Reporting Live: ANGERME promoting “Nanakorobi Yaoki” at Toyoyama’s Airport Walk (June 14, 2015)

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One of my dreams came true this summer when I was given a chance to meet a Hello! Project (or H!P for short) group. I been a Hello! Project fan for about eleven years now and I haven’t stop loving them as old members leave and new ones come in. I was also able to meet one of my favorite H!P members, Kanon Fukuda. Yes, I was able to meet ANGERME!!! 😀

ANGERME originally started off in 2009 under the name S/mileage with four members who were picked from the Hello! Project trainee program. Hello! Project is an umbrella group that represents very popular Japanese groups and acts like Morning Musume, Berryz Kobo, Aya Matsuura, Maki Goto, and others. Having a chance to debut in a group that is associated with Hello! Project is a tremendous honor as the groups under Hello! Project are considered top idols across Japan. In the past, new members for these groups have been picked through random auditions. However, producers and managers have been forming groups lately with members in the trainee program as these girls have been taught the ways of Hello! Project.

With a group name that blends together the words “smile” and “age”, S/mileage made their indies debut with the single “aMa no Jaku”. They released three more indie singles, including one of my favorites “Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!!”, before the infamous Hello! Project producer Tsunku announced that the girls would make a major debut if they completed a mission, collecting 10,000 photos of people smiling. The girls were able to complete their mission and released their debut single “Yume Miru Fifteen” on May 26. “Yume Miru Fifteen” was an instant success and fan favorite as it reached #5 on the daily Oricon charts. I even loved it as it’s strong, cute, and some different from the other groups.

Over the years, S/mileage added more members as two graduated from the group. In 2015, the group changed their named to ANGERME, a combination of two French words that meant “angel” and “tears”. Sorry guys, it doesn’t mean the group is angry at all. The group also changed their image; going from a girly cute sound with everyday teenage thoughts to a much mature one with hard truth lyrics.

I was very grateful to go this event thanks to my friend Petit Melon who told me about this event. And, I was also grateful for a couple of people in the Hello! Project fandom who bought singles through me so I could use their tickets for the handshake event. Meeting any member of Hello! Project is a dream come true because I loooooooooooooove Hello! Project. Yes, I’m a die-hard fan.

After I left early from the HR mini-live event, I caught a bus from Nagoya Station to a mall that is next to a regional airport outside the city. It took about thirty minutes to get there. But as soon as the bus reached the mall’s bus stop, I got off the bus and raced to the event space which was on the third floor. While on the way up, I bumped into the crew of the Solar Impulse 2 plane, who were grounded for a while in Nagoya due to weather problems.

I reached the event space and quickly bought the tickets and obtained the handshake tickets. I then went to the side as the staff were lining up people based on their ticket numbers. It took a while, but I got a spot in the middle section and next to a good-looking male fan who I was trying miserably to make small talk with him. I was shy as well as I didn’t know what to really talk about besides “Who is your favorite member?”. I missed my chance in having a boyfriend. 😦

The set list was:

1. Gashin Shoutan (臥薪嘗胆)
Introductions MC
2. Mahoutsukai Sally (魔法使いサリー )
3. Please Miniskirt Postwoman! (プリーズ ミニスカ ポストウーマン!)
4. Taiki Bansei (大器晩成)
Announcement MC
5. Nanakorobi Yaoki (七転び八起き)

Overall, it was a pretty good mini-live. I was really excited when they sang “Please Miniskirt Postwoman!”, “Taiki Bansei”, and ‘Nanakorobi Yaoki” as they are pretty awesome. So awesome that I joined the fans as I sang, danced, jumped up and down, and did other crazy (but appropriate) things. I had a blast!

As soon as the mini-live finished, the girls thanked everyone for coming and exited the stage as the staff prepared for the handshake event. There wasn’t much preparation; just put a couple of tables on the stage and make a line at the beginning of the event space. It didn’t take a long time until the girls came out and the line was moving.

I went through the handshake line four times, each time lasting barely a minute. I barely had a second with each girl as the staff hurried me along. General handshake events for Hello! Project are usually fast-paced as there is a lot of people to get through the line. The first time I went through the line. it was a mad rush to say a message to each girl like “Congratulations” to Kanon or “I Love You” to Meimi. My nerves and pacing got better gradually as I became relaxed by the fourth time. The members were starting to be more open as a lot of the members, especially the third generation, tried to speak English.

This event was one of the highlights of this year because I loooooooooooove ANGERME. I love Kanon (the Kago Ai look-a-like), Rikako, and Meimi. And, I love their music; both Smileage’s and ANGERME’s. It is so great, just listen to “Nanakorobi Yaoki” below. A haunting but uplifting song that talks about never giving up even if you fail many times.

And if you like that, check out ANGERME’s discography!

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Reporting Live: Takui Nakajima’s “Renga no Ie” Promotional Event at Nagoya Parco’s Tower Records [May 03, 2015]

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I want to say a big thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you for 1,000 views and 600 visitors! I first saw the news on my phone during break time at work and broke out into a happy dance!

