Otakon 2007: A CRAZY GONNA CRAZY interview [AAA Part 2]
On the second day of Christmas- er, the con, we got up early. Ridiculously early. By my standards at least. (But hey, for Christma- um, the con, it was worth it! The con may as well have been Christmas in summer for this AAA fan. Beautiful weather, AAA, fun times, AAA, beautiful Baltimore, AAA – lather, rinse, repeat.) This was done partially to oblige a friend of mine who was rooming with us but not an AAA fan who needed to get his badge for convention-entering purposes. I say partially because the con doors open at 9, and the AAA Q&A panel was at 11. We (Icy, Ilan, DaRon, and I) ran to get there and get good seats. Nicolette, Kristi, Paulina, and Paulina’s ever-so-amazing mother joined us later.
There was a lot of arranging with the autograph session to take place after the Q&A panel. Originally supposed to occur from 12:30-1:30PM, it got moved up to 12 exact because AAA was on a schedule (We presume they were filming for a video, much like with Wonderful Life in Hawaii. Either that or a photo shoot.) and tickets were handed out to ensure that there would not be a mad jostle. (Ticket, getto da ze! *shot for using Pokemon reference*) The merchandise table was set up outside of the panel at around 10, this time with the addition of T-shrits reading “4” and “Fourth” (but looking anything but official) and I wavered back and forth several times trying to decide what I wanted to get – the seller clearly began to recognize me. (And remembered me the following day too.) I only ended up getting the second set of Shuuta cards today (another $10) – something I’d regret tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow. A lot of people got the T-shirt though, and took it to be signed later.
We were let in at 10:30, and seating went on for a while. The A’dAA group all managed to claim seats in the third row – the first two rows were reserved for press and staff (but went mostly unused). I originally wanted to sit near the center aisle, but Paulina claimed the seat, so I ended up towards the left side of the room and nowhere near the panel table. But not a completely bad thing, because it just happened that AAA was going to enter from the left side. The door opened a couple of times and Shin could be seen peeking out yet again, and AAA’s male manager (who does become important) went in to talk with them.
By the way – avex staff is hot. If I don’t get to join avex as an artist (highly likely), I’d still want to get on their staff. Because apparently you only have to be associated with avex to be shiny and good-looking.
The panel started at 11:15 AM. When AAA walked in, the cheers were loud – and I think unfortunately my call of “URATA~!” went unnoticed. They had a translator who apparently didn’t know quite much about pop culture, but that becomes apparent later. In order from left to right – translator, Shuuta, Hidaka, Nissy, Shin, Urata, Chiaki, Misako.
They were given a chance to introduce themselves again:
Misako: “My name is Misako Uno.”
Chiaki: “My name is Chiaki Ito.”
Urata: “Urata Naoya desu. Doumo.”
Shinjiro: [insert mic problems. Shinjiro couldn’t be heard. After testing the microphone a bit, he just took Urata’s, to the amusement of the gathered crowd.] “Atae Shinjiro desu, yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”
Nissy: “I am Takahiro Nishijima.” [“NISSSY!” cried the crowd]
Hidaka: “My name is Mitsuhiro Hidaka.”
Shuuta: “I am Sueyoshi Shuuta.” [To Icy’s dismay, because Shuuta’s first name is Shuuta, not Sueyoshi.]
There was a pause as they tried to fix the mic problem (Shin stood up and gestured eagerly at his mic when they were trying to figure out which one they needed to amplify.), and then the panel started. The translator informed us that not every AAA member would answer a question in the interests of saving time, so AAA consulted amongst themselves. A lot. (By the way, anything in quotes is a direct quote. Anything paraphrased is not in quotes. Usually because it’s a translation, but also because it’s a long question that I paraphrased for the sake of my sanity.)
Fan: “Before you debuted with avex in 2005, what artists did you like?”
[insert AAA murmuring]
Shinjiro: “m.o.v.e” [The crowd cheers. Self included. Because I still maintain that motsu is one of the most unorthodoxically hottest men in the world.]
Hidaka: Actually, m.o.v.e’s motsu-san? I’m working with him in a band. It’s called Mother Ninja, please look forward to it! [I was basking in the glow of superiority for having brought it up with him before this.]
Fan: [asked question in Japanese]
Translator: “By the way, if you say it in Japanese, I’m going to make you translate it yourself. Now, go on.”
Fan: “Between America and Japan, which do you prefer? And what’s your favorite American thing?”
[more AAA murmuring]
Misako: America is very different from Japan, so it’s hard to choose, but we’re enjoying our time in America. We were especially excited about the performance.
Ilan: “Why didn’t Shinchan do maido yesterday? T_T”
[Explanation: Maido is a greeting Shin does with fans at AAA concerts. Basically it involves Shin saying Maido and holding out the mic for the fans to say it – lather, rinse, repeat until Shin satisfied. Yesterday Icy and Ilan were screaming from their position in front of the stage for him to do it, though he didn’t.]
Translator: “…what?” [translates anyways]
Shinjiro: [totally confused]
Icy: [imitates Shin doing “maido” until he understands]
Shinjiro: “Aa! Aa! Maido desu ne?”
Icy & Ilan: “HAAAAI~!”
Shinjiro: I thought because it’s a Japanese thing, Americans wouldn’t get it and participate.
Translator: “How many here would’ve understood and joined in?”
Crowd: [chorusing “me” and “I would” in unison though there were loads of confused looks when the question was asked]
Fan: “Were you surprised at the number of people attending the concert yesterday?”
Nissy: Yes, it’s our first time performing in America, so it’s hard to believe we had so many people waiting to see us.
Fan: “What’s your favorite American rock band?”
[AAA murmuring again]
Hidaka: [hesitant] Sum 41.
Crowd: [whoops it up]
Hidaka: [less hesitant] Green Day.
Crowd: [deafened me yet again]
Fan: “Would you come back to Baltimore again?”
Hidaka & Nissy: [simultaneously] “Zehi!” (Absolutely!)
Fan: “You guys started as backup dancers, did you ever expect to get this far?”
[Correction: Urata? Backup dancer. (Hamasaki Ayumi, HalCali, one Suzuki Ami performance) Nissy? Backup dancer. (various Suzuki Ami videos and performances) Hidaka/Shin/Shuuta? Backup dancer only for Suzuki Ami at the 2005 Kohaku performance of Delightful. Misako/Chiaki? Never backup dancers.]
Misako: We never thought we’d be performing in the US.
Fan: “What’s your favorite food?”
Translator: “Suki na tabemono wa nan desu ka?”
Translator: “Sonna muzukashii shitsumon desu ka?” [to the crowd] “It’s not a hard question to answer.”
Crowd: [more cheers]
Crowd: [literally whooping]
Nissy: [stands with hands in the air like he just won a championship]
Crowd: [laughing their asses off]
Shuuta: “CHIIKIN!” (Chicken)
Crowd: [half-dead from asphyxiation due to constant laughing/cheering]
Nissy: “Niku desu ne, niku!!” (Meat, meat!!) [This is even funnier when you consider that Nissy’s favorite character in ONE PIECE is Luffy. Luffy’s favorite thing in the world, probably second to his straw hat and all friends? “NIKUUUUUUUUU!”]
Translator: “I think we’ve figured out by now that it’s not what they say but how they say it.”
Crowd: [more laughter]
Chiaki: Misoniko udon. It’s a Nagoya specialty.
Translator: [insert explanation of Misoniko udon.]
Misako: [deep contemplation] “Cheese!”
Crowd: [totally about to die from lack of air]
Fan: “Were you fans of Kamen Rider before you did Climax Jump?”
Nissy: “Mochiron!” (pauses) “Do you know Kamen Rider DEN-O?”
Fan: [waves cell phone in air (how Den-O transforms into Climax Form), receives applause from AAA and an “Ohh!” from Shuuta]
Fan: [calls out Kamen Rider DEN-O’s signature phrase, receives applause and laughter from AAA]
Fan: [calls out general tokusatsu phrase, receives applause from AAA]
Fan: Let me say I’m really glad you came to the US. What I want to know is, is it okay to request a line from Nishijima?
Nissy: Eeee… okay?
One of the staff and asked to interrupt the panel to let us know that the autograph session had been moved to room 346.
Translator: “Oh, you mean like this note I have here that I was going to read at the end of the panel?”
Translator: “Don’t worry, I can get them there fast enough. Just take the back elevator.”
Me: [quietly] “…I can heeeeeeeear you. :D”
Translator: “So, uh, continuing.”
Fan: [insert request for Nissy’s Gekiuma transformation line from Delicious Gakuin as Ryoma]
Shinjiro: [upon hearing Delicious Gakuin] OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!
Crowd [those who do know about about DeliGaku at least]: “OHHHHHHHH!”
Translator: [talks back and forth until Nissy realized what the fan wants]
Nissy: “Ah, okay.” [does an okay sign with his hand, stands up, laughs and sits back down before standing up again]
Shinjiro: [prodding Nissy to do it]
Nissy: [does the Gekiuma line and pose, then sits back down laughing] “Hazukashii~” (Embarassing~)
Shinjiro: How do you know about DeliGaku?!
