SILENT SIREN “Girls Will Be Bears Tour”

24 Jul

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

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!

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

23 Jul

SUPER GiRLS @ DiverCity Festival Square
NEO Fes!!! @ Tokyo FM Hall
July 16, 2008

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

TIF & Idol Yokocho Deathmatch

21 Jul

Idol Yokocho Hello, TIF. We meet again.
TIF Indeed we do. *puts on trousers* Prepare to die.
IY No, you prepare to die.
TIF I said it first.

Because I’m a huge nerd when it comes to J-Pop, I am going to spend a beautiful California summer day comparing Idol Yokocho Natsu Matsuri and Tokyo Idol Festival. And you’re welcome.

Idol Yokocho refers to itself as one of the big three idol festivals, which is a reference to TIF, the preeminent pop music festival and @JAM EXPO, considered the second biggest (and #1 jankiest). I went to Idol Yokocho two weeks ago and TIF for years and they are very different experiences. I’ve never been to @JAM EXPO, but based on the streams I’ve watched, the years it has been held at Yokohama Arena, it has clearly been the worst of the three. The main stage is ridiculous–a massive stage that is way too big for the performers and way too far away from the audience and minor stages that are set up in absurd locations like the lobby (really?) or random storage rooms where fans are crammed in like cattle and if you jump too high your head will literally crash through the ceiling. I don’t get why the organizers keep returning to Yokohama Arena, it’s not built for a multi-stage event. Well, I do get why it’s Yokohama Arena–it’s glamorous and high profile. And clearly that is higher priority to the producers than the fan experience. @JAM also started the mindless VIP trend that TIF has since adopted, forcing fans to pay obscene amounts of money for front-row access and privileges like exclusive performances. This is all unrelated though, onward to the comparison.

TIF Idol Yokocho
Duration 3 Days 2 Days
Location Odaiba Yokohama
Tickets 17,000Y (3-days)
7,200Y (1-day)

18,700Y (3-days T-Shirt)
9,200Y (1-day T-Shirt)

100,000Y (3-days VIP)
40,000Y (1-day VIP)

12,000Y (2-days)
6,800Y (1-day)
Number of groups 198 (as of July 22) 158
Number of stages 7 5
Travel time between stages Two pairs of stages are 1 minute apart:
(Smile Garden/Doll Factory & Hot Stage/Festival Stage)  
Other combinations of stages are ~10-20 minutes apart
Less than 1 minute between any stage
Attendance ~80,000 (over the 3 days) / 27,000 average ~10,000 total / 5,000 average
Queues for stages 1. Special lives at Doll Factory (or whenever it’s beyond capacity)
2. Sky Stage (can be as little as 15 seconds to an hour or more) 
3. Marketplace (depending upon the time, can be 30+ minutes)
None
Hotels within walking distance
(data from hotels.com and agoda.com)
Six hotels (all 3.5-5 star) & one capsule hotel that is a ~20 minute walk 25-30 hotels in every category
Gimmicks Exclusive performances if you purchase the T-Shirt tickets
VIP perks (front row)
Gravure 2-shots

TIF Sparkling Night (18 and over)
Main stage competition
Regional idol group competition
Other gimmicks like having a nerdy chairperson
Gravure 2-shots
Playing a fishing game with idols
Main stage competition
Fuwa Fuwa Yes No *cries into a pillow*
Rules No jumping, lifting, moshing, etc. is enforced at certain stages No lifting, enforced at all stages

TIF is like Disneyland. There’s a lot to like, but also a lot to hate. TIF has the highest number of groups and a few mainstream acts from 48 groups, 46 groups, and Hello! Project. The massive numbers and the specific acts are a double-edged sword though. Most fans couldn’t care less about there being 200+, that’s mainly for the ego of the producers. The real consequences for fans are the increased likelihood for schedule conflicts and the increased attendance that accompanies the popular groups. This is annoying because every year they book more acts and attendance increases, yet the number of stages remains the same. In fact, this year they removed last year’s main stage. Last year’s main stage was the best main stage they ever had. It appears that stage no longer exists because Fuji TV’s annual summer festival really down-sized this year. In the past, TIF used Fuji TV’s “Mezamashi Live” stage as their main stage. This year, Fuji TV got rid of the entire festival area which included the stage and the mini amusement park and are instead using the super-small My Navi stage for “Mezamashi Live,” which is called “Dream Stage” for TIF. That’s a massive downgrade and I don’t know how TIF can compensate for the loss, considering thousands of fans camped at this stage last year.

