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....