Idol 2-shots just got a lot nerdier

27 Sep

My new iPhone arrived yesterday, which is relevant because (1) I’m cool and (2) there is a new feature called “Live photos,” which combines a still photo with 1.5 seconds of video before and after the shot. This is an interesting–dare I say revolutionary feature because of how easily it can be applied to a 2-shot, potentially making them a lot more interesting, worthwhile, and sexy. Considering the popularity of iPhones in Japan, I can imagine idol fans trying to maximize the effect, since they’ll now have footage of the idol setting up her pose, in addition to the end result. It would be cool if this is a feature that groups (and their management) actually embrace in order to enhance the experience. On the other hand, it would be extremely lame if fans are asked to disable live photos before taking the shot.

New wallpaper

Old wallpaper

For some reason Perfume is in the American iPhone commercial

This is old news now, but when I was watching the iPhone conference at work a few weeks ago, I immediately noticed Perfume in the commercial and had to punch a colleague in the face to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Note: I got my master’s degree and I’m teaching now, so this will be my last update. Thanks for reading.

Recaps: Silent Siren

5 Sep

saisai spacetime banner v3.2I previously mini-capped™ the Silent Siren concerts, but this is the superior version 2.2.
[What happened to version 2.1?]
Version 2.1 turned into that weird thing I wrote about Apple Jacks.

Although I’ve been a fan of Silent Siren for years, I never considered attending one of their concerts. I had assumed their lives would be overly girly and also only attended by girls. Wait, does that sound sexist? [I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out how a concert only attended by girls could be considered a bad thing.] It wasn’t until I watched their two concert blu-rays, and then re-watched them over and over again, that I realized they are overly girly! But in a good way. Well, it’s better than a girl band being overly boy-ey.

Having become a Silent Siren addict, I wanted to attend every live they scheduled during my trip, which turned out to be “Mezamashi Live,” a two-man at Otodama Sea Studio, and a brief appearance at Tokyo Idol Festival. Unfortunately, I missed their tour finale by a week–which in retrospect would have been enough reason for me to reschedule my entire trip. They also had a photo event in Shibuya and Yokohama during my stay, but since they wouldn’t be performing I was too lazy to attend. It was so hot in Tokyo that a lot of the smaller events I typically would have gone to became too much of a hassle.

“Mezamashi Live”
@ Odaiba Yume Tairiku
July 30, 2015

Mezamashi Live is a long-running series of summer concerts produced by Fuji Television (named after their morning program “Mezamashi TV”). The concert was scheduled for 18:30, but I arrived at 17:00 in order to collect my 1-day pass for the Yume Tairiku festival (which is included with the concert ticket and necessary to access the concert venue) and to purchase Silent Siren goods.

Earlier in the day the band tweeted there would be a high touch event after the concert, so in addition to purchasing a towel and wristband, I pre-ordered their new single Hachigatsu no Yoru, which included the event ticket.

Suu backstage before their rehearsal. Source

Afterwards, I went to the stage because the band had started rehearsing. They were super long kawaaaaaiiiiiii, particularly Suu who kept jumping around and acting like a kid. The session lasted about 20 minutes, and they played bits of random songs, including my favorite Silent Siren song Yumeoi. When they finished, I joined the concert queue which was located at the back entrance to the festival. 

My ticket number was 211, which was pretty good since there was about 900 in attendance. In comparison, at last year’s SUPER☆GiRLS Mezamashi Live, my number was 684. For most of my concert tickets this trip, I used Japan Concert Tickets and they were awesome. The guy who helped me was extremely professional and was able to enter me in several ticket lotteries, which would have been otherwise impossible.

Upon entering the venue, staff members handed everyone Silent Siren disposable glowsticks and I chose a spot in the center column of Row 7, which was based on where the members position themselves on stage. I am a huge Suu fan (lead singer and guitarist) and she occupies the center position. My second favorite member is Ainyan (bassist and backing vocals), so I deliberately chose a spot that was directly in the middle of the middle column (for Suu), but I then shifted two seats to the left (to get slightly closer to Ainyan’s spot), in order to maximize my field of vision for both members. [In other words you’re a huge nerd. And that explanation was poorly written!] I also kept shifting back and forth trying to find the perfect spot, which I think confused and annoyed the people around me. [Umm, no one needs to know that detail.]

The group performed wearing cute white dresses (pictured above), which are outfits they’ve worn since 2013. Their smaller concerts begin with them running on stage and clapping along with the audience, before heading to their stations and picking up their instruments. It’s a simple intro, but surprisingly cute. I’m going to write the word cute a lot, because the members have genuinely cute mannerisms on stage, contributing to their overwhelming cute aura. And I actually think that despite being a rock band, they are cuter than practically every idol group. Their cuteness is a result of the way they perform and interact with the audience, as opposed to the rehearsed cuteness idol groups rely on, which tends to disappear once the performance begins.

