Category Archives: Wake Up Girls!

Wake Up, Girls! Final: The Process of Waking Up

I have dozens of takes on this, hear me out. It’s all I could think about lately. And it has been 2 months. Not all the takes are sane, or fit for posting here, so they aren’t. A few made it. And I do get to talk about the live itself. I do get there. Trust me. This post isn’t even 5000 words!

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Wake Up Girls Final Sendai and Learning to Love It All the Way to the End

With the last of the Sendai stop in the rear mirror, the seiyuu-idol unit Wake Up, Girls! is only one more live away from disbandment. I’m just trying to grapple with it the best I can as a fan of WUG who has now attended the last few shows in Sendai.

As to how we got here, let’s just say in Japanese popular entertainment, idol groups are common and idols of this variety come and go just like how their next-door-girl charms can be found, well, next door. There are a lot of reasons behind why a media-mix idol project that is about to hit its 6th year in existence would stop, too, despite selling out their largest venue thus far (Saitama Super Arena for their final live). But this is not that post. This post is about me, and WUGchans, damn it.

As a fan who started to follow WUG before the term WUGner became official I think there is something about following the group from cradle to the grave. I still remember reading ANN articles on Yamakan’s search for talent nationwide. I remember how in Jan/Feb 2014, while attending the big IDOLM@STER MOIW 2014 concert and on that trip to Japan, we tried and failed to go see WUGchans at a theater greeting, showcasing the first WUG movie. A friend and I were browsing K-Books and saw a signed poster from WUGchans going for over a man, left the aisle and then came back, and someone had already taken it from the shelf. The tinge of regret from that event lives on even today, even if both of us have gotten several signed goods since.

To be fair I didn’t quite consider myself as a WUGner until later in the year–more like just a typical seibuta who is into voice actresses and eventing. Well, I am always that I suppose. It was not until, at least, Chicago, when I first met the WUGchans at Anime Central 2014, that I consider myself fan enough to call myself one. (But then again, I had to be a fan to even fly to Chicago to see them in the first place.) As I would say now, I went to Acen that year to pick an oshimen. From watching the first TV anime as it was airing in winter of 2014 as well as other footage online, Miyu seemed to be the right fit for me. But having seen them in person then only further confirmed Miyu for me, despite how cute and appealing the others also were. I guess I’m not that big of a seibuta after all.

I still remember first seeing them while waiting to go into the opening ceremony at Acen. We were just chatting in front of the entrance when Hiro, Yamakan and four(?) of the seven walked right in. We waved at them. It was Airi, MayuC, Minami and Yoppi. Actually memory is now sufficiently fuzzy that I don’t remember or am misremembering these details. I still remember MayuC’s expression when I first saw her, though. It’s not too different than what you would expect of a typical Japanese young person walking around, lol, Anime Central, in her first trip to the mainland USA.

[That first Anime Central was quite instructive in a number of ways. One thing that came up repeatedly is different close encounters with these 81Produce seiyuu at various events. I’m sure some of you have heard of the stories coming from Machi Asobi, but we had the same at Anime Central already, plus AX 2017, and elsewhere. It seems like these seiyuu are more next door-y idols in more than just the figurative speech kind of way.]

Fast forward to 2019, things have changed, but only by a bit. MayuC remains the same person that we saw then. She’s like that timid but very brave-minded woman with a wild streak, but also who now has the confidence to show it off. I too have changed: from “I don’t like the WUGchans that much” to “WUGchans ga dai daisuki da!”

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The A5 Kobe Beef of Smiles: Tabehoudai Version ~That You Can WUG To~

Some time last year I got fed up on how Americans don’t do calls and wrote up a set of calls for Gokujou Smile based on the JP calls out there. With WUG Final tour over, I reviewed my old post as a matter of writing up the tour, and decided I have to write a new post to update the material in the old post, for WUG Final SSA.

Basically, it’ll sound like this:

Do you mix to WUG? Only a few songs, like Gokujou Smile. And even then most people do mostly just the fast mix part and not the full mix part, opting to do the Fu-fuu calls with the group instead.

One change from the old post is that people do the urya-oi as per normal course, but that’s not so important in Gokujou Smile. If you know what you’re doing you would already know what you need to do. If you don’t or if you are unsure, just follow the crowd. The 3rd tour video is still a good reference that will get you through the whole song.

