Stay Gold Sako Makita! PASSPO☆ Spring Tour Finale Live Report Part 2!
Akasaka Blitz glowed light-green on May 31, 2015 as “passengers” (PASSPO☆ term for fans) from far and wide gathered to send off Sako Makita as she embarked on her final “flight” (PASSPO☆ term for lives/events) with PASSPO☆ before her indefinite hiatus from stage performances due to health problems she had been experiencing since late 2014. Rumors had lit up the Internet regarding the future of “Sakoti” (Makita’s nickname) and PASSPO☆, especially with the announcement of a “new project” in April and the closing of Makita’s Twitter account after it was hacked right around the release of the group’s 4th album “Beef or Chicken?” (release date: May 13). While the uncertainty did seem to give PASSPO☆ “More Attention” during their busy spring, it was a day overflowing with emotions.
Evening Flight – Departure: 6:30pm (JST)
Petit PASSPO☆, the little sister group of PASSPO☆ announced during the afternoon flight, was the opening act for the evening. Even though there were some rough spots during their self introduction, their performances of “Samurai Girl” and “Seishun Dreamer” were solid considering that they were standing in front of more than 1,000 passengers on their first day as a group. Ending with a cute “We’re cheering for you!” (Ouen shiteiru yo!), they got the audience warmed up for PASSPO☆.
As they had done only a few hours earlier, as soon as the lights dimmed and the opening notes of “Immigration Control” rang out through Akasaka Blitz, the passengers fastened their seat-belts for a night that they would not soon forget. As they enthusiastically chanted and waved their penlights, 8-member PASSPO☆ walked on stage as an 8-member crew for the last time in what could be a while.
The audience became a sea of light-green penlights and paper fans with “LOVE Sako-chan” and “Jimi ni Resu Kudasai” (Please give me a plain response; a reference to Makita’s introduction “Kyou mo jimi ni ganbarimasu” which translates to “I will plainly do my best today too”) as PASSPO☆ began with “Candy ・Room” and “Vivi Natsu”, with one female fan getting lifted in hopes of getting a look from Sakoti, much to the chagrin of the stricter than normal security.
Even though Sakoti is one of the more popular members of PASSPO☆, she was overwhelmed by all the love she was being shown but seemed pleased, even borrowing one of the penlights from a front row passenger and waving it while introducing herself. From there, PASSPO☆ altered their flight plan to “Go On A Highway”, spinning and rocking back and forth, Sakoti sending hearts racing as she blew a kiss to the audience. Taking the offramp, the mood became heavier with the dark dramatic rock of “BEAST IN YOU” and the Megadeth-flavored thrash metal of “Not in theory” (lyrics were written by Makita).
After the members left the stage, the screen lowered and a video of a starry sky filled with 8 different colored jewels played as Makita returned to do an emotional, beautiful dance solo to a rearranged piano version of “Wish on a star” before being joined by the others.
After a few brief moments of peace and calm, sirens rang out and posters in the style of the Mugiwara Pirates from One Piece flashed on the screen as PASSPO☆ kicked into high gear with “WANTED!!” The antics of the mischievous Anna Tamai made their first appearance of the night as she pretended to rip off Natsumi Iwamura’s shirt. Apparently, such a thing is a punishable offense as the video switched to scenes of prison, the barbed wire guitar riff of “FINAL VISION” marching along until there was a “jailbreak” causing crew (PASSPO☆ term for group members) and passengers alike to “STEP & GO”, running back and forth to the chaotic fan favorite. As with the afternoon flight, “Anya” (Tamai’s nickname) and “Nachu” (Iwamura’s nickname) had some “kabe-don” fan service ready as PASSPO☆ sailed away on the pirate ship on the screen.
Sakoti exclaimed that it was the most fun she had performing “STEP & GO” in her entire time with PASSPO☆ (Maybe it had something to do with her having planned out the 4 songs in that order and was in charge of the visuals as well?). Nachu and Mio Masui took the spotlight as they played out the drama of young love with “Heaven’s Burger” (lyrics by Masui) and its crunchy guitars and marching drum beats. This was followed by “Fairy Tale”.
PASSPO☆ then adopted “American” alter egos during a “Strawberry Girls’ Seishun Hakusho” (青春白書, a Japanese parody of American teen dramas like “Beverly Hills 90210) portion of the flight, transporting the passengers to an imaginary American university where “Irene” (Ai Negishi) was struggling with love problems. The names for the other members were: “Elle” (Yukimi Fujimoto, from her catchphrase “Kokoro mo Karada mo L-size” which translates to “My heart and body are both L-size”), “Jimini” (Sako Makita, see the earlier part of the article for an explanation), “Molly” (Shiori Mori, from her last name), “Nachos” (a Mexican variation on her nickname “Nachu” since she’s a Mexican exchange student), “Miomio” (Mio Masui, same as her Japanese nickname since she is a Japanese exchange student), “Naomi” (Naomi Anzai), and “Anna” (Anna Tamai).
