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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

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Japan Summer Trip 2018

8 Jul

Summer Trip: July 6-16

It’s summer. Which can only mean one thing. [Marshmallow pizza?] Yes.

Aaaand summer vacation in Japan. Which can only mean one thing. [Women-only onsens?] Yes and yes. 

Schedule

July 6 Arrived at Haneda, checked into my hotel in Yokohama
July 7 Idol Yokocho Summer Festival Day 1
July 8 Idol Yokocho Summer Festival Day 2
July 9 Women-only onsen (all day pass)
July 10 Women-only onsen (all day pass)
July 11 Tokyo Hobo Orchestra @Ueno Zoo (morning), Women-only onsen (night) 
July 12 Women-only onsen (VIP pass with limited edition tote bag)
July 13 Silent Siren “Girls Will Be Bears” Tour
July 14 Silent Siren “Girls Will Be Bears” Tour
July 15 Women-only onsen (half-day pass… jk, all day)
July 16 1. SUPER GiRLS release event
2. NEO Fes!!! (Monogatari and other groups)
3. Flight back to America

I chose these dates because Silent Siren announced their tour in January and the Tokyo shows were on July 13 and 14.  Although I bought tickets during their first lottery, at that point I wasn’t sure if I would go. Shows in mid-July meant I wouldn’t be able to go to TIF 2018, since TIF would be three weeks away and two week vacations are my limit. Planning a trip six months in advance also isn’t usually how I go about things, since a lot can change during that time. I prefer planning a trip three months out or even a few weeks. Sometimes, just a few days

For the past three years, my main J-Pop interest has been Silent Siren. My interests in idol groups fluctuate more since there are so many of them and they often go through changes, usually negative ones like member graduations, reboots, and completely obvious budget cuts. For the past year, my interests have been Harajuku Monogatari, Magical Punchline, and Moriwaki Yui, center of Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen, now known as Yamakatsu. Since last year, there were unfortunate changes to all three. Harajuku Monogatari became Monogatari and some of the accompanying changes really killed the group’s appeal to me. I’ll explain this in detail later. For Magical Punchline, Rena Sato graduated. She was by far my favorite member, but I like the entire lineup so my fandom has somewhat survived. Lastly, Moriwaki Yui’s solo project has been on hiatus for a while, although she did perform at Idol Yokocho (and it was the best thing since women-only onsens).

Idol Yokocho Natsu Matsuri

Idol Yokocho’s summer festival has been going on since 2012, but this is the first year I’ve considered going since I’ve previously gone to TIF. The festival is relatively small scale compared to TIF and @JAM EXPO, but overall I thought it was fun and there were a few advantages compared to TIF, which I’ll explain later.

When I arrived in Yokohama on Friday, it was raining, so I was a little concerned, but Idol Yokocho’s twitter downplayed the weather, so I figured everything was okay. Just in case I made one of those tissue things that you see in anime to wish for good weather. (I didn’t actually do that). Fortunately, the weather turned out to be fine. It never rained and it was cloudy for most of both days, so it was relatively cool and I didn’t get sun burned like I would have considering it was an all-outdoors event with literally three trees in the entire area that provided shade.

Day 1 Day 2
Monogatari MEY (idol collaboration)
Okuzawamura Yamakatsu
Magical Punchline SUPER GiRLS
Akishibu Project Niji no Conquistador
Task have Fun Monogatari
Tokyo Performance Doll Qumali Depart
Party Rockets GT Rock A Japonica 
Aka no Ryusei (TPD spinoff) Maybe Me
Wenra Akishibu Project
Magical Punchline Monogatari
AIS Tenko Shoujo
Monogatari Ange Reve
Tokyo Performance Doll CY8ER
Moriwaki Yui SUPER GiRLS
Yumemiru Adolescence 
SUPER GiRLS
2o Love to Sweet Bullet

The festival took place at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, which is a mall inside old-fashioned red brick warehouse buildings and directly adjacent to Yokohama Bay. My hotel was down the street and took about five minutes to walk to the venue. There were five stages, all outdoors, and the three main stages were practically identical, the sizes of the audience areas were just slightly different for each. Stage 4 was a free stage outside the gated area (a lot of tourists congregated here with confused expressions as groups performed) and stage 5 was extremely tiny (and janky) and located almost directly under a giant tree (so whenever I had nothing to do, I went to this stage to pass the time). Stage 2 and 3 were close enough that you could stand between them and just turn around to watch either, which I did a few times because I wanted to see groups that were performing at the same time. The sound bleeding between stages never bothered me.mapMini recaps of the groups I saw
Monogatari
were the first performers at Stage 1 and even though I arrived an hour before the start time, it was already three rows deep. They performed wearing their new outfits, which I’m sorry to say I really hate. The outfits scream “generic pop group.” They sang “We Are One,” “Party Animals,” “Monogatari,” and their new single “Moikkai Kimi ni Suki to Ienai” (something like “I can’t tell you I like you again”). I like the song, it’s well produced and catchy *however* it is a typical pop song and not like their early unique style, which although was often love it or hate it, their early music really set them apart. The new single simply won’t elevate them to where they want to go. The performances were good, the outfits really kill a lot of their appeal though. I wonder how the members feel about them.

Okuzawamura followed and while I never heard of them before, I thought they were good. Their music was interesting and two of the members caught my eye (aka they were super long kawaaiiiiii). It turned out they are a subunit of 3BJr, which are the trainee members of Stardust. I never write about Stardust because I don’t like their groups, but they will be the exception.

Magical Punchline was next and this was the first time seeing them without Rena. I liked all of the songs they performed, but there wasn’t a lot of crowd reaction for them.

Akishibu Project has a new member who is pretty hot and one of the previous new members from their audition last year really leveled up. I remember not liking any of the four new members last year, but Mizuki definitely got a lot hotter since then. Checking their profile page though, I clearly lost track of this group because I thought they had seven members plus the new girl, but they performed with ten. My main complaint is this group always performs the same songs at each festival they attend. It’s annoying because they have such a good catalog of music. I think their new single is their major debut, but  I’m too lazy to confirm that.

Task have Fun was very Task have Funny. If you like them, then you would have enjoyed it. If you don’t, then you wouldn’t. I kind of feel like if you’ve seen them once, you’ve seen them a hundred times, because every performance seems identical.

Tokyo Performance Doll performed in their tacky “Trick U” outfits and this was the first time I saw them as a six-member group. I think they are a stronger group now because they are the best members, so it was addition by subtraction. Similarly to Magical Punchline, there was really minimal crowd reaction to them. Their new single “Shapeless” is really nice though, including the b-sides (which of course they didn’t perform). I would link to their music video, but their label Sony Music region blocks them. I really don’t get TPD. They have great music, but they perform only their most generic songs ad nauseum.

To this point, I had just stayed at Stage 1. After TPD I went to Stage 3 (took 30 seconds) and Party Rockets GT were performing. YKG was performing afterwards, but if I had checked their twitter I would have learned that they were stuck in traffic and had to cancel. When they announced this at the stage, my fear was Moriwaki Yui’s performance would also be cancelled. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, since she was scheduled in the evening and by then, the group had arrived. And YKG ended up being added to another stage later that night.

After a break I went to Stage 2. From this point, it was getting later in the day so it was a lot cooler and the performances were more enjoyable. 

Aka no Ryusei is a TPD spinoff with Seira and Akari, and although I like both members, they are a pretty bland unit. It didn’t help that they had technical difficulties and had to cancel their third song.

Wenra is a relatively new group featuring former drop members Misato and Hikari (and Hikari’s sister). I’m a fan of Misa, so even though I don’t like the concept of the group, I was interested in seeing them. Having seen them, I’m definitely not a fan of their music, choreography, or outfits.

Magical Punchline changed into super short outfits and I liked the setlist better because they performed a song from their most recent single Dues Ex Machina (which is actually pretty old now). That single has four awesome songs and is really underappreciated. All four members are gorgeous, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere. Their performance was great though.

A festival doesn’t go by without me having to watch AIS (the group that does cover songs). I’m not exaggerating. I see this group every year and I basically just endure it.

Monogatari was the prize for watching AIS. I was hoping they would change outfits, since they commonly do that and any change would have been an improvement, but they still wore their shiny blue outfits. They performed “KISS MY GIRLS,” “#Noisy Girl,” “Maho o Takanaide,” and “Party Animals.” I really appreciate how they performed different songs at all four of their stages. One of the great things about them is they don’t just perform the same songs over and over, which is so typical of most groups.  

