Tag Archives: Moriwaki Yui

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.

Advertisements

Tokyo Idol Blah

15 Aug


Tokyo Idol Festival just kind of existed this year. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible. It was just blah.

Everyone’s experience is different though. For instance, I won’t watch a performance at an outdoor stage during the day because I avoid the sun at all costs. That’s a rule I follow that most people probably won’t care too much about. All three days my favorite groups performed at outdoor stages during the hottest hours of the day and I either passed or watched from far away in the shade. And then there are overlapping performances, which happened a lot this year. Overall, the schedule didn’t work out for me. I’m not upset or anything; this happens and it’s expected. If anything I lucked out at past TIFs because the timetable usually worked for me.

Speaking of luck, the day after TIF, it rained in Odaiba. That would have been a disaster since the organizers didn’t have a backup plan and most stages are outdoor.

My TIF schedule that I occasionally deviated from.
Ignore the numbers. Those were scenarios if Harajuku Monogatari won the main stage contest.

An easier to read format.

Day 1 – Friday Day 2 – Saturday Day 3 – Sunday
El Float Candy Zoo Shibuya3 Project
READY TO KISS Siam&Poptune GGirls
Harajuku Monogatari Idol College Yamaguchi Kassei
Moriwaki Yui Harajuku Monogatari HimeKyun
One Pixel Yu Kikawa Starmarie
AIS Maneki Kecak MAPLEZ
predia Tsuribit C-ute “thing”
Dreaming Monster LinQ Batten Shoujo tai
X21 callme Dreaming Monster
LinQ Philosophy no Dance Moso Callibration
drop SUPERGiRLS Philosophy no Dance
Lovely Doll TokyoPerformanceDoll Yumemiru Adolescence
TokyoPerformanceDoll GEM PASSPO
GEM sora tob sakana 9nine
drop predia SUPERGiRLS
SUPERGiRLS Fudanjuku  Tsuribit
Nichome no Sakegaki Idol College  TokyoPerformanceDoll
predia Yuka Ueno  Vanilla Beans
Band Ja Naimon Yu Serizawa  amiinA
  AIS  drop
  Harajuku Monogatari  Grand Finale
  T.I.F.N.A. LADYBABY  
  Puca  
  Zenryoku Shoujo R  
  Tenko Shoujo  
  WHY@DOLL  
  TokyoPerformanceDoll  

Day 1
Friday was an important day for fans of Harajuku MonogatariTask have FunAppare Harajuku, and 26-ji no Masquerade because there was an early morning queue for the Main Stage competition. Tickets would be passed out at 7:30 and there were only 500. Harajuku Monogatari members were active on twitter asking fans to queue early. Appare Harajuku had also asked fans to vote after they performed at Konya wa Anata no SUPER LIVE earlier that week. The groups definitely cared about winning. This was a competition that Maneki Kecak won last year.

Even though it was important, I decided not to queue for a ticket. I want Harajuku Monogatari to conquer the world, but the timing of the competition clashed with stages of Tokyo Performance Doll, GEM, and drop. Another issue was arriving early enough. My hotel was a ten minute walk from TIF, but getting there by 7:30 would still be a hassle, and realistically I would have to get there much earlier than 7:30 since Japanese people seem to love queuing. Logically it didn’t make sense to try for the ticket. Sorry Monoga.

Instead, I warmed myself by the fire and ate my TIF Super Breakfast™ and arrived at TIF at 9:00 to collect my wristband.

[Wait a second, you prioritized breakfast over your favorite group, when they really needed all the support they could get?]

It wasn’t breakfast. It was TIF Super Breakfast™.

Mini-cap: Of all three days, the weather was the best on Day 1 and it had the smallest attendance. According to TIF, the numbers were 21,338 on Friday, 32,787 on Saturday, and 27,253 on Sunday.

While walking to TIF, a water slide was being set up on the bridge. It looked fun, but it turned out to be a classic case of something being interesting in theory, but really stupid in reality, because I saw it in action the following day, and the slope simply isn’t inclined enough for anyone to slide down without being pushed.

During Day 1, I was usually at an outdoor stage, but in shaded areas. At Festival Stage, I saw Harajuku Monogatari, Moriwaki Yuidrop, X21, and LinQ. Moriwaki Yui is the center of Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen and she is now doing solo lives that are really cute. Maybe too cute.

