Today, Abe Kyoka graduates from HKT48. I figured I’d write a small article about her so that fans of her can reminisce her time in HKT48. And for those who barely knew her, this is for you to find out what a wonderful girl she is.
For the past 21 days, I’ve been writing and sharing my experience on the people I met and the places I’ve been. It’s a joy to write it all out and share it through words. But like the title say, what does the future holds for me?
Going to Japan for the first time was amazing and I couldn’t ask for better people to accompany me with. I developed a new sense of confidence with my Japanese and I’m more open to meet new people and new fans now. Usually, I would avoid people I don’t know, even the ones I met the past few months were the people who chats with me regularly. But now, I’m less scared to meet new people and gain new friends.
So, the next time you see me in Bangkok or in Jakarta or in Tokyo or wherever there’s idols, if I’m there, I will make sure you would know. Whether by tweeting about it or blogging about it or even my Facebook. And if you want to see me, just come up and say hi.
I wanted to go to Japan Expo Thailand on 22-24th Jan this weekend but I decided to save my money for my upcoming Japan Trip. It hurt a bit to find out today when they released the list of AKB members that will be coming and I see Shimada there. But Maicrosoft and Ryan will be there and I’m glad they became friends after I introduced them.
However, I am heading to Singapore on 29th Jan for Ascot Singapore 2016 and I’m open to meet anyone while I’m there. But since I have work on the 30th, it’ll be a really short trip just to see Kamen Joshi yet again.
And I will be heading to Tokyo yet again on 11th till the 22nd of March. I don’t have a specific itinerary yet but for now I will attend the 2-shot event on 13th Mar and 21st of March. I will also try to apply for HKT’s concert in Kobe on 20th March so hopefully I’ll win the lottery. I’m more than willing to meet anyone who wants to meet me, be it Tokyo or Singapore or where I’m heading next. Where there’s idols, I’ll try my best to be there.
I seriously thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of you who reads this. It has been the most enjoyable month for me to be able to write out my feelings and my experience for me to share. And here’s to more to come.
Right after the event with Stella☆Beats, Hibiki is even more active to bring more idols to Malaysia. Since he’s a photographer, he decided to do a photoshoot event, something that is common in Japan with underground idols. I didn’t have a professional camera, heck I’m not even a photographer, but I promised to support his event.
It was 10,000 yen for all 4 sessions which is already quite cheap if compared to the same event in Japan. Session 1 was outdoor, Session 2 & 3 will be in a studio and Session 4 is a special one where they will be wearing their group’s costume.
The rules were simple, no video taking, no taking pics with mobile phones and no 2-shot selfie. Other rules are pretty basic in terms of interaction with the idols; no asking for personal details, no lewd or suggestive poses, basically don’t be a jerk and respect the idols.
We arrived at a park in the morning. 2 Japanese fans joined us as well and they were both Pawamusu & N☆RNiR fans. Yukki-san and Misa-san are already regular goers for photosessions and they came in clad with their DSLR cameras and lenses. Even the girls knew of them. Session 1 started with the girls introducing themselves and each of them had their own handlers/managers. Each participant gets a minute to take pictures and we can rotate as much as we want within the session.
Being a self-proclaimed lolicon, naturally I started with Yumechi, who was the youngest there. I introduced myself to her and started taking pictures. It felt natural, I didn’t need to ask her to do any poses and she’s doing it herself. All I did was snap snap snap.
My next girl was Ebi-chan. She’s much more awkward and shy, in a good way. She didn’t have a lot of poses in her arsenal but has a more natural approach.
Last one was Seina. Oh boy, Seina is good. She can nail down the sexy poses and the charmful poses all at once. Only problem with Seina is I can’t upload her photos online as her photos needed permission from her agency but she has the best poses by far.
You can see how my lousy camera differs from Misa-san’s camera, haha. For the first round I introduced myself to them and they introduced themselves to me. But for the second round, I tried to talk more. I went to Yumechi again.
Talking to Yumechi makes me realize how much she was a kid. She praised my Japanese so I teased her by telling her she should study English. I gave out questions after questions and told her to answer me back in English. This was our routine throughout the day. Since everyone else can’t speak Japanese except for me, Misa-san and Yukki-san, her photosessions went rather quiet. But I love to come around and tease her.
Ebi-chan opened up a bit more when I started talking to her. We talked about the weather, and we talked about Japan. I had a pleasant time talking to Ebi-chan and I found my true calling. My photos might be lousy but I love capturing them at their most natural moment. No posing. I would snap a photo in the middle of a talk, or in the middle of a laugh.
If Yumechi is a bit childish, and Ebi-chan is the natural one, Seina kept up the most professional attitude out of the three. It was a photosession after all, and even though I keep taking pictures while she was talking, somehow every pictures of hers looked professional. As it she has a flair for the cameras. It was impressive. She was a natural born model.
For each session there will be 2 outfits. Ebi-chan’s T-shirt has English writings on it. And she was so intrigued on what it meant. I might have went overboard and romanticized the saying a little by translating it as “I’m in love with you and there’s no one else I rather have by my side because being with you is so much fun” and she was amazed by the meaning of her T-shirt. She didn’t know she just got hit by a live half-assed translation.
Yumechi was such a kid. I think she caught on by now that I’m a jokester and all I do all day was trolling her. She started groaning at my English questions while me and her handler/manager pestered her to answer.
I didn’t care about the photosession by this point and ignore all the “poses” and what not with Yumechi. Every time it’s her round, I just want to do silly things, chat with her, and make her laugh.
At one point, I asked her to do hengao (weird face) and she did this.
Which I responded with a “You call that a hengao??” and she finds it funny that I was pissed at her half-assed hengao.
You can tell I was smitten by this kid by now.
At another point during the photosession, another friend of mine, tempethegreat was taking pictures of Yumechi. I was being the translator between him and Yume and she was so engrossed in posing she took a step too far back and almost fell into the lake behind her! Before I could grab her, Hibiki was already there to keep her steady. Best part was? In saving an idol, Hibiki almost lost his baby, i.e his camera. I manage to catch his camera while he catches his idol. It was a really heart-panicking moment.
Session 1 ended and all of us head on to Session 2. We carpooled to Cupcat Images Studio and had lunch first near the area. Outfits were changed again and the studio was amazing as they had many backdrops.
Yumechi had the pink backdrop room with lots of plushies.
Me and the manager joked around by saying that she should do a pose with all the plushies in the room.
We were not joking, at one point we even threw all the pillows and plushies at her and I was having such a laugh.
The manager was an awesome guy, easy to get along with and a fellow troll. At one point, he started to do some poses and I can’t pass up on the opportunity of snapping a pic.
Seina was again very sexy and very seductive. She had the princess bed studio and ooooh boy. I’m glad I don’t have to share any of her photo because DAMN. That’s all I can say. I felt like a gravure photographer whenever I’m with her.
Ebi-chan got the snow room and I think she felt more at ease by this time.
Again, I love making her laugh. Her laugh always produce my best photos of her so I was coming up with jokes or silly anecdotes every time it’s her turn.
Second outfit was bikinis and no bikinis photos are allowed online so I can’t share any. Being in Malaysia you would rarely see bikinis, much less an opportunity to photograph girls in one. We behaved tho. I think. Everyone got a wee bit excited and was in high tension when the girls appeared.
Yumechi was the one that bothered me the most, as she was still young. She got the snow room with her bikini and I asked her, “Aren’t you cold?” and she replied, “The snow aren’t real, you know.” I replied back with “Here, cover up.” and gave her more fake cotton snow to cover up her bikini. Ah, if only I could show you a photo. She looked ridiculous but we had fun.
Third session started and it was probably everyone’s favourite outfit. Even more of a favourite than the bikinis. It was seifuku (school sailor outfits).