I am mostly still romanizing the calls, via here. The calls are in parens and colored in red.  The mixing is in blue, which is entirely optional and do so at your own risk. Actually there are just 2 normal mixes and 3 speed mixes with lead-in calls, and you can pick and choose which you want to do. The normal mixes conflict with the 3 fufuu calls at the end of each lead-in so most people choose to not do them.

Notes:

  • There are some hand motions that can be done during a few parts, like “housoku housoku” in which you make a upward arrow with your hands, and “nandaka chigau” which you can do the “no” hand motion.
  • The calls with a music note in the paren are sing-along responses.
  • There are some timed jumps. People furicopy normally but the main melody has a jump like 2 bars into it and from what I’ve seen recently, MayuC cues the audience for the jump sometimes. You can review the video from 3rd Tour (above) as an example.
  • Fuwa x4 are not clap clap Fuwa x2 but some people do it. Most people do the 4x.
  • The “Fuu?” call is just a fuu with different intonation. In JP it’s denoted with down and up arrows. (フー↓ウッ↑)
  • (starting signal) just means the usual mix starter phrase. I’m not aware of a standard one used in this but there are some standard phrase people do use.
  • I use an asterisk to indicate the start of the speed mix for typography reasons. Just put the paren in the following line into that. I also wrote speed or standard mix where applicable to indicate the tempo only.

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EGAO! (Fufu!) GOKUJOU! (Fufu!) SUMAIRU! (Fuu!)

(hey x12)

(standard mix on 2nd half) (Starting signal) (TIGER FIRE CYBER FIBER

(Fufu! Fufu! Fuu!)
(DIVER VIBER JAA JAA)

KURAUDO ni kakareta SUKEJUURU (Yay!)
Nandaka samishii shuumatsu wo (Yay!)
Nandemo ii kara umerutte iu no ha chigau (Nandaka chigau~!)

Honto jimi na no futsuu no hi ha (Whoo!)
Douga de neko wo utsushitetari (Whoo!)
Doudesho tamani ha heya no moyou ga he nanka ne

Minna no shashin (sha~ shin~♪) SURAIDO shite mita (‘te~ mita~♪)
SUMAIRU ippai de zenkai de SUMAIRU darake de
SUMAIRU? SUMAIRU?mairu
Waratte shimau (shi~ mauu~♪) genki ni natta yo (natta~ yo~♪)
Akiramenai (TIGER) haru (FIRE) natsu (CYBER) aki (FIBER) fuyu (*) no hi mo 
(* speed mix TIGER FIRE CYBER FIBER DIVER VIBER JAAJAA)

SHINDOI kisetsu wo shiteru kara (Whoo!)
Kawaranu egao wo mederu (Fuwa x4)
NIPPON no egao ga uwagaki suru (Whoo!)
Nanka tsurai toki mo
NIPPON no egao ga kawaiku suru (Whoo!)
Saki koboreru SAKURA iro (Fuwa x4)
SHINDOI kisetsu wo shitte koso no(Whoo!)
Egao(Fufu!) gokujou (Fufu!) SUMAIRU (Fuu!)

(Hey x8)

Tenki ga ii hi ha dekakeyou (Yay!)
Densha ni notte chotto toode shiyou (Yay!)
Denenfuukei suteki na yasai mo toreru (Housoku! housoku!)

Choppiri nigate na mono datte (Fuu?)
Oishii no tabetara suki ni naru (Fuu?)
OIOI ima made shiranaide gomen to omou

Umi ha hiroi (hi~ roi~♪) yama mo sugoi (su~ goi~♪)
MEIDO IN JAPAN ha saikou sa MAI MAI MAI SUTAA
Nandatte umidaseru
Asobi ni kite (kite~ ne~♪) ai ni kite ne (kite~ ne~♪)
Kono hashi (TORA) kara (HI) hashi (JINZO) made (SENI) wo (*) hashi no kuni he
(* speed mix TORA HI JINZO SENI AMA SHINDOU KANSEN)

SHINDOI kisetsu wo shiteru kara (Whoo!)
Kawaranu egao wo miseru (Fuwa x4)
NIPPON no egao ga uwagaki suru (Whoo!)
Nanka tsurai toki mo
NIPPON no egao ga motenashi suru (Whoo!)
Saki koboreru SAKURA iro (Fuwa x4)
SHINDOI kisetsu wo shitte koso no (Whoo!)
Egao (Fufu!) gokujou (Fufu!) SUMAIRU (Fuu!)

