A look back at 2017

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2017 comes to an end tomorrow, and as usual I looked back on everything I did this year to write a review of the year. In 2017, I saw lots of stages, had some amazing experiences with my oshi, and fell head over heels in love with a new group. When I looked back on everything I did, I realised that I did so many things and spent so much money, but I have absolutely no regrets. I really hope in 2018 that I can do just as many things and have just as many amazing experiences as I did this year.

If there was one thing I regret from this year is that there were some things I didn’t take many photos from, and many things I didn’t report back on. I hope in 2018 I can do more of this so I have more reports to link to when I make this kind of post at the end of the year.

I chose the above picture as the header image because of how much these boys influenced my year (even though they’re not all there in that picture), but that was definitely not all I did. Here is my 2017…

JANUARY

January 8th: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Rokkaku (Osaka)
January 14th~15th: Weekend in Tokyo
January 20th: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Rokkaku (Nagoya)
January 28th: Ensemble Stars on Stage: Take your Marks (Osaka)

January was very heavily dominated by tennis and idols. As I was away over Christmas, I was finally able to see Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Rokkaku in Osaka. The lingering memory from that day was falling in love with Futaba Kaname when he came close to my seat. I didn’t know at the time that this moment would be partly responsible for changing my year completely.

That weekend in Tokyo was supposed to be a “let’s go and get a same-day ticket for Ensemble Stars” weekend, but what actually ended up happening was that I stood in line in the cold for each show, didn’t manage to hit for any of them, and spent all my money on trading goods. I don’t really want to talk about it, lol.

At the end of the month though I did finally manage to use the two tickets I had and was able to see the stage and wow it really was worth the wait. I was just so happy to finally be in there watching it. Everyone was amazing and adorable and my expensive re-sale ticket got me a great view so I have absolutely no regrets. You can read my full report from the stage here.

FEBRUARY

February 12th: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Rokkaku (Live Viewing)
February 25th: Bancho Boys The Live Vol. 1

February seems like such a quiet and insignificant month compared with the other months this year, and looking at my photos it seems like I spent most of the month playing Ensemble Stars and watching Kazuma’s Livestreams. I did manage to pull myself away from my phone and computer for a short time to celebrate Kazuma’s birthday, at least. That cake was super delicious and the fact I didn’t have to eat it alone made it all the better.

However, that one event at the end of February basically changed my entire year for the better. I bought the ticket for the Bancho Boys Live spontaneously after becoming a fan of Kazuma and Kaname, and I came out of it falling in love with a brand new group who were announced on that day. That group is called Gingadan. I knew Takuya already from Tenimyu, but I saw the other four members for the first time that day. I loved their song and although their performance was a little awkward, it was really endearing. That day, I particularly paid attention to Taisei who looked beautiful as he always does. As soon as I got home I started looking up the members on Twitter and it began from there. I’ll be talking about them a lot in the rest of this year review.

MARCH

March 5th: WBB Side Talk
March 23rd: Musical Touken Ranbu
March 24th: Give Up Dance
March 25th: Super Dangan Ronpa 2
March 25th: Haikyuu
March 26th: Give Up Dance

My first trip to Tokyo in March was a super quick one, for Shota’s appearance at the WBB Side Talk. I arrived in Toyko at 12, went to the show at 2, and left Tokyo again at 5. I had spent a lot of time wondering if it was worth going all that way just to a talk show, but the moment Shota stepped onto the stage I knew it had been worth it. While I’ve loved all his characters, seeing him as his regular awkward self is always so much fun.

I was able to see my second TouMyu live. By the end of the second show (I saw it twice in one day) I was so restless after sitting on a bus for 6 hours and then in the theatre for so long, but even so, it was so worth it. This was my favourite of the musicals, I loved the story and the characters and the music and I totally fell in love with Sengo Muramasa.

This month really was a month of stages, and the next one was Super Dangan Ronpa 2. I saw the first performance of this stage back in 2016, and I loved it so much that this time I bought a premium ticket and had a great view. Even though the cast had changed and so Izaki, who I had originally gone to watch it for, wasn’t in it any more, it was still just as amazing as I remembered it. My number one favourite thing about this stage is Suzuki Hiroki’s performance as Komaeda, and he was just as amazing the second time round.