By this time we started talking about our favourite subjects in school and other things. Seina was still looking seductive in school uniforms I don’t know how she does it. But my favourite is of course, you guessed it, Yumechi.
She drew “Usagi” on the board and I asked her what is usagi in English. She correctly answered “Rabbit!” but the best part was what happened next. I asked her to spell it.
She spelled it as “Rabiit” and I just burst out laughing! “Wrong!!”, I yelled which was also echoed by the laughter of others behind me who was queuing up. Even the manager is laughing out loud I think he forgot to time me. As you can see, I was laughing so much even my photos were blurry. It was hard to keep a steady head when you’re laughing like a madman. I asked her to spell again.
She wrote “Rabiet” next. “WRONG!”, I yelled again and by this time I could barely keep it together. She gave me a helpless reaction and told me she doesn’t know how to spell it correctly so I helped her.
She looked so proud to have spelled it correctly and rightfully so as we all rewarded her attempt with an applause. I think by this time the manager announced my time was up but I suspect he didn’t even looked at his watch as it felt like I was laughing at her spellings attempt far longer than a minute.
The second bikini session started but I held back and only took one or two pictures as my battery was running out. The final session was their own group’s outfit and they even performed a mini live for all of us.
Overall, it ended with a blast and I had a time of my life even though I barely knew the girls. I made a promise with Yumechi to see Powerful Musume when I’m in Japan in March and I tend to keep that promise. I love interacting with Seina and Ebi-chan as well but Yumechi just takes the cake. I had the most fun every time it’s her turn and I love teasing her and making fun of her.
I had a fun time at the photosession even though I wasn’t a photographer. I definitely didn’t find any calling with photography so I’ll just stick with what I do, half-assed translating. But I get now why photosession events in Japan is quite popular. Not only do you get to take pictures of your favourite girls, you have pictures that no one else have, and have lots and lots of interactions with them. I mean, I literally have hundreds of idol photos in my laptop right now that no other people has.
I was glad Hibiki decided to organize this event. As a friend, I promised I would support him and go every of his idol events, even if they were not my favourite group or I know nothing about them. It was not everyday an idol comes to Malaysia and I was determined to make them feel welcomed. I was glad I came to this event, and I’m waiting for more to come.
My adventure series of 2015 blog entries ends with this last adventure. But it’s far from over. Tomorrow, I’m gonna upload another blog, a final one, to conclude this 2015 series and what you could expect from me in the future.
I started the day knowing that the live is moved from 11am to 1pm, leaving my morning free. I decided to head to shopping malls nearby the area to get the girls some souvenirs. I remember Kana-chan was talking yesterday that they would probably didn’t have time for shopping. So I bought the girls batik sarongs & beautiful songket skirts for each of them.
The live went great this time, most of us are getting more familiar with the songs and the mix. 1st live went without a hitch and I participated right up at the front. When the buppan started, more people were lining up than yesterday, even some of the items were sold out! I bought myself more bromides and photo packs, along with a T-shirt for another Mana oshi in Japan. Got myself 2 tickets with Kana-chan for a cheki, and 7 tickets for Stella☆Beats. Enough for 1 handshake and 2 chekis. I was really stretching myself financially with the souvenirs and the chekis. I only imagined spending for 2 chekis per day, but end up getting 7 chekis and 2 handshakes. My wallet was crying by the end of this event.
Kana-chan was up first and I handed her the souvenir personally.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Half: Here is the kain batik I told you yesterday.
Kana: Ehhh… no way! For me?
Me: Yes, as a thank you present.
Kana: Really? Wow, I’m so happy.
Me: I’m glad.
Me: Do you have any pose you want to do?
Kana: Let’s do “Gao”.
Kana: *while signing* Have you been to Japan? Oh, wait. Last May, right?
Me: Haha, yeah. This year was my first year I went to Japan. I’m going again in March next year.
Kana: Really? Let’s meet in Japan!
Me: Of course! I don’t know what kind of events there will be in March but I’ll come!
Kana: Yay! Oh, it’s pretty cold in March so make sure you wear thick clothes… There’s no winter in Malaysia, right?
Me: No, it’s pretty much like this all the time.
Kana: I see.
Me: It’s hot everyday.
Kana: That must be tough.
Me: Summer everyday.
Me: I think I’m becoming a fan of yours.
Kana: Ehhh, really? Thank you!
Me: Yeah, your single is coming out next year, right? I’ll buy it.
Kana: Thank you! Wait! My single is coming out next month!
Me: Sorry! Next month! Next month! I made a mistake with my Japanese.
Kana: It’s okay, haha.
*Staff taps my shoulder*
Me: See you at the live later, I’ll be watching.
Kana: Okay, thank you!
Now that there’s more people lining up for Kana-chan, the time was shorter than it was yesterday. But I was glad, this means she’s gaining more fans. She was happy when I gave her the batik. It was my last cheki with Kana-chan as I didn’t have any money left. I thought it ended on a good note. Next, was my handshake with Stella☆Beats.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Me: Here, I bought you this this morning.
Rikopin: Wow, thank you!
Me: It’s a souvenir. You have to wear it, it’s kinda like a long skirt.
Rikopin: Thank you so much!
Me: Rikopin, you used to be an idol before this, right?
Rikopin: Yeah, I was in…
Me: Idol Street!
Me: When you first joined, I look you up and my friend recognized you.
Rikopin: There’s even an Idol Street fan here today.
Rikopin: Yeah, is he your friend?
Me: Ah, no. I don’t know him.
Me: I’ll take a cheki later.
Rikopin: Okay, see you later!
Mana: *jumps up and down* I spelled it properly today! (Referring to her 2nd day bromide, she spelled the word leader properly)
Me: I saw! Good job!
Mana: Hee. *smiles*
Me: Here you go. A souvenir.
Mana: Ehh!! Thank you!
Me: You have to wear it, it’s a Malaysian-like souvenir. Kind of like a long skirt.
Mana: I’ll upload a picture later.
Me: Eh, really?
Mana: Of course! Keep a look out.
Me: Okay! Ne, Mana. I’m coming to Japan next year.
Mana: Really? When?
Me: In March next year, so in about…
Mana: 5 more months?
Me: Yeah, 5 more months.
Mana: Let’s meet up!
Me: I don’t know what kind of events there will be in March but I will go!
Mana: I’ll be waiting.
Mana: How did you learn Japanese?
Me: I didn’t really attend classes or anything… I used to watch idol shows and variety shows a lot. I love those.
Me: Yeah, like my favorite comedians are Ninety Nine-san or Downtown-san. Ah, I used to watch Utaban a lot!
Mana: Me too!!
I swear this happened. We went from handshaking to grabbing each other hands in a bear claw and simultaneously got excited and jumping up and down.
Both: MORNING MUSUME!!!
Me: Oh my god, YES! I was such a huge fan.
Mana: Me too! Who is your oshi?
Me: 6th Gen member, Kamei Eri.
Mana: Ah, Eririn!
Me: Yes! Who is your oshi?
Mana: Goto Maki.
Me: Gocchin! Ah, you’re really a Mowota! (Morning musume wota)
*Staff taps my shoulder*
Me: See you at cheki later.
Me: Here, present for you.
Nozomin: Eh, thank you!
Me: It’s a Malaysian-like souvenir, you have to wear it. It’s kinda like a long skirt.
Nozomin: No way, thank you! How was my Malay?
Me: Which one? Haha. (No but seriously, she spoke quite a few Malays during her MC)
Nozomin: Selamat berkenalan! (Nice to meet you)
Me: You got better! When you said it yesterday, I have no idea what you’re saying!
Me: No, yesterday. When you said it yesterday. I didn’t know what you were saying.
Nozomin: Aku suka? (I like?)
Am I not speaking Japanese right? Hahaha. I swear at this point there was such a confusion between Nozomin and me. Mostly, she was being a ditz and I was being a klutz with my Japanese.
Me: You know how to say that too?
Nozomin: Yes! If you ask “Kamu suka?” (You like?) I will reply “Aku suka!” (I like!)
Me: That’s right. You’re so good.
Nozomin: Ask me!
Me: Kamu suka? (You like?)
Nozomin: Aku suka! (I like!)
Me: Suka apa? (What do you like?)
*Staff taps my shoulder*
Me: See you at cheki later.
Nozomin: Aku suka! (I like!)
I swear she makes me laugh so much. I never really took notice of her before but chatting with her has been so much fun. But I love chatting with Mana more. Hers was the most natural. Somehow, whatever I wanted to say she would understand it immediately. And I understood her. I love finding out new facts about her and knowing that she’s a Morning Musume fan was a nice surprise. The cheki session is up next and right when it was my turn, they ran out of films.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Staff: Ah, sorry. Let me get some more films.
Mana: Yay! Lucky time!
Me: Lucky time?
Mana: We get to talk more!
Me: Oh! Lucky time!
Nozomin & Rikopin: Lucky!
Mana: Any pose you want to do?
Me: Err… No idea.
Mana: So, you’re meeting us in March next year, right?
Rikopin: Eh, next year?
Nozomin: Let’s meet! Let’s meet!
Me: Yup! I promise I’ll go and meet Stella☆Beats in March.
Mana: Then lets commemorate that promise.
By this time the staff is back with the camera and gosh I don’t know if I could describe what happens next properly. Mana faces towards me and hands out her pinky. I grabbed it and she was just staring straight at me I can’t even meet her in the eyes. She laughs when I get embarrassed and looked away but her eyes was consistently on me. Then she said, “Promise you’ll come meet me in March.” which I just replied with a nod. I don’t even know when the picture was taken.
1st session went really great. Time passed by quickly and the next live is their last one. The girls started giving out flyers to promote their final live. I still remember the manager taking pictures of them being surrounded by fans when they gave out the flyer. The manager laughs while taking the photo and said, “It seems like they’re really popular in this picture!”. I shared a laugh with the manager and pointed out that Nozomin’s flyers was the quickest one to finish. I told the manager it seems like Nozomin is the most popular member among Malaysians and he agreed.
We still had time before the 2nd live so we head up to an open area and just recorded our own version of 笑顔でスキップ (Skip while smiling). It’s something Rikopin has been doing regularly on her twitter at first and now various members does it as well and it gets uploaded to their channel.
After we skipped and laughed about it, we head up to the concert hall area. Hibiki was there chit-chatting with us before the concert starts. He asked us if we were willing to send them off at the airport tomorrow. As I had work the next day, I hesitated. Isn’t these 2 days enough? Sending them off at the airport just seemed intrusive. I didn’t pass up the offer fully and mulled over my decision. I was leaning towards no actually since I have work the next day and rushing to work from the airport just didn’t seem ideal.
Since our event is shared with a game event, they were having the finals at the same time we are having the concert. The semifinals was just over and now it was time for DJ Kana. I was trying to conserve my energy for Stella☆Beats so I stayed at the back and enjoyed it leisurely.
At first it seems like the finals of the game event would be held first but suddenly Stella☆Beats’ music started playing. I quickly head to the front and did my loudest calls. The MC session was a whole lot of fun as Mana conducted it fully in English while trying to translate what Nozomin and Rikopin is saying. They accepted questions from the crowd and tried answering it in English. Then after shouting for encore, the live ended in a blast. I had such a great time.
After the live, everyone gathered around and signed the banner that XMorfis did for the girls. All of us presented the banner to the girls when they came out for the handshake and cheki session and we moved them to tears. Seeing them on the verge of crying makes me want to cry as well, something I’ve been holding off ever since the live ended.
I decided to stretch my wallet further and buy one more item. I already had 3 tickets for a cheki but I wanted to do a handshake one last time. Not to mention I haven’t gotten my special ლ(ಠ益ಠლ) kaomoji pose with the girls yet, and I was determined to get it.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Me: Did you see our skipping video? On Jun-kun’s twitter.
Rikopin: I did!
Me: We were laughing too much, haha.
Rikopin: You guys were having so much fun, ne?
Me: Yeah, I really enjoyed this 2 days. Being with other fans. And finally getting to watch Stella☆Beats.
Rikopin: Thank you.
Me: No, thank YOU. I really want to thank you. Thank you for coming to Malaysia. I really had so much fun these 2 days.
Rikopin: I’m glad. Let’s meet up in Japan next.
Me: Yes, next year! In March.
Rikopin: I look forward to it.
Me: Thank you for everything. Really, I’m so grateful you came to Malaysia.
Rikopin: Thank you for coming and supporting us as well.
Me: Oh, later during cheki, can we take a funny pose?
Rikopin: Ooh! What is it?
Me: I’ll show you the pose later, okay!
Me: Mana, did you watch our skipping videos?
Mana: Everyone looked like they are having so much fun!
Me: We laughed a lot!
Mana: I could tell. I’m glad everyone is good friends with everyone.
Me: That’s because all of us love Stella☆Beats.
Me: Later, can we take a funny pose for the cheki?
Mana: What pose?
Me: It’s on my phone, it’s a kaomoji. I will show you later.
Mana: Haha, okay then.
Me: Thank you.
Mana: For what?
Me: For coming to Malaysia. These 2 days have been the best days of life so far.
Mana: Really? Thank you for coming.
Me: Really. I’m so glad.
Mana: Me too. I’m so glad that we finally meet.
Me: Next year.
Me: Let’s meet again.
Mana: In March.
Mana: I’ll be waiting.
Me: Nozomin, thank you for the past 2 days. I really enjoyed watching your lives.
Nozomin: Thank you for coming!
Me: I think you learn a lot of new English and Malay words as well!
Nozomin: I did!
Me: Later, for cheki lets do a funny pose okay!
Nozomin: What is the pose?
Me: I will show you later. It’s a secret.
Nozomin: Oooooh. A secret. Aku suka! (I like!)
So during the time for cheki, all the girls hovered over me as I took out my phone. I showed them ლ(ಠ益ಠლ) with Mana chiming in “Oh, I know this!”. Looking at the cheki after it was taken, it was quite apparent that they got the pose a lil bit wrong, haha.
After taking the cheki, we lined up yet again to get it signed. This was it. My final interaction with the girls. I already told them how I was grateful that they came here, how happy I was. This was my time to say goodbye. But as tears starts forming in my eyes, words seems to betray me.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Rikopin: Half-chan, I’m so glad I met you.
Me: *Eyes starting tearing up* Me too.
Rikopin: *silently signs* Here you go.
Me: *chokes up* Thank you for everything, thank you for your hard work.
Rikopin: *nods and smile*
Me: *stays quiet, fights back tears*
Mana: I’m sad that it’s the last day too.
Me: *still keeping quiet, still fighting back tears*
Mana: Don’t cry!
Me: Don’t say “Don’t cry!”!! Of course someone would cry if they were told that!
Mana: You’re right. You’re right.
Me: *trying to wipe away tears*
Mana: Hey, hey.
Mana tries looking at my face but I was facing down as I can’t face her. The tears won’t stop at this point and I was halfway mad at myself for crying and halfway embarrassed.
Mana: We’ll meet again, right?
Mana: Next year in March.
Mana: Just five more months.
I think she smiled but I couldn’t see her face. Well, actually I couldn’t face her. Nor form words at this point. I quickly went to Nozomin knowingly that that was my last conversation with Mana.
Nozomin: Oh my god, you’re crying.
Me: *points to Mana* It’s Mana’s fault!!
