After a good half a year on unplanned hiatus, I have returned. I did try to review Babymetal's London show in July, but I think I wrote about seven words, of which three were "fuck", so I gave up.
I'm also going mildly Bal-Sagoth in the title there, partly to contrast it with my earlier travels to Japan in the year, and partly because I'm just being Krv.
Due to having to read through an eternity of nearly useless information in my previous round of posting, this time around, I'm going to do something different. This post (and another one, possibly) will be structured like a travelogue, as has been my wont. I'll also be focusing on a specific idol, or group, and write them up individually. Despite that, if you read the travelogues still expect huge wordcounts. This post is nearly 10000.
Even so, this should result in more posts and slightly less wordcount. Because word count seems to put people off. Also it might end up slightly like a Pure Idol Heart thing than a proper travelogue. Though probably being a bit more weird, impaled by inappropriate humour and longwinded rambling that usually goes nowhere but will at some point end up at some kind of point which will usually be completely unthought of beforehand, meandering along until a thoughtless full stop intrudes.
So, what the fuck am I on about?
Well, I went back to Japan. After my last trip, which ended on a high of having seen 5 very interesting (in different ways) underground idol groups in my second to last day, I decided to start of my next trip in exactly the same way, in exactly the same place.
But first I'll go to the beginning because nothing much happened, for a change.
Sunday 26th October
I arrived on Sunday. I bumped into oroboras in the hallway of the apartment building, because he was staying at the same place and the same time as I (though his trip extended beyond mine both forwards and backwards, the git) and he was off on his way to Sendai to have a two-second interaction with a Hello! Project girl or something. I then spent most of the day getting bored. Jul had told me he was in Odawara for an idol festival, but I wasn't really up for a shinkansen on my first day. I went to Ueno to trade my JRP order for an actual pass. I spent extra on a green one. Really wasn't worth it. Green cars suck ass.
Afterwards I headed to Ikebukuro to meet up with Dean to hand over a special package. Due to him being late (as ever), I spent a lot of time wondering why lots of cute girls were going around covered in blood, before I realised Halloween is quite an interesting thing in Japan. Also saw a schoolgirl wearing tartan shorts instead of a skirt. Could Japan finally be entering the 1970s in gender equality? Probably not.
After this Dean finally turned up and we went to Sunshine to find some Hawaiian burger chain (sensing a continuation from last time's "Dean drags me to every burger place in Japan"? Don't worry, it ends here). Then we went and sat outside a Love Hotel so Dean could comment on random shit and drink something. After leaving Dean behind I headed back to the apartment and orob was due back from Sendai, so when he returned we went shopping for papercups, whisky and coke. Then we went on a stroll around Yanaka. Whilst drinking out of the papercups, of course.
Helpfully drunk, we sat on a sofa talking shit until about 3am. Then slept.
Monday 27th October
Monday morning dawned and Twitter stunned me with the news of an Alice Project "satsueikai" (lit: photoshoot event). After realising I really wanted to go, I then realised due to being slow on the uptake I'd have to ring them. My motivation declined tenfold. Instead I headed out to Ueno with the merry band of reprobates (read: Hello!Project wota) who resided upstairs from me: oroboras, Firren (first time I'd seen him since the Sweden trip in 2009. His Momo love has been replaced with Daaishi love), sferris and turbos86. We used Ueno wisely to book some Shinkansen tickets, me to Nagoya, them to Mars and back seemingly (actually it was Tokyo > Fukuoka > Yamaguchi > Hiroshima > Tokyo, but Mars would probably be quicker). Then we headed out of the station and towards some random shop which sold Funasshi goods. Why, I don't know, but it seemed to amuse sferris and turbos a bit. Meanwhile, orob, Firren and I hung back and looked at pretty much everything else in the shop.
After this we headed out into the deepest parts of the urban jungle to find a type of restaurant that served Aburasoba. Having found it, we went in and ate it, then separated. Firren, turbos and sferris had gone to have a two second interaction with Kikkawa Yuu, and orob and I headed out to do some fun things in Akiba. Having got a bit lost on the way, we found ourselves in the right place, and we headed to Shosen for photobooks. Despite not buying anything, I found some things I wanted. Then we headed for the same small camera shop I'd found the Mamiya in last time. Shockingly they still had it, and it was now only 23k. I wanted it. I really wanted it. I forgot about it.
Slightly bored, we jumped on the Chuo line and went to find some music shops. Orob couldn't remember whether they were at Ochanomizu or Suidobashi, so we got off at Suidobashi. Then we walked down to Jinboucho and ended up in another Shosen, where I found some more stuff I wanted. Then we headed back up to Ochanomizu and found some guitar shops. I wanted to play some 8-strings I found, but looked at my phone and panicked. The time was drawing near. I had plans. That night there was an event at Birth Shinjuku, where I had basically ended my previous trip (well, I had a Robin event and a PARMS show afterwards, but one was shit and the other a bit weird, so I count Birth as my last true event). Some of the groups from the previous time had also turned up who deserve a post of their own, which will follow later. There were also a bunch of other idols I'll talk about who turned up who don't get a post of their own but were cool enough. I dragged orob along with me, then met Jul, and orob then decided (stupidly, in my view) to go to PARMS instead of experiencing the craziness.
I was wearing the Lolisyn tshirt I'd bought last time, which resulted in one of the Lolisyn wota approaching me and being surprised that a gaijin was in their midst. I spoke to him for a while, explaining the guy who I'd spoken to before the show in March, but the guy (who's name is Reiji) had no recollection of him. I said it was a guy in a hat, but the guy Reiji pointed out definitely wasn't him.
The event in question was the birthday live for a girl named Eren, who is a socially-aware solo idol. Reiji said he'd introduce me. Awkward at the best of times, I went in, and she tried to speak to me in English. Me being me, I had no idea how to act and she was just being as awkward back. Weirdest idol meeting ever. I escaped into the venue.
There were a fuckton of groups and solo idols this time, some of whom I really can't remember. Quite a lot of them were doing Halloween cosplay as it was their last event before Halloween, whilst others weren't. Reiji said if I liked metal (I'd wasted no time and already showed him the Moametal is More Metal Than Corpsegrinder video) then I'd probably like a group called "Kimi to Boku, Tokidoki Melancholic". The name alone made me quite interested.
First up was a soloist called Terashima Akari, apparently from Not K. She sang a few covers (including AKB's Maria) and then disappeared. Nothing much to mention.
Next was Pink Mammoth, who I honestly cannot remember anything about.
After that was Kimiboku, who were actually quite interesting. Reiji had described them as Symphonic Metal, but I'd lean more towards more being like Bellring Shoujo Heart with heavier guitars. They have the same kind of circus-like weirdness going on anyway. Being Halloween they had come out covered in blood and wearing cosplay. The one that caught my attention was wearing a schoolgirl outfit. Her name was Misaki and her nickname was Minmin. How weird. They impressed me with their bizarre songs and bizarre dances, then buggered off. Their fans also wore quite weird costumes. The pick of the lot was this:
Maerchen Tea Party
After this began two groups of flirts. London Blue usually perform in Union Jack attire, but due to Halloween was dressed slightly more interesting. Another Misaki, again my pick of the lot, was wearing a bloody Little Red Riding Hood costume. She basically danced whilst enthralling the crowd by looking at them and winking, smiling, and basically flirting without talking to them. The music of London Blue is quite rock, in the traditional sense. Jul was also quite taken by Misaki.
buttёrfly.net were next, and again, were a bunch of flirts. I can't remember much of their music, but one had glasses, one looked like AKB's Kojiharu, and they were all winking and flirting and such.
AmiE are heavy trance. For the night's performance they went barefoot and were pretty good at getting the crowd going, which generally enthused me despite the genre being a bit far from what I usually enjoy.
Following on was Hino Arisa. I can't even remember her.
Hoshina Fumimi was incredibly cute. She's also a complete chuunibyou. Her introduction says she's a Magical Vampire Girl, if that gives any indication. Music wise, I can't remember.
Next up was Kumada Kanae. She actually came close to getting her own post. She is a 139cm tall 18 year old who spends her entire MCs dissing the audience. During this particular concert, she only played one song. A cover of Buono's Hatsukoi Cider. But that's not all. She didn't just play it once. She played it five times. Every repetition got quicker. The crowd took to kecha-ing random people (one of Kimiboku's fans was dressed as a chicken, for example) and objects (a table) because they "couldn't see her". Kumada got pissed off and jumped the railings, kicked out some wota's legs from under them and then stood on top of them so people could see to kecha her. By the end the wotagei had reached ludicrous speeds and the crowd were fucking knackered. Satisfied, she fucked off.
Petit Pas announced before the show that it would be a solo live, as the non-blonde one was ill and unable to attend. The blonde one did her best under the circumstances.
2& was next, and I was looking forward to it. Saki had impressed me last time, and if I hadn't been chatting to Next Shoujo Jiken's Mai and Nono for half an hour would probably have spoken to her as well. But oh well. As ever, her performance skills were stupid good, bucking the trend by singing Katame no Liliy to start off (a song in which she barely moves). She shouts without a mic sometimes and still overpowers the wota. Jul was unenthused, but as a performer Saki really does intrigue me. I saw a comment on Reddit once about 2& being performance art. That pretty much sums it up. She did another few amazing songs (Real and Mirai wo, I think it was), showing off how good a dancer she is. The sets for the headliners were a bit too short.
Lolisyn were next, and once again they powered through their set, disturbingly not playing Kyoaku naru Croissant. Still had fun in the moshpit though. Kecha-ing Hiro is also fun. In opposition to Kumada (who often moans about kecha, saying that there are so many hands it's disgusting), Hiro doesn't flinch, doesn't look away from a fixed spot on the back wall, and sings. After getting crushed and crushing a few people, and pretty much ignoring Halu (what can I do?), it came time for them to depart. But they didn't.
And out came Eren.
Eren is basically the epitome of idol rejects. She was rejected from about twenty or thirty idol groups, including Lolisyn (even attending the same audition as Hiro) because her voice was too "unique". Eventually she thought "fuck this" and started doing her own solo stuff. Even now she works as staff when she's not on stage, organising chekis and shit for groups when their management aren't around (mostly Lolisyn, who basically do buppan by themselves). To have Eren on stage with Lolisyn, and singing a Lolisyn song... I'm not sure whose idea it was but it worked.
Lolisyn then departed, and Eren started doing her own socially-aware brand of mildly unstable idolness. It's practically impossible to get unless you're pretty good at Japanese, but her lyrics and MCs are hilarious. Shakou Jirei (lip service) is particularly scathing. The music itself doesn't really have anything tying it together. Goes from the minimalist Taichou Furyou (poor health) to the heavy as fuck Napoleon Bonaparte, grindcore in Kokoro no Koe, Soushite Mochitarita Jikan, Arui ha Kakegae no nai mono to the upbeat pop-rock Karashi Mentaiko. But somehow it works. And that was the show over.
I hung around for the buppan, where I had fun telling Jul that Lolisyn would stand on you. Eager to try, he said he'd give it a go. Meanwhile I had a boring cheki with Hiro.
We had a brief conversation. She remembered me from March, but couldn't remember when. I told her when it was but she couldn't hear me. Then I couldn't hear her. Then she was like, "oh, you can't speak Japanese? I'll try English..." then did some really terrible attempt at English, then I was like, "it's not that I can't understand you, I can't hear you!" which she also didn't hear. So I basically shouted "Your voice is too quiet!" She looked shocked, shouted back "my voice is too quiet!?" and then mumbled that I got pissed off at her. Was quite amusing to all the other wota around. Either way, we parted amicably in a fit of lulz.
I then decided to go stand in 2&'s line, but was confused by it slightly. Had to go up to her, buy a cheki, then queue up again to take the cheki when no one was trying to buy one. Was slightly weird, but seemingly a lot of groups use that method. Whilst I was queuing up for the cheki Jul had somehow got down on all fours and indicated for Hiro to stand on top of him. It took some balancing but it resulted in an amusing cheki and Hiro falling over.
As I got to Saki, she was stupid cute. Asked what pose I wanted to do. I decided to randomly do a move from one of her dances.
Spoke to Saki for a bit, then walked around the place a bit wondering whether to do any more chekis, decided not to after not being able to find London Blue or Kimiboku, and then departed. Jul hadn't brought much money, so we wandered around looking for a 7Eleven so he could draw out some money, then after he had we decided to go home as we'd been wandering around for bloody ages. Thus ends Monday.
Tuesday 28th October
In the afternoon Saki had announced a double header satsueikai on the Saturday and Sunday. Having planned Idol Koushien for the Saturday and nothing much except 9nine events on the Sunday, I decided to hell with 9nine and booked myself in the earliest possible one on Sunday. I quickly received a reply email telling me it would be at Sendagaya station, and to be there 5 minutes early. I had no fucking clue where Sendagaya was, so I was headed in that direction before I knew it. I arrived and started scouting out the location.
The front of the station looked far too sporty, with the national gymnasium, an olympic swimming venue and the National Olympic Stadium all next to each other. However, around the back of the stadium I found Shinjuku Gyouen Park. I tried to get in, however a security guard waved, blew his whistle and held his arms up in an X. I guess I wasn't welcome. I carried on wandering around, before getting bored and walking back to the station. Then I decided trains were boring so I followed the train line along to the next stop, which was called something rather weird. Then I hopped on and headed back to Suidobashi so I could get some photobooks.
Considerably lighter in wallet (16500 yen or thereabouts...) I headed back to Nippori. Once in Nippori however I decided I couldn't be fucked to sleep, so orob and I repeated Sunday night, only this time I took a proper camera and a tripod.
After taking pictures, nearly breaking some bottles with my tripod in a supermarket, getting a McDonalds and having a bunch of hookers try to accost us, we made it home safely.
Wednesday 29th October
It was my birthday. Usually my birthday sucks, so I was hoping to make an exception this time, even being in Japan for it. I had plans to meet up with Dean and from there who knew what would happen. We met at Akiba (as usual) and then met up with Miles as well. Since last time, Miles (who refused to do a high-touch with Hiroro from 9nine because he was "too cool for that") has become a full-on Alice Project wota. Well done Dean.
We ended up somehow at a samurai shop, where Miles nerded out and asked the shop people who all the armour belonged to. Some of it was real armour people had actually wore. Some of it was reproduction. Some of it was fantasy based on what they assumed some armour might have looked like. Was interesting but a weird diversion. We had been on our way to find Slime Girls' little mini live, but then we decided not to bother. Before long we had arrived at Akiba Drug and Café, the place where until recently Alice Project had been performing. Miles and Dean asked to see Himari, who they knew from PARMS, and who had just started working at Akidora or something. She came over and asked if we were coming in, but Dean and Miles didn't want to at that point. So we carried on walking around Akiba looking at utterly random shit. Miles wanted some sunglasses, so he convinced a poor cosplaying glasses store clerk to let him try them on, and then decided they didn't suit him (or he'd have to shave his fringe). We also tried a gaming shop, and tried figuring out how to play Watch Dogs in Japanese without a controller. We couldn't. We also hit Donki to grab some King Blades and some alcohol. Then we sat in a park and drank our ill gotten gains and talked about Alice and how 893 it was.
After a while of some more random wandering, we ended up back in Akidora. Alice Project have stopped performing there, due to some bad blood between the two sets of management or something. Miles seemed quite into a girl there called Saki, my eye was caught by a girl dressed almost like something from Rozen Maiden, called Ritsuka. A girl called Yun did most of our orders and stuff, Himari popped out from time to time, and a random live broke out whilst we were eating. So we left halfway through it. PARMS beckoned.
We popped into Lawson first though because Miles and Dean thought they weren't drunk enough. Miles shotgunned a Bacardi, Dean failed to shotgun a beer. Now slightly more drunk, we hit PARMS.
The Akina lookalike is still at Pasela, and Miles and Dean had got to know her quite well. We got our tickets and headed to the wrong floor to stop walking up all the stairs, and then came out after the queue had walked up the stairs past us. By this point we had been joined by Jul and oroboras, so we went into PARMS fully stocked and ready for action. We also met up with jakkuraba, an SKE wota who Jul had somehow dragged to PARMS and got him hooked the previous day.
It was to be a Kamen Joshi day, meaning mostly Kamen Joshi songs with like one or two Alice Juuban, Steam Girls and Armour Girls songs. With Dean having attended about 60 PARMS events since I'd first dragged him along in March, he was now a veteran and part of the in-crowd, well used to navigating the dizzying clusterfuck of organisation the Alice wota do between sets. I stood with Dean for Pa-ken, because I knew who none of them were. Oz were just Oz. Kamen Joshi were good, but Dean told me Nanaka's colour was yellow and I had no idea where to stand. Turns out she's actually white. So much for his vaunted knowledge.
Koyanagi Tomoe is still on her eternal vacation from PARMS, along with Araya Satsuki and Hayase Amu. Karen died. Ayaka's been promoted to Steam Girls. Miu disappeared from Armour Girls (she announced her graduation after I came back). Quite a lot has changed. Rather than 1000 yen for normal chekis and 2000 yen for wides, it's 4 preorders for the new single (2000 yen) for a normal and 6 (3000 yen) for a wide. Also the clerks from Tower Records take the money, instead of the 893 guy in front of the stage. I think I preferred it the old way. They've also randomly started doing shots parties whenever someone buys something. Never figured out what it was. But Matsugami Yuko starts humping an inflatable whale/tuna so it's all good.
Dean has changed allegiance to Armour Girls member Moa since I was last in Japan. I feel sorry for Ayaka, even if she is cold most of the time. Miles is a Miu oshi, which sucks too now she's quit. orob was quite into Mori Kanon, and Jul is (and always has been) Amaki Jun all the way. Jack was into Oz's Mai. With such relatively (compared to me) normal wota, I decided to revel in DDness. As usual.
The live went by in a blur (it was a weeknight), and so we came to the buppan helpfully still mostly sober, with the exception of Miles, whose torpedo had resulted in him being quite far gone to the realm where only monks and drunks live. I ended up getting two wide chekis (because wide chekis always so much uglier). One of Nanaka, who couldn't remember me, and one with Ayaka, because she looked lonely. As usual.
Really, wide chekis aren't flattering to fans or idols.
PARMS over, we went and sat outside for a while. Jack disappeared. Dean introduced me to Tomoe's Top Wota, who added me on twitter and said he'd let me know when she was next performing as she only tended to announce it really late. After quickly going around the corner and hitting up the 7Eleven for even more drinks, and Miles yelling "fuck da police!" whilst sticking his middle finger up at a cop car and not getting arrested, we ended up back at PARMS where we sat drinking, and Miles and Dean did the rounds of the different groups of wota, talking to them and generally being merry (read: drunk).
After this we decided to go searching for food. We crossed the road and bumped into Himari, who had just finished work. Miles decided we needed a 6th Musketeer and so accosted her by the pigtails and used them as handlebars to steer her. No, I'm not sure either. Either way, restored to a group of six we hit Cocos Curry House. Dean and Himari ran up the stairs, for some reason, leaving them both knackered by the top, and Miles by this stage, having shotgunned his drink from 7Eleven too, could barely string three words together. orob and Jul barely seemed to know what was going on.
An interesting conversation with Himari (she used to be an idol in Nagoya) and dinner later, where Miles had managed to spill toothpicks and water everywhere, we left before Miles could do anything more bizarre. Outside we met with roadrage. There were no cars in about 400m in either direction. Being 5/6 British, we crossed. The one lorry that was on the road with us accelerated to about 100mph in order to try to run us over. How rude. Missed Miles and I by about 3ft. Oh well.
Mildly lighter in bladder, we made our ways home.
Thursday 30th October
My plan for the following two days was fully Nagoya. Both Lolisyn and 2& were playing at some place called the BL Café, which is somewhere close to where Henkka lives. So my plan was to come to Nagoya on thursday, get drunk with Henkka and do stupid shit, then sleep in a capsule hotel, then get up and do the event the following day, then catch the train home. Best laid plans and all that.
Having booked my ticket to Nagoya on Monday, I was stuck catching the 10:03 Hikari (again). It was a green carriage seat. I received an email from Henkka saying he wouldn't be able to get to Nagoya until about 2pm so to occupy myself in the meantime.
Having arrived at Tokyo station just on time, still mildly suffering the exploits of the previous night, I got onto the correct green carriage only to find my seat was occupied, as were all three around it. Mildly confused, I asked the elderly gents who were sitting there if it was the right carriage. One of them (who was sat in my seat) stood up, bowed, and asked if there were any way I might allow them the use of the seat in order to sit together. Tired and bewildered, I just sat elsewhere.
At Shinagawa, the very next station, someone rudely informed me I was in their seat. I moved. The old bloke once again stood up and bowed his apologies. The green coach is supposedly luxurious. It's not really. The armrests are wider. The legroom is slightly bigger (not that it's particularly cramped on normal carriages) and the seats are green. Some attendant comes and gives you a hot towel. That's the only difference. I avoided having to move again, and then at Shizuoka (the stop before Nagoya) the old gits got off, so I returned to my rightful seat.
After arriving at Nagoya, I contemplated spending the two hours of waiting for Henkka productively, by going to Gifu or somewhere else in Chubu that I wouldn't usually. Having walked past all the JR lines I decided I couldn't be bothered and wandered around Nagoya station for a while. Then I got bored and started stealing JR's always helpful free wifi. Then I went to Saizeriya because I got hungry. Then I stole some more Wifi. Then Henkka turned up.
Sporting a beard as immaculate as ever, and still no hair, we set out on a random trip to find a guitar shop. Why? To annoy clerks and play guitars, of course. Eventually we found one, Henkka's sense of direction once again depending solely on Google Maps and not his eyes.
Whilst on the way we spotted a bizarre silver balloon of death:
Apparently it's Nagoya's Science Museum or something.
Despite having lived in Nagoya for about a year now, Henkka didn't have a clue what it was. We moved on. Eventually we found a seemingly abandoned building which Google Maps had indicated was the guitar shop. We searched through it, found a map, and it pointed the way to the toilets. Which, helpfully, were outside. How bizarre. Eventually we found a lift which took us to the guitar shop. And it was glorious.
There were some crazy assed guitars there, from the 50s and worth over a million yen. Henkka found a guitar that fulfilled all of his worldly desires, and wondered how long it'd take him to earn enough money to buy it. The model in question was this sexy bitch. It was half a million yen.
