July 26, 2008

Yells ~It's a beautiful life~

The new Animelo theme song has come out this week. Since a version has begun floating around online I couldn't resist but preview it while I wait for my copy. The song is rather simple but I derived great enjoyment at the constant switching up of singers, which occurs much more frequently than the previous three Animelo theme songs. Aside from a slightly annoying pronunciation of "Yell", the song has quickly grown on me after multiple listening sessions, and I currently rank it somewhere above Generation A and below Outride.

This year, Momoi got to have three solo lines, slightly up from last year, and more noticeable thanks to more balanced artist rotation (though some still got more coverage than others). Meanwhile, Mizuki Nana, Arika, and most of JAM Project except Makkun got major cuts in their line count, possibly in favor of promoting some newer acts and also because of how many verses they had in previous years.

Unfortunately despite her increased role, Momoi does not appear much in the accompanying video since she was not present during the taping of the group session. The only Momoi footage was of her individual recording session, which is played during her solo segments. This is a shame because she appears in the video very sharply dressed and in perfect makeup, giving off an incredibly radiant smile that would have been sure to draw some attention from anyone getting their first exposure to Momoi in this video. One thing that Momoi is really good at is smiling. Also as consistent with last year's DVD reveal when responding to a comment by Yoffy, Momoi always records sitting down so it was interesting to see her posture again in contrast to other artists who did their singing while standing up.

Thoughts on other artists:
1. Best delivery goes to Suara, for her version of "立ち止まらずに歩こう" compared to everyone else who sang the same line.

2. Tanimiya looks WAYYYY different from what I expected him to look since he is usually so clean cut in cast pictures.

3. I almost didn't recognize Ishikawa Chiaki despite seeing her in person at AX last year, and almost missed it since she only got one solo line like Arika. She looks like she reverse aged 20 years.

4. Kitadani is awesome as usual and likes to acknowledge the camera. Yoffy still does his handwaving. I miss seeing Naonii do his neck twisty thing whenever he sings though...this was not the year he should have sat out now that I'm finally going to see it dammit!

5. I have no clue who the hell May'n is, why is she part of Animelo again? I guess I am ok with her though, based on the video.

6. It is going to be fun seeing how they are going to split this up between like 40 people on stage for each day. I also seriously cannot picture denpa singers like Shaori or MI~KO doing anything this poppy at all. My mind will be blown.

Posted by Paranda at 1:53 AM | Comments (2)

July 25, 2008

Momoi international schedule updates

Momoi was added to Connichi 2008 officially this week by convention organizers on their message board. This will be the second year in a row that she will attend the convention in Kassel, Germany. If you are thinking about making the trip from other parts, halko-momoi.de has no shortage of friendly bilingual German Momoists willing to help you out.

Announced earlier this Month, Momoi and angela are performing with live bands in Taiwan at the Taipei City Hall Theatre on Saturday afternoon 9/28. It is the first time Momoi has performed with a band abroad. Momoi has also partnered with travel agency JTB again to offer another "official fanclub tour" which includes dinner with Momoi and sightseeing for a minimum of 20 people.

Posted by Paranda at 9:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2008

Happy Love Live 2007 was pretty bad

In anticipation to clear my watching queue for when Momoi DVDs arrive, I finally found some time to watch two other seiyuu concerts I had been putting off.

Biggest letdown: Sakakibara Yui's Happy Love Live 2007. I really enjoy listening to Yui, so it was a major disappointment to discover that she can't actually sing very well live. You have some seiyuu idols who sing so perfectly on DVD that you can't help but wonder if there is some sound engineer heavily doctoring up all the audio before release and piping in a studio-recorded dub (Yukarin, but maybe she's just that good), and then you have performances like Yui who gets winded by her own movements. I think I will stick to listening to her CDs from now on. I managed to go about 4 minutes before I could no longer resist the urge to hit fast forward. Even the MCs were boring.

