We turned a new page on January 11th as Iketeru Hearts waved goodbye to two of their original members, Ochi Karin and Uchida Kotone, on the stage of Shinjuku BLAZE.
Both idols were also the last active members of the group that had participated into Japan Expo Paris in 2015, around a year after their debut as Stand Up! Records trainees.
The party lasted not less than three hours, as Iketeru Hearts performed almost the entirety of their discography, in order to not leave anything behind for this final show with Karin and Kotone. Opening the concert with “LOVE♡LOVE♡LOVE” and some air drums moves from Nijika, older and newer songs, covers and original titles were mixed up in an eclectic blend, rhythmed by laid back talk breaks.
The bouncy cutesy and upbeat combo of “Otomegokoro” and “GIRL, Me♥” paved the way to “ORIGAMI”, as the audience is painted in a yellow light to honor Karin’s solo line.
The members of the second and third generations then disappeared to leave the stage to their five senior members, for a throwback segment to the beginnings of Iketeru Hearts. They performed their Tsunku-produced debut single, “Let’s Stand Up”, and their second release, the catchy ear-wormy “Sekai he habatake!”, all five of them remaining from the original line-up.
Nijika, Madoka, Rie, Karin and Kotone then take advantage of another talk to share some old memories. While talking about their trip to Japan Expo Paris, Karin admits that she had lied about owning a passport then, as she was afraid she would not be able to go. She told how she had to get one done very quickly in order to not get caught in a lie!
The conversation then touches upon the group’s different tours over the years, and introduces a short segment composed of “Dreaming love”, Iketeru Hearts’ first national tour’s theme song, and “KAKERA”, the lead track of their latest to date from last summer.
The show goes on as the two newest members, Yuzuki Nanaha and Fujisaki Shizuku, briefly join their seniors for “Kibou no Chizu”. They leave the stage again as the nine members keep going with their first anime tie-up single, “Rosetta Stone”. We run through the history of Iketeru Hearts from one song to another with one of their oldest covers, “Tenbu no mai, akatsuki no mon”.
The aggressive electro riffs of “HEARTS OF JOURNEY” get the entire venue dancing, as fans light up the room with purple light for Kotone’s solo parts. Karin, Kotone, Rie, Madoka, Aki, and Shiika then take the lead for their rap lines on “Distance Love”, before the crowd goes wild on the nightclub beat of “IkeIke BIG HEARTS♡”. We hear Nijika trying to pronounce “Sparkle☆Power” with a (almost) perfect English accent, then Karin shouting “You didn’t think we would leave without performing this song one last time?!”, introducing their legendary cover of “Drawing again”. The main show ends on light-hearted notes and smiles with “MARIA”.
The fans do not wait any longer to call their idols back on stage, as they show up again wearing yellow and purple tee-shirts for their comrades. Karin and Kotone join last, the former wearing a pastel pink flowers-covered princess dress. Kotone wears a custom purple outfit, with devil horns, tailor-made and designed by Manami Kazune, former member of the group who graduated from Iketeru Hearts last year. The encore opens on Iketeru Hearts’ latest single and the first to include their third generation, “Never stop love”.
Flowers and graduation certificates are given by the members to Karin and Kotone, as they get ready to give their respective speeches.
Uchida Kotone reads a letter she had previously written, facing the audience, but turns around to look at her group mates to pass her sub-leader torch. “To the third generation who debuted a couple of months ago, I am so happy I got to welcome you and I look forward to watching you grow as idols,” she reads, as her friends shed tears behind her. “To the second generation… it’s almost been two years but you were my first kouhai, and kind of like my little sisters. […] You can now stand proud on stage by yourselves and I know I can leave the group in your hands safely. […] Finally, my best friends, the first generation. […] There are only three of us left but I know you will always protect Iketeru Hearts. I am taking a different path, but I will always love Iketeru Hearts, and I will be your number one fan to support you.”
In a very different style, Ochi Karin decides to not read her own letter, despite holding it in her hands. “It’s way too long so I will just wing it and talk to you guys freely,” she says while laughing. The tone is more light-hearted as Karin seems to be very enthusiastic about the start of her new career. “I would love to be able to give back to my first generation friends everything they brought me over the years. I know I can just give them a call if I need anything, and they will always answer. They are amazing,” she says with a wide smile. “I already told you about how hard it was for me to accept the idea of a second generation. But they are my first kouhai, we worked hard together and I feel very happy to know that I contributed to them finding their confidence. They are such good people. All our members are good people.”
This encore call closes elegantly on “Believe in my dreams”, then “Happy End”, putting an end on the idol careers of Uchida Kotone and Ochi Karin. Karin then announced the upcoming opening of her own darts bar, Sekai de Ichi-Bar, on February 1st, located in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.
It was a great honor to follow the both of them over the course of their almost-entire career as idols, and we wish them the very best for their next chapter. The entire Japan Expo Paris line-up might have graduated, as it was our first encounter with what then became Iketeru Hearts, but Bonjour Idol will keep supporting the group until the very end!
02. Shishin Kakutei (私信確定)
03. Otomegokoro (オトメゴコロ)
04. GIRL, Me♥
06. Lumica Jane (ルミカジェーン)
07. Zaishyou no Lucifer (罪証のルシファー)
08. Let’s Stand Up! (1st generation)
09. Sekai he Habatake! (世界へはばたけ！) (1st generation)
10. Dreaming love
12. Kibou no Chizu (希望の地図)
13. Rosetta Stone (ロゼッタ・ストーン)
14. Tenbu no mai, Akatsuki no mon (天部の舞、暁の門)
15. HEART OF JOURNEY
16. Distance Love
17. IkeIke BIG HEARTS♡ (イケイケBIG HEARTS♡)
18. Karma Stripe (カルマストライプ)
20. Drawing again
21. I will.
EN01. Never stop love
EN02. Believe in my dreams
EN01. Happy End (ハッピーエンド)
Buy their music
Never stop love
Released on: November 27th 2019
Photos by Nathan
Article and translation by Melody