(Hey x8)

(Hey x8)

(speed mix CHAPE APE KARA RARA TUSUKE MYOHONTSUSUKE)

DONMAI namida wo shitteru kara
Kawaranu egao wo mederu
DONMAI na egao ga uwagaki suru
Nanka tsurai toki mo
DONMAI na egao ga kawaiku suru (Whoo!)
Saki koboreru SAKURA iro (Fuwa x4)
DONMAI namida wo shitte koso no (Whoo!)
Egao(Fufu!) gokujou (Fufu!) SUMAIRU (Fuu!)

(hey x12)

(standard mix on 2nd half) (Starting signal) (TORA HI JINZO SENI)

(Fufu! Fufu! Fuu!)
(AMA SHINDOU KANSEN)


Travelogue: Wake Up Girls FINAL Iwate

Ishiwari-Zakura (the sign)

Since this spring, the seiyuu unit Wake Up, Girls! have been on a farewell tour. It reminds me of Major League players who announced their retirements during the off season of their final season, getting treats as their team travel around the league and getting presents from teams the player visit over the course of the regular season. It’s not that different for this seiyuu idol unit in a sense, given the extensive farewell they have received at Animelo Summer Live and Animax Musix Yokohama earlier this year. (AnimeJam is this coming weekend and it would be interesting to see what they do for WUGchans!)

While the shut-down date set as end of March, 2019, the IP will live on (most notably in a mobile game) as the voice actresses will be off contract for the main project. They will still work on the franchise, of course, but not as performers of live shows, and likely not so extensively tied to the various media opportunities such as their ongoing radio shows (though this remains to be seen), live action theater, as “solo artists” and most importantly doing new songs and concerts.

There is a actual farewell tour for WUG, which is broken into 3 parts. First two parts were announced right off the bat after the disbanding announcement. Part 1 covered Chiba, Kanagawa (Zama) and Saitama (Omiya). Part 2 covers Osaka, Iwate (Morioka), and Kanagawa again (Yokosuka). Part 3 will cover Kumamoto, Osaka (again), Nagano, Tokushima, Aichi (Nagoya), and finally Miyagi–or Sendai. It’s a lot of stops. Each stop promises at least 2 shows (early and late). The Aichi stop has 5 shows. Osaka totally gets 8 shows between parts 2 and 3. About half of these sold out, but it isn’t hard to get tickets for some of the more remote and remaining ones, even as I write.

The locations are important in that the farewell tour will take all the WUGs to their home prefectures. Yoppi is probably the most difficult, all the way out in Kumamoto, so it’s good it finally will happen. Iwate is where Kaya is from, and this tour marks the second WUG visit to Morioka. Minyami and Myu are from Kanagawa and Chiba respectively. MayuC is from Osaka, and Osaka is the city WUG toured the most outside of the Tokyo region proper. Nanamin is from Tokushima, which is also a rare stop for WUG tours but thanks to Machi Asobi, WUGchans have frequented Tokushima quite often. Of course, Aichan is the Sendai native who will invariably hold court for that final stop on that final tour, and it’s the second most common tour stop outside Kanto for them. You would think, right?

Sendai is obviously a super special place for Wake Up Girls. It gave birth to the group and the project, and promoting the (kinda still) struggling Tohoku region is a core mission for the team. The way the team was put together in 2012-2013 was just as much of a promotion of Japan’s rural areas as it is a way to represent them in this fandom niche–seiyuu idol and media mix. It’s really heartful to see the management stick to this aspect of the mission. I mean I would not have had reasons to go to Sendai until next year but for WUG, a good 3.5 years after my real first visit. It taught me a lot of places to visit, either ones I had in the past or will in the future, and sights to see and recommend to others. The TUNAGO solo tour earlier this year is a great example, when fans had to travel across Tohoku to see the WUG member solo events in tiny live halls in the countryside. It ended with a bus tour that took you even to rebuilding banks of the Eastern shore and survey the reconstruction after the 3/11 tsunami waves had left their marks.