Both of the girls laughed. I tried to make a joke out of all that but I think they knew I was sad. I clearly couldn’t hide it. Even the staff-san was patting my back during my time with Nozomin going, “There, there” and I have officially reached the highest point of embarrassment right then and there. I quickly told Nozomin thank you and left their way. Hibiki met me afterwards and tried to console me but I rather be left alone so I sat at the back. Just wiping away tears that can’t seem to stop while looking at the rest of the fans who are still queuing up to get their cheki signed.
I can’t believe I cried.
As I was sitting down alone at the back, contemplating what possibly is their last memory of me on that day, I heard someone calling my name.
I turned around, and it was their manager. “Oh crap, I did something wrong.”, was my first thought to myself. I quickly responded and he signaled me to meet him further at the back of the hall. I followed, being scared shitless. I thought I was getting reprimanded. “Open your palm”, he said. I slowly opened my palm, quietly anticipating some kind of slap or a fine. He discreetly gave me a charm bracelet, a handmade charm bracelet.
“From the members.”, and he smiled.
I remember crying.
I remember being totally surprised.
I remember me saying, “Ehhh…. What is this? Seriously!?”.
What I have a vague memory of was what had happen next.
I quickly left the manager and with the charm bracelet in my hands, I head to the girls. I was distraught in my thoughts. “What just happened?”, “No way!”, all of the situations were running through my head. They already finished the last of the cheki sessions and were handing out the remaining flyers. A lot of fans were surrounding them, and even though I was standing alone on the outs at the side, Mana saw me.
And she heads to me.
I couldn’t look her in the eye. I couldn’t face her. I couldn’t even utter a single word.
I think I said, “Thank you” but I couldn’t remember.
I just remember crying. A lot.
She took the bracelet from me and tie it on my wrist.
“With this, I am always by your side.”
She continued giving out flyers after tying the bracelet on my wrist. I was at loss for words and was too speechless to even function properly. I don’t know if anyone saw us at the time but it did feel like for a moment, we were the only ones in the hall.
The bracelet is a charm bracelet they did a few weeks back for a Sports Event where they competed with different idol groups. Anyone who showed up and supported them gets one. The thing is, only those who attended the event got it. It was something they spend days making it themselves. But to have them bring it all the way to Malaysia and give it to me? I don’t know why I got it, I don’t even know if anyone else got it but that moment was so special to me and it cemented Stella☆Beats as a group that I really want to support for the rest of my wota life. I love the girls so much.
I was hesitating on whether I should go to work or to the airport for the next day. But after just now, I didn’t want to leave my last impression as a sobbing idiot who couldn’t even muster a word to say thank you. I wanted to send them off with a smile.
So the next day, I woke up, lied to my boss about going to the bank and some other bullshit, and went to the airport.
At the airport, quite a few fans (around 10 I guess?) gathered to give their final presents and goodbyes. At the departure gate, everyone was saying their final farewells and I stayed behind. Just smiling sadly at the fact that this is the last time I get to see them. It just felt too much for me at that point. But the makeup artist saw me at the back and pointed that out to Mana. And she walked towards me.
“Thank you for coming.”
“I won’t cry today.”, I don’t know why that was the first thing I said to her. But I did. She laughed, “Yes! No crying today!”.
“Next year in Japan.”, I smiled. I lift up my hand to show her I was wearing the bracelet at the same time. “See you next year”, she smiles back. And that was it. And it was enough. And it was the what I needed. It was great seeing her off and to have that one final interaction. The whole 2 days was perfection but this was the perfect closure. As I was relieved that I get to send them off, my heart was racing as I set off back to my office. I got there late, and continued working like it was just another usual day.
Looking back at the event, it was great that I finally get to interact with my favourite group up close and spend time with them for 2 days. I also got to meet a lot of other fans as well.
Mana stayed true to her promised and actually uploaded a picture of them wearing my present. They actually wore that for their regular live in Japan.
For their latest single, “Hoshizora Symphony”, which was released yesterday, they even included pictures and scenes from their event in Malaysia. Which made me think that this trip made an impact on them as much as it did on me. It also received #1 on Oricon daily ranking yesterday! And I hope it will rank Top 10 in the weekly ranking as well. I’m proud of the girls, they really worked hard for this release event for the past months.
Things has been quiet down after they left. The post-concert depression was bad. Even worse than after I got back from Japan. Now, I’m working hard to save money for my March trip to see them again. I wore the bracelet they gave me all the time. It gives me the motivation to get through the day.
No matter what bad things happened to me, or any sad news I received, I just glance at the bracelet, and I think back on that weekend. And how magical it was.
The day was finally here! I took Friday off as I thought the girls would be arriving Friday but they arrived on a Thursday instead. Which was great since I fell sick with a nasty stomach flu and couldn’t even come to the airport. I spend the whole Friday that I took the leave for just lying in bed. Some of the Malaysian wota welcomed the girls at the airport even though they arrived at 5am.
My first day was nerve wracking. I was 2 hours early as I was not familiar with the place and didn’t want to get lost. Head early to the ticketing counter to grab my tickets and also tickets for Aaron, Jun & Jeremy, 3 Singaporeans I knew from twitter who were also big fans of Stella☆Beats and DJ Kana, the artist opening for Stella☆Beats.They knew me as my real name and I don’t think they know who is Half-san at all (Word soon spread by Day 2 that I was Half and most of the attendees knew by then).
While waiting, I met Jason, Edward, Philips and Roan from MSA48. I immediately introduced myself as Half to Roan, as we’ve been planning to meet up for quite a while. I followed them into the event and had a walk around the area. In front of the stage, there was a man waiting who looked Japanese. I asked and we introduced ourselves to each other. Hideki-san is a huge DJ Kana fan who came all the way from Japan, and he was quite shocked to see me wearing a Stella☆Beats T-shirt. As I figured, he knew Jeremy as well, the other DJ Kana oshi who is coming from Singapore. If I didn’t go to Japan a few months before I would never have the courage to pick up a chat with a random Japanese person. My Japanese comprehension and conversation skills really improved after the trip and Hideki-san was really easy going. While we were chatting, the three Singaporeans arrived and I went ahead to meet them.
DJ Kana and Stella☆Beats was already at the stage for their rehearsals. There, I saw Hibiki (we chatted but haven’t actually met before) but he was busy preparing and managing the girls, so I figured I introduced myself later. DJ Kana was up first and the crowd started warming up with mix and chants even though it was just rehearsals. I’m not familiar with DJ Kana or even anime songs so I stayed back and let everyone else took lead, especially Jeremy & Hideki-san. At that point I was merely gazing at Stella☆Beats, in particular Mana. They were blocked by a few people in front of them but she slanted her body and saw me looking at her, and I did the nerdiest thing I could do, I looked away.
When it was time for Stella☆Beats to do some sound checks, I stayed on the right side of the stage. Again, just following Jun & Aaron’s lead for the calls. After the sound check is over they had around an hour break before the live starts. There, I met 2 more Japanese fans who came over from Japan. Ramen-san and Jyu-san. Ramen-san was very accommodating, even giving out Stella☆Beats singles and signed flyers away. I declined the CDs and let someone else have it as I already own it but I got a random photopack and a signed flyer from him. Funny thing is, I had no problem communicating with Hideki-san but I somehow find Ramen-san hard to understand at times and he finds me the same. So at times, we talked in a mix of both Japanese and English.
Then the live I was waiting for started. DJ Kana started the live and Jeremy and Hideki-san took the lead in all the calls. DJ Kana’s live was very fun and she sang her new single as well, “Ohayo Oyasumi” and “S.N.I“, which will be release in November.
After Kana-chan warmed up the crowds, Stella☆Beats was up next. With Ramen-san and Jun’s guidance we followed the calls and everyone took out their yellow light sticks during Hoshizora Symphony, the new single they will be releasing on 19th Jan (which is today!). I remembered Fantastic Traveler from my last May trip and it brought me back to that day. Seems like everyone at one point or another knew the signature move during the chorus is to throw peace signs. They just started their official youtube channel a few weeks before the trip and it was a great guidance for us to prepare for the live. They even tried their best to speak in Malay and English. Mostly it was Nozomin who tried speaking (and failing cutely) in Malay but that seemed to gain her a few local fans.