Despite the setlist being heavily tilted towards their gimmicky songs, the concert was amazing. Their new single Hachigatsu no Yoru has become my second all-time favorite Silent Siren song and from the moment the first chord was played I was crying non-stop like a baby gorilla and screaming “Suuu daiSUUUkii” directly in the ear of the person in front of me for the entire song! I was flailing my arms and just kicking whatever was in my path knocking over people and just having a blast! (<- All of that may or may not have happened).

They also performed their cover of ZONE‘s “Secret Base,” but I thought their version was a little rough. Maybe they are still getting the song down, or maybe they intentionally didn’t want to do a clean version. Now that I’ve listened to their single though, the studio-version sounds great, although I still prefer the original. The concert lasted about 45 minutes, and another 15 minutes for the high touch to conclude.

The high touch went fine, until Ainyan looked at me and said “Whoooa!” like she just had a close encounter with an alien from Mars. Initially I thought it was hilarious, but after thinking about it more I have no idea if it was a positive reaction. My hair was pretty spiky that day so maybe it was a combination of that and being a foreigner. I would see them again at TIF and again on August 5 in Kamakura, but this time I was setting up official Suu fan headquarters directly in the center because Ainyan was dead to me! (jk)

1. Soukai Rock


3. Secret Base (ZONE cover)
4. Hachigatsu no Yoru (New single)
5. Starmine
6. GuruGuru Wonderland
7. Bii San (Beach Sandals)

“Tokyo Idol Festival 2015”
@ Zepp DiverCity (“Heat Garage” stage)

August 2, 2015

On day two of TIF, I arrived at Zepp DiverCity at 8:00 to queue for Silent Siren, who would perform at 10:15. Palet was scheduled immediately after them, and ever since Yumi Nakano joined the group, I’ve become a casual fan. The weather was already hot and a second reason I wanted to arrive early was in order to queue in the shade, since there is only a small stretch next to the venue that isn’t in the sun. When Silent Siren was added to TIF I assumed they would perform a regular set, considering they were scheduled for 30 minutes. Even after PASSPO was designated as their guest, I just figured there would be a harmless gimmick involving PASSPO members either singing alongside them, playing instruments, or doing somersaults on stage.

When I arrived there were about 25 people in the area, but an official queue hadn’t started. I thought that was weird, but took it as an opportunity to buy some drinks. Even after I returned ten minutes later, fans were still just casually standing around This was annoying because there are always line cutters at TIF, but usually the very beginning of a queue is safe. At all the TIFs I’ve been to, queues had formed this early, so I was confused and just stood near the fans with Silent Siren shirts and towels and would follow their lead.

At 8:30 the staff conferred (pictured above) and shortly afterward moved the unofficial queue to the side of the building (which you can see in the stretch that is in the shade). At this point, there was a two-hour wait for the venue to open. Upon entering, I noticed that there wasn’t a security check like there had been for day one and I went directly to the middle of the stage next to the cutout for the camera operator. It wasn’t first row, but it was center and I was on the railing, therefore I would have an unobstructed view.

The group performed wearing cute pastel colored dresses. Suu was wearing a knee-length dress that was completely saved by slits on each side, revealing her SUUper-skinny, yet SUUper-perfect legs. Every time I see her I just want to scream “SUUUU!!”–like a wolf howling at the moon.

Unfortunately, they only performed three songs, and I kind of realized the setlist would be short after they performed GuruGuru Wonderland second, since they typically end concerts with that song. After Bii San, the rest of their timeslot included PASSPO and a boring discussion of the punishment game Yukurun lost during their spring tour, which culminated with her performing Material Girl with them. [If you’re interested in the backstory on the collaboration you can watch this video–skip to the 10:00 minute point.]

Although disappointing, Silent Siren appearing at TIF was completely unexpected. Therefore, I was grateful, but I still selfishly wanted more. Have you ever seen a wild bear eating cookie crumbs? That’s what I looked like. I was like a starving bear eating Silent Siren crumbs and constantly looking for more Silent Siren crumbs and then devouring those.

Except the crumbs were Suu’s legs, making them the best crumbs ever.

1. Lucky Girl
2. GuruGuru Wonderland
3. Bii San

“Otodama Sea Studio: Itano Tomomi x Silent Siren”
@ Otodama Beach, Kamakura

August 5, 2015

Otodama Sea Studio is a summer concert venue located directly on the beach of Kamakura, a city 50 kilometers to the south of Tokyo. Travel time was 70 minutes by train and when I arrived I quickly visited Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a popular Shinto shrine. The shrine is in the opposite direction from the beach, so I only had about 15 minutes to look around before I needed to head to the venue. The weather was really nice because of the proximity to the ocean, and a total departure from the Tokyo heat.

Earlier in the day, the band tweeted photos while they had lunch and walked on the beach.

Unfortunately, there would be no bikini photos on that day–probably because Suu’s skin is very creamy. [And soft too.] Oh yeah, absolutely. [And supple!] Please stop interrupting my Suu story. And never use the word “supple.” Anyway, I was concerned that her delicate skin would be harmed by the sun. But it looks like she was wearing protective clothing. I was thinking though…

Wasn’t there anything I could have done for Suu to protect her from the sun?–which would coincidentally allow her to wear a bikini. Alas, I’m just a normal guy. Suu and I come from completely different worlds. I’m a successful private detective by day and zoo keeper by night and she is a beautiful idol with a sassy personality by day and lingerie model with a sassy personality by night.

Yet I kept asking myself over and over, “What could I do for her? What could I do for her?”

And each time I replied, “I can rub sunscreen all over her body. I can rub sunscreen all over her body.”

Maybe it’s because I am one of the few remaining good guys in the world, but whenever I think about idols going to the beach, I just really, really want to rub lotion all over their body. I know, crazy right?

I missed my chance this time, but if she ever returns to the beach, I promise that I will make the ultimate sacrifice and rub lotion all over her body. [Even the parts that won’t be in the sun?] Especially the parts that won’t be in the sun. Those are the most important parts!

I would tell her, “Suu, your creamy skin will soon be in the sun, and you are already shivering like a baby gorilla. Do not push me away or scream in my ear. It is with great reluctance that I remove all of your clothing. Alas, I must apply sunscreen over your entire body. And yes, including the parts that won’t be in the sun. Fortunately, I always carry with me twenty bottles of lotion. I will be here all day… and you’re welcome.”

Anyway, when I arrived at the beach, the staff had just begun letting fans into the venue. Unfortunately, I had no idea what the process was, because they weren’t calling by ticket number. It seemed like they were just letting in blocs of people based on ticket number ranges, beginning with fan club members. I knew I had a good ticket so I just got in the queue and I entered without a problem. It’s a free-standing venue and I was able to get 4th row in the center column. The floor is actually sand, since it’s a structure set up on the beach.

The two-man line-up was interesting because I doubt there is fan overlap between Silent Siren and Tomomi Itano, and the ratio was probably close to a 90/10 split in favor of Silent Siren. Because it was a shared concert, I figured the etiquette of letting fans of each group have priority would be in effect. I didn’t know who was opening though, so I chose the best spot available, and would vacate if Tomochin opened. I figured she would open though, since the stage didn’t have Silent Siren’s instrument setup. Most of Tomomi’s fans are girls, so when she came on first, I let them pass me, but I still had a decent position. I’m no longer a fan, but when I followed AKB48, she was my fourth favorite member, so I was interested in seeing her as a solo artist. I won’t get into detail about her performance, but it was entertaining, although she heavily relies on a backing vocal track. I think she sang six songs, with a short MC, before returning for a one-song encore.

At the conclusion of her encore, the Tomochin fans relocated to the back of the venue, and I returned to the front near Suu’s spot. Silent Siren’s staff then brought out their instruments and did the standard instrument checks. For the concert Hinachu would use an electronic drum kit instead of her typical acoustic drum, which you can see in the photo below.
I was about two meters from the stage and I actually moved closer because I don’t recall ever seeing the guy wearing the hat in the above photo. There wasn’t the typical gap between the stage that exists at larger venues, so the group was extremely close. They performed wearing the same dresses as Mezamashi Live, but this concert was a lot better, because they performed more songs, it was free-standing, and the beach setting had a better vibe than Odaiba. During the MC, Suu explained that the two-man came about because Tomochin requested Silent Siren, and their managers set it up.

They performed for an hour and sang BANG!BANG!BANG!, Lucky Girl, Hachigatsu no Yoru, What show is it?, GuruGuru Wonderland, and Bii San, in addition to a few others. The group had been heavily promoting their new single Hachigatsu no Yoru, and had another high touch event after the concert. If there was even a 1% chance they would do the event while wearing bikinis, I would have purchased ten, I mean one hundred copies. But Suu has creamy, delicate, soft, and supple skin remember?

The sun hadn’t yet set as I left the venue and I walked along the beach. I had heard that there were Japanese restaurants that served Japanese food in the area, and I was anxious to try one as it would be a nice change from the Japanese restaurants that served Japanese food that I had dined at every day since arriving. Unfortunately, every restaurant I walked into told me they were closed. Which was weird because…

It was only 19:00!

