The End of an Oshi: Futamaruya Shidare’s Last Live

The Cyclone is a small black box theater in a Shibuya basement which, according to the posters it uses for wallpaper, has played host to gigs by just about everyone over the past 20 years, including Cthonic, Crossfaith, Abigail Williams and every chika idol unit you’ve ever cared about. This past Saturday, it also hosted Yukueshirezutsurezure’s Emergency One Man Live, the emergency being Futamaruya Shidare’s sudden exit from the group.

The Cyclone’s capacity is 300, which seems to have been determined not by some safety conscious fire marshal, but in response to a challenge to see how many people one could stuff into the space, shoulder-to-shoulder, wall-to-wall.

Filling the Cyclone with the sold-out crowd for Shidare’s final live was a process that took an hour. Exactly an hour. From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. we 300 lucky few were lined up by reservation number, led into the club stairwell by groups of 20 and then released to the cashier and into the club in groups of 10. Tokyo has seen a cold spell the last couple days, so people were shedding layers as we jostled, shifted and raised the room temperature with each additional body stuffed into the small space.

Still, the energy among the crowd was high with a kind of giddy yet morbid anticipation. Everyone seemed anxious for the show to start but dreaded what it signified: the beginning of the end of Shidare’s tenure in Tsurezure. The lights eventually dropped and the members walked out in their traditional intro of spoken words and passing hand-written talismans to audience members who ritually tear them to pieces. With the short ceremony complete, Tsurezure broke into “Doppelgänger” and the little black box exploded.

The show itself was truly a proper send-off for Shidare. It was one of those rare gigs where both those onstage and in the audience are in sync and determined to give everything they have. This was 300 die-hard fans and a group trying to deliver the perfect farewell to a beloved member. For the first few songs, Mei Yui Mei was bursting into tears on a regular basis but powering through. Kotetsu looked to be in a similar state but kept brushing her hair over her face, so it was hard to tell for sure. The crowd was practically non-stop lifting, moshing and surfing to the point where, during “Gunjo”, Komachi looked at the chaos in the audience and the permanent stoicism on her face cracked into a smile.

The heat in the place took a bit of a toll and, after the first MC break, those who could stripped off another layer and the crowd settled in for a few songs. This relative calm was eventually shattered by the first notes of “Ideology” and, now rested, pandemonium broke out in the audience once again. A couple of ultramarines had brought in fake cherry blossom branches and, in an almost perfect moment, were lifted and launched towards the stage to frame Shidare in sakura as she sang that soaring bridge.

After 60 minutes, Tsurezure left the stage for a short break which I believe the sweat-soaked audience needed as much as the performers. Tsurezure returned shortly to kick off their first encore with the most rousing performance of “Shinjuku Cinema Connection” I can remember. In general, the show’s set list favored their earlier material, including almost the entirety of Post Catastrophe and most of Antino Mi Ideology, which the audience seems to appreciate. During “Tsureduresanka”, the gunjo formed a wall of lifters that stretched the entire width of the theater. It was a pretty impressive feat. The group’s tears from earlier in the evening seemed to have been overcome for the moment, and Tsurezure were now visibly enjoying themselves. In closing the first encore with “GaGa”, Shidare looked so happy she forgot the choreography and ended up stumbling into her laughing partners more than once.

The second encore was much shorter and more poignant, made up of only “Loud Asymmetry” and closing the show (and the career of Tsurezure’s center) with Shidare’s solo song, “Kuro Byakuya”.  This was followed by many tears and emotional words from the members, thanking and wishing Shidare well. Most poignantly, I thought, was Shidare’s co-founding partner Komachi, who tried to form a sentence and then, before she could start crying, stopped, collected herself and just quickly blurted out, “arigatou gozaimasu”.

While the show was over at this point, the evening was not. Management started shouting instructions for cheki lines while people held up the random items found strewn across the floor during the lifts and pits. Jackets, shoes, and even a passport were reunited with those who had lost them in the chaos while the 300 slowly unpacked themselves from the Cyclone into Shidare’s farewell cheki line. In the end, the line stretched from the stage, through the club, out the door and up the stairwell to the street. Our first trip through the line took two hours even though they were limiting interaction with Shidare to 45 seconds. They were also only allowing two cheki at a time, so those who wanted more had to get in line again.

Overall it was a helluva show which you will be able to see for yourself if you join their international fan club. Tsurezure were firing on all cylinders, and the audience didn’t hold anything back. I believe it will prove to be an unforgettable send-off for Shidare and I’m really grateful I had the chance to wish her a proper farewell. The only downside really was just the whole reason for putting the show on at all.