On February 25th 2017, I took a day trip to Tokyo to go to Bancho Boys 1st Live. I had spontaneously joined the fanclub and bought a ticket due to falling in love with Yasui Kazuma, but had decided it would be worth the trip since I was also familiar with Nozaki Yutaka and Akira from Ensemble Stars on Stage and Futaba Kaname and Yashiro Takuya from Tenimyu. I had no idea that I was going to be introduced to five wonderful boys who would shape the rest of my 2017.
The lights went down for the live to start, and five people took to the stage to perform the opening song. Those five people were Yashiro Takuya (an official Bancho Boys members) and Sawada Yu, Chikahisa Taisei, Kihara Rui and Oribe Yoshinari (Bancho Boys trainees). They performed Hello Again, and with their song finished they gathered in the middle of the stage to make an announcement. The announcement was that the five of them were going to be forming a dance & vocal group. With a scroll in his hand, Taisei (who we later found out had been the one to think of the group’s name) revealed their name would be Gingadan, or “Galaxy Cluster” in English. With that, their performance, and time on stage, was over.
Whenever I think back on that day and that performance, the thing that remains in my head is Chikahisa Taisei. That day, he had this purely genuine happiness and smile on his face that we rarely see because generally he’s trying to act cool. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and when I left the venue that day it was him that I wrote about on Twitter. Despite this, in the end, he didn’t become my favourite member, but thanks to this day he forever holds a special place in my heart.
Gingadan had already created their official Twitter by the time I arrived home and I immediately followed that and each member’s individual Twitter so I could get to know them better. A lot of it was out of pure curiosity but I really had loved their song and performance, and I couldn’t get the group and the members off my mind, despite that my reason for going to the live had been someone else entirely.
After the live, Sawada Yu had immediately posted a tweet introducing himself, to help those who had seen him for the first time that day get to know him. I was really taken by the cute pictures he had chosen, and even more interested that under his skills he had listed that he had been learning English since he was 2 years old. English is a rare skill in the Japanese entertainment world, so it was something I was intrigued by right away. From there I started replying to his tweets regularly in English, and everything he said and every picture he posted made me fall for him more and more. He seemed like such an innocent and cute kid amongst all of these cool guys and I really liked that about him.
When I saw Taisei’s pictures on his Twitter I totally didn’t recognise him as the same person I had seen at the live, which actually is part of what led me to write a Why Chikahisa Taisei is an amazing person post. Although it took me a while to get used to his regular poser narcissistic self, I grew to love him for everything he was.
Having already known Takuya, there were only two other members left. At that time, those were the two I didn’t get to know so well at first. I don’t know if it was because they weren’t posting as much or if they just weren’t posting much of interest, but by the time it came to me seeing them on stage again, it was really only Yu, Taisei and Takuya who were in my mind.
Since that time, I’ve had so many great experiences with the group and looking back on it all made me realise how much they really did change my year in the best way possible. As their anniversary and therefore mine too has arrived, I wanted to look back on the last year with them, starting with…
GIVE UP DANCE
Give Up Dance was my first Bancho Boys stage, that I decided to go to because Futaba Kaname and Akira would be part of the cast. After I had bought the ticket, they also announced that Gingadan would be there to do the opening act. I almost found myself looking forward to that more than the actual stage, because it would be my first time seeing them since that day in February. Our tickets had entrance numbers rather than actual seat numbers, and when choosing my seat on my way in, I automatically headed to the left side of the stage where I had seen from pictures was where Yu would be standing during the performance. I had also written him a letter on this day after asking him on Twitter if it was alright for me to write to him in English.
The after-event was a two-shot cheki event, and having only bought two tickets, I got one with Kaname and one with Akira, and only realised afterwards that Gingadan were also included in the line-up. I was so disappointed that I had missed the chance to get a cheki with Yu, and as I had some free time the following day I went back to the theater and managed to get a same-day ticket for the last show. That day I finally got my cheki with Yu. The moment I walked up to him he smiled warmly, and told me “hi” in his flawless accent, and thanked me for coming. He made me feel so comfortable and speaking English to him and finding out that he really was as good as I thought he was confirmed that I had made a great decision in deciding he was a favourite.
On this day, I also fell in love with a third member of Gingadan. Kihara Rui was one of the members I hadn’t gotten to know so well on Twitter, but the only one of the group to actually have a role in the stage. Rui played Serina, an obsessed fan of the group featured in the stage. When I walked out of the first show I saw, I was in awe of him. He did an amazing job of playing his character, which wasn’t the easiest role to play, and I was just amazed by how talented he was. The second show I saw was the final show, and during this show he made a mistake and missed his cue to come on stage. During the speeches at the end he apologised and cried, and the other members told him it was fine and complimented him on how hard he had worked. It was really nice to see how much the other members respected him, and it really made me respect him also.
SHALL WE DRESS VOL. 2
At the end of May 2017 Gingadan were one of the guests at one of Dress_No’s group lives, and I went along to support both groups. My lasting memory of this day was being able to meet the other Gingadan members for the first time, having only previously met Yu. I remember Yu being in between Rui and Taisei in the lineup and the two at either side being in awe when me and Yu started speaking English together. I actually wrote a report of this event, so you can read more about that one here.
FIRST SINGLE GALAXY CLUSTER
Gingadan announced they would be releasing their first single Galaxy Cluster on May 31st, and when the time was approaching they also announced they would be doing a month of release events for the single at various locations across Kanto. I didn’t even hesitate on making the decision to try and go to as many as possible, and I spent my June travelling back and forth from Nagoya to Tokyo and to various other locations in Kanto to watch their mini-lives and get my CDs signed and take photos with them.
I can’t even begin to talk about how amazing this month was. At each event, I would get a CD signed which allowed me to talk to all of the members, and then at each event I would also get a photo with each member. Even with Yu being my favourite, I loved all of the boys so much and I couldn’t imagine not supporting each and every one of them at each event. It was through seeing them and interacting with them every week for the whole of June that I truly felt glad that I had become their fan. They were working so hard despite low turnouts for their events and would always do their best with smiles on their faces while being thankful to the fans who had turned up to watch them.
Although none of the members of Gingadan were cast in the stage, they were once again invited along to do the opening act for the show. Having originally only had two tickets for the show I went ahead and bought another one when this was announced so I could see them more. The performances were fast each time (only one song) but I enjoyed them and everyone seemed to be really into their performance, including the two guys who would be there posing as mannequins in the corner of the stage for each show.
SHOW BY ROCK
Having been really impressed by Rui’s acting talents I was really happy that he was able to get a role in a big stage like this. The first of his two appearances was the live in June when I went along to support him, used his character goods and bought a whole bunch of his photosets to distribute to those who bought the goods through me. Both the live and the musical were so much fun and I really did love his character and some of the scenes he had, especially in the musical.
GINGADAN/DRESS_No. JOINT RELEASE EVENT
I had an early birthday present at the beginning of July with a whole bunch of my favourite boys deciding to do an event together. It was so nice to be able to see both groups together, and for Gingadan, being able to get a group shot with them rather than the usual two-shots was a nice change. My report from that event is here.
AMAKU WA NAI ZE 2
This stage had been announced for what seemed like a long time, but one day in the summer when I was at an all-day meeting at work, I checked my phone during the break and discovered they had announced the cast and that amongst it was Kihara Rui, Oribe Yoshinari and Sawada Yu. The other two had done stages before, but this was going to be Yu’s debut stage. Tickets went on sale one hour later, and without even thinking I went ahead and bought tickets for 3/5 shows. I knew at this point that I wanted to go along and watch all of the performances to support him on his first stage.
I had the most amazing amount of fun in those four days and I was glad I made the decision to go to all five shows. Yu managed to keep his cute and innocent aura while playing a variety of characters including himself.
After each show I got a two-shot or cheki with him. I was a little worried that I might be fed up of him or he might be fed up of me by the end of it, but every day he was his usual happy smiley self and we had some nice quick conversations and each photo came out great. My favourite was when I asked for a pose where he was aiming at me with the gun his character had. He did it and afterwards he just said, “I shot you!” and I was like “Nooooo!” and then we just laughed about it. When the last time was over, I was actually really sad that I couldn’t go back and do it all again the next day.
During this stage, I also did something I have never done for any actor before. Previously when I’d watched Ni Ten Nana Go, I’d noticed all of the flowers fans had bought for the actors, and after finding out from a friend how to go about doing it, I ordered a large display for Yu to congratulate him on his debut stage. It was expensive, but when I went to the show on the first day and saw them there I knew it had been worth it. He later posted a video showing us all of his flowers and thanking each person individually, and he also signed all of the plaques on the displays, including mine. I still have that plaque on my wall now and I also used it in my cheki with him on the last day of shows.
BANCHO BOYS LIVE OCTOBER
I’ll admit that my memories of Gingadan during this event were somewhat overshadowed by something that happened with Kazuma that day, but one of my main memories of this day was them performing Massugu Ni I Love You for the first time. They had built this song up quite a lot before hand and everyone was anticipating something amazing and they did not let us down. The song is so beautiful that I couldn’t wait to hear it the second time round and after the second time I just wanted to hear it again and again.
Gingadan also did a handshake event that day for those who pre-ordered their single. I remember telling Yu that I’d given their first CD to various people from other countries and he was really happy and asked me where everyone was from. I challenged Taisei and Rui by asking them to speak some English. All Taisei could manage was “thank you” and all Rui could do was “hello”. I decided on that day that I really needed to work on them some more. Yoshinari asked me how the skit he and Rui had done during the live had been and I remember being so unsure that I’m pretty certain he thought I hadn’t understood a word of it, so the second time round I made sure to tell him it had been good.
SECOND SINGLE GALAXY CLUSTER 2
When Gingadan announced their second single, I was full of nothing but excitement. Having had so much fun at the June release events I had so much anticipation of doing the whole thing all over again. Unlike the June events I was determined to document this month of events in a blog, and I managed to do it so all the information and all of my pictures are in this post.
This was my second time seeing all the shows of a Bancho Boys Stage, and although I didn’t go to this one specifically for Gingadan members, Yoshinari, Yu and Takuya were all part of the cast. Yoshinari and Rui were super weird and Takuya was the most cute yankee I’ve ever seen, but they all did a great job and I’m really excited to watch it again on DVD when it’s released.
BANCHO BOYS CHRISTMAS LIVE
After seeing Gingadan every weekend in November, I’d then had to wait for a month before the Bancho Boys live, and by that time I was really missing seeing them a lot. When they performed Massugu Ni I Love You that day I actually cried. Although they took part in the send off at the end, it was hard to pay too much attention because all of the Bancho Boys were there, so I really couldn’t say much more than “thank you” to them, but I was grateful to be able to see them.
GINGADAN ONE-MAN LIVE
As of writing this post, the last time I saw them. After almost a a year of being together they were finally able do to their own live on February 17th. After looking back on all of the other things they did during their first year together. I managed to write a report of this one too, which you can find here.
I’ve talked about how I came to be a Gingadan fan and the journey I’ve had with them over the past year, but I can’t end this post without talking a little about why I’m a Gingadan fan.
The members are all very young, and while all the fans who are a lot closer to their age than I am see them as “cool” and probably boyfriend material, I’m not looking at them that way at all. Yes, they are cool (except for Yu who is definitely more “cute”) and sometimes I’ll admit that I cannot stop looking at Taisei particularly because he is beautiful, but I definitely don’t look at them in that kind of way. The most important thing for me is that all of these kids have big dreams, and are working hard to achieve them. They’re all such amazing people and really deserve it, and so if I can help them even a little bit to get closer and closer to their dreams, then that’s the least I can do.
One thing I love about Gingadan is the sheer amount of talent that is there between the five of them. None of them are perfect, but they all have different things that they are really good at. Rui is an amazing vocalist, and I can also see him going really far with his acting because the things I have seen from him have been amazing. Taisei is also a great vocalist but he is also an awesome make-up artist. If you’ve ever seen him on livestream doing his make-up you will probably envy him as much as I do. Yu’s talent is definitely in his intelligence and diligence with his studies, and every time I speak to him I’m amazed by how good he is at English, even when he doesn’t have the confidence. For me, Takuya really shone during Tenimyu as the captain of his team and despite being so young, being able to deliver calm and confident speeches at the end of each venue’s performances. And last but not least, Yoshinari has the confidence to make an idiot out of himself during their talk times while the others shy away, and is also very skilled in dance. The five of them together combine all this amazing stuff and they don’t all need to be good at everything (and they’re never going to be) because they can rely on each other for help and support.
I always have such a good time when I go to their events. Whether it’s a release event, or a stage or another Bancho Boys event, I always come away with amazing memories and a smile on my face. The boys are all amazing people and I enjoy every moment of being to talk to them, even with the language barrier with most of them. I see that every moment they are working to the best of their ability, and even if they’re not perfect, they will try. The staff are all kind and helpful and awesome to the point that people almost become their fans as well (it has happened I’m not even joking) and the fans are all such welcoming and talkative people. It’s all thanks to those 5 amazing boys that I was able to have all these experiences, and I can’t thank them enough.
I’m looking forward to the next year with them and their second anniversary.