Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Idol Matsuri & Me, Part 3

I didn’t eat much on Friday and I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up early on Saturday and got dressed.  I decided to go to the grocery and see if there was anything I could bring back to microwave so I could have a few meals.  It was a bit after 7 a.m. when I left my room and walked down the hall.  I thought no one would be in the hallway this early, but I was wrong.  Standing together and chatting softly at the end of the hall near the elevator was RYUTist!  I didn’t understand why they would be up this early or in the hallway of my floor (I was on the second floor and they were supposed to be staying on the third), but I walked by them and smiled and waved.  They smiled and waved back.  I waited for the elevator to come to the second floor, looked back to see them still chatting and then got into the elevator.

After eating I asked about setting up a table.  I had brought some idol and anime merchandise I wanted to sell or trade, but I didn’t have much.  I got permission to use an empty table and set my items on it with a sign saying what each item was and “make me an offer”.  Honestly, I just wanted to get rid of a few things.  I wasn’t in the mood to sit still, so I had some artist friends look after my things.  The handshake events for both Aither and RYUTist were going to happen at 11:30 a.m. and I couldn’t miss that.  I was walking in the hallway where the convention rooms were at and saw a line.  Melissa Shows of SHEawase told me that the Western guests Q & A was about to start.   Unfortunately it was happening roughly at the same time as the handshake event so I apologized to Melissa when I said I couldn’t attend.  She told me it was okay since she understood my priorities.

I had never been to a handshake event for an idol group before so I didn’t know what to expect.   RYUTist went first and I quickly found out what this was all about.  I got in line and came to Ikarashi Muu a.k.a. MuTang first.  She grabbed my hand with both of hers and didn’t let go for, I don’t know, 30 seconds maybe.  At least it felt like half a minute.  She kept saying “Thank you” over and over and all I could think of was to say “You’re welcome.”  And so it went with all four members of RYUTist.  I did manage to say things like “You’re very pretty” and “I like your singing”, which was translated by someone standing nearby.  When I came to Nonoko she said “Shy” in English.  I told her I was a shy person too.  Someone was filming the handshakes and I’m in the first 12 seconds of this short video.

Having been through the first handshake event I knew what to expect when it was Aither’s turn.   This time I had more to say to the girls since I was already a huge fan.  I kept saying to all four members that they were good singers and I loved their music.  It was nice to have them hold my hand for so long since all four of the Aither girls are very pretty to me and I don’t get to hold hands with a pretty girl that often.  When I came to Misaki I said to her that I was really looking forward to tonight’s concert.  She said something to me which the translator told me was, “I’m looking forward to giving the concert too.”  Silly me, I wanted to tell Misaki that I think she’s an excellent dancer, but I forgot.  I hope she knows how much I like her and her dancing.
I was getting hungry so I went to my room to eat.  I came back down to the convention to watch Ally Sally perform.  I was standing watching them for almost a half hour when suddenly I got tired.   I needed to sit down and I needed quiet so I left the concert.  I walked down the hall and sat in a chair for while just taking a breather.  Eventually I started to feel better and returned to room where the concert was, although Ally Sally were just finishing up.  I stayed to watch my friends from Facebook, Melissa and Tara, better known as SHEawase, perform.  I sat down instead of standing since I didn’t think standing for an hour would be a good idea.  I really enjoyed SHEawase’s concert, especially their original songs.

From time to time I would check my table of goods to see if anything had been sold, and I actually sold an anime DVD for $5.  I made a deal with my artist friend to give her a Mano Erina CD that she wanted if she would buy a SHEawase CD for me.  She agreed and bought their new single and we traded.  I bought the first SHEawase CD so I could have both to take home.  Just before the big back-to-back concerts that were going on that evening starting at 5 p.m., I decided to pick up my goods not sold and take them to my room.

RYUTist were the first to perform, and they sang a good collection of songs that I wasn’t familiar with.  The two songs I knew by the group were performed last.  I noticed that while the audience clapped and cheered it wasn’t until almost a half hour into their set that RYUTist got the fans pumped up with an energetic rock song.  After this song it was back to their normal music.  A couple times leader Sato Nonoko used a booklet with some English written in it to talk to the audience, and once the translator came on stage to translate what the girls said about the U.S.   My biggest complaint about RYUTist’s performance, though, was their dancing was stiff and robotic.  Rarely did I see the girls loosen up and act spontaneous.  It was if everything they said and did was programmed into their bodies.  I’m guessing hardcore fans didn’t care or maybe think I’m being harsh, but this was one idol group that seemed to be literally going through the motions. However, judge for yourself.  