The concert was just two hours of mediocre singing and dancing, two things which Yui can't seem to get to mesh together well. In fact she is so unremarkable, the only way I could tell her apart from her own background dancers was knowing to look in the center.

I fared better with Chihara Minori's Contact First Live Tour, although I already had experience with her live singing from earlier Animelo and Lovedol DVDs so I was familiar with her approximate live singing skill. Even so, I still did a lot of skipping since a lot of the songs just didn't really appeal to me...I think I just stuck to the more well known songs that she released in singles earlier. Since I don't really follow Minorin closely, one thing that I was surprised about was that she seemed much more subdued than her "strawberry" loopy uncontrollably giggling self shown in last year's Lovedol concert or from her AX appearance. MCs were still interesting to watch through though, and Minori could still get a good reaction from the audience. My favorite part was probably the encore, which I didn't skip any of at all.

Posted by Paranda at 2:24 AM | Comments (1)

July 22, 2008

3 days left until Momoi DVD release

It has been too long without a Momoi concert DVD release. Finally the week has arrived, causing me to think about it on a daily basis. COVER BEST LIVE in CLUB CITTA and Momo-i Sunday Early Morning Live @ Shibuya-AX come out this Friday, followed by the Feel So Easy CD single on the following Monday MONTH.

Toranoana also has updated their store page with a picture of the DVD jacket (including back cover!). The set list looks very exciting.

Posted by Paranda at 10:03 PM | Comments (3)

July 16, 2008

An account of Momoist ongoings at Anime North 2008

So this post has been sitting for almost two months because I wanted to wait until I got a dress stand and glass case to show off a certain special item, but it looks like that is not happening soon. I figured I should probably post this before Animelo comes around or it will get outdated if I start posting about the next Momoi event and this STILL isn't up. On May 23-25 weekend, several Momoists made a trip to Ontario, Canada to see Momoi perform at Anime North. Specific names have been omitted for privacy reasons.

Arriving in Toronto on Friday morning, I and another fan (we drove up in a car from New York) met up with everyone at a hotel to drop off 1300 glowsticks packed in our trunk purchased with funds donated by various fans. In all, our little international group consisted of 7 members from Japan, 4 from US west coast, and 2 from US east coast. After settling down and swapping materials (Momoi doujinshi, call books, Hawaii DVD, posters, etc) we headed out to a nearby Canadian chain family restaurant Swiss Chalet for lunch. Some American fans had the idea to secretly arrange a surprise for the Japanese fans by inviting Momoi to the same lunch.

We finished our food a little earlier than expected, and Momoi showed up a little later than expected. These circumstances led to hilariously obvious attempts to stall for more time at the restaurant via repeated ordering of drinks. After what seemed like an eternity due to the stress, Momoi appeared in a conspicuous sweet lolita dress complete with ribbons, lace, and a rabbit ears hood. She arrived along with manager Mr. Suzuki, Mr. Sawa (I remember this guy because he was on the delivery signature for fanclub calendar), and one other guy who was filmed the whole event. After going around to thank each person, Momoi settled into the middle of our table of 13 where she received gifts from almost everyone, including Japanese fans who apparently keep a stash of presents and concert materials on hand just to be ready for the remote possibility of meeting her any time. We also pooled some money to get a gift for Mr. Suzuki for letting the whole thing happen even though Momoi's schedule was so packed. Although we would have been satisifed with just a few minutes of interaction, the whole thing went down way better than expected as Momoi spent a pretty long time with everyone at the restaurant.

After this, we headed to the con to pick up some volunteer passes (one fan had managed to contact AN staffers and explained our plans to distribute glowsticks and teach calls, so they ended up making us official con volunteers). An unexpected perk to being part of the fan club and also volunteering was that AN staff let us into the "Meet & Greet" event room before the scheduled time. We just decided to spend the entire duration of the session with Momoi. Since the area was very limited in size and only limited to about 60 people across ALL guests, there weren't many people there and only a few recognized Momoi. Because of that, we managed to hog Momoi all to ourselves without feeling guilty about preventing someone else from having a chance. Actually, every time someone not from the fan club came over, it was a big exciting event to see how Momoi would interact with them.

