A month of Gingadan Release Events

Back in June this year, I spent most of the month travelling back and forth to Tokyo for the release events for Gingadan’s first single Galaxy Cluster. Despite being tiring at times, and very expensive, it was one of the happiest months of the year for me. I got to meet the members I love many times, hear songs I really liked, and met so many great fans. So when I found out that I’d be able to do it all over again for their second single Galaxy Cluster 2 I couldn’t help but have a lot of positive expectations, if not a lot of time and money worries.

I wished I had documented the June release events properly away from Twitter, so I decided to make the effort this time and report on each event individually and compile them into one post. It took me a while to compile everything and be happy with it, but I’ve finally managed to put together what I think is a good reflection of my experience.

Saturday November 4th, Aria Sogo (Chiba Prefecture)

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First show: 12:00, Second show: 15:00. Yashiro Takuya absent.

As my first, and being one of the ones a further distance from Tokyo, I wish I could have stayed for the whole days and watched both lives. Unfortunately, I had to return to Tokyo after the first live to go to the Dress_No. live later in the evening. The train ride was long, and after that came a 15 minute walk in bright sunlight with no shade. By the time I actually made it to the mall I was so hot, but I was given a friendly welcome by all of the fans who were there already, so I immediately felt at home. My big memory of this morning was the fans being super unhappy when the staff mentioned that “regular people” could go and stand in the centre aisle, and moving all the chairs so that there was no aisle any more. The staff know the fans really well and just gave up, because they know we know best (no one wants to get there early only to have some passerby come and stand right in the front too).

On this day, as a gift to the Gingadan fans who are an amazing group of people, I finally made use of some galaxy pattern zip-lock bags that I’d had in my apartment a while. I printed out pictures of the members, sealed them in envelopes, and added them along with Halloween candy into the bags. Although I didn’t manage to hand them all out on this day, the ones I did give were very well received. Everyone immediately opened their photos and traded them with each other, so I hope they all got who they wanted. It also gave me the opportunity to approach and talk to some people I’d never spoken to at events before, which is something I’m not really great at doing. I also got Show by Rock cookies and a photo from my friend who went to see it a lot and had a bunch of extras.

Since this was the first release event I went to, I’ll spend a little time talking about the songs.

Aishitemo Koishitemo – This is the most upbeat song on the single, and the first they performed. They would come on stage to the introduction and try and get us all fired up which is honestly a little sad to see when there’s only about 20 people watching but we really did get excited. It really is a fun song to listen to and watch performed, and I’m glad it was the one they chose to make a PV for this time.

Itsudatte Kimi ga Suki – So I learned later that this is a cover of an English song, and I listened to it but I definitely like Gingadan’s interpretation best. This song and it’s opening lines about being in London and Berlin sparked a whole lot of two-shots with the members/fans pointing to those locations. This song is also the one that had the easiest moves for us to do with our penlights so although there was nothing official everyone was doing them by the end of the events.

Massugu ni I Love You – Apparently the person who wrote this song has written songs for quite big groups, and when they were recording it, they referred to it as their “kami uta” and when I heard it for the first time, I could see why. I’d describe it as a slightly up-beat ballad, that not only shows off Taisei and Rui’s voices well, also gives Yu his own verse too. But where Yu and Yoshinari’s skill really comes in is with the dance routine. While the two singers concentrate on just that, the two dances have these really intricate routines that involve a lot of interpretation on the song lyrics. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated it, but I really enjoy watching it.

One of the group’s weakest points is their talk skills. I’ve seen how much they failed at it in the past and hoped they’d practised a little, but they failed just as much as ever. It’s kind of endearing, but super awkward at the same time. When they did have chance to talk, Yoshinari started rambling about how there were no Ario malls in Osaka (he was immediately proved wrong by one of the staff from Osaka who told him there actually was), and then started talking about a mall chain from Osaka with this weird jingle that he insisted on singing. At this point Taisei was getting so embarrassed on his behalf that he said “just drink your water so we can move onto the next song” and that was the end of that.

Today, I bought five CDs but had 7 tokuten tickets, because I traded something with a friend for them. This meant I could get one CD signed, and get six two-shots.

I chose to get two pictures with Yu, as he is my favourite member. I wanted to get the “bear” pose with all members since I was wearing a bear parka, but for my second one I chose to hold the CD I’d gotten signed at the event. It was the first CD I received from this round of release events, so it felt significant.

I actually wasn’t supposed to get two pictures with Taisei, but I forgot to get two with Rui and I felt too awkward to go back a second time, so I changed my plans. Taisei is beautiful though and so I really didn’t mind having two pictures with him. I went with the bear and CD poses once again. By the way, the staff member who took most of my photos today is the one everyone always wants to get, because he is great at photography and manages to find great angles.

My last two pictures were with Rui and Yoshinari. I laughed so much when I saw Yoshinari’s face in the picture afterwards (and his ears that are not actually connected to his head). Actually though my main memory of him is as always, him telling me to “please come again”. He should know by now that I always come again, but I told him I’d be going to the next event too.

After getting my pictures, I had to leave pretty quickly to go back to Tokyo for the Dress_No. live, so I didn’t exactly get the chance to appreciate everything, but looking back it was an awesome first event despite how short it was for me.

Sunday November 5th, Tower Records Totsuka (Kanagawa Prefecture)

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First show: 12:00, Second show: 15:00. Yashiro Takuya absent.

This show was one of their very few outdoor events this time. One of the things I like most about going to these release events is checking out all the new areas, malls and shops that they go to. They went to this same place during their last release events, but it had been the only one I couldn’t go to, so I was happy to be able to see it this time. The stage was outdoors, and slightly awkwardly placed in front of the main doors of the malls, but it was well sheltered and there was a huge staircase for the fans to sit on to watch, and the atmosphere felt really nice. I actually like outdoor events a lot, providing it isn’t too hot.

I also had company for this event as Tina joined me for the day. Although I swear the boys hate her. The first time, Yoshinari added an extra “h” to her name and this time Rui forgot to put one in. The nice thing was that at least Rui noticed and awkwardly added it in, but seriously this is what happens when I’m nice and take people along to see them.

Their talk time was basically non-existent today and I don’t know if that was down to them or the mall staff wanting the event to be short. Rui talked a little about people watching them for the first time and got super skeptical when a bunch of the girls he knew were fans put their hand up (people do this often to mock them, poor boys) and therefore showed his deadpan self when he basically said “no, you’re not.”

During the second show, all the members went to drink water while Yoshinari talked a little. When they’d finished drinking, Taisei kindly brought Yoshinari’s bottle of water to him. Yoshinari took it, and then said he didn’t need a drink and just awkwardly held it. So when they were about to begin the next song he had to awkwardly excuse himself and go and put it back on the table. Taisei was so apologetic but I felt like Yoshinari could have at least taken a sip to make it worth Taisei’s effort. Especially since Taisei is the kind to get super embarrassed whenever anything goes remotely wrong.

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I had only meant to get one signed CD during the whole day, but I decided at the last minute to buy another and get another signed after the second show too. I added a heart instead of the dot above the “i” in my name, and Taisei diligently added it too when he wrote my name. He was also very diligent in thanking me in English this time as well, I’m pretty certain he said it three times overall in the short time I was with him. Since he always says he’s really bad at English, it’s possibly the only word he’s confident enough to say.

When I got to Yu I asked him a question I’d been meaning to ask him since the first event and kept forgetting. He had to do a presentation at his University where he had to recite some Shakespeare, and he’d been struggling to decide between a sonnet or a passage from King Lear. I had been wondering which he had chosen. He told me he had chosen King Lear, and I asked him if it had been in Japanese or English. He said Japanese, and I commented on how Shakespeare is really difficult in English. He thought so too, but was surprised when I told him I’d studied Shakespeare a lot in University.

My friend lent me a world map she’d been using in her two-shots the day before and so I decided that my two-shot theme for today would be to challenge them all to find England on the map. I wondered what the results would be, and this is how it turned out.

After the first show, I got pictures with Rui and Yu. Rui actually managed to find it really quickly and I felt bad that I’d thought he would have issues trying to locate it. I had to tell Yu where it was in the end (he just started going “where?? Where??”), but it was probably a little hard on him because I spoke to him in English but the map was in Japanese, so he couldn’t connect the two as easily as the others could.

When I asked Taisei to find England he immediately started complaining that the map was too small (it was folded and I only showed the part with England on it) but then he realised he had already found it and had to interrupt his own complaints. Yoshinari also found it super quickly but then actually pointed to the wrong country in the picture because he was too focused on the whole London Berlin thing.

And with those pictures taken, my time at the event was over (unfortunately we had to rush off again for TouMyu because our lives are super busy).

Saturday November 11th, Ario Mall Kashiwa (Chiba Prefecture)

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First show: 12:00, Second show: 16:30. All members present.

This was the release event furthest away from Tokyo, and therefore the most annoying to get to. It involved a long train ride and then a bus, but when I arrived the actual mall was one of the nicest I’ve been to during these events. It was huge, bright and colourful inside, and had a huge outdoor area where the event stage was. Because the two shows had a long gap in between, I had a lot of free time to walk around the mall. I also ate three meals within the space of three hours because it was the best way of guaranteeing somewhere warm and comfortable to sit.

