Things get a little out of control as this trip gets closer to its end.

Fight Time.

As I mentioned before, November 12th contained the last of my planned events. Having closely monitored E-plus and Twitter, there just wasn’t anything major on the books for the rest of my trip in Japan. I knew I’d find things to do in the end, but it was a bit jarring to transition from the marathon of the past eight days to an empty calendar. I woke up at 8:30AM to get ready for the day. The Stardom wrestling show was scheduled to begin at noon so I wanted to eat something before heading out. I had to push through my sickness pretty hard on this morning. I woke up genuinely sick. My sinuses were draining, my voice was completely gone, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep the past night due to the onset of coughing. Luckily, I was doing just well enough to press on and look forward to some female pro-wrestling with Garry.

After showering and getting my stuff together, I quickly applied for an SKE48 theater show. Takayanagi Akane was scheduled to appear so I thought I’d take a chance. I knew winning was next to impossible, especially since I missed the long distance category of tickets, but I’d be willing to go to Nagoya one more time if I got to see her. I actually applied for pretty much every AKB show I could. Even if my fandom of them is damn near done, I’d like to do the theater thing once. After sorting that out I had a 10AM lunch at Go Go Curry.

I made my way to Shinkiba station with Hyperdia’s help. I met up with Garry there when he arrived a few minutes later. We talked about random stuff on the way there, as much as my voice would allow anyway. It was slowly coming back as the morning went on but it was still a struggle to speak. He swore he knew the way there but I eventually pulled out Google Maps to seal the deal. We found the place at 11:15AM and people were gathering outside. I grabbed a drink from a nearby vending machine, and we went to get our reserved tickets at the table. The ticket guy motioned me forward but then brushed me aside to help a Japanese fan, so I had to say my name twice but that aside my tickets were in my hand with no trouble. They were also selling some t-shirts and small posters, but nothing looked tempting in all honesty.

Eventually they allowed people in and we were seated at 11:35AM. I was very impressed with my spot. It was a few rows up in the center of the bleacher seats. The view was pretty much perfect. This made me a little more excited for the show. The show began on time and it was… Alright. It began with an idol group performance. I believe Garry said they are regulars here, and it was decent but not overly memorable. As they got into the wrestling stuff it was fun to see, but again, I just wouldn’t really call any of it overly exciting. The physical spectacle of it was awesome, of course. Sure, it’s all choreographed, but it takes some major skill to pull this stuff off. Some of the younger leagues performing early on were quite impressive to see, but I just didn’t really connect with it too much.

When Oedo Tai and other names I had heard of came out later on, I was a little more into it. Seeing the stars was pretty cool. I’ve taken a liking to Kimura Hana thanks to Twitter and some clips I’ve seen of her fights, and seeing her was definitely fun. Their fight was pretty wild, too. They took it into the crowd several times. I was fairly safe in my seat, but the front few rows of folding chairs got pretty messed up more than once. It was at this moment that I thought that I might actually become a regular fan of this, even if it’s just for the Oedo Tai team.

By 2:00PM their fight came to an end and there was an intermission for 30 to 45 minutes. Some of the performers, including Hana, set up buppan outside. I asked Garry how it all works and he kind of just shrugged at me. Kind of odd since he’s the real fan of this stuff, but I’m not helpless so I went to go figure it out myself. I watched for a bit to try and get a hint as to how it worked, then got in line. Just as the line reduced to one person between me and the table, music started blaring from inside. Hana hurriedly went back in to get to work, quickly apologizing then dashing off. The metaphorical door was shut in my face. In all honestly, I was more than a little disappointed.

I got a little mad about it, and didn’t enjoy the rest of the show much at all. I kinda just watched the rest of it with little to no care for anything that was going on in front of me. Even looking back at it slightly more objectively, it wasn’t that exciting. Even Garry commented in his trip recap that it wasn’t their best show. I also had to inconvenience a lot of people to get back to my seat since I was one of the last people back inside. When it was all over I got up and unceremoniously walked out. I didn’t take any more pictures, have one more look at the place, none of my usual sentimental spill. More buppan occurred after the show, but the lines were huge and I sincerely wasn’t interested. My bitter thought at the time was, “the line is super long so who why risk staying for another hour or two when it could just happen again?” In hindsight, I honestly don’t regret my decision to leave very much.

Garry walked up to me after the show and I put on my best “everything’s okay” face. I told him I was gonna skip the buppan stuff, and he said he was too since he was going to another show later on. We walked back to the station and once there we were going on different lines, I believe. As we separated, I told him “see you at the next thing”, but this was actually the last time we met up during my trip. I made my way back to Akihabara alone with my thoughts. The more I thought about what happened, the more upset I got about screwing up and taking too long to get in line. I was so mad at myself for blowing my chance to meet Hana. I honestly haven’t paid much attention to Stardom since. It’s unfortunate if this experience does sway me away from becoming a fan, but sometimes all it takes is one experience to make or break it.

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Mike
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Fan of アイドル, Japanese and Korean music, video games, anime, space, and technology. I tweet and blog about all of the above plus life.