Thank You and Farewell: SUPER☆GiRLS Celebrate “Gocchan” During an Emotional Birthday Concert
It was a cold rainy day in Tokyo as Aya Goto celebrated her last birthday as a member of SUPER☆GiRLS at Shinagawa Intercity Hall on March 1st. “SUPER☆GiRLS Special ONE day ~Thank you 510~” was a tribute as well as a farewell to the founding member of the group, affectionately known as “Gocchan”, who would be graduating and retiring from the entertainment business at the end of March.
Continuing with the theme of SUPER☆CASTLE which began at their January 10 concert at Tokyo Dome City Hall, the stage was a smaller scale version of the set. Shortly before the performance began, Goto’s voice made the announcements for the last time in her career as an idol. The lights dimmed and a video taking fans back to that heart -stopping moment in January when Gocchan uttered the words “I’m graduating” (Sotsugyou shimasu). Mixed in with footage of release events that took place in the days to follow, Goto appeared on the screen, walking through a library dressed in white, her footsteps echoing through the hall. She picked up a book titled SUPER☆CASTLE and the members marched onto the stage one by one, with her appearing last as the fans applauded warmly.
Giving the pledge before “Hanamichi!! Ambitious”, Goto asked the audience to pay particular attention to her “exotic dance” which was even more “exotic” than usual. The chanting of the audience came close to drowning out the performance on stage as SUPER☆GiRLS began their set with their “Supa-Ga Rock” (term used to describe SUPER☆GiRLS’ style of upbeat songs). Continuing with “Joshiryoku←Paradise”, Goto again took over one of Ami Maeshima’s lines with the final “getchu” of the song. The mood turned jazzy with “1,000,000☆Smile” before SUPER☆GiRLS paused to greet the fans who had braved icy rain and biting winds to support Gocchan at her final concert.
Things got steamy as Goto, Mirei Tanaka, Reira Arai, and Hikaru Watanabe strutted and whipped their hair under red lights to the thick bass and funky guitar of “Shelter Nanka Iranai”. After a short video of the Mandarin Orange princess saying her farewells to the other 11 princesses played on the screen, things slowed down with the emotional “Yakusoku no Hanataba”. Tanaka struggled to sing as Goto, who was standing next to her, looked over at her and Ruka Mizote’s voice faltered so slightly during her ending solo line. A single tear ran down Goto’s cheek, followed by several more during the piano and vocal ballad “Kizuna Days”. The tears became contagious as the other members caught glimpses of the Gocchan tribute montage playing on the screen behind them.
The members reminisced about their time with Goto, asking her if she remembered certain things that they would never forget about her. Questions ranged from the first place she and Shimura went for a photo shoot (Okinawa) to the name of the senbei shop that she would always go to with Mizote. The funniest moment might have been when Goto was quizzed on where SUPER☆GiRLS had their first overseas concert and she replied “Hong Kong! Taiwan!” It was just like when someone tries to give as many answers as possible when they don’t know the answer (the correct answer is Hong Kong).
Launching into the high-kicking “Akai Jonetsu”, SUPER☆GiRLS glistened as they began a non-stop 6-song set to end the main performance. The floor shook as fans jumped along to “Gira Gira Revolution” and Rina Miyazaki showed off her acrobatic abilities by doing 3 consecutive front walkovers during “EveryBody JUMP!!” and synchronized cartwheels with Rino Katsuta during “Yume no Inryoku”. Gocchan blew the whistle during “Puri Puri♥SUMMER Kiss” and smiled over at her Kansai friend Ruka Mizote during “MAX! Otome Gokoro”.
The “Gocchan” encore call began as soon as SUPER☆GiRLS left the stage but was silenced by yet another impressive retrospective video of Goto’s career. She returned to the stage in her orange soccer jersey-styled T-shirt and tearfully thanked the fans and staff for supporting her for the past 5 years as the hall was filled with the glow of orange penlights. The other members returned in their respective T-shirts and Mizote read a heartfelt 3-page letter to Goto, talking about all the times they spent together travelling to and from Tokyo from their homes in Kansai. Determined the end things on a high note, Goto lead them in “Tokimeki Iro no Kaze to Kimi” and attempted to give final farewell messages to all the members during the instrumental break of “Egao no Hane” but ran out of time so she had to continue after the song had ended.
Returning for a second encore, this time with all members in Goto’s orange shirts, Rina Miyazaki gave her final message to Goto and hugged her tearfully. Joining hands, SUPER☆GiRLS took their final bow, leaving Goto again on the stage alone. She thanked the fans again and took her orange flag out of its holder and walked off stage. A video played where she placed the book back on the shelf and walked out of the library. An identified girl appeared and picked up the book before the screen went dark and the words “See You Next” were left behind. Was this some kind of foreshadowing about a new member joining the group soon?
Aya Goto’s time in SUPER☆GiRLS may be coming to a close but, let us remember all the great memories she has given us over the past five years and wish her well on her new adventure.
“SUPER☆GiRLS Special ONE day ~Thank you 510~” Evening Setlist
Shelter Nante Iranai
Yakusoku no Hanataba
Gira Gira Revolution
Yume no Inryoku
Puri Puri♥SUMMER Kiss
MAX! Otome Gokoro
Tokimeki Iro no Kaze to Kimi
Egao no Hane
Be with you
SUPER☆GiRLS official site: http://supergirls.jp/
Photos by @ishiduu
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