Otakon 2007: How to set fans’ BLOOD on FIRE [AAA Part 1]
While at any other time I would gladly attend an anime convention and fit in – let’s face it. This time it was all about AAA.
But let me start off with a big thanks to Jim Vowles and the staff of Otakon not only for having AAA there, but especially the latter for putting up with certain very happy die-hard fans. Self included. (I’m pretty certain that by the end of the autograph session today, not only were the staff handling the AAA sessions amused that we’d showed up every time, but possibly slightly scared of us.)
So, first day. Not very important, actually.
Unless you count AAA’s first overseas “concert”.
The concert was scheduled to begin at 7PM, with seating starting at 6PM. To say I got lucky is, well, I managed to sit in the third row from the stage, close enough to the center. Though early on in the concert I went out of row into the center aisle to get a better view (as everyone stood up), there were still fans with signboards and taller fans in front of me that partially blocked the stage. (Of course, said fans just also happened to be the ones rooming with me, and it’s not like I didn’t know it beforehand.)
Sometimes it sucks to be short.
I can assure you that the experience made me determined to eventually work my way up to press-pass worthy level. (Silly though it may be to see a journalist waiting in lines and singing and cheering with fans for autograph sessions they’re not really supposed to attend. Even more so because this is a fanblog rather than a proper source for J-Pop journalism.
But the fact that everyone (as far as I could see) stood up as AAA made their entrance to cheer says quite a bit, doesn’t it?
The seating was mostly done at around 6:20, though people continued to straggle in. Camerapeople and press ran about getting shots of the crowd (who screamed to get the former’s attention), and the group of fans I was with – DaRon, Hime-Ya (Nicolette), Icy, Ilan, ILuVJ-PoP (Kristi), and loverofshinjiro (Paulina) from the ATTACK’d ALL AROUND forums, as if you needed any actual idea that they were fans of the group if you have any idea about me – started a chant for AAA. (But most specifically Icy, Ilan, and Kristi.)
At 6:35PM, the DVD version of No End Summer‘s music video aired on the giant screens hung about the concert hall, and the cheers for Nissy and Shinjiro were unbelievably loud each time they appeared on screen. The shrieks for Shuuta were smaller, even smaller for Hidaka, and oh my poor Urata had such a poor reception… He got the shrieks. But nowhere near the deafening level of Nissy and Shin. (BTW, the last time I brought it up, I mentioned it was glaring. It is. Glaringly orange. But the parts left out of the short version of the PV made everything better. Mmmm, Shuuta and Hidaka.)
Following this, more shots of the crowd (one poor girl got caught on camera with a literally glowing mouth – she had something in her mouth that made her smile look like a disco hall), more cheers from the group I was with, and then they decided to shut us up with the DVD version of SUNSHINE‘s music video at 6:41PM.
…not that it worked because the screams for the boys (again, with the lower volume for my beloved Urata) were back in full force, accompanied by cheers for the girls. (I swear I nearly went deaf when Chiaki came onscreen – mostly because Icy happens to be one of the girl’s biggest fans, if not the single biggest one.) SUNSHINE had its own fun thing, this time with Urata and Nissy shaking it together in one of the cut-out scenes.
More shots of the crowd – and a movie poster for Jet Li’s upcoming WAR (this is important on the second day) were shown before the DVD version of Hanabi‘s music video. While this time there was no screaming whatsoever, there was a little bit of a wave going on in tune with the song. (I’m slightly proud to say I started it?) Screaming wouldn’t have been appropriate for the lovely ballad that is Hanabi anyways.
And while they ended up not perform the songs off their summer single as I had hoped, it still got its own bit of promotion. And I was totally right about SUNSHINE and No End Summer being good songs for crowds.
At 7:10, the concert officially started – but for the minute before that, while the staff was announcing the rules for the concert (no cameras except for press and only for the first three songs, etc. – this also explains the utter lack of pictures in this big block of text.), we saw the members of AAA peeking out from backstage. It was easy to tell the DRAGON FIRE overcoats for what they were – though I feel bad for the staff member who had his announcement disrupted by shrieks from the right side of the stage, who had noticed the members peeking. (Most visible was Urata’s red/black overcoat, though he wasn’t peeking so much as standing while the others peered at the audience for their first overseas concert. Hidaka and Shin especially.)
