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Recap: Tokyo Idol Festival 2015

17 Aug

Every year I wonder why the f-junk Tokyo Idol Festival feels less fun than the year before. TIF 2012 was the funnest concert I’ve ever been to in Japan. Yet despite every successive TIF having an improved lineup while basically regurgitating the identical format, they’ve all paled in comparison with 2012.

And I think the reason has become clear. Everyone put on your glasses and study the following chart for the next two hours. 

Year Attendance Number of Stages
2011 10,000 6
2012 21,500 8-9 (8 on Day 1, 9 on Day 2)
2013 33,000 6
2014 41,000 7
2015 51,500 8

TIF 2012 had the perfect blend of attendance and stages. Every year since has had a significant increase in attendance, yet the number of stages has remained relatively static. Because there hasn’t been an incremental increase in venues, stages are continually overcrowded. I mean, where do you think the 30,000 new attendees since 2012 are going? They definitely aren’t all hanging out at the TIF Info Centre! Although speaking of the Info Centre, I think it’s hilarious that I missed this. As if any normal person would read “Young Jump stage” on the timetable and then think, “Ooh cool, Palet is going to be wearing bikinis” and proceed to circle that segment of the timetable with a crayon and draw a million arrows pointing to it so they don’t forget.

Anyway, If you’ve ever been to Disneyland on a busy day and then gone back during a quiet day, they are completely different experiences. One experience sucks and the other is, dare I say, much much less sucky. Every summer in Japan is going to be brutally hot. And every music festival is going to have groups you like and groups you dislike. But the negatives become insignificant when the event is fun, which directly correlates with attendance. Conversely, the negatives become amplified when conditions suck. On the most basic and primitive psychological level, humans desire their own space and access to adequate resources. Humans can tolerate other humans, until the moment they start encroaching on their space and resources. At TIF, this means, I can tolerate the existence of other fans, until they start interfering with my ability to jump around like an idiot for my oshimen!!

More than 51,000 human beings (and human doings) attended TIF this year. That is 50,999 more than I would like. And considering a lot of fans enter the venues with their bags, the consequence is a ginormous decrease in free space. I know they aren’t intentionally trying to be annoying, but it’s ridiculous having to walk over bags at every stage or have someone’s bag continually brush against you during a performance. Or not being able to jump or even move because some mofo put their bag on the ground right next to you. People who bring their bag to the performance area instead of drop it off at the back are basically doubling the space they would typically occupy. TIF shares the blame for not providing lockers or a bag check, but the real culprits are the fans whose idiosyncrasies compel them to bring their entire collection of shirts, towels, and penlights in order for them to feel they are properly supporting the myriad of groups they are pushing. 

The organizers deserve credit this year though, because the event was a huge improvement over 2014. Tobi and I were able to collect our wristbands–which were free for non-residents, immediately at 8:00 without having to wait in a queue. Comparatively, last year’s tickets for non-residents were only made available after 10:00. The return of Zepp DiverCity was also a huge improvement. The labyrinth to enter the Hot Stage was also simplified and I was able get into the priority seating area both days. Getting in last year was almost impossible unless you queued for the stage before it opened, or went at night during day 1. I also thought the lineup had something for everyone, with a good mix of “surprise guests” like SKE48, Silent Siren, and the new H!P group Kobushi Factory, along with the return of groups that were personally relevant to me, specifically all the iDOL Street groups and 9nine (although I still wasn’t able to see them).

Day One Schedule
NEO from Idoling (Heat Garage)
Sunmyu (Heat Garage)
Akihabara Backstage Pass (Heat Garage)
SKE48 (Heat Garage)
Sendai Syrup (Enjoy Stadium)
BudLaB (Enjoy Stadium)
Dear Stars (Enjoy Stadium)
PREDIANNA (Enjoy Stadium)
DIANNA☆SWEET (Enjoy Stadium)
Doll☆Elements (Enjoy Stadium)
Up Up Girls (Hot Stage)
The Possible (Hot Stage)
Otome Shinto (Hot Stage)
X21 (Hot Stage)
Doll☆Elements (Hot Stage)
Idoling!!! (Smile Garden)
predia (Smile Garden)
PiiiiiiiN (Enjoy Stadium)
Ange Reve (Enjoy Stadium)
3 Min (Enjoy Stadium)
Akishibu Project (Doll Factory)
Houkago Princess (Doll Factory)

Day Two Schedule
Silent Siren (Heat Garage)
Palet (Heat Garage)
GEM (Festival Stage)
HR (Heat Garage)
PASSPO (Heat Garage)
Lovely★Doll (Heat Garage)
SUPER☆GiRLS (Heat Garage)
Idoling!!! (Heat Garage)
Passcode (Heat Garage)
GEM (Heat Garage)
Prizmmy (Heat Garage)
Doll☆Elements (Heat Garage)
predia (Heat Garage)
Idoling!!! (Hot Stage)
Grand Finale (Hot Stage)

Mini-recap & random observations

I queued at Heat Garage (Zepp DiverCity) both mornings, several hours before the venue opened and the day one “SKE48 queue” was at least five times larger than the day 2 “Silent Siren queue.” By 8:30 on day 1 there were already hundreds of fans waiting, likely to see SKE48, although the first fifteen or so were all NEO from Idoling fans. On day 2, I arrived at the stage at 8:00 and was surprised that there wasn’t even a queue. There were a lot of Silent Siren fans in the area, but for some reason the TIF staff wasn’t allowing an official queue to form. When they finally did allow one to form alongside the edge of the venue, it was a fraction of the size of day 1. I started the day here because NEO opened day 1 and Silent Siren opened day 2. With NEO disbanding, this was one of the last opportunities to see them and I thought they were awesome. I wish they performed longer than 15 minutes, considering Sunmyu and Akihabara Backstage Pass followed them and both had longer sets. Silent Siren opening day 2 also provided a rare opportunity to see them from the front row.

