A friend of mine asked about whether you need to spend a lot of money to keep up with being a fan. I got a little incensed so I wrote this:
Last year, when I went to the 3rd Anniversary, aside from not having a splendid time I was also a bit peeved over all the money being spent. Photos, pins, oshi towels, oshi this, oshi that. People decked out in full oshi gear. I hate it. I hate the exploitation that these groups do, the #truefan-ness of needing to collect everything, that makes you believe you are a better fan, etc. And to top it all off I hate that they are willingly exploiting the nature of humans to collect things, to complete sets, and to pressure fans like this. That is why I don’t collect photos or anything of that nature and why I refuse to support the election. I only buy functional things and/or items that I wish to support. I’ll buy Blu-Ray concerts because I support concerts, I’ll buy TV series on DVD/Blu-Ray that I like because I want to support that TV series, etc. And personally I only do that after taking care of myself, taking care of my bills, taking care of my investments, and figuring out my excess money.
This year, I took “The pilgrimage” to go to a handshake event (and not get 4th Anniversary tickets nor win a theater show). Travel fees + an extreme amount of singles = lots of money. This is something that Japanese fans won’t have to put up with, they don’t have to fly across an ocean, they might not have to pay for a hotel, it’s much easier for them. They can make a day trip. I have to take a full vacation. If I were to play the game to keep up with Japanese fans, I will lose.
As for the actual handshake, my overall goal is not only to get a good experience but also to give them a good experience as well, and in general that’s how I want to treat all people. I don’t want to say things like “You’re cute” or “I like you, go out with me” etc., that’s lame and boring for both sides. It’s also why I liked seeing the low-tier members because they probably felt cool that this guy from the US came to see them. I’m still on the fence on whether I’d do it again, but it’s definitely a unique experience and it’s way more worth it to me than some photos. And it’s super expensive, which I guess I could afford because I didn’t spend so much money on collecting things.
Meeting them is great, but as an international fan you need to realize that it’s a completely different experience than being a domestic fan. It costs way more money, you can’t see them on a continuous basis and develop that sort of steady fan relationship, there’s a language barrier, we can’t go to the theater whenever we want, and so on and so forth. There’s no way you can “keep up” with domestic fans, so embrace the international side. It’s very extreme for an international fan to be able to attend events. This club makes it look like it’s normal for international fans; it’s not normal at all and it’s really extreme in the first place to be an international fan.
Ask yourself what you want to get out of being a fan and things will fall into place. Do you think any person would truly be happy with a fan who spent all their money to be poor just to shake their hand? Unless they’re heartless, no, they shouldn’t be. Take care of yourself first and be a person that they would want to meet, don’t devalue yourself and rely on them to give your life meaning, give your own life meaning first and use them to augment it. That’s what bothers me about this “obligation” word, as if there’s something about some idol that’ll complete your life, that’s just wishful and desperate thinking that won’t pan out.