Finally, it was buppan (buying goods) time. 1 item can get you 1 ticket and tickets can be exchanged for handshake or cheki. 1 ticket for a handshake, 2 tickets for a cheki with DJ Kana and 3 tickets for a cheki with Stella☆Beats. Since Kana-chan was already there I thought I would support her as well. I bought a DJ Kana A4 bromide and her photopack, giving me 2 tickets which I can exchange for a cheki. Then, I bought 2 Stella☆Beats Malaysian tour T-shirts, A4 bromides of Mana, Rikopin and Nozomin, and a photopack. Giving me 6 tickets which I plan to trade it for 2 chekis with Stella☆Beats .
Kana-chan’s tokuten (cheki or handshake session) started first. Hideki-san and Jeremy were already using their handshake ticket and talking with Kana-chan and it was long! They talked for a looooong time. I didn’t have any watch with me but it was easily more than 5 minutes. Maybe even 10! Granted, not a lot of people were lining up for Kana-chan but it was super nice. I was 4th or 5th in line, so I keep thinking of things to say. In the end, I thought I would just wing it (Never a good idea, Half! God dammit, why do you never learn!).
When it was my turn, I gave my two tickets, waiting to get a cheki. She was excited to see me.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Me: That was a great live! That’s my first time watching your live. I had fun!
Kana: Thank you! You’re…. Half-san, right? From twitter?
Okay, I did not expect that. At all. I tweeted her once. ONCE. Like a few days ago, saying I’m looking forward to watching her live even though I was a Stella☆Beats fan. That was it. One tweet.
Me: Ehh… You remembered it?
Kana: Yes, you’re a fan of Stella☆Beats, right?
Me: Yeah! Wow, that’s amazing. For you to remember.
Kana: No, no. I just recognized you from your twitter icon.
Me: How do you like Malaysia? It’s hot, right?
Kana: So hot! I’m dripping in sweat right now.
Me: Haha, I know! Please take care and drink more water, okay.
Kana: Will do! Have you been to Japan before?
Me: I did actually, last May. That was when I knew about Stella☆Beats.
Then the staff started hurrying us up with the cheki.
Kana: What pose do you want to do?
Me: Up to you. What do you like?
She initiated the pose and I just followed her lead. It was like a half hug and who was I to deny a hug from an idol. Okay, by this time I was half expecting the staff to shove me to move it. Or for the conversation to die out. Because I’m not used to talking to idols for this long.
Me: Well, I guess I see you for the next live? *starts leaving the line*
Kana: Wait! *grabs my hand*
Oh crap. I was fished.
Kana: Um… what’s the best souvenir I can buy in Malaysia?
Me: Souvenir, huh… What kind of souvenir do you like? Like food or…
Kana: Maybe something Malaysian-like and girly…
Me: I guess… Kain Batik would be nice. (I literally said “Kain Batik” lol)
Me: Ah, it’s like a…. (somehow at this moment of time, I forgot the word sarong)
I started miming how to wear a sarong, which at this point I look like a total blundering idiot.
Me: It’s something you wear, it has very nice patterns.
Kana: How do you say it again?
Me: “Kain Batik”. Umm… I know, I’ll tweet you a picture later!
Kana: Okay, I’ll wait for it. I don’t know if I have time to go out and buy…
Me: Really? It must be a busy 2 days for you, right?
Kana: Yeah, I have to ask later.
By this point, the staff finally asked us to hurry up.
Me: Ok, I’ll watch your live later!
Kana: Thank you! Kain Batik!
Me: Yes, kain batik! Haha.
For 2 tickets, that was way more time than I expected. I had a good talk with her and I got a cheki! She also gave me confidence in my Japanese as I communicated with her easily (except for the kain batik part). I promised myself to go meet her again after the live tonight. She sparked a flame in me and at that moment on, I was interested in this girl.
Finally, the Stella☆Beats tokuten has started. They started with handshake session but no one was going for the line. Ramen-san went ahead first and used up a ticket. I had 6 tickets with me and I was already planning to get 2 chekis. But when I saw there was no one in the lane, I decided to go for a handshake first before I took chekis with them. I followed Ramen-san and the line was Rikopin, Mana and Nozomin.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Me: Nice to meet you.
Rikopin: Ah, nice to meet you.
Me: Awesome live! Thanks for coming to Malaysia!
Rikopin: Thank you! Wow, your Japanese is great!
Me: No no, just make sure the conversation stay around this level, and don’t use any hard words. Haha.
Rikopin: You’re… Half-san, right?
Me: You know me?
Rikopin: Yeah, you’re from twitter!
Me: That’s right! Wow! That’s awesome. It’s pretty hot today.
Rikopin: Yeah, Malaysia is so hot!
Me: Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
Me: I made you something, I’ll pass it to the staff later.
Rikopin: Really? Wow, thank you!
By this time, I was hoping for Ramen-san to quickly finish his talk with Mana, as I was running out of things to say. Good thing the staff started pushing us.
Me: I’ll take a cheki later as well! See you again!
Rikopin: Thank you! See you again!
Then, the moment arrived. I quickly shook Mana’s hand and she has the most welcoming and warm expression ever. She immediately recognized me.
I can’t contain my smile. And was speechless.
Me: Yup, I’m Half. Haha.
Mana: We finally meet!!
Me: That’s right!
Mana: I’m so glad!
Me: I’m so happy!
Mana: How was the live?
Me: It was amazing! Everyone was amazing!
Mana: Your Japanese is really good, you know!
Somehow she knew I still had reservations about my Japanese. I was half-assed at best, I knew that, but a praise from her was everything to me.
Me: No no. It’s still bad.
Mana: But you understand me, right?
Me: I do!
Mana: Good, that’s important to me.
Me: It’s pretty hot now, so drink plenty of water.
Jeez, I don’t know why I keep going back to this line. Perhaps I was taken aback by her previous comment.
Mana: Yup, got a bottle right here. *points to her drink*
Me: Oh, the bromide photos are so pretty. Hibiki-san takes really great photos.
Mana: Right? The photos looks good!
Me: But, your spelling… Leader is spelled with an ‘L’ not ‘R’ haha.
Mana: I know! I noticed that. Sorry.
Me: No, no, it’s fine. Reader still means something, maybe you can be the leader that likes to read.
Mana: Hahaha. I will spell it right next time.
Me: Haha, okay.
Mana: Coming to the next live?
Me: Of course, and also a cheki later!
I didn’t want to let Mana’s hand go but the staff starts pushing me by this time. So next up was Nozomin.
Me: Wait, you recognize me?
Nozomin: Oh, I just heard Mana yelling your name.
I swear, this idiot. XD She got me laughing literally 3 seconds after I met her.
Me: Well, it’s nice to meet you.
Nozomin: Nice to meet you.
Me: How do you find Malaysia?
Nozomin: IT’S REALLY HOT. REALLY HOT.
Me: Hahaha, it really is. Take care and remember to drink lots of water.
What is wrong with me? I swear I keep telling them to drink more water. This is what happens when you don’t prepare topics to talk about, Half.
Me: Ummm… You like Melonpan, right?
Me: Well, I made something for you, I’ll pass it to the staff later.
Nozomin: Really?? Wahhh, thank you!
Me: I’ll take a cheki later too.
Nozomin: Thank you!
We took a cheki later, and I was being my awkward self as I wasn’t thinking of what pose to do. Later we queued up again for them to sign our cheki and I got to talk to them again. I know it might seem smug, but I felt good when other people were asked what is their names for them to write on the cheki and they didn’t ask for mine as they knew it right away. :3
Rikopin signed normally and left the message part blank. Partly, I think she knew that Mana wanted to write something, or maybe she knew that I wanted Mana to write something. We didn’t talk much but I told her I’m looking forward to the second live. Then it was Mana’s turn to sign.
