madara_blog (madara_blog) wrote,
madara_blog
madara_blog

Ten Years of Fandom – A Personal Album

Berryz Kobo Rika 1 Berikyu 2

Last Saturday, August 29, 2015, marked the tenth anniversary of my becoming a fan of Morning Musume and Hello! Project. I celebrated by doing a four-hour karaoke session with other fans at Duet 35 in Manhattan. I opened the session by breaking out a portable DVD player and running the first few numbers of the concert that marked my first exposure to these groups, the “Hello! Project 2004 Winter~C'MON! Dance World~,” at which Natsumi Abe graduated from Morning Musume. The others present hadn’t seen this concert before. It was an attempt to recreate that thrill of discovery that I first experienced ten years ago. The first three numbers in the concert were “Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart~” (Morning Musume Otomegumi), “Hare Ame Nochi Suki” (Morning Musume Sakuragume), and “Go Girl (Koi no Victory)” (Morning Musume). We did two of the three (“Ai no Sono” and “Go Girl”) during the session. (For some reason, all my attempts to call up “Hare Ame Nochi Suki” on Duet 35’s machine failed.)
IMG_1383

IMG_1386

To celebrate the ten years of fandom on this blog, I decided to piece together an album of highlights from this period, from meetups with fans to meeting with Hello! Project performers themselves, along with a few surprises. Compiling these photos took me more time than I thought it would, hence the delay of a week. First I’d like to start with some of the key moments from the 2004 concert that emblazoned themselves on my consciousness after that first viewing and made me an instant fan.

The seven girls of Otomegumi rush out onto stage for “Ai no Sono (Touch My Heart)”:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h08m30s188
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h08m51s160

The seven girls of Sakuragumi make a quieter entrance for “Hare Ame Nochi Suki”:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h13m04s121

Ai-chan cries during a line:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h14m59s234

All come together for “Go Girl (Koi no Victory)”:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h16m56s136

Nono’s burst of exhilaration crystallized the sheer joy I felt watching them, something I hadn’t experienced in American pop music in decades:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h17m16s91

Later in the concert:
“Ai Araba It’s All Right”:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h27m02s52

MM’s individual shoutouts to the audience:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h34m50s133

“Souda! We’re Alive”:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h43m43s83
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h41m26s242

Nono breaking down during Nacchi’s graduation ceremony:
vlcsnap-2015-09-01-21h48m17s4

Cut to July 2009 and Anime Expo in L.A., where I finally got to meet the girls, at least the ones who were still in the group at the time (only five of whom were had been in the 2004 concert), and interview them for Otaku USA—and present a signed copy of my book, Anime Classics Zettai, to them:
IMG_0016

And I also got to meet former member Hitomi “Yossi” Yoshizawa that trip and interview her as well:
IMG_0047

And I got to meet a large number of other fans, mostly from MM-BBS, many of whom I’ve formed friendships with and have seen at subsequent gatherings. Where possible, I'll include their real names if I remember them, and their MM-BBS names if I don't.
IMG_0068
(L-R: Andrew, Jocelyn, Kathleen, Santiago, Steve, me, Sherrily, Lee, Maximilian)

Later that year, I got to meet a second member of 4th Gen, Ai Kago, when she came to the New York area as part of a promotion for a Japanese phone service.
Mitsuwa 076
IMG_7226

And I got to meet more fans that day:
IMG_7232
(Charles, Henry, Josh, and Holly are in there, but I don't remember the names of the others.)

In June 2010, we got to see Ai Kago again when she came to Japan Day in Central Park to participate in a recreation of a parade of a visiting Japanese delegation to New York in 1860 (150 years earlier) and to sell T-shirts for some cause.
“Aibon!”
IMG_9603
IMG_9700
IMG_9703
IMG_9690
(Josh, Holly and I each bought a T-shirt.)

The very next night Kago did a number at Birdland as part of Jim Caruso’s Cast Party. She performed “How High the Moon” and we got to see it. I talked to her afterwards outside the club. A brief conversation in English, but what a wonderful experience.
IMG_9726
IMG_9733

Later in 2010, we got to see Ai Kago perform a full concert, mostly American jazz standards, at Webster Hall in Manhattan.
IMG_1141

A group of us went and I managed to “ninja” some photos during the final numbers:
IMG_1130
IMG_1139
IMG_1144
(Josh, Kiki, Holly and me)

Later in 2010, we got to see Rika Ishikawa at New York Comic Con, where she came in her “Angry” guise, from the duo “Hangry & Angry,” an act she did with Yossi. I got to interview her there as well, making her the third member of 4th Gen I’ve been privileged to meet. (Oh, when oh when can I meet Nono?!”)
IMG_1427
IMG_1626

And I got to hang with other fans some more and meet some new ones.
IMG_1435
IMG_1671
IMG_1674
(That's Kristi with Josh, Holly and me in the top picture; Alice on the left and Ivonne on the right in the middle picture and I don't remember the name of the girl in the middle; Christina and Imani in the bottom pic.)

Berryz Kobo came to Seattle in April 2011 and I missed that one. On MM-BBS, in the build-up to that event, Shinukyo (Justin) declared that “If Madara doesn’t go to Seattle, surely the world will come to an end.” Japan was hit with a tsunami and earthquake just a couple of weeks later, on March 11, 2011. If only I’d listened to Shinukyo.

Luckily for me, Berryz came to New Jersey in June 2012. I got to interview them and take a picture, as well as see their concert.
IMG_0030
IMG_9911
IMG_9872
IMG_0055

I also got to renew friendships with other fans, seeing some for the first time since 2009, and make friends with new ones.
IMG_9975
IMG_9842
(L-R: Steve, Al, Kathleen, Carly, Justin and me)
IMG_9999
Eric displays his "Miyabi" tattoo and the signed picture he got from the girls. Miyabi called his tattoo "impressive," when I asked her about it.

During all this time, the fans were getting together for Wota Parties and Karaoke sessions:
IMG_9835
IMG_2730
IMG_8630
IMG_7016
(New people in this last photo: Aiko, Michael and Vince.)

Doing “Bokura ga Ikiru My Asia” at Duet 35:
IMG_6977

In July 2014, I went to Paris to see Berryz Kobo and C-ute perform together at Japan Expo. I got to interview them and take pictures with them.
IMG_0739-001
IMG_0736-001
IMG_0737-001
IMG_0738-001

Here are pix I took at their signing sessions:
IMG_0155-001
IMG_0091-001
IMG_0108-001
IMG_0117-001

And pix I took at the concert:
IMG_1058
IMG_0358
IMG_0382
IMG_0763
IMG_0885
IMG_0564

I made new friends in Paris and even did one song with them in karaoke at Japan Expo, “Love Machine.”

Melina (Meikochi from MM-BBS):
IMG_0510-001
IMG_0525-001

The last big event was in October 2014 when Morning Musume ‘14 came to New York to give a concert. No interview this time, but I attended the concert and a huge Hello! Party for fans.
IMG_2925
IMG_2994-001
IMG_3047-001
IMG_3084-001
IMG_3124-001

I renewed old friendships and started some new ones:
IMG_3179-001
IMG_3183-001
IMG_2888
IMG_2899
IMG_3181-001
IMG_2797
(Clockwise from top left: Jocelyn, John, Kat, Mimi, Elaine, Jacob)

An MM-BBS member spotted me before the concert and recognized me from pix I posted on the board and stopped to ask, “Are you Madara?” I love when that happens. Anne from Ottawa, aka Saicoink:
IMG_2950-001

And, finally, here are pix from last Saturday’s karaoke session:
IMG_1367
(L-R: Tom, Phil, Henry, Steven, Kenny, Andrew)
IMG_1369
IMG_1338
IMG_1339
IMG_1405

Steven and Kenny rockin’ out to “Boogie Train”:
IMG_1396

One great moment occurred when Steven and Kenny did that song I like so much from last October’s concert, “Toki wo koe Sora wo koe.”
IMG_1371
I wish I’d recorded them on video.

And this past Thursday, my co-workers treated me to karaoke at Japas 38 as something of an informal retirement party for me. They opted to do it in the open bar area so I had to do Japanese songs in front of strangers, something I’m hesitant to do. But I plunged into it with full aplomb, competing with another aging baby boomer who kept singing songs from his youth (and mine), which I wasn’t keen on hearing again. So I jumped into the more frenetic MM numbers, all of which were accompanied by the actual videos for the songs: “Go Girl (Koi no Victory),” “Renai Revolution 21,” and “Souda! We’re Alive.” One co-worker, Joe, even joined me on a song, “Hikoukigumo,” a 1970s song by Yumi Arai which had a new life when Hayao Miyazaki used it for the ending of his last movie, THE WIND RISES. This same co-worker did two Japanese songs on his own, “Koi no Vacance” and “Sukiyaki.” If I’d had the lyric sheet for “Koi no Vacance,” I would have joined him on that one.
IMG_1413
IMG_1410

One more note: by this date ten years ago, in the first week of being a fan, I'd already picked up five more MM concerts, one collection of Minimoni video clips, and the MM musical, "Morning Town."

So here’s to the next ten years, starting off with a trip to Japan this fall.
kyoto_1[1]
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments