[Reporting Live] Sato Mieko at Nagoya Parco (January 7, 2017)

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Happy Sunday everyone! I just want to let you guys know that I saw Sato Meiko at a mini-live last week. I wrote a semi-detailed report on it on the Japanese pop site Arama! Japan.

Here is an except:

These are the wishes made by Sato Mieko, a singer-songwriter who recently promoted her newly released Triple A-side “Mou Chotto / Kimi wa Mahoutsukai / Kaze ni Natta Anata e” at a free mini-live in front of Nagoya’s Parco on January 7th.

Sato is no stranger to the Nagoya music scene. She originally started her music career as a singer-songwriter under the pen name “Fuuka Koyoi”, releasing only one single in 2007. She then went on to join the mega-idol group SKE48 in 2008 as a member of Team S. There, she regularly performed with her fellow members on the local SKE48 stage or on stages in front of thousands around the country.

She left SKE48 in 2015 to continue her dream of being a singer-songwriter. The musician went on to release a single in 2015 named “YOUR COLOR” and an album named “Yakusoku” in 2016 under an indies label. She recently released another single, her first triple-A single, on December 21, 2016. However, because of the holiday season, she couldn’t promote until January 7 when she appeared at Parco in Nagoya’s Sakae shopping district.

You can read more at: http://aramajapan.com/news/saito-mieko-promotes-her-triple-a-side-single-with-abundant-zeal/69145/

😀

 

 

Signal’s “Secret Rain” Promo Event at HMV Sakae (August 15, 2015)

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Commited to catching up, here is another report! This is dedicated to all the Sailor Moon musical fans all over the world. ❤

Signal is a Japanese pop band that had three ladies transformed as handsome guys (more like the “ikemen” type). The trio formed in 2015 with members Root, Rei, and Lyra. If you are a fan of the all-female theatre troupe Takarazuka Revue, you might recognized Lyra from the Tsukigumi or the Moon Group. Others might recognized Root from various “ikemen shoujo” magazines like KERA or Men’s Bible. But, I think a lot of people from the Western World knows Root as the phenomenal Jadeite from the 2013 Sailor Moon Musical La Reconquista.
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The group released their first mini-album, entitled “Secret Rain”, on July 29, 2015. This is the only CD they ever released as Signal announced at the end of last month that they were going to split up due to each member wanting to pursue their own individual activities.

Originally when I went the mini-live at HMV Sakae on August 15, I just wanted check out this ikemen group because they looked interesting when I researched them beforehand. I didn’t really know that Root was in this group until she did her self-introduction. I was shocked when she introduced herself and had to check the group’s blog to make sure it was true. At that moment, I grew excited as I really loved Root when she starred in the 2013 Sera Myu musical. She makes a great guy villain and is an amazing singer.

The live started promptly at one o’clock. The crowd was a bit small with most of the audience being young adult females. I stood in the back of the crowd because I didn’t know this group really well to join the front section with the true fans. The “guys” came onto the stage and did their self-introductions. Root’s acting as a guy is pretty spot-on, like always. She got the mannerisms and can produce a guy-ish tone easily. So can Lyra. However, Rei was the weaker ikemen as she was pretty girlish. She really can’t do the ikemen really well as you can tell in the picture above that she is one that looks less masculine then other two. During the MCs, she brought out the playful female side as she tried to be cute and more girlish. Maybe a career in ikemen entertainment isn’t suited for her but she was having fun.

During the twenty minute live, Signal sang two or three songs, which the very last one was “Secret Rain”, while entertaining the crowd with a couple of MCs. The group was pretty shaky live as Root and Lyra could perform in an ikemen style and Rei couldn’t. I swear she just sang the song in her normal voice (and not the ikemen-type that was featured on the PV). However, the “guys” were having fun and you could see that the members enjoyed each other and had a good relationship between them.