So I ate at Kua Aina, the only restaurant in the area that was still open.
I didn’t mind, afterall, maybe I could find a Japanese restaurant tomorrow.

The End

Spring Tour 2016
I’m planning my next trip to coincide with Silent Siren’s spring tour. [When is the tour?] Spring. [Oh. Probably no bikinis then.]

I think tour details could be revealed during their year-end concerts in Osaka and Tokyo. Until then, I won’t be blogging–unless I finish my Chubbiness fanfic “Chubbfu11y.”Although after a year of writing this is all I have:

Chapter 1
The Chubbiness concert at the onsen had just concluded and the members were extremely sweaty. The special twelve-course dinner the proprietor had promised them would be served in an hour, and in the meantime they would all have time to relax. [Chubbiness member’s name] decided to take advantage of the opportunity and make a quick reconnaissance of the hotspring. Afterall, she was very sweaty.

“OooOOhh this is so relaxing! The water feels great caressing my arms and legs and special places. But now that I am clean and refreshed, I seem to have forgotten my towel in my room. Well, it’s just a short walk, I’m sure no one will see me. Wait, I just heard a noise! Oh, it’s just you [Chubbiness member’s name]. You scared me!”
“Yes, it’s just me, [Chubbiness member’s name]. And I also forgot my towel.”

I don’t know why I like Doll☆Elements, I just do!

3 Sep

Being a fan of an idol group doesn’t always involve logic. I was contemplating this because, in retrospect, it was a little ridiculous to go to both Doll☆Elements concerts. At the same time, what I did could be considered completely normal behavior for a hardcore fan. Which reinforces the original premise that being an idol fan doesn’t always involve logic. For instance, I wouldn’t know how to explain my DollElements fandom to non-believers, at least not coherently or objectively. If you aren’t a fan of teh Elements, you just wouldn’t understand.

Which makes DollElements exactly like Apple Jacks!

Apple Jacks are a kid’s cereal that had an extremely stupid series of commercials back in the late 80s to mid 90s–the golden age to be a kid. The commercials shared the same format: a group of kids hanging out, eating Apple Jacks, and having to explain to adults or older siblings why they liked eating Apple Jacks so much–even though they didn’t taste like apples. Only their explanations for why they liked Apple Jacks made no sense and basically amounted to them saying they liked them because, well they just did! It was like, “Mom, I’m addicted to Apple Jacks, deal with it!”

This should make more sense after watching the following, which is considered the best Apple Jacks commercial of all time by some person on the internet:

That is exactly what idol fans sound like when discussing their favorite group.

Billy: I’ll trade you ten Rikapyon limited edition cards for one Runapon bikini card.
Theo: Don’t make me laugh. I should punch you in the face and burn down this garage for that ridiculous proposal.
Dad/Mr. Henderson: I thought you kids were building a robot.
Zack: We’re building a doll house, Mr. Henderson. D’uh! And we’re just chilaxing.
4Dad/Mr. Henderson: And talking about DollElements again, I see.
Theo: “Hey, what’s wrong with you kids? DollElements don’t taste like apples… I mean dolls.” Your dad is so lame.
Hercules: Yeah, that isn’t why we like DollElements!
Dad/Mr. Henderson: Then why do you like them?
Zack: We like them because… well…
Billy: It’s like… umm…
 Yo, Mr. Henderson is like a math teacher with these crazy questions!
Zack: Yeah, he’s killig my Elements high. Obviously we like them because…
Billy: Runapon wearing a bikini!! *falls into a coma*
Hercules: I think Billy died again. Anyway, it’s like this… we like them because… uhh…
Zack: We just do!!
Everyone except Billy: Yeah!!

“Doll Elements, we push who we like”
Extended scene
Theo: Billy, can I kill your dad? I got that itch again. And the only cure is killing Mr. Henderson with my bare hands.
Billy: I think you need more Apple Jacks. Apple Jacks make you happy, remember?

And that is why making idol recommendations is ineffective. We like who we like. There’s no logic involved and that’s simply how it’s always been–even when we were living in caves and hunting dinosaurs. “I like stegosaurus!” “That’s great Lancelot. But why do you like them?” “I just do! Deal with it!” 

But, seriously, DollElements are the best.

Yukino: Kawaii pose everyone!
Runapon: That’s the only pose I know.
Izumin: That’s the only pose I know too… except when I’m in ossan mode.
Gonchan: Rika, hold me! Hurry, no ones looking!
Rikapyon: I am holding you!
Gonchan: Hold me with your face!