One such notable incident was when a young Mii cosplayer was spotted by Momoi in the room. Momoi pretty much flipped out when she saw this and ran over to the cosplayer screaming "MIITAN" and possibly freaking out the cosplayer's mom. Speaking excitedly in half broken English and half Japanese, Momoi tried to explain she was the Japanese voice actress for Mii, and jumped up and down exclaiming "pikohan magical" and other signature Mii phrases while trying to get the girl to follow suit. When the cosplayer had left, Momoi said she got so excited that a little girl did it with all the correct accessories.

Momoi spoke too soon, because minutes later when we were posing for a photo, she turned around to find the Mii cosplayer back, but this time carrying something Momoi did not anticipate: Popotan underwear (as see on TV). This caused Momoi to giggle uncontrollably, followed up by a literal anime-style spin and collapse. She launched herself at a nearby table that I was sitting at. She declared the popotan apparel to be awesome and insisted on taking pictures while holding it up. Momoi ended up signing and mock-wearing them.

It should be noted that Momoists who never got a chance to see an UNDER17 concert live owe this cosplayer a HUGE debt of gratitude, because she directly inspired Momoi to sing one of her most famous old songs the next day: Popotan! Holy shit I never thought I would ever hear that one live in post-UNDER17 times...

Thanks cosplayer whoever you are!

At this event, we would also meet some new fans who joined the fan club on location, and helped out with the concert call preparations later on.

Immeidately after, we staked out the plaza ballroom for an hour to fill in the front row for opening ceremonies and make sure Momoi got cheered when introduced. While waiting, we scoped out the stage for the concert which would be in the same room. Everyone had glowsticks ready that they wave for cheering when Momoi went on stage but we ended up breaking a few of them early when Momoi suddenly came out and sat in the front row with us while waiting to go on stage. Following protocol, Momoi got massively cheered anyway when announced to go on stage. AN was pretty generous to her and treated her like a major keynote speaker at the opening, so she had plenty of time to talk to the fans and describe her feelings about coming to Canada.

Following the opening ceremony, we had a quick makeshift dinner of hotdogs and headed to lineup at Momoi's Q&A panel. The turnout was decent.At the panel, Momoi squashed the rumor that she was under Avex's thumb in terms of image and said she enjoys controls her current style. She also talked a bit about her clothing and how she became interested in lolita fashion. She revealed that she wore the same outfit when touring Casa Loma earlier that morning since she felt it suited the setting, being a castle and all, and the swords in there "looked kind of scary." As the session drew to a close, Momoi helped out our Momoist call workshop by giving it a little publicity and asking everyone to attend it so they could learn how idol calls work in Japan. Momoi also apparently was not referencing the Knights who say NI in her Naito de Naito song (although she said her friend Nogawa Sakura is a big fan of Monty Python).

After the panel ended, we headed back to the hotels to plan for the next day. The fanclub began applying Momoi sticker labels to the huge pile of glowsticks with amazing efficiency finishing all 1300 in about an hour.

The next day, we hauled all the materials to ballroom in order to set up the Momoist call workshop. Attendance was quite sparse with only about 10 showing up although this grew gradually as the panel went on. However all participants were highly enthusiastic and not in the least embarassed to be learning and doing the calls with the rest of us. The steps were taught directly by a Japanese fan and subsequently translated by another west coast fanclub member and were pretty informative, going over concepts like rallying calls and tips on recognizing them, UO signals, meanings behind some hand gestures, song-specific chants, and even practicing on another member who acted as a stand-in for Momoi. For a (very basic) example of some of the things covered, you can see a few at the Momoi call website.

After we finished hosting the workshop, we stuck around to take some group photos with a few fans who had attended the workshop and then headed to lunch. Then we headed back to the stage area to measure out and cut streamers. These were basically long ribbons that we would throw towards the stage during the concert (but not long enough to hit Momoi), and materials to make them were brought courtesy of one fan had pointed out Momoi liked idol concerts with streamers and hoped to give her the same treatment.

