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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!

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:

Maho o Tokonaide
WE are ONE
Moikkai Kimi ni Suki to Ienai (new single)

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


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!


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.

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
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”)
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

Golden Week Survival Guide

21 May

After my trip last summer, I planned on returning in the spring for Silent Siren’s tour. [What if you no longer liked Silent Siren?] I would have still gone, I’d just check out the Tokyo Hobo Orchestra at Ueno Zoo instead.

My spring break was later in the year than most schools and coincided with Golden Week. I’ve read horror stories about traveling during Golden Week (overcrowded trains, ticket sellouts, otaku riots) and I wasn’t sure a trip would be worth the effort. It turned out that the experience felt identical to my previous trips. If anything, the airport and train stations seemed less crowded and the shinkansen (bullet trains) I used were 70% empty. The only tangible difference was an increase in concerts scheduled. That’s so GEM!™

Instead of burying my travel suggestions in my recap, I’ll post them up front. And you’re welcome!

  • If you’re visiting during Golden Week, plan your trip like you would any other. I traveled light with smaller luggage anticipating heavier crowds, but this was unnecessary and ultimately I just inconvenienced myself. 
  • Using the Japan Rail Pass is as simple as showing it to the attendant at the ticket gate. But what about gates that aren’t staffed? After staring at an unmanned exit for 20 minutes like a total idiot, this is what I figured out: simply walk through the handicap lane by pushing through the gate. The gate looks fixed, but it will retract when you push it.
  • JR Pass is unnecessary if you are staying in one city during your visit, however it’s helpful if your itinerary includes using shinkansen at least twice. Anything more than twice and you are traveling for free. Last year, I bought my pass online and had it delivered, but I found out that H.I.S. offices (located in most major U.S. cities) sell them for direct pick-up and for about $15 cheaper, since their prices are fixed and didn’t fluctuate when the yen strengthened.
  • Shinkansen reservations are unnecessary, just arrive a little early and queue at a non-reserved car. (Although, if you are traveling in a group, it could be worth making reservations to ensure you can sit together.)
  • JR Pass ticket holders are allowed to make train reservations up to 30 days in advance, however during Golden Week there may be restrictions allowing only same-day reservations.
  • The HyperDia app works great with JR Pass. It’s free for 30 days and more importantly, when calculating train fair it takes into consideration the routes that are no cost with JR Pass (all JR trains and shinkansen). Time your activation so you can use it before your trip (for planning routes and finding potential travel destinations) and during your trip (when your plans change due to weather or schedule changes).
  • Free wifi is readily available in Japan and can be very helpful if you don’t have mobile data. I got lost twice and wasted hours trying to find my way, and my biggest mistake was not checking for wifi so I could use my GPS.

My Schedule

May 1 Yumemiru Adolescence mini-lives in Tokyo
May 3 GEM Live Mixture 2016 ~Best 10ct Forever~ in Osaka
May 4 Silent Siren Live Tour 2016 in Matsuyama (Ehime)
May 5 Silent Siren Live Tour 2016 in Takamatsu (Kagawa)
May 6 Returned to Tokyo ; ate at a Japanese restaurant
May 7 Went to Kamakura and Shin-Yokohama
May 8 GEM in Tokyo ; drop & Maneki Kecak in Tokyo

May 1, Sunday My flight from Los Angeles was delayed two hours and I landed at Haneda at 1AM. I collected my JR Pass later that morning at 7, at which point I’d been awake for ~34 hours straight, including a full day of teaching in which my students were acting crAaaAAZy. Yet, I still heroically made my way to LaLaport Toyosu (an ocean-side mall in Tokyo) for the Yumemiru Adolescence mini-live at 1PM. Afterwards, I heroically planned on going to Yokohama for a similar Doll☆Elements event, before heroically returning for the second Yumemiru Adolescence live at 4PM. In order to see Doll☆Elements, I needed to catch every transfer, because I had an hour window and the venue was an hour away. Unfortunately, after the live, I took a wrong turn at the station and missed the first train. It was pointless to continue, so I just heroically returned to Toyosu. I think my brain malfunctioned because I was being so heroic and YumeAdo’s current outfit consists of semi-transparent fabric plus the shortest shorts ever. To kill time before the next live I watched the TERRAFORMARS movie. I didn’t understand a word, but I made sure to act scared and cheer when everyone else did.

I became a Yume Ado fan last year, after randomly watching one of their promotional videos for their first concert dvd. After seeing them live, I can only ask “Where has this group been my entire life??” They are GEMazing. Their fandom for the past 1.5 years reminds me of SUPERGiRLS from 2011 to 2013, when the fanbase was extremely active, without being idiotic. Which is why I feel I’m two years late, because this phase never lasts long. Regardless, they are my number one group now. Or at least tied with Magical Punchline.

Yumemiru Adolescence Live 1
1. JUMP!

2. Fantastic Parade
3. Mawaru Sekai
4. Mai Gene!
5. Oshiete Schrodinger

Yumemiru Adolescence Live 2
1. Bye Bye My Days
2. Oshiete Schrodinger
3. Himawari Heart
4. Kuracchu Summer
5. Mai Gene!
6. Fantastic Parade

This is kind of relevant, so I’ll put it here. And since this is my last post, I’ll allow it, but just this once. [Isn’t this like your 15th “last post”? Not to mention all the times you were supposed to retire from the internet.]

Early to the Party Late to the Party
PASSPO☆ Doll☆Elements
predia Yumemiru Adolescence
GEM drop
Qumali Depart  SMAP

May 2, Monday I checked out of my hotel and took an early morning train to Nagoya for SUPERGiRLS’s tour. This wasn’t in my initial schedule, but in March, Reira and Rino, announced their graduations. After a few days of serious idol deliberation, I bought a ticket for their Zepp Nagoya tour date.

I’m no longer a rabid fan and since I hadn’t listened to their new album, I didn’t know the songs they would perform on the tour. It turned out that their new album is actually decent and the concert setlist was better-than-expected, because they included a few classic songs and excluded all of their summer singles. Unlike previous tours, production values were non-existent though, with the only stage decoration being color-coded flags and a video screen. They performed for 2.5 hours, including the new unit songs and one of the most rare (and best) S☆G songs of all time, Zettai Jibun Zenshin Sengen.

At the end of the concert, Reira and Rino discussed why they were graduating. Reira oft-repeated that she never thought of herself as an “idol,” with that perception being so strong that she released an image book on that topic. Idol or not, I’m glad I was able to see Reira (and the rest of the group) one last time.

0. Welcome to SUPER★CASTLE
1. Hanamichi!! Ambitious
2. Zettai Jibun Zenshin Sengen
3. Gomen ne. No tonari de
4. Karei Naru V!CTORY
Dance Number
5. Clam Chowder ga Same Chau Getsuyoubi
6. Don’t Stop The Party (unit w/ Reira, Mirei, and…three other members)
8. Happy ×2 Birthday
9. Tribute
11. Hikokigumo Itsuka (the superior b-side to GiraGira Revolution)
12. Girl’s Party -my friend Jenny-
13. Renai Rule 
14. 1,000,000☆ Smile
15. ah ha ha!〜 Chozetsu bakusho ondo 〜
16. Joshiryoku←Paradise
17. Icchatte♪ Yacchatte♪
18. EveryBody JUMP!!
19. JOY!&JOY!!
20. GiraGira Revolution
21. Miracle ga Tomannai!
22. JOY!&JOY!!
23. Renai Rule (shuffle version with Rino getting Amita’s solo)

May 3, Tuesday This day was kind of a bust. In the morning, I went to Osaka for a GEM concert. Nagoya to Osaka is a busy route and was the only time I wasn’t able to make a seat reservation, which meant I had to queue for a non-reserved car. It was easy though, and I arrived in Osaka at 11:30, two hours before the concert’s start. GEM and Cheeky Parade had concerts that day, which is why GEM was performing so early. I knew the exit to use to get to the venue, and conveniently there were coin lockers, as I had my luggage. Because the concert was so early, it wasn’t possible to check into my hotel beforehand.

Up to this point, the day had gone according to keikaku (plan), but as I approached the station exit, I realized the gate was unmanned. Without an attendant I couldn’t show my JR Pass and exit. Despite only knowing how to get to IMP Hall from the west gate, I backtracked to the next closest exit and figured I could leave from there and use common-sense to get back to the general vicinity of the west exit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an attendant at this exit either. Nor at the third exit I tried. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. I had a Suica card, but I couldn’t use it because I hadn’t scanned it at the originating station, and it would be idiotic to pay a fare when I have a JR Pass. Reluctantly, I backtracked all the way to the main gate, where there were several attendants. I had wasted 30 minutes and after leaving the station, I would waste another 30 minutes trying to reverse-locate the west exit.

But even though I was completely lost I still had to photograph stuff like this:

IMP Hall

I was never able to find the west entrance, so I returned to the main gate and asked the station attendant for help. He was familiar with IMP Hall, showed me a map, and gave step-by-step directions. It was 20 minutes away and his instructions were something like, “Go left, then right, straight, left, straight, right… then cross the bridge.” I was writing down the instructions, but when he said “bridge” I just thought, “I’m screwed.” After spending 30 minutes going left, right, straight, left, straight, and right, I wasn’t able to find the bridge and since there was just 30 minutes until the concert, I gave up and took a taxi like a loser. Because it took 90 minutes to do something that should have taken 20, I lost my chance to buy GEM goods and then go to Osaka Castle.

The concert was hyped as GEM’s last in Osaka as 10 members, and was also significant because Maho had just returned from a month-long hiatus due to illness and they would perform all five of their new songs. In other words, this concert was going to be #leGEMdary. It was also Chisami’s birthday, and while queueing, I was given a yellow glowstick. By the time the concert began, I had forgotten the designated song and ultimately it didn’t matter, because the song was never performed and the glowsticks were never activated.

“The song was never performed” was the unofficial theme of the concert. After 40 minutes they already announced the last block of songs and at 70 minutes they had left the stage. Including the encore, the concert was 90 minutes. #leGEMday indeed. For a concert that was 5000Y and had minimalistic production values (a solitary banner on stage and one new outfit), that was so not GEM. Last summer I went to GEM’s Non-stop Zenryoku Live, which was an experimental, completely non-hyped concert, featuring an uninterrupted 60 minute setlist, and they performed the same number of songs, for just 3000Y. Although all of the new songs, Maya’s solo, and Just! Call Me were awesome, for a concert that was supposed to be important to the GEMbers, it was a huge disappointment.

You know which group would never disappoint? [YumeAdo.] Exactly. YumeAdo would have a 500 hour concert, with bikinis.

After the concert, I returned to the station for my luggage. To get there, I crossed a bridge and it turned out that the West Exit I was unable to access was also a bridge that would have taken me straight to the concert hall. Somehow this was Maya’s fault, but just like before, there was the issue of getting through the unattended gate. As I was contemplating what to do, a delivery guy pushed a cart of boxes through the handicap lane. He didn’t have a key or special pass, he just forced his way through like an animal. Wellll, if he could do it, then I could do it. Technically, I think the official policy for JR Pass holders is to only use manned gates, and avoid ones that aren’t staffed, but I think that is unreasonable. For instance, this station–which was a relatively large station in Osaka, had four exits, and only one of them was manned. Tourists shouldn’t be expected to search for the singular manned gate, and in the process get themselves completely lost. Eff that, I’m barging through every gate from now on! (while cosplaying as a delivery guy of course.)

It began raining as I checked into my hotel, cutting short the time I could spend in Namba. I went to an okonomiyaki place, but the queue was long, and since it was raining, I hilariously ended up eating at McDonalds. Reminded me of when my brother, sister, and I ate at McDonalds in Paris after visiting the Louvre. Total waste of a foodie town like Osaka, not like I care that much about food.

May 4, Wednesday Fourth day, fourth city. This was my first time in Ehime, which I previously only knew as HimeKyun’s prefecture and for Kitty Hall, a super-ghetto and possibly haunted live-house that Doll☆Elements once used to stream a concert. The reason I was in Ehime was for Silent Siren, who I would be seeing again the following day in Takamatsu. The train from Osaka was 90% empty and the scenery alternated between ocean and hillsides. I saw mermen frolicking in the water and mountain people wrestling bears. This was my favorite train route of the trip and Ehime was my favorite locale. 

The part of Ehime I visited was the capital, Matsuyama. I was going to mention that the men in Matsuyama are renowned for war mongering and the women for their ample cup size, but that would make me sound stupid. When I arrived, I bought a 1-Day tram pass, because the best way to get around the city is by tram–everyone knows that! My hotel was a minute walk from Dogo Onsen, an iconic hot-spring that is the oldest in Japan–but everyone knows that too! According to the Matsuyama guidebook, the water in the onsen is particularly soothing for women, who often spend hours in the hot-springs, allowing the water to caress their arms and legs and special places. The sounds of women enjoying the onsen can be heard all day and all night. Unrelated, there are 1.2 million holes crudely drilled into the walls of the women-only bath and hot-spring. The purpose of these holes are currently unknown. 

After checking into my hotel, I went sight-seeing before the concert. Although I was only there one day, Matsuyama is the most enjoyable city I’ve been to in Japan. It’s serene, but there are plenty of things to do in the area, they have a great public transportation system, and it’s surprisingly English-friendly.

Too much sight-seeing resulted in me arriving to the venue later than planned.

More precisely, I arrived 30 minutes before it opened. The concert was at Salon Kitty, a 400 person club located on the outskirts of the city and built alongside a shallow river. As a result, there were a lot of bugs flying around and upstream kids were splashing around in the water like ducks. On the fourth floor of the building is a sister venue that’s even smaller called Kitty Hall. Most of the people waiting around were wearing pink Silent Siren shirts and I went to the merchandise booth to also partake in the exchange of currency for crap. Their tour goods are consistently cool though, and Ainyan–the bassist, is typically in charge of their design. For the 2016 tour all of the members contributed at least one item though: Hinanchu designed a tote bag and an iPhone case, Suu an alternate shirt and silicon bands, and Yukarun an alternate towel. I wanted the towel designed by Ainyan–which looks inspired by the video game Splatoon, the tour silicon bands, and key chain. Unfortunately, they sold out of the towel and key chain. When I was told that the towel had sold out I actually said “Aaaaww,” which may have contributed to an announcement 15 minutes later that they had ten more towels available. I hope a staff member didn’t have to rummage through their van on my account, considering I was too lazy to return to the booth and buy one.

My ticket for the concert wasn’t great, since I purchased it late. There were four Silent Siren tour dates available during my trip and it took a while to figure out which ones to attend, since I had to keep availability open for other concerts. Not to sound like a nerd, but finalizing my concert schedule was a very time-consuming process. The concert was a sell-out, expected considering it was a live-house, and at this point of the tour, 10 of 12 concerts had sold out. Despite my ticket being 317 out of 400, something weird happened as I entered the club. The floor area (which was three-tiered) was packed tighter than Chubbiness in their tour bus, but the staff led about twenty people, including myself, into a space that had been closed off. I found myself in the direct middle of the front row of the second tier, which had an unimpaired view of the stage, inferior only to the very front row. I’m still unsure what happened and I felt guilty for my good fortune, particularly as there were five girls directly in front of me on the tier below, who for the entire concert had their visibility blocked by the guys standing in front of them. I wanted to make room for one girl to step up, but if there is one thing I’ve learned while in Japan, it’s never do anything unnecessary. In America we help our fellow man. Of course, in America we also kill our fellow man.

The concert was dominated by heavy rotation songs and their newest album S. The music was great, but every three or four songs, Suu or Hinanchu would kill the energy and get on their soapbox and just ramble for five to ten minutes about boring topics. Hinanchu mainly talked about idols. One of her rants was how she understands that fans have favorite members, but she thinks we should like everyone equally. And she has a quirky way of talking that’s like: “Hey you guys… so I was thinking… I’m not sure how to say this,” before beginning her story. She is the type who tells a story in a roundabout way, instead of straight to the point, which is annoying when you’re there to rock out. Although she did tell a funny story about how everyone makes fun of the tote bag she designed, and when another member or staff does use it, they make sure the art side is facing in, so only the denim side is showing. Suu was worse, because she talked nonstop, which is surprising considering she does 99% of the singing, and since her vocals are so clean, I would think she would want to rest during the breaks. She talked about high school and having no friends, wanting to play guitar but only receiving encouragement from one of her teachers, and preaching about the importance of family. And when she noticed one of the guys in the audience had brought their 3 year old daughter, she started crying because it reminded her of her dad taking her to a concert.

They didn’t perform my favorite songs, but I enjoyed the setlist, which included a cover of Hi-STANDARD’s “My First Kiss.” Later that night, as I reflected on the number of times Yukarun made eye contact with me, it dawned on me that I had forgotten to redeem my drink ticket and take photos of the venue. That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

1. Milk boy
2. Hachigastu no Yoru
4. Biisan
5. Routine
6. Love install
7. hikari
8. Lucky Girl
9. Soukai Rock
10. Hapi Mari
11. nukumor
12. Reira
13. Slow Morning
14. Yoshidasan
15. C.A.F.E.
16. DanceMusiQ
18. My First Kiss (Hi-Standard cover)
19. GuruGuru Wonderland
20. Cherrybomb

May 5, Thursday From Matsuyama, I took a 2 hour express train to Takamatsu.

The Silent Siren concert was at a club called Takamatsu MONSTER. It was larger than Kitty Hall and had a scary name, but it was basically just a boring room with a boring stage. As I walked to the club, I intermittently saw fans wearing pink Silent Siren shirts and their numbers increased as I got closer and closer. I still had to ask a fan for help though, and he looked a little confused as he pointed to the entrance, which was literally ten meters away.

The club and my hotel were located in a part of Takamatsu comprised of street after street of shopping arcades and malls. Since the stores and restaurants looked similar, it created a labyrinth of access-ways and side-streets and I got hopelessly lost trying to locate my hotel. I’ll skip the story, just remember to check for wifi when you don’t have mobile data. The entire city offered free wifi and that would have helped tremendously, had I taken the time to check.

Silent Siren had four concerts scheduled during my trip, and I considered going to three. After it was revealed that they would make their U.S. debut at J-POP Summit, three would have been overkill and I decided on two. My preference wasn’t the show at MONSTER though, because that was a concert on a consecutive day, and based on their 2015 tour, the setlists in these situations would be practically identical. The weekend concerts weren’t possible though, due to the timing of GEM‘s concert on Sunday, so it was Takamatsu by default.

And the setlist was practically identical to the night before, deviating by only two songs. And Hinanchu and Suu continued to talk relentlessly. In pro sports there’s a thing called “back to backs,” a reference to teams playing a match two days in a row. It’s rare because athletes usually play worse on the back to back due to fatigue. I think the same phenomena was in play here, because they didn’t perform with the energy they had in Ehime. It was still fun, it just wasn’t the type of concert that would induce spontaneous combustion.

1. Milk boy
2. Hachigastu no Yoru
4. Biisan
5. Limited
6. Love install
7. hikari
8. Sweet Pop!
9. Soukai Rock
10. Hapi Mari
11. nukumor
12. Reira
13. Slow Morning
14. Yoshidasan
15. C.A.F.E.
16. DanceMusiQ
18. My First Kiss (Hi-Standard cover)
19. GuruGuru Wonderland
20. Cherrybomb

May 6, Friday I didn’t go to concerts on Friday or Saturday. I wanted to see MAPLEZ at least once, but their concert that night in Nagoya was too underground. So I spent most of the day organizing my Doll☆Elements trading cards, counting my millions of yen, and returning to Tokyo. The trip is 5.5 hours from Matsuyama and I also intended to spend a few hours in Kyoto, since it was on the route. It had been raining all day though and was getting worse as I got closer to Kyoto, so I reluctantly scrapped that plan.

After returning to Tokyo and checking into my hotel, I went to Ramen Street, which is a ramen park at Tokyo Station. Although I previously mentioned I don’t care about food, ramen isn’t food, it’s life. [That is easily the stupidest thing you’ve ever written]. Obviously you haven’t read my Chubbiness fanfic.

May 7, Saturday Silent Siren and E-girls both had concerts, but it wasn’t possible to go to either. Silent Siren’s was too far from Tokyo to make it back for GEM’s Sunday concert and E-girls’s had sold out, and I wouldn’t buy resale tickets for an arena concert, since there are better ways to waste money–like Doll☆Elements trading cards and Chubbiness body mattresses. [Don’t you mean Chubbiness body pillows?] No, I meant mattresses. Hey, they’re big!

The weather was perfect, so I went to Kamakura, a beach city an hour by train from Tokyo. I went here last year for a Silent Siren concert and the area reminded me of California (minus the temples). It’s also the locale from one of my favorite J-dramas ever, Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia’s Case Files). I didn’t have time to look around last year though, which is why I returned. I randomly took the following photos almost a year apart and was surprised how they lined up when viewed successively. 

Kamakura city and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine:

After praying at every shrine that Magical Punchline doesn’t turn out as tragically horrible as World Standard, I realized that it was almost my daily feeding time. I was like, “Oh my gosh! It’s almost my daily feeding time!” As I contemplated how I don’t really care about food, I made my way to the Ramen Museum in Shin-Yokohama.

