Monday, June 30, 2014

Idol Matsuri & Me, Part 2

I found a seat just before opening ceremonies began on Friday at 10 a.m.  This was when all the guests were announced and walked onstage for a minute or so to introduce themselves.  I clapped the loudest and longest when Aither (Konno Yuuka, Tsujimura Airi, Misaki and Sakura) was announced, but I also clapped for the other guests too.  I skipped the Halko Momoi Q & A which followed immediately since I wasn’t familiar with her or her work as a writer of songs for anime and other idols.  In the meantime I bumped into someone I had met online and talked to him for a while. I soon headed for my room to get my camera and returned just in time for the Aither and RYUTist Q & A at 11:30 a.m.

The Aither Q & A was the part of the morning’s activities that I was most interested in.  I took a seat in the front row next to Steve Summers and clapped loud and long again when the girls of Aither took their seats on stage.  Chibineko was on the right end of the table and the translator was on the left end.  I was busy focusing the camera I borrowed for this trip so I could take a photo of Aither when the translator asked if anyone had a question.  I snapped my photo and set my camera down and asked the first question: “I was wondering if each member of Aither could tell me a little about why they wanted to become an idol?”  I also got to ask the final question, “What is your favorite anime?”  One of the questions asked by someone else lead Aither to say that they consider themselves to be more of an artist rather than idol group.  As it turns out, DJ Amaya streamed this Q & A live, and you can watch it on YouTube!

After the Aither Q & A, RYUTist were next.  I got out of my seat to go buy some Aither merchandise including the “evolution” single, a photo set, a t-shirt and a towel.  I wanted a white t-shirt so that the members of Aither could autograph it.  I bought enough merchandise to get four tickets for the cheki photos and one for the handshake event.  Since I was a V.I.P. as well, this guaranteed I would get both a free autograph and one free cheki too!

I then returned to my seat for the remainder of RYUTist’s Q & A.  I didn’t ask RYUTist a question since I wasn’t sure what had already been asked, plus I’m not too familiar with this group.   Someone asked RYUTist what American artist they’d want to perform with, and leader Sato Nonoko answered first.  She said, “Lady Gaga.”  I had a feeling what the other three members would say and, sure enough, I was right.  All four members answered the same.  Funny?  Yes.   Predictable and boring?  Absolutely.  Afterwards I checked out the RYUTist merchandise table and saw several CDs.  I wasn’t sure what the songs were since I was only familiar with two.  I tried to explain to people the name of my favorite, “Ra Ri Ri Re Ru”, and nobody had any idea what I was talking about (despite Ohishi Wakana mentioning this song during the Q & A).    

The next major event of the day was the autographs for Aither and RYUTist.  RYUTist went first, and the autographs were held in the dining area.  I decided to buy a photo of RYUTist to get an autograph.  I got in line and talked to some people and perhaps was overheard by the group.   Again I tried to explain that I liked their song “Ra Ri Ri Re Ru” and nobody understood which song I was referring to.  When I got my autograph Nonoko wrote my name on the top of the photo and added “Thank you” to her autograph.  Sweet and helpful Wakkar (Wakana’s nickname) signed her name and then wrote “Ra Ri Ri Re Ru” at the bottom of the photo!  She knew what song I was talking about!  I walked  to where RYUTist’s translator and who I think was the group’s manager were standing as I was heading out the door and showed them the photo, and pointed out the song written by Wakkar.  I said, “This is the single I like.”  The two Japanese people talked a bit and the translator said, “It’s out of print.”  I then said, “It’s on ‘Japan Idol File’.”  The translator was surprised to hear of this.  “You haven’t heard of ‘Japan Idol File’?”  She told me no, and talked to the manager.  I told them that this was a five CD set with over 60 idol groups on it including RYUTist.  Neither of them had any idea of what I was referring to (and this was the second time this had happened to me in one day).  I was surprised that no one in the RYUTist camp knew about “Japan Idol File”.  This was, hands down, the most bizarre conversation I had with anyone at Idol Matsuri!