Near the start of the concert, staff began showing up. We went over a basic explanation of what were were planning to do with the glowsticks so they cordoned off a section of the front for us and gave us a place backstage to stash all of our stuff and change into our concert gear. Once plaza ballroom doors opened, people began filing in. Several members were stationed at the door, with others patrolling the aisles to make sure everyone had working glowsticks (now we know why those glowsticks were cheap: about 10% of them were duds). I ended up filling my loading belt with returned or defective glowsticks as long as they still gave off some amount of light.

I won't go too much into the concert, as there is already a great summary of concert specifics (broken down by songs) at denpa no sekai written up by another fanclub member who was with us. I can say it was the most fun I had since Hawaii. My only complaint revolves around the bracelet system, since it was all the way at the other end of the convention center they should have just been letting people when the concert itself started instead of having them go back to get a bracelet (although they might have done this later and I just didn't know).

When it was over, Momoi said she would be giving autographs downstairs in half an hour. Since we had already monopolized Momoi most of the previous day, the fanclub decided to sit out the autograph session so anybody who became a new fan from the concert could have a slightly better chance to get in line for Momoi. As the crowd exited and began lining up at the stairs, we decided to take a break around the stage area instead before going backstage to retrieve our things. Momoi surprised everyone there by showing up backstage and thanked everyone again before leaving to host her autograph session at the merchandise table. We just in a group next to the autograph table to observe the line and see the interactions Momoi had with other fans.

Since that was the last Momoi event for the day and the last day for our con responsibilities, at night we did regular touristy things like visit downtown Toronto, check out Casa Loma, and eat at the rotating restaurant at the top of the CN tower. Apparently we hadn't considered the CN tower restaurant was supposed to be fairly ritzy so we all 13 of us went in still wearing t-shirts, Momoi wristbands, backpacks, glowstick holsters, otagei jackets, etc...much to the disdain of the waiters serving us who seemed clearly irritated.

On Sunday we attended an awards brunch since Momoi was supposed to be a guest there. Momoi noticed us from her table and came over several times to chat. No matter how many times she does this, it still impresses me that Momoi likes to establish such rapport from fans...having approached us first before we approached her (originally we had remained respectful distance and simply waved because we didn't want to interrupt her meal).

Momoi hosted a second panel that afternoon which, following the concert, which was understandbly much more packed than the last one and had people standing at the doors due to lack of room. The crowd was pretty lively, and Momoi joked around a lot with the audience: She suggested putting a glowstick should be in the Toronto museum since it marked a historic event. When asked if she had many boyfriends in middle school, she replied only in her imagination, and sometimes, she was the boyfriend (referring to times when she would play bishoujo games). When apologizing for her English being bad, she sang "Good Enough" impromptu as an example of what kind of English she knew. Momoi said a number of times how much she appreciated people coming from around the world to see her and invited everyone to visit Akihabara and come see her in Japan some day.

After the panel, we headed to catch Momoi at the charity auction. First auction item was one of the glowstick boxes, signed by Momoi and renamed the "Memory box" which was picked up for $40 by one of the new Momoists that we met earlier during the Meet & Greet. A T-Shirt signed by all the guests including Momoi went for $120. Momoi had also signed a copy of her "Halko Momoi Best Clip" DVD but due to technical difficulties with getting the DVD to play during the auction and time constraints, it was not auctioned off separately. Last item was Momoi's LOVE.EXE dress that she wore in her music video shown here:

I ended up winning it for $750, proceeds which I think went to a local childrens' hospital. The auctioneers decided to just throw in the signed DVD too since they didn't have any time left to auction it, and Momoi wrote some more stuff on the CD case. Then some staffer told me it was the highest charity bid so far in AN's short history so I'm glad at that at least for now, they can say Momoi was responsible for it.

The last activity of the day was Momoi's final autograph session in the afternoon. We had previously decided to sit this one out since the lines opened at the same time as the auction, and we wanted to cheer at the auction instead. So, we just did the same thing as last time and waited around the autograph table for Momoi to finish without being on line ourselves. The line had closed at that time due to the maximum capacity being reached anyway. However a nice staffer saw us and let us know that Momoi would go overtime and do some extra autographs for fanclub members so I got a Sunday Early Morning tour shirt signed. We met Momoi one last time at the staff exit to send her off (a fanclub member apparently had a really sharp eye for spotting Momoi).

After Momoi left, we decided we would spend the rest of the time doing a bit more sightseeing in Canada rather than spend it at a convention without Momoi, so our group squeezed together into three cars and headed for Niagara Falls. After enjoying the falls we headed up to the shops to see explore the shops. One last ditch effort was made to find Momoi again, as we had received information earlier that Momoi might be touring Niagara Falls so a small search party went down along the falls to stalk accidentally bump into Momoi while we kept browsing the stores. It proved unsuccessful however, so they eventually gave up after multiple passes. We had dinner at some jungle themed restaurant which had a cake with sparklers on it.

On Monday after a night's rest, I and the other east coast Momoist made the drive back to the States while West coast and Japan crew headed for the airport. It had been a great weekend jam packed with Momoi events almost nonstop. On our way back, as one final tribute to Momoi we stopped by Casa Loma in the morning to take this:

We stole the angle from Momoi's blog.

Posted by Paranda at 1:22 AM | Comments (6)

July 12, 2008

Going to Animelo 2008 Challenge

Well, it just became official. I am going to Japan this year for Animelo 2008 with Arena A tickets. Having MOSAIC.WAV, coorie, and yozuca added just today further sweetens the deal.

Posted by Paranda at 10:47 AM | Comments (5)

July 6, 2008

20% off Izayoi no Tsuki, Canaria no Koi

Surprisingly, what made me post this today was because of a Yukarin album that was featured on the front page CD sale at CDJapan. Can't they move enough of these without the sale?

Bargain-binned for $6 off, this limited edition album with DVD is actually cheaper than the regular edition. With SAL costing $5, the discount effectively nullifies shipping costs. Now I have no excuse not to get it.

Izayoi no Tsuki, Canaria no Koi.
Izayoi no Tsuki, Canaria no Koi. / Yukari Tamura

Speaking of Yukari, I am a big fan of Yukari live concerts. Even though I don't listen to her music that much by themselves (except for the 8 - 10 songs that I tend to loop), she is probably the most entertaining live performer I have seen other than Momoi, and her concerts are roughly equivalent in terms of infectious fan energy (I am unable to resist drawing big hearts with my hands during Koiseyo Onnanoko). She also delivers cute talks, sends people into matrix-like convulsions with her mero-mero-stick, and makes jokes about her dancers in cat costumes (it must be really hot in there...*breathes heavily*).

Probably the most appealing thing about Yukari is that she is essentially a character. In fact it is so well defined I could probably borrow her name as an adjective to describe other things. That something is Yukari-like...

Off stage, Yukari carefully cultivates a single idiot-savant image that renders Tamura Yukari the person virtually indistinguishable from Yukarin the 17-year old. Even her walking mannerisms are deliberate, as she "shuffles" in a particularly awkward gait (that I guess is supposed to be cute) yet when actually singing, she can be rather graceful. Keep in mind prior to becoming a seiyuu, Yukari worked in a finance position at a corporation in Fukuoka and holds several professional certifications in the field.

Although I do not know when I will have a chance to experience a true Yukari concert myself, maybe I will get a small hint of it at Animelo this year (plans are still tentative but chance to go is greater than 50%).

In the meantime, I will be getting my next Yukari live fix from the upcoming Chelsea Girl DVD.
Yukari Tamura Love Live 2008 Chelsea Girl
Yukari Tamura Love Live 2008 Chelsea Girl / Yukari Tamura

Posted by Paranda at 2:38 AM | Comments (0)

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