May 8, Sunday It was a crisp, plucky, frisky, snappy, zippy, and zesty day. [Please stop using weird words to describe the weather.] It was also hella peppy. That night, I would see my current fixation drop, after an early G-ls Entaa teiment micstia concert at the bland & non-stellar Shinagawa Stellar Ball. After GEM’s 90 minute concert in Osaka earlier in the week, I truly thought they were saving themselves for an epic concert in Tokyo, since it’s common for a tour finale to be more extravagant. The concert had also been described by the group as their final as 10 members–which is confusing considering their 3rd anniversary concert is in June–unless Maya isn’t going to be at that concert, which would be weird even by GEM’s standards.

I don’t know if it’s common practice at Steller Ball, but before the concert when calling ticket numbers, after they got to ticket #290, they switched from counting by tens, to counting by hundreds. I thought that was hilariously lazy. Outside of that, there isn’t much to write. The concert was okay, but not unlike any other GEM live I’ve attended. The setlist was 90% identical to Osaka, the differences being Do It Do It and Just! Call Me were exchanged for Speed Up and Can’t Stop Loving. The concert was still 90 minutes and a fan next to me commented to his friend that World Standards recent one-man was two hours. At both concerts, Chisami took Rana’s intro for Baby, Love Me! Last year, Maya also sang the intro at least once. Maybe they are challenging themselves, but the harmonizing in that intro is way better suited for Rana’s voice. The diamond cutouts on stage were also new, although I think they would have had a better effect if there were ten, to match each member. Unless that was a cryptic hint that GEM will only have seven members after the reshuffle in June.

After GEM’s concert, I went to Shimokitazawa for a drop four-man at Shimokitazawa GARDEN. The concert was organized by drop’s agency and was one of their sporadically-scheduled concerts called “Compotes,” where drop is joined by their little sister group Maneki Kecak, and invite one or two other groups. During Golden Week they had five of these, with Akishibu ProjectFES☆TIVE, Kamiyado, and Yurumerumo joining them for different shows. I went to the final, which included Kamiyado and Yurumerumo. I wish I could have traded those two for Akishibu Project. Unfortunately, I don’t have that super-power. I almost always avoid underground shows like this, but decided to go after finding out that drop uses Peatix for ticketing. Peatix is a ticketing service that allows overseas fans to purchase concert tickets directly, and thereby avoid relying on acquaintances in Japan or ticket buying services. Total gamechanger if more groups sign up.

Drop is completely unlike the groups I typically follow and I consider them my “exception to the rule” group. They are part of the nerdcore faction of J-pop, currently popularized by Stardust and DearStage groups–a category I’ve universally disliked since the beginning of time. Drop is an exception because everything I dislike about this niche–the obnoxious and annoying vocals, over-the-top outfits, annoying on-stage antics, and members with average talent and below-average looks, is either minimized or tweaked in drop, or simply doesn’t exist. Yes, their vocals are obnoxious at times, but their music has progressively become reliant on mainstream singing skill, and I appreciate how their designs utilize hand-drawn art and their incorporation of campy horror and Tim Burton-esque motifs in their music and outfits.

And they’re cute and hot. And cute and hot and hot.

Unfortunately, the group’s momentum was decimated when their miracle member Shizuka graduated in 2015, due to health reasons. I’m certain this is the reason they’re still an indie group, while Maneki Kecak has already had a relatively successful major debut in April. In an attempt to relaunch, drop opened auditions for new members in January and introduced them at their tour finale in April. The two new members made their live debuts during the Golden Week concerts.

Recap I arrived in Shimokitazawa 1.5 hours early and after locating the club, I went next door to 7-11 to download my Peatix ticket, since I needed their wifi. While using the Peatix app, I bought a drink and browsed the aisles, at which point I heard a girl in an annoying voice say something to the effect of, “OMG, these are super delicious!!” while stuffing two pastry things into her basket. I casually glanced at what she was referring to because I wanted something super delicious too. That’s when I realized the girl talking was Hikari (aka Takki) from drop. Her basket was overflowing with junk food, since she was probably also buying for the other members, and the girl she was talking to was one of the new members. The random encounter reminded me of Tobi’s stories about seeing members of Bellring at convenient stores. When I finished shopping and got in line to pay, Miyu, one of the three front girls from Maneki Kecak, got in line behind me and she also had a basket overflowing with junk food. She was standing with a guy who I recognized as drop and Maneki Kecak’s producer, and when he noticed I had the Peatix app open, he asked me which group I liked. When I answered, he seemed amused at my American pronunciation of drop. Later that night, when I entered the venue and the staff at the entrance asked which group I was pushing, I again said drop, and he replied “Eh?” I felt fake for then having to say “do-ra-pu.”

The concert would have a really late start. It was scheduled for 6PM, but by 6:30, the event from the early show still hadn’t ended, so the floor space had a mix of stragglers from the first concert alongside those who were arriving for the night concert. The club has a 500 person capacity and the show was a sell out, so it was uncomfortable and boring having to wait for the live to begin. [Was the venue packed liked Chubbiness in their tour bus?] Absolutely. It was also packed like Chubbiness in the women’s only bath at Dogo Onsen.

At 6:40, drop’s producer went on stage and announced the event was over and began calling ticket numbers to determine the order of fans on the floor space. It was a redundant process, considering ticket numbers had been called when everyone entered the venue initially, and there wasn’t even anyone to verify tickets. Because the first concert had extended into the second, it would have been extremely easy for someone with a ticket from the first show to stay for the second. It was during the wait for the concert to begin that I secured a spot with a great view of the stage. GARDEN has a two-tiered floor space and I was on the rail of the second tier, in the direct middle of the venue. I had a feeling the crowd could be chaotic, so the rail would also serve as a buffer. It turned out that the crowd was insane, so I made the right call.

The concert began with drop, Maneki Kecak, Kamiyado, and Yurumerumo on stage, while drop’s producer explained the lineup order, and because of the late start, that each group would be performing 25 minutes, instead of 30. During the entire intro segment I watched my favorite drop member Misato (aka Misa) as she chewed on the hair of a girl from Kamiyado, who looked completely confused. Everyone knows Misa is a weirdo though, so it’s Kamiyado girl’s fault for standing next to her!

Maneki Kecak opened and performed five songs. They’re the new hotness in this scene and out of the four groups, the crowd was the loudest for them. Their front girls, Chiai, Reona, and Miyu, are surprisingly talented and attractive, and I wish they could have been added to drop, to consolidate all of the agency’s top talent into one super group. Kamiyado followed and I thought they were the typical, cliche “generic pop group.”

Drop was next and performed five songs, three as a trio of Misato-Takki-Harupi, and two songs with the new members. I’m not enamored with the new members and they represent a departure from the original premise of the group, which was “beautiful girls with twin tails.” Yeah, that sounds extremely superficial, but the original focus of the group emphasized looks and completely delivered. The twin tails gimmick died at some point last year and their new image is much more eclectic and hard to pinpoint, but if I had to use one word to describe their look it would be homeless-girls-who-live-in-a-cave. It’s a new drop and the fanbase is either accepting it or moving on. A lot of fans in attendance had used their drop penlights during Maneki Kecak’s performance, but were a lot less enthusiastic during drop’s performance, which I interpreted as the original fans moving on to the sister group. I enjoyed both performances, but I strongly prefer drop because of Misato and Takki.

Yurumerumo performed last. I knew nothing about them, but I gave them a chance, despite immediately knowing they weren’t my type. I stayed for two songs, and considering I’d been up since GEM’s concert, I didn’t feel guilty for leaving early. Afterwards when I was eating dinner in Shibuya, I remembered that I forgot to redeem my drink ticket again! That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life. Well, that and Misa eating that girl’s hair.

1. Iroha ni Hoete de Vampire
2. Nanimo Irinai
3. Hocus Pocus
4. Watashi ga Watashi Dearu Tame ni
5. Joudan Ja Nai ne

Magical Punchline Spring Tour 2017
Overall the trip was okay. It was more relaxing than I thought it would be, considering I was traveling to a new city and changing hotels everyday. This was probably because I was sleeping like a tranquilized baby gorilla each night.

I’m not sure when I’ll return. I’ve gone to Japan every summer since 2011, but I finally realized last year that their summers are really, really horrible. Maybe next spring. By then Magical Punchline should have conquered Japan.

Something I learned while traveling abroad
This is how a typical Japanese person reacts to western humor.

And this is how a typical human reacts to a Peanuts comic.

Maybe people really aren’t that different after all.

The End