TPD followed and they had changed to the much cuter outfits from their new single. This stage was was much funner than when I saw them in the morning, although I still didn’t like the setlist.

Yui Moriwaki was scheduled for Stage 4 (the free stage) so I endured a few indie groups until she came on stage. I deserve a LOT of credit for not murdering anyone to get to the front row. There were quite a few YKG/Yui fans in the area because she rarely performs her solo persona. I first became a fan of Yui and YKG last year after watching Idol Yokocho 2017 and I noticed one of the YKG members literally never stopped smiling during the entire set. When Yui announced her solo venture, I was already hooked. This was one of the highlights of my trip, definitely the high point of Idol Yokocho for me. She performed “Time Machine Music,” “Jet Go Land,” and “5%” and it was just pure perfection–even though she didn’t perform my two favorite songs of hers.

Yumemiru Adolescence was partway through their performance when I arrived. After their shaky period last year I am back on board as a fan. The new members have grown on me and their singles the past two years have been really good. Hopefully I can go to a proper concert of theirs on my next trip.

SUPER GiRLS followed and it was basically 30 minutes of me jumping around like an idiot for Kome. They are back as my number one group since I am a little down on Monotagari, buuuut there is an ongoing SG audition, so things are going to change in the winter. Hopefully the changes are positive, but the history of the group has been so up and down. I love their summer single this year.

The only merchandise I bought were both of Monogatari’s towels. I wanted to buy Moriwaki Yui’s towel, but they aren’t selling them anymore. I should have made a better attempt last year at TIF. I tried to buy one last year, but they were still setting up their booth and I never returned because it was a hassle to enter the marketplace. I also meant to buy Kome’s uchiwa, but the queue was too long.

Expired tickets for sale. Two for 1 million yen or best offer.

Day 2 was more of the same. Fortunately, Monogatari changed into their cuter outfits… but then changed back for their second performance. I finally saw the group Qumali Depart after two years of them being an inside joke of mine. Saw a new group called Maybe Me that has former-palet member Rito in it.

Overall, Idol Yokocho was fun and I think I’ll come back next year since TIF is no longer possible for me. I’ll compare the two festivals in a separate entry.

Japan Summer Trip 2017 Recap: Harajuku Monogatari, Silent Siren, TPD, and TIF.

12 Aug

Summer Trip: July 24-August 8

My final trip to Japan. The trilogy is now complete.

[Um, you went 12 times.]

Okay. The four trilogies are now complete.



Since I’m 99% certain this was the final time I will go to Japan, I sat in the first row of the plane and bought some toys for the flight.

And I was reminded why I don’t drink Bloody Marys. They’re disgusting!

Schedule

July 24  Arrived at Haneda, took a shinkansen to Shizuoka
July 25 Silent Siren 5th Anniversary Tour @Sound Shower Ark (Shizuoka)
July 26 Silent Siren 5th Anniversary Tour @Sound Shower Ark (Shizuoka)
July 27 Akishibu Project (Yuna, Natsumi, Saori graduation) @Akasaka BLITZ
July 28  Women-only onsen
July 29 Harajuku Monogatari, Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen, Tenkou Shoujo, palet, Maplez, Woltanative, 26-ji no Masquerade Idol Koushien @Akasaka BLITZ
July 30 GEM, SUPER GiRLS, RuriRori, La Pom Pon @OTODAMA SEA STUDIO (Miura)
July 31 Harajuku Monogatari, drop, Cheeky Parade, Maneki Kecak, READY TO KISS, Task have Fun Konya wa Anata no SUPER LIVE @TSUTAYA O-EAST
August 1  Women-only onsen
August 2 Tokyo Performance Doll release event @LaLaport TOYOSU
August 3 Tokyo Performance Doll one man @Shinjuku BLAZE
August 4 Tokyo Idol Festival Day 1 
August 5 Tokyo Idol Festival Day 2 
August 6 Tokyo Idol Festival Day 3 
August 7 GEM teiki koen (Tokyo)
August 8  wild animal only onsen

Arriving in Tokyo
Typically when I arrive in Japan, I take a train to my hotel and fall into a coma (L.A. to Tokyo is a 12 hour flight). It’s especially tiring after you binge-watch four movies in a row. I watch the Japanese movies on the in-flight catalog, and there is almost always one that I end up loving. During my winter trip I watched a movie with Rina Takeda called “Kagurame,” (she’s awesome; check out “Wakakozake” if you can). The movie I loved though was Flying Colors (aka “Biri Gal”). I watched it going to Japan and on the return flight and bought it when I got back home.

During this trip, I watched “Kimi to 100-kaime no koi” with Erina Mano and Miwa, “HaruChika” with Kanna Hashimoto and a guy from Sexy Zone, and an American movie called “Before I Fall.” The fourth movie was “Let’s Go Jets” (aka “Cheer Dance”). I loved this movie. It’s kind of like Cheerfu11y, only way better. Definitely buying when it becomes available.

I wasn’t able to fall into a coma this time, because upon arriving, I had to take a shinkansen to Shizuoka in order to see Silent Siren the following day.

Silent Siren
@Sound Shower Ark
July 25 and 26

This will be brief because there isn’t a lot to write about. They didn’t perform any of my favorite songs at either concert and as they always do, they had a long “punishment game” corner. But it’s Silent Siren, so I can’t complain. And I’ll see them in December when they play in Los Angeles. Very likely from the front row. Also the weather upon arriving was great. With the exception of the final two days of the trip, the weather was almost perfect the entire time.
So, instead I’m going to explain what happened in the above photo.

After buying tour goods (more like greats), I went across the street to the shopping mall to look for souvenirs (my parents have been to Shizuoka before and wanted me to get them something). When there was ten minutes to go until the venue opened, I began walking back. In the photo, you can see the Silent Siren fans in the background. At this point I noticed an old lady walking her dog. Correction, I noticed a crazy old lady walking her crazy dog right into a row of bicycles. She then continued on her way like nothing happened.

I hope I never get old. Or crazy.

Tour goods

Akishibu Project
@Akasaka BLITZ
July 27

In the morning I took a shinkansen back to Tokyo for Akishibu Project’s concert, which would be Yuna, Natsumi, and Saori’s last with the group. Yuna and Natsumi are my favorites so this effectively ended my fandom.

The stage had three giant banners for the graduating members. After a few songs they did a MC and explained the rest of the setlist would be non-stop. Of course, not a single song they would perform was a favorite of mine :P Which was a recurring theme throughout my trip. I guess I have weird taste (or bad luck), because when it comes to the groups I follow, the songs I like are rarely part of the normal rotation. Overall, the concert was kind of “blah”–the crowd was tame, the graduation part was sloppy, and there were no announcements at the end which could give fans optimism that the group has a future. (A few days later they did debut new songs, a pv, and outfit though).

Idol Koushien
@Akasaka BLITZ
July 29
My original plan was Roppongi Idol Festival for Tokyo Performance Doll and SUPER GiRLS. I hesitated buying a ticket because I’d seen the broadcasts of this event before (it’s an annual thing) and I knew it was an outdoor stage that was also kind of janky. An Idol Koushien was also scheduled for the same day, with the typical Idol Koushien lineup, so not exciting. As the weeks passed, the lineup updated, and eventually there were seven groups I legitimately wanted to see: Harajuku Monogatari, Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen, Tenkou Shoujo, palet, Maplez, Woltanative, and 26-ji no Masquerade. At the time I was still on a TPD high, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to see a lot of the groups I just listed at TIF due to timetable conflicts, so it was either Idol Koushien or never. I’m thankful logic won out over my infatuation with TPD, because this is the event that introduced me to Harajuku Monogatari hotness.

Mini-reviews
Typical for Idol Koushien, the event was from 10:00 to 20:30 and you could come and go. I saw a lot of groups, but I’ll just focus on the seven I came to see.

Harajuku Monogatari (aka Monoga) was scheduled for 13:20 and Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen was the last act, so I was going to be there a while. I arrived ten minutes before their set, but I was able to get a great spot in the middle column at the barrier. When they came on I noticed they weren’t wearing their sleeve things, which was kind of their visual trademark for a while. They performed nonstop without MCs, with members continually swapping in and out based on the song. This is how they always perform, and I think it’s cool, even though my favorite member rotates out for a lot of songs (the rotations are based on their “teams,” a system they no longer use). I immediately liked their choreography, music, and several of the members, but it wasn’t until the following days when I starting researching the group and watching and re-watching the few videos they had on youtube that they really began sinking into my subconsciousness. 