Starting off with “GPP” (Girls Pajama Party) and “Love Diary” as “Irene” worked through her feelings, eventually she learned to “Let It Go” (a rearranged version of the song which has a video that was filmed at one of their female fan-only events). Thanks to the help of her friends, “Irene” decided to surprise her boyfriend by making food for him, leading perfectly into “HONEY DISH” accompanied by a stream of photos documenting “American college girls’ life”.
Mio again explained the simple choreography for the arena rock-style “Itazura Rock’n’Roll” as PASSPO☆ went from sweet to spicy, moving right into “Himawari”. Anya seemed to still be in college mode as she tapped the butts of the other members during “Material Girl”. It should be no surprise to longtime passengers that she is the kind of girl who likes that “material” though.
The sold-out audience then took out the second light-green cyalume that they were given on their way into Akasaka Blitz as Sakoti began to sing the opening lines of the emotional punk rock 「I」. The other members made a ring around her as she walked to the the front of the stage to sing her solo lines during the bridge of the song. The final song of the main performance was “Shojo Hikou” which Sakoti encouraged the passengers to sing along with her. The sound of a full live house singing PASSPO☆’s #1 hit single is not a memory that anyone in attendance will soon forget.
The “Sako” encore call began immediately, light-green cyalumes waving in the dark for several minutes. Kaho Sakuma, who graduated from the group at the end of 2011 was in attendance sitting next to PASSPO☆ choreographer Natsumi Takenaka and waving her light-green cyalume for Sakoti during the encore as well.
Beginning the encore with “Jaa ne”, Aipon (Ai Negishi’s nickname) teased Sakoti for blushing at the sight of all the light-green cyalumes and paper fans waving for her. Taking a deep breath, Sakoti made her last in-flight announcement that the passengers would hear for a while:
At this time, for me to make such an inconvenient decision to go on hiatus, I have been thinking that during these 6 years that I have been in PASSPO☆, I have received so much love from everyone and made so many memories with them. It’s something that I will never forget and are things that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I have decided to go on hiatus and I am sure that everyone has been thinking a lot of things as a result. There are people who said things like “I don’t want Sako to go away” or “You should take a rest if you need to”. I am also an idol otaku so I understand those feelings! The pain one feels when an idol you are supporting quits. I completely understand that. If I could, I would want to stay right here. But, understanding that, I will absolutely not let those feelings be in vain! I promise that we will meet again!
I am truly, truly grateful that I was able to join PASSPO☆, I am grateful to all of you (passengers, staff, etc.) as well. While I am away, please continue to support these 7 as they keep looking forward and work towards rising above my expectations. Please continue to support and watch over PASSPO☆!
Today was so much fun! Thank you so very much!!!
One of the passengers in the front reached toward Sako and handed her a bouquet of paper flowers. There were 10 different colored flowers, one for each of the original members because “no matter what PASSPO☆ is and always will be 10 members”. There was also a banner large banner that read “Get stronger and come back!”
As with the graduation concert of Makoto Okunaka several months earlier, Ai Negishi became emotional. To see her like that only proves her strength as a leader because it shows how much she cares for the members and treasures their companionship. Even the cheerful pop-punk “YOU” could not stop Shiori Mori’ voice from shaking while she sang the final song of the encore. She apologized after remembering out loud that “It’s not like Sako’s graduating!”
Sakoti reminded her that she would still be in Japan even if she would not be on stage with her or the others for a while. Mori commented that it felt like a funeral earlier, which caused Sakoti to exclaim “I’m still alive! Smile!” She lingered on the stage to thank the passengers but, the house lights had still not come on which, meant…an announcement for Platinum Sonic 2, a live event featuring PASSPO☆ and the other idol groups from their agency (predia, palet, 3min., FYT, etc.). Masui was given the unenviable task of directing the audiences attention to the screen as it was lowering, giving the notice a false air of importance.
However, there was a second encore which consisted of “Mudai” and even knowing that Sakoti was not graduating nor leaving the country, the emotions of not being able to see her as they always have for the past 6 years seemed to take it’s toll on the members of PASSPO☆ as they sang with all the power they had left within them. Asking the passengers to join hands with each other, everyone took a bow together. The last words from Sakoti as she walked off the stage were “I love you all!”
This is not a graduation and Sako Makita has expressed her commitment to be with PASSPO☆ as much as she can outside of participating in flights but, there were still many feelings of sadness on display at Akasaka Blitz on May 31, 2015. Sakoti may consider herself plain, even going so far as to use it every time she introduces herself but, the great thing about idols is that they can make the most ordinary young women shine and become inspirational to people all over the world.
Set List – Evening
00 Immigration Control
01 Candy ・Room
02 Vivi Natsu
03 Go On A Highway
04 BEAST IN YOU
05 Not in theory
06 Wish on a star
08 FINAL VISION
09 STEP & GO
10 Heaven’s Burger
11 Fairy Tale
13 Love Diary
14 Let It Go
15 HONEY DISH
16 Itazura Rock’n’Roll
18 Material Girl
20 Shojo Hikou
E1 Jaa ne
PASSPO☆ Official site: http://passpo.jp/
Photos by Kenji Harada
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