Before heading to the main stage I went to the marketplace. This was the only time I’d go during TIF. For most of the day there was a long queue because of the security check point and just the number of fans trying to get in. I bought a drop towel and Harajuku Monogatari’s mini album. I wanted to buy their towel, but it sold out. In retrospect I should have bought their singles also, but I figured they would be included in the mini album. I went to Moriwaki Yui’s tent, but it was kind of in disarray. I wanted to buy YKG’s live bluray and Yui’s towel, but the guy couldn’t find the right box. Long story short, I left without being able to support them. I did buy their new album at their release event earlier in the week though.
If you are wondering about the event tickets, I never use them. It’s not an interest of mine. Sometimes I will give them away to random concert goers. If I’m not comfortable doing that, I’ll just keep them.

Later in the day, I saw Tokyo Performance Doll and GEM at the main stage. Both sets were okay and I had a great spot in the center column at the very front of the second barrier. This was the only time Nana and Kaho of TPD would perform at TIF because of a theater play they are doing. They are really important members. And I cried a little. [They’re also hot. Please mention that. And you actually cried a lot.] Lastly, I saw Band Ja Naimon for the first time. I’ve been interested in them for a while, but I guess I should have done more research because I didn’t like their music at all.

Day 2
At 9:00, I queued at Dream Stage. The stage would open at 10 and Harajuku Monogatari would perform at 10:45. I should have arrived earlier though; I only got second row and I wanted to unlock the “Front row for Monoga” achievement. Front row for them is difficult though. They have a small fanbase, but I can tell it’s mainly the type who jumps from one group to the next, whatever is trendy. Those fans aren’t long term, but they are hardcore. Their performance was HOT and I feel I should mention their outfits. It’s impossible without sounding pervy though. I’ll just mention that their skirts are the shortest I have ever seen a group perform in. [Yeah, that doesn’t sound pervy at all.]

Afterwards, I spent most of the day at Zepp DiverCity and saw Maneki Kecak, SUPER GiRLS, Tokyo Performance Doll, GEM, LinQ, and others. After spending six hours in the air-conditioned Zepp, I went to Sky Stage for Harajuku Monogatari. Even though Maneki Kecak was performing two sets after, I was only going for Monoga because I wanted to go to Doll Factory for LADYBABY (I’m a Rie Kaneko fan) and TPD, and Maneki Kecak’s army of fans would be a hurdle. This was the first time I went to Sky Stage since 2014. I thought there would be a queue, but when I arrived there was literally no one and I went up the lift that was already at the ground floor waiting. Upon exiting there was a massive queue waiting to get down though. 

When I arrived at the stage it was 17:00 and Fudanjuku was performing and I noticed that all of the original members have graduated. Harajuku Monogatari was scheduled for 18:30, so I tried to enjoy the other performers. There were two solo acts, Yuka Ueno and Yu Serizawa, which I thought was amusing because I’d also seen Yui Moriwaki and Yu Kikawa at TIF. And of course there are other more famous Yui’s that are solo artists.

There were a lot of people on the rooftop, way more than I expected. Front row for Monoga would be impossible. When they came on stage, they were performing in different outfits from that morning, which weren’t as hot as their normal attire, but still hot. The setlist was different (they always mix things up which is cool because most of their songs are great) and there was more fan excitement at this stage than at Dream Stage. Because of the strict rules at this year’s TIF, I was surprised they performed Party Animals. The stage was too congested to truly enjoy the song, but it was still fun. During the song TIF security cut in and warned fans to behave. This was the final time I would see them because they were at Smile Garden at 12:30 the next day and I would have disintegrated in that heat had I gone. 

Once they left the stage, I rushed to the lift and the massive queue from before had completely dissipated. I had literally gone up and down without waiting a minute. I was therefore able to catch the last half of LADY BABY. While waiting for TPD, I saw Zenryoku Shoujo R who I’ve seen before and I kind of like them, but their fans do annoying shit like clear space so they can mix and then rush the stage. TIF cracked down on certain behavior like lifting and non-stop jumping, but other things continued.

TPD came on minus Nana and Kaho and like everything they did at TIF, it was all blah. It was like their producers were sabotaging them. Boring setlists and unit songs that only the most hardcore fan could appreciate. Really disappointing showing from TPD.

Day 3

Nothing was scheduled in the morning that interested me and Japan’s summer heat finally appeared. I started the day at Festival Stage at 10:45 and saw Shibuya3 Project, which is a Platinum trainee group. They sang songs by predia, 3 min, and Silent Siren.  G Girls followed and I am actually a fan of two of their members, so I broke my rule and watched up close while standing in the sun. During their set I realized I left my iphone in my room, so afterwards I had to go back to my hotel. Which is why I mentioned Japan’s summer heat had returned. I ended up taking a shower when I returned to my room and had to redo my hair. Miraculously I made it back to Zepp right as YKG took the stage. I jumped around like an idiot for Yui and it was only later that I realized I had completely forgotten the no jumping rule, but no one had stopped me. I think the rule was mainly enforced at Smile Garden, Dream Stage, Doll Factory, Sky Stage, and maybe Hot Stage. HimeKyun followed and performed in their last TIF as they are disbanding. MAPLEZ tweeted a few days before that original members would join the current lineup just for TIF and it was awesome.