After the mini-live, the staff prepared the stage for a handshake event for those who bought the CD. I quickly bought the album and obtained one handshake ticket. The line for the event was small, so it wasn’t much of a wait to approach the table. The first member who I greeted was Rei, who spoke some English to me and asked me if I lived in Nagoya. Then next was Root, who I told that I loved her in La Reconquista because she was my favorite Jadeite and I will continue to support her. She thanked me. Lastly, I approached Lyra, who I had a small conversation with. The event was laid-back as the fans could spend a decent amount of time talking to each member. I swear some of the girls before me were fangirling a lot though.

I haven’t listen to much of the album since I bought it. But, if you enjoy ikemen or vocally-altered dance music, you should check out this group. It’s a basic Jpop group that you expect to be from 2015. However, the group’s charm and the great relationship between each other is what makes Signal stand out. Just look at the PV below. You might even fall in love with one the members.

Reporting Live: Sakura Cinderella near Nagoya Station (August 8,2015)

 

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Aaaaaaaaaaaah, I am so behind on the Reporting Live segment! I keep on going to countless events but become lazy and not report on them! I am so sorry, I will try really hard to catch up before the end of March.

Sakura Cinderella is another “local idol” group here in Nagoya. Unlike Idol Kyoshitsu who performs in another company’s sushi restaurant,  these girls perform in their own cafe near Nagoya Station. Formed in 2014, this AKB48 copycat group performs in their cafe everyday and does street lives all over the city. Named after one of the main streets “Sakura Street”, Sakura Cinderella’s catchphrase is “Tidy and pretty true idols.”[1]

The group released their self-titled debut single a year later in May 2015. They will release their second one coming up this April.

I actually stumbled upon this event when I was out shopping with a friend around the central part of the city. We noticed that there was stage being set up and a handful of people were starting to gather around the area. I turned to my friend with eagerness in my eyes. I wanted to see this live because a) I didn’t know these girls and b) it was free! My friend rolled her eyes slightly and sighed as she didn’t want to join in. She went off and did more shopping as I stayed around for the live to start.

As it approached one o’clock, there were more and more people gathering around the stage. The main members of Sakura Cinderella (there were no “trainees” attending this event) came out and tested all the equipment and practiced a little. As they were practicing, I found a spot in the center-back. I had an ok view but there were a lot of tall people surrounding the stage.

The live promptly started at one. It was pretty long compared to other free mini-lives I been to. During the live, they sang about four to five songs, had a couple of MCs, and even did a photo session time (the only time where you can take a photo without the staff kicking you out from the event). I don’t remember what was the setlist or which members were on stage. And there isn’t information on the web about this event. However, it was pretty good live and the girls were really cute. They aren’t the best of singers but it was a lot better than Idol Kyoushitsu. No one was off tune, they blended together nicely, and they had a cute, good tone.

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After the live, they announced that they were holding a free handshake event. A no-strings attached event. You didn’t have to buy a CD or a DVD. You didn’t have to give money to anyone. Just stand in line and wait you turn.  :O

While waiting in line, I met a really kind elderly fan who chatted with me. Before we parted ways, he gave me his cheer light. At first, I tried to refuse it because it was a good-quality one with the group’s name written across on the upper section. But, he shrugged off my attempt to return it to him with a smile as he told me it was gift for coming and seeing the idol group. 🙂 ;_;

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It didn’t take a long time to wait. As I approached each girl, I just said the normal “Hey, I enjoyed your live” and “It was my first live”. And in turn, they asked where I am from, how did I enjoy the concert, and such. I talked with each member for fifty to sixty seconds, I can’t remember. But, it was longer than most other idol group’s handshake events.

Sakura Cinderella is a cute group that have a really good tone and ear-pleasing voices. Sure, they and their music are AKB48 knockoffs. However, this is a pleasant group that I recommend seeing if you ever come to Nagoya.

Check out a live that did in September 2015:

(Also, you can check out their channel for more videos)

Reporting Live: HR promoting their debut single “Natsuiro Candy” at Nagoya’s Kintetsu Passe (June 14, 2015)

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Ah, summer! 