I went straight from that show to Haikyuu and although it was a little overwhelming going to two very different but very big productions in one day, but I really did manage to enjoy both. This Haikyuu stage wasn’t my favourite of the ones I’d seen, mostly because the focus was only on two teams and one game. I felt like it dragged a little because of that. But the whole orchestra theme and music was great, and no matter what, the Haikyuu boys always put on an amazing performance and visually it looked amazing as always.

In March I also saw my first Bancho Boys stage, Give Up Dance. Out of all of the Bancho Boys stages I have now seen, this one is still my favourite. It mixed so much comedy with so much emotion and sometimes it felt so real. I remember crying so much at the ending part both times I saw it. The theatre was tiny and it meant the atmosphere was so nice. My remaining memory of this show is still Kihara Rui and his amazing performance that made me fall in love with him. I can still watch that one scene over and over on DVD even now. On this day, I also met Kaname, Akira and Yu for the first time. All of them were the amazing and lovely people I expected, and I particularly remember being in love with Akira having a British accent, and Yu’s amazing English skills too.

APRIL

April 2nd: Cardfight Vanguard
April 9th: Futaba Twins Birthday Event 
April 23rd: Team Live Hyotei 
April 29th: Hakuoki SSL Stage 
April 29th: Theater Bancho Boys The Live 
April 30th: Haikyuu Exhibition

I’d like to say that Cardfight Vanguard takes the award for the weirdest thing I saw this year. Actually it probably doesn’t, but it came pretty close. I went along to watch this stage purely because Kaisei was playing a villain which was something I had wanted to see since realising he was basically evil in real life, and wow he did not disappoint. Kaisei is made for these kinds of roles and I came away wishing he could do the same every time instead of being given “cute” roles all of the time.

The Futaba Twins birthday event was fun and interesting. Somehow I really liked how disorganised it was because they planned it themselves. Even though it was the twins event, Kazuma, Shohei and Yojiro also went along. Everyone was able to perform solo and I was especially happy to see Kazuma perform solo live, because I had never seen that before.

The Theatre Bancho Boys Live was their first one, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was so happy that they did some live performances, including a performance by Gingadan, and the boys from Give Up Dance singing the ballad song from the end of the stage. After that, they performed skits from their TV show and I think I laughed for like one hour straight. At the end on the way out the Gingadan members were behind the goods stand and people were just going up to talk to them, but I was too nervous so I just said a quick “thank you” to Yu as I was buying my goods and then left.

Team Live Hyotei was surprisingly (or not surprisingly) super high budget compared with the other team lives and all of the outfit changes got a little bit ridiculous, but it was all super fun. It was nice to see them doing games in-character that the other teams previously did as themselves. I really grew to like the team more through this live.

Hakuoki SSL stage was unexpectedly fun! I watched the movie a long time ago after Tina had dragged me to the cinema with her, but I really did not remember anything about it and really didn’t know much at all. But the cast was so good and a couple of people I really liked were in it, so I was glad I was able to go along. It was nice to be able to see a stage along with not one but two other people for once too, after so many times going to things alone.

The Haikyuu exhibition was a really nice thing to see. You see all these props and costumes used on stage but it’s very rare to get a chance to see them up close and take pictures of them. The best experience was being able to walk over the stage set. I was really surprised by how steep it was and it made watching the boys running all over it during the shows really impressive. I was tired just walking up one side of it.

MAY

May 7th: Haikyuu Live Viewing
May 13th: Show By Rock Live
May 27th: Dream Live 2017
May 28th: Dream Live 2017
May 28th: Shall We Dress? Vol 2

 

The Show by Rock live was another somewhat spontaneous purchase. After falling in love with Gingadan and seeing Rui’s performance in Give Up Dance, I couldn’t miss the chance to see him on stage in a big production like this. I bought lots of his photosets after a special project that went along with my goods order, and went along purely as a Kihara Rui fan. In the end, I really really enjoyed it in general, despite not being able to see Rui most of the time because there was a cymbal in the way.

Next came Dream Live 2017, and in true Bancho Boys fan form I went along supporting Takuya and Kaname and had my red penlight shining most of the time and my Rokkaku towel wrapped around my shoulders.