I stayed at this stage for five hours and saw Yumemiru Adolescence, PASSPO, 9nine, and several other groups. Also the C-ute “thing,” which I thought was poorly produced and had I been a fan, I would have been disappointed. Three songs in 30 minutes, super lol.

From there I went to the main stage for the last half of SUPER GiRLS. Again I had to skip Maneki Kecak who followed right after because TPD was at Smile Garden. Worst of all, I didn’t even stick around for TPD. Their setlist was so horrible I left. How many times do they need to perform “Brand New Story”? This song is boring and old school and will not bring them new fans. And Goo-Choki-Paa’s “Crazy Coaster” song is just embarrassing. They performed these two songs at all three of their stages. Whenever TPD came on, there was zero excitement in the audience. Their management is clueless. TPD has a lot of cool songs, but they rarely perform them. Instead, they regurgitate the same bland songs which reinforces their boring image.

Before heading to Doll Factory for drop I detoured to the gacha machines to get a Harajuku Monogatari pin. Or so I thought!

It’s already random, do they really need to combine three unrelated groups in one machine? I felt compelled to keep at it until I got a Monoga pin, but it’s not like the group would benefit in any way from my spending. It’s annoying because I like every member of the group and would have been fine with anything. I wanted to leave what I got in the machine in the event a real fan could enjoy it… but then I wouldn’t be able to blog about it!

TIF ended on a high note with drop. This entire trip they did not disappoint. And I love their summer outfits. They are a huge improvement over the weirdness they’ve been wearing the past two years. The VV collaboration shirts were also amazing. Unfortunately the sizes were L to 3XL (Why?!)

 TIF Fun Police
One of the changes that carried over from last year was the security at TIF. There was a visible presence last year, but they didn’t impact the experience too much (at least not for me). This year the organizers really tried to crack down though. They were somewhat effective, but they also sucked the fun out of the event. Not all banned behaviors are the same. Watching SUPERGiRLS perform “Everybody Jump” and not being able to jump was ridiculous. 

TIF also really needs girl-only areas at every stage. It’s ironic that practically every group, even the really tame ones, have concerts with sections reserved for girls. With the obvious exceptions, most pop concerts don’t need them, but at TIF, where they would be vital for a girls enjoyment, they are nonexistent. Of course, they reserve disproportionately large areas for the one or two photographers that attend though.

The main stage was another example of one step forward, one step back. The stage was a huge improvement over the main stage they used previously, but they brought back the labyrinth of barriers. It felt like being cattle in a slaughterhouse. “In you go!” *closes the gate*

The Future
They announced the return of New Years Premium Party on January 2 and 3. Last year’s event was just alright, but I’m still interested. I really wanted this to be the last time I go to Japan though. This was definitely the last TIF I’ll attend.

On a positive note, who loves corn dogs?

And I just remembered Goo Choki Paa.

[Corn dogs reminded you of Goo Choki Paa?]

Yeah, they’re both stupid. But lovable.

And remembering Goo Choki Paa reminded me I was supposed to recap TPD’s event and one man. But my brain is fried from this recap. I really wanted to share this cute photo of Saki too.

The End

[Why did she draw a pineapple after Choki?]

I don’t think that is a pineapple. Speaking of pineapples, back in January I wondered if the PPAP gacha outside of Kokusai-Tenjijo station (the station closest to my hotel in Odaiba) would still exist when I returned in the summer.

And now I know.

 The End

Speaking of Saki, why does she only have 680 twitter followers? Actually, while that is weird, that isn’t what I wanted to point out. Look at the Goo Choki Paa shirt she wore at TIF:

It says “All the cool girls are lesbians.” I’m pretty sure that isn’t true. But Saki wouldn’t lie.

The End

Speaking of corn dogs, when I went to TPD’s event, it was the same day as an event Silent Siren was doing. It wasn’t a one-man, there were other bands, which is why I chose TPD’s event. While I was walking to TPD’s stage I looked across the bay and saw the venue where Silent Siren was performing. So close, yet so far.

The End

Why Japan is better than the rest of the world: Reason #143

I want those posters in my classroom!