This took a long time to summarize since so much awesomeness occurred in such a short period of time. Enjoy.
After coming home from Hello! Party I was filled with nervous energy. Would I be able to wake up in time to camp out in line with Mike? Well I did. I woke up at 5:30 & immediately called Mike. He was already on his way to the convention center & said he would save me a place in line. I got ready, packed up my photo card sets & gifts & dashed out of my hotel for my date with destiny.
Downtown L.A. at 6 AM is rather peaceful. The temperature was cool & the sun was just rising. No one was on the street, which was quite the contrast from the massive crowds I had become accustomed to. It was a nice walk & gave me time to reflect on on the concert & the past few days.
Eventually I arrived at the convention center & I gave Mike a call. He informed me that they had been kicked out by security and that they were just outside of the south hall. Having made the trip to the south hall many times already it wasn’t hard for me to find. I took the opportunity to take pictures of the convention center without the massive hordes of people blocking my view.
Then back outside where I found Mike & two more H!psters a_P & AlloHelloFan. Mike had said the Japanese fans in the front had come directly from Hello! Party to the convention center. Now that’s dedication. While standing in line I also ran into a person who attended the Hello! Party. He said he had a good time but had some small qualms about the event such as a lack of a check-in service and the no alcohol thing. I knew why both things were not allowed but I wasn’t about to argue with him. I just said I would bring those concerns up with the organizers the next time I run into them. That seemed to make the guy happy & he walked off somewhere.
After avoiding that confrontation we all chilled out & talked about the concert, the q&a panel & other random stuff. AHF had Korean pop videos playing on his phone so the discussion turned to SNSD for a bit. I got to watch a couple of live performances on his phone plus the (oh so hot) video for Genie. God that video is awesome. My hotel was full of Korean flight attendants so seeing that video made me remember the awesomeness of the Wilshire Grand. Such a wonderful view there.
Anyway… Uh… Yeah.. Although I could go on for days about the Korean flight attendants I have to get back on topic here. There was a bit of a mix up about which line was to get into the exhibition hall & which one was for autographs. Once that was cleared up they let us autograph people into the building. a_P had gone to get breakfast so we took his stuff in for him. He caught up to us at the top of the staircase leading to where the last autograph session was. He bought us some donuts which was pretty cool of him to do. So off to another hallway where they started separating the ticketed people from the non-ticketed people who would have to wait in the standby line. That’s where we left AHF unfortunately. Mike, a_P & I continued our journey through the convention center where they were letting people up into the waiting room 30 people at a time.
We were taken to the same waiting room as last time & were politely asked to sit in rows. I ended up away from a_P & Mike but was sitting next to a dude wearing the JPH!P concert shirt. I asked him what his user name was on the board (which I have since forgotten) but he said he was just a lurker. Still, he was representing so whatever, it worked for me. I was bored as fuck but didn’t want to move until I got my lineup number so I whipped out my laptop & USB internet stick. I knew the data roaming charges would hurt me but like it really mattered. I dropped a shit load of money for the Hangry & Angry dolls & have been texting a U.K. number for past couple of days. Why not just add more to the cost of this trip? It’s all in good fun after all.
So there I was logged on to #wotachat letting everyone know what was going down & that they should probably show up quickly if they want to get their place in the autograph line. I was also getting texts from CFB & a fellow H!pster Invis asking about how the line was. I pretty much told them the same thing I told the chat people, get here now or miss out. CFB actually came up to visit me in the waiting room shortly after asking about my extra ticket but I had already given my extra autograph ticket away to a_P earlier in the morning. He went away disappointed (but everything worked out for him in the end since he got a guaranteed ticket for the afternoon session.) With all our numbers given out we were allowed to leave the room to use the facilities or to get food & stuff. I just sat in place & chatted away. Mike came to visit me from the other side of the room. I don’t know where a_P had gone.
An AX staff member showed up a few minutes later to make an announcement. We were being moved to a bigger room a row at a time. I was in the third row of people so I got shuffled in fairly quickly. As we waited for the rest of the people to show up somone in my row decided to play a game. Things like cheer for the first group that came in, then boo the next group & so on & so forth. It was fun at first but then got old after the 5th time or so. I observed the groups coming in & saw Maize & Joh stroll in & later on I saw KirarinSnow who I had been chatting with online when I first logged in earlier in the morning. Once the room had filled with everyone it was time to put the laptop away & hang out.
I went over to where Joh & K were sitting & I got to see K’s haikus in person. There was one for each member of Momosu written all in perfectly scripted Japanese. A lot of effort was put into those & it was cool to see them all. I had never seen Saskatchewan used in a haiku up until that point. Very creative usage I must say. I went to check on my bag as I had left it at the front of the room & returned to see that K had wandered off somewhere. I ended up talking to a Japanese dude standing next to Maize & Joh for a bit until the doors for the signing opened.
Then the anticipation started to set in as the crowd started to line up in their proper places. The JPH!P lurker standing behind me looked like he was gonna puke. Nervous energy floated around the room. We were instructed by the autograph staff that we were only allowed one item per person. I was like “Uh Oh” since I had planned to get my entire photo card set autographed. Do I really want the entire group signing the back of an Ai-chan photo card? I decided I would ask if I could get the entire set signed, if I was given a “No” then at least I tried & would go with the lameness of getting one members card signed. So the first line went through & then the second that had a_P & Mike (who was in his Panda suit). I was hoping I could walk in with them since it would be cool to at least be with some familiar faces to share the nervousness.
Luckily I was able to get in right behind Mike so at least we could fanboy together. I couldn’t beleive I was about to see Morning Musume up close, even now it’s unbelievable that I made it this far. I guess being a persistant bastard pays off. I was glad that I decided to skip the Tsunku panel for this moment. I knew the odds of me even getting a question in for him were low, this was more of a sure thing. It seemed like we were moving in slow motion as the AX staff guided us to the room. There was a woman at the entrance who was taking our tickets, i figured it would be alright to ask her if i could get my photo card set signed. She said it was okay & I walked into the room with a breif sense of releif.
And I mean breif. Cause as soon as I walked into the entrance there they were. “Holy shit” was the first thought that popped into my mind then I had to compose myself since I was getting closer to the front of the line. Blocking my way was the Hello! Online dubbed “Dragonlady” doing stretches or something against the wall. She said she had woken up with some sort of weird pain & was working the kinks out. Problem was she was in my way of getting to Ai-chan, so I politely said “Sumimasen” to which she replied with a rather curt “Chotto matte kudasai”. Once she had finished her stretching routine I was allowed to pass. Well thanks, I guess.
Now this is where shit gets interesting. The first thing you notice about all the Momosu members is that they’re so tiny. I never expected them to be so… Doll like almost. But I’ll go over the rest as I go along the line. This was the order of the table:
Ai -> Risa -> Eri-> Reina -> Sayu -> Koha -> Mittsi -> Jun Jun – > Lin Lin
I’d like point out that I probably had the biggest, goofiest smile on my face during this entire autograph session. (who wouldn’t?) Anyway, on with the rest of my story.
First up was the five feet of lovely herself. She greeted me with an enthusiastic “Hiiiiiiii” which was fucking awesome. To which I replied “Hi, I have a present for you.” (in Japanese). It was the Monkey I had bought at Build A Bear. I had dressed it up in full Edmonton Oilers hockey gear (because the Oilers rule, just like Ai-chan) and handed it to her. Her face lit up with the biggest smile I’ve seen & she thanked me for the gift. Instead of giving it to a handler to put away she kept it by her side & even played with it a bit. Too sweet. On to Gaki-san who some said was wearing a ton of make-up but I didn’t see it. She also said a long “Hiiii” and signed my photocard and said “Thank You” I smiled like an idiot & said nothing. You know you think you’re prepared to say something to these girls & then you’re just so startstruck when you get to them you go blank.
Next was Eri. Mike was ahead of me & while he waited for Reina (more on that in a bit) he reminded her of the whole “hand in cheese” thing from Haromoni. I kind of tried to help out, eventually she got it & let out a big laugh. I think she was surprised we knew about that stuff. After that she turned her attention back to the autographs. A short but happy sounding “Hi” from her and then the autograph. Then something totally unexpected. She reached out her hands to me. I was like “What? Seriously?” in my head. So I went for it & gently clasped both her hands in mine. When we shook we both said “Whoooo” in unison which was pretty damn funny. She thanked me & I thanked her & it was on to Reina.
I personally think she’s fucking hot, up close she’s incredibly fucking hot. My god, I could…. Well I’ll not turn this into a some sleazy hardcore porn fantasy & just say yeah… Reina. Anyway, like the other girls a “Hi” & then her autograph. It was long & complicated & she was concentrating so hard on getting it perfect. I just stood there & watched as she drew this uber crazy signature & smiled at Sayu in the meantime. Having created her work of art she returned the photo card & I shook her hands as she said thank you. Next up was Sayu. Wow is she ever hot up close. Hot damn. Anyway a “Hi” & a smile, autograph & a thank you while I shook her hands. Damn she’s hot.
Uh… Next up was Koha. Before this concert even happened I had acquired a large amount of Koha love. Even though I may think she can’t actually sing per say, I think she’s still awesome. That thought was further enhanced by the concert the day before. So meeting her was a real treat. First off she’s fricking cute as hell up close & does have a bit of spaced out look in her eyes similar to Iida Kaori. Which makes her even cuter IMO. She signed my card with a gold sharpie which was so… Awesome. She even told me to shake the card a little so the ink would dry faster. Then I got to shake her hands as she thanked me.
As soon as I was done Aika greeted me with the cutest “Hiiiiiiiiiii” I’ve ever heard. You know I never understood her appeal until that moment. She’s just so damn sweet & adorable (for the lack of a better term) & her new short haircut looked really good. I was careful to gently shake her hands after she signed her autograph. She’s just so little that I could clasp both her hands in mine easily. She cheerily said thank you & I smiled & moved on to Jun Jun. I had a gift for her & presented a banana guard. That set off what was probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me since I got to L.A. She just went off on a whole “I Love Bananas” spiel that lasted forever. She talked about how she loves bananas and how she’ll eat them at any time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, it doesn’t matter. I just stood there in awe as she talked & talked. My only response being a big goofy smile and “… Awesome.” I shook her hands after & thanked her. By the way her English is incredibly clear & concise, I was really surprised.
Speaking of clear & concise I got to the last person at the table, Lin Lin. She really stepped up during this convention showing some incredible spunk & even answering all questions asked of her in English. Her English was better than Jun Jun’s at times. And damn that girl can sing. Like hitting diva type notes that only dogs can hear man. It was impressive. Of course I didn’t say any of that to her because I was so out of it from Jun Jun all I could muster was “Hi” *smile* “Thank you” *smile* shake hands, walk away.
I was directed to the exit where I met up with Mike & a_P & let out a loud “Whoo hoo!” as we left the autograph session. Although I really wanted to attend the Tsunku panel I wanted these autographs more. Like really bad. I said in my last Sakura-con post that I wanted a matching set of autographs from Momosu to complete my H!P tour collection. Well I got them alright & I’m extremely happy that I chose correctly by skipping the Tsunku panel. It’s not every day that you get to talk to, joke around or even shake hands with idols of Morning Musume’s caliber. Trust me, not even the hardcore Japanese fans get to do this shit. So yeah, me being a simple Canadian fumbled my way through but whatever.
I was able to give 2 gifts away & see them as close as any fan could get without getting arrested. I’d say this kicked so much ass & it made my trip even more worth it. Best event outside of the concert for sure. Here’s the completed set with the t-shirt & visual photo book.
Once we left Mike showed off his gets to fellow Momosu fans & then we ended up outside the dealers hall. a_P & I went in while Mike wandered off somewhere. a_P eventually left & I was left to fend for myself. I ended up at the JapanFiles booth where I was contemplaing entering the poster contest. The thing was if you bought the Shouganai Yumeoibito single & the Platinum 9 disc you were entered to win the posters of P9D & SYO. I decided to give it a go & ran into George again. He thanked me for supporting Morning Musume & that things like this will ensure that more acts like them would come over.
After filling out my entry form I asked George if there was going to be a course 6 on YesJapan. George said most people were between courses 2-4 on average. I informed him I was almost finished course 5 & asked if there was anything I could do to help my studies while waiting for course 6 to be completed. He said that watching Japanese dramas (without subtitles) & writing down new words I heard & looking them up in the dictionary would help immensely. I would eventually start hearing all these words everywhere & would understand them.
After getting that advice from George I texted Maize to see if the planned IW group photo was still a go. I was told to meet down by the main event ticketing booth (which had become our defacto meeting place). Eventually I made my way down there where CFB was sitting against a pillar. We were later joined by Maize, Joh, CK, Rocky, Amy & mp. Then as we were about to take the picture an appearance by SacredCultivator of Hello!Fansubs! along with a few of his friends from Hello! Online.
A small business card exchange took place and they kind of commented on how pro we were when they saw my jacket with my logo on the front & the IW logo on the back. Was kind of nice to get some recognition for pimping something outside of JPH!P. =) Anyway eventually Bryan joined us & we were ready for the picture. You can find the pics on this International Wota post. I’m in the first group pic. If you spot my logo then that’s me, otherwise I’m not telling.
After that I went back to my hotel to drop off my freshly autographed items & to take a short rest. I ran into JFC & Kuno Thunder from JPH!P. They were planning to hit the Izakaya in little Tokyo & I was invited to come along if I had nothing planned. Unfortunately I had some family to meet the next day that required me to be sober, so drunken karaoke had to be put on hold. Too bad too because from what I heard it sounded fun. Instead I went to Lawry’s Carvory with CK, CFB & Paul for a kick ass meal.
As we were eating we remenisced over the events of the past few days & even saw a Pedobear cosplayer walk by. After dinner we walked to the Westin to hang out. First to Paul’s hotel room to complete an exchange of AKB48 cards for CK. That’s where we met his room mate Henrik. After that Paul, CFB & I went to the bar while CK went to fulfill a previous engagement & Henrik stayed behind in the room. We met up with Paul’s friends at the bar & had a few drinks.
*Just to let you know. We were told the peace sign in England = the middle finger in America. So these guys are flipping us the bird. =)
We noticed an AX employee sitting at the end of the bar chatting with one of Paul’s friends. I guess he was supposed to be on duty for the party downstairs but decided that the bar was the more happening place to be. It was a good time just chilling, having a couple of drinks & relaxing after what turned out to be a crazy set of days. I asked about the AX party downstairs & if that was the same one Paul & them had gone to earlier in the week.
Apparently it was & they dared us to go down there & take a look for ourselves. The description of it is something I can’t possibly write without offending many people but it was fucking funny. So Paul took us downstairs & I was dared to try to use my press pass for some good. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to lie my way into taking pictures of the event so I had to hand off my camera & walk in with CFB empty handed. The AX dance party essentially consisted of a lot of people with glowsticks dancing to really bad House music while the DJ screamed “Get your hands up! Get your hands up!”
Uh… Yeah. WTF? Seriously. How about at least playing some Japanese House? Or at least something relevant to the event. This was about as harsh as hearing the AC/DC before the Morning Musume concert. It was as bad as they had said. Back to the bar where we went to get even more drunk. Well I didn’t get drunk, but everyone else did. Henrik had even come down & was all buddy buddy with the AX staffer. After a couple more hours we bid our British friends good night & called it the end of day.
NOTE: If any of you have read Hello! Blog’s L.A. Day 4 where Paul mentioned someone who bought a bunch of Hangry & Angry dolls. That was me & here they are.