Mana: *looks at the cheki* How cute.
Mana: Ne… thank you for coming.
Me: Eh, no no. Thank YOU for coming.
Me: I was kinda nervous.
Mana: No, you did good. I saw you.
Me: Ramen-san and Jun-kun took the lead. They’re so kind.
Mana: They are. *hands me cheki* There you go.
Me: See you later.
Then I head to Nozomin and she took the cheki. While signing…
Nozomin: Wait, what’s your favorite food?
Me: Me? Uh….
Okay, I never had an idol asked me that question before. Also, that was not a question I frequently has an answer for. So it got me thinking.
Me: Japanese food, I guess? I like sushi.
Nozomin: Sushi? Ikura!
Me: I like unagi (eel).
Nozomin: Unagi? Unagi!! So, it’s unagi!!!
I swear she is like a little idiot getting excited over the word unagi, it’s adorable. By this time, the staff started tapping my shoulder so I finally left her with the both of us pointing finger guns at each other while shouting unagi.
That was basically my first interaction with them. And it was amazing. Mana, in particular. It felt so natural, like I’ve been interacting with her as usual. When it was actually the first time we’ve ever interact face to face. Nozomin was hilarious, and was much more of a ditz that I expected her to be. Rikopin gave me the most idol-like vibe. It got awkward towards the end as I didn’t have much to say with her. But she was pleasant, and obviously remembered me when I only tweeted her once or twice so bonus points on her part.
I met up with Hibiki after tokuten ended and passed him the gifts I made for the girls. It was hand-sewn felt keychains, which I made myself. A cinderella for Mana, mini-tomatoes for Rikopin and melonpan for Nozomin.
Anyway, it was quite a few hours before the evening live starts so I head over to my car and store away some of the merchandise I bought. I was still not feeling 100% well so after taking my medicines I just stayed in my car to get some rest. Between the 1st live and 2nd, I was chatting with the people in the Kamen Gaijin group online. It suddenly dawned on me that I wanted to have a cheki pose with our Kamen Gaijin’s signature kaomoji.
Which was this: ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)
I don’t know if the girls are up for it but I was already anticipating the live. For the 2nd live of Day 1, in was held in the huge hall. Kana-chan started with DJ-ing all the anime songs I wasn’t familiar about. But it was a great and energetic live.
Stella☆Beats was up next and by this time I finally got the hang of the mix and calls for their songs. I got a good view right at first row thanks to everyone’s kindness as I was at the far back during Kana-chan’s live.
Buppan started again and I bought 3 more items, 2 photopacks of Kana-chan and 1 of Stella☆Beats. Now I have 2 Kana-chan tickets and including the 2 tickets letover that I bought earlier in the day I have a total of 3 Stella☆Beats tickets. Enough for a cheki. Even Hideki-san noticed I was lining up for Kana-chan again and he was happy when I told him I enjoyed talking with Kana-chan.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Me: Kana-chan! Did you see my tweet?
Kana: I did! So that’s “Kain Batik”?
Me: Yes! Something like that. The pattern was nice, right?
Kana: Yeah! It’s so Malaysian-like!
Me: I think they sell it around here, there’s a lot of shopping mall in this area.
Kana: Ah, is that so?
Me: Kana-chan, can we do a funny pose for cheki?
Kana: What is it?
Me: It’s this. *shows my phone and points to ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)*
Me: Hahahaha. Wanna do it?
Kana: Why this pose?
Me: It’s just my favorite kaomoji. You wanna do it?
Kana: Let me see it again.
Me: *shows her my phone again ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)*
Kana: Like this?
Kana: What is the meaning of this kaomoji?
Me: Err… I’m not sure, it’s angry perhaps?
Kana: Why do you like this pose?
Me: I find it funny, haha.
Me: Can I upload it to twitter later?
Kana: Okay. Will you be coming tomorrow?
Me: Of course. See you tomorrow. Thank you for today.
I have to say the cheki was perfection. Not only did she nailed the pose and the expression, she was pretty sporting about the weird request. Next, is Stella☆Beats. I didn’t went for handshake this time because I figured I could talk to them during the cheki signing. You see, I approach them and before I could utter, “Hey, let’s do a funny pose.”, Mana just did something special and I forgot to function. Normally, I wouldn’t mind showing the cheki, I would blur myself out anyway. But, this one is special so I’ll keep it for myself. After being over-the-top joy, I went over to get my cheki signed.
[※All conversations in Japanese]
Rikopin: Hehe, cute.
Me: Did you open the present?
Rikopin: Oh my god, yes! I did! Thank you! You’re so smart!
Me: No, no, it’s nothing. I know you like onigiri but…
Rikopin: Yeah, it’s quite hard to do onigiri.
Me: So I got you a mini tomato.
Rikopin: Mini tomatoes are fine too, I like it!
Me: I’m glad.
Rikopin: Here you go, thank you for coming today.
Me: Thanks for your hard work.
Mana: You’re a genius, aren’t you?
Mana: The present.
Me: Oh no, it’s nothing. Did you like it?
Mana: I love it!
Me: Then, I’m glad.
Mana: Ne, Half-chan. Thank you for replying my tweets, commenting on my blogs. And namamails too.
Me: Thank you for reading them.
Mana: I read them all you know.
Me: It makes me happy you read them.
Mana: How much do you like Stella☆Beats?
Me: So much! Can I be a Stellato? (Stellato is what Stella☆Beats fans are called)
Mana: You’re always a Stellato.
Me: *smiles* Thank you for your hard work today.
Mana: See you tomorrow.
Me: See you tomorrow.
Me: Did you open the present?
Nozomin: Yes! The melonpan is so cute!!
Me: Really? I thought it was real bad… Since I never sew melonpans before..
Nozomin: No, i like it! I have it on my bag!
Me: Ehhh… No way!
Nozomin: Really! And the one with my name as well.
Me: Yup, I sewed everyone’s name too.
Nozomin: Really, I love it! I will treasure it forever! HUG! LOVE! (She screamed HUG! LOVE! in English)
Me: Hahaha thank you! (In my heart: It’s just a keychain, calm down.)
Oh, god. I feel bad being suspicious towards her but it was so fun watching her defend herself. I was really glad she liked it actually because I felt that the melonpan was the worse of the bunch. Overall, it was a really great day. Best I ever had. After I look over at my cheki to see what Mana has written she wrote “ずーっとステラート” which means forever a Stellato.
Overall, for the 1st day I took a total of 4 chekis. Twice with Kana-chan and twice with Stella☆Beats. I met a bunch of new friends as well. Not to mention, DJ Kana and Stella☆Beats gained a lot of new fans (which will be apparent when more people starts to line up for handshake and cheki on Day 2). I didn’t want it to end, but if I didn’t go to sleep tomorrow would never start.
Stella☆Beats was one of the underground idol groups I met during the Live PLUS Festival. You might remember, they were the group with the kebab invasion.
I didn’t think much of the encounter until I came back home. Souchan asked if I remembered the name of the idol who passed us the flyers when we were eating kebab. I only knew the group was Stella☆Beats but I wasn’t sure of the members. After researching for a bit (also after Wayne points out that her name was actually on the bottom right of the flyer), I learned that her name was Aya.
There were 2 members that got my attention during the Live PLUS Festival, one of them was Aya, who started the conversation with us. But the other one was Mana. She was the first one I noticed back then but I didn’t know her name. The first time I laid my eyes on her I thought she was strikingly beautiful. She was quiet when Aya was talking to us but was talkative during the MC session. I looked her up and started cheering for her in the Cheerz app.
Stella☆Beats consists of Hoshino Mana (Leader), Aya, Sasaki Arisa, Sakuragi Kotoka and Nanase Nozomi. The day I started searching up for more info on the group was also the same day I found out that one of the members is graduating. Arisa’s graduation was set for the 4th of July. A few days later, Aya announced her graduation and her graduation ceremony was set on 29th July. I was only a few days into the group but 2 graduation announcements have been made. I didn’t know Arisa that well but Aya’s graduation saddened me.
One thing led to another, I started checking out their music, followed them on twitter, and checking out their blogs. A few weeks later, a new member joined, Aino Ami. She was fluent in English because she was raised in England. Ami immediately got my attention and between her and Mana, I cheered for them both a lot in Cheerz. After Arisa’s graduation, Stella☆Beats was down to 5 members. Aya’s “LOVE” was passed down to Ami and after Aya’s graduation, Stella☆Beats became a 4-member group.
Around August, I was all in into the group. I watched their showroom channel, listen to their music, tweeted to them, commented on their blogs, bought their merchandise, bought their CDs, and I even subscribed to Mana and Ami’s namamail, a paid service where you can get mails and voice messages from them.
A friend of mine, Hibiki, is a Malaysian-born photographer, who is now venturing out to shoot more idol events. One of his job was to shoot Stella☆Beats’ one-man live event, the very same event that I got the flyers for. He started asking if anybody knew who Stella☆Beats was, and naturally I got very excited.
We started talking and there were plans on bringing them over to Malaysia for a tour. I couldn’t stop thinking of the prospect of bringing them over here. I could meet my favorite idols, in my own country! Thinking back, it was carelessness that made me miss the lottery for HKT’s Hokkaido concert, thus freeing up 31st May for me. It was luck that we could still buy a ticket to Live PLUS Festival, even though we couldn’t book the tickets in advance. It was by chance that I happen to watch Stella☆Beats’ live, with all the other idols around me. But that kebab encounter, that was fate. Out of all the other idols that could have approached me, they did. And out of the idol groups that Hibiki could have brought over to Malaysia, it was Stella☆Beats. I don’t believe in destiny but whatever this is it felt miraculous.
But suddenly, I was hit with Kotonyan’s graduation. And not long after that, Ami announced hers. Her graduation gutted me, as I was just about to get to know her, to know Stella Beats, and I didn’t have the opportunity to even meet her. Not to mention their Malaysia live was near, and she graduated 3 weeks before they flew.
Now Stella☆Beats are down to 2 members, but not for long. They were joined by a new member, Yonemitsu Riko. The three of them are scheduled for the Malaysia Tour. After 4 months of being into the group, I went through 4 graduations and 2 new members. Even though I was just a new fan, it felt like I’ve been through a lot with them.
The Malaysia live is inching closer and closer, and even though the Stella☆Beats I knew initially isn’t the Stella☆Beats I was going to meet, I was nevertheless excited. It’s not every day that idol groups actually come to Malaysia, but not only that, for it to be your favourite group… well, that’s a once in a life time opportunity.
I’ve spend my mornings drinking nothing but Chakuza and eating snack food. Lack of idols cause me to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
Well, I never watched the anime but I did read the manga and some part of the storylines that they changed was absolute garbage (looking at you screenwriters who change everything I love about Mikasa). 4DX was okay I guess except for the part where I almost fell off my seat while they were battling the titans. I’m not cut out for the Corps I guess.
Rest of the day went by pretty quickly. We send Ryan back to his hotel and bid our farewells. I had a foot massage with Mix (we didn’t get one near our hotel as it’s quite a whore-y area and we might get a happy ending instead) and went back to our hotel. I bid farewell with Mix and Mai as my flight is really early the next day.
Idols was what bonded me, Mai, Mix and Ryan but even without idols, the fact that we got along really well was a testament to our friendship. I really enjoyed my time with them in Bangkok and they made it fun for me even without an AKB concert. At least this time I won’t suffer from any post-concert depression.
Bangkok was my last international travel of the year but little do I know, in 2 months to come, my favorite underground idol group is coming to my very own country to perform. I didn’t know it back then but my life was about to change.
I reached Bangkok late on the 28th and met up with Mai and Mix at BTS Nana, the train station near to our hotel. It was past midnight and I was there straight from work on a Friday so we agreed to just go sleep and get ready for tomorrow, the supposedly concert day.
We got up quite late at 11am the next day. Since Mai is Thai, he showed us around a bit. We visited Erawan Shrine to see where the incident took place.
You know, when you see it on a map, you don’t really see the reality of the situation. The bombed place was really near to the event, we were standing on a bridge and on the one side is the incident and the other side of the bridge was the event. There was no recurring incident fortunately but it was always good to stay safe. We then spend a good 10 minutes just longingly looking at the place where the event is suppose to be and “watch” the concert.
MOS Shrimp burger taste exactly the same with the one I had in Japan. After lunch, Mai brought us here and there. We went to Japanese bookstores, look around Japanese shops in Gateway Ekamai, and it wouldn’t be Bangkok if there weren’t any dodgy Japanese clubs.
To finish off our own Japan Expo, we head to maidreamin, one of Japan’s most popular maid cafes. Seems like they have branches here in Bangkok as well.A maid cafe trip wouldn’t be complete without some cute drinks. Me and Mix had to do some cute “Nyan Nyan” calls for the maid and she wouldn’t leave us alone if we didn’t do it.
And then, this one old and grumpy looking uncle went in and me and Mix looked at each other knowing what would happen. We are already laughing quietly at the image of this grumpy uncle doing the “Nyan Nyan” to call over the maid. And then the moment came. The maid took his order and we were waiting for the “Now, if you need anything else don’t hesitate to call us over by doing the ‘Nyan Nyan!’.
We waited. And kept on laughing.
And the maid left the grumpy uncle alone.
Heeeeeeey… that’s not fair. The maids just robbed us the image of having the grumpy uncle doing the “Nyan Nyan!” and I’m still pissed about it to be honest.
We then met up with Ryan and I introduced him to Mai and Mix. Even though they were meeting for the first time, we bonded quickly over the fact that we were all there for the same purposes. Idols bond people together but a cancelled concert and being stuck in a foreign country bonds us even quicker.
After dinner, we didn’t know what to do so we head to the bowling alley and bowled really badly together. We talk about idols, about our countries, about our hobbies, anything that came up the top of our heads.
After bowling, I was tired from walking and headed back to the hotel while the three of them went to… let’s just say what happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok. 😉
So, somewhere around July it was announced that AKB48 is going to appear for Japan Expo Thailand 2015. Now, I was waiting for the list of members that would be appearing for the Expo and around 1st August, the lineup was revealed.
Not bad, right? I was hoping for Shimada but I guess it was okay. But the lineup wasn’t my main reason to go. Going to the expo as well is Maicrosoft, my website administrator, my go-to IT guy, my confidante, my friend. I’ve known this guy for more than 2 years and we’ve never met. Half-assed subs wouldn’t be like it is now without him around. I would probably still be on tumblr making sub-par subs. He challenged me to do things and help spread the name of Half-assed subs. I was eager to meet the guy, and enjoy an AKB concert with him.
So, on 5th August, I booked my flight and my hotel (which is super near to the venue because I’m lazy). It was done. I’m going right after work on the 28th and coming back on the 31st of August (which was convenient because it was a public holiday in my country). Mindmix, who I met last August and Ryan, who I met last February in Jakarta was going as well. With Mai along. I didn’t felt alone and I knew I had company for the event.
To add image to the gravity of the situation, here’s a map of the venue, my hotel and the location of the bomb. Before my own safety, I was worried for the girl’s. I was half hoping they would cancel the event for their safety but the other selfish half of me hoping it would still go on as well.