What comes to mind when you think of this fabulous season? Is it the beach? The heat? The heaps of ice cream you get to eat?

Whatever may be the case, as we head towards winter, you are probably missing those dog days of summer. HR can help by reminding you of those feelings with their debut single “Natsuiro Candy” (Summer-Colored Candy).

HR, short for Hakata Reboot, is an enormous idol group based in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture aka southern Japan. The group formed in 2010 with fourteen members with a simple motive; be an AKB48-like group for girls who want to become idols but can’t move to Tokyo. It sounds a bit fishy but plausible because, despite Japan looking like a tiny country on international news reports, the distance between Tokyo and Fukuoka is over five hundred kilometers (or over three hundred miles). That might or might not seem a lot. But, a hopeful idol who wants to make it big in the idol industry, it is.

Trying to keep their dreams alive, HR opened their own theater on the third floor of Box Town Hakozaki. Interestingly, a sister group of AKB48 performs in another theater near HR. Selective girls perform on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, which are the days that HKT48 closes their theaters in order to have members do promotional work all over Japan. Smart thinking, HR managers!

The group constantly adds members with countless auditions they hold throughout the year. And, like all mainstream idol groups, members graduate or leave the group. However, I feel like members in HR leave faster compare to other indie/not-so-popular idol groups due to the prospect of other, well-known, Fukuoka-based groups like LinQ and HKT48. If you take a look at HR’s Japanese Wikipedia page, there are more graduated members listed than active members. That is a bit surprising.

Nevertheless, the group persisted and released their debut indies single “Kimi ni Spark” on May 2, 2012. Three years later, they released their debut major single “Natsuiro Candy” on June 24 under the Columbia Records label. To promote the single, the group split up into “teams” and did various promotional store events across the country.

I decided to go see HR at Nagoya’s Kintetsu Passe before I went to see ANGERME at another mall because I wanted to kill some time. Like most of the groups I mention on this blog, I didn’t know about HR before I saw the mini-live. I actually briefly saw the music video for “Natsuiro Candy” and wasn’t impress. Seriously, the music video is basically having is girls dancing and singing in bikinis on some beach, I thought it was unflattering, boring, and a blatant ripoff of AKB48’s bikini fest music videos.

I arrived at Kintetsu Passe five minutes before the event started. There were a small number of male fans starting to queue their place in the event space. By the edge of the area, members were circling around, chatting with fans and non-fans while promoting the event to people passing by. No really approached me and tried to start a conversation with me sadly. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping that someone would want to strike a conversation with me. Maybe they were afraid to or that there wasn’t enough time to chat.

Once it was one o’clock, the members headed towards the stage and began to sing their opening number. I don’t remember which song they sang. But, I stuck around for three songs before I had to catch a bus to see ANGERME. I can’t recall what songs they song, what was their opening talk about, and can’t seem find a set list anywhere on the web.

HR isn’t my cup of tea since, like I mentioned above, their music videos and songs are an obvious ripoff of famous AKB48 summer songs like “Labrador Retriever” and “Sayonara Crawl”. Although they are AKB48’s most popular singles, I find them to be bland and tasteless as they feature simple vocals and basic instrumentation. Though “Labrador Retriever” has somewhat of a plot going through the music video, the primary focus is on the girls doing a plain choreographed dance in their bikinis. Maybe I am looking at these summer songs at the wrong angle but I don’t find them interesting at all. I am more of a “RIVER” and “Halloween Night”-type of fan.

In the same regards, that is how I feel about HR and “Natsuiro Candy”. The girls are pretty nice, cute, and ambitious. But, their songs are a snooze fest. There is no personality or taste in both the song and the music video. I understand that this is their debut single and they probably didn’t get a lot of money to get a great song or music video. But, for the love of all things good, put that money to good use by making something diverse. We don’t need ANOTHER AKB48-sounding group!

I would recommend HR if you like the 48 family or knock-off groups like Idol Kyoushitsu. If you aren’t, you could still enjoy them since they are pretty cute and have a feel good attitude. However, don’t expect too much as “Natsuiro Candy” isn’t much of a memorable song. HR just needs time to find their sound as they should stop copying a popular idol pattern and do their own thing.