Aither’s autographs were supposed to be in the dining area next, but thanks to the staff of the Silverdale Beach Hotel mixing up documents and giving the dining area to a party instead, Aither’s autograph session was relocated to one of the video rooms.  I got in the front of the line, but was told merchandise would be sold first, then the autograph session would start.  The people waiting for an autograph were directed to chairs while others bought Aither merchandise.  People who were buying merchandise then went straight to the table where Aither were at for an autograph, so the people who were originally at the front waiting for an autograph were moved back to the front of the line.  So I wasn’t the first to get an Aither autograph, but that’s okay.  I got Yuuka, Airi and Misaki to autograph my CD cover for “Future way”, Aither’s first single, plus all four members including Sakura autographed my photos and the t-shirt I bought.

Around 3:30 p.m. photos with Aither took place outdoors.  I used all my photo tickets to get a cheki with each member and my V.I.P. status to get a cheki with the whole group.  The first photo was with Misaki, I think, and I wanted to do a heart pose with my hand and Misaki’s hand.  The other girls must of thought this was a good idea because they all came up to me holding up their hands to do the same thing.  I couldn’t think of anything original to do for the group photo pose, and the sun was bright, so the cheki didn’t turn out quite as good as I had hoped.  I took some photos of Aither with my mom’s camera, so at least I have these in better quality.  The really great news about this photo session was that a group photo of Aither with everyone there was taken and it appeared in Aither’s blog!

Photos with RYUTist occurred later in the evening, around 6:30.  The biggest disappointment here was that RYUTist opted out of cheki photos and stipulated that you could have a photo of yourself taken with the group or you could take a photo of the group only if you used your own camera.  I had to go back to my room to get the camera so I could have a photo of me taken with RYUTist. 

Other activities that occurred on Friday included Halko Momoi in concert.  Again, since I am not familiar with her I decided not to attend.  I certainly heard the concert though, as it was pretty loud. I think it was after the concert that I decided to go ahead and buy a RYUTist CD, the single “Beat Goes On!”  This was the only other song by the group that I knew.  

My friend Chibineko set up a table with some idol CDs, some of which were free and some of which cost $10.  I picked up a used copy Onigokko’s first single, “Cute Land” which had a cover autographed by four of the six members.  I also picked up a few other CDs by Sakura Gakuin, Fairies, Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku, pramo and Smile Gakuen.  Chibineko set aside a copy of Sakuran Bom Bom’s single “My Hero” for me, which cost me $10.  I ended up only spending $40 total on his CDs because I picked up several of them for free!       

To be continued....                                         

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Idol Matsuri & Me, Part 1

Idol Matsuri was USA’s first convention dedicated to Japanese pop music idol singers, held on June 20 to 22, 2014 in Silverdale, Washington.  Back on December 12, 2013, I was the first to blog about this convention.  At the time I wasn’t sure if I was even going, but the fates were in my favor this time and I actually attended!  This was my first plane trip and the first time I traveled outside of my home state.  I was very nervous, especially since I was traveling alone.  I learned the hard way that plane travel wasn’t something I liked due to the landings which caused me some minor motion sickness problems.   (Thankfully it wasn’t too bad on the return trip home, so maybe I got used to it by then.)  The waiting at the airports was also pretty bad, mostly due to the delays.  But the experiences I had in Washington seeing Aither and others perform, talking to fans of idols like myself and picking up some cool idol merchandise is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!  Let me tell you all about it!

After landing at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport Thursday evening I waited for a “airporter” (a bus) and sat on a bench.  I didn’t talk to the other people on the bench with me, but I probably should have. It turns out I was sitting next to Allyson a.k.a. Serenyty of the Happy Disco blog!  She and I sat in seats across from each other on the bus but we never spoke until after we got to the Silverdale Beach Hotel.  This is why I need to speak up and talk to people more; however, I am a naturally shy person.  After I rested in my room for a few minutes I decided to check out the hotel.  I wandered around and came to a room that was used for all the main events of the convention.  I opened the door to see Allyson as well as Bethany Walker, the President of Idol Matsuri, and Steve Summers, who writes for Selective Hearing.  Bethany looked at me and said my name.   Then she added, “Your hair looks darker in your photos.”  LOL  I shook Steve’s hand and told him I liked his TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE shirt.  Bethany talked to me and showed me what all was going to happen in the rooms and directed me towards a grocery store so I could get something to eat.

Around this time Bethany told me the news about Aither arriving at the hotel later this evening!   She also mentioned that Megumi couldn’t come for an undisclosed reason.  Apparently Bethany announced this on Facebook while I was sleeping.  (I turned off my computer early to get some sleep for an early morning wake up to catch my plane.)  I was disappointed to hear this, but at least the other four members were coming.  I waited patiently in the lobby of the hotel along with Bethany and the three members of the American J-Pop cover group Beri! New Day.  When Aither, their staff and wota arrived, everybody, including me, were all excited!  I met my Japanese friend and Aither’s liaison Chibineko (his preferred name, as he doesn’t want his real name used), which was really cool.  The members of Aither, Konno Yuuka, Tsujimura Airi, Misaki and Sakura, were all so pretty in person!  I simply couldn’t believe I was standing in their presence!  This moment was too good to be true, but it was actually happening!  I introduced myself to Aither in poor Japanese so Sophia of Beri! New Day helped translate what I wanted to say.  I told Aither that I was the first person to write about them in English in my blog.  They said, “Thank you very much!” in English!   As if all of this wasn’t surreal enough, one of Aither’s wota, whose “wota name”, I learned, is Zero, looked at me, pointed and shouted my name!  I had no idea I was famous.  LOL  (Throughout the convention when I would see Zero we would “high five” each other.)  I was hoping to get permission to take of photo of Aither as they came into the hotel or perhaps posing with their luggage, but no one gave me permission to do this.  (I took other photos which I will share when I get the film developed.)  

Eventually Aither and their staff went to their rooms and I went to mine.  It had been a long day for me, and I didn’t have much to eat, nor had I much sleep.  Tomorrow was when all the real excitement would begin!  

To be continued....


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Happy 18th Birthday Ayaka!

I don't get around to wishing all the idols I love a happy birthday in my blog, but I simply couldn't let this one pass by.  Happy 18th birthday to my all-time favorite idol, Miyoshi Ayaka!  You were the Sakura Gakuin member who caught my eye first, whose singing left me speechless and whose beauty is second to none!  Love, peace and best wishes to you now and forever!  

Monday, June 9, 2014

New Onigokko Member Auditions

Today Akiba On Stage (the YouTube channel is actually named onstage akiba) uploaded a series of short videos featuring six young girls who wish to become new members of Onigo Musume, better known as Onigokko.  This news also appeared on Onigokko's website.  It's been a month since Tsukishima Meru, Kawahara Kana and Hoshina Haru all graduated from the group (now that they are junior high students) so it was inevitable that new members would be joining soon. Strangely, Meru, Kana and Haru have still been performing with their friends in Onigokko on occasion.  I guess they were marking time until the new members joined.  Haru ☆ Kana, the subunit of Onigokko, recently acquired an official website.  I suppose today marks a sort of "new beginning" for Onigokko and Haru ☆ Kana will continue on separately from this point.  

I used Google Translate to figure out the names of these girls (except one that I already was familiar with), so here are the young hopefuls.
#1 - Yumeka, age 10 
#2 - Emi, age 7
#3 - Rie, age 10
#4 - Mikuru, age 10
#5 - Nozomi, age 10
#6 - Ichigo, age 8

Ichigo a.k.a. Ichitan is a friend of Onigokko and is in several photos with the group and its members.  The photo below was taken on May 25, 2014 with all the members and Ichitan performing together.

I wish all six girls good luck!  I can't wait to find out who become a new Onigokko member!  

CoCo DeCoRu Releases Their First Single

CoCo DeCoRu are releasing their first indie single, "KISS ME KISS ME", on June 25.  I believe this is a venue-only release, although I hope I am wrong and it's on sale through Internet stores.  The B-Side is "I promise you", a song that is not on their YouTube channel and has never been performed live in any of the fan videos I've watched.  I'm anxious to hear this new song!  I'm pretty happy that "KISS ME KISS ME" is the song that they are releasing as a single as this is the CoCo DeCoRu song I would play for people to introduce them to the group.  Maybe the other three songs on their YouTube channel will be released on another single, or maybe an album, in the near future.  The official website has an event schedule for those of you who are lucky enough to be in Japan to see them live.  CoCo DeCoRu's Facebook page also has info.  I hope everyone will show these girls some support!