As an East Bay local stuck in the middle of East Bay 1, I do know my way to San Jose. But, that’s not the point I’m trying to make with the title of this post. I guess you can say that this would be my very first fan experience post that doesn’t really much involve our MADKID-stalking ground, Twitter and Instagram. Rather, this is my very first fan experience post that is set in a fanfic-like world.
Except, that is, it’s in real life.
Before, I had this idea of inviting fellow Axcels to write fanfics about our boys and maybe compile them in a fanfic section here on AXCEL STYLE. I’ve written one about Shin before last year, but even that fanfic was so close to real life. So in short, I’m not even going to write about this in fanfic format.
I know this is over a week old because I was mentally exhausted and have been going through a withdrawal period 2 since I first saw MADKID perform on stage on my home soil. Even as I’m writing this, I really miss MADKID with all my heart. I began praying and hoping that MADKID will come back here on home soil, and this time, I will be a lot braver than how I was last weekend.
I’m writing this entry to share my fan experience on how we (Bay Area) Axcels prepared for MADKID’s debut overseas concert. 3 This will be two-part blog entries about my very first fan experience with MADKID, how my friends and I prepared for the day, as well as giving low-key guides to MADKID about San Jose altogether, as well as CRX. We began preparing ourselves for this huge day when both MADKID Twitter and Crunchyroll Expo Twitter announced their first live event back in late June. At that time, I felt that I was the only long-time Axcel who is from the same area as the guys’ destination. Because of that, I put the pressure on myself on how I can really introduce MADKID to a city that the entire world isn’t really familiar with: San Jose. 4
Before I begin, just a little warning. There will be some fangirling throughout this entry. I don’t normally fangirl as an Axcel except for a few moments, but this is a little warning. It’s only natural.
[Before 8/29/2019] Exploring San Jose
When CRX 5 announced MADKID’s appearance, they didn’t specifically mention the date when they will have their live event. CRX was a 3-day event after all. Rather than waiting for the announcement, plus the prices of the passes were going up, we went ahead and ordered 3-day passes so that at least we’d also enjoy CRX and San Jose while we wait for MADKID to arrive.
Karu-chan also mentioned that two of her Japanese Axcel friends also planned to come and watch MADKID here in the Bay Area. At the same time, I knew that Karu herself isn’t familiar with my side of the bay, 6 so that was when I began to think about the best spots and places that I feel that they would really enjoy. 7
That was when I took it upon myself as an Axcel representative of both the East Bay and the South Bay. I was sure that there had to be more of us local Bay Area Axcels besides Karu and myself scattered around, but I felt that we’re the only ones active online, the only ones following MADKID and the members closely, only ones who actually go to the member livestreams and chat with the members. I’m not just doing this for Karu and her friends, but I also thought about MADKID as well. I started looking up San Jose’s notable spots for non-locals and even asked help from my younger brother 8 regarding these spots. Even though my sister-in-law 9 already suggested to me the best spots that she was confident that my friends and MADKID would surely enjoy, she also suggested that the best way to discover these places was to explore San Jose myself.
On our usual get-together weekend, I suggested to Karu that instead of me traveling to San Francisco, that she should travel to my side and have her get a head start on the atmosphere of San Jose. In that way, when her friends from Japan arrive, Karu would do a lot better aiding her friends through the duration of their trip because of the language barrier. Therefore, to celebrate KAZUKI’s birthday back at 7/21, we decided to check out the notable spots of San Jose from Santana Row to downtown San Jose, in which the Crunchyroll Expo venue would take place.
After hanging out somewhere outside San Francisco (but still within the Bay Area), we both felt that we were ready for CRX. Even after that, my co-workers and I also started going to SJ for lunch that’s at the outskirts of downtown and Santana Row, namely the Alviso neighborhood (featured photo of the creek above is located at Alviso). I also sampled some of the notable local food in SJ as well: La Victoria Taqueria for authentic Mexican, Pizza My Heart for pizza, 10 Ike’s Love & Sandwiches for sandwiches. If you want burgers, there’s also the Californian classic burger joint, In-N-Out. Because of MADKID’s schedule during August, I only scouted the areas that are within downtown and around the outskirts of downtown.
Around early August, SHIN came online on his LINE LIVE livestream to talk to his fans, as always. When I came on, all I could comment was about San Jose and CRX, sharing him spots that I feel that he and the guys should check out during their stay. Because there were so many people tuning in his stream that he hasn’t had a chance to read some of my comments before he decided to sign off. But before he did, he asked me if I can re-send my comments to him via DM on his Instagram so he could at least have a list of the spots that he and the guys should check out once they arrive here. I went ahead and did that and sent him some photos as well.
Ever since then, I began exploring the area almost once a week with co-workers when we go to lunch from work. While I was exploring these spots, I knew that I have to pick the best spots within the city outside of CRX using what I knew about Karu’s Japanese friends and what I knew about MADKID. I felt confident that they will enjoy San Jose, at least the downtown and its outskirts area of San Jose.
On the days before 8/29, we all vowed to each other not to stalk the guys when they arrive in San Jose. Thinking that San Jose is a huge city, 11 we all thought that it’s impossible to stalk them out the streets of downtown anyway, plus they may be inside the convention center checking out the festivities within the expo.
[8/29-30/2019 – CRX Day 0-1]
I will skip the details for 8/29 and 8/30 because they were all personal days for my friends and me. We mostly toured around and shopped while we were posing around for IG-worthy shots and showing off our keychains and photo bromides of the boys and share them on SMS for everyone, including MADKID, to see.
It was already confirmed that MADKID will perform on the last day of CRX, which was in 2 days (9/1). Because of their schedule back in Japan, 12 we all anticipated they will arrive here possibly on 8/31 in the morning. Our guess was confirmed at their Anisama post-live video when YOU-TA mentioned that they will be making a stopover at Los Angeles before they reach San Jose. 13 From L.A. to S.J. by plane is about an hour or an hour and a half.
We were having dinner during their Anisama event (8/30 @ 10:00 am JST) at Pizza My Heart on 8/29 (@ 6:00 pm U.S. PDT), and while we were chatting and enjoying some delicious pizza slices. We were also keeping an eye out on Twitter for the updates regarding their event, and we were happy to see footage of their Anisama performance. I mean, it’s a MADKID performance and they’re always awesome, but what really caught our eyes from this footage was the audience:
If you take note on the video, the audience at the back were completely hyped up with their performance by singing along with the song (RISE). Sure, because this is Anisama, 14 there will be hordes of anime otaku flocking all over the area. However, those people at the back aren’t just otaku, but they’re also guys. GUYS, people!!
One of my hopes as an Axcel, since I started last year, is not just to increase the global Axcel fanbase. I also want a type of fanbase that’s also diverse and not just females. Most of MADKID’s Axcel fanbase in Japan currently are female, but that makes sense. They’ve got the talent, stage presence, and visuals altogether that many non-J-Pop fangirls often compare them to a K-Pop boy group. But anyway, just seeing GUYS getting hyped up at the back really made me happy. It also made me think of how the turnout at CRX is going to be like. Knowing that Shield Hero became popular outside Japan with the predominantly male demographics, I expected the same turnout like the one at Anisama— only more hyped, a lot crazier, and… seriously LOUD.
At the same time, I was a bit worried about the culture shock as well. I’m aware that in Japan, the audience is a bit more reserved while they perform. But here in the U.S., it’s not like that. During the best parts of the performance, the audience will get loud. Seriously LOUD. I’m pretty sure the guys were already noted by others about the culture between fans in Japan and fans here in the U.S., and how the guys will approach the American audience.
When I got home, 15 I stayed up for a bit to update everyone at the AXCEL STYLE Discord Chat about our activities. Just as I was about to head to bed, a little over past midnight, Shin gave us a quick update:
At home, here in my bedroom, I literally screamed in joy. In my mind, I kept hearing myself “MADKID is flying off from Japan! MADKID is on their way to California! MADKID will be having their live performance in my hometown! I’M GOING TO SEE MADKID BOOOIIIII~!!!” 16 I also texted the friends on LINE about SHIN’s Twitter update and all of us was still up past midnight and we all screamed and completely hyped.
Judging from the time that Shin posted the tweet, we made our prediction on the time they will land in San Jose: Early morning (10-11:00 am) or lunchtime (12:00 pm). We finally tucked ourselves in our beds and get ready for the next day.
[8/31/2019 – CRX Day 2]
Because of my short schedule for this day, 17 we decided to meet up early. I woke up at about 7 a.m. and drove off to San Jose at around 8:00 a.m. and picked up the friends from their respective hotels. At about 9:30 a.m., we decided to do some simple shopping. The day prior, we went to Santana Row and Westfield Valley Fair to do high-end shopping. 18 On this day, because of Karu needing to finish her letters for the guys, we decided to do some shopping for the necessities, like snacks, a few writing instruments, and other things. We went to three stores: Trader Joe’s (for the snacks), 19 Michaels (for the writing instruments), and Target (for the stationery).
I did a little word-of-mouth about MADKID while we were at Trader Joe’s. When we got to the register, the cashier noticed my MADKID “GIANT KILLING” SLYKY button pins on my strap purse and showed how much he liked them. This gave me a chance to talk about MADKID for a bit and how they will be performing at CRX the next day. He mentioned that he was an anime fan and hopefully he would try to make it to CRX that day to see the guys. Even if he wasn’t able to go the next day, at least now he has heard of them.
By the time we were finished with shopping at Target, we all got a notification that YUKI uploaded a short clip on his IG Story. It was a clip of the hotel suite he was staying, but it wasn’t the hotel that got us alert. It was the view from his suite window that got us hyped.
Our visiting Japanese Axcels shrieked at the view and then began asking us about the view. I knew then that our “no stalking the boys” vow from a few days ago is already broken. I did recognize the dome-shaped building at the left immediately 20 and then we decided to end our little shopping and make our way to downtown and eventually inside CRX.
When we reached the heart of downtown, SHIN also updated his IG Story.
When my brother began helping me out with researching downtown San Jose weeks prior, the first thing he informed me about the area was that San Jose is the third biggest city in California and that the majority of downtown San Jose consisted of his old collegiate alma mater, San Jose State University. 21 In short, downtown San Jose isn’t as big as downtown San Francisco or downtown Oakland. In fact, he mentioned that it’s quite easy to run into people you don’t expect to see at the outskirts area of SJSU and outside the convention center.
When we saw SHIN posting his IG Story of him posing in front of the SJ Museum of Art, we were already just a few blocks near that spot. There were huge traffic and road blockage on certain streets and we really couldn’t get near the museum of art, so we had to look for another parking lot nearby. We weren’t aware with what was going on until later in the day when a few of the global Axcels sent me DMs asking me about a suicide incident that happened at the Fairmont Hotel nearby the CRX venue, showing their concerns about us and MADKID, our locations during that time, etc. I was relieved to report to them that the suicide incident happened early in the morning and that MADKID hasn’t landed in SJ yet and we haven’t arrived downtown when that happened. Very few people mentioned about this scary incident, but for the most part, no one reported it in public within the CRX attendees and participants. 22
We finally found an open parking lot that is a block away from the convention center. When we got out, Shin updated his IG Story again:
He found the exact same Gong Cha branch that Karu and I posed from our San Jose get-together last July to celebrate Kazuki’s birthday (7/21):
Where we’re standing around this time, we knew we were nearby that square area. Karu and I remembered that we’re close to SJSU, and because of this, even our Japanese Axcel friends were already having thoughts about actually seeing MADKID in town, somewhere around the streets of downtown. Even Karu was already having gut feelings that in a matter of some minutes, we will be running into MADKID. We decided to stop by Gong Cha to have an early refreshment before lunch, so we made our way over there.
So, did we actually see MADKID out here in the downtown streets?
We had no expectations about running into them at all, but we all were having “what if” thoughts about seeing them hanging around the streets of downtown. We were just a few meters away from Gong Cha, and as we turned the corner to one of the open squares near one of the entrances of SJSU, Karu spotted different colors of hair from the distance: red hair, grayish hair, blonde hair under a cap…
Our Japanese friends gasped and freaked. I even muttered to myself: “What the eff, no way! Of all places and of all the times?!”
Holy eff, it’s MADKID! MADKID is walking towards our direction at this very spot! What the heck?!
I wanted to scream so loud but held myself so I don’t disturb anyone on the scene. I was seriously unprepared for this, didn’t even know how to act in front of them, but the rest were already exchanging their greetings. I said hi also at random and didn’t take the time to look at everyone in the eye because of my shyness.
Just as we were passing by them, SHIN, the last person behind the group, gazed right at us with his usual bright and cheerful smile. Once I was about to make eye contact with him, he suddenly called out my name in a loud voice. His voice was so loud that it made random people present turn around and gaze right at us. I blushed a little hearing my name from his voice, even pointed his finger at me. It made me so happy and in a trance that my MADKID bias and I have had a friendship through livestreams for over a year immediately recognized my face and voice and matching it with my name.
After we passed by one another, we had one last look at the open square area. I waited until the guys disappeared from our sight. Once they did, I took a quick snapshot of the place we ran into each other and make it as a keepsake of this one small but special moment together.
After this meeting, we made our way to our intended destination, only to notice that it was already past lunchtime. We decided to go to our favorite spot for the second time: Pizza My Heart.
I would go more into much detail regarding this day, but I would be just making this post too long. So instead, I’ll just share you my highlighted IG story with the updates from MADKID of the spots they’ve been and the time where we were while they were there.
This concludes Part 1 of this entry. I got the post title of Do you know the way to San Jose? from an old but classic ’60s hit by legendary singer Dionne Warwick. I thought the lyrics of the song matched our experiences with MADKID outside Japan. The saying would be something like:
Do you know the way to San Jose? I will be meeting MADKID for the first time ever, and San Jose is the meeting place. I have lived in the same region of the San Francisco Bay Area known simply as the East Bay, stretching from Richmond to San Jose, with San Jose just some twenty miles away from my actual hometown.
Because I found my way to San Jose, I found MADKID.
Till next time again with Part 2 – the day of MADKID’s debut live overseas!