The biggest problem with TIF is how spread out everything is. Sky Stage, Dream Stage, Main Stage, Marketplace, the gimmicky stage inside the Fuji TV building that no one cares about — these areas are 10-20 minutes apart and it can be extremely hot during this time of year. And I’m in great shape, so I’m not one to complain about physical activity. I have 4% body fat! 4%! [No one cares about that!! And that just means you need to eat more.] So often over the years at TIF my brain has been like, “Eff this. No more walking!” and my body shuts down like a robot whose battery died *bleep blop kerplunk*

This is why I feel that for a lot of fans, Idol Yokocho is superior. Every single stage is within a minute walk of any other stage. There were times when one of my favorite groups was performing at one stage and immediately afterwards another group I like was at another. At TIF, I would have been screwed. But at Idol Yokocho, I could gallantly trot to the other stage in 15 seconds. At stage 2 and 3, I just had to turn around and I was at the other stage. There was sound bleeding between stages, but this isn’t a classical music symphony festival, so I feel this issue is relatively insignificant. After all, I just want to jump around like an idiot for Kome. [Perfectly understandable. You are human.] 

Would I have liked to see NMB48 and FuwaFuwa? Of course I would have liked to see NMB48 and FuwaFuwa. I am human after all. But I was completely fine with Idol Yokocho’s lineup. For my particular fandoms, the lineups were actually equal, because Idol Yokocho had Moriwaki Yui and LADYBABY, which TIF doesn’t (at least not yet). Of course I wasn’t even able to see LADYBABY because of schedule conflicts, which I will be eternally grumpy about. Rie Kaneko! *howls at the moon and sobs into a pillow*

TIF also cracked down on fun last year. There are definitely problems with some fans (anything that impacts another person’s space is wrong imo, which includes moshing, lifting, clearing space for a ginormous circle of stupidity, and rushing the stage for your oshimen), but TIF’s response last year was annoying. Some stages outlawed jumping, moshing, lifting, etc, but at other stages it was okay. The rules were silly though because non-stop jumping (renzoku jump) is not the same as lifting or moshing. One is only mildly annoying while the other directly impacts others. I felt that TIF’s response last year was disingenuous and mainly for appearance, like when they had metal detectors two years ago on day one and then they disappeared the next two days–because we all know that one single psychotic idol fan in all of Japan is showing up on day one and then sitting out the rest of the festival.

The bottom line is TIF is produced by huge nerds whose main objective is self-promotion. The decisions they make are typically in their best interest and not the fans. If they cared about fans, they would have tents set up in the areas they know queues will form and the stages would be centrally located, instead of utilizing pre-existing stages that scattered all over Odaiba. Idol Yokocho’s producers are also huge nerds, but they are pervy nerds (they proudly invented the gravure 2-shot event) and everything is situated in one spot. The only annoying thing they did was rope off the benches. Seriously, what the f-junk are benches for if not to be sat on? And these are old benches, not brand new benches made of gold, but evidently idol fans are not to use them. Of course, if fenced-off benches are the only complaint I can think of, then the producers are clearly doing a good job.

[Don’t forget the schedule guy denied you Rie Kaneko.] Tis true. But I put a curse on him. 

Incomprehensible Analogies
Southern California has a lot of amusement parks (Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World, Universal Studios, Legoland, and others), so this may only make sense locally, but this completely captures the essence of each festival:

  • TIF is Disneyland Lots of excitement, but expensive, overrated, and overcrowded
  • Idol Yokocho is Knott’s Berry Farm Minimal excitement, but you are going to have a good time
  • @JAM EXPO is Santa’s Village Haunted and super-janky

Final Thoughts
I would love for Idol Yokocho to add a third day, or more realistically, add Friday night to the weekend, so it’s 2.5 days. TIF’s third day is perhaps it’s only tangible advantage.

I’m going to Idol Yokocho again next year. Let’s all go!