March 29, 2008

ENJOY WITH MOMOI IN HF: Saturday (part 2)

We had lunch at Teddy's Bigger Burgers. Suisei was especially enamored with the idea of eating the biggest burger on the menu, and kept repeating "MONSTER DOUBLE BURGER" in anticipation while waiting on line. He ended up getting the 18 ounce beast of a burger along with the combo drink and fries. I had the 9 ounce version of the burger, and which already seemed incredibly large to me. Somehow he managed to finish the whole thing and still be alive, probably because of all the exercise from doing otagei. I almost regret not being more adventurous and trying the same, but that is on my list for next year when Momoi comes to Hawaii again. I did have a delicious peanut butter shake though, that was so thick it was almost solid. While we were eating, the fan who cosplayed Jenny at the dinner on Friday came over to our table and brought out several Momoi pinky figures that he had made. Some pieces were very impressive given the level of detail, especially on the miniature keytars.

After lunch, the group split up with about half going swimming and the other half wanting to visit the anime and comic shops in town. Since I had gotten a lot of swimming done on Friday, I decided to go with the shop crew. Tenton and catsspat headed for the beach with one group of fans, while pantsgoblin, priz, mandi, and I went with the other. Mandi's friend, Candace, lived in the area so she kindly acted as tour guide for everyone. We moved in packs between the various stores including Mecha Hawaii and Toys n Joys, flash-mobbing the shop owners. Each visit was a scene in itself, with some 10-15 japanese guys rushing in, taking a ton of photos (espcially of the Momoi flyers that were pasted in any windows or stacked on the counters...they were very popular with the fans), buying lots of things, and leaving just as quickly as they went in. Thankfully Candace knew all of the owners and explained the situation to them pretty well. Since I now had a huge empty case that I used to transport 200 glowsticks and candies here, I figured I might as well use something to fill it up on the way back to NYC, so I got roughly $250 worth of figures that I had been putting off, but nothing too special to mention by name.

Once shopping was all done and we were heading back, some fans spotted a playground that they said looked similar to the one on Momoi's "Yume no baton" single cover so we all walked over there for pictures. Each person got a chance to copy Momoi's pose, and at the end we all posed for a big group picture on the construct. It was a sight to see: consider a large group of strange otaku carrying bags and bags of anime goods loitering near a playground. Good thing it was a Saturday and school was out. After posing, we hung around the curb across the street waiting for taxi pickup. There happened to be a store called Tamura's there. As expected, there is quite a bit of overlap between Momoists and Yukarifans so of course several fans had to comment on the name and take pictures of the store sign. I felt pretty vindicated for not being the only person who thought of that upon first glance. You can't get this kind of seiyuu geek company in the northeast.

After a few minutes of waiting, several cabs pulled up and we filled them in groups of 4 or 5 at a time. English speakers all shared a cab last in order to give directions to the drivers, though asopaso also came with us due to room constraints. The driver turned out to be some crazy guy who kept insisting on finding out where everybody lived, probably to distract us from the fact that he was taking the long way back to the hotel. He then started singing Sinatra's "New York New York", apparently prompted by learning that's where I was from. I figured this was going to be a quick joke, but he just kept going and going, belting out the whole song in its entirety. He also tried to make us guess the names and singers for what I assumed were contemporary American songs, but we didn't know any of them.

We finally returned to Pacific Beach, much later than everyone else, after the driver "mistakenly" brought us to the wrong hotel. Most cab drivers probably would have stopped the meter though, if they realized they went the wrong way, which is why I suspect his motiviations. Back in our rooms, Yuiichi came over to show us one of the custom photobooks he ordered back when the Momoi photobook promotion was going on:

For dinner, we regrouped to visit the only Anna Miller's restaurant outside of Japan. Somehow we managed to get seated for 17 people without prior reservations on a busy night, after only about 20 minutes of waiting. Yuuichi showed me an awesome Sunday Early Morning screensaver he put on his phone while in the lounge. The menu itself was pretty standard so I guess everyone just admires the uniforms. I had the French dip and tried one of their coconut custard pies which was pretty good. It was fun though, so time flew by pretty fast. Dinner lasted pretty late, all the way until at maybe 11PM or so. After a taxi ride back, I can't really remember what happened but I think I just went to sleep right away because I was so tired and we still had to get up tomorrow for the concert.

Sunday was definitely the most exciting out of all the days though, so I am looking forward to writing the report :)

Posted by Paranda at 2:41 AM | Comments (5)

March 28, 2008

Holy crap I am never ordering from Hobby Search again!

Received this in my email:

[Your Order.]
Alter Exelica (Completed Figure) 1/8
Item price :14,060 yen x Q.T.Y :1 = 14,060 yen

Shipping Cost 6,100 yen
tal cost 20,160 yen

6100 to ship a single figure? This thing had better weigh 30 pounds...

Posted by Paranda at 11:31 PM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2008

ENJOY WITH MOMOI IN HF: Saturday (part 1)

Although there was a six hour time difference between New York and Hawaii, by Saturday I had been here for two days so I was finally beginning to adjust (waking up at 6AM as opposed to 3AM). I had breakfast at a normal time, which consisted of various teas and juices that I purchased for taste tests, and spam musubi, supposedly a local favorite. The rest of the morning was mostly spent rehearsing calls listed in the callbook for Momoi's concert. PantsGoblin has transcribed parts of the call book in his LJ post if you want to read those translations. At 10:30, we headed out for the venue, Hawaii Convention Center, to make our preparations.

The traffic was pretty slow, but we arrived on time and met up with the other fans in front of the exhibition hall, aptly named "Kamehameha I" (which became the butt of several obvious jokes). We waited near the street until Momoi arrived in her limo. She arrived in a brand new stage dress, with a traditional japanese top, poofy pink tutu, and white leggings that went down over her shoes.

After a brief welcome, we headed into the exhibition hall. A small booth had been set up for us to put our bags, so we set everything down and began sorting out the call books and glowsticks. Some fans even "suited up" with the equipment they pulled out from their bags. There were Momoi shirts, overcoats, power gloves, towels, stacked wristbands, stickers, both current Momoi and UNDER17 legacy merchandise, and one fan, Suisei, even had a glowstick bandolier and MOMO-I (in katakana) shaved into the back of his head.

While waiting in near the stage, one of the Japanese fans that I hadn't seen the night before asked if I was paranda. I talked a bit with him and found out he was Momoi news god, asopaso.com so we ended up taking a picture together as bloggers from the US and Japan. Apparently he wasn't able to make it for the first day so he and two other fans took a later flight over to see Momoi. I also asked him a bit about Thundershot since I kept hearing the term a lot, and he said it was a brand new otagei moveset named after the song. This helped me realize there was still a lot for me to learn regarding live concerts, and factored heavily into my later attempts to get another particular fan to teach me. Soon after this, the concert countdown began and we started hurrying around the floor to distribute glowsticks and callbooks. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't very large, but there was enough for a good concert. Though most of the people there were fairly old tourists with probably no prior knowledge of Momoi, they were enthusiastic about trying out the waves and chants. We ended up giving away all of our books and most of the glowsticks.

I left my camera in my bag during this time as I fully intended to devote my full attention to the concert in person, and not to through a viewfinder. So, I am sad to say I have no pictures of my own of the concert, but luckily there is no shortage of footage from other attendees, and plenty of videos on Youtube.

The show began quickly. After announcing "Aloha Hawaii! Music start," Momoi jumped straight into the first song, GURA GURA. The last time I did GURA GURA was probably in January when the AX DVD came out so I was caught off guard just a little although now that I think about it, I probably should have expected that song to be played. I was much more prepared this time in general though, as I had gotten a lot more practice with calls since last summer. One thing I hadn't discovered until then about the power glove though: it is NOT a comfortable apparatus to be wearing or holding glowsticks with for an extended period of time.

Once the music started, every care melted away. Although we were only a small group of 20 something people lined up in the front rows, and there were many empty seats behind us, the excitement I felt was the same as it was at AX when the venue was packed. Doing calls at a live Momoi show is a fantastic experience that simply cannot be described accurately via a blog. A kind of herd mentality takes over, where you pretty much lose track of everything else and focus solely in having the best concert possible for yourself and for others around you. The familiar music, a single focused point of admiration for the singer on stage, and the interactive nature of the calls all work together to help the individual achieve perfect synergy within a hive mind of Momoists. I suppose many new fans are born during her live shows because this kind of feeling could permeate them so thoroughly, and the great thing about all the fans is that they are so eager to make sure that feeling spreads to everyone, regardless of whether you have been a hardcore fan for ten years, or you just came to see "hmm who is this Momoi person?" In fact, probably one of the best parts about the unconventional (non-otaku) audience at the Honolulu Festival was seeing all the little kids or 60 year old couples wave their glowsticks and get into the whole movement. This was incredible from our point of view. Momoi made sure to give special attention to children, often stopping directly in front of them and giving them a big smile and wave, or singing to them for extended times.

The full list of songs performed were:
GURA GURA
Tenbatsu! Angel Rabbie
Tondol Baby
Ai no medicine
Kujibiki Unbalance
Romantic Summer
LOVE.EXE

Between each song, Momoi would take time to do quick MCs aided by a translator, either talking about herself, or explaining to the audience about the fans glowstick distribution in the front and inviting everybody to join in at any time. Indeed, we had a nice reserve stash of glowsticks set up just in case anybody new suddenly felt like coming (there were plenty of opportunities to distribute these as well). She thanked her fans several times in these MCs, which made all of us feel very good. I suppose Momoi's fan-praise rhetoric is somewhat of a self fulfilling, because the more she does it, the more pumped everybody is about making sure all the good things Momoi says about her fans are true. That's some solid basics of business leadership right there.

Overall, the concert went very well. Momoi revealed later that she was feeling a little sick that day and had to extend the MCs to give her a little breathing time, but during the show, she definitely hid it well and did not let it affect her performance. Many new fans of all ages were created in that small but amazing window of time.


After the last song, we headed back to the booths to retrieve our things. The concert was short but very intense and everyone was exhausted. Much thanks goes to catsspat and tenton for thinking of bringing water to everybody. While we were resting, a Momoi merchandise table was set up near the exhibit hall entrance. Momoi was also there to meet all the fans and give autographs. There, she posed for several more pictures, and it was great seeing Momoi using one of our flyers for some of her PR shots. I also felt happy seeing so many people (who had ostensibly never known of Momoi before) line up to buy her T-shirts, CDs, and DVDs. Just from listening to some conversations, most people were really impressed with the whole thing. Of course, I also saw some people wearing AX t-shirts too so it looks like there are still more Momoists out there who came all the way from the mainland that we have yet to meet. One of the things that really stood out to me was that the Japanese fans who already had multiple autographs didn't get on line until the very end in order to ensure that any new fans would have a chance to get their own things signed. It really resonated with me then that these people are really serious about making sure Momoi can be appreciated by everyone, and it remains yet another positive lesson I take home from all of this.

As for my own stuff, I came back to the hotel that day with a second copy of Sunday Early Morning to support Momoi (and so I could use some of the stickers without feeling bad) plus a signed power glove. Momoi seemed very amused at seeing the original American version of the powerglove without the PAX logo. Mandi managed to get a picture of her reaction during the signing...

Following the concert and autograph session, we all waved to Momoi as she left the building. There was a great feeling of accomplishment, and an even better feeling that tomorrow...it would all happen again! For the time being, we then turned our attention to another pending and more immediate event: lunch.

Posted by Paranda at 2:18 AM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2008

3/24

Saturday report is coming soon!
Meanwhile...

Yay

Posted by Paranda at 5:01 AM | Comments (3)

March 19, 2008

ENJOY WITH MOMOI IN HF: Friday

I am now back in NYC after a thoroughly awesome trip. Sorry for the limited details while I was there, I was just too excited I couldn't write anything. Now that I am back, I will try and spend this weekend combing my brain to get the details out..

And yes, if you have read InsaneLampshade's Connichi report in Germany, it is completely true that Momoi's hand is the softest substance known in this universe, possibly deserving of scientific scrutiny. If you could hold a cloud, that is what it would be like. Queen of Akihbara indeed!