In the same spirit, my visit to Morioka to attend WUG Final Iwate was just as much about WUG as much about Morioka. I am really going because timing worked best, not because Iwate or Morioka is special, plus honestly I can’t see myself ever going for another reason, so why not visit a part of Japan I don’t think I’ll ever go again?

The actual concert is on Sunday afternoon and evening. I had booked a flight back home leaving Haneda in the morning Monday after. In order to make the flight I had to travel by night bus (as the most reasonable transportation option), which was both reasonably priced and convenient, as the bus depot is right at the JR station Morioka, and a short walk from my hotel. The fact that it snowed overnight Saturday was a little disturbing, but it wasn’t a problem at all for me–the weather was still warmer in Morioka than at home. And unlike Kanto proper, this part of the country regularly deals with snow, so it isn’t as much of an issue for transportation.

Arriving Morioka by train Saturday morning, it was a fast ride up the Tohoku/Akita line, taking about 2.5 hours. At Morioka the Hayabusa and Komachi trains separates, which you can actually go see. The Komachi in front decouples, moves forward, and both it and the Hayabusa train retract the latches and the cover pops back to keep that aerodynamic nose shape. Literally, Shinkalion.

Right at the station, a famous local food, the fukuda pan, can be had. They literally are just rolls with different fillings, kind of like souped up buttered breads. I had chestnut and plain butter, and it was pretty good because the bread was of good quality and it was fresh.

Transit in Morioka is JR only, and there is no local mass transit on rail. You can take a pretty cheap bus to go around, but it’s hardly faster than walking. The JR local trains take you to the suburbs, so it’s not even helpful. There is a tourist bus, but I ended up walking around the area between JR Morioka and the main castle park area.

At the time there was a Salmon Festival in the park. Too bad most stuff there can’t really be had. You either had to eat it there, or bring home a fish or a sack of clams or something. The salmon looked good though.

The main park area is three things: a park, the remains of the Morioka castle, and a temple. It’s not what I’d say scenic in a dreary December weekend, but I imagine it looks good with some cherry blossom to go with. Very nearby is a historic house and museum, and some older buildings from before the War. Also a couple blocks away are the government buildings, and the famous Rock-Breaking Cherry Tree that grew through a boulder. As people (nee: Kayatan) say, the Ishiwari-zakura encapsulates the spirit of Iwate.

There weren’t a lot of sights in Morioka proper. I walked a bit to kind of take in the place. It is cold and I didn’t want to walk too much (but still probably did too much walking). It is kind of inaka-y but it felt more urban than it really was. The side where the older town was (where I was walking) did feel very much like “Morioka” in that it reminds me of Sendai and Hakodate, maybe because it’s kind of in between the two places. The other side of the JR Shinkansen tracks felt more like modern, newer developed suburb-y part of the city. There was a huge Bic Camera and Round 1 where my hotel was, where as the other side of the station had the densely zoned businesses and homes you expect in a Japanese city.

So instead of walking, we ate. Morioka has 3 famous noodles: the jya jya men, the reimen, and the wanko soba. Naturally we had all 3.

Reimen is a form of korean cold noodles. I’ve actually had varieties of this across the USA and even in Taipei. It’s more commonly the clear wheat version that you see, but the Morioka style is served up like a cold ramen, with sweet flavorings. It’s served with apple or pear in the broth, in the winter, and with watermelon in the summer. The ideal pairing for this is either hot weather, or because you have just had a lot of korean BBQ/yakiniku so you can cool down with it. We did not have BBQ with ours, but it was still tasty. You should get it spicy when you could, just know that Japanese eateries generally downtune their spicy levels.

The jya jya men in Morikoa is similar to the Chinese and Korean versions, except it is made with miso instead of black soy bean paste or fermented flour paste. This means it’s a meat miso that you mix with your noodles, and it pairs with similar toppings. Because miso is actually more mild than soybean paste or fermented flour paste, there are more options for topping such as umeboshi and grated ginger, or even rice vinegar. The noodle used is much thicker too, they are basically udon level. It makes for a cheap and hearty meal. 600 JPY fills me up, with chi tan tan, which is a complementary soup they serve you in the same bowl by mixing an egg with hot noodle water.

Somehow I had it three times, because you can get Pairon (which is like the one famous name for the dish) jya jya men at the station, and JJM was the easiest eat that you can have all day long. Other than these noodle bars, most places don’t open late in Morioka so jya jya men is a good substitute if you would have ramen instead.

Pairon at the station (they have a few branches)

Wanko soba is more of an experience than a dish. Basically the idea is a server will serve you bite size portions of soba at a time until you are full. There’s some ceremony to this, so you ought to go with Instagram ready with a small group. Our server served the three of us over 300 servings, and it is a pretty (ugly?) sight (unsightly?). It is at a rapid fire pace, when you eat it, the next serving comes. You get a break when the server runs out of noodles on her plate, but these rounds can be brutal. Wanko soba is lightly flavored in soy sauce, so you can also add other condiments like grounded chicken or grated daikon or whatever, which they provide to you. Not that it matters, you are literally eating as fast as you can most of the time, and if you are not drawing the meal out, the whole experience can be over in less than an hour. But yeah, having Moriokan(?) waitress throw noodles at you non-stop turned out to be surprisingly fun. To stop eating there’s a procedure you do with putting the lid on top of your bowl. The server’s trick is to throw noodles in it while you show it to her empty. It continues if you let it happen as you have to finish what’s in your bowl.

I wonder if this is why Kayatan is kind of S.

As a proper dining experience, wanko soba should really be had as a proper meal, but most places close quite early (like, 8:30pm). And according to what I hear, wanko soba in Tokyo is just not as good as wanko soba in Morioka, but who knows. We went to Azumaya by the JR station, which I guess is well-detailed in this CNN article.

Anyways, the live.

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WUGLOVE Bus Tour Part 3: TUNAGO Tour Finale–Wake Up, Girls! 5th Anniversary Live

The long blog post title is important.

I was on the flight back from a weekender attending the 3rd WUG bus tour, or the finale of the TUNAGO tour–which is a Wake Up Girls fanclub event that focuses on the seven girls as solo performers. In years past they have always done the WUG solo events as a two-day act, where each of the seven WUGchans would do their solo shows for about 1 to 2 hours, back to back across 2 days. This year they made it fanclub only, and linked the events in weekends during March. Each of the events would run twice a day, a solo act for one WUGchan, and the venue would be at a small live house somewhere in Tohoku.

This is hard for dedicated WUGners because that means they have to traverse Northern Japan for the month of March. It’s kind of expensive especially for fans outside of Tohoku, which is most of us. Local Japanese fans complained, overseas WUGners grinned and beared with it. Having the events being FC-only meant the tickets were more or less available (unless you’re looking for Myu’s show, somehow hers were the most popular (probably because hers was in Sendai and it was the easiest one to get to. Also her new solo song was the best)), despite the smallish venues. To cap it all off is the Bus Tour, which costs 50000 or so yen, plus the optional Nijikai event (another ~6000). It’s an expensive proposition no matter who you are, I guess.

To cut to the chase, now that everything is done and over with, I have a bit of mixed feelings about this year’s WUG bus tour. For starters, it’s very different than the prior tours in terms of activity. This time, the tour was nearly 500 strong, whereas prior tours had maybe half as many. The smaller counts allowed more personal-ish sessions at the earlier bus tours, such as watashikai and autograph events, and seeing the WUGchans more frequently. This time, we only saw them via the special niconama (which was streamed to the hotel rooms) as guest audience, at a greetings event at the hotel, and at the nijikai as surprise guests. And of course, the 5th anniversary live, which was the big event of the WUG bus tour part 3.

The somewhat-mixed, mostly-happy feeling I got from all this is kind of just a personal observation, but one universal part is how those of us in the WUG Love FC know how the prior bus tours went. This one being so different is going to lead to some disappointments. The tour in general is pretty lacking in terms of what’s really good for normal tourism, although the onsen ryokan we stayed at (Akiu Grand) served both as a WUG anime pilgrimage spot (same hotel in the anime) as well as a solid onsen ryokan. The food was a little on the weak side, though.

Well, enough waxing poetry on meta, here’s a blow-by-blow recall.

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