A look back at the first half of 2016

Wow, the year is halfway over already. I was looking back over my list of events from the past six months, and while in the past I’ve chosen to do a “review of my year” at the end of each year, I decided to change this to every six months, meaning I remember more of what actually happened. And wow, a lot happened in only six months.

January

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My main memory of January was being in Tokyo ALL THE TIME. It happened that three different things ended up happening there and none of them were in the same weekend, meaning I spent far too much time on buses going back and forth. But each time was definitely worth it, even if I felt like I never wanted to see another bus in my life by the end of it.

However, before all of that. My actual New Year’s Day was spent in Osaka watching Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Yamabuki for the third time (the first and second being during Christmas in Tokyo). The special for this show was that we receieved a random omikuji sticker on our way out. Miraculously I managed to go from a Trio sticker to an Akazawa with only one trade in between. My luck was good that day.

And speaking of New Years, we got to celebrate the New Year with Magic Prince on January 4th, during which we played karuta with the boys and then went to the shrine with Shuhei.That was a pretty surreal day. I’ve never experienced anything like that with idols and I probably won’t ever again, and I’m thankful to have been able to take part in it.

My first time in Tokyo that month was to watch Comic JackAlthough my third show seeing Izaki on stage, it was my first with him as a main character. My seat for one of the shows was on the front row, and I was so close that I barely knew where to look. Izaki spent a whole lot of time lying down on the part of the stage I was looking at too, and he was so close I could see all the clips in his hair to keep it all together. It was such a funny stage play and I laughed a lot, especially watching Izaki’s character trying to fight while drunk.

My second trip to Tokyo of the month was for the high touch event for the Tenimyu Team Live DVD release. Honestly, at the time that event was the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. Fourteen cast members in a line, and a chance to high touch and talk to each one of them, without any time to prepare in between. There was a moment after I finished my first time round that I genuinely didn’t think I could do it again and considered just throwing away my second ticket. But, I managed it and I had a great time talking to each one of them, whether I was a fan of theirs or not.

Finally, I went again at the end of the month to go to Izaki Ryujiro’s birthday event. I have nothing but amazing memories of that day. The highlight for me was Izaki remembering my name (and job), and also having him answer my reauest of giving a self-introduction in English, despite that I was a harsh teacher and told him to try harder next time. Him and Soramu made a very amusing pair on stage, and they thoroughly entertained us for the whole time.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, I also saw Seigaku vs Yamabuki in Nagoya five times too. How did I even have time for all this stuff?! This was the time when I got two handshake tickets and worked myself up to terror at the prospect of shaking hands with Akutsu Jin. In the end, he smiled, so it was okay. And all the guys I handshaked with were so nice. I even managed to get Kazuki the second time, which made it super nice for me.

Yeah, I had a pretty busy January.

February

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February was a month dominated heavily by mine and Tina’s trip to Thailand for BOYS AND MEN’s special tour. It was a hot, but amazing three days in which we had some amazing experiences, and meeting so many awesome people! My remaining big memories of this weekend are my wake-up call from Honda, and also having him teach me how to write katakana properly. And, that amazing afternoon where me and Tina spent 20 minutes shopping with Kento and his manager alone. I’ve never been so glad to not want to get lost and decide to follow the leader. This trip was so expensive and took up so much budget that meant I had to miss out on other things. I had agonised for a long time over whether or not to actually go, but I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t. A visit to a new country with a friend, and three days spent with 4 amazing guys as well as some members of the Kenkyusei who we were also able to see a lot (including sitting at the table next to them at breakfast because we went to the wrong restaurant floor…). It was 100% worth the price and more.

The only other mentionable event from February (mostly because I had NO MONEY) was a final trip to watch Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Yamabuki again in Tokyo for Valentines Day. This is known as my unluckiest day of all time after all the disasters that happened that day, but at least the show was good as always which made up for all the things that went wrong. We were persuaded into it by the prospect of a free postcard, but as with every other time I saw it, the show did not disappoint. It was also nice to see St. Rudolph’s special Valentines after-intermission scene where they handed chocolates to random people in the audience.

March

I started March by racing into Tokyo Dome City Hall 2 minutes before the Yowamushi Pedal stage started because I did toujitsuken and had to wait in line for cancellations. While getting to my seat that late was pretty stressful (I sat down and the lights went down) it was well worth having tried for it, because the show was a lot of fun and I got to be introduced to many actors on stage all at once. I’ve never seen a bunch of guys working so hard on stage. All that running.

