Disc 1 of Morning Musume.'16 Live Concert in Houston offered the concert, which I covered in Part 1, and disc 2 offers a 103-minute documentary covering Morning Musume’s overall trip to Houston to appear at Anime Matsuri. It is divided into the four days they were there. It’s not subtitled and I really think it should have been because of the high degree of interest this release will have among American fans. Hopefully, Anime Matsuri will deliver a subtitled version. The documentary is about 15 minutes longer than the concert and includes sightseeing trips in Houston on Days 1 & 4, fan events at the convention, including signing sessions and a Q&A, and press interviews.
Day 1 shows their arrival and their visit to some kind of county or state fair on the grounds of the NRG Stadium. What I didn’t understand is why they are let off at the stadium so far from their destination. They have to walk to the fair, which is a good distance away.
Before they go to the fair, however, we see them shop at a Target “big box” store, where they pick up snacks, clothes and all kinds of unusual items.
Does anyone know what Ayumi is looking at? Why does she need cooking oil?
What’s that thing Haruka is carrying?
And what does Maria need that big cart for?
I like the van they ride in with sofa benches that circle around all four sides of the interior, so they can all sit facing each other and interact with each other. Fine for short trips, maybe not for longer ones.
They go on rides at the fair, which takes up a huge portion of the documentary. This segment starts out in full daylight and ends in darkness.
Haruna Ogata seems to be having way too much fun on this “bucking bronco”:
Some of the rides look pretty scary.
They pass a booth displaying Pikachu dolls, a taste of Japanese pop culture in the middle of this thoroughly American setting. If they noticed or commented on the Pikachu dolls, it’s not included in the documentary.
They go on the Ferris Wheel, taking up two cars.
They wave to the girls in the other car:
Day One concludes with a meal at Mia Bella Trattoria, an Italian restaurant. Ayumi seems puzzled by what she ordered. I’m kind of puzzled by MOST of the dishes they ordered. I would like to have seen the ordering process.
I also wondered what happened to their luggage, which we never see, and where they were staying.
Day 2 was the first day of Anime Matsuri, held at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. The day’s events include the opening ceremony and a Q&A featuring Morning Musume.
We see the sales table for MM merchandise...
...and I spotted two friends of mine, Hugh, after he made his purchases, and Josh, on line, shouting "Haruka":
Haruna Iikubo, the self-proclaimed otaku in the group, waxes rhapsodic about the event and seeing all the cosplayers, making references to Sailor Moon and Alphonse (from Fullmetal Alchemist).
At the opening ceremony, Miki, the English-speaker in the group, does most of the talking for them.
Fans present a poster signed by several dozen fans to the girls.
There’s a Q&A with the fans. The documentary offers only a few of the many questions that were presented and even fewer of the translated answers. The actual Q&A session was 41 minutes. The segment included in the documentary is only 6 minutes.
The questions we do get include:
“Who will be the center ace now that Riho is gone?”
Haruna: “Everyone wants to be the ace.” (I think she’s kidding.)
The interpreter is known on Facebook as Berry Berricha Risa. As far as I could tell, she’s never introduced in the documentary and hardly appears on camera. I watched the full Q&A on YouTube and she does a very good job.
“Ayumi, now that Riho is gone, who do you want to dance with?”
The translated answer is not shown. (In the YouTube version she says she might be pairing up with another member in the Spring Concert Tour, but she welcomed the chance to dance with other members.)
“Zukki, now that you’re graduating, what are your favorite Morning Musume memories?”
She cites a book she received with messages from fans all over the world, a fan project that began on my favorite H!P forum, MM-BBS. She gave an additional answer that goes untranslated. In the YouTube version, it was something about getting to know her overseas fans on the internet and how surreal it is.
There were lots of mike problems:
Missing from this segment and heard in the unedited version is this: Haruna Iikubo says that in New York, Kanon got the loudest cheers and she’s pleased that in Houston, Kanon still gets the loudest cheers. How sweet.
They were given an opportunity to talk to the cameras after the Q&A, untranslated of course:
Then some rehearsal. Why are some members wearing their concert costumes in rehearsal? Aren’t they worried about getting them dirty or sweaty the day before the concert?
Day 3 included an interview session with the fan press, a signing session for fans and, of course, the big concert.
The questions from the fan press were pretty good ones. My friend Jocelyn asks them about the many different kinds of songs they sing in the group and which kind they each prefer singing and they all answer one-by-one with no translation.
The second question we hear is directed to Mizuki regarding how hard it was to learn the English lyrics for “One and Only.”
My friend Sherrily, seen from the back, reminded them of the question she asked them in New York in October 2014 about what challenges they would choose for themselves in future concerts and they had answered “acrobatics,” which they proceeded to do in future concerts, so she asks if there’s anything else they’d like to try next.
Unfortunately, if translations for any of these questions were provided, they’re not included in this edit. We really need a subtitled version of this documentary.
This was followed by a short section devoted to the first signing session.
Miki: “I love your earrings.”
Sometimes it involved a group effort to sign the t-shirt:
Notice former MM member Aika Mitsui on the left with the video camera:
And the quartet of fans with outfits inspired by “The Peace”:
Notice the “Sheriff” badge they all wear:
And then it was off to prep for the concert:
We see the crowd line up for the concert and amass in the hall where the concert took place.
The concert itself is on a separate disc in this set and I covered it in Part 1, the previous entry.
There are interviews with fans after the concert. I posted pictures of some of these in Part 1, in which a bunch of my friends were interviewed by Aika. Here are others, people I don’t know, answering questions from a male interviewer:
The two gentlemen in this shot became fans in 2001 (beating me by four years), while the young lady with them said she started listening to MM when she was four:
Fans from Mexico urge the girls, “Please come to Mexico!”
Notice the Totoro doll in the right hand of the one on the left:
We also saw the one on the right in the concert crowd displaying the Mexican flag:
Aika, speaking while holding her camera, asks assembled fans their impression of the concert:
There are ten people I’ve met in that shot and one who’s a Facebook friend.
In a post-concert interview with Morning Musume, some of the girls share their impressions. Again, this really needed to be subtitled. I can’t believe they’re making the poor girls in the front kneel on that hard, tiled floor on their bare knees while answering questions.
Erina closes with a line in English, “I’ll be back!”
Day 4 included another round of interviews, this time conducted by the Japanese press. Needless to say, neither the questions nor the answers are translated.
I’d love to know what was being asked here:
Gag shots before the next signing session:
This is followed by another signing session with the fans.
We get a cute moment where Ogata playfully says to the camera, “We are Juice=Juice.”
We see a lot more interactions with fans in this session, including one exchange between Ayumi and Jocelyn.
“Will you like California?”
“Yes, yes, I like California.”
There are more individual fan interviews, this time conducted by a Japanese male interviewer.
This one speaks Japanese to the interviewer:
The girls then take more pictures with the fans behind them.
The girls then leave the convention center and all head to the NASA Space Center for a lengthy tour of the facility and they’ve all changed clothes.
They visit the NASA Space Center in the U.S. and a month later I was visiting the Gundam Museum in Tokyo:
Masaki has a moment by herself where she sees “USA” on the side of a rocket and says, “U-S-A” and then toys with it, pronouncing it as “Usa,” as if it were a word.
There’s also a shopping session, their second in the documentary, this time in the NASA store.
We see Haruna Iikubo go all nerd girl over a Solar System modeling kit.
Haruna Ogata totally rocks that hat:
Kathleen (Shoujo Q from MM-BBS) was at the place at the same time. We glimpse her in the background of this shot, to the left of Mizuki:
Finally we see them on the van back to wherever they have to go before the airport. All are asleep, excepting...
They take a picture with their billboard in the background. They could have gotten a much better shot of it in the daytime:
It was fun watching the girls interact with each other as well as wander off on their own inside the huge Target. Since I don’t watch a lot of offstage video of the girls, nor do I read their blogs or tweets, the only sense I get of their camaraderie comes from documentation like this. It seems to me that they really enjoy each other’s company and have great affection for one another. Granted, we’re only seeing the public face, but I don’t get any sense of underlying tension. What I did come away with was how absolutely sweet, warm and generous Haruna Iikubo is and how delightful Maria and Haruna Ogata are.
Here's a link to the YouTube version of the Q&A: