Tag Archives: Party Rockets

SUPER GiRL Talk: Vol. 7

3 Mar

This week two things occurred in iDOL Street that were interesting enough for fans to start making crazy predictions and engage in completely unsubstantiated speculation and rumor mongering. [Umm, I’m pretty sure it’s just you making crazy predictions and causing trouble. Everyone else on the internet is completely normal. And I don’t know what rumor mongering means, but it sounds weird.] I don’t know what it means either, but I thought it would make me sound smart. [You thought using the word “mongering” would make you sound smart?]

Anyway, as I was saying, this week two things occurred in iDOL Street that were interesting enough for fans to start making crazy predictions and engage in completely unsubstantiated speculation and rumor mongering. First was the dismissal of Ayaka Kawai, a member of Street-sei‘s Nagoya team. This literally, figuratively, and literally came out of nowhere and is shocking because she was a front-runner for the fourth iDOL Street group. I had to punch someone in the face to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The second was a teaser video that aired at Gocchan’s graduation concert two days ago, which according to a fan who attended, seemed to imply that a new member will be joining SUPER☆GiRLS.

The current Street-sei front-runners
I previously ranked the ten members who I think are considered by the producers to be the most likely candidates (Reminder: these aren’t the members I necessarily like; they’re just the girls I think are on the fast track to make the group). [In other words, you don’t like some of them!] I removed #9 and 10 though, because I forgot why I included them. Hey, no one’s perfect. [Speaking of rankings, didn’t you previously lock Misa-misa for PASSPO?] You’re bringing that up again? Don’t forget that immediately after Koume graduated from Party Rockets I predicted that she would join SUPER☆GiRLS.* [No you didn’t! You predicted that she would join DLH or Street-sei and only later predicted she would join SUPER☆GiRLS.] My prediction was still accurate though and several months in advance. [You also predicted that Mano Erina would “reverse graduate.” That’s not even a real thing.] It is a real thing! It just hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, I also predicted Sara would join GEM, two months before she was even added as a candidate member. [Ok, you win! That was GEMazing!!!]

The current Street-sei front-runners

If my rankings are accurate, Ayaka was in a good position to make the group, or at least make the “starting lineup,” assuming they repeated what they did with GEM. (Before GEM officially debuted, they had 13 “starting” members competing for a spot. A few months later, three more Street-sei members joined the unofficial lineup, before the final lineup was chosen).

You may be thinking, “This is boring! Where are the CraAAaZYY predictions and rumor whatever-you-called-it?” Well, this is where it get’s interesting, because even though Ayaka Kawai was probably a front-runner for the group she is *wait for it* totally mediocre! She can’t sing, and is average in practically every idol category: looks, personality, and talent. I’m going to play devil’s advocate and argue that her being terminated is actually a GOOD THING for the fourth group! Why? Because a slot just opened up for someone that isn’t her!

The reason Ayaka was a front runner in the first place was because she was (1) popular with fans and (2) the second-longest tenured member of Street-sei [technically tied with Saku, who is the only other remaining 3rd gen member. Haachin (Hazuki) is 2nd gen and has been in the group the longest]. Popularity and tenure aren’t exactly logical reasons for anyone to be included in anything, but they were the type of reasons that could force the hand of the producers. Which meant there was already going to be at least one average member in the lineup. I have no idea why she was let go, but it certainly provided them a convenient way to resolve the dilemma of including her in the group. 

Most importantly, every single talented, yet unpopular Street-sei member instantly increased their odds at making the group. This includes members like Riko, Narumi, and Fuka. [AKA members you like!] Yeah, I like talented members. [Oh. Yeah, so do I. *grumble grumble*]

Baseless speculation on the new SUPER☆GiRLS member
Even though I haven’t watched the teaser video which evidently hints at a new member, I’m going to allow myself to speculate on Gocchan’s replacement. I mean, what else is there to write about? [The Chubbiness articles you were supposed to finish last month?] These are my candidates, which I admit are extremely unlikely, but what else is there to write about? [That research paper that’s due on March 9 that you haven’t started yet?] Oh yeah. I’ll start that once I finish the Chubbiness articles.
1. Saori
Two words: reverse-graduation!

2. Rihona
Two words: reverse-graduation! There have been a lot of graduations so far this year, but I’d rather remember this year as the year of the “reverse-graduation.” The potential for her to reverse-graduate is much higher than Saori’s, but obviously Saori would be a better fit for the group. [Umm, that was 49 words.]

3. Haachin
I’m going to include her in every prediction until she joins a group.

If any of them joined, my interest in SUPER☆GiRLS would be completely resuscitated. Is there some sort of idol god that I need to sacrifice a goat to in order to make this happen?

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28 Days Later: A Tokyo Idol Festival Retrospective

1 Sep

I’ll never stop writing about Tokyo Idol Festival. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

What else is there to write about? Reira’s 18th birthday? Reira’s Cardgravure Collection and 2013 calendar? Speculate about her limited-edition, SPC fan-club-member-only birthday merchandise?

Before I write about everything I just mentioned, the other day I realized I have over thirty unfinished blog entries that I never completed because I either lost interest or realized the topic was too weird or obscure even by my standards. About fifteen of them were about Misa-misa (jk).   I’m going to just stream-of-consciousness this final recap of  TIF and my Japan trip to prevent this from joining the unfinished articles in the PASSPOGASM graveyard.

Airport Talk™: Haneda vs Narita
For my first two trips to Japan I landed at Narita airport. It’s the primary international airport servicing the Tokyo area and for many visitors the only option. For my recent trip I was really particular about landing in Haneda though. The international terminal was constructed just last year, Haneda is located a little closer to Tokyo, and you can take a monorail into the city. For some reason I considered these things to be “super important” when planning my trip. After “experiencing” Haneda…  there is absolutely no reason to prefer it over Narita. The least expensive and most direct airfare you can find should determine which airport you choose.

The Tokyo monorail was simply the best monorail I’ve been on since the Disneyland Monorail and Springfield Monorail.

Once I got through customs, I converted my money to yen, bought a Suica card, and waited for the magical monorail. After riding the monorail, I’ve realized that they aren’t that cool. There’s a reason why so few of them exist in the world. I only spent about ten minutes at Haneda, so I felt pretty lame for being so picky about which airport to choose.

My Suica collection. Suica are refillable cards that allow you to travel on Japan Rail and subway lines without having to purchase individual route tickets. The card on the top is a “special edition” available only to foreigners arriving at Narita. The card on the bottom is also a “special edition”, but is less “special” since anyone can purchase one, but it’s only sold at Haneda airport.

I want to quickly mention that I don’t recommend the Suica + NEX package (available at Narita Airport). Most websites and blogs recommend it, but after using it for my first two trips, I think the cheapest train into Tokyo is the best option. There are only one or two NEX trains per hour, so if your flight lands and you miss the train, you may have to wait 45 minutes for the next to arrive. In which case, the only reason you chose NEX (the fastest train into Tokyo) no longer applies since you could have taken the slowest, most ghetto train (which are continually leaving Narita) and arrive in Tokyo at the same time, while saving on train-fare . In any case, this is a boring topic so moving on.

Day One
After leaving Haneda, I went to Harajuku intending to browse concert resale tickets since I was still considering a ticket to the Sunday morning SUPER☆GiRLS concert. This was my second time in Harajuku, but it’s completely different when you go in the early morning and there’s no one around. Gorakudoh was closed for another two hours so I just wandered around like a loser.

Harajuku Station at 8AM. The lady and the guy in this photo continued to walk toward each other until they collided *crash splash kerplunk kaboom*. They helped each other up and talked about how hot it was. The lady then asked if he wanted to go back to her place for lemonade. Luc-key!

Went to the AKB Store

This is where idol dreams go to die.

AKB Store stats:
Time Spent in the store:  zero minutes
Money spent in the store: zero yen
Posters that need to be rehung: Tomochin and Yukirin. Acchan poster is like, “Will someone please fix these posters. It’s making me look bad.”

Staff #1: The Tomochin poster fell again. Staff #2: I’m not fixing it. Those posters are haunted.

Walked down a side-street

This is where idol dreams are born.

Gelato and Volcom is the best combination since that old lady at Harajuku Station and lemonade.

TIF venues being constructed

Worker #1: Do you think we’ll finish Secret Court in time? Worker #2: Probably not. And don’t talk about Secret Court.

Once Gorakudoh opened I checked their S☆G tickets, but the selection for Sunday morning was pretty limited.  In retrospect I should have bought the 5,000 yen ticket they had which was ticket number 400. I really need to invest in a time machine. Or just stop making horrible decisions.

Pre-Diary™
If I was to add up all the times I’ve seen predia, including concerts, events, stalking them, and TIF the total would be…

If that doesn’t make sense the answer is nine. I’ve seen them nine times. I feel so cool, even though no one cares about this.

I may have gone SUPER☆GiRLS crazy, but I’m still a huge predia fan. Although I’m a little confused at what’s going on with the group. When I saw palet perform I immediately noticed that all the girls had hand mics. I started trembling like a baby duck-billed platypus because of the implications. I’m pretty sure they used to do the weird PASSPO thing where the “good” singers get hand mics and the rest get head mics (that are actually just props). Was it possible that PASSPO and predia had finally realized how weird and old-fashioned it was that not all the members had real mics? Unfortunately it would turn out that PASSPO and predia not only still do the weird mic thing, but the mic situation for predia actually got worse. When the group first debuted Rumina and Akane got hand mics, and three other girls, usually Runa, Mai, and Keiko also got mics, and then a few others like Reiko, Terumi, and Megu got head mics. A while back Terrizle, Runa, and Keiko got promoted to full-time real-mic status, while a few others still had the head mics. I’m not sure what happened, but the head mics are gone… and everyone except Akane, Rumina, Terumi, Runa, and Keiko are relegated to background dancer status. Did Reiko lose her mic? And if so, couldn’t she borrow (or steal) Mako-tee’s? It’s so weird that only five of the girls sing now. Reiko has a really cute “Acchan” voice, so it’s not like there isn’t a huge market of fans that would appreciate her singing. 

Yui recently left the group, leaving twelve members, which is the number the group is supposed to have based on their tagline. I’m not sure if Marina is still in the group though. She wasn’t at TIF or Lumines, and I she hasn’t been at any of the live-streamed concerts I’ve watched this year. Just another weird thing about my second favorite group. There can’t be many groups that exist where hardcore fans don’t even know if one of the girls is still a member.

And it’s been six months since they released anything. That’s an eternity in idol years. I suspect all of Platinum’s resources not focused on PASSPO are being used on palet, at predia’s expense.

Let’s pretend Marina took this photo. Source: Reiko’s blog

I’m also still annoyed predia wasn’t at the Main Stage. Some of the acts chosen for the stage were really suspect. I’m not going to name names, but Bump.y? Reall.y? Predia’s popularity has increased though. I was re-watching predia’s performance from last year’s TIF and Doll Factory was mostly empty. I saw them at the same stage this  year and they had a great turnout. There were actual humans everywhere. They even commented on the number of fans in attendance during the MC:
Runa: Look at all the humans!
Reiko: It’s so much nicer than performing in front of the staff.
Megumi: And cardboard cutouts.
Akane: And the robots.

Doll Factory 2012:  I was at the front row on the right hand side, and I noticed that the room was pretty much packed. By my calculations it was 90% full.

Doll Factory 2011: It’s hard to tell by this angle, but based on the video of their performance the audience was only 3-4 people deep, meaning the venue was probably only 25% full last year.

Before predia’s day one performance at Sky Stage, Ami Kikuchi from Idoling had MC’d the previous block of performances. I got to the stage late, but just in time to see Amimi as she was finishing up her hosting duties. She is so gorgeous and I’m glad that she is starting to get serious recognition as a “talent”.