They will release their second single, “Toy Soldier”, this Wednesday. It’s much better their debut single but still copying that bland idol formula.

Fun Fact: HR’s image color is “Mentaiko pink”. Mentaiko is marinated fish eggs from pollacks and cods. It is part of the Japanese cuisine. The group’s hometown of Hakata is famous for “spicy Mentaiko”. Thus, the group’s image color pays homage to their hometown dish.

Reporting Live: Chelsy promoting their single “SistAr” at Tower Records Nagoya Parco (June 6, 2015)

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Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, ☆ai love music☆ now has over 2,000 views for this year! I want to thank all those who have read and supported the blog! I really appreciate and love you guys! 😀 😀 ❤ ❤

Today’s Reporting Live is brought to you by the Japanese pop-rock band Chelsy. The group was founded in 2011 after vocalist and guitarist MIO, drummer AMI, and bassist SHIZUKA passed an audition hosted by Sony Music and Honey Bee Records. This audition was also supervised by YUI’s producer. The band started to perform all over Japan the following year, first under the name MIO band and then Chelsy. However, the band hit a snag when MIO announced retirement by the summer of 2012.

To fill in MIO’s position, the company hired keyboardist ARISA. However, she only stayed in the group for ten months as she left show business on May 2013. By that time, MIO had returned to the band as the lead vocalist and guitarist.

From their beginnings to early 2013, the band mostly performed at various types of events. They even hosted a free live concert to capture more fans. By the spring of 2013, Chelsy finally got to release their first CD, a single named “I’LL BE ON MY WAY”, that was only sold at Shibuya’s Tower Records for a limited time. It was later in the year that they released their major debut single, “I will/Animation”, under the label Being. “I will” was used as an insert song for the anime series AO–HARU–RIDE.

Chelsy arrived to Nagoya to promote their third single, “SistAr”, at Tower Records Nagoya Parco. After checking out the store’s site and the band’s Youtube channel, I decided to check them out after my part-time job on Saturdays. I thought, Hey, why not check them out? They seem cool! while watching the “SistAr” music video.

I got to the event space right as MIO started to strum the first notes for their opening song. I can’t find the setlist for that day anywhere online. However, they played a few songs and did a couple talks within a thirty minute period. The atmosphere at the live was pretty much chilled as MIO played and sang, SHIZUKA supported MIO with the bass, and AMI just drummed soothing beats with a cajón. The weather was also perfect that day, making the whole event splendid.

After the band performed their last song, MIO announced that they would be starting the meet and sign event soon for anyone who bought a CD. I quickly bought a CD and jumped into the queuing line.  It took only ten minutes to line everyone up and prepare for the event.

The meet and sign event was pretty relaxed. As I approached the table, I first talked to MIO, then AMI, and finally SHIZUKA. I just chatted with the girls about how I enjoyed their live, where I am from, and thanking them for coming to Nagoya. It ended with them singing the CD and shaking my hand. It sounded short but actually, I was able to talked to each girl for a minute or so. I just forgot all the little details of the conversations.

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If you are into girl artists or bands like YUI, LoVendoЯ, or Scandal and/or you like pop-rock music, Chelsy is a band you must check out. Their song “SistAr” showcases MIO’s versatile vocals, SHIZUKA’s neat bass skills, and AMI’s on-point drumming. It is a song that is quiet mellow but upbeat at the same time, which will bring a jovial feeling to the listener’s state of mind.

Also, check out their super-cute announcement for Akihabara Expo 2015:

Make sure to check them out at Akihabara Expo 2015 this December in the Los Angeles area! 😀

Reporting Live: GIRLS4EVER promoting their single “Down the Line” at Tower Records Kintetsu Passe (May 30, 2015)

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I finally can finish writing up all the in-store live events for May! I swear May was one of my busiest month in terms of attending events.

