This day consisted of the opening ceremonies, the Morning Musume panel & their first autograph session. It started off okay. I found my way to the convention center without getting lost which was obviously a good thing considerng my sense of direction. I decided to go the opening ceremonies (a decision that would come to haunt me) to film the arrival of Morning Musume at the con.
I met up with my IW people Maize, Joh & CFB. They said that Morning Musume had passed them in the hall before I showed up. I got to see some pics of their apperance. Very cool. We made our way to the main hall to find the place had been packed. Maize, Joh & I took advantage of our press passes & got our seats up front, leaving poor CFB to fend for himself. We patiently waited for the ceremony to start testing our cameras to make sure we could get some good shots.
Just after 9 AM the whole thing started. Some cute girl from the AX staff showed up & started talking about Anime Expo & what it was about, the charities they sponsor and many other things. Eventually she got to the part where they introduce the guests of honor. 2 minutes in Morning Musume was introduced to loud appluase. They appeared to a loud reception after which Takahashi said that they were happy to be invited to Anime Expo & look forward to having fun.
It was very cool to see them in front of me. Just amazing. It’s hard to describe seeing them in person because who knew this day would come? But there they were. That made the opening ceremonies worth it for me. All the rest was secondary. After the opening ceremonies ended the plan was to go to the exhibit hall to get merchandise & passes to autograph sessions for Momring Musume & Hangry.
We had met up with Paul from Hello! Blog along the way. He scouted the area & said that there was a massive line up to get into the JapanFiles & JPopHouse booths. So instead of waiting outside infinitely we decided to get something to eat. We ended up walking away from the convention center & ended up in some small cafe that sold fresh sandwiches.
After having a short meal we walked down to a convenience store that Joh found. They sold Ramune which I had only heard but never got a hold of ever. I bought that & a couple of other strange snacks & drinks that were recommended to me by CFB. Then back to the convention center to check out the panel room for Morning Musume. There were many people in there trying to save seats. To say that was less than successful was an understatement.
You took what you got & hoped that something opened up. We were not alone in this as there were many other people who thought of the same thing. Go figure eh? But great minds think alike right? Maize & Joh decided to give the exhibitors hall one more go & would let us know of the status of the line. CFB & I sat & waited & eventually ran into Paul again. The 3 of us sat & waited to see what would become of where we were sitting. We ended up sitting through a panel for Toshiyuki Morikawa, a famous voice actor who is probably most well known for being Sephiroph in Final Fantasy.
At least I had a couple of cute Japanese girls sitting next to me to help put up with the panel I was completely disinterested in. Well not completely, I mean it was nice to hear how the voice acting thing works. In the end I learned a lot. After the panel ended there was a mad dash to get to the front rows of the room. Apparently only the first 500 people got tickets to the Morning Musume autograph session. CFB, Paul & I were seat jumping like made until we ended up around the 396 people mark. It was good enough.
At 14:00 the Morning Musume panel started. A very familiar voice greeted us. It was the translator UFA had used at Sakura-con for Hangry & Angry. I’m going to be honest here & say that I did not take any notes during this panel. I just sat there in awe of seeing Morning Musume sitting there. Sorry. But I was totally focused on Momosu & I didn’t want to bury my face in a notebook for the entire panel. I suggest going to the International Wota page to get a full recap of the Q&A.
It was a good panel. At the beginning was a short video covering the history of H!P and Morning Musume. Not an in depth kind of thing but enough to bring everyone up to speed. After that were the intros & then the Q&A. Some people asked lame questions (i.e. “Can I take a picture after the session?”) but for the most part it was some decent Q&A. Definitely one of the more interesting sessions I’ve attended at a con. The crowd pretty much screamed at anything & everything or at every pause in the conversation. Some fairly loudly.
It was interesting watching the groups reactions to all of that. I don’t think they got just how big of a fan base they have here & they seemed fairly amused by some of the questions they were getting asked. The best ones were probably some dude asking if he could play Rock, Paper, Scissors with Reina & one of the JPH!P folks dressing up in a Panda suit asking Jun Jun a question. The panel overall was a lot of fun & just seeing & hearing them speak was surreal. Lin Lin answered all her questions in decent English, which surprised the hell out of me but it was cool.
After the panel the 500 tickets to the autograph panel were handed out & then it was the battle to get to the autograph session. This is where the wheels fell off on Day 1, We were told to go to Hall K just outside of the artists alley to go for autographs. Unfortunately that was not the case & a lot of confused people were wandering around trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Eventually a bunch of Japanese fans were found running in the food court to a set of escalators. It was up there that the autograph line was found. Of course that was nowhere near the artist alley & myself & CFB found ourselves way the hell out in the back of the line.
Eventually the line moved & we were told to form sort of weird line formation to prevent the fire marshall from shutting the whole lineup down. It was hard to keep up with who we were supposed to be behind as the whole line just got totally fucked up. Slowly we were shuffled into the waiting room where I saw a few of my fellow IW & JPH!P peoples patiently waiting. As with most AX events, things did not start exactly on time, hence the slowness of the line. But things got moving & more & more fans started getting their autographs. Then suddenly the door in the waiting room shut. Eveyone still waiting (including me & CFB) were like WTF?
We were told the alloted time for autographs had passed & we stragglers were all S.O.L. The AX staff informed us to come back on Saturday morning for another shot at autographs. So that pretty much killed my plans to attend the Tsunku panel & meant I had to form a plan of attack to get to the autograph session. It was certainly a disappointment to get denied by UFA again & I would sure as hell mad at the time. But looking back, I guess it means I’ll be closer at the next signing if I get up early enough after the Hello! Party.
After that I joined some of my fellow IW peoples & went to the exhibitors hall to see if I could score some swag. I found the JapanFiles booth and made for the end of the line (which was very long). When I got to the front I pretty much got whatever I could score. So both Morning Musume photo sets, the visual photo book, a t-shirt & a pair of the Hangry & Angry dolls. I didn’t get the random goodie bag thing with a bunch of rare old stuff. It was funny to see the same woman who was running the vendor booth at Sakura-con, awesome. She kinda remembered me from Seattle since I also bought a ton of stuff from her at that time too.
Everything was done at the con & it was time to make some planning for the evening. I ended up going to the JPH!P bowling party at Lucky Strike. Before that I had to go back to my hotel to drop off all my stuff & take a quick shower. I met up with one of the JPH!P members staying in my hotel & we made our way to the Lucky Strike bowling alley. When we arrived there was a list of rules for entering the alley. I guess this place was a fairly swanky type place so there was no head gear, baggy clothes, etc, etc… So I had to take my hat off but I was able to get away with my IW jacket, t-shirt & khakis.
The bowling was supposed to start at 19:30 but we didn’t get going until around 20:30 or so since everyone showed up kinda fashionably late. With everyone ready to go we ordered some food & started a game. I haven’t bowled that much but I did my best. In fact I was kind of winning until someone threw a strike & obliterated my score. Oh well, at least I managed to not get too many gutter balls. I left the party just after 22:00 & ran into Daigong. He said he had some sort of special event to attend in the morning & invited me to come along. I had no idea what it was but he said to just show up before 8:00.
I left Lucky Strike and went to the Sheraton to see CFB & to hang out for a bit & then went to bed to prepare for the next day.