Crowd: [murmuring] …internet.
Translator: “Is it airing on Japanese TV here or something?”
Crowd: [murmuring still] …internet. >>;
[No one wanted to admit they had downloaded it – though Internet’s a viable explanation, because it was airing on the ameblog site for a while.]
Fan: Have you eaten Baltimore crabs, and how do you like Baltimore so far?
Shinjiro: We’ve been eating them everyday!
Urata: It seems like a nice place to live.
Translator: “They haven’t seen much, have they?”
Fan: “Yesterday, during the autograph session, did you like our dance?”
[Other fan reports can probably go more into detail about this than I can, but basically a few fans did an impromptu dance for AAA during the autograph session.]
[AAA murmuring back and forth, lots of “ehhh?” before it hits them]
Hidaka: “Aa! Saikou, saikou!”
Translator: “The mic goes in front of your face, you know.”
Crowd: [assorted chuckles]
Paulina: [slowly] “…Can we eat with you?”
[Actually? It was a long and convoluted question. She was asking if they could hold an unofficial fanclub-ish event, sort of like how members of AAA Party who went to Hawaii with AAA got to eat with them, and “can we eat with you” was part of the things she was trying to suggest. Except she was also holding the mic away and when she did bring it up, she only got the last part out.]
Translator: [explains to AAA, who laughs, then turns back to Paulina] “You’re going to have to ask their management that, and if they let you, go ahead.”
[For the record, management – rather, one of the avex staff translators – was asked. No reply was recieved.]
Fan: “This question is more for the two girls – how is it like traveling with 5 guys?”
[Misako and Chiaki think]
Misako: I wish they would practice the policy of “Ladies First” more often.
Translator: “Guys, your rebuttal?”
[Nissy/Urata/Hidaka/Shin/Shuuta talk a bit]
Urata: Act more ladylike first!
Crowd: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH SNAP.
Translator: “Remember, if they disband it’s going to be your fault!”
Press: “How long did you practice for the concert yesterday?”
Urata: “Ichinichi.” (1 day)
Fan: “Are there any other artists you want to do a collaboration with?”
Crowd: [cheers though Hidaka’s technically already collaborating with part of m.o.v.e.]
Hidaka: Also, more tokusatsu/hero shows.
Fan: [asks question in Japanese]
AAA: [looks bewildered]
Translator: “And the translation please?”
Fan: “Outside of AAA, what other artists would you like to work with?”
Translator: “That’s not what you said! You asked if AAA disbanded, what else would they be doing?”
Translator: That’s not going to happen, right? [translates exchange for AAA]
Urata: [instantly] “Yada!” (No way!)
Nissy: “Eeto… Ne-Yo.”
[Omarion, R&B singer, also one of Shuuta’s favorite artists. EVAR. Except between the translator not as up on it, and Shuuta’s pronouncing it as “Omario” (O Mario-sama! Hahahaha~), he had to say it multiple times before the translator decided…]
Translator: “…what he said.”
Fan: “What were your feelings as you were coming to Baltimore?”
Translator: [translates the question as “When you were riding in the car to Baltimore, how did you feel?”]
Nissy: [whispered] “Kuruma?” (Car?)
Shinjiro: “Hikouki desu.” (It was an airplane.)
Nissy: “Desu yo ne.”
[And between all that the question was never actually answered.]
Fan: “What was the most fun video to film?”
Misako: “Get CHU!”
[Misako got the most screen time in Get CHU!, but since it was also filmed in Hawaii… it’s plausible that the rest of AAA agrees.]
Fan: “Misako, you were in Grudge 2. Do you plan to star in any more J-Cinema?”
[Originally, the fan asked this in Japanese. But he referred to Grudge 2 as Ju-on 2 – which is a completely separate movie. Really. Look it up. Even Misako calls the movie she was in “Grudge 2”, not Ju-on 2.]
[Translator and AAA go back and forth until Misako understands more clearly what the fan is talking about. Except she understands it as “movies in general”.]
Misako: I plan on doing more Hollywood movies.
Fan: “You covered a song from High School Musical. How did you decide to do it, did you like the movie or something?”
[The song this person’s talking about is the same song this blog is named after – Minna Star.]
Misako: We watched the DVD and enjoyed it a lot.
Hidaka: Vanessa Hudgens is cute!
Fan: “Yesterday you mentioned you liked Dragonball Z and ONE PIECE. Are there any other anime you guys like?”
Nissy: “Rurouni Kenshin.”
Shinjiro