The storm clouds settled, bringing a sense of spring to the fair isle of Honshu. The salarymen, as is their wont, who wend their way to work whilst watching wacky comedy shows on their portable telecommunications devices, went away. In their stead, the legions of undead sheep that comprise the vast majority in Japan decided to overcrowd the trains because of some flower blooming. You can’t even get stoned from it, so I don’t see the appeal.
On such a day, Hoshina Fumimi’s birthday one-man live was being held. In Marz. My least favourite venue on Earth.
Doing my usual thing, and skipping back about four years, I first encountered Fumimi the first day I encountered Jul. I wrote in a blog at the time that “Hoshina Fumimi was incredibly cute. She’s also a complete chuunibyou. Her introduction says she’s a Magical Vampire Girl, if that gives any indication. Music wise, I can’t remember.” Four years later I actually do remember. She only had one song at the time, which was “Vampire Kiss”, so she did that twice and some covers. Four years later she is still incredibly cute, but added to the power of some Daichi songwriting, her lives are incredibly fun. At Saki’s birthday live, which I went to two weeks ago and completely didn’t bother writing about, I randomly decided to pick up a ticket for the one-man from Fumimi as she was selling them and she called me by name, which is weird as I don’t think I’d ever spoken to her properly before, outside of her foisting Saki chekis on me or me prodding people to go and talk to her. I guess now she and Saki are basically supporting each other and the little things I’m trying to help Saki with before the UK tour are being fed back to Fumimi. Anyway.
So once again I’ll move into some vague random asides. Up until I was on the train to Tokyo to get some drinks I thought I was going to see Fumimi on my own. Then just as I needed to change trains the day’s plans changed tack and so I had to book some tickets for some other people. Unfortunately doing so whilst transferring at Akabane means following whoever is in front of you. The train was on the platform. People were running for it. No one in their right mind would be running towards a train heading for Saitama, I reasoned, and got on it. Two stops later, tickets booked, I realised I didn’t recognise my surroundings and realised people actually had been running to get a train to Saitama.
So I had to get off, get on a train going the other direction and then arrived late. Which was a nice change. After demolishing some 8% beer the first two of us headed for a burger, then looked in some random shops until the other two turned up. After they did, we headed away from the station and towards Hitachino Nest as the new person needed coffee and the rest of us needed beer, so fuck it, we thought, and got Espresso Stouts. Why pay for two drinks? On the way we bumped into 90% of Kamen Joshi, just because it’s Akiba on a Sunday and they’re using their 100 yen an hour paycheck to buy onigiri from 7Eleven. Nanaka, despite looking cuter on Twitter since starting this whole getting-the-shit-kicked-out-of-her-in-MMA thing, still looks weird IRL. Steam Girls’ new orange fluffy boots also look super weird.
Anyway, random aside aside, having finished the beer we headed to another beer shop to get another beer before heading to Shinjuku. We arrived at the venue just as it was starting, and experienced the funtimes of “Vampire Kiss”. I’ll now deviate from the script to delineate why I hate Marz.
Marz is located in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district, which is basically the red light district. If you’re drunk or touristy enough expect to get invited into any number of strange and disturbing establishments. Once you get inside Marz, you’ll think that the person who designed it was short a few braincells. With really small groups it isn’t massively obvious, but as soon as it fills up a little the kinks begin to show. The first is that the entrance is at basement level, and the stage is even further underground. Because of Shinjuku being about 40% underground anyway, with the numerous passages, exits, railway interchanges and such being so extensive that when I used to work there I could walk from one place of work on one side of the station to another on the other side of the station (about 2km) without ever seeing the sky. Because of this, even underground Shinjuku is cramped. The B1F sound booth and such overhangs the back half of the B2F floor of the venue, which isn’t a rare piece of architectural fumbling. What makes it pointless is that the overhanging ceiling on the B2F level is about 5’11” (1.80m), so if you’re right at the back, because of the overhang you can’t see the stage. Also if you jump, you crack into the ceiling. I had a run of about 10 lives in a row in 2015 in Marz where I got injured in every single one. The second problem is that the sound system seems incapable of operating outside two set volumes: 110dB and 75dB. 110dB is physically painful. 75dB is almost painfully quiet for a live show. With the grumbling out of the way, I’ll move onto the show.
Fumimi was, until Friday, in a bad way. She had the cold that seems to have taken the whole of Kanto into its grip, and had lost her voice along with the rest of us. She said that it was a miracle she’d regained it in time for the concert, but she was still rough around the edges on a few songs. Either way, she danced and sang as well as she could and tore it up, with the crowd interaction just as intense as ever. The Daichi-penned songs were performed first, with the corresponding energy levels increasing with every song. Some particular standouts were the ever fun “爪垢ゲロHappy❤“, the always confusing “ファッションメンヘラ”, the crazy “膝上15cm” and the joyful “Grotesque Dreamer”.
With the greatest hits over, Fumimi departed and the video screen descended to give a sneak peek of the new PV which she’s since uploaded.
As the curtain rose once again, Fumimi was back on stage in her new (and self-designed) costume, along with a fucking huge keyboard. Full 88-key Roland RD700. Sweet, I thought, as the crowd sat down to hear her play her new song by herself. Unfortunately she’s not particularly experienced when it comes to piano-ing in front of people, and so she made quite a few screwups, but it sounds like it could be a good song when done by the backing band (she said the backing track is ready, but it’s her birthday and she wanted to have a crack at playing it herself).
The next song was written, composed and choreographed by Mai from cyberMINK, and sounded like some abominable attempt at songwriting from someone who listens to too much Perfume but has no knowledge of musical theory. Nevertheless, Fumimi gave it her best attempt and basically destroyed her voice in the process. Next she did an MC in tears because Lilipomu (I’m sure at least a few of you may remember her), who is basically Fumimi’s best friend, who quit the whole idol thing in 2016 at some point, gave her permission to use take one of her songs and make it a Fumimi song. It was rearranged somewhat from the original cutesy Mahou-Shoujo Riripomu shtick-sounding version to more fit Fumimi’s darker sound, with heavy guitars and stuff as well as new choreography by PLIC PROCK’s Sari added, but it remains the same song and the fans loved it.
Lastly Fumimi revealed her final new song, called “Invisible”, which was again choregraphed by Sari and had lyrics by Fumimi. Evidently the new songwriter, no_my, who’s also responsible for the writing of the song of the PV above, isn’t quite on Daichi’s level and seems to not enjoy chugging guitars so much, but the songs remain acceptable and fit her theme, so I won’t complain.
She was going to do some photos before disappearing, but then realised belatedly, “Oh wait, you guys are going to give me stuff right?” and then disappeared anyway to cue the encore.
When she came back out it was birthday cake time, presented by Saki and Yurimaru, to which the usual rendition of “Happy Birthday” was sung. After this she did one photo with just her, because it was her one-man, then she invited every idol who had turned up (and there were a lot, but a few had disappeared during the live [cough]Kimiboku[/cough]) so the stage wasn’t as full as she wanted. Lastly she performed “Gamushara Rail” (her new “theme song” apparently, as it was the first one she wrote lyrics for) one last time, and then it was over.
Overall, Fumimi’s performances are getting better and better. She has a lot more confidence now that she’s kind of shed the whole Vampire Girl thing and just focused on being herself, and being inside of A-minor to gain an insight into the production side and then going freelance again seems to have just boosted her confidence even higher. It won’t be long before she reaches even higher levels of awesome, I’m sure.
Live over, I tried to navigate the clusterfuck of buppan, where you normally buy cheki tickets on one side of the stage, line up again and then take cheki on the other side. But today was stupid and the buppan table was upstairs, and only the chekis were on stage. Dammit. As such I was waiting in line for my cheki for 40+ minutes, only briefly interspersed with communication from fellow wota.
Fumimi is as chill and laid back as ever. Just basically had a normal conversation about how the live was basically a blur, her new self-designed costume and the new songs, then she broke from her usual ending script of handshake and high five and slapped me on the shoulder and was like, “I’ll be in your care from now on too”. I seem to have obtained a reputation or something.
Either way, wait over and now free to leave, I downed my Red Bull and left, continuing with the drinking (probably to excess, but who cares. Idol birthdays!) and grabbing some ramen before catching the last train back to Ibaraki, as normal, whereupon I discovered that though Tokyo had been bone dry all day, Ibaraki had monsooned and soaked my bike. Damn countryside.
So, good times, good Fumimi, and hopefully people will read this and get into her because she’s awesome and needs more foreign fans. She now has a Facebook group as well if you want to join.
So long fuckers.
NB: 233 = Fumimi. In Japanese, numbers have a multitude of readings, so many that it became a thing during the bubble era for people to send text messages via pagers. In any language apart from Japanese it wouldn’t work (though apparently Americans had some pager code thing, but wasn’t like full words), but 084 becomes Ohayo (Good morning) because 0 = o ,8 = ha, 4 = yo. Can also 4649 (yoroshiku) and 8341 (yasashii). Good for speaking code in English as well when you see some chinpira around as you can say “that guy was so 893”.