On that same day, I also saw the Dance with Devils musical at AiiA. I had no idea what to expect not knowing the fandom and having gone alone purely to see Izaki Ryujiro, but it was a very nicely done musical, and the cast were amazing. It was nice to see some of the guys up close during the live at the end too. I went home and watched the anime and now spend half of my life trying in vain to get the characters I want from gachas.

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The second part of my March was heavily dedicated to the Tenimyu Team Lives. I attended five shows in Kyoto between Thursday and Sunday. Unfortunately my biggest remaining memory of that weekend was when there were huge train delays on the Thursday and I was almost stranded, but aside for that the Team Lives themselves were super fun. It was nice to see the cast members talking out of character, and the lives, although short, were a lot of fun. Even more fun was the omiokuri afterwards, where we got to see the boys up close on our way out. I especially enjoyed the hearts from Akutsu.

This also happened! It had been so long since I’d met Rikuto and I had missed him a lot, so I had been glad they finally came back to the TV Tower when I was free so I could go along and get a picture. He was still his usual awkward self which I was pretty happy about, and pulled such a face when I asked him if his English had gotten better in his last year of high school (he had just graduated). Apparently he still has a way to go.

April

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The beginning of the month brought a second round of Tenimyu Team Lives, this time in Tokyo. I managed to miraculously get a ticket on the day for the one St. Rudolph show I didn’t already have a ticket for, meaning I saw both theirs and Yamabuki’s show twice over the weekend. My biggest memories of the shows that weekend were Kaisei whining his way through the exercises Yugo gave him, Shota and Mashiro switching roles and reinacting their final scene together (with bonus Tsuji), Kenya failing to read the words on my name tag, and being able to watch Shota handing out name tags for a while.

Then I moved from tennis to basketball, making a super fast visit to Tokyo again to see the Kuroko no Basuke stage. It was everything I had expected it to be and more, and my first time seeing a stage where I was 100% familiar with the original work. The first time I’ve bought photosets purely for characters rather than actors. Of course, I now like a whole bunch of the actors too. I also later watched it again at the cinema for the live viewing and me and Tina were super obnoxious and booked two seats in the middle of a bunch of four to lessen the chance of people sitting beside us (it worked!!).

May

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May was Dream Live month, and I saw the show 6 times, twice in Osaka and four times in Yokohama. Seeing all of those guys on the same stage singing songs that I loved definitely made this one of my favourite things I’ve done this year, and I’m glad I was able to see it so many times.

Aside from that, we also watched BOYS AND MEN’S Kenkyusei performing the musical White Tights. Having previously seen the BoyMen members performing it, it was nice to see it again and especially nice to see the Kenkyusei members playing the leading roles. They all did really well. I was worried about Rikuto’s performance as Yutaka’s character but he actually fit into it really well and although he was super awkward it worked for the character. Raiga did an awesome job in the main role. Taka cried A LOT. Actually, most of them cried a lot but he cried about ten times as many.

June

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June was supposed to be my quiet month. It didn’t really turn out to be that way. Does it ever?

I spent two days in Tokyo over a weekend where I had planned originally only to be there on the Sunday. Me and Tina spent Saturday trying and failing to watch the Touken Ranbu musical and instead deciding to spend our money on the gacha there, giving us some fun times trying to trade. And it was fun, despite everyone wanting Kashuu meaning getting hold of his badges was impossible. In the evening, we had a couple of hours of karaoke and I was super lucky with my free coaster. For once.

On Sunday, I went to the Freedom Event, along with Tina for one of them because I asked her if she wanted a ticket while she was half asleep. It was so nice to be able to see my favourites Kenya and Kaisei again, especially as themselves rather than as their Tenimyu characters. The event was a lot of fun and I laughed a lot. I really enjoyed seeing them all showing off their special skills, and Miyagi in particular blew me away with his drumming. Perhaps we’ll get another event like this in the second half of the year?

Finally, I went to Osaka to watch Izaki’s Shunkin-sho. It was so nice to see Izaki on stage again and I was happy that I decided to go ahead and get a ticket for the stage despite knowing it wasn’t something I would be overly interested in.

So that is my first half of 2016. It looks like the second half of the year is shaping up to be just as hectic but fun as the first half, so I’ll be looking forward to looking back on all of that in the new year.

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