ARAFES, September 21st 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The gates open at 3pm. My sister and I arrived at Kokuritsu at around 3:15, and the train station and entire path to the place was already packed with people going to the concert, people planning to just hang around and listen from outside, people holding up "please sell me tickets" boards, and people trying to keep everyone else in order. We noticed it when we came to line up for goods, too - just the sound of cicadas and seeing everyone walking with their Arafes shopping bags or wearing Arafes t-shirts made us feel like we stepped right into the 5x10 overture. I know some fans who aren't so keen on Kokuritsu concerts because of the sheer size of the stadium, but for us it's a special thing, and we've wanted to attend to a Kokuritsu concert ever since we first became fans. I'm so glad that we got to go, together!

When I told my sister that we were at the highest stands, her response had been, "great. I'm going to see an ant-like Nino." Personally I liked being high up, based on my Dome experiences, because I got to see the full stage more clearly. Of course, I'm sure being at the arena has its perks, but really I don't think it's possible to be disappointed at an Arashi concert, no matter where your seating is. MatsuJun is brilliant that way! Still, I was concerned since Kokuritsu is rather large, but once we got to our seat, we couldn't believe it. Our view was - beautiful. We could see the oboe pretty clearly from our seats, and the first thing we noticed was that there wasn't a ramp or rails for a ramp to go up there like in previous concerts - which was a little disappointing. But. My sister pointed to the small ramp right before our stand, asking me, "do you think they're going to climb up there?" My immediate response had been, "no way, I don't think so", because, well, I've never been so lucky and never thought I would ever be.

Boy, I was wrong. They came up for the first time during, erm, I think it was "Troublemaker". Most of us in the stands were too busy screaming to pay attention to the song. I was mouthing the lyrics and waving my penlight, but really I was too busy being paralyzed by the fact that Sho-kun and MatsuJun were, like, ten people away from us.

It was raining on and off that day, so the sound system's a bit off. Sometimes it was actually pretty bad - their voices sounded like they were singing underwater, almost. And they were obviously very tired from all the dancing they had to do, since they didn't have any back-up dancers this time around. They were out of breath a lot. And Aiba's crane didn't work at the beginning of the concert! It still was an incredible experience, and hands down the best Arashi concert I've been to.

Things I loved, according to my livejournal post: The solos, especially the rest of Arashi dancing with Aiba during "Friendship", and with Jun during "Shake It!". And Nino's "Gimmick Game" - of all of his solos, this is definitely the one I wanted to see in person the most. So glad I got to see it. Ohno in "Rain", oh my. And as for "T.A.B.O.O.", well, I just realized that so far either Sho or Arashi have performed it in all the concerts I've been to. I was very impressed and temporarily changed ichibans during DJxMJ. It was amazing, what with, Sakumoto rap/DJ collaboration, and Ohmiya SK!

I had already checked the setlist for the 20th on the morning before I left, although I didn't read any reports so stuff like Ore-fes and DJxMJ still took me by surprise. Songs I was particularly glad were performed - "La Tormenta 2004", "Energy Song", and "Sketch". I remembered that "Sketch" wasn't in the 20th's setlist, so I told my sister that it wasn't going to be performed. She was sorely disappointed since it's a particular favourite of ours, and when they started doing Ore-fes and Nino chose "Sketch", and won, my sister was looking at me with kira-kira eyes and asking "are they for real? Are they really going to perform it? REALLY?" All I could say back was "I don't know!" because it really seemed too good to be true, but then they started singing it and we were sighing a little and singing along. So glad that everyone continued sitting down during that song, and only stood up again when "Kiss Kara Hajimeyou" started.

I hope that in the next Arafes they'll do songs like "Superfresh", but other than that, most of the songs I voted for were performed. (Well, not "Kaze no Mukou e", but it wasn't like I was expecting a lot of votes for that one, anyway ;_;). Although I'm not planning to try for the next one I'm hoping that it'll be every bit as amazing!

Because of the crowd, it took us around 1.6 hours just trying to get out of the stadium. It was nice, though, to enter the train and be surrounded by other fans. I went to Shibuya afterwards (my sister went back to our hostel) to meet a friend, and she said that she's been seeing people in Arafes shirts or bags walking around, too.


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