Rather than start directly with DRAGON FIRE, AAA entered with a short dance introduction, set to the tune of Hallelujah Hype remix – I couldn’t possibly tell you in words how glad I was to hear it being set to actual use. It’s one of the better remixes off the REMIX ATTACK album.
After a short dance sequence (that involved a multiple-arm style dance, where they lined up in a straight row from shortest (Chiaki at 5′) to tallest (Urata at 5’6″) and Shuuta doing a semi-split in front of Chiaki and moved their arms as though imitating a Hindu goddess), DRAGON FIRE started. There was a bit of a mic feedback problem, most notably in the first chorus as Chiaki moved up front as part of the dance and Misako started her lines for the second set of stanzas, but nothing too serious. The crowd around me attempted to dance along with AAA, though I think the majority only got the fist-moving-forward part at the end of the chorus right.
Afterwards was Let it beat! – and at this point, I really have to say. Shuuta. Totally. Hot. His hair was black again and straightened with slight spikes and it kept on catching my attention when my view of Urata was blocked because he just looked so damn good in it. (Oh yes, this is important later too. As far as I’m concerned.)
Let it beat! wasn’t anything special at first… until Hidaka started the first of his rapping segments and Shuuta did a bit of MC-ing, telling the crowd “Put your hands up!” and AAA all punched at the air in tune with the music to guide the crowd. (Chiaki doing this? Was utterly utterly cute, between her short stature and her doll-like image in that long overcoat.) The mic problems came back – Shuuta’s “cyber world” line was inaudible though he definitely brought the mic up to his mouth and said it and Shin had a feedback problem this time as he lowered his mic towards the speakers (though that was partially Icy and Ilan’s fault – suddenly seeing two girls with a sign for you and yelling your name like there was no tomorrow when you’re not quite sure what to expect from an audience in a strange country does tend to startle a person).
Following this, Samurai heart -samurai tamashii- Nu-JAPANESE-RAVE MIX came up, and AAA had a little Dance Corner. Shuuta was first, Nissy was last. Yes, the girls participated too – this isn’t 1st ATTACK’s dance corner here. In order: Shuuta, Chiaki, Hidaka, Shin, Misako, Urata, Nissy. While Shin and Misako were doing their section, a bit of a Chinese melody came up, blended in seamlessly with Kosaka Daimaoh’s remix. After Urata did his section, AAA practically tore off the DRAGON FIRE overcoats to reveal none other than the white/gold outfits from 4th ATTACK. (How can I tell this? Because Urata’s outfit had the furry pimp collar thing as seen in several pictures from 4th ATTACK.)
Then came SHE no Jijitsu – and the dance is a lot more awesome than the PV makes it out to be. And surprisingly, a lot hotter with the members dressed in white than in the black pleather shown in the music video. (Of course, I may have a pre-disposed bias towards Pimp!Urata.)
Following this was a break for the first MC talk – where the members introduced themselves in English. Or rather, Urata started off with “Doumo! Triple A desu! Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!” before Misako cut in on him with “Let us introduce ourselves.” Following is pretty much what each person said for their introduction in the order said. Insert appropriate Engrish accents as you please.
Misako: “My name is Misako Uno!” (insert cheers, especially as Misako happens to have the best English accent out of AAA)
Chiaki: “My name is Chiaki Ito!” (insert loud shrieks from Icy)
Shinjiro: “My name is Shinjiro Atae.” (insert loud shrieks from Ilan) “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!”
Shuuta: “I am Sueyoshi Shuuta. Like da-da-da-da-da-dan! Shooter!” (by the way, he was imitating shooting rapid-fire bullets from twin pistols, and got a great reaction from the crowd.)
At this point, Chiaki and Misako headed backstage. As a distraction tactic, Shuuta and Hidaka asked “Do you know… Dragonball?” When the crowd roared in response, they imitated Goku’s signature move – “Kaaaaaaaame-haaaaaaaame-HAAAAAAA!”
Hidaka: “I am Mitsuhiro Hidaka! Nice to meet you! Please forgive my bad English!” (Hidaka got a wild cheer from the crowd for that last line, especially as he bowed while saying it.)
Nissy: “My name is Takahiro Nishijima! Nickname: Nissy!”
Hidaka: “Please call him Nissy!”
The crowd yelled “NISSY~!”, but Hidaka, very much into the role of SUPER MC, yelled “Please call him Nissy!” again, and this time the response was deafening.
Urata: “I am Naoya Urata.”
Hidaka: “Please call him Leader!”
The crowd obliged, but nowhere near the level of Nissy’s name-call. Oh, Urata. (Though some people mistook Hidaka’s “Riidaa” for “Rita”.)
For a short while afterwards, they asked things like “Do you know AAA?”/”Is this your first time seeing AAA?”/”Do you know Japanese?” (Icy waved madly, Hidaka went “Usotsuke!”, and Icy shot back in Japanese, making them go “Ohhh!”), commented on the crowd amongst themselves in Japanese onstage (lots of “Sugoi desu ne” from Nissy could be heard), and once Nissy told the crowd “I love you”, which really had the girls cheering. At this point, Misako and Chiaki were done with their “changing”, and Hidaka turned to the crowd again.
Hidaka: “Do you like… Kimono?”
Nissy did a sweeping motion with his arms, as though he were wearing a kimono with drooping sleeves. The crowd cheered. (I confess – I groaned. Mostly because I knew what it was leading up to, but I groaned nonetheless.)
Hidaka: “Do you like… Geisha?”
This time, Nissy brought his arms up gracefully, held his hands near his face as though he was a geisha posing, and grinned cheekily. Girls squealed. Many girls squealed. The males in the audience had roaring laughter. (Though to be fair, it only works with Nissy. Hidaka was MC-ing, Shin and Shuuta would look awkward (though they laughed as Nissy did the pose), and Urata might kill himself before even attempting such an act.)
Hidaka: “Do you want to see… Kimono?”
The crowd roared in affirmation.
Hidaka: “Then, please enjoy… girls in kimono!”
The music for KIMONO JET GIRL started – and Misako and Chiaki trooped onstage with the kimono tops from the aforementioned song as the boys slid backstage. While the stage seemed a bit empty with only two girls to fill up the space where 7 and 5 people had once been, Misako and Chiaki really got into the performance (even with the last of the mic problems – Chiaki’s mic fading out on a line). Surprisingly, they ignored the part before the last chorus – “JET GIRL JET GIRL (London~)//JET GIRL JET GIRL (Pari~s)//JET GIRL JET GIRL (Oh~ New York!)//JET GIRL JET GIRL (TOKYO!)“- in favor of just dancing, though it might’ve been because Yukari has the “New York” line and there was really no point in designating it elsewhere. Misako’s “London~” is seductive, Chiaki’s “Pari~s” is adorable, and Yukari’s line is a combination of the two, so it’d be hard.
Of course, immediately after came SOUL EDGE BOY – the cheers hurt to hear, but the performance was great. Nissy threw in a bunch of ad-libbed warbles, true to form, and Hidaka and Shuuta really got the crowd going during the chorus and rap, respectively. Shuuta’s working up those MC skills, and both have a lot of charisma. The recorded lives do no justice to them, partially because it’s a mostly Japanese audience in those lives, but Shuuta and Hidaka are amazing crowd-raisers. I’m also glad Nissy did what he did (“Hikisakarete mo ii-IIIIIIIIIIIIII whoa oh oh oh~!” at the end of the song), partially because it’s a great way to show it’s live, partially because it makes each individiaul performance special, and mostly because it was a powerful way to end the emo-encouragement oddity that is SEB.
Samurai heart -samurai tamashii- followed soon after the girls came out at the end of the song. And like with SHE no Jijitsu, it was amazing despite the lack of the atmospheric black ninja outfits. Chiaki’s lift-and-flip by the guys, more crowd-energizing antics during the rap, the descending melody from the girls in the second set of rap stanzas… oh, and the bridge lines by Nissy/Misako/Urata. Just amazing.
Then it was time for a second MC talk. The first thing Misako says is “Do you know Grudge 2?” – yes, she shilled herself out. It was funny to hear though, because Hidaka jumped in again:
Misako: “Do you know Grudge 2?”
Misako: “Actually, I had a part in that movie. I played Miyuki.”
Crowd: *roaring cheers*
Hidaka: “She is Hollywood star!”
[Insert round of applause from AAA and the crowd as Misako bows.]
There was talk about AAA returning to Baltimore.
Hidaka: “I want to live in Baltimore!”
Misako: *points accusingly* “Usotsuki!” (Liar!)
Hidaka: “Iya, honki desu.” (No, really.)
That got laughs from the part of the crowd who did understand it. Apparently AAA had been briefed very thoroughly that this was an anime convention they were making their US debut in, because the next batch could only otherwise be described as random without that prior knowledge.
Hidaka: “Do you know… Samurai?”
Crowd: [shrieks and random nods]
Hidaka: “Do you know… BLEACH?”
Crowd: [unintelligible roar]
Hidaka: “BLEACH… samurai… like that, like that.”
Shuuta: “Do you know Naruto?”
Crowd: [goes insane]
Shuuta: “Ohhh, sugee.” (Ohhh, amazing.)
Hidaka: “Ninja! Like that!”
Hidaka: “Do you know… ONE PIECE?”
Crowd: [does not, for shame, go nearly as insane as they did for the above two. ONE PIECE pwns both Naruto and BLEACH.]
Hidaka: *gestures at Nissy stepping up to the front of the stage* “He is big fan of ONE PIECE!”
Crowd: [cheers further. On a slight tangent – WHY WAS THERE NOT NEARLY ENOUGH ONE PIECE MERCHANDISE AT OTAKON?]
Hidaka: “He likes Luffy!”
Nissy: “Luffy is my friend!”
Hidaka: “Luffy is our [AAA’s] friend!”
Hidaka: “Do you like… AAA?”
Hidaka: “Do you love… AAA?”
Hidaka: “Thank you!”
Misako: “Thank you!”
Chiaki: “Arigatou gozaimasu!”
Nissy: *uses his arms to make a heart shape over his head*
Shin: *imitates Nissy*
Shuuta: *makes a heart with his fingers over his chest and sends it out at crowd* (this got lots of love)
Hidaka: *imitates Nissy*
Oh, and to think I haven’t mentioned the pre-concert waiting period. This is when we (well, I) first met up with Paulina and her very much so awesome mom, who happened to be so lucky as to meet with AAA on Thursday when they were relaxing and exploring Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and also got pictures with Shinjiro, Hidaka, and Nissy. (Also while waiting in line we could hear the music for Let it beat! and Climax Jump pumping out from the concert hall as they rehearsed, and Icy and Ilan were doing the chorus dance for various AAA songs, but that isn’t as important. Unless you want to know that Kristi, Icy, and Ilan kept running to the steps at the top of the hall to get a better listen. (The dance thing becomes important in the next two days.))
Now that you know this (and hopefully weren’t distracted by my tangent), and also know that we were pretty close to the stage, know also that during this second MC, Shinjiro brought up a girl they’d met while wandering Baltimore. (To quote Hidaka’s “translation” – “Yesterday, we saw a girl who said ‘Chou genki!’ to us.”) And then imagine the reaction when Paulina got pushed to the front by our group and they went “Ohh! There!”, pointing at her. (If you’re having problems imagining – my poor ears. That’s all I’ll say.)
[CORRECTION: Apparently it was another two girls, and what I mistook for “Ohh! There!” was in fact, “Chou genki!” I have no excuse for this mistake. Thanks to CyberBird and Amy (who happened to be one of the two girls who did say “Chou genki!”) for the correction!]
So after another round “Sugoi desu ne~”/”Sugoi!”, Misako steps up and announces there are only three songs left in the setlist.
Misako: “Now we have 3 last songs. Please make a good time with us!”
She got lots of cheers for that, despite the oddity of the second sentence (yay Engrish!). AAA got into position, and immediately after, the music for Get CHU! started. Oh, the cheers. People followed along with the dance during the “Chuuuuuuu” part of the chorus (where they hold up a finger and extend it out), and the overall vocal performance was great though I’m still iffy about the dance.
It linked right into Climax Jump – which has an amazingly energetic dance, and one I liked the instant I saw it. I still sort of wish there had been a PV for it so I could watch it over and over… but hey, 4th ATTACK DVD is out! This segued into BLOOD on FIRE – which is an AAA requisite. If they hadn’t performed it, I’d have actually doubted whether or not it was AAA up there on the stage. And as a closer it was amazing. The acrobatics, the breakdance, the vocals, Shuuta and Hidaka tearing up the crowd again, and just the overall energy. They’ve improved so much since their debut.
After this they waved and said “Bye-bye!” to the crowd (Shuuta tossed in a Terminator-style “I’ll be back” which got so many amused cheers), and the crowd roared “ENCORE!” (actually, it was more of an “EN-CO-RE!”, which surprised me because, well, Japanese way of saying it. And yet when Icy tried to lead a cheer of “TORI-E!” before the concert no one got it until she switched (under the advice of Kristi) to “TRIPLE A!”.)
Probably most astounding was how Yukari’s missing presence… wasn’t a presence at all. AAA worked amazingly well without Boob Girl – though the dance for SHE no Jijitsu seemed at bit empty as the front half of the diagonal line with Urata, Chiaki, and Shin only had three people instead of the usual 4. And KIMONO JET GIRL is, of course, girls-only, so the lack of Yukari was noticeable, but nothing Misako and Chiaki couldn’t make up. The only major change in the dances was how in most of the songs, where Shin/Hidaka/Chiaki would usually stand behind the person up-front-and-in-center (usually Misako or Nissy), they got to take over Yukari’s more visible position to the side. For lines Yukari would usually take, Chiaki took over, and Misako did so twice (in KIMONO JET GIRL).
While I was sort of disappointed that the setlist completely omitted Friday Party (it was a Friday!), and even asked why during the Q&A panel after my original question had been asked (but that post comes later), it is clear to see what avex was aiming for when they picked the songs for this performance. It’s a variety of styles and dancing from AAA – even the remixes were put to good use – and showed off their abilities to the catchiest extent possible. (Get or Lose without Yukari is just impossible, but KIMONO JET GIRL wasn’t. And while Saikyou Babe is a fan favorite for the butt shake found in the dance, SOUL EDGE BOY shows off the vocals of Nissy and Urata while being a good crowd raiser.)
Afterwards, surprisingly, an autograph session was announced. Supposedly it was originally the Saturday one moved up a day, but it just became a bonus autograph session that was… amazing. There was a gigantic line for merchandise purchasing – and avex went above my expectations and had not only CD+DVD versions of albums (ALL, ATTACK) for sale ($40), they were also selling CD+DVD versions of BLOOD on FIRE, DRAGON FIRE, and Black&White (the one with the Samurai heart PV) at $15, the CD-only version of BLOOD on FIRE ($10), the 3rd ATTACK @ Budokan DVD ($40 – not the limited edition one, unfortunately), and trading cards from the various releases in sets of 10, two sets per member and one group set with only 5 cards ($10 per set). Also a bunch of stickers ($5) and if you spent over $50 you got the Natsumono poster, but Icy, four spots ahead of me in line, managed to snag the last one – they tore it off the wall for her. (I spent $150 anyways – ALL, ATTACK, 3rd ATTACK @ Budokan, both sets of Urata cards, and a Shuuta set.)
I also learned that I shouldn’t sneak peeks at AAA while they’re signing, because I was nearly hyperventilating every time I saw Shuuta and Urata.
Then the autograph session. Oh man. From left to right, they sat in the order of: Hidaka, Urata, Nissy, Shuuta, Misako, Shinjiro, and Chiaki – and because the autograph line was so short when I was done, I went back for a second round of autographs. (Sorry if you happened to miss out on that the first day.)
The first time I had taken the ATTACK jacket to be signed and could only smile nervously at Hidaka, but then I spoke in Japanese to Urata, telling him he was my favorite member (What, you expected a marriage proposal? No, that was Shuuta… just kidding.), and that surprised Hidaka, Urata, and the staff translator standing next to Hidaka. (Urata: “Arigatou! Nihongo wa jouzu desu ne~“) And then the translator noticed I was wearing the alohAAA! shirt, pointed it out (Yay! It came in handy!), and I ended up spending about a minute and half talking to them both instead of the Otakon-preferred 30 seconds maximum. (Not that the translator minded, he seemed to encourage it because he didn’t have to translate.) Luckily the one after me was DaRon, who graciously didn’t mind that I had distracted Hidaka from signing what he had.
To Nissy I said I also liked ONE PIECE, but preferred Zoro (“Aa! Zoro! Aitsu mo sugoi da! ♥“), and not only did I get a big smile from him, he stood up in reaction to my mentioning it.
Then at Shuuta I nearly fainted before stammering out my marriage proposal. Wait, I told you that was a joke? Oh. Huh. Damn, I ruin my own fun. Well, I told him I thought he was cool, and frankly – even with a baseball cap covering his hair and the beginnings of an amusingly shady mustache, he was. So. Hot. (I can still tell you what he was wearing. A fitted white T-shirt with tight black sleeves and a skull-and-crossbones design on the chest with dark blue jeans.)
At Misako I mentioned MimiKitty of the ATTACK’d ALL AROUND forums and how she unfortunately couldn’t come though she was a big fan of Misako – “Aa! Konakatta? Zannen desu ne~“, Mandy. To quote your beloved Misa-Misa. But Misako’s smile, beautiful enough in the various pictures of her? Absolutely amazing in person. I really wish you could’ve been there, though you may have gone into mental shock.
…if you know me, you probably know that I liked Shinjiro the least out of AAA until recently. Shinjiro fans can hate me, but it’s not really that bad. As of recently, my ranking of AAA members went like this: Picture them dangling from a cliff as a human chain. (Precarious situation, yes. I’m not going to kill them off or anything.) Urata is at the very top, hanging from the cliff edge. Shuuta is dangling from Urata’s shoelace. Yes, shoelace. That’s how much higher Urata is above Shuuta. If Yukari were still in the group, she’d be hanging from Shuuta’s waist, but since she left, Hidaka has moved up into the position of my third-favorite, and it’s him hanging from Shuuta’s waist. Then Misako/Nissy/Chiaki were tied for what was 5th place, now 4th, and hanging onto Hidaka’s knees. Shin at ex-6th/5th holds onto Hidaka’s feet.
After Kuchibiru kara ROMANTICA PV aired, Shin moved up to Hidaka’s ankles. (Waiter?Shin with gun is irresistible. Waiter?Anyone with gun is irresistable. As far as the context of the KKR PV allows.) After SUNSHINE PV, Shin was at Hidaka’s knees with Misako/Nissy/Chiaki.
After Friday’s autograph session… Shin is around Hidaka’s waist. (My ranking climbs/switches up some more, but that comes in the next two days.) The boy is adorable. Adorably stupid, adorably attention-getting, adorably narcissistic, adorably selective… but just absolutely adorable. What I said to him in Japanese went around the lines of “Aa, Shin-chan is really cute after all!” – but Shin being Shin, focused only on the “kawaii” part. “Kawaii? Hontou ni? Arigatou!” and brightened up immensely. And how could you not be amused by that?
To Chiaki I complimented her fashion sense and style, and was rewarded with the sweetest smile. And while all of AAA was smiling and thanking the people who went up for autographs, all of them seemed genuine. If they were tired or shocked by some of the fans, they didn’t show it and were very good actors.
And since the line only had about 7 people waiting to reach the autograph table, we joined it. Again. Oh yes, we are obsessive fans. (I had come across a high school friend of mine while waiting in line for the merchandise table and to quote her, “Man, you guys are crazy.”) The second time around I had them sign their individual pictures in the ALL booklet. Feeling bad about completely leaving out Hidaka the first time, this time I told him I was looking forward to Mother Earth’s debut. (Please note he hadn’t mentioned it that night. At all. And it seemed like no one else had brought it up with him. So he was not only pleasantly surprised, but seemed to remember me. Oh hell yes, that latter part is important.)
Amusingly, Urata wrote his signature hard this time, so that the ink imprinted over onto the lyrics on the other page. My Hallelujah lyrics are now marred with an imprint of Urata’s signature… but that’s okay. URATA ♥
Clearly by now you know that I like Shuuta’s hair straight. If not, hey, you just found out. Unfortunately in ALL, he had his mini-afro. So I told him as much – “I like your hair better now than like in ALL.” And oh man, Shuuta’s cocky grin is so much love.
This time I told Misako that while I thought the Grudge 2 was scary, I watched it for her. And really I did, just that second part with her in it. Including the condom scene. “Kowai? Sou desu ne… demo, arigatou!”
Shin had a bit of a problem finding his picture in ALL, which was cute. He panicked. “Doko? Doko?” He eventually found it and breathed a sigh of relief, but panicky Shinjiro is adorable. (He kept skipping his picture, if you’re curious. It happens to be right before the group picture in the middle of the booklet, so he’d turn the two pages together and it was always at Hidaka’s picture instead of his until he realized what he was doing.)
With Chiaki, I asked her if she would ever come visit New York. (I figured she might be the best person to ask, though they’ve all said they wanted to go to New York at some point, because Chiaki is sweet Chiaki and somehow I can imagine her in New York better than anyone else.) Chiaki said “Ikitai~“, and then Shin jumped in when he heard “New York”. “Aa! New York? Itta, itta!” And then he pulled at Misako’s sleeve to get her attention, saying she had too, and she joined in. Apparently they went for dance-related purposes, and just like that another minute-and-half went without the translators caring. But Shinjiro is so cute (and I think you can tell why he was climbing higher on my AAA ranking).
After this the A’dAA group went outside, along with my friend from high school, Tammy (who would pop up at subsequent AAA events to be amused by us), and we talked about – okay, we squealed. Fangirled/boyed. (To the clear amusement of recent AAA-fan Tammy.) Shin turned around once and saw us outside and waved, and when they got up to leave, we ran to wave to them. They left through the game room, so we were able to follow for a bit and get their attention some more (Nissy peeked back out from behind the curtain hiding back paths of the con when his name was called to wave back some more), and then we headed outside again. (But not before Icy and Ilan ran back to sit on the chairs AAA had sat in during the signing. This didn’t go unnoticed by the staff.) Icy, Ilan, and Kristi saw what they thought was AAA’s van and went to check it out, but Paulina’s mom saw AAA inside a room to call them back, and they tried to peek in the room through the windowblinds instead. (DaRon, Tammy, Paulina, and I sat by a pillar and pretended ignorance.)
Tammy, Paulina, and her mother had to leave, and soon after Icy and Ilan headed across the street, hoping to get AAA’s attention when they came out to head to the vans. (Kristi joined DaRon and I by the pillar after telling them to not do anything that might scare them off or get us banned.) Surprisingly, instead heading directly out of the entrance near the vans, they went back through the Charles Street Lobby (where the autograph session had taken place) and walked right past us. DaRon had been talking to le ciel (Anndrea) on his cell just seconds before and I had been talking to him, so Kristi noticed them first. (To quote her directly – “Oh my god. You guys. That’s AAA.”)
And then I looked up and saw Urata walking past talking to one of the translating staff, Misako following close behind. (Her back was towards us, so I almost couldn’t tell it was her until I recognized her dress.)
We thought we’d end up unnoticed, and then Nissy walked in front of us, holding something up on his shoulder with his left hand. Being the fanservice giver he is, he took good note of us and waved “Baibai!” This got AAA’s attention, including that of Urata and Misako who looked back at us even as they continued walking. What could we do but wave “Baibai” back? Shuuta did his customary point-and-“Oh!” with a smile, and I called out “Otsukaresama deshita!” as Hidaka walked past. (He waved “Bai” too.) Shin gave a grin and waved, and as Chiaki (the last one) walked past waving “Baibai”, I said “Oyasumi!”
On the other side of the street, Icy and Ilan did the chorus dance to HURRICANE LILI, BOSTON MARI and called out Nissy and Shin’s names, and they cheerfully did the arm-wave part of the dance with them.
To say it was a satisfying night is a grave understatement.