28 Days Later: A Tokyo Idol Festival Retrospective

1 Sep

I’ll never stop writing about Tokyo Idol Festival. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

What else is there to write about? Reira’s 18th birthday? Reira’s Cardgravure Collection and 2013 calendar? Speculate about her limited-edition, SPC fan-club-member-only birthday merchandise?

Before I write about everything I just mentioned, the other day I realized I have over thirty unfinished blog entries that I never completed because I either lost interest or realized the topic was too weird or obscure even by my standards. About fifteen of them were about Misa-misa (jk).   I’m going to just stream-of-consciousness this final recap of  TIF and my Japan trip to prevent this from joining the unfinished articles in the PASSPOGASM graveyard.

Airport Talk™: Haneda vs Narita
For my first two trips to Japan I landed at Narita airport. It’s the primary international airport servicing the Tokyo area and for many visitors the only option. For my recent trip I was really particular about landing in Haneda though. The international terminal was constructed just last year, Haneda is located a little closer to Tokyo, and you can take a monorail into the city. For some reason I considered these things to be “super important” when planning my trip. After “experiencing” Haneda…  there is absolutely no reason to prefer it over Narita. The least expensive and most direct airfare you can find should determine which airport you choose.

The Tokyo monorail was simply the best monorail I’ve been on since the Disneyland Monorail and Springfield Monorail.

Once I got through customs, I converted my money to yen, bought a Suica card, and waited for the magical monorail. After riding the monorail, I’ve realized that they aren’t that cool. There’s a reason why so few of them exist in the world. I only spent about ten minutes at Haneda, so I felt pretty lame for being so picky about which airport to choose.

My Suica collection. Suica are refillable cards that allow you to travel on Japan Rail and subway lines without having to purchase individual route tickets. The card on the top is a “special edition” available only to foreigners arriving at Narita. The card on the bottom is also a “special edition”, but is less “special” since anyone can purchase one, but it’s only sold at Haneda airport.

I want to quickly mention that I don’t recommend the Suica + NEX package (available at Narita Airport). Most websites and blogs recommend it, but after using it for my first two trips, I think the cheapest train into Tokyo is the best option. There are only one or two NEX trains per hour, so if your flight lands and you miss the train, you may have to wait 45 minutes for the next to arrive. In which case, the only reason you chose NEX (the fastest train into Tokyo) no longer applies since you could have taken the slowest, most ghetto train (which are continually leaving Narita) and arrive in Tokyo at the same time, while saving on train-fare . In any case, this is a boring topic so moving on.

Day One
After leaving Haneda, I went to Harajuku intending to browse concert resale tickets since I was still considering a ticket to the Sunday morning SUPER☆GiRLS concert. This was my second time in Harajuku, but it’s completely different when you go in the early morning and there’s no one around. Gorakudoh was closed for another two hours so I just wandered around like a loser.

Harajuku Station at 8AM. The lady and the guy in this photo continued to walk toward each other until they collided *crash splash kerplunk kaboom*. They helped each other up and talked about how hot it was. The lady then asked if he wanted to go back to her place for lemonade. Luc-key!

Went to the AKB Store

This is where idol dreams go to die.

AKB Store stats:
Time Spent in the store:  zero minutes
Money spent in the store: zero yen
Posters that need to be rehung: Tomochin and Yukirin. Acchan poster is like, “Will someone please fix these posters. It’s making me look bad.”

Staff #1: The Tomochin poster fell again. Staff #2: I’m not fixing it. Those posters are haunted.

Walked down a side-street

This is where idol dreams are born.

Gelato and Volcom is the best combination since that old lady at Harajuku Station and lemonade.

TIF venues being constructed

Worker #1: Do you think we’ll finish Secret Court in time? Worker #2: Probably not. And don’t talk about Secret Court.

Once Gorakudoh opened I checked their S☆G tickets, but the selection for Sunday morning was pretty limited.  In retrospect I should have bought the 5,000 yen ticket they had which was ticket number 400. I really need to invest in a time machine. Or just stop making horrible decisions.

Pre-Diary™
If I was to add up all the times I’ve seen predia, including concerts, events, stalking them, and TIF the total would be…

If that doesn’t make sense the answer is nine. I’ve seen them nine times. I feel so cool, even though no one cares about this.

I may have gone SUPER☆GiRLS crazy, but I’m still a huge predia fan. Although I’m a little confused at what’s going on with the group. When I saw palet perform I immediately noticed that all the girls had hand mics. I started trembling like a baby duck-billed platypus because of the implications. I’m pretty sure they used to do the weird PASSPO thing where the “good” singers get hand mics and the rest get head mics (that are actually just props). Was it possible that PASSPO and predia had finally realized how weird and old-fashioned it was that not all the members had real mics? Unfortunately it would turn out that PASSPO and predia not only still do the weird mic thing, but the mic situation for predia actually got worse. When the group first debuted Rumina and Akane got hand mics, and three other girls, usually Runa, Mai, and Keiko also got mics, and then a few others like Reiko, Terumi, and Megu got head mics. A while back Terrizle, Runa, and Keiko got promoted to full-time real-mic status, while a few others still had the head mics. I’m not sure what happened, but the head mics are gone… and everyone except Akane, Rumina, Terumi, Runa, and Keiko are relegated to background dancer status. Did Reiko lose her mic? And if so, couldn’t she borrow (or steal) Mako-tee’s? It’s so weird that only five of the girls sing now. Reiko has a really cute “Acchan” voice, so it’s not like there isn’t a huge market of fans that would appreciate her singing. 

Yui recently left the group, leaving twelve members, which is the number the group is supposed to have based on their tagline. I’m not sure if Marina is still in the group though. She wasn’t at TIF or Lumines, and I she hasn’t been at any of the live-streamed concerts I’ve watched this year. Just another weird thing about my second favorite group. There can’t be many groups that exist where hardcore fans don’t even know if one of the girls is still a member.

And it’s been six months since they released anything. That’s an eternity in idol years. I suspect all of Platinum’s resources not focused on PASSPO are being used on palet, at predia’s expense.

Let’s pretend Marina took this photo. Source: Reiko’s blog

I’m also still annoyed predia wasn’t at the Main Stage. Some of the acts chosen for the stage were really suspect. I’m not going to name names, but Bump.y? Reall.y? Predia’s popularity has increased though. I was re-watching predia’s performance from last year’s TIF and Doll Factory was mostly empty. I saw them at the same stage this  year and they had a great turnout. There were actual humans everywhere. They even commented on the number of fans in attendance during the MC:
Runa: Look at all the humans!
Reiko: It’s so much nicer than performing in front of the staff.
Megumi: And cardboard cutouts.
Akane: And the robots.

Doll Factory 2012:  I was at the front row on the right hand side, and I noticed that the room was pretty much packed. By my calculations it was 90% full.

Doll Factory 2011: It’s hard to tell by this angle, but based on the video of their performance the audience was only 3-4 people deep, meaning the venue was probably only 25% full last year.

Before predia’s day one performance at Sky Stage, Ami Kikuchi from Idoling had MC’d the previous block of performances. I got to the stage late, but just in time to see Amimi as she was finishing up her hosting duties. She is so gorgeous and I’m glad that she is starting to get serious recognition as a “talent”.

During her MC she wore this dress. Source: Ami’s blog

Later that day I saw Amimi again as she was hosting TIF TV.

This photo is also from her blog. But when I saw her in the studio it was during a commercial break because she was just staring blankly at the camera. I guess she was instructed not to acknowledge the audience during these breaks because she didn’t smile, talk, or look at the fans. A total pro.

Because of scheduling conflicts I was never able to catch an Idoling performance, but I did randomly see Mai on the rooftop on Day One and some of the Idoling member’s who participated in the encore show with Fudanjuku and YGA. That’s pretty bad for someone who claims to be an Idoling fan.

Going back to palet for a second, I was shocked how many fans were wearing palet shirts. I saw them everywhere.

TIF Time Machine
If I could go back in time I would watch Idoling, CQC’s, B♭, Station, SCOOP, Dorothy Little Happy, Apple Tale, Tokyo Girl’s Style, and E-Girls. I would also watch Party Rockets and AeLL a second time. Ai Shinozaki is amazing and doesn’t get enough credit for being a great vocalist. I still don’t get why she chose a group like AeLL, considering her popularity and voice. Nothing against the other members, who are also all good singers, but I think the AeLL concept has somewhat limited appeal.

Afilia Saga East and Fudanjuku were the two groups that I have wanted to see the most since last year. I was finally able to check them both off my Idol Bucket List. The first time I saw Fudanjuku was at Sky Stage and after only performing three songs Urumasa said, “Don’t worry, come to our main stage performance!”. But they only performed five or six songs at the Main Stage. Since Momotaro was absent, my new favorite is Aiba. She really looks like Aya Ueto to me and is a great performer. Uramasa is just freakin awesome. So much energy. Perhaps too much energy.

If you look closely there are idols in this photo

I don’t feel like drawing arrows and circling them, but members of BiS are waiting at the crosswalk.

Technically I saw SKE48

While I was stuck in the elevator queue SKE was performing at Smile Garden. I heard a solitary wota in the distance yell “Juriiiiina”. Terrifying.

Party Rockets and a PASSPO obituary

Party Rockets are my pick for Best Newcomer at TIF. My copy of their debut single arrived last week (yeah I’m cheap and bought the cd-only version). The first press photo wasn’t Yuuka or Koume, so let’s never speak of it again. The ironic thing about their single is the release date was the same as PASSPO’s Natsuzora HANABI – which I didn’t purchase *shock*. I’ve pre-ordered every PASSPO release since Hallelujah back in July 2010 (I have all their indies and all the first presses of their major label releases). But after two years of fandom, it’s finally over. It’s your classic idol group breakup. And it’s not me… it’s them.

Jk, it’s not them. I think two years is actually a normal lifespan for a fandom.  Like clockwork, once it gets beyond the second year it becomes a struggle to maintain interest in a group. It happened with Hello Project, AKB48,EXILE, Idoling, and inevitably it will happen with predia and SUPER☆GiRLS (Liar! SUPER☆GiRLS forever!!).

It’s like that one former Morning Musume fan once said, “Enjoy it while it lasts. Just try not to end up with a giant box full of crap when it’s all over.”

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4 Responses to “28 Days Later: A Tokyo Idol Festival Retrospective”

  1. infzer0 2012/09/03 at 1:47 am #

    “Like clockwork, once it gets beyond the second year it becomes a struggle to maintain interest in a group. It happened with Hello Project, AKB48,EXILE, Idoling, and inevitably it will happen with predia and SUPER☆GiRLS (Liar! SUPER☆GiRLS forever!!).”

    haha damn right indeed. My interest also kept on changing every year…who knows which group i will support next year :P

    Oh, you didnt see Dorothy Little Happy ? They’re awesome, i kinda regretted now that i couldnt manage to see them at the hot stage last time. I only managed to see them on Smile Garden on Saturday morning. I even forgot to mark their performances on my TIF schedule lol.

    Didnt know you like Fudanjuku though, you even know the members name haha (i never really like them lol)

    • qwiksXnd 2012/09/03 at 3:41 pm #

      Lol, exactly. Next summer when I go back, I wonder which groups I will still be following. I hope S☆G is still my favorite, but I’ve kind of realized that I have no loyalty. It’s sad, but true.

      Maybe I’m not hardcore enough, but I can only seriously follow two groups at a time. Outside of the top two it get’s too time consuming and complicated to keep track of. And there are so many groups now. Just a few years ago it was AKB, Idoling, and the H.P. groups. Now there are hundreds spanning every possible genre. And it’s really hard to find info on a lot of them.

      I just saw DLH perform one song, before I rushed to another stage. You did pretty good with your TIF scheduling, better than mine in a lot of ways. Except for missing Party Rockets, muhaha.

      At first I didn’t understand what Fudanjuku was, so I avoided everything about them. It wasn’t until I watched the TIF 2010 dvd that I started to really like them. In fact I actually skipped their performance when I first watched the video, it wasn’t until later that I went back and watched the entire concert.

  2. eyeless 2012/09/03 at 2:04 am #

    I also bought Party Rockets single, but the one with CD+DVD.

    Party rocket & passpo

    A post shared by Arif Setiawan (@arif_setiawan_salim) on

    Got Haru’s photo which is quite awesome (for me). And I already shared it at H!O and Jpopsuki. I hope more peoples know them, they’re awesome.

    • qwiksXnd 2012/09/03 at 3:54 pm #

      I was literally about to upload the single at the forum (after that one guy we don’t like provided the DLH single) but I quickly checked H!O first and saw your upload. Good job.

      Got Fumi

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