In my opinion Harajuku Monogatari is the most exciting group to emerge since PASSPO back in 2010. The unexpected thing about Monoga is there is no other group like them, which is strange because on the surface they don’t seem particularly unique. When you see them perform though, their dance moves, lineup, outfits, and overall sassiness make them unlike any other group. To me, they are as unique as Migma Shelter, just in the opposite direction. They weren’t always unique though, when the group was formed last year, they were a typical indie kiddy group. Their “3rd chapter” overhaul at the beginning of the year completely changed their image. If I return to Japan during winter break, it will be because of this group.

Tenkou Shoujo performed next, and they also recently overhauled their image for the better. I didn’t like them as much as I thought I would though. The lineup is just a little off. [It’s the chibi member right? Just say so.] Can’t, chibi member might be reading this. And I’m afraid of chibi member.

Maplez came on two sets later. This was the first time seeing their new linuep, which completely changed earlier in the year when the original members were shuffled into spinoff groups (one of which is Woltanative). Vocally, the new lineup is pretty weak and I feel they are a huge step back. The music is still great, although it doesn’t seem like they are producing new music anymore. Their setlists always seem the same. Two groups later, Woltanative took the stage… with only three members. I was shocked. This group debuted just a few months ago and they already lost two members. That literally killed my interest, since one of the members was my favorite and the most visually striking of the group.

26-ji no Masquerade eventually performed and I think they are currently riding a wave of popularity from their new single. Having seen several of their live streams, I assumed I would be more into them, but I actually thought they were really generic. I didn’t dislike them, they are just kind of “blah.”

Palet came on after a few more groups and allowed photos during one song. I wouldn’t normally join in, but I do think Rito is one of the best looking members of any group ever. I basically like palet for three reasons: (1) Rito, (2) Haruka, and (3) Rito.

Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen were scheduled last and I was surprised how many people were still at the stage area. For the only time that day, I got front row. I’d actually seen YKG years before, but I wasn’t really watching them back then. Like you can see something, but not really see it if you aren’t paying attention. This can apply to a lot of things in life. Anyway, even though they’ve been around for years (and I’d seen their music videos here and there), I didn’t really notice this group until two months ago when I watched the Idol Yokocho streams and realized their music and choreography is really good, and their center, Yui Moriwaki, literally never stops smiling. [And you fell in love. How predictable.] No, I did not fall in love. I fell in like. [I’m impressed then. It’s about time you didn’t fall in love based solely on looks.] Well, then I saw her in person and fell in love.

GEM, SUPER GiRLS, RuriRori, and La Pom Pon
@OTODAMA SEA STUDIO
July 30
The next day I went to Miura beach, which was an hour by train from Tokyo, in order to see GEM and SUPER GiRLS. I’d been to OTODAMA SEA STUDIO two years ago for a Silent Siren concert, and I assumed the venue would be at the same location this year. But when I got to the final station, I immediately knew I was in a different city. My brain temporarily short-circuited and I was like, “Umm, where the f-junk am I?” At first, I thought I was at the wrong station, but I began to slowly process that they just moved the location this year. It’s entirely possible that they move the venue to a different beach every year–since this is a long-running summer event, and I wouldn’t know since I’ve only been to two of them. Without knowing where I was, I left the station and walked toward the beach–once I figured out which direction that was :P It was a five-minute walk, and once I got to the beach, it was easy to find the venue.
I was surprised that there was hardly anyone at the concert. There was a night show also with a slightly different lineup, but I doubt the situation was much different. The stage is in a covered hall, directly on the beach, so you are standing on the sand. The girl band RuriRori opened. They’ve been around for a while and are the group with their name stylized as  凸凹凸凹. I’ve seen them before and they’re cute, especially the lead singer, who performed wearing a bikini and super short-shorts. Their style is very Silent Siren-like, except they don’t seem to have a huge catalog of music. 

The group definitely hasn’t leveled up since I saw them last. The first chord the lead singer played on her guitar resulted in one of the strings snapping. It was simultaneously hilarious, cute, and patheti-sad. Later on during a towel-waving song, she threw her towel in the air and it got stuck on a hook above the stage. I was dying. They’re really cute though and an average girl band is much more appealing than an average idol group.