I skipped the last Dream Live show (despite having previously bought a ticket) to go to Shall We Dress? vol. 2 and I was happy that I made the decision to do it, because it allowed me to meet all of the Gingadan members for the first time. My main memory of that day was Taisei and Rui making me and Yu super uncomfortable by simultaneously shouting “sugoi!” the moment we started speaking English together.

JUNE

June 3rd: Gingadan Release Event
June 4th: Gingadan Release Event
June 9th: Touken Ranbu Stage
June 10th: Mannequin Life
June 11th: Mannequin Life
June 17th: Gingadan Release Event
June 30th: Brave 10

June was very dominated by Gingadan. They had several release events for their first single, and I went to all of them. I travelled all over Tokyo and beyond, but it was so much fun. I met the members many times, and also made new friends. If I started talking about it all now I could go on forever, so I’ll just say that June was one of my favourite months of the year thanks to those boys and I’m super grateful to them.

It wasn’t all about Gingadan though. I was finally able to see a Touken Ranbu Stage in person. Somehow I was even more moved to be able to see this live as I had been with the musical, just because the stage always looks so visually appealing. The highlight for me was seeing Suzuki Hiroki’s Mikazuki on stage. I really like how he moves and speaks as Mikazuki, and seeing it in person was so much nicer than seeing it on DVD.

This was also the month when I saw Mannequin Life and met Kazuma for the first time. Mannequin Life is such an amazing stage which made me laugh and cry at times and also gave me my favourite character from all of the Bancho Boys stages I’ve seen in Sunahara’s character Momo. Meeting Kazuma for the first time was also amazing and especially that he already knew my name, but I talked about this here.

JULY

July 1st: Gingadan/Dress_No. Joint Release Event
July 1st: Kuroko no Basuke
July 2nd: Gingadan Release Event
July 15th: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Rikkai
July 30th: Ni-ten Nana Go

My birthday month started in a great way because I was able to see two of my favourite groups in the same place on the same day. Whoever came up with the idea of Dress_No. and Gingadan doing a joint release event is a genius. I have very fond memories of the conversations I had with the Dress_No. members during the handshake event, and getting a group-shot with Gingadan was also a lot of fun and made a change. I wrote a report of this event here.

I was looking forward to Kuroko no Basuke for quite a while as the part of the story they were performing is one of my favourites in the entire series, and I was not disappointed. When I watched the first one I barely knew any of the actors and watched purely as a fan of the anime & manga, and somehow I managed to do the same this time even though I knew the actors well by then. They all did a great job of their characters and of portraying the story I loved so much, and I enjoyed it even more than the first stage.

Of course, Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Rikkai was a lot of fun! This was the first time that I didn’t watch previous seasons of the musical before seeing the musical, so there were a few confusing moments, but that all added to the fun as well. I still really enjoy this one as a musical. It was super dramatic, a change from the previous more light-hearted Rokkaku show, and all of the characters were great. I’m looking forward to finally getting this on DVD in 2018.

I was only able to go to one show due to a work schedule I couldn’t get out of, but I took a day trip to Tokyo to watch the senshuuraku of Ni-ten Nana Go. It was a ridiculous stage and plot-wise not exactly one of my favourites, but seeing those guys on stage is always fun no matter what, and they all clearly had an amazing time performing it. I was happy that I was able to go on a day Kaname was performing (he and Takuya were double-cast) so I was able to meet him for the first time in a while.

AUGUST

August 4th: Ensemble Stars on Stage DVD Release Event
August 5th: Digimon Stage
August 5th: B Project Stage
August 26th: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Rikkai Nagoya
August 27th: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Rikkai Nagoya
August 31st: Amaku wa nai ze

I was really happy that people who pre-ordered the Ensemble Stars DVD at the venue automatically got a ticket for the event. I was even happier that because I ordered DVDs for other people, I could have company for the event. It was a really fun talk event and they played a super funny game where the guys had to do impersonations of the characters and the others had to guess who they were. They were really competitive and really into the game. I also remember Kazuma had “noodle hair” that day.

B-Project was a surprisingly awesome stage! It wasn’t your typical idol stage and there were so many random scenes spread amongst the story, including one that had the guys running into the audience to find specific items to bring back.