During her MC she wore this dress. Source: Ami’s blog

Later that day I saw Amimi again as she was hosting TIF TV.

This photo is also from her blog. But when I saw her in the studio it was during a commercial break because she was just staring blankly at the camera. I guess she was instructed not to acknowledge the audience during these breaks because she didn’t smile, talk, or look at the fans. A total pro.

Because of scheduling conflicts I was never able to catch an Idoling performance, but I did randomly see Mai on the rooftop on Day One and some of the Idoling member’s who participated in the encore show with Fudanjuku and YGA. That’s pretty bad for someone who claims to be an Idoling fan.

Going back to palet for a second, I was shocked how many fans were wearing palet shirts. I saw them everywhere.

TIF Time Machine
If I could go back in time I would watch Idoling, CQC’s, B♭, Station, SCOOP, Dorothy Little Happy, Apple Tale, Tokyo Girl’s Style, and E-Girls. I would also watch Party Rockets and AeLL a second time. Ai Shinozaki is amazing and doesn’t get enough credit for being a great vocalist. I still don’t get why she chose a group like AeLL, considering her popularity and voice. Nothing against the other members, who are also all good singers, but I think the AeLL concept has somewhat limited appeal.

Afilia Saga East and Fudanjuku were the two groups that I have wanted to see the most since last year. I was finally able to check them both off my Idol Bucket List. The first time I saw Fudanjuku was at Sky Stage and after only performing three songs Urumasa said, “Don’t worry, come to our main stage performance!”. But they only performed five or six songs at the Main Stage. Since Momotaro was absent, my new favorite is Aiba. She really looks like Aya Ueto to me and is a great performer. Uramasa is just freakin awesome. So much energy. Perhaps too much energy.

If you look closely there are idols in this photo

I don’t feel like drawing arrows and circling them, but members of BiS are waiting at the crosswalk.

Technically I saw SKE48

While I was stuck in the elevator queue SKE was performing at Smile Garden. I heard a solitary wota in the distance yell “Juriiiiina”. Terrifying.

Party Rockets and a PASSPO obituary

Party Rockets are my pick for Best Newcomer at TIF. My copy of their debut single arrived last week (yeah I’m cheap and bought the cd-only version). The first press photo wasn’t Yuuka or Koume, so let’s never speak of it again. The ironic thing about their single is the release date was the same as PASSPO’s Natsuzora HANABI – which I didn’t purchase *shock*. I’ve pre-ordered every PASSPO release since Hallelujah back in July 2010 (I have all their indies and all the first presses of their major label releases). But after two years of fandom, it’s finally over. It’s your classic idol group breakup. And it’s not me… it’s them.

Jk, it’s not them. I think two years is actually a normal lifespan for a fandom.  Like clockwork, once it gets beyond the second year it becomes a struggle to maintain interest in a group. It happened with Hello Project, AKB48,EXILE, Idoling, and inevitably it will happen with predia and SUPER☆GiRLS (Liar! SUPER☆GiRLS forever!!).

It’s like that one former Morning Musume fan once said, “Enjoy it while it lasts. Just try not to end up with a giant box full of crap when it’s all over.”

Tokyo Idol Festival 2012 Mini Recap

5 Aug

I don’t know how to begin writing about Tokyo Idol Festival. It was a level of amazing way beyond my expectations. Heading up to TIF, my main concern was the weather since everyday that week the forecast had thunderstorms at fifty percent chance for that weekend. But outside of one minute of extremely light rain, the weather was great. Well it was hot as hell, but it was as good as it possibly could have been. The best concert venues were the outdoor stages (Sky Stage – the absolute best venue in my opinion, followed by Secret Court – please don’t talk about Secret Court), so rain would have been disastrous. Everyone involved with TIF really lucked out as far as weather goes, particularly since it rained this morning.

I’m having trouble syncing my iphone photos with my macbook so I’ll upload the few photos I took when I get back to Los Angeles. I really only took a few though.

I ended up following my schedule pretty closely, although on Day 2 there were last-minute changes that were kind of unfortunate, but for the most part TIF was organized extremely well and practically all of the groups did a great job sticking to the timetable. It was just during the last few hours of Day 2 that things kind of started falling apart. For the timetable to have held up until that point is really impressive though. If weather had been bad, I can totally imagine it would have been chaotic.

Here is the complete listing of the groups I saw:

Day One
Up Up Girls, Love La Doll, palet, Link, Cheeky Parade (Doll Factory)
predia (Sky Stage)
lyrical school (Secret Court)
Party Rockets (Secret Court)
AeLL (Secret Court)
Fudanjuku (Sky Stage)
Idol Street Osaka (Secret Court)
BiS (Secret Court)
EbiChu (Smile Garden)
Risa Yoshiki (Smile Garden)
PASSPO☆ (Smile Garden)
Dempagumi Inc. (Main Stage)
Fudanjuku (Main Stage)

Day Two
Afilia Saga East (Main Stage)
YGA (Main Stage)
Tomato n’ Pine (Main Stage)
SUPER☆GiRLS (Main Stage)
KNU (Doll Factory)
predia (Doll Factory)
You Kikkawa (Main Stage)
PASSPO☆ (Main Stage)
Idol College (Sky Stage)
Osaka Gangs (Sky Stage)
Tokyo Cheer Cheer Party (Sky Stage)
PASSPO (Sky Stage)
predia (Sky Stage)
Encore show with Idoling, Fudanjuku, YGA, the Possible, and Vanilla Beans (Smile Garden)

I’ll try to write a recap all the performances next weekend, although I should probably do it sooner before it all becomes a blur.  Party Rockets was definitely my favorite indie group. They’re an upstart group from Sendai that are considered  Cheeky Parade’s rivals (similar ages, fashion, and focus on high energy), but their music is on the harder side of rock. After seeing them on Day 1 I tried to alter my schedule on Day 2 to include their night performance, but evidently there was some trouble at the stage they were scheduled at (the TIF website said the venue had to be shut down temporarily due to fans acting out of control). I’m not sure it was related to Party Rockets though, because the Party Rocket blog indicated their night show was a success. I must have just missed them because I was at the correct stage at their scheduled time but a different group was performing. I also really liked Idol College and lyrical school. I wanted to check out Station, but with their schedule it was impossible. They were constantly walking around the TIF grounds though.

My favorite concerts were PASSPO and predia’s back-to-back show at Sky Stage on Day 2. Sky Stage is the cool venue that is located on the roof of the Fuji TV gulf studio. When I arrived PASSPO was scheduled to perform twenty minutes later, followed by predia. Something must have happened to the schedule though because everything at the venue was running over an hour behind.  So when PASSPO arrived, the sun had already set, making for a really awesome backdrop with the night sky and Tokyo Harbor. The weather was perfect and it was amazing being so close to the group on such an interesting and unique stage. Highlights were an acoustic version of Shojo Hiko and Anna joining the group during the performance of their last song, Bathtub. This was the only song she was able to perform during TIF because of her injury. After their performance Anna broke down and cried as she talked about how difficult it has been to deal with the injury and the regret of missing out on the TIF experience. It was really emotional, which then resulted in Mio crying as well.

Predia then took the stage and performed four songs, including “You Slipped Away”, which is their newest song. I’m not sure if this was the song’s debut, but probably not since some fans already knew the choreography. Out of all the recent new predia songs, this was my favorite and the choreography was really fun (although I’m a total moron at picking up choreography on the fly, it took me the entire song to figure out the moves. I literally need to watch a song performed like ten times before I start to figure out what to do, meanwhile I looked like a guy who randomly stumbled across predia for the first time ever). For the PASSPO portion I was in the second row and for predia I was at the very front row. It blows my mind how easy it was to get super close to the stage at most concerts at TIF. And at Sky Stage, unlike the Main Stage, there was only a minimal gap between the audience and stage, so I was literally less than a meter from them.

I still have one final concert tonight: a three-man live with predia, Afilia Saga East, and YGA. Afilia Saga East was amazing when I saw them at the Main Stage, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.