The next day…
Good on the Japan Expo committee for postponing the event. However, I couldn’t cancel my flight. Even Mai, Mindmix & Ryan couldn’t change theirs. Changing flight dates could cause a fee that is just as much as a new ticket and not going just seemed like a waste. I could have just not go but since they were going anyway, I might as well. I canceled my hotel and booked one in theirs (hotel rooms just magically open up as available after the incident I wonder why).
So, there I was, on the 28th of August, on my way to Bangkok to meet Mai, Mix and Ryan, for yet another adventure. Except this time, there’s no idol waiting for me.
The plan today was JKT48 theater then head back to Countdown Asia Festival! Mindmix won the same ticket as mine so I plan to meet up with him at FX for Team KIII’s “Boku no Taiyou“!
Anggy offered to give me a ride to FX but she’s not joining since she has class right after. I’m more of a car-person and this is basically my 2nd motorcycle ride ever in my life so yeah, I was hanging for my life here. A motorcycle ride through Jakarta’s traffic, bucket list checked.
We both had Sate Padang (I think), and talked about JKT48 while we fill up our tummies. I wasn’t familiar with Team KIII as I was more familiar with Team J. But I had watched Team KIII’s “Boku no Taiyou” 2 years ago and I remember being impressed with Yona and Sinka. I think that this setlist is a revival? I wasn’t sure. But it was interesting that I get to see the same setlist I saw 2 years ago.
Right before we went in, a group of guys stopped us and asked us to support JKT48 Team T later at Countdown Asia Festival. They gave us this free invitation so me and Mindmix just looked at each other. Score! We were planning to go there anyway but now we got free tickets for it, haha.
“Boku no Taiyou” was fun! I could clearly see the improvement they had since 2 years ago and Mix was thrilled that he got a live half-assed translation on-the-go for him. The first MC was easy to follow when they were talking about their favorite cookings and the second MC and after I was just as lost as him. I was impressed with Sisil, who I never noticed before. I thought she was funny and engaging, noticing me and Mix in the theater and tried talking in English (and failing). I remember I went out of the theater thinking that I might just found my Team KIII oshi.
We head back to Countdown Asia Festival with our free tickets. Anggy, Ixa and Mocil weren’t free on that day so it was just me and Mix. We head to the Dempa booth where they had some merchandise sold.
Since the only light stick that I brought was a red JKT48 one, I thought of buying a Dempa light stick. After making sure I have enough money to get a taxi to the airport, I bought their CD and their badges as well.
Badly for me, the only Dempa song I was familiar about was W.W.D and W.W.D II. So I was following the lead of the Japanese wota that were there as well. They didn’t sing W.W.D but I really enjoyed “Neo Japanism” and they also sang their latest single, “Otsukaresama~” or rather “Otsukare Summer”. Towel waving songs are always fun. (Yes, I waved a HKT48 towel. Sue me.)
I waited around till JKT48 Team T appearances. I was risking it as I was actually late for my taxi to the airport. But they were singing “Wink wa Sankai” and a song or two wouldn’t hurt me, right? After bidding Mix farewell I left him and rushed to grab a taxi. Turns out I was wrong and the prospect of me missing my flight might be real. Good thing I had a taxi driver who drives like a madman when I told him the time of my flight. Although, in his defense, all taxi drivers in Jakarta are madmen.
I was glad to meet Mindmix, after chatting with him for almost 2 years. And was so happy to finally meet Anggy, who I couldn’t meet the last time I went to Jakarta. It was always a fun time to meet the crazies that is Ixa and Mocil as well. It’s fun to able to watch Sousenkyo with friends, even though by “watching” it was actually just reading the ranking through Twitter and us reacting to it. And of course, to be able to see Kamen Joshi again, not to mention Dempagumi and also watch Team T’s performance and a theater show by Team KIII? I thought I made really good use of my 2 days and there was no regret whatsoever.
I went home, tired but happy. It was crazy to think that I traveled to two different countries in a span of 1 week just to see idols. From Home > Tokyo > Home > Jakarta > Home. But Tokyo and Jakarta felt like home to me in some kind of a weird way. When you have online friends from all over the world, even though you’re traveling by yourself, you’re never alone. And that what makes it feel home to me.
A day after I got back I started thinking about the things I did in Japan. Of course, by now the rest of the AIDOL gang are heading to Fukuoka for the Sousenkyo, while I’m back to work and stuck in office. The one thing that I have been hammering myself about is my promise with Anna. I said yes to her when she asked me to come to Jakarta but the question is am I really going to Jakarta? Just to see Kamen Joshi again? I don’t really like them that much do I?
Turns out I kinda do. I basically finished all my money in Japan so I was lucky that the miles point I got from my Japan trip could cover up my Jakarta flight. Since I used up all my leave from work as well, I had to fly off Saturday morning and come back on Sunday night. Plus, I also asked for help from one of UKN48 staff, Anggy to stay near her place so I would save on accommodation. It was crazy but I was doing it.So on Saturday morning, there I was, with little to no money and heading to Jakarta for Kamen Joshi. I looked up the time table and Kamen Joshi has 2 performances on the 1st day. Yay! Plus, Dempagumi will also make an appearance on 2nd Day at 4.30pm, leaving my morning free. So, I decided to apply for JKT48’s theater in the morning.
I reached the airport and straightaway head to FX Sudirman, the shopping mall that JKT48’s theater is located at, to meet up with Mindmix from my Half48 irc chat. We head to Lapangan D Senayan together and was just in time for Kamen Joshi.
Since this was literally my second time watching them live, I didn’t know the calls or even who the other members are. The ones appearing was Alice Juban, of whom I only recognized the center, Tachibana Anna and Sawada Risa, Wayne’s oshimen. There were a lot of Mori Kanon fans in attendance, which later I found out are called Kanon’s Children. And I find that interesting.
Kamen Gaijin subbed a few of Kamen Joshi’s Jakarta adventures which is of course translated by yours truly. I thought this was a good indication that I truly like the group. I wouldn’t translate something I don’t have an interest in and I was definitely interested in this group.
It was 2pm when Kamen Joshi’s performance was over and it was unbearably HOT in Jakarta. Me, Mindmix and Anggy head back to FX to enjoy the air-conditioned building since we have almost 4 hours till the next Kamen Joshi performance. We open up our phones and watch a streaming of Sousenkyo in a tiny cafe in Jakarta. It wasn’t ideal, I sure wished I was in Fukuoka watching it with my own two eyes but it was better than nothing. Plus, I love watching Anggy’s reaction every time someone from SKE ranks.
I saw Anna tweeted that there will be an impromptu handshake session. Since the sousenkyo stream was being wonky, I rushed Mindmix and Anggy to go to the handshake session with me. Knowing my luck, when we arrived the session ended but the girls were distributing flyers instead so I had to go see Anna and say something.
I yelled out “Anna!” to grab her attention. She saw me and immediately recognized me. “Half-chan, you really came!”. Not only did she recognized me but she remembered my name as well. No wonder people told me that she has a good memory. Their performance was up next and I couldn’t talk anymore. I was already being rude enough for taking her time when she should be heading to the stage to get ready. She gestured to me that she has to go to the stage while I nod understandingly that she needs to leave. She signaled me asking if I’ll be watching the live and I signaled back OK. It was a short interaction, but enough to make me feel happy.
By the evening performance, Ixa and Mocil came over to join us. We had so much fun headbanging to Kamen Joshi.
After Kamen Joshi, we sat around and continue struggling to stream Sousenkyo but ended up watching the twitter timeline instead. They were about to announce the Top 10, and every single announcement seemed to be taking such a long time.
Once Sasshi was announced as Number 1 again I laughed in all their faces and followed Anggy back. Kamen Joshi and Sousenkyo streaming with friends, it wasn’t what I had in mind a year before but it seemed perfect. I ended the day with an email from JKT48 saying I won the theater application for tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I would be seeing JKT48 and Dempagumi. I can’t wait.