Aither came on soon afterwards and boy did they get the crowd pumped up fast!  Aither’s performances always feature the girls dancing their hardest to make sure the audience is entertained, and you can see it in the sweat on their faces!  I mentioned during the handshake that “Summer Paradise” was my favorite Aither song and it was the second song they performed, to my pleasure.  The biggest problem with their live set was microphone trouble and, half way through, sound system problems.  The girls kept their spirits up and switched microphones from time to time giving the good mike to whoever needed to sing a verse.  During a short break to fix the sound issues hecklers in the audience were laughing and yelling out inappropriate remarks.  This annoyed me more than the sound issues.  Aither entertained the audience with a quick skit inspired by the movies THE TERMINATOR and TITANIC.  When Aither resumed singing and the sound problems finally ironed themselves out, their performance was amazing!  It was pretty clear to me that Aither was the main attraction at Idol Matsuri!  The audience yelled for an encore, which we got.  Then we surprised Aither’s boss, who goes by the name Boss, with the “Happy Birthday” song and a cake was brought on stage.  It was announced that Aither’s one year anniversary as a group was also around the same date.  As Steve Summers pointed out in Selective Hearing, this may have been the quickest debut to overseas appearance in Japanese idol music history!  When they were about to leave the stage I started yelling “Aither!  Aither!” over and over, which the audience soon joined in chanting.  I was not going to let the group leave the stage without them knowing somehow that I loved them and supported them, as I’m sure many of the people who were there do too.  (The video below is Chibineko's edit.  He removed some of the chanting of "Encore!" and a Tamaki Nami cover song.)  

After Aither’s concert they announced that they would be leaving early in the morning (3 a.m. from what I heard).  I immediately went over to Chibineko and told him, “Thank you very much for everything!”  He smiled and mumbled something to me, but it was clear that he was upset by the mike and sound system problems.  Aither had their cameraman set up for cheki photos and allowed any fans who hadn’t use their photo / cheki tickets to use them now.  A table was also set up to sell merchandise.  I stayed to watch others get photos, however I was running short on money and decided not to get another cheki.  I regret this decision now as I had more than enough money for the trip home.  During this photo session and throughout the weekend the members of Aither would sometimes wave at me.  I can’t remember who waved at me the most, but maybe it was Yuuka or Airi.  I always smiled (and probably blushed too) whenever they waved as I can’t resist a cute girl who shows an interest in me.  I am so happy that I got to see one of my favorite groups live.  For me it was much better to have seen Aither live with sound issues involved than to have never seen them live at all.    

While this would have made a great end to the day, it was not to be.  Allyson a.k.a. Serenyty had two back-to-back panels that evening, and I had promised her that I would help with both.  The first was “3B Junior”, followed by “Idol Blogging”.  Actually these panels were more loose and informal than I expected.  Only a few people showed up for the panels, which were more like a group of friends sitting around chatting about idols.  I chimed in and helped Allyson with info on Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku and Minichia Bears.  (These two groups and KAGAJO☆4S are my 3B Junior specialties.)  The “Idol Blogging” panel was a discussion on the blogs that Allyson and Steve write for as well as my own blog.  (Most of the others there didn’t have a blog.)  Steve asked me what the theme of my blog was and I told him that I’m trying to “wake up” people to the fact that there are a lot of interesting idol groups outside the mainstream that are just as awesome (or perhaps even more so) than those mainstream groups.  Many Japanese idol fans blog about the most popular idol groups only, and there are several blogs all about these groups that basically say the same things day after day.  I have opinions and interests that few others share, which makes my blog unique among idol blogs.  Much like the idol groups that I am supporting, I like to do things differently.

This was the last thing that I needed to do, so I was ready to hit the sheets soon after.  Sunday would be another interesting day for me as that was when my panel was scheduled!

To be continued….