April 25, 2008

ENJOY WITH MOMOI IN HF: Sunday (part 2)

When the concert was over, Momoi set up a table for autographs. The crowd was much bigger this time, and you could see people who you would never expect scrambling to buy shirts, CDs, and fliers as souvenirs. Entire families were waiting ranging from small children to teenagers to musclebound tough guys to grandparents. Even Momoi's limo driver ended up joining the line. Ad-hoc interviews were also done on the spot by local newspapersch. Like the previous day, the fan club decided to wait off the line until everybody else could go. Japanese momoists were more interested in documenting the incongruous audience phenomenon, eagerly snapping pictures of "unlikely" fans. In the end, because of the larger crowd, Momoi was not able to sign things for us. That was ok though, as fanclub members would see Momoi again later at the closing dinner.

Nyol and I had a bit of a scare on the way back to the hotel though. He and I were the last ones to leave (around 4:30 PM) in order to help get cabs for everyone else. Unfortunately, the final cab was incredibly late because major roads had been closed for the parade. We spent a hellishly SLOW 45 minute ride back to the hotel nervously wondering if we were going to miss the dinner, at one point contemplating just walking the rest of the way. We ended up making it on time though, and it was nice of the cab driver to just stop the meter at $20 to prevent the fare from getting to ridiculous levels.

The dinner was a catered event in one of the hotel's conference rooms. Seating arrangements were groups of 6 - 8 at round tables, with Momoi having her own individual table/panel at the front of the room. Drinks were served by a minibar in the corner. Prior to starting the meal, everyone went around the room to touch glasses with Momoi and each other. The menu lineup was soup, steak and chicken cutlet, and a custard tart with fruit.

While eating, Momoi would talk about various topics using her table microphone, such as her thoughts on the concert, the experience in Hawaii, and upcoming roles and events. She also broke into evil "ohohoho" laughs quite frequently. During the course of the dinner, her manager Suzuki also had a speech thanking everyone for the success of the trip. Due to nature of the room, the whole format was a little more reserved but fans were still free to call out at any time or go up to her table. Momoi remarked that she really thought it was great that everyone could get on stage, prompting Vesper to show Momoi footage of the final performance that he captured on camera.

When dessert was nearly finished, Mandi and I brought out our secret present which we had kept concealed from everyone: 21 ounces of customized pink M&M candies with "momo-i" and "moe is rock" printed on the shells, stored in a special "Sunday early morning" themed box. When Momoi opened it, she doubled back and did a crazy prolonged "UWAAAAAAAH! UWAAAAAAAH!! UWAAAAAAAAAAH!!! UWAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!" scream with her hands on her face. She was so excited, the entire room stopped to stare at her. We took this opportunity to reveal the second bonus as we also included smaller individually wrapped packs for everyone else in the room. It seemed to be pretty well received as everybody spent a lot of time taking pictures.

After this, Momoi decided to get a bit more interactive with fans with a series of activities. First she issued a question which will not be repeated here, but the answer could only have been obtained if one had the unusual foresight of looking up Momoi's skirt during the concert. There were no winners. The second activity was a round of bingo, with the first three winners getting special Hawaiian shoulder bags that Momoi bought from ABC. I ended up tying as the first bingo so I got to have one. Then, she made the rounds at the tables for about 15-20 minutes each for individual attention, chatting, posing, trying out gadgets, doing calligraphy, or autographing. This lasted until the end of the dinner around 9:30PM. When everything was done, Momoi gave a final thank you speech in tears.

From there, we each lined up at the door to receive a gift from Momoi and JTB: a large print of a group photograph we had taken earlier when everyone was on stage. Momoi signed and wrote thank you messages to each person as they picked up their copy. Even after leaving the conference room, things did not end though. The fans packed into the elevator to head back down to the lobby, while Momoi and staff stayed the outside. Even as we were near maximum capacity, Momoi suddenly started walking toward us as if to get into the elevator, then stopped, then started again. In what seemed to be a few moments of internal debate, she finally got a "ah what the hell, I'll give them what they want" look on her face and crammed herself into the elevator with us. Everybody cheered. Yet another service to fans, courtesy of Momoi.

In the second floor JTB lobby, to celebrate the end of a successful trip, we spent another 40 minutes getting individual pictures taken with Momoi. She was very accomodating to any type of photo a fan wanted to do, and posed in pretty much any position including mock strangling / slave-driving. Once everything was done, we escorted Momoi outside where she shook hands with everyone including non-fanclub members who didn't get to meet her at the dinner. By the end of the night I had lost track of how many times she had thanked fans. As a final send-off, the crowd brought out glowsticks and mass cheered her as she left for her limo, and didn't stop until she was well out of sight. It was a great feeling of unity even as we were creating a commotion at night in front of the hotel.

Oblivious to jet lag, I slept soundly that night fully satisfied with having been able to participate in this great event at Hawaii. Looking back, it may be the single best Momoi-related decision I ever made. It was an awesome experience, and I am glad to have shared it with the friendliest and most dedicated Momoists in the world. Now to do it all again in Canada!

Some other bonus pictures:

200 glowsticks that we brought for the concert. In all, fanclub members contributed for a total sum of over 800.

Special "Momoi edition" M&Ms.

500 flyers printed in NYC and shipped to Hawaii

Posted by Paranda at 7:58 AM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2008

ENJOY WITH MOMOI IN HF: Sunday (part 1)

Due to work, and also because I was contributing to a certain Momoi project, I was too busy to write anything. Finally I am going to finish this...

Sunday (early) morning, the fan club had plans to shoot a Romantic Summer video copying Seto no Hanayome's opening. Mandi and I arrived a bit late since we didn't get the details the previous night, but luckily Nyol called in to let us know the meeting place. As a huge HUGE surprise not previously disclosed, Momoi was also there and planned to be in the video.

Fans set up a ton of cameras on tripod, and we chose a little spot in the middle of the beach where we would do Romantic Summer otagei. Thanks to some generous fans who wanted to let Americans in front, I got shuffled up right next to Momoi. However, since I had only practiced Romantic Summer otagei two or three times ever (and there is currently no good reference of the motions on DVD), I didn't know 40% of the moves. The remaining 60% that I barely remembered was also promptly forgotten due to the mindbending effects of being within the Momoi sphere of influence. I felt a little guilty about wasting such a good position (since then, I have practiced it dozens of times and now can confidently say that I know it 100%). Luckily for me, once the music started, Momoi herself didn't remember the moves and just began cracking up while attempting to improvise. This lead everyone to abandon whatever routine they had memorized and just follow Momoi's lead. It was a little chaotic, with plenty of hilarious screw ups all of which were caught on camera. Some time in the middle of this, people in the water saw this whole spectacle and also started following along with motions, not knowing what it was for. It was a little chaotic but also amazing. The whole thing lasted maybe a few minutes, but it was a memory for a lifetime.

After our "performance", we toasted on the beach and just hung out for a little while. Momoi decided to eat her breakfast there and had some orange juice and a cinnamon bun. She also bought some beach shoes and jokingly said she was going to change into her swimsuit and go into the water. This turned out to not be a joke after all, as she ended up revealing a cute two piece much to the surprise of everyone. Since it was Hawaii, "it was natural to go swimming" she later said at an event in Japan when recalling the event. So we ended up having the privilege of going swimming with Momoi. We also took a bunch of pictures together on the beach to commemorate the time on the beach. After this Momoi left to go prepare for her concert, leaving us to roam as we pleased.

This was such an insane turn of events, my brain pretty much shut off and I can't remember anything else after (my order of events was probably wrong too). All I know was that when everything was over, it was already noon. I left with Nyol, mandi, Priz, and PantsGoblin to try some puka dog at Priz's suggestion. It was basically a huge roasted hot dog stuffed into an interestingly heated bun, but it was pretty good. Determined to be ready for the afternoon's concert, I asked Nyol to be my otagei teacher. And so, I learned the finer points of various movements during our lunch break. Having finally seen "Thundersnake" demonstrated fully, I knew I had to learn it.

After lunch, we spent some time going over DVDs in Nyol's room and practicing for calls until it was time to head to the convention center. I came armed with my newly signed power glove. Coverman also gave everyone a very cool sticky version of the flyers. I put one on my shirt.

For this concert, Momoi put on her classic sailor outfit. Delightfully, the exhibit hall was much more packed than the previous days and we managed to give out a lot more stuff to the crowd. There were also many kids who were totally enthusiastic about participating, which was nice. The songs played were:

Wonder momoi
21st Century
Romantic Summer
Figure ni Naritai
Naito de naito
Yume no Baton

The concert went very well the second time, with much more participation and we had to hand out spare glowsticks midconcert as more and more people came up to the front.

Then it happened. During LOVE.EXE, suddenly Momoi called out to "come join me on stage." WHAT? This was completely surreal. Seconds later, we immediately peeled off from the front line and scrambled on one by one, preparing to do otagei on the same stage as our idol. Some people who learned about Momoi the same day even joined in. Many new Momoists were created in those moments. It was the first, and probably last time something like this would ever happen, and as the reality soaked in it was just complete euphoria while on that little platform. Momoi seemed to be immersed in it as well, as she threw herself into the center of the crowd on stage that was furiously waving "kecha" motions. In synchronized action, the cult of Momoi was kowtowing to its empress. We remained on stage for the rest of the concert, performing otagei with Momoi for Yume no baton as well as joining her for final stage photos.

Honolulu Festival Report

Posted by Paranda at 1:01 AM | Comments (2)

April 17, 2008

Momoi at AnimeNorth

Momoi announced she would be doing a con in Canada when she was in Hawaii. It finally became official.

Momoi announced as guest at AnimeNorth.

The biography page is surprisingly well informed, which leads me to believe either Right Gauge provided a very detailed resource sheet, or the author is a big Momoi fan who has read or at least skimmed Akihabalove in order to get certain details. Didn't catch the "Suicide Girls" slip though until it was pointed out by denpanosekai.

As a former Canadian citizen, I will of course be attending. Road trip to Toronto!!

If you are planning to go and would like to meet up with us friendly Momoists to do cool stuff (and learn otagei), please introduce yourself on the Momoi fan forums.

Posted by Paranda at 9:17 AM | Comments (0)

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