This was the first event where all 5 members were present, and that made it special regardless of how annoying the place was to get to. The other members welcomed Takuya back, and it really was nice to see him there. The last time I saw him with Gingadan was at the beginning of June and it just hasn’t been the same without him. As much as they did well with only four of them there, they are a five member band and so they’re just not Gingadan when they’re not all there. It also meant that a lot of his fans started coming to the events again, and it was nice to see them there too.

My two-shot theme today was based around me going to Daiso because I had so much free time, and finding some plastic roses. It turned out to be a good choice of prop and I really annoyed being given these flowers by the boys. It took a little while for me to figure out what the best way to take the photo was meaning the first two had both of us looking at the camera. Then Taisei decided to just stare at me and look beautiful and sincere while giving me flowers, and I decided to do the final two with us looking at each other. Despite not being my favourite member, my favourite picture was with Takuya because for some reason we both look unbelievably happy.

I chose to get pictures with my top three members after the first show. Yu was the first one I went to, and he really wanted to examine the flowers a lot for some reason. After we took the photo he kept looking at them and counted how many flowers there was (there was 5) and so I thanked him for giving me so many.

When the staff was about to take my picture with Rui, she suddenly said to him “why are you pulling that face?” I assumed he changed whatever weird face he had been making but it honestly didn’t turn out much better. I’m used to him making weird faces though, so I don’t have a problem with it.

I had no idea that Taisei was looking at me so intensely when we took the photo, and when I saw it afterwards I really wished I had decided to look back because he looked so beautiful and sincere (it was thanks to this that in all the photos after this I made sure to look directly at them).

After the second show I took pictures with Takuya and Yoshinari. Actually, the one with Takuya turned out to be my favourite! I loved how he was holding the flowers and how he was looking at me and somehow I also looked happier in this picture as well. After not having taken one with him since the beginning of June, I was happy it came out so well.

What was also nice about the flowers was that other people also decided it was a good idea and wanted to borrow them. It was nice to see other fans using the prop I had bought in their own pictures too.

This was the first event I was able to relax at, and I didn’t leave until right at the end. For once I actually got to see the boys saying goodbye to us on the stage.

My journey home was more stressful than it needed to be because by the time I found the bus stop there were already enough people there to fill about ten buses, but of course we all squeezed into one and I got far closer to random strangers than I would have liked to. In particular the guy squished behind me kept coughing and I swear I could actually feel his lungs

Sunday November 13th, Tower Records Tachihi (Kanagawa Prefecture)

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First show: 12:00, Second show: 15:00. Sawada Yu absent.

This was the first of their events to be inside the Tower Records store rather than a stage somewhere else in the mall. The stage was tiny and there wasn’t exactly a lot of space compared with the other events, but it felt nice and intimate and the difference was nice.

I knew the event would feel a little weird for me because Yu was absent. It’s the first time that he’s ever been absent from a Gingadan event and so suddenly my favourite was missing and I became a Rui fan for the day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I really like him a lot, but it made the experience a little different.

With Yu missing, I wondered who would step up to do his verse in Massugu ni I Love You. It turned out to be Taisei which is kind of a shame since he sings half of the song anyway, but I can’t doubt his singing voice.

The stage for this event was really small and when Rui and Taisei were facing the back of the stage as the others danced, I swear their noses were touching the wall. I was really worried that someone was going to fall off the stage. They perform on such a wide range of sizes of stages that I’m amazed they can adapt to each one.

Yoshinari was last to finish taking two-shots after the first live. Usually the members will come back on stage after they’re all finished to give a final thanks, but for some reason the other members all left to go to lunch without Yoshinari and so he had to come back on stage alone. It was a little awkward and we all found it pretty funny, but he took it in his stride and gave us thanks alone like he was a solo artist, and then went off to join the others.

I’m so bad at coming up with interesting poses for two-shots, but had enjoyed repeating the same pose for everyone the previous times, so this time I chose to use my penlights as a prop and we pointed them at the camera.

It was a weird feeling to be going to Rui first (usually I’d go to Yu first)  but he did not disappoint and he actually looks like he is ready to fight the camera with the penlight. And Taisei gave me a lovely smile which is always the best thing he can do.

The others seemed a little wary of pointing the penlight too far out, but of course Takuya used his “dancing and posing with tennis rackets” skills and held it right out in front of him.

The second time round, they did all manage to stay on the stage to say goodbye, and everyone congratulated them on being able to do it correctly this time.

November 19th, Tower Records Kinshicho (Tokyo)

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First show: 12:00, Second show: 15:00. All members present.

I really didn’t want this day to come, but this day was the final release event. I had traded a ticket for another show to another day in order to be able to attend this last event, and I’m so glad that I did because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. I felt like more people came to this event because it was the last one, when I looked round I always saw quite a few people. It was nice that so many people came to support them for the last one.

During their first song there were some mike issues, and so afterwards the staff took them to check them and get them working properly again. This left them with time to talk, which is something they don’t often have the opportunity to do and isn’t one of their best skills. They awkwardly stood around for a while hopefully looking at the staff, but they realised they had to do something and so Rui said “Is it okay for me to speak?” Yoshinari cruelly told him “no” but Rui commented that they couldn’t sing, that they had to do something, and that he had something to talk about. With permission granted, he started talking about how cold it had been recently (like I said, not one of their best skills).  Yoshinari also talked a little about how Takuya had been trying to straighten his non-existent hair while they had been in the dressing room. Takuya tried to give his reply but he kept forgetting to speak up so no one could hear him.  Taisei got annyed with Yu because he asked him a question and then didn’t think he had listened because his answer was so vague. Thankfully their mikes were soon fixed and they could relax and get onto singing.

After singing their second song, they talked a little about the music video they filmed the day before. Taisei said it was very cool and a lot of people laughed so he had to reassure us that it really was. Rui talked about how while the others were dancing he and Taisei would always just have the same few poses, and asked us to look out for them.

Before their last song, each of the boys did a small speech to mark the end of the release events. Yoshinari did a small speech to start and then became the MC as he asked the others to speak in turn. Rui somehow forgot that Yoshinari had already said something at the beginning and wondered why he was suddenly last. Yu didn’t understand what order they were supposed to be speaking in at all. They were all full of thanks to those who had come to watch. Rui said he hoped to be able to stand in front of everyone on a big stage. But the one who surprised me the most was Taisei. He said a few words and then he suddenly seemed like he was choking up and just stopped speaking and looked at everyone. There was quite a long pause and Yoshinari asked him if he was okay. He looked round at the members properly for a moment as well as the fans, and then said “daisuki”. And that was the end of his speech. I’ve never really seen him like that before.

With that, they sang their final song of the release event. When they’d finished, they took their usual group photo for the store, and Taisei almost broke again. I’m pretty certain he only managed to contain himself because he didn’t want to ruin his pretty face for the picture.

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During the sign time I asked Yu how he did in his Eiken interview the weekend before. He said “so-so” and I asked him if he thought he had passed and he wasn’t sure, so I told him I hoped he did (by the way, I later found out that he did indeed pass). The whole time we were talking, Yoshinari was pretty free so he was just listening and murmuring about how amazing it was that we were speaking in English.

During my second time round Taisei told me “thank you” in English, so I told him to do his best in English. He told me he would super enthusiastically but I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced. By the way, Rui is now the only member who has never told me “thank you” in English. One day, it will happen.

I was interested to watch the two-shots this time because they changed the rules just before this event because previously people had been requesting such ridiculous things, but honestly it didn’t seem too different (which was what people had been worried about). It was nice to see everyone a little calmer and the boys happier with what they had to do.

My two-shot theme was fitting for the end of the events and involved us both looking sad. My pictures after the first show were with Yu and Rui. I told Yu that I was really sad that it was finally the last event but that I could probably sleep more now. I also spoke to Rui about being sad about it being over, and we spoke more than usual. He thanked me and told me they’d be doing more things in the future and to keep supporting them.

My time with Taisei was super fast this time. We basically said thank you to each other and that was it. I think he was getting a little tired and sad at that point because he seemed to be eager to get away from most people. I don’t hold it against him because I love him so much.

Takuya is such a good kid and so diligently tells me “thank you” in English every single time. I’m really grateful for him for doing that (because the others are so so bad at it), and he told me to keep supporting them from now on too.

Yoshinari was my last two-shot of the release events. He  too thanked me and told me to keep supporting them! And then it was over, I walked away from my last two-shot.

I can honestly say I felt a little lost when I left knowing there wasn’t any more. The memories I had. It wasn’t always easy. There was a lot of travelling involved and a whole bunch of weekends not sleeping in my own bed. I had no free time at home and I spent far too much money. But being able to hear all of their amazing songs so many times, from so close, and all of my great interactions with the boys, as well as all of the new friends I made, made it completely worth it. I had an even better time this time than I’d had back at the release events in June. In February it will be a year since their debut and therefore a year since I became their fan, and I can honestly say that going to that Bancho Boys Live back then was the best decision because these boys have given me so many fun times and such happiness in 2017. Now all I can do is wait for their next single so I can do it all over again.

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