Eventing 2018

[Updated Oct 18: The hole of my bank account, etc…]

This is a blog post that will keep track of the nerd events I’m attending in 2018. It will be updated over time to add/delete and update the status of the events I plan to attend or have attended. If you’re going to one of these, feel free to let me know ahead of time. You can find last year’s log post here.

In 2018 I think I’m just going to be kind of vague, since YOLO’ing the past 2 years has kind of caught up. There are some stuff I’d like to go and see/participate but a lot of maybes are really in play. Just going to throw them down as guidelines.

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Japan Trip Dec 2018

I’m not sure what to write about in regards to my recent trip to Japan. I did it mostly because of CG 6th in Nagoya Dome and Wake Up, Girls! Final Tour in Iwate, but I tried to use that JR Pass power for tourism purposes in the days between the two lives. It also occurred to me that I went to Japan way too many times this year, in a way that I have to date my trip by the month that it happened in, not not just by the Year or Quarter even.

I traveled quite a bit compared to my usual weekend jaunts, so I had some thinking time as I sat on the Shinkansen. They are marvelous aren’t they? I saw the Hayabusa and Komachi detach at Morioka and the nose cones of the two trains transform and cover up the latches. This kid behind me even went “Shinkalion da!” I was able to take an overnight train from Okayama to Tokyo. I finally got to see the Seto Inland Sea as I rode on a bus around Mihara. I had okonomiyaki in Hiroshima. And primarily, I was able to finally visit a Japanese car museum.

Of all the things Japan is known for in the world, I want to believe Japanese cars are the most renowned things. Before weirdness, sushi, ninjas or anime, there are these heavy machineries that made everyday life possible for 100s of millions of people across the world. It’s like when I was watching Jack Ryan I see how the rich terrorists drove Land Cruisers and the poor ones are in Tacomas. Joke aside, Toyota is the number one car company in the world, and that is saying something. Something that probably summarises the totality of the post-atom-bomb Japan, its economic recovery, and the role it plays in the world today.

So it was nice to go back in time and see the humble beginnings of these modern marvels. It’s almost like flaunting when the Toyota automotive technology museum in Nagoya proper featured all these textile manufacturing stuff for maybe a third of the place. After all, that’s how Toyota got started, making textile manufacturing hardware? I guess you can always visit their main campus for the full blown tour but I did not have the time. I spent a couple hours before the live in Nagoya looking at a giant metal press, or how relatively small a Prius’s battery is compared to the skate-style batteries in newer BEVs. There were a lot of neat little things if you are into cars, and even more if you aren’t, as the whole facility tends to target a more general and youthful audience.

I was more emotionally connected to the Mazda factory tour. You get an English language guided tour of the much smaller museum space in Hiroshima but also their primary assembly line. It totally reminded me my last car, which was also built in Hiroshima–the only place MX-5s are built, if not the only assembly line. The Mazda company takes up like a quarter of the city out there in Hiroshima, sprawling complexes of ports, warehouses, factories, schools, dorms, hospitals, gyms, you name it. It’s still the boonies, but it was something the locals prided themselves on. There are buses of school children at the tour as well.

It was pretty cool watching a MX-5 put together and I shed a single tear. Which was one more tear than I shed at CG 6th. I mean, it’s not that small, agile, fun-to-drive fandom it used to be, as this joke goes.

Cinderella Girls 6th Live was a visual spectacle. Having seen a couple lives inside the home of the Seibu Lions, Metlife Dome frankly, well, sucks, in comparison. Metlife Dome is a bad venue, despite the innovative (and ecologically neat) semi-open design, as if a UFO phased into the Japanese hillside. Nagoya Dome was much better. I really liked the acoustics, despite having to deal with outfield bucket seats. The full dome roof also made the visuals less weird, I guess.

There are a lot of things I could say about CG 6th, but I was glad to be able to see TriPri being powerful and how “AAAAAARu” Field chains into Nagareboshi Kiseki. I really enjoyed Treasure, and it’s fun seeing Kirarin Robo in the metaphorical flesh. And villain Acchan with a frying pan. There are also a lot of bellies there for some reason. I’m glad I was able to participate in a pretty good event and fulfill my dumb promise I made at AX.

I really should talk about WUG Iwate and Morioka separately, as the totality of that visit is kind of one thing all together. So I will do just that.

There were other minor objectives I had in mind on this trip. One of them is to stay at the “famous” Economy Backpacker Hotel New Koyo. Located in Minami-Senju, this place is not what I’d recommend you stay at unless you are okay with living in a run-down dorm, as it is what it is for 2900 JPY a night. I think the only real reason to stay there is that it is cheap and the staff speak English. There are similarly priced single-room hostels that don’t look completely like a dump, and maybe even closer to the station, for a bit more in rent. Cheap business hotels are maybe starting at 5000 JPY. OK, the real reason is I know all too many people who stayed there, so I wanted to see how things are like.

I also tried remotely working while in Japan. It only works somewhat–I really need to have a desk and a chair, as it is tough staying awake when you’re sitting on the bed the whole time. I do a lot of meetings so it necessitates me being awake during Japan’s sleeping hours. New Koyo isn’t really meant for that, and maybe I’ll try again at a proper hotel next time.

Another thing I had done on this trip is take an overnight bus. Japanese buses are kind of interesting, as now I have taken all the basic varieties from the mass transit version, the shuttle version, the tourist bus version, and now the overnight sleeper which comes with a bathroom. I splurged a bit and took a 3-in-a-row type bus which meant you had basically a premium econ plane seat to yourself. It’s sort of unusual to see this in the US, if ever. I took the bus mainly because it was the only way to get to Tokyo in time for my morning flight out, coming from Morioka.

Destination-wise, besides the automobile museums in Nagoya and Hiroshima, I dropped by Takehara as the one anime pilgrimage spot. The trip is complicated because flooding and typhoon earlier in the year took out the Kure line, meaning the only other way via JR Pass to Takehara is a bus from Mihara station. Alternatively I could have taken the direct bus from Hiroshima but that costs about a thousand yen one way. Mihara station itself is interesting, as a local Shinkansen stop, as it’s also built on top of a castle ruin. The bus drove along the coast to Mihara, so it had a scenic side effect despite making that side trip much longer.

In terms of events, I also attended Machico’s solo live on 12/1 in Yokohama, as well as a mini-album release event at HMV Shibuya for Komagata Yuri, in addition to the aforementioned live events. In retrospect I definitely could have packed on more, but it was already quite a lot.

A lot of the time this trip I was doing solo traveling, which was refreshing given my prior trip in September. On my last tourist trip to Japan, I was basically in a tour bus the whole time, living on a schedule dictated by the tour company. It was fun and eye-opening, but restrictive. This was more just whatever-I-want but the quality of the trip is as good as the homework that I did ahead of time. I guess if you could, why not do both?

PS. On my way out of Japan, I took a Monday 10am flight from Haneda to JFK. While waiting to board I spotted the famous video game developer Kojima Hideo, in line for first class. I can never be sure of these things but it did turn out to be him, confirmed by his tweets later in the week.


Anime NYC 2018: Wrap

So the weekend before last weekend was Anime NYC 2018 at the Javitz, Friday till Sunday. I was there only for Friday and Saturday. This year I was fortunate enough to get a day off to go do all the Friday things. I opted out Sunday because I wanted to sleep in and did not really care that much for what the con offered.

I think this is what the con feels like this year, in that there are a lot of stuff the first two days, and just an average amount of stuff on Sunday. From what I can tell, the industry showed up en force, and there were very few fan panels accepted. The dealer room is much bigger, and the panel rooms are properly in the lower halls now. I didn’t even see where the game room was.

There were spaces used to line people up this time, as well as a bag check system for people going in and out of the exhibit hall area. The bag check expanded to the autographing and panel area on Saturday.

The big Anisong World Matsuri concerts were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom down 34th. It’s a bit of a hike but I think the venue is a good fit. VIP badgers had standing seat up front and they even set up barriers for them, so they aren’t pressured by the plebs. I think that is a good move, probably partly because the shows didn’t sell out so this will gap the crowd for better optics. That said, the show sold pretty well, most of the floor did fill up and so did the first level balcony. They could probably have opened the second level and charged a lower price and fill that up too.

The word was, there was a press event on Friday’s dealer room opening part where some local politician announced 11/16 to be some kind of anisong day? And you can see how they sold 2000 or so tickets on Saturday. Friday was less.

For some reason I was in the dealer’s room for a total of 20 minutes all weekend, so I didn’t really have time to walk it (spent most of it watching N’s set).

This year, ANYC has a “Mega” badge system which gave these premiere fans the following perks: priority entry to the con, priority entry to the exhibit hall, priority entry to main events, first presale of tickets for AWM, and some at-con loot and discounts. The mega badge was north of $300, and coming into it, the value prop was not there. Now that we survived ~36000 attendees, it was indeed worth it mainly because of autograph camping. The way autograph worked for ANYC is similar to NYAF/early NYCC, where attendees camp the opening of the con for ticket handout. Since Mega people always get in first, they are basically guaranteed any given ticket. At the con Friday there were ~180 Megas in line, and I think the autograph ticket pile was roughly 100-200 tall, not sure. All the tickets lasted beyond the Mega group and plebs in front were able to get some.

Only if Anime Expo was like this, huh.

The con is still just a 3-day affair. This meant spending some time in line to camp for autographs (as tickets are not guaranteed if it ran over time), and some in line for AWM day 1. I got a regular balcony seat for day 2 so I could just go to my assigned seat, but day 1 I ended up somewhere middle and near the front, about 3 or 4th row back.

AWM was just as you would expect in Hammerstein, and as you would expect given this cast list. Day 1 was more or less very predictable, with exception maybe just the sheer number of collab and the fact that everybody sang with everybody else. I am still slightly awestruck with Nano’s rendition of Invoke with Luna. It really is like TMR until she dialed it back from karaoke mode a tad.

Sparkling daydream between TRUE and Konomin? That’s crazy talk. Born to Be was neat. It puts Don’t Be Lazy and God Knows in place. Aquarion is probably still the best tone setter, to begin the show that way.

Personally Luna’s set hits 100/100 for me, especially NYC version of Momoiro Typhoon right off the bat. I think the rest of the show kind of just melted around that. Nano’s was more miss than hit, but I know more songs than I expected? The way the show ended made sure it went over well as everyone do their big hit with Luna kind of wrapping it up.

For uchiage Friday, we had pizza near NYPenn, and it was swell. I decided to crash at a friend’s to shorten the camping for the day after.

The morning after, we split an uber from JC directly to the Javitz, and camped out at around 6am. I was like the first 10 people in the Mega line, while my friends are in the first 90 or 80 in the reg? It’s not super clear because at some point people did kinda cut. There was this young woman in front of me freezing her Florida butts off in the frosty West Side wind. It’s Javitz, so it’s windy and dreary, and she wore jeans and a shirt over her cosplay, which was even less covering. Eventually she survived with a bit of help, but that is not a look you want to be in at this con in the morning line.

This con is just a 3-day con, so all the AWM Saturday guests did stuff Friday at the con, and AWM Friday guests did stuff Saturday, which meant I ended up doing all that Saturday plus a session with Range Murata to rep his new book published by Denpa, the new manga pub launched by Ed. I think in the end I was in line for autographs most of the day as a result. I also had to camp the AWM autograph line to start-dash into the Fate event. Main achievement there was to get True to sign Hanazakari Weekend amirite.

The con is still just a 3-day affair. This meant the Saturday Fate event (which you had to buy a ticket to go see I think) was smack middle of a bunch of AWM things. Anyway, I went in late and skipped a lot of the random chat part for the dub team. I caught some sneak views of the Heaven’s Feel part 2 trailer and then, Aimer.

It was good, but sudden. Aimer did her normal schtik, with just a keyboard accompaniment. It was over all too soon. The loot given out for S-tier tickets ($60) was back at reg in which I had to beat the rush to get to camp Trigger autographs? LOL. The Fate event packed out well so the crowd and start-dash was real. I was literally the 7th person in line and Koyama switched over to Mako only right when I got up, so there you have it.

At the Saturday AWM show, which was just an hour after the Trigger autograph (took 35 minutes, then 10 for me to fast walk to the venue, which left me enough time to buy a drink), we had fun sitting and cheering from the balcony. It was definitely the right call.

(Click on the tweet to see full set list in the thread)

I was pretty floored by some of these song choices. Both ways. On one hand I’m sure a handful of people in that room even knows some of these, myself not included. Sagittarius was godly, with Shokotan doing the vocals. Morning Musume ’18 and Kageyama’s Love Machine though? That is some incredibly rare thing. The collabs were as crazy as we thought they were, as well as just bonkers in that specific case.

Morning Musume did bring the crowd and it was fun and fine. The VIP section for Saturday was not as packed but there were more people in the audience, so that’s nice. Shoko’s songs were well received, better than Dani’s anyway. Kageyama more or less played the most iconic stuff I think, complete with his The Real Folk Blues guitar cover. GO! was a good pick to start it up, and obviously we had to sing Cruel Angel Thesis with this very 3d group, but wrapping up with some JAM-y songs is nice.

But really, Kageyama doing Love Machine with MM18? He’s like 3x the age of the group mean, and that song is like, 18 years old too? LOL. It was great laughs.

We did a bigger uchiage after AWM Saturday, and that was it for me.

I keep on saying this is a 3-day con, mainly to make the point that a lot was happening and it would be hard to do everything that you wanted to do. I gave up on seeing much of the dealer’s room, and only stopped by the DJ booth for 20 minutes on Friday over at Lumica. Lumica had some more wotagei masters and DJs this time too. Well, not to mention the rest of the Exhibit Hall. This is what I missed on Sunday by not going to the con, I guess.

I’m not sure I’m ready for ANYC to become a 4-day event, but if it gets bigger, it’s inevitable. I do wish ANYC to become a con that’s on par with AX, just so we can have more AWM type events and bigger JP draws. But I also don’t know if I want to pay the full cost of that, both monetarily and in effort/dealing with camping. Well, if it brings all the boys and girls to the yard, maybe that’s okay. ANYC is also fairly fan-panel free this year, which might be a reason why it’s just 3 days long. Having more days will positively help some aspects of the con, but it’ll likely raise prices for regular attendees and the like, and I’m not sure if this con can justify it just yet.

Overall? This is what peak condition NYAF looks like, or ANYC now that it’s back on track. AWM was a good get, but there were a lot of room for improvement: it didn’t sell out at all, and the production value is a bit lacking. The lineup is also not that good, sorry Dani and random oldie robot anisong lovers. MM is a good get but an odd pairing, nothing wrong with it, just unusual. The con was run smoothly enough; line management more or less was there. The staff count was right largely. The snow didn’t derail much from the con, just a hassle for attendees and staff alike. Overall things worked out well, even the overpriced Mega ticket system.

The real problems I see are all structural or because Javitz kinda sucks for consumer-style cons location-wise, and we can’t do much about those things. So let’s bring it on next year, I guess.


Importing Japanese Eventing Culture: Chara Expo USA 2018

In my red-eye-flight induced state of mind, Chara Expo USA is very much like your standard Japanese expo event where the day begins the night before, as you and your group figure out if you want to camp overnight or not. Or maybe if you did, you are now figuring out how you can do it in the least painful way. If you didn’t, Chara Expo is a con where you go in and see the stuff, and there were stuffs, and you can maybe buy a thing or two.

If you did, which is most people who are going to be participating events, as events at the show often have limited tickets that you need to enter. There was a stage set up in which people with event tickets can enter, and people without tickets can stand along the outside barrier and see the event. For people experienced with Japanese anime/manga/industry/doujinshi events, this should seem kind of familiar.

In order to get any of the priority things or event tickets or autograph tickets, while supplies last, you need to get into the line to buy the things to get said tickets or priority things. In order to get into the line before too many other people are in the line ahead of you, you need to camp the entry, outside. This is why Chara Expo always start the night before.

Unlike the rest of the Japanese media mix expo experience that Chara Expo USA brought to us, we were missing the line management piece. Which isn’t to say the lines were bad–once you enter the premises, the lines were well-managed. The goods checkout process for the main booth was smooth and fast. You got the tickets as they should and people were generally very good about that. The autograph line was a little messy but since it was all ticketed, it doesn’t even matter. What was missing was the prevention of that big, bad, nasty night battle that resulted from the lack of line management for the line to get into the event. There were some; part of it from fans, others from some staff who did set up and lead the lines. What was missing was any enforcement of cutting, or even just farming the line so it is orderly and in columns.

In Japan, staffers will at least set up areas where you can park your gear and save your space. It basically removes the ability for people to “hold spots” because you were assigned a spot as you enter the queue. It isn’t just a disorderly line, and more often than not there will be barriers to mark your areas from intrusion. We needed that badly. That was almost half the time I spent at Chara Expo–outside or around the area where people were lining up.

With that whine out of the way, Chara Expo USA is basically an exhibition of a lot of Bushiroad stuff, and their associated connections which pulls in some Japanese vendors (mostly local) and cultural stuff, like this guy named Okazu who does sumi-e paintings. He did a live demo, and had a gallery up. Swallowtails set up a popup shop if you enjoy your butlers. I am at least curious. The crew of 4(?) also took turns doing karaoke at a public stage for community acts.

The usual industry partners were there too, like Aniplex and GSC both had booths. Animate USA had a booth. HiDive was there to shill Revue. I saw Cospa. There are some that I missed I’m sure. There is also the expected card game section of Chara Expo where Jungle was situated.

I was there mostly for the Big Autograph Session both days, plus the music performances both days. On Saturday it was a mini live by three members of Poppin’ Party and then the BanG Dream session band Raise A Suilen. On Sunday it was Roselia. Autograph-wise, I was interested in generally a lot of them, although outside of Aimi, Kudou Haruka and Nakashima Yuki, I had more of just a passing curiosity. It’s also an opportunity to explore some new talents, let’s just say.

Due to the 3-ticket-per-person-per-run constraint, I managed 3 autographs on day 1 (I watched RAS outside the barriers) and 2 on day 2 (Roselia seat chuusen was a good move I think). I’ll run through each of the “sub events” here.

Day 1 Autograph 1: Koyama Momoyo looked the part of a stage actress even in this setting. I said I went to see her and she is really cool on stage. Not sure if all of it came through. Got a thanks and got ushered out pretty fast. The autograph process was fairly streamlined and they had 4 staffers at each one to manage things. That’s 1-2 more than typical. It’s pretty amusing to balance Momoyo’s cute look and the fact that she plays this happy dolt that has to be cool during those climatic scenes. I selected her mainly because I wanted to see her up close and kind of get an idea of her mannerism, especially since she’s not really the seiyuu type.

Day 1 Autograph 2: Kudou Haruka looked every part like Kudou Haruka. It’s been like a decade since I first saw her from Noein bonus videos, but she still struck me in a way the same as she used to. She’s even doing a photo book which is coming out soon. I guess now I am more familiar with her from Instagram? I told her about how I enjoy her IG and got ushered out. Too fast. During the lineup for this, the pro wrestling stage was going on so it was very deja vu of Anime North. I saw Jushin Liger? You can definitely tell the skill level of these NJPW types are at least pro level. Also at the same time was the Popipa stage so I was watching whatever left of that that I could.

Day 1 Autograph 3: Nakashima Yuki was cute and had that chika-idol-turned-major countenance. Did I say she was cute? She is very cute. I told her I will be going to Cinderella Girls Nagoya and she told me see you later as I got ushered out. Nice touch. You can really tell which one of these people know and do the work-the-fan thing, and those who are just doing it because they have to. Well, they all had to LOL.

Raise A Suilen live: I stood on the right side of the event space outside the barricaded area. It was still quite close to stage left and that is where Riko stood. Even Raychell, who was basically cemented in the middle [by that, I mean, “POSITION ZERO”], was pretty close as I was about half way up from the stage. It was pretty rock. Compared to the handful of Japanese girl bands that I’ve seen perform, you can actually tell these players are pretty good at what they’re doing, but there was definitely a feeling that they are a session band. I was mostly impressed with Raychell and Natsume, although once Riko started to kick-skanking while jamming that was really neat to see. Idol dance kicks while playing is definitely a worthy burst appeal. Somehow Reo’s performance head play was more weird than wow, though. Seeing Kohara Riko on guitar was a lot of fun and a definite discovery. She was in the unit formed to sing for Sket Dance and that meant I listened to a lot of her singing during those days. She’s also in some Happy Elements idol thing, which a fun guy told me about, LOL.

Day 2 Autograph 1: Otsuka Sae is basically a WYSIWYG kind of girl, so it seemed. Her outfit that day reminds me of something I saw on Aimi’s IG… Anyways. I told her she was really cool the day before while playing the guitar, and while it’s a casual complement it’s close to what I like the most about her. When she “does” it on stage there’s this wild flash in her eyes right before she turns it on. I tried to get all 3 guitarists on the second day for autographs, but as Aimi sold out almost right away. I ended up getting the Roselia show ticket as consolation prize.

Day 2 Autograph 2: Koharu Riko is for the most part a brand new person. I did see the footage of “The Third (kakkokari)” during the delayed viewing earlier this year but seeing her in person was another issue entirely. She is also very cute and she has that chika idol glow as well. It’s not as strong as Yukki’s but her getup was just adorable that day. She wore a bundle at the top of her head (see also: Yurucamp). A big reason why I was there was to hang out with other Koharu Riko appreciators, as I am not quite one.

BONUS: Day 2 Vanguard Talk Stage: I sat in to this event kind of after it has already started, maybe more than half way through. It was a free event and a lot of people sat in to camp for the Revue stage afterwards in the same main events space. Anyway, I was tired and wanted to rest, and there were seats here. Also, Aimi was there, along with Morishima Shuuta and Maeda Seiji. I know nothing of Vanguard, so I took some joy when Aimi drew DA PUMP when the USA question came up, and kind of dozed.

Starlight Review stage: It was a talk show where the cast member introduces the show and characters to the crowd. Oh, Lisle was running all the talk stages in her usual style, although it being scripted completely helps to balance her style a lot. Maybe that’s why she does things that way? Anyway, Mimo, Momoyo and Aiai did their thing. They were also showing dub clips of stuff from the anime and featured a few highlight clips (and one spoiler I guess). They also showed some clips from the first musical. I was pretty tired from camping overnight two nights in a row so I basically sat in the stage area before it started to take a power nap. Since this event wasn’t ticketed people were just camping in there. The talk stages had varying amount of audience members inside the main event area. Most of the time it was sparsely attended, but Revue had the most people not counting the ticketed events. It was totally full in fact, and some people were standing inside the blocked off area.

The questions asked at these stage events are kind of worse-than-softball filler questions, but for some of them they are closer to the standard seiyuu nama stuff, where they might have to draw something or whatever. For Revue the focus was more on explaining what they were doing.

Roselia live: In a lot of ways this was the main event at Chara Expo USA. Roselia as a group is by far the most popular thing in BanG Dream in Japan, and I think it’s also true in the States. People were scalping (buying) the seriken (I’m just going to use this term to describe the event ticket, because that’s specifically what it is) even, despite the obvious fact you can watch the show from afar for free. They even pulled out a random seating process out of their butts last minute, to not conflate the people camping priority of the seriken with people camping the area outside main events (so they can be up along the barrier). It’s pretty neat–although usually in Japan they just number the seriken for that reason.

I didn’t even know this but the word did get out in the grapevine. There were about 300 seats in the event space, and there were maybe another 200-300 people standing to watch the show. I guess they could have added more chairs last minute or something. Anyways, we (seriken holders) were filed in by staffers about an hour before the event. Then as we are being admitted in a single file, we draw a number from a big box (probably used in a stage event?) which has a number from 1 to 300 on it. Then we go sit in a seat with the same number. Two staffers in the event space helped usher people to their seats. It did not take long to do this, since there were only 300 people, and everyone lined up early or just about. Being the last major event in the show also meant not much else was going on at the time I guess. Anyways this was rather neat way to use RNG to settle something people could spend hours camping on, and it felt like a good tradeoff.

I had slightly above average luck on seating (#147), but bad luck in general because while I had a center-center seat, the guy directly in front of me was about 6 inches taller. Welp.

The show started promptly–given that every event on Saturday was delayed by 20-30 minutes, they preemptively moved everything by 30 minutes on Sunday. We got the full visual-kei-animu treatment with the band members walking in, and from then on it was history.

I can’t find a setlist off hand, but they did play their newest song and it’s largely based on Roselia’s live last weekend, where the new keyboardist was introduced and played 3 songs.

AND OMG SHE SHOWED UP AS A SURPRISE GUEST AT CHARA EXPO USA. She also played 3 songs.

They were pretty ham about this, considering they had to roll in a platform with all the keys and stuff. The full show was still just an hour long, so we miss much of the MC in exchange for just a lot of hype songs in quick order. When Aiai talked less she seemed more cool than she really was. Anyways, Aiai and the cast let in the clue in a few phrases, and people went crazy because there weren’t much time between our minds registering and seeing the crew moving in the hardware.

The new character voice for Rinko is Shizaki Kanon. She was super nervous at the show–it was totally on her face. It didn’t help that we are a bunch of American kids, and she barely speaks any English. It didn’t help that there were some EQ issue with her rig during her first song. It certainly did help that people went nuts with her surprise appearance and she got more limber as the show went on. It also feels like she has that AKB48 new idol vibe. Maybe it’s just what a nervous young woman looks like?

Anyways, the set and the song and the crowd and the sound all were fairly good. I was a bit concerned about the sound at the venue, but it turned out to be just fine for something like Roselia. And they are basically every bit as fun in a big dome as they are in a smaller space inside a convention hall. It was probably two-thirds showmanship and one-thirds the music driving the story, with Aiai as its conductor. Shimayukki, Megucchi and Kudoharu are the supporting priestesses who pay respects to the fakest of fake rock music, and it works. I mean, I have to give it to her–y’all know I’m into the other 3 (or 4, since new person is new, and very shy LOL) more than I am into her, but I find my eyes drift back onto her because she literally was working as the focus of each set.

On the last day of Chara Expo there was a mikoshi going around. It feels in a way the same as Roselia’s orientation at an exo-cultural event like Chara Expo USA. I’m just glad we got the right crowd and the right sizing and, most importantly, Bushiroad did not half-ass their effort to bring Roselia’s A-game to the USA.

PS. I’m going to Anime NYC and AWM both days. RIP sleep. But do come & say hello.


Okui Masami 25th & HAPPY END Live “Celebration”

Okui Masami is a major figure in the anisong industry, mainly because she was one of the backbone persons during the early King Record/Starchild days. She is directly the senpai of Mizuki Nana and she has kind of cemented things once she joined JAM Project. She also started her own record label and done various other things behind the scene over the years. Today she still produces, writes music and provide chorus and “lead tracks” for various anisong, outside of her solo and JAM Project work. Well, it would be better said that she has done a lot over the years, and nowadays she has largely moved onto doing JAM Project type stuff.

As I say this, even while as a member of JAM Project, she has a lot of solo activity. Or rather, as a fan of her since her pre-JAM days, her solo activities never really stopped cold, in my opinion. It definitely has slowed down, she’s taken breaks, but unlike many of the other old guys in JAM Project, she has a full original solo album out, which is quite rare. Well, I say old guys, but she turned 50 years old this year, so just about everybody in that group is getting up there.

A solo live is also quite rare for Okui Masami nowadays. She no longer tours, and most appearances are in festival style. This live is the first solo live she has had in two and a half years, or since 2016 March. Why not go, I thought.

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