; Z cups if I recall correctly.

I also remembered that when I was in Odaiba last summer, they were in the process of dismantling the Gundam statue in order to build a new model. [Are you sure they are Z cups? I think they are bigger. What comes after Z?]

When I arrived in Odaiba, I had an hour to kill before the SG event. To be upfront, I wasn’t going to buy anything since the single isn’t out yet and I didn’t want to fill out a reservation form for a single I would never be able to pick up. Had the single been released, of course I would have bought a copy since I don’t think it’s right for a hardcore fan to watch a live and not support the group. With that disclaimer out of the way, I checked out the Gundam statue, which I thought looked pretty similar to the one it replaced. Only, stupider looking and less iconic. Afterwards, I went to the JUMP shop at Aqua City. I am a huge One Piece fan and bought a mug and Luffy, Ace, and Sabo glasses because I could take the Luffy and Ace glasses and spell LA.

I mentioned previously that SUPER GiRLS unexpectedly became my favorite group again during this trip. Every performance I saw, they did not disappoint. And I really like their new single. It’s been years since I could say that. My favorites from the original lineup have graduated, but in addition to Kome, I really like Nana, Hotaru, and Yumeri.

It was pretty hot during the first mini-live at noon, fortunately the stage area was in the shade and the group didn’t perform in the sun. I found a spot on the upper terrace overlooking the stage, which was also in the shade and provided a great view from above–which I have to say was way better than the paying fans who were suffering in the sun. During TIF, this area is always blocked off to prevent fans from camping out, which is annoying because it’s perfect for viewing the stage–which is exactly what it was designed and built for.

The mini-live was great. Kome is so attentive to the fans. She always makes eye contact and lingers on stage waving goodbye. She even genuinely waved at us non-paying fans. 

At least buy my blu-ray.

Okay. Just please keep making them. At least ten image videos every year. I mean 20! No, a million!

Setlist
Joishi Ryoku Paradise
Koishite Yes
Bubbling Squash
Gira Gira Revolution
Ichatte Yachatte

I wouldn’t be able to watch the second mini-live because of Monogatari’s timeslot at the idol event, so I returned to Chiyoda.

NEO Fes!!! is an ongoing idol event similar to Idol Koshien. This edition was held at Tokyo FM Hall, which is commonly used for idol concerts. I reserved a ticket through tiget and after paying the fee at the entrance, I was handed the current issue of Top Yell (an idol publication), as they were the sponsors. The place is kind of weird imo. The room is a perfect square with a high ceiling and it’s a small space, maybe fitting 3-400 people. The floor had also been divided into a sitting and standing area. There were five rows of chairs upfront and a standing area in the back, which is where I watched from because I like being able to jump around. While I was there, I had to keep track of the time, because in order to make my flight, I had to leave at 5:30. I was super fortunate, because Monogatari was scheduled from 5-5:30. Essentially, I payed 4000Y to watch Monogatari perform for 30 minutes. If they had been scheduled any later, I wouldn’t have been able to attend–in which case I would have watched both SUPER GiRLS mini-lives. Outside of Monogatari, I was only interested in Woltanative. Other groups I was interested in either performed earlier in the day or after I would leave.

Woltanative was the first group I saw. They were a five member unit again. This group has gone through a lot of lineup changes in their short existence. For instance, two months after they were formed as a five-member group, they lost two members. Then they added two. And then lost one. The website currently shows six girls, but there were only five on stage. They are a MAPLEZ sister group, and the center of Woltanative is the former center of MAPLEZ. MAPLEZ is disbanding this year and this group could be on thin ice. I like their music though. It’s very much in the vein of MAPLEZ, leading me to think the sound producer is the same.

Fulfill Pocket and …… (I think they are called “dots“) followed. Fulfill Pocket isn’t my type, but dots was somewhat unique. They perform wearing bands covering their eyes; I think their gimmick is the members are all anonymous. 

I really wasn’t expecting much from the other acts considering I was there for Monogatari, which is why I was surprised when I fell in love with the group that followed. Or more precisely, I fell in love with a member of the next group.

The group was Inkey Oops. They were at Idol Yokocho, but even had I known of them, there would have been a schedule conflict. Their lineup was three girls and a guy who mainly just hyped the crowd. And he looked a lot like one of the guys in Zettaichokyu Joshi! Play Balls (it turned out that he was the guy). I don’t think he is a full-time member though, just like how Play Balls usually perform without the two guys.

Then I noticed the blond girl in the group and I literally fell in love right then and there. Seriously cute and super energetic and smiling and jumping around nonstop. Her name is Chihiro Kamata, but goes by Rinco Star. All of the members have stage names. [Was she super-long kawaaiiiii?] Yes, of course!

I don’t necessarily have a thing for Japanese girls who dye their hair blonde, but I have previously been a huge fan of Runa (Doll Elements) and Saya (gallop+). What I do have a thing for though, are girls who put their hair up like she does. I really dislike the trend of girls completely covering their foreheads, which has been going on for years now. There have been times when I’ve liked a group and the entire lineup has their bangs chopped straight across and lined up with their eyebrows. Why is that a thing? /rant

The group’s music is straight up pop, which is refreshing since new groups these days are seemingly either rock-based or frenetic, nerd-core. 

One of their songs they performed was a cover of a-ha’s Take On Me, but the rest of their set was original music (I think). It’s rare that I react like this to an unknown group, but they were so energetic and dorky, that I couldn’t help jump around and act like an idiot alongside them.

Unfortunately, there are warning signs, so I’m proceeding with caution. Within a year, they’ve already lost a member. When I saw gallop+ and immediately fell for them, my favorite member left the group a month later. For now, I’ll casually follow them, and hopefully see them again during my next trip. 

After enduring an Arc Jewel group called Jewel Neige it was finally time for Monogatari.

Of course they performed wearing the outfits I hate.

Ugly dresses: I am shiny and nylon and color-coded! Why do you hate me?
Me: Because you are shiny and nylon and color-coded.

When I return to Japan, please wear any of these:

Setlist
KISS MY GIRLS
Maho o Tokonaide
WE are ONE
PARTY ANIMALS
Moikkai Kimi ni Suki to Ienai (new single)
MONOGATARI

The setlist was great because I honestly like every song they perform. Even if I don’t like the song itself, their choreography is so amazing, that I can still enjoy the performance. They have a choreographer who is reminiscent of the one PASSPO had when they debuted, basically designing performances that are really unique and dare I say, revolutionary. I have a feeling their choreographer is no longer with the group–they rarely stick around, but she had a hand in enough of their songs to really impact their development.

Surprisingly, the five times I saw Monogatari this trip, they never performed arguably their most popular song.

^ That is the version of the group that I fell in love with. I fear that phase is over though. But even if it is, everyone knows that I’m still a huge Monogatari fan.

And because my editor says people like this kind of thing, here are pictures of food

Movie recommendations
During the flight I watched Tori Girl and Mixed Doubles and loved both. Highly recommended if you like romantic comedies.

And out of these movies, which do you think I watched?
[Probably the perviest one. Sherlock Gnomes?] If you guessed Sherlock Gnomes, you are… not correct and you clearly do not know me! I watched Pacific Rim: Uprising, and it was really disappointing. Much worse than the first movie. On the other hand, I was shocked that Blockers was hilarious.

Next trip
My school has three weeks off for winter break, so I’d like to return during that time. My focus will be SUPER GiRLS, Monogatari, and Moriwaki Yui. Secondary will be Silent Siren, Yumemiru Adolescence, Tokyo Performance Doll, and Magical Punchline. Tertiary will be Yamakatsu and maybe Inkey Oops (I’m still not sure if my fandom is temporary insanity). If Fuwa Fuwa schedules “real” concerts outside of their theater, then I would bump them to my secondary tier.

And I really wish Japan would have held on against Belgium, if only to keep this going. They actually did events wearing these! Super-long kawaaiiiiiii.

The end