On day 1, I wanted to do Doll☆Elements handshake event since it perfectly coincided with the break in my schedule. I went to their booth and purchased a Doll☆Elements towel, but the staff member said I would have to go to the Tower Records booth in order to purchase a cd to get an event ticket. Unfortunately, the Tower Records queue was massive, slow, and completely in the sun, so I scrapped that plan.

On day 1, I randomly met up with Tobi while walking to the wristband exchange booth. In the evening, I randomly ran into tsutomo near Smile Garden. I was in the area because I wanted to go up to Sky Stage for the evening performances of Ai Shinozaki, Idoling!!!, and predia. Unfortunately, that was impossible because of the queue from hell. The wait was probably 2 hours, considering how slow the elevators operate and how many people were in line. Predia at night at Sky Stage is my ultimate TIF highlight, so that was disappointing. Speaking of predia, they have been my favorite performers at 3 of the 4 TIFs I’ve attended. They always perform their best songs at TIF and somehow I am always able to see them from up close, because magically a path to the front opens during the transitions between groups.

The last thing I’ll mention is that during day 1, a bat was flying inside the Hot Stage area for more than 30 minutes. Totally annoying, except when it collided with a member of the Possible. It was the early afternoon, so I’m not sure why it was even flying around, but it was probably terrified and having an impossible time navigating out of the tent area. TIF should have shut down the speakers for a minute to allow it to leave, because it was really distracting.

TIF Breakfast

My editor says people love this kind of thing, so here is my official TIF day 1 and day 2 breakfasts.

The end
tif2

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Tokyo Idol Festival strategy officially starts… ….. .. …. Now!

21 Jul

My TIF Schedule
Day One

Day Two

I don’t want to sound like an insane person on the internet, but I think my schedule is the closest thing to perfection since “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.

The stages highlighted in black represent my preferred schedule, but because TIF has a tendency to be unpredictable due to weather, TIF incompetence, or random mob violence, it’s a good idea to have some flexibility, therefore the stages highlighted in green represent alternates. The stages highlighted in red are only necessary if for some reason I am unable to see NEO from Idoling on Day 1, in which case I’ll see them on Day 2–even though they are performing outdoors during the hottest time of the day. Doll☆Elements are also performing before them… and maybe… just maybe… they will delight the audience with a bikini performance! [Hmm, you’re right, that would be the hottest time of the day. For once you wrote something that makes sense.]

I know, the schedule is good right? [Yeah, it’s great. My favorite part is how you are seeing SUPER☆GiRLS zero times out of five! And no Street-sei either?! You are dead to me.] Ok, it’s not perfect, but at least it’s better than these schedules!

I’m kiddddding. TIF schedules aren’t a competition. 

But seriously, mine is the best. *awkward silence*

Am I embarrassed that it took me two months to memorize the name “Yururirapo”? Yes. Does that mean I’m going to retire from the internet? Of course not. If anything I’m going to unretire from the internet.

28 Jun

Yururirapo is a new-gen™ indie idol group that debuted in February. Their concept is healing and relaxation, with the name of the group derived from the Japanese word “yururi,” which means “relaxed,” and “rapo” which I think means “Beautiful girl with pure heart, soft hair, creamy skin, super-model body, and rocket-scientist brain.” When the group was introduced, each member was revealed individually via a short video on YouTube, beginning with Asami Oda on Monday, and continuing each successive day with a new member: Marina Murakami, Miyu Yanome, Sachiko Umakoshi, and Rena Shinkai. Marina and Sachiko are former members of predia and Asami is a former gravure model who was at one point *somewhat* popular, at least enough to release a solo mini-album in 2008. Technically she may still be a model, since she just released an image video a few months ago, although it seems like a one-off thing similar to Sakurako releasing a gravure video last November. Yururirapo’s motto is “Relax no sekai e yokoso,” which means something like “Welcome to the world of relaxation” or “Welcome to the relaxing world.”

Doesn’t that sound great after a long day in the coal mines and a double shift at the hot dog factory?!–Unless you are the type who would rather wait for an idol group to welcome you to the world of destruction and anarchy? (in which case you should check out this group)

Asami has already become one of my favorite idols, so onward to the world of relaxation!

In completely unrelated news, would I call myself a TIF “expert”?
No. I prefer the term guru. Actually, that word is weird. Yeah, I’m an expert.
TIF recently updated their “Guide/FAQ.” I would suggest reading this document veeeeeery closely.

And then ignore everything you read because none of that will be enforced!

More importantly all of the iDOL Street groups will be attending TIF this year. After six weeks of updates with groups that no one knew existed, actual real-life groups were added. I mean, Puchi PASSPO and Sendai Syrup?–those groups don’t exist! TIF stop making up names!

Now please invite Yururaruriraporu!