Thank you for your continuous support!

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Now to our weekly installment of Reporting Live (old name was Live Report). By the time I saw the next artist, it was the last day of my spree to see free lives around the city during the glorious Golden Week. This artist has become prominent this year as he gained more responsibility over the creation and production of several famous girl groups’ songs. Today’s Reporting Live is how I saw the amazing Takui Nakajima and why he brought me to tears.

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For those who are not familiar with Takui Nakajima or the Hello! Project fandom, don’t worry, let me give you a recap! Takui began his career in 1994 when he joined the indies visual kei band MAGGIE MAE, a name inspired from a Beatles’ song, right after he moved to Tokyo. The band stayed together until 1998 when they decided to break up. A year later, Takui debuted on the label Sony Music Records with his first name only in caps serving as his artist name. He released his first single, “Triangle”, under the label.

After the start of the millennium, Takui decided to jump labels as he went from Sony Columbia to an indies label before settling at Up Front Works. Maybe the switch to an indies label and a lesser-known one (Let’s face it, artists in Up-Front Agency at that time, who were not part of Hello! Project, were less well known) helped him more as he continued to create more of his own music and receive the freedom to experiment different musical genres. You could say a lot about his music. But for me, his music is filled of influences from the Beatles (which he is a big fan of and so am I), soft rock, hard-core rock, visual kei, blues, and beyond.

I can’t really talk much about the live event because honestly, I was late for it. My friend and I decided to eat Domino’s Japan, a rarity in my daily life because it’s sooooooo expensive here, after spending the hot Sunday morning at a zoo nearby. After finishing eating a late lunch, we realized that it was 2:40 pm. The live started at three o’clock, oh no! After casually walking to the station and riding the train, I barely made it to Sakae Station at three, a location where my friend and I decided that we would go on our own treks for the late afternoon.

It was my first time visiting Nagoya Parco’s Tower Records, so I didn’t know exactly where I had to go. See, the problem was that there were three Parco buildings. And because I decided not to pay attention to the store’s online event information, I decided to go and search for the store in the wrong building. As I reached the top, I realized my mistake and had to run down the stairs and go to the correct building. By the time I made it to the store, it was 3:18 pm! Takui already had already performed half his setlist!

When I entered, Takui was performing an amazing cover of “Back in the U.S.S.R.”. It was full of energy and so lively that most of audience were dancing and/or clapping their hands in a subtle way. Actually, the audience at this live event was the opposite of any fans at a Hello! Project event. At those events, most fans are men who are dressed in a color-coordinate style of their favorite member, armored with glowsticks, and performing their extreme fan chants throughout the songs. At Takui’s lives, the fans are mostly middle-aged women, some with babies, who are swaying to the beats, eyes beaming at him like he is some musical Jesus or something. It was complete silence, something I thought to be nice but eerie at the same time.

He sang a couple more songs. Here is the setlist, courtesy of James Yamada:

1. Tsugi no Mado wo Magare (次の角を曲がれ)
2. Donna Koto ga Atte mo (どんなことがあっても)
3. Hitori ni Narou to Shinaide (一人になろうとしないで)
4. Taiki Bansei (大器晩成)
5. Guernica (ゲルニカ) ~ BACK IN THE U.S.S.R
6. Sangousen (3号線)
7. Renga no Ie (煉瓦の家)
8. Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)

(You listen to full versions of the songs that are linked via Youtube)

I feel guilty of missing out on the first half because he performed some awesome songs like “Taiki Bansei” and “Tsugi no Mado wo Magare”. Nevertheless, the last song he performed was one of the best songs I have heard live for a long time. He started the song out with a mellow ambiance, just strumming mindlessly with only his guitar and singing the song. Half way through, he changed keys and started to sing a powerful rendition of “Stand By Me”. The way he performed with such power and emotions bought me to tears. His music moved me emotionally.

After he went IMG_1754back and finished “Tokyo Tower”, I wiped my tears while Takui thanked everyone for coming out. It was time to move: I had to go to a certain information desk and preorder the album in order to get an event ticket. The best thing was that it didn’t take a long time to signup for the preorder and get through the event line.

I actually went to this event for a friend because she is a huge of Takui. So, after I finished preordering, I went to the line, waiting for no less than five minutes. He was a really nice and kind person as he talked to everyone for an extended time and even saying hello to the babies and patted their arms that came up with their mothers. As I approached him, I shook his hand and told him that my friend from America said hi and that she loves him. He laughed and said “Thank you very much”. He signed a picture of himself, gave it to me, and we said our “goodbyes” and “see you next time” when I started to leave.

If you haven’t of this guy or his music, YOU SHOULD! I am not trying to yell at you or make you do it by typing everything in caps, but I strongly suggest listening to his new album. Takui is an amaaaaaaaaaazing performer who has a lot of talent that needs to be heard more through the musical world.

My friend recommend me the fast-paced, staccato-filled rock “Tsuzukerou”. It reminds me of a visual kei-type of song or something related to Tsunku.

Here is a promo for the new album: