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We decided to travel by train, because driving a car in Belgium is certain death. After talking about traveling and SomethingWildâs adventures in Japan we arrived in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Sadly, you would never guess itâs the capital as the sidewalks became pretty non-existent at one point. We found the press entrance, rushed towards to the main stage and arrived just in time for Kikkaâs concert.
It wasnât that crowded so we easily made our way to the front. We estimated a crowd between 150~200 people. The left side of the audience had the more hardcore fans, complete with bright yellow glow-sticks. The other side had people who were simply enjoying her performance. After a while Xerony decided to get into the press booth between the crowd and the stage. He asked some of the other photographers for their photos and he took some pics with his phone camera:
Kikka performed her biggest hits with a few surprises. Here is Friday's set list:
- Darling to Madonna
- Hapirapi Sunrise
- Watashi ga Obasan ni Natte mo
- Konna Watashi de Yokattara
- Romantic Ukare Mode
- Kikkake wa You
- Candy Pop
Kikka sang live, she was energetic and interacted with the crowd. She spoke a lot of French during the MC with a little bit of Dutch and English as well. The songs followed each other in rapid pace. When she walked off the fans started screaming for an encore and we got it!
|Kikkawa You / ćć·ć - Hapirapi ~Sunrise~ (Live at Japan Expo Brussels 12-11-02)|
The audio isnât that great, but if you select the 1080p option youâll get a good idea of the live.
It was difficult to take pictures as Kikka was always moving around. Here are some of SomethingWildâs photos:
When the concert was finished Xerony was standing near the backstage entrance and he urged that we should enter to network and score more photos. However, that was not wat we found when we entered. There were barely any people left since we entered much later then the rest of the press. What we did see was Kikkawa You to our left being filmed!
We were struck by surprise and discussed our next move. The management told us it was OK for us to be backstage. We asked him if we could get an interview, but he said we had to go through the official channel (meaning the Expo director). SomethingWild mentioned we had been in contact with someone, but in the end we didnât get an exclusive interview.
However! At this point Kikka came up to us! Xerony mentioned Slack's interview in Atlanta and asked her if she remembered how do to the JPH!P sign. She did it perfectly and she got a smile on her face. There wasnât an interpreter around, but luckily SomethingWild managed to talk to her in Japanese about her KikkaFes shows in Shibuya. Xerony found it difficult to talk to Kikka in Japanese, but he added some words which he magically remembered. It showed we know who she is and it broke the ice. SW asked if we could get a photo and we got it! Mission complete.
Kikka asked Xerony if she did the sign right. He said she did it OK. At this point we thanked her and went on our way again. When we exited the press area we noticed Kikka was walking right behind us. When we got out into the expo halls she waved cutely.
We had an hour to kill until the conference would start. After this sudden experience we both had to realize what had just happened to us. We were on cloud nine and smiling like crazy. Itâs that idol magic. Xerony got some bubble tea, we checked out some Japanese cars, some Bonsai trees and we watched Tatake Taiko before the conference with Kikka started. Expo visitors got the chance to learn to play Japanese drums.
Kikka came up to the conference area and suddenly snapped a picture of us! Sadly it didnât appear online, but it was one of many memorable Kikka interactions. Time for some questions! Pics by SW:
Q: What made you decide to become an idol?
A: She looked up to Morning Musume when she was young, which is why she wanted to become a singer.
Q: What is your favorite Hello! Project song?
A: The coupling song from Milky Wayâs Tan Tan Taan! called Sansan GOGO. (Note: it took her a long time to remember the name of the song and even asked the audience for help.)
Q: What is your favorite Hello! Project member?
A: Mitsui Aika. They spent a lot of time together since we both auditioned for Morning Musumeâs 8th generation.
Q: Did you expect to go solo?
A: She mentions she always has been solo. When the eggs graduated she was offered the chance to make her solo dĂ©but.
Q: If you could choose your own unit, which members would be in it?
A: Mano Erina and Mitsui Aika (Note: due to a translation error she thought she had to choose graduated members.)
Q: Out of your own songs, which is your favorite?
A: "Twinkle Days."
Q: How do you like visiting Belgium for the first time?
A: She likes all the traditional food like Belgian chocolate and waffles. She said she ate too much and has become chubby. (Note: she also threw a pun in there along of the lines of becoming big (fat) and becoming big (as a solo singer).
Q: What was your first dance you learned?
A: Her first dance was chocolove.
Q: Which member did you look up to?
A: Goto Maki.
Q: What do you like about being an idol?
A: You get to do lots of different things and can eat all sort of things.
Q: When will you get a second photo book?
A: That is decided by the management. She would like to take photos for it in Belgium.
Q: Do you have a boyfriend?
A: All my fans are my boyfriends!
Q: As a solo singer, who do you consider to be your biggest rival?
A: Mano Erina, as they are both solo artists related to Hello! Project.
Q: How do you stay so genki all the time? Where do you get the energy from?
A: From the fans' reactions and food.
Q: Is it hard to be a solo artist?
A: She prefers to be solo, but is has lots of difficulties. In a group itâs hard to remember the correct positions on stage. The most difficult thing about being solo is remembering the lyrics.
It was quite amazing to see how French was the most used language. Some people where able to ask a question in Japanese and only a few questions were asked in Dutch. The interpreter took us for English speakers for some reason.
After the Q&A she told the story of her career using drawings. Video and English translation by SomethingWild:
Kikka: I have drawn the story of my career and I would like to show it to you. As a child I always looked up to Morning Musume, so I took part in the audition. Kikka did her best, but didnât pass the audition. However, I was scouted and given a chance by Morning Musumeâs agency. I was part of the Eggs for four years. It was tough because it took two hours by bus every day to get to work. I did my best with dancing, singing and acting lessons. I got a new chance and made my solo debut! Itâs been two years since my debut. Itâs not just singing, but also acting and gravure photo shoots. I also appeared in a sushi commercial on TV.
At this point she asked the audience if we like sushi. This is followed by a pun related to various kinds of sushi, but sadly it was completely lost on the audience and the interpreter couldnât explain it either. She realized it failed, but she laughed at the interpreters reaction.
She wants to become big and famous, which is followed by a reference to Jeanneke Pis. Itâs the female equivalent of a famous statue in Brussels called Manneke Pis, which Kikka had visited earlier:
Time to promote the new album âVocalist?â which will be released on November 7. They showed the PV for âWatashi ga Obasan ni Natte mo.â The interpreter translated the song title which lead to some random comment about Kikka turning into an old lady. He didnât seem to realize that it was the songâs title. Kikka danced some of the moves along while sitting in her chair. She lip-synced a bit and then taught the audience the calls in between the various parts of the song. Everybody yelled along, even though some of the calls where a bit too complicated.
The final part of the conference was a contest where someone could win a signed Kikkawa You banner! Everybody had to stand up and play janken (rock, paper scissors) against Kikka. Everybody who lost or had the same sign had to sit down. Quickly we were down to only four people who were invited up to the stage, including Xerony! Sadly he lost, otherwise we would have put the banner up as a price for a JPH!P contest. The winner was incredibly nervous, but who wouldnât be standing next to your favorite idol in front of a big crowd and camera. Kikka thanked everybody, gave us one last wave and disappeared backstage. Good times.
Special thanks to Slack, Â°e-girl and Rei-chan for making us excited about seeing Kikka. Thanks to Daigong for hooking us up with the press passes. Thanks for Shirenu for moral support. Thanks to the staff for letting us do our thing and of course massive thanks to Kikka for making our day. We werenât die hard fans before the expo, but she âfishedâ us by her friendliness, great performance and overall charm. I (SW) have met a lot of idols these past months and I can honestly say Kikkawa is among the best of them.
Kikkawa You (a.k.a. "Kikka") is such an idol, and on September 28, the first day of Anime Weekend Atlanta 2012, fellow JPHiP members Rei-chan and Â°e-girl joined me in a 30-minute private interview with Kikka. Going in, Rei-chan and Â°e-girl were not exactly huge Kikka fans, but by the time the interview was over, all three of us left the room thoroughly enchanted by the young songstress.
I've been fortunate enough to experience being in the presence of idols several times in my years as an idol fan, and each time I'm always amazed at how "magical" the whole experience was. But this time, representing JPHiP and being so up-close and personal with Kikka, this experience was the most special. Unfortunately for you reading this, an idol's magic doesn't translate well to text or even video. The only thing I regret about this interview is that I can't possibly hope to do justice to Kikka's charm through the words on this page.
So with that in mind, I hope you all enjoy reading this JPHiP exclusive interview. Kikka had a big smile while answering all of our questions, so please read her responses with that image in mind. Even if you can't feel her magic, it is my sincere hope that you learn something new about Kikka and maybe come to like her just a little more.
Slack: We are from JPHiP.com. We really love Kikka and Hello! Project, as well as other kinds of J-pop. And I have to say I am a very big fan of yours.
Kikka: Wow! I'm so glad to hear that!
Slack: First of all, I want to ask you, how was your flight? Are you still jetlagged right now?
Kikka: This was my first time on such a long flight of about 12 hours. I'm often told I'm the type that can't settle down, so I wasn't sure I could sit still for such a long time. But between watching DVDs, sleeping, listening to music, and practicing for Kikka Fes, it passed by pretty quickly. Still, I'm a bit tired.
Slack: I know you've been busy. In fact before I came, I watched your Nico nico live stream, "Born in the Kikkawa USA".
Translator: So how did you feel?
Slack: Well, that was around 3:00 in the morning, so I was really tired.
Kikka: (laughs) Right, so many people were watching that show. I'm really hoping that everyone watching got to know me a little better.
Slack: We have some questions from the time we all first found out about you, when you were auditioning for Morning Musume. [Â°e-girl] has those questions.
Â°e-girl: First of all, welcome to America and welcome to Atlanta. Like [Slack] said, most of us first heard of you from the Morning Musume 8th generation auditions. In fact, you were my favorite person auditioning! How did you feel back then when you were going through the whole audition process?
Kikka: I'm happy to hear I was your favorite! During the audition process? Well, I was aware of some of the fan reactions on the internet and I kind of gained strength from their support. I was really glad seeing things like "Do your best!", and "Keep working hard to the end!"
Â°e-girl: You eventually became part of the Hello! Project Eggs. How did you come to be a part of that?
Kikka: Soon after failing the audition, a person from the agency approached me and asked "Won't you join the Haropuro Eggs?". That was how it all started for me.
Slack: When you were in the Eggs, we had seen videos of the Shinjin Kouen and I thought you were one of their best singers. How much of your current success do you attribute to your time in the Eggs?
Kikka: In four years of being in the Eggs and always having singing and dancing lessons, I feel like those times have a lot to do with what I'm doing now.
Slack: There was a long time where it didn't seem like anything would be done with the Eggs, but recently lots of members have made their debuts. For example, almost all of S/mileage, several Morning Musume members, and even Up Up Girls. Do you have a certain sense of pride now of being from the Eggs?
Kikka: I really do. I'm really happy to see all these members from Haropuro Egg make their debuts like S/mileage and Up Up girls.
Slack: Actually, all of my favorite members are from the Haropuro Eggs.
Kikka: Wow, that's great. Who else do you like? (Aside from me!)
Slack: Well, Mano Erina, Fukumura Mizuki...
Kikka: Woooow, I see!
Slack: One of our readers wants to know a bit more about how your work with Milky Way and Kusumi Koharu. When you said she was one of your role models, was your image of her any different from the reality of working with her?
Kikka: When I was just starting, looking from the outside when I really admired her, I really had this feeling that she was a sparkling, bright, free spirit. Then after working with her and seeing how she really is in private, she truly is a wild, free-spirited person. She really inspired me and influenced me to be more free-spirited as well.
Slack: Since you've been in groups like the Eggs and Milky way for most of your idol career, how is it different being a soloist?
Kikka: To put it simply, there's an image of life being easy for a soloist. I suppose you could say in private, it is kind of fun, but the hardest part being solo is having to be responsible for doing everything yourself. On the other hand, in my free time I can be selfish and free to do whatever I want. Taking all that into account, I guess it comes out about even.
Slack: A lot of people still think you are still under Hello! Project, but now you're under Universal. I just wanted to know how that came about: Was it Up-Front that approached Universal or was it the other way around?
Manager: There's not really much of a story to tell. Up-Front and Universal wanted to do a joint project and this is what came out of that.
Slack: I imagine being under Universal must be very different than being in Hello! Project. But being with Universal and having such a good singing voice, I have an image of you more as an "artist" even though you are promoted more as an "idol". Where do you see yourself between the two?
Kikka: Well actually, my debut work at the start was probably like my agency senior Moritaka Chisato-san's early work as an "idol". More recently starting around my 4th single, working with a vocaloid producer, it's felt like I've started being more of an "artist" instead of an "idol" .
Slack: I'm glad to hear that. I have an image of idols only having a certain amount of time they can continue as idols. I want to hear you keep singing.
Kikka: Ah I see. (smile)
Slack: Since you are going more as an "artist", you have different opportunities as you would have being an "idol". In that vein, is there some other artist that you would like to work with?
Kikka: I see. Another artist? Well, right now probably another idol at this point.
Slack: Working with SmileR as the producer for your last two singles, maybe something along those lines?
Kikka: Ah, I'd definitely be interested, but I don't have anyone specific in mind.
Slack: Going back to working with other idols, I've always wanted to see you work with Mano Erina and form a unit called something like "You and M.E."
Kikka: Ah, I see. That's right, Mano-chan is graduating from Hello! Project in February. That's something I'd like to do before then. (looks at managers)
Slack: Now we have some more questions about your international audience.
Rei-chan: Hi, I'm [Rei-chan]. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! I love Kikka!
Kikka: Ah really? That makes me happy to hear!
Rei-chan: You have done a variety of genres of music, like how your latest single "Darling to Madonna" is in a rock style. Do you have a favorite style of music you like to perform?
Kikka: Well I basically like any style, but recently I haven't had the chance to sing a relaxing ballad kind of song. So I'd like to try singing one of those.
Rei-chan: I don't know if you are aware, but you have fans all over the world, including Puerto Rico, which is a little island in the Caribbean, Finland, Peru in South America, Australia, and Canada. Is there a message you would like to give to all those fans around the world?
Kikka: Like how this Anime Weekend Atlanta is kind of a festival for people who like anime to gather together, I'd like someday to have kind of a "Kikka festival" for my fans from all over the world to gather! So everybody please wait for that.
Slack: Just to butt in, I believe all three of us came here just to see Kikka.
Translator: Where are you from?
Slack: I'm from Los Angeles.
Rei-chan: I'm from Puerto Rico.
Â°e-girl: I live here in Atlanta.
Kikka: Wow! Thank you all very much.
Rei-chan: Since you have so many fans around the world, are you looking to promote in places other than in Asia and America?
Kikka: I definitely want to spread out everywhere. To do that I'd need to remember words in various countries' languages, but before that, I need to remember my own lyrics! (laughs) I'll do my best!
Slack: You probably don't remember, but I went to see you last September in Tokyo -- to a signing event in Shinjuku and a handshake event in Shibuya -- and you made a very big impression on me.
Kikka: Ah, I'm glad to hear that! Thank you very much, you should come again!
Slack: I will probably be trying to come again next year.
Kikka: Please do!
Rei-chan: Finally, what do you want everyone to pay special attention to tomorrow at the concert?
Kikka: At tomorrow's concert I'll be performing in the costume from my recently released single, "Darling to Madonna". After that, I'll probably sing songs from before my solo debut, even some songs that aren't my own.
Rei-chan: Would it be possible for us to take a photo with Kikka doing the JPHiP sign?
And that's how we wrapped up our exclusive half-hour interview with Kikka, one of today's most talented, beautiful, and hard-working idols. After being in Kikka's presence, all of us were taken in by her charms and left with the feeling that those who aren't Kikka fans are really missing out on something amazing. If you could feel any of Kikka's magic in this interview, by all means give her your support!
Special thanks to Kikka, her staff, Yaz, Philippe, Rei-chan, Â°e-girl, Luis, and especially Daigong for making this interview possible.
For the story behind this interview and the rest of the weekend, don't forget to check out:
Â°e's report of Kikkawa You at Anime Weekend Atlanta [Sept 28-30, 2012]
3:00 to 5ish PM
Slack had informed us that the interview was on at 5:30 to 6 and needed backup. I wasn't sure I could make it but I knew it was going to be a short day at work. So as soon as I got off of work, I rushed getting ready and ate a little. I wore my hot pink MM 40th single anniversary shirt and wondered if it was a good idea to wear it. (Turned out it did LoL) Then Reichan (who was also rushing to get there) texted me that the interview was pushed back to 6:15 so now I had to worry about rush hour traffic. But it was unavoidable as I got stuck for nearly an hour. Then parking was almost a hassle but thankfully my compact car was able to squeeze into a space next to a concrete beam.
5:00 to 6:15 PM
I was scrambling around trying to find the registration area and something in the back of my mind thought that I won't be able to get my press badge because Daigong put in my name last minute. And sure enough, they had no badge for me. T_T Just then Slack, Rei, and Luis met up with me and tried to fix it. And thank god Rei had the confirmation email from Daigong and Yaz with my name on it and boom! officially on the Press Team. We quickly tried to organize how we'll conduct our interview and Slack got Rei and I caught up on Kikka's career for we knew little about her other than we knew she auditioned for 8th gen MM (she was my favorite auditionee actually) and that she was in Milky Way with Koharu. As the time drew near we got a little nervous, at least I was, knowing that she has a connection to H!P which meant she knew Eririn. We got into the elevator to go to the 12th floor and noticed these other guys with huge and expensive camera equipment and realized that they were part of the Up Front or Universal staff.
6:15 to 6:45 PM
As soon as we got off the elevator we went opposite directions of the UF/Universal staff cuz we were told the wrong room number, so we rejoined them and Yaz at the "Govenor's Suite". There, they asked us how we wanted things set up and where we wanted Kikka to sit and we like "Uhh..." We were trying to adjust the lighting but there were little lights in the room. We ended up opening the curtains to let the light in and while we were doing that we heard a peppy voice saying "Onegaishimasu! Onegaishimasu!" and we were all like We didn't expect her to just walk right in like that. So we finally got situated, the camera guys surrounded the room. Luis was our main camera guy and I also took video (which I mentioned in the other thread that I lost it later that night. I had a great view of her too OTL) So on with the interview! We pretty much went through her career timeline from her MM audition to being a soloist. Her answers were very thought out and she was very composed. You can also see her genki personality shine through. And of course the best part was showing her the JPHiP sign and taking a photo with her. Afterwards, the Up Front guy took our names which I assumed he needed to get our photos/videos later but it was actually for Kikka to personally sign autographs for each of us! And it was a photo that wasn't for sale at her booth, so in other words...EXCLUSIVE! We didn't expect any of that. As we were leaving, Rei almost went out the room without her bag and got a giggle from Kikka. As we left the suite we were all like, "Did that just really happen?" We all had a moment, I know Slack did. Rei and I were won over. She just had that, as Slack put it, "magic" about her. We were so relieved that the interview went really well, that we were able to make it there on time and got all our questions were answered. Yaz was great too, she translated everything. We believe we are probably one of the few people to have an interview with her so it was definitely an honor.
So yeah, it was worth the hour long wait in traffic, I wasn't planning to go on Friday but I couldn't miss out on the interview. Once in a lifetime opportunity. :
8:30 to 11:30ish AM
Got up early to prepare for today. Got my cameras, packed lunch, and made my own special JPHiP shirt The spray instructions said it needed to dry for an hour but I was like whatever and just put it on over my air dry shirt. It still felt a little moist but at least it didn't smear.
11:30 to 1:15ish PM
Stuck in traffic >_< GA likes to do construction on their roads like all the time and this weekend decided to close 3 lanes, which made my 40 min trip to an 1:45 >_< and when I finally took the exit and saw the convention center and the mall across the street I just kept reminding myself that my old apartment is like less than 5 minutes away. Right behind that mall. That same mall where Kikka ate at the Cheesecake Factory. SMH Had I still lived there I would've allowed anyone to stay over and saved them from paying for a hotel. Although, my former roommates probably wouldn't like the idea.
1:15 to 3ish PM
I thought I was late for the autograph session cuz it started at 1 plus I had no idea where it was being held and had to ask at least 3 staff people that made me circle around the dealer booths area twice, until I finally found it in the far right corner. And there's Kikka signing autographs in her "Darling to Madonna" outfit! The line wasn't that long but it did curve around. I saw Slack a few people ahead of me and he showed me his two shot with Kikka and I was like "you're going in line again?" and he told me that others did it multiple times already. So I got her autograph 3 times. The first time she signed my CD that I struggled to get open, and got a pic with her. I asked her, "Genki desu ka?" and she replied back something I didn't understand. Then I went back a 2nd time and made her sign the heart on my shirt. She looked at it and then I did the jphip sign to her and said "JPHiP, watashi." and she was like "Oh!" and did the sign back to me. And then I ended up back in line a 3rd with Slack and got his CD booklet signed and took another pic with Kikka. BTW She smelled really nice, wonder what perfume she uses. Then I was like, "Ok, that's enough. Let's not bother her anymore." LoL So we kinda hung around her booth, there were some fans videoing her the whole time. At one point, I was on the side of her booth with her back facing me and Slack said that when she stands up to take pics with the fans getting her autograph that I should sneak some butt shots. And I did. Her autograph session actually went over her scheduled time so no one was turned away. Afterwards she got up from the table and went in front of her booth. She sort of did some weird poses while everyone took pics of her. Then we were all gathered together to take a group photo with her. I ended up in the front kneeling down. Then she told us to do this pose with her that looked like double fingered guns about to touch each other. Apparently she called it "One Love" (lol wut? ) [The group photo posted by the staff is the 2nd group photo from after her concert. ] Afterwards she hung around her booth, she made a sign promoting her concert on a sketchbook, danced to a Berryz Koubou PV playing on the TV (had video but some staff guy was in the way), she also spilled a box of glowticks on the floor and had the cutest derp face and I kicked myself for turning off my camera at that moment. LoL Then she pretty much went around to every dealer booth handing out flyers about her concert while a group of fans trailed behind her. I did for awhile but stopped after a few minutes. Then I lost Slack in the crowd.
3:30 to 4:45 PM
After losing Slack, I just went around the con by myself trying to locate the concert area, ate lunch, took pics of K-POP cosplayers Right around 4:15 I headed towards the concert area, the doors were open so people could just walk in and out of there. I peeked inside and saw that it wasn't that big at all, the size of a wedding reception/banquet hall. There were no chairs so people were standing or sitting down/leaning against the back wall. The artist before Kikka was still performing so I went inside to do some test shots with my camera. I was on the far left side of the stage right next to the speaker. I guess it's fortunate that I'm deaf in my left ear so the speaker didn't bother me too much. Soon afterwards Reichan and Luis found me and we got our cameras ready.
4:45 - 5:20 PM
Concert time! It actually started a little late but pretty much all the concert performances that day were back to back with little time to set up for the next performer. I saw all the Kikka wotas up front with their super bright yellow glowsticks and everyone chanted "Kikka, Kikka!" And then there she was. I think I've seen her so much that day it's like I already knew her for a long time. LoL She started with "Kokokara Hajimarunda!" (which is actually the first song I heard of hers when I decided to check her out). There were some audio problems where it got loud then got muted, but Kikka kept singing, and she was actually singing! No lipsyncing and she actually sings well live!
Koko kara Hajimarunda
Taan Taan Taan! (Milky Way)
Romantic Ukare Mode (Mikitty)
Daite! Hold On Me (MM)
Konna Watashi de Yokattara
Darling + Madonna
Kikkake wa YOU!
She performed the Milky Way song with her star tambourine, and afterwards to our surprise she started singing Miki's "Romantic Ukare Mode" and of course that's like the Wotagei anthem. They went crazy! We got to see the Over Action Dolphin by real wotas! Some of the general audience were either fascinated or freaked out by them. lol Shoot, I even stopped taking pics and joined in. After that was the old MM "Daite Hold On Me" and I thought that was a difficult song to sing, by yourself. Afterwards I wondered if that was a good idea to add those songs in there knowing that Kikka's not in H!P anymore. I mean the non fans probably didn't notice anyway and of course it brought back memories from us H!P fans. Then I realized that yeah it was ok to put those songs in because without MM, Kikka would not be where is she is right now. During her MC (which had no translator) she explained her humble beginnings from auditioning for MM, to being a part of H!P Eggs, and now soloist. So her concert was pretty much a timeline of her career, singing old to new songs. I'm sure Up Front strategized that. She sung a few more of her solo songs and lastly told everyone in English to come see at her booth after the concert. One of my favorite highlights of the concert, aside from Romantic Ukare Mode, was when Kikka took a sip of water and a wota shouted "O-mizu!" and Kikka was like "Hai! O-mi-zu! O-mi-zu!" and made the audience chant it with her. She's so cute.
I was freaking out in the beginning cuz all my shots were coming out blurry and I knew I was the only one out of us taking photos cuz Rei took some videos and Slack was fanboying with the wotas LoL So I looked over at the press guy next to me to see his camera and realized that I needed to fix the shutter speed of the cam. After that everything was good. All the shots were pretty much the same, there were no costume changes, just some action and close up shots from one angle. I wished I moved around some but I was enjoying the show too. Even though the venue was small I think there was a good turn out, it felt more intimate in a way since it wasn't huge. Even people who were in the back could still get a good view of the stage. And of course, without the wotas, the audience wouldn't have been so energetic.
5:20 to 6:20 PM
Kikka came back to her booth still genki as ever and signed more autographs. I bought her photoset to sign and Reichan gave her JPHiP's present. I told her "Konsaato, sugoi!" and she replied "Hontou ni?" and then I said "Tanoshii~" as in "It was fun" but she thought I asked her if she had fun so she replied "Un, (japanese words)" We ended up getting back in line again because Rei forgot to get a two shot with her, and I also made her sign her other photo from the photoset. I was like "Mou ichido~" and she was like "O-K" At that point I thought I went over my limit since I got her autograph 5 times that day The Up Front link guy was pulling people over to the side and interviewed them about their thoughts about the concert, I presume. Rei and I were like "Hey interview us too! We're fans too!" but he probably didn't because were sort of a "staff" and we had JPHiP logos on us, so it was like advertising. But he did talk to us and thanked us for our support. Then when it was time for her to leave we took a group photo again with another wacky pose and that was the one the staff posted on Twitter. Afterwards she was hanging around her booth again talking with this hyper lady who's probably from the staff. And then the moment I've been waiting for...Kikka did "Gangnam Style"!...for like a split second. Miss hyper lady was probably showing her. I saw it and was like zOMG! Why isn't my camera on???? I missed the opportunity but it was brief anyway I'm sure no one noticed. So yeah that was that.
Dinner & AFTER PARTY!
After that we were starving so I drove all of us to my side of town and ate at a Korean Tofu House with the karaoke place above it. Soon my fiance joined us and afterwards went to a bakery for desert and H-Mart which Rei enjoyed a lot. Then it was karaoke time! I enjoyed it A LOT since I can finally sing J-pop/K-pop songs with other people (other than my sisters) who know the songs too! We also went through 3 bottles of Korean wines My fiance later asked how do we all know the same Japanese songs. I think he missed the part where I told before I went to the con that I'm meeting people from a forum where we share a love for Japanese music
I mentioned in the other thread that I missed the Q&A because I came there too late and it was in another room other than the one specified in the schedule. I'm sure Slack attended.
Honestly, I didn't expect this to be that big of a deal. I got reeled in about getting into the con for free but mostly to meet fellow HiPsters. I knew I would be able to take pics and all but I didn't expect to be actually treated as "staff". The privilege was an honor and I thank Daigong for making it happen! You can see my dramatic change of thought in the con thread from being indifferent about Kikka to instant fan. Even if my fandom ends up shortlived at least I will always remember this weekend.
About AWA...I first heard of it 2 years ago when my cousin from TN mentioned on facebook that he was there, and I asked him why he didn't tell me he was in town. Then when I looked it up I realized it was 5 minutes from me, right there across the mall. I didn't think it was that big of a con because, as Slack mentioned in one of his videos, the old AWA site looked like something made by geocities. Well it is definitely a lot smaller than say, AX, for sure but it was still a good size. Perhaps the great thing about is that it's located right on the edge of Atlanta so there was no worry about traffic and the busy city. I always say "Better than Nothing." It's nice that there are things like this in my area and I don't have to travel far. So, good job, Georgia. Security wasn't as strict as AX, I mean Kikka walked freely around the con with no problems and fans weren't restricted from taking pics and videos of her (except at the concert). So fans were able to approach her in a nonrestricted and calm environment.
Lastly...I wanna thank Daigong again for hooking me up with the press badge, Rei-chan for rescuing me when I was trying to get my badge Rei's bf for being our main camera guy, Slack for his extensive knowledge of Kikka's career, the wotas for being a huge part of the concert experience, Yaz for being our translator, AWA for having a con in my home state, and of course, Kikka for being the reason all this happened!
I said to Slack and Rei that one day Kikka's gonna end up doing the JPHiP sign accidentally during a future photoshoot.
Btw, this is all written from memory after the con. Yay for my good memory! Pics and videos coming up!
All-girl super group Berryz Kobo is part of Hello! Project and consists of Saki Shimizu, Momoko Tsugunaga, Chinami Tokunaga, Maasa Sudo, Miyabi Natsuyaki, Yurina Kumai, and Risako Sugaya. As of now, they have 8 albums and 28 singles to their name.
On June 8th to 10th of 2012, the girls were invited as guests to New Jersey anime convention, AnimeNext, and performed an energizing concert as well as taking part in several other events!
During that weekend, your fellow h!psters, H.Pom, Ping, and Nizama were given the special opportunity to interview the seven wonderful girls!
Q: With your 8th year anniversary, you've grown a lot as a group. What area do you think you've grown the most in?
Risako: Personally, I was the slowest at remembering the dances, but now that it's been so long, I'm the faste--well, no I'm not the fastest, but I can remember the choreography quickly now.
Q: What do you think about the current "idol sengoku jidai"? And out of all the current idol groups (outside of H!P), who do you take the most interest in?
Momoko: That's right. Recently, there's been a lot of idols emerging from Japan and other countries, and people have been calling it the Idol Sengoku Jidai (The Warring States of Idols). But of course with the world's cutest Momochi in Berryz Kobo, we're aiming to take the top!
Q: It's been a year since you've last been here. What are the impressions of your US fans from last year and this year?
Yurina: Well, I couldn't really feel much of a difference between East coast and West coast fans, but if you were to compare against our Japanese fans, they're very--how do I say it--Japanese? Even though we're the ones who want to sing and communicate with them in English, they're the ones to sing with us in Japanese. And that really really gives us power. And their voices while cheering are a lot higher. So yes, we're very impressed and happy.
Q: What's more exciting : recording a new song or shooting a new pv and why ?
Maasa: Well, the thing is, we have to record the new song first or else we wouldn't have the PV to shoot. We start off with the director telling us how to sing it here and there during the song recording, create something good, and then record the PV. With the PV, we have to make sure our expressions and actions match that of the song. So it's the song plus our own movements that make shooting fun. So I think both are equal for me.
Q - Saki: Now that you are near the top of Hello! Project, what has changed in your duties and in yourself? Do you have any goals for H!P?
A: So far, we've had a lot of senpai, so we would work and grow by watching them from behind. But of course, we've had a bunch of kouhai enter recently as well, so we have to make sure we're good role models for them. Personally, I'm not good at lecturing people by words, so I want to be able to set an example by my actions.
Q - Momoko: Despite being the second eldest in the group, a lot of fans say you look like the youngest. Do you have a secret for still looking so young?
[Note: slight mistranslation when posing the question to Momoko. Eldest got translated to ć€ă (literally: old/aged/ancient)]
A: What's most important is that no matter how many birthdays I have, my feelings will eternally be those of a 17 year old's. Also, I'm not that old!
Q - Chinami: Please introduce Berryz Koubou in English!
A: Hello! We are...Berryz Kobo! Uh...member...seven. Many member! (laughs) Umm...number one idol group. Yoroshiku ne!
Q - Maasa: Disregarding age, who in Berryz do your consider your older and your younger sister? Are you the type who would spoil younger girls, like your character in Suugaku Joshi Gakuen?
A: Well in the drama, I was given this motherly sort of character who watched over three younger girls. Everyone already thinks of me as a motherly type within the group anyways, but I think I see Risako as the one I baby the most. When we used to do our radio show together, we were this kind of team. So Risako will always be my little sister/baby.
Q - Miyabi: What country would you like to visit for your next overseas concert?
A: I heard there's this country...country?...I think it's a country anyways, named Belize. And I thought it would be cool to hold a live there, like "Berryz in Belize" kind of thing. And it'd be really nice if we could shoot a PV there or do some other events too.
Q - Yurina: You did a cool commercial for Baseball Bear with a blood squirting lemon. Can you tell us any backstage happenings during filming?
A: Yeah, I got asked to do a commercial for a band named Baseball Bear. The looks of the commercial were pretty bizarre: like wearing a school uniform and biting into a lemon. And then this red liquid or blood would come out of the lemon. It's honestly a little scary looking but it really had an impact, image-wise. For shooting, it took a lot of outfit changes and retakes, but I'm really glad to have gained experience from shooting such an impactful commercial.
Q - Risako: You played great in Puyo Puyo Fever in an episode of Music Fighter before. Do you still play any video games in your free time?
A: When it comes to video games, Puyo Puyo Fever is my favorite. It started when my little brother was playing it, and I was free at the time too, so I joined in. I played against a comedian on TV before and won, and I've played a lot outside of that too. But yes, I think I won't lose to anyone in Puyo Puyo Fever. I'm strong!
Q: With all the new members in H!P these last 2 years, are there any particular kouhais you are attached to/are attached to you?
A - Risako: There are times when they're not so familiar with a certain dance, and will come to us and ask, but we actually haven't had much time to really get to know them on a personal level yet.
A - Miyabi: Since many of them joined not long ago, they're still iffy on the choreography and it's really cute. But since there are probably lots of younger girls to come, and with Berryz being the elders now, I want to be able to teach them a lot of different things. Of course they won't grow by only being called cute, so we'll be sure to be strict with them when we need to.
Thank you very much for your time!
- June 9, 2012
A big word of thanks to Yaz, Ezra, and Berryz staff for working with us and allowing this opportunity!
[Note: After the interview, we were able to clear up that we didn't mean to call Momoko old, and that it was a mistranslation. ]
Also, be sure to stay tuned in to this thread as we'll have the interview coming in video form soon!
daigong edit: added Berryz Kobo event photos (credit: Up-Front Agency), fixed apostrophes lol
Friday was the Stereopony concert in the evening followed by their first autograph session.
Concert Set List:
2. Blowinâ in the Wind
3. I am a Hero
MC â AIMI (introductions)
4. Hana Hiraku Oka
5. Chiisana Mahou
6. Super Girl
SHIHO drum solo
7. effective line
8. Itâs a Wild World
MC â SHIHO
9. Tsukiakari no Michishirube
11. stand by me
12. Namida no Mukou
MC â AIMI
13. I do it
14. Viva La Viva La
15. Hoshikuzu Kantera
MC â AIMI
16. Hitohira no Hanabira
I met several fans that came from all over. Several members of verygoodays.com were there and helped me out being a noob to the Stereopony world.
Saturday: Q&A, autograph session 2 and press meeting
the Q&A was fun, the bassist got a marrage proposal(she actually said yes jokingly) and someone else challenged her fiance for the right for her hand.