Contact with Tanaka from JTB (who was incredibly nice by the way) was made around 9AM. He provided Mandi and me with the pamphlets, badge, and maps that we would need for the following couple of days. He also mentioned that Momoi had already arrived and was hard at work practicing for the event tomorrow, but that the fans would show up later this afternoon. After that we couldn't concentrate on doing anything except anticipating everyone's arrival so we just wasted time at the beach. I bought my swim trunks the same day since it somehow never occurred to me to pack swim gear back in NYC. For lunch, we had curry udon since it is one of Momoi's favorite foods.

We met up with everyone else around 3PM in the Pacific Beach Hotel lobby. The fan club from Japan had just arrived and rested. While hanging around, we also got a chance to sign a special card that odessa brought for Takayama Saki, who played Momoi in the Haruko Update drama. After introductions, we went swimming at the beach to pass time until the main event: a welcome dinner at Beijing with Momoi. At around 6 PM, Momoi came in and waved to everyone. So many cameras went off at once I was almost blinded. Half the tour group even brought tripods to set up in the room and everyone had those handheld video recorders. She sat at our table with her manager Suzuki and an assistant manager whose name I forgot (even though he poured tea for me lol). She ordered a Blue Hawaii drink, so we basically followed her example. Another whole table of fans also cracked ultra-orange cyalume and put them in their beers. There was a big toast with Momoi thanking everyone for coming to Hawaii.

The dishes were: seafood soup, spring rolls, cashew chicken, BBQ pork and beef, fried rice with shrimp, and finally coconut gelatin for dessert. Momoi ended up eating only a little though, as her primary concern was giving as much attention to her fans as possible. After she finished appetizers, 90% of the time she was posing, commenting on photos, and moving between the three tables to chat up fans about whatever topics they wanted. During the middle of the dinner, Mandi showed Momoi the special fliers that fans made for her so she gave us her thanks for helping get them printed and distributed.

Other things of note were conversations about itasha, the ubiquitous ABC stoes, the adventures of "Hawaii Jenny", and a certain fan's Jenny cosplay (he pretended to be Sakunyan during a fake interview with Momoi at the table). I also learned that the photos from Momo-i quality were apparently from Hawaii when she visited many many years ago, and fans were making plans to go to the exact same places to take some pictures.

Because of all this, the dinner lasted hours. Near the end of the evening, Momoi tried to eat some more food but it was cold by then so she skipped to dessert after a few bites. After dinner was over, we went outside the restaurant to take group photos. Tanaka helped take pictures with everyone's cameras. Momoi also got a picture with the hostess at the door.

After an elevator ride down to the street, we stood around the corner to just talk some more (after blocking the elevator entrance by accident). At some point, Vesper pulled out a sukumizu for Momoi to wear. Although she obviously wouldn't wear it, she put it over herself in a mock pose. She also wrote on the front "Year 3, class 14, Momoi." and signed her name on the little tag inside. All this time, fans were going crazy with flash photos. However 20 people standing in a semi circle constantly taking pictures of a girl in the middle is a sight that attracts the curious, so our crowd ended up growing as passing tourists looked on in confusion. Some people asked for a photo with Momoi even though they weren't sure who she was, but the hype was just too strong for them to resist. Finally near 9:30PM, it was time to go. Momoi crossed the street while we (now including interested bystanders) all waved to her from the corner.

After this, we dispersed and began to prepare for the following day's concert.

Posted by Paranda at 12:43 AM | Comments (4)

March 15, 2008

Well...

Had a good 2 concerts. Everything went well. Sorry for any confusion.

Posted by Paranda at 3:30 AM | Comments (4)

March 13, 2008

Hawaii trip start

Haven't posted anything in forever due to work, but at last I am taking a vacation to see Momoi in Hawaii. Will update when something interesting happens.

Sitting in the airport now...

Also, this year's seiyuu awards were crap and any ceremony which considers HIrano Aya as the TOP female seiyuu in a lead role of 2008 has zero credibility to award anything to anyone ever again. This, and awarding best singers to multiple recipients for LS. WHAT? My head hurts.

But I will forget about that now and just think about this weekend :)

Posted by Paranda at 4:53 AM | Comments (4)

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