After realising it wouldn't be anytime soon, we decided to jam out on a cheaper model that was the only PRS around that had a Floyd Rose bridge and cost less than 100k. For those not in the know about guitars, the bridge is where the strings go through the body. Floyd Rose bridges hold them at a specific tension that makes going out of tune almost impossible, which is tantamount if you ever pull any string bends or hit the whammy bar. On the other hand it took the poor store clerk about ten minutes to tune it, because all the tensions are linked thus if you change one it affects them all.
Nonetheless, in tune and plugged in with some nice Mesa Boogie amplification, we set about rocking out.
To Opeth, of course.
To those who have never tried jamming a 13 minute long progressive death metal epic in a guitar shop, I don't blame you. The clerk was pretty happy when we left. Henkka might rediscover his guitarist yet.
Helpfully played out, we headed back to Nagoya station for karaoke. We hit the same box as last time (though slightly down the corridor from the "cock" sign. We managed to get free time again, and some free drinks after 7pm. Henkka was pleased. Once again we set about buying a bottle of iichiko and demolishing it with free soft drinks whilst singing ridiculous songs on the karaoke.
A particularly brutal and demanding choice I made was to sing Otona no Omocha, an UtsuP Vocaloid creation. I spared no thought for my throat and did all of it. Growling, screaming, and falsetto singing for the chorus. I probably shouldn't have. We also hit the usual progressive stuff (Pink Floyd, Rush), The Beatles (of course), Henkka tried some Lamp, we both ended up doing some Babymetal, and I did Natsu Da Ne out of sheer nostalgia. We did Opeth's Deliverance now that Henkka can do death metal vocals. We also discussed the new circumstances of Momusu, and in particular the 12th gen. I'm quite enthused by fuckface (Ogata. Come on, with those faces she pulls it suits her). Haga Akane also left with a new nickname: Hagane. With me and Henkka in attendance it was only a matter of time. Hagane means "steel". Someone needs to be metal as fuck.
Kickout time reached and us helpfully drunk, we left. In a fit of nostalgia I dragged Henkka to the same izakaya as last time. He couldn't remember where it was but luckily my sense of direction is strong. Slightly more sober this time, we went in. There was no one there. No train workers. How disturbing. Bored shitless by it being just us two and the okamisan, who seemed to remember us somewhat and thus spent her time reading, we had a drink and some karaage each, then fucked off. 900 yen each for drink and karaage is disturbing. About 300 yen was a charge for "sitting down" though. Brutal.
It wasn't even 9pm, so Henkka dragged me to Imaike, where the venue for the next day's event was, and then told me he'd found some classy drinking establishments thereabouts. The first one he dragged me to was called Carrera (actually closer to Ikeshita station), and was a cosy little bar with low lighting and a quiet mood. The master (Japanese for bar-owner... don't ask) looked like Hyadain, and we quickly set about ordering some interesting drinks. The master was incredibly good, testing every drink with a spoon before he served it just to make sure it was perfect. The ice was in massive blocks which he shaved prior to every drink. He crafted some amazing concoctions with whisky, some caramel liquor, Chambord, and did some alcoholic milk drinks that were phenomenal. As the evening quietened down, it was just me, Henkka, and two other guys in there. They started talking to us, and they were from Obayashi, one of the stupidly massive construction conglomerates Japan has. One was just out of Uni, and the other a veteran. Even so, both were good company and we had some fun times. The veteran gave both Henkka and I his business card and told us to call him if we were ever in any trouble. He probably couldn't remember it in the morning though. We started talking random shit, about the differences in humour in Japan and Europe. Me being me I mentioned Frankie Boyle, then the master brought out an iPad and found it on there so we tried watching this whilst I translated. Proof that humour is lost in translation.
After the construction firm guys fucked off, it was just us and the master left. He told me to stay in a manga café rather than a capsule hotel as it'd be cheaper, then showed us one on his iPad. We said we'd check it out and then went on our merry way. We walked past the manga café and then carried on, to another bar Henkka wanted to show me. This one was called Bar Smoke, and true to its name, virtually everyone was smoking. It was also a lot brighter and louder than Carrera. I decided to show Henkka how to drink whisky. He nearly died a few times but it was worth it. We had a few more cocktails and weird drinks and I tried to persuade Henkka to join me at the event the next day, before I realised it was already about 2am.
Friday 31st October
Shit, I thought. He said he'd think about the event. We carried on drinking a while longer then decided to call it a night at this bar too. Rather than go to the manga café though, we came upon a new plan. Karaoke again. We hit up a new karaoke box, this one with DAMS, which has the strange honour of having more Hashimoto Kanna (that idol in every 365 million years or whatever they're calling her nowadays) than anything in the world. Seriously, every time you weren't singing, she was on the screen. Once again we hit a load of different songs, including me doing another Cradle of Filth one:
I failed myself. We also did some Mikitty. Because Mikitty. I am unashamed to say I wotagei'd the fuck out of Henkka during Romantic Ukare Mode. Henkka then challenged some Foo Fighters because he hates himself or something. We carried on until about 6am. Disturbed and slightly worried by the time, I decided to go back to Tokyo and then come back for the event at 3pm. We went back to Imaike station, where the trains had just started running again, and I saw this:
Just slightly early. I bid Henkka farewell, hoping he'd turn up for the event, and went back to Tokyo.
Shinkansen are a joy to sleep on, by the way. I'd recommend it. Beats the fuck out of trying to sleep on planes. I got back to Tokyo about 8am. I was in bed by 8:30. By 11:30 I was up and in the bath, and by 1pm I was on the Shinkansen again. However, in the time that had disappeared since that morning I'd realised that the event didn't finish at 6, as I'd assumed. The live started at 6, despite the doors opening at 3. "What the fuck?" I thought, before I read that the three hours before hand were to be a Mad Tea Party where the wota and idols could interact at will, attendance voluntary, and just generally anarchic as fuck. I arrived at Imaike a bit early and hung around a bit, then got bored and wandered around a bit. Henkka decided not to attend, to my regret (and probably his when he reads what happened), and at about 15:30 we were let in.
Not knowing what to expect I sat down at a table and got out my phone. Before I knew it cute girls in cosplay were at some of the tables chatting to people. Confused, I went back to my phone. Luckily BL Café had wifi. Before I knew it I was snapped out of my reverie by a bunny girl. She came over to me and spoke to me in perfectly good English. Her name was Kai, she'd studied abroad in America, and she was from a group called Zekkyousuru 60do (Screaming Sixties). She asked if I spoke Japanese, and I did, so we spoke in that too. Then she stole my phone and tried adding herself on my twitter. It didn't quite work as my twitter breaks every time it searches something, so I just asked for her username and she told me, I tweeted her username and then added her from the hyperlink. Useful cheats are useful. She flounced off for a while. Before long her groupmate, Montero, also came over to talk to me. She was dressed as a little devil. Never a more apt moniker.
She likewise added herself on twitter, then added me back, and told me she was Filipino. Despite that though, she doesn't speak anything but Japanese. She then flounced off to cause terror. Hiro from Lolisyn came over next. At first I thought she was dressed as a sexy OL with fishnets, but apparently she was supposed to be a teacher. She asked whether Jul was coming. I said he wasn't, but he might be there for the event on Monday in Tokyo. I chatted to her for a while, explaining my tiredness. She wondered how the fuck I could afford four shinkansen trips in 2 days, so I showed her the Rail Pass. Apparently it's attained something of a mythical status to the Japanese themselves, being that they can't usually use one unless they're resident abroad. Random envy over, she went off, baseball bat in hand, to find someone to kill.
Lastly was Saki. Rather than don a proper costume, she had been simplistic: wearing her usual stage costume but with the addition of a rather large fluffy pumpkin on her head. It was so cute it disturbed me. I told her about the crazy antics I'd pulled in the last day, including the copious amounts of alcohol imbibed. I said I was probably an idiot. She deadpanned me with "I wouldn't know." Then I belatedly realised that I was talking about alcohol to an 18 year old. In the UK, that's probably the best age to talk to someone about alcohol. In Japan, it's 20. Silly Japan. She asked if I was the foreigner who'd booked onto the Satsueikai for Sunday, to which I said I was. She wondered why all of Sundays had booked out in short order but Saturdays weren't booking at all. Idol Koushien is probably answer enough. I went to get something to eat. Montero took my order and was disappointed I didn't have the "Montero Special", which I was tempted by at the time (a cocktail mixed by idols?) but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't have. I ordered an Omuraisu because that's what one does in situations like these. Kai had by now changed cosplay into a sexy race queen.
I sat back down again, and Montero set about causing chaos. An wota had left his plate whilst he headed off to take a cheki with someone. Montero produced a small tube, lifted some food out of the way and buried wasabi in it. Not content, she poured some in his drink too. Montero Special. She repeated the process on some other unsuspecting wota. Saki brought my food over, then grabbed some ketchup and started writing shit on it.
I endeavoured to not leave my food alone, despite Hiro asking if I wanted a cheki before she went and changed her costume. By now, Kai had again changed costume, into a cheerleader. Montero continued causing chaos. When I finished eating my food, Saki dragged me over to talk to the rest of the "Double And Family" in attendance, which was basically two other people. They told me that Montero is basically a bigger sadist even than Hiro. Halu came over and joined our conversation, wearing a Sailor Moon cosplay or something. I think it's the first time I've ever spoken to her. Still does nothing for me.
Hiro came over and was now dressed as a policewoman. Knowing I couldn't resist anymore, I had a cheki with her. I think she thought I was pretty normal, and indeed, up until that point my chekis were pretty normal. But due to Montero's antics and the costume, I went full lash.
She ground her heel into the back of my head. Was quite amusing. By this point Kai had transformed into Winnie The Pooh. I went back to Saki and asked for a cheki with her too. Knowing 2& is a bit less crazy than Lolisyn, I just asked if I could eat her pumpkin. Remarkably, she said okay.
By this point Montero had obtained a gun, and assaulted me with it. I was intrigued, and then asked if she'd be alright with having a cheki and shooting me in the head. She got all excited and then said she wanted to step on me as well, because it'd be her first time standing on a gaijin. I couldn't say no to her wide-eyed sadistic enthusiasm.
I spoke to one of Saki's managers for a while, asking when she'd be releasing a proper single or album (all the previous ones are back from when Saya was still in 2& as well). He said he didn't know. Because it's hard to find a rehearsal room for all the band to practice in. It's now been announced that it'll be released in March, which is good. I also asked about the satsueikai. It was going to be one-on-one, unlike the Alice ones. Just you and Saki, outside in Tokyo. I asked "What if it rains?" His reply was simple: "Oh, we'll find a café or something."
Craziness over, the idols disappeared. I had noticed a few elusive figures around the edges of the proceedings. There had been another idol group involved called Aikachu, but they were either scared of the gaijin and didn't come to me, or were just busy with their own fans the entire time. Either way, the tables got moved back, the sound guys started preparing the stage, and the live was about to start.
Aikachu were first out. I can't remember them.
Up next were Zekkyou. I don't know entirely what I was expecting, but when the rock and roll started bounding over the speakers, Kai and Montero stepped out wearing latex, leather and domino masks, and shit got fun. They played a bunch of punk covers, including one of Totoro's theme tune (yes, that Totoro) and also Ponyo (lol) and some other stuff. I'll explain all the basis behind them in another post. But it was a stupidly fun show, with stupidly fun things happening. When the time came for them to disappear, I was disappointed, even though Saki was up next.
When Saki came out I noticed something odd. She was barefoot. Ding. She went through her set like she usually does: minorly possessed or something. The crowd got into it, which was fun to see, and she played some of the songs which she hadn't the time before. Negaposi Monster is always stupidly amazing. Hopping Shower no Ame has a really weird verse in which Saki skips around the stage, so the crowd all skip around the hall. That was amusing. Dream was also epic. We also got the songs from Monday. All in all, a very good show. Before she left the stage she bemoaned the fact that her feet had got dirty. It was cute.
Time for the main event. Lolisyn with a long set. This was going to be brutal. A bunch of Lolisyn wota who had been absent for the Mad Tea Party had turned up, and the moshpit quickly turned brutal. The first few songs (four session and Riot in particular) created some damn good headbanging too. The most brutal practitioner of the art of mosh was a small girl dressed all in black. I admired her for getting stuck in so well, until I had to do a double take.
It was Montero.
The fuck, I thought to myself, before heading back to the mosh with wild abandon. I got kicked a few times for good measure by Montero. During a kecha bit she was lifted into the air and crowdsurf-kecha'd Hiro. Some other guy crowdsurfed too and nearly kicked down the glitterball on the ceiling. Then the craziness started.
By far their least brutal song, the wotagei makes up for it. Certainly gets some exercise. And when we all laid prone on the floor at the end, it levelled up. Croissant 2 made its appearance. It's not even online, but when I say the wotagei for Croissant is probably the highest level I've ever known I'm not joking. When I say what I experienced in Croissant 2 makes even Croissant look tame, I'm also not joking. We were on the floor, on the stage, jogging around the hall, Hiro jumped off the stage and onto the floor, we jogged around her, Montero tripped just about everyone up, and fucking 500 calories or so probably burned.
Knackered, they fucked off.
The crowd died.
It was nearly 9pm, and I had to be on the last shinkansen at 9:25. I quickly shot through Lolisyn's buppan line to grab a Hiro tshirt, said I'd see them Monday, then popped over to see Saki and say I'd see her on Sunday, then just barely made it to the shinkansen on time. Once ensconsed in the safety of another non-reserved ordinary class that no fucker could kick me out of, I slept back to Tokyo.
To Be Continued...