That same day we also watched the Digimon stage! I was never into Digimon but the way they did the stage was so good with the puppets. It seemed like it might be distracting but the puppeteers were really good and it didn’t distract from the action at all.

Finally that month, I pulled out my Aoi Kentaro bag again to see Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Rikkai in Nagoya! I was only planning on one show originally but in the end I bought same-day tickets and went to four shows.

SEPTEMBER

September 1st: Amaku wa nai ze
September 2nd: Amaku wa nai ze
September 3rd: Amaku wa nai ze
September 13th: Ensemble Stars on Stage ~Judge of Knights~

September holds the record for the most money I have probably ever spent on one stage/trip. It started on August 31st when I spent four days in Tokyo watching Bancho Boys stage Amaku wa nai ze 2. Thankfully I never thought to actually add up how much I spent, otherwise I might have exploded. The bus, hostel, tickets and goods would have been enough on its own, but as Yu’s debut stage, I wanted to do something a little special. The flowers I bought for him were totally worth the money, and seeing them displayed there in the corridor felt really good. I was really proud of how well Yu did in the stage, and I also really enjoyed the stage in general and eating all of those donuts.

The other big thing I went to this month was Ensemble Stars on Stage ~Judge of Knights~. Honestly I still consider it a miracle that I hit for this stage and I felt so lucky and really wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. And I really did do that. Despite not being a Knights fan at all, it was an amazing stage with great songs and awesome scenes, and just seeing Kazuma’s Wataru on stage again was a blessing. Not only that, I got to see my favourite character Nazuna brought to life on stage which was the other thing I had been most excited for. After the show, I spent a lot of time wandering around the trading area with my mini!Wataru, and collecting 30 of his trading bromides. It may have been a crazy thing to do, but I had so much fun and when I see the pile of bromides in my apartment I still remember how much fun it was.

OCTOBER

October 1st: Theater Bancho Boys The Live
October 7th: Konishi Seiya Birthday Event
October 21st: Haikyuu
October 22nd: Show By Rock
October 28th: Team Party Seigaku
October 29th: Team Party Rokkaku

The Bancho Boys Live was one of my number one experiences of the entire year, all thanks to Yasui Kazuma and his determination to get me a prize. Even when I think about it now and look at the prize I won, I get emotional. I wrote about that amazing day in my post about Kazuma here.

Konishi Seiya’s Birthday event was kind of an unexpected thing. Actually, I’d originally been planning only to go to it because I thought I would be in Tokyo for Kashuu’s live and wanted something to do for the rest of the day. I like Seiya, but he’s not an actor I would generally take a day trip to Tokyo to go and see. In the end, I didn’t hit fit for Kashuu’s live though, so that was exactly what I ended up doing. It turned out to be a pretty fun event though. I learned a lot about him and he was super awkward and I was able to meet him and get a cheki with him afterwards. He’s a nice guy, and in the end it was worth taking the trip for him.

The Haikyuu stage was so unlike any of the previous stages and although there was drama, the whole thing felt a lot more fun. It was nice to see the characters doing more lighthearted things than just playing volleyball games and I really felt like all of the actors were given a chance to do something and show off.

Show by Rock is one of my favourite things that I saw in 2017. After seeing the live in May I wasn’t sure what to expect from a full musical, but it was so good. I had an amazing seat thanks to the Bancho Boys fanclub gods. Rui got to do so much more than he had in the live and he was super cute, and I really fell in love with Trichronika as a trio as well. The other highlight was Takahashi Kensuke who I truly adored despite thinking before I went that I would find super gross.

Finally that month was the Seigaku and Rokkaku Team Lives. They were very different from the previous lives but it was really nice especially to get to know the Seigaku cast better after seeing them on stage in character so many times. I really liked that they had members from each team at the other’s live, especially having Takuya as Aoi at every show, even the Seigaku ones. I was able to bring back my Rokkaku Itabag I had used at Dream Live, had a lot of fun trading, and even managed to meet one of my Gingadan friends who I hadn’t seen since the release events in June.

NOVEMBER

November 4th: Gingadan Release Event
November 4th: Dress_No. one-man live
November 5th: Gingadan Release Event
November 5th: Musical Touken Ranbu
November 10th: Twin Paradox one-man live
November 11th: Gingadan Release Event
November 12th: Gingadan Release Event
November 19th: Gingadan Release Event
November 25th: Rice on Stage
November 30th: Crows Zero

This list is basically Gingadan all the way down. After the amount of fun I had in June going to their release events, I was so happy to be able to do it again in November. It was just as much fun, if not more, than the June events. I’m not going to go into it in detail here because I wrote a super long post documenting my journey.

As well as Gingadan, I also got to see two other amazing groups live. The first was Dress_No.’s one-man live. The thing I love most about Dress_No. is that their music is amazing, and to hear all of their songs live was a great experience. I also saw how close the members are to each other and how much they enjoy performing together. At the end, I was able to handshake all of the members and I remembered how much I enjoyed talking to them all.

Twin Paradox were also great on stage! They don’t have so many of their own songs but they made up for it with some great covers and some fun talk time. I could honestly watch them just talking and arguing for two hours, so combined with their amazing singing and dazzling smiles, it was the perfect evening. It was also nice to share the experience with Alex since we both like a different twin best.

The most unexpectedly fun show of the month was Rice on Stage. This was a show I went to because Shota was in it, but I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment. The story was ridiculous, but not in a bad way, the characters were all amazing, and the songs were awesome. When I got home I immediately watched the anime because I wanted more, and when they announced the Rice on Stage Fes for February I was super excited even though Shota isn’t in it this time, which shows how much I loved it.

DECEMBER

December 1st: Crows Zero
December 2nd: Crows Zero
December 3rd: Crows Zero
December 16th: Domoto Shohei Birthday Event
December 20th: TouMyu Shinken Ranbusai 2017
December 21st: Tenimyu Seigaku vs Higa
December 23rd: Bancho Boys Christmas

The beginning of December was dominated by Crows Zero which was my second Bancho Boys to see all shows of, which I had wanted to do because Kazuma was in it. The show was amazing and I didn’t get bored even after seeing it so many times, and seeing and meeting Kazuma for 4 days in a row was such a pleasure. I wrote a report of the stage here.

I wasn’t sure whether travelling to Tokyo for Shohei’s birthday event would be worth it since neither him or Yuu who was also there are my top favourites in Bancho Boys. As it turned out though it was one of the best decisions I made all year. I could go into great detail about this event and how crazy it was, but let’s just say that the two of them got really really drunk. I finally posted the cheki I got with them after they got drunk since some time has passed now. They were really really close. It was one of the most surreal but amazing events I’ve ever been to and I don’t think I will ever forget it.

The end of December marked four days in Tokyo, beginning with watching Shinken Ranbusai 2017. I dragged my Hachisuka ita bag and uchiwa out of the closet and went along with them and his cushion once again. It was really nice to see all of the swords together on one stage and I was really happy with the story they had and the songs they chose to sing. And of course, Hachisuka was the shiny, beautiful guy that I love so much. I managed to collect a bunch of his badges thanks to him not being at all popular. And then at the end of the show we got the new musical announcement! It was so unexpected but I’m really excited to go to it next year.

Next, was the shonichi of Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Higa. This is such a weird show. Higa are weird but not necessarily in a bad way and we got stupid pirate ships and everything. Saeki had his 2 minutes of focus but I was just happy that he was in it at all. It was also nice to have a miokuri back in Tenimyu after what seemed like a while (since Rikkai didn’t have one) and just going to watch Tenimyu is always a fun time. I’m looking forward to seeing it again in Nagoya in January.

My last event of the year was Bancho Boys Christmas Live. Even though it had only been a month, it felt like forever since I had seen Gingadan and when they sang Massugu ni I Love You which is an amazing song and one of my favourites, I teared up. It felt so appropriate that my last event involved a group that had made 2017 so amazing. Of course it wasn’t all about Gingadan though. I really do love all of the Bancho Boys members in one way or another and when they get together on stage it’s always a lot of fun. We got a mix of band, dance, games, talk, and we were even treated to a medley of songs from their stages from 2017. At the end, we had a miokuri so we got to see them one last time. Even though I have some regrets from the miokuri (I sped by too fast and didn’t really say what I wanted to say to anyone) it was still really nice to see them all like that.

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