After the group cleared their equipment from the stage, GEM performed. They didn’t do their SE, they just came out wearing GEM shirts and short shorts and hyped the crowd. It kind of felt awkward because the venue was only a third full. This isn’t going to be that informative because I forgot most of the songs they performed and pretty much all details–outside of the short shorts. They definitely performed their two new songs, which I really, really, really don’t like. Particularly the b-side. That song is all over the place. Chaotic choreography and nonsensical musical arrangement. Not to sound elitist, but the quality of the song is way beneath them.

La Pom Pon performed next, and I actually liked their set better than GEMs. Their new single is a cover of Mai Kuraki’s “Feel Fine” (they are from the same agency). I was a huge fan of Mai K and I thought their cover was cute. I used to like LPP’s leader Yukino, but I now like Rima (light blue). [Let me guess, she is super-long kawaaiiiii.] She is absolutely super-long kawaaiiiii!

SUPER GiRLS concluded the show. I don’t know the names of their songs anymore, but a lot of fans were jumping around, including myself. Since we were on the sand, I didn’t realize that sand was getting kicked everywhere until I noticed people brushing it off. I felt bad and proceeded to jump more responsibly.

After the concert I had to rush back to the station because Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen had an release event in a few hours in Ikebukuro for their new album. 

Konya wa Anata no SUPER LIVE (“Tonight is your Super Live”)
@TSUTAYA O-EAST
July 31

There were a lot of groups scheduled and my interests were Harajuku Monogatari, drop, Maneki Kecak, Task have Fun, READY TO KISS, Cheeky Parade, and 2o Love to Sweet Bullet.

Mini recap
I reserved my ticket through Ready to Kiss‘s Tiget page, but I chose drop upon entering (still not sure the actual purpose, but it’s  protocol to choose the primary group you are pushing). I arrived ten minutes before Task have Fun took the stage and I saw Fuka watching from backstage. [Did you fall in love with her?] Yes, of course. Did you even have to ask?

This would be the only time I saw them this trip because I wasn’t able to see them at TIF. I should clarify that I like them, but just casually, so I watched from the upper step in the back of the venue because it offers a good view of the stage. They performed the three songs they always perform. And it was nice. [How descriptive.]

Fast forward to Harajuku Monogatari, I immediately awoke from my slumber and charged to the front of the stage, but only got to the second row of the middle column. They performed three songs (maybe four) and I wanted more. [How many more did you want?] I don’t know, 10. No, 20. I mean a million.

Fast forward again to Maneki Kecak. Forgot where I was, probably on the right column to avoid the pit area. I think this was the first time I saw them as just four members. Forgot when yellow member graduated. [Wow, your memory is great.] Something I wanted to definitively resolve this trip was whether I like them or drop more. After watching them perform at this event and at TIF, I can say I like drop a lot more. Drop’s music is much funner in my opinion and Maneki Kecak has too many ballady songs. Lineup wise, I think both are great, and it just comes down to preference. Chiai is one of the few truly elite idols and I rank her second only after Kome of SUPER GiRLS. Reona is also awesome. I just like Misa from drop the most from the groups. Speaking of Chiai, my first reaction when I saw her on stage was that she looked alarmingly skinny. Anyway, they performed the song “Splash.” This song haunts me. Why does this song exist and why do I keep seeing them perform it?

Cheeky Parade followed and… they are a shell of their former selves. I felt bad watching them and I don’t see how they can survive, with or without Marin and Mariya (whose returns I  never believed were going to happen anyway).

2o Love to Sweet Bullet performed next. This was the first time I’ve seen them and… they were kinda “blah.” And I need to stop using that word to describe groups.

Drop was the second to last group to perform. The thing about these types of concerts is you have to endure a lot in order to get to what you like. Even when the lineup is 50% to your liking, there is still a lot of dead time. Since it was getting late, they just performed three songs, but they were all high energy. Everyone was just jumping around and having a good time.

Unfortunately someone died.

But overall, it was great.

And no one actually died.

READY TO KISS ended the show, and I was kind of burned out by this point. I’m still a huge fan of the group’s center Sakino. I’ve been a fan of hers since she debuted in Houkago Princess, which was like seven years ago.

With this show over, all that remained on my schedule was TPD and TIF.

[And Goo Choki Paa. Don’t you dare forget them!]

To be continued