Nevertheless, the last in-store event of May was for the idol group GIRLS4EVER at the Tower Records in Nagoya’s Kintetsu Passe. The group is made up of four members; the sweet Airi, the “hip” Rico, the beautiful Japanese and French Sakura, and cute and energetic Aika. The group is fairly new as they made their debut at a live event in Akibahara last year. That same year, they also released their debut single, “The Girl of Fate /  LOVE&TRAIN”.

For this time around, the group was doing in-store lives to promote their new single “Down the Line”, which was released at the end of April 2015. I checked out their new single via Youtube after I discovered that they were coming to Tower Records. I was on the fence about going as I thought “Hey, they don’t seem so bad. Maybe I should check them out” one day and then “I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t go” the other. A Facebook friend of mine named Peter, who this post is dedicated to, helped me get out from this rut as he recommended me to go.

I went to the store fifteen minutes before the live was scheduled to start. I got a spot near the stage pretty easily as there wasn’t a lot of people in the event space. But, as I put my stuff down and settled in, I noticed that there was an array of cameras all around me.

Wait, that isn’t normal!

Why is the guy next to me holding a professional camera?

The common sense rule of idol events is that there is NO picture-taking whatsoever.

These were the thoughts that were running though my head. I was so confused. Luckily, the host of the event explained a few minutes later that it was ok to take photos. Relieved, I whipped out my iPhone and stood to the side to get ready to take a lot of photos.

I don’t remember the set list very well. I do remember they sang “Down the Line” and “Keekyuu de Ikou ~Koi no Romance Seat~”. They probably sang a couple more songs and had at least three talk times. I am not really sure because it was four months ago. It also seems that there isn’t any reports about the event anywhere on the web. Sorry, guys. 😦

After the live, I decided to buy two singles so I could shake the girls’ hands and take a photo with one of the members.  During the in-between time, I joined the line for the handshake event. I was one of the first people to get into the line. The first person who I came up to was Airi. Our conversation was basically thanking each other for today, where I was from, and other little things. It was a very quiet and short conversation. After Airi, I went to Aika next and boy, did things change. Aika is verrrrrrrrrrrrrry energetic and chatting. She asked where I was from. And, when I said I was from America/United States, she tried to speak English. Although, she told me in Japanese that she wasn’t very good. She was very cute and so bubbly. Too bad I had to go to the next girl, I would have like to stayed and talked to her forever because she is such a chatterbox.

Next girl I approached was the hip leader Rico. She was coolm and collected as we talked about basic things. Our conversation was very short too; maybe because I didn’t have much interest in Rico (and also Airi). Then finally, I was reached the final member, Sakura. I first said my “hello”s and “thank you”s. Then, she told me that she is part French and knows some English and French. I told her that I can’t speak any French. 😦 We ended up having a short conversation in English before I had to leave the line.

After going through the handshake line, I went to the side of the event area and waited a bit for the next event to start. After a while, the event manager announced that they were ready for the two-shot/photo-taking event. Since I only had two tickets, I could take a picture with one girl.  It was between Sakura and Aika, which one should I choose?

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As you see, I chose Aika because of her funny and bubbly personality. When I came up to take a picture with her, she kept on trying to speak English. She was such a goof. We also talked some more in Japanese as I also try to “teach” her some English. As we were waiting for the photo to dry and for her to sign it, Sakura kept on telling me in English that Aika can’t speak English well. And Aika playfully fought back, saying she could. Haha. I love these kinds of moments.

GIRLS4EVER is a typical idol group with ok vocals. However, their personalities make up for the lack of amazing vocal skills. These girls each have their own unique personality that makes this group special. I personality love Aika because of her chatty and bubbly self. But, I wouldn’t mind seeing all four girls again in the future as they are lovely group who loves to have fun.

Thanks Peter for recommending this event! ❤

Here is the music video for “Keekyuu de Ikou ~Koi no Romance Seat~”, the b-side of their second single, “Down the Line”:


Here are some more pictures from the event:
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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: