This may or may not be about Doll☆Elements

14 Jan

Doll☆Elements “Doll☆Fes”
@ Mt. Rainier Hall
December 30, 2014

Last week I was in Tokyo for the Olympics. It was a life-altering experience and I attended like every event!
<Even walrus joust and nude synchronized swimming??>

Actually, I arrived a little early for the Olympics, so I attended a few idol concerts instead. Just the cool groups of course.
<Generations and Sexy Zone?? And you didn’t answer my question about nude synchronized walrus joust!>

Since I went to Tokyo this summer for TIF, I hadn’t planned on returning for a winter trip. Instead my plan was to visit during spring 2015–like a sane and rational person. After reviewing my class schedule for next year, I began to realize that spring wouldn’t work since I would only have one week off, and the odds of Doll☆ElementsGEM, or PiiiiiiiN having a one-man at Tokyo Dome or Saitama Super Arena that week are like 1 in five trillion. Then in September, a random discussion about attending PASSPO’s 5th Anniversary concert implanted the crazy idea to visit during winter. I basically had two options: go during winter or wait until next summer. And only one of those options potentially involved seeing Doll☆Elements wearing bikinis before the end of the year. <Enough about bikinis! Idols don’t wear bikinis during the winter. Only summer, spring, and fall! Everyone knows that.> Please don’t kill my dreams. Anyway, at the time Doll☆Elements hadn’t scheduled any winter concerts outside of a joint show with NEO from Idoling!!! on December 21. Attending that concert wouldn’t have been advisable since it would have required spending Christmas away, and my brother and sister would have killed me. Long story short, Doll☆Elements scheduled a concert for December 30 and I booked a flight a few days later…

for the day after Christmas! (And evidently I forgot to tell my parents, brother, sister, or cousins my plans until a few days before my flight. Um… I was busy!)

And then things got weird. Around the time I bought tickets for the Doll☆Elements concert, a festival called FIVE STARS 2014 FINAL was also announced for December 30. I’ll explain the details in a separate recap of that event, but at the time it added like twenty million layers of complexity to planning the trip. <20 million? One in five trillion?? Go big or go home!>
Doll☆Elements originally scheduled one concert for the 30th at 14:00. The show was part of their “Doll☆Fes” series of concerts which combine music with variety segments, followed by an event allowing fans to meet the group and take photos with them. They do these types of concerts several times a year, and based on fan recaps, they typically include 12 songs and last about 90 minutes. In order to purchase a ticket it’s necessary to subscribe to their email “magazine,” since that is the only way to access their ticket lottery. The group is trying to reach 10,000 subscribers, so If you are a fan, please subscribe to their newsletter here. I wasn’t able to win tickets during their first lottery, but they re-opened sales a week later and I successfully purchased last row tickets! Unfortunately, since I failed in the first lottery, my dream of front row was crushed. <Crushed like a chair a member of Chubbiness sits on!> Please stop interrupting my awesome story. Anyway, Mt. Rainier Hall is a small venue, and I’ve had last row seats before for a predia concert and it’s not too bad. And I didn’t want to forget the important fact that I was actually going to see Doll☆Elements! And my number 1 oshi-pon!!!!!!

The concert sold out one day into their second lottery round, so I was fortunate just to get tickets. If I failed to get tickets the trip would have been a bust before it even began. <It would have been busted like a something something Chubbiness something… ah nevermind> Because the concert sold out so quickly, a few days later they sent an email informing fans they added a second show at 18:00 (!). Typically, a second concert from your favorite group would be amazing news and an automatic purchase, but because of the aforementioned FIVE STARS event, I now had to resolve the dilemma of attending competing concerts occurring at the same time. I decided to enter the lottery for the night concert and simply let that process make the decision for me. But again I failed to win a lottery ticket! So I decided to focus on the early show and just hope that I would win a ticket for FIVE STARS and the timetable would somehow work out in my favor (spoiler: I ended up winning a ticket for FIVE STARS and the timetable worked out perfectly!)  


The day of the concert: Because the Doll☆Elements concert was at 14:00, I had time to go to Studio Coast in Shin-Kiba for the start of the FIVE STARS festival. My only objective was seeing READY TO KISS perform and I left shortly afterwards for the Doll☆Elements concert in Shibuya. I forgot to mention that Tobi came along for both concerts. Somehow he agreed to see Doll☆Elements without me having to beg and plead like a loser. Obviously I would have attended solo, but I’ve never been to one of their concerts before so it was great having company. We arrived at Mt. Rainier Hall about 30 minutes before seating would begin and upon entering a staff member handed us a form which was an entry for a contest the group was having with a Tokyo radio station. It was in a strange non-English language, so I folded it up and never looked at it again. I bought a Doll☆Elements glowstick from their goods booth and since it was early we left the venue to explore the area. While walking to the venue I had noticed that Shibuya Station looked completely different. The passed two years they’ve been remodeling the station and it’s now much easier to navigate. And Mt. Rainier Hall is extremely easy to find since it is located next door to Shibuya 109 (and one floor above HOOTERS, one of the finest dining establishments in Tokyo).

Since the tickets were assigned seating, it didn’t matter when we arrived, particularly since we had last row seats. <Please stop mentioning the last row seats, it makes you seem less cool!> But I did want to arrive early because the members had blogged that they would be in the lobby before the concert began in order to hand out a secret gift to all the fans in attendance!


When we entered the theater we were handed a flyer for their new single and a card with a red and white side. Evidently this was important because I walked past the staff person without taking one, but she made a point to hand me the card. It turned out fans would use the red and white card during a MC segment mimicking the red and white teams of Kohaku Uta Gassen. Once inside there was a row of tables set up with the secret gifts. And behind the tables were the members! *dies* Runa was positioned closest to the entrance and since I wanted to receive the gift from my favorite member, I had to slightly backtrack to her because I had walked too far into the room. I think I pulled it off without appearing too obvious, but I *may* have resembled a drunk person walking down the street. The gift was a package of instant ramen rebranded as “Doll☆Soba.” The drawing was done by Natsumi (Gonchan) and hilariously shows Yukino drooling and Runapon looking completely helpless (her catchphrase mentions she is the #1 fan of miso soup).
Once we got to our last row seats they were playing the song “Sora no Mukou he” on the PA, which is my second favorite Doll☆Elements song, and their best live song because it’s extremely high energy. The song is actually a cover, but their version is surprisingly much better than the original. Unfortunately, they haven’t performed this song in months (I’ve been monitoring their set lists because I wanted to figure out the likelihood they would perform my favorite songs), so maybe it’s an issue related to the song’s rights. But then why would they have the song playing before the show began? And even stranger, the version they were playing was clearly a studio recording, but the song has never been released by them. I’ve also noticed they no longer perform their indie songs, so it could be they are exclusively pushing their new music now.

The concert began with a countdown and a somewhat cheesy message to the fans to move their Doll☆Elements penlights around in order to control the members (dolls).
Doll☆Elements outfits are amazing and for this concert there would be costume changes at every MC break.

The setlist included their latest single “Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau,” which was released on 1.7, and b-sides “Take Away” and “New Beginning.” There is a fourth b-side from the member-only version of the single called “Hello Hello,” which they only performed at the night concert. Unfortunately, I never heard that song performed at any of the three mini-lives I went to, so I’ll have to wait for my cd to arrive in the mail to listen to it. All three songs from the single are amazing. I think it is easily their best work to date. “Take Away” in particular is awesome and continues their trend toward a much more modern sound that they began with their last single. Runa also has a rap solo, which is one of her trademarks. Her raps are incredibly cute and I guess now would be an appropriate time to explain one of the MCs, which probably would have been confusing to new fans. The group was off stage and talked about some completely random “goals” that they set up at the beginning of the year and since it was the end of the year they wanted to see if they could accomplish them. Gonchan tried to hold a tone for 20 seconds (and evidently was successful, although it didn’t seem like a full 20 seconds). Rikapyon mentioned something about improving the delivery of her lines (I don’t really follow her, but maybe she is known to stumble over her lines during performances). Izumi’s explanation included the English word “voice percussion,” but I don’t know what she was referring to. Yukino attempted to say “Doll Ere” 15 times in a row (“Doll Ell” is their abbreviated name, like “Supaga” for SUPER☆GiRLS). Finally, Runa’s goal was performing a rap that she wrote. For new fans, she is in charge of the group’s rapping (they have five or six songs with raps). While the other four members explained their goal off stage, Runapon performed her’s in front of everyone. I didn’t understand a word of it, but it was super-long kawaaaiiiiiiiiiii!

In addition to singing 13 songs, the group performed two songs that were part of their “Kohaku” skit. Kohaku Uta Gassen is a popular New Years broadcast in Japan featuring the more successful musicians and groups in the country, split into a red and white team. I’ve never watched it before, but evidently at the conclusion viewers vote on the winning team. Similarly, fans in the audience at the concert would use the red and white card they received at the entrance to vote for one of two Doll☆Elements teams. The red team was Gonchan and Runa, and the white team was Izumin, Rika, and Yukino. Gonchan and Runa sang the Morning Musume song “Renai Revolution 21,” but changed the lyrics to “Doll Revolution 27.” Izumin, Rika, and Yukino sang the Yokai Watch song and did the dance. Afterwards fans either held up the red or white side of the card to vote. They didn’t count the votes, but the red team was declared the winner (I guess it was obvious from their perspective from stage who had the most votes). The losers were subjected to the cliché punishment of drinking a gross drink. The third and final MC segment was a calibration with a Tokyo radio station. The entry form that we received at the entrance (that I hadn’t even look at) asked fans to write a new years message to the group. During the segment the members then randomly selected three messages from a ballot box and that fan won a signed banner from the group.

During the encore the group did a final change into their color-coded fan t-shirts. The last song they performed was with you, which is traditionally their final song. This was also the last song they performed at TIF when I saw them a few months ago. The concert was over in a flash, but I loved every second! I knew the format beforehand, so I was prepared for it to be relatively short. And they actually performed three more songs than they typically do. The seat in front of me was also vacant, so thank you random guy who decided not to show up! I was a little surprised at how quiet and tame their fanbase is though. I guess it’s to be expected considering they’re a “traditional” style idol group. And they have a good number of girl fans, who tend to be quieter at idol concerts. The guy standing next to me occasionally threw in some mixes though, that not a single other person joined in on. I would have sympathized with him, but he arrived late and he smelled like he hadn’t bathed in days. *barf!* Almost killed my Doll☆Elements high. BABY BABY and “with you” are my two favorite songs, so I was satisfied with the setlist, despite missing a few of my preferred songs. Once the double encore chant failed, we took off for Zepp Tokyo in order to attend FIVE STARS, which had been going on since 11:00 that morning. I would have loved to stick around for their event and also attend the night concert, but GEM was performing in a few hours and to miss that would have been highly GEMbarrassing.

Footage of the concert

Set List
1. Judgement
2. Kimi no Negai Kanaetai!
MC Member Intros

3. BABY BABY
4. Double
5. Koishite Macaroon
MC Kohaku Skit/ Audience Vote
6. “Doll Revolution 27” (Renai Revolution 21) – Red Team (Natsumi & Runa)
7. “Yokai Watch” theme song – White Team (Haruka, Rika, & Yukino)
MC Member’s Goals from 2014
8. Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau
9. Daisuki Dakara
10. Soshite I love you…
MC Prize Giveaway

11. Take Away
12. Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu!
13. New Beginning
Encore
14. Super x2 Beautiful
15. with you…

—————————————————————————————————–
Doll☆Elements mini-live
@ LaLaport Kashiwanoha (Chiba)

December 28, 2014

Two days before the Doll☆Elements concert, I took an hour-long train commute to Chiba in order to attend the group’s mini-live event for their new single. I had just arrived in Tokyo the day before so this was the first idol activity of the trip. I actually had to change hotels before heading out, so I literally arrived five minutes before the live was scheduled to begin, which was at 13:00. Since I’d never been to this mall before, I had no idea where the stage was. I was incredibly lucky though, because upon entering I randomly chose a direction to walk and happened to end up at the stage! 

Going to the mini-live was mainly a reconnaissance excursion to see how their fan events were organized, since I would be going to their next mini-live event the following week, and actually participating in that one. So for this event I basically just set up Runa-fan headquarters near the front area and took field notes. If there is a such thing as mini-live etiquette, the area directly in front of the stage is reserved for people who purchased a single. Since I didn’t buy anything for this live, I stood about a meter away from the main gathering of fans near the stage. The vantage point was still great and much closer than during their concert. A few minutes after I arrived Doll☆Elements took the stage and performed the first verse of Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau as their rehearsal. I was a little confused because only four members were on stage. They later explained Yukino was recovering from the flu and was resting for their concert, which was in two days. The live was awesome and I remember being in complete awe at how professional they are. Although it was a beautiful day, it was still typical winter weather, and they were performing outdoors in super short dresses and not showing the slightest sign of being cold. Meanwhile I was wearing jeans and a hoodie and was shivering like a guy from California not used to Tokyo winters.

The group had a second mini-live at 15:00, but I had to rush back to Tokyo in order to attend predia’s concert that evening–which I totally got lost attempting to locate. But let’s pretend that never happened! 

Setlist
1. Kimi no Koto Mamoritai!
2. Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau
3. Take Away
4. Koishite Macaroon
5. Kimi no Negai Kanaetai!

Doll☆Elements mini-live
@ Queen’s Square Yokohama
January 4, 2015

The second Doll☆Elements mini-live event would be the last idol activity I would do this trip. Doll☆Elements were the first and the last. I took a 40 minute train to a massive mall in Yokohama that had a roller coaster and ferris wheel outside. I’ve been to Yokohama a few times and I prefer the vibe there over Tokyo. This event was a little different because it was indoors and a lot more people were in attendance (I’ll explain why this is relevant later). My plan was to purchase both of their albums in order to do their handshake event and get a 2-shot with Runa. Unfortunately, I only had two thousand yen on hand, because the night before I did my souvenir shopping for family and friends. I had also spent my entire morning trying in vain to find an open post office or 7-11 in Odaiba. It didn’t matter, I’d been extremely lucky my entire trip and quickly located a post office located inside the mall. I promptly withdrew like a million yen!

I didn’t have time to purchase cds beforehand, so I quickly set up Runa-fan headquarters near the left side of the stage. They again did a quick rehearsal of Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau, before briefly exiting the stage. They returned and performed five songs, which is typically the number of songs they perform at their release events. The setlist was amazing, and included several songs that I love which were missing from their concert.

To this point I’ve been well-behaved and haven’t mentioned this yet, but Runa is drop dead gorgeous. And cuteiful! The stage area was crowded, but miraculously I had a completely unobstructed line of sight. It was as if God took a break from doing whatever it is that he does and cleared a perfect path for me to stare at Runa.  <Cool. And it’s not perverted at all because God wanted you to stare at her!> Exactly!  

After their performance concluded I went to their merchandise booth conveniently located next to the stage and bought their two albums. In retrospect I should have also bought four more singles. Fans get one ticket for every 1,000 yen they spend. One ticket allows fans to participate in the handshake, two gets a small cheki (instant photo) with a member, three gets an autograph from every member (typically on the cheki), four tickets gets a large-size cheki with the entire group, and five tickets gets a 2-shot with every member using your camera (or iphone in most cases). I received six tickets for the two albums I purchased, so I did the handshake and 2-shot. I actually thought it was five tickets for a single 2-shot, but you get a 2-shot with every single member! That is pretty generous of them, since 2-shots are usually 2-3,000 yen per photo for other idol groups. Since they were generous, I felt I should buy more singles, particularly since I had something in mind for the group photo. My idea was to ask them to do a “sexy pose” and then tell them I was kidding and ask them to do the “Gets!” pose, but a “sexy” version! A “sexy Gets!” No one can steal my awesome idea!

Oh yeah, the reason it’s worse to participate in crowded events is due to the increased number of bored shoppers hanging around. Acting like an idol fan in front of “normals” is kind of weird.

Actually, just being in Japan is weird! 

The end

Setlist #2 (mini-live #1 was earlier in the day. I missed it because I was wasting my time in Odaiba looking for an ATM)
1. Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau
2. I will be
3. Kimi no Tonari de Odoritai!
4. It’s my turn
5. BABY BABY

Setlist #3
1. Kimi no Negai Kanaetai!
2. Kimi no Koto Mamoritai!
3. Judgement
4. Take Away
5. Kimi ni Sakura Hirari to Mau

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7 Responses to “This may or may not be about Doll☆Elements”

  1. wattstax17 2015/01/15 at 8:42 am #

    Very nice and extended review. I even forgot most of it *teardrop* For example Gonchan holding a tone for 20 seconds… I blame it on the kawaii-ness of Runapon ;)
    I hope to finish my own blogposts soon, as I had a Doll Elements event too and Yukino was great! It’s bad your pictures doesn’t depict her more *grumble*

    • Shaun 2015/01/16 at 1:10 am #

      Looking forward to reading about Sendai. I’m glad you survived. Beforehand I was going to ask if I could have all of your PiiiiiiiN cd’s, just in case something tragic happened.

      I’m also curious how the mega concert turned out.

      And sorry for not having enough Yukino content. It’s my blogs only flaw. She is great though. Did you get one of her patented rapid-fire double high fives? I should probably explain since I forgot to include this detail in the recap. For me, instead of shaking my hand, she had her arms up waiting for me to high five her and then she just kept high-fiving me back, so it was like “pa” “pa” “pa.” And that is the “rapid-fire double high five.”

      • wattstax17 2015/01/19 at 10:18 pm #

        I didn’t get this reaction by Yukino, but something similar fantastic. But from the start: This time they made no single chekis. I guess out of time concerns. I used my 6 tickets I got for purchasing the 2 albums this way: 2 tickets for a unit shot on a small polaroid, 4 tickets for a unit shot on a large polaroid plus signatures by all members. The latter were done behind tables, so you see that there wasn’t much room for interaction, or how they say, skinship.
        Anyway, Yukino was first. Big Smile and chatting non stop, that I couldn’t follow or even interupt. But at the end (so less time) she was praising me for my jacket, said she really likes this brand and gave me one high five. She really is an incredible idol, the cheerful type I prefer the most. The next was Runa, but I tell about her in my blog – hopefully.

        And no, you should buy PiiiiiiiN merchandize yourself and support the group. Next time I introduce you 😁

  2. tsutomo 2015/01/20 at 6:52 am #

    “one floor above HOOTERS, one of the finest dining establishments in Tokyo”

    ROFL

    if there`s one thing created by you americans that I`m grateful of, it`s certainly Hooters. XD

    • Shaun 2015/01/20 at 11:15 pm #

      I have no idea how the Shibuya one compares, but the next time all three of us are in Japan let’s check it out. I’ll pick up the tab.

  3. wattstax17 2015/01/21 at 1:17 am #

    Oh oh Shaun. You wouldn’t have said this if you knew how much Caio can drink ;)
    I would take the tab if we eat some proper Steak or something like it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Survive in Japan for a Week with Only One Million Yen | SUPER GiRL Talk - 2015/02/10

    […] in Tokyo, I changed hotels and went to a Doll☆Elements mini-live in Chiba. I covered that event previously, so fast forward to predia’s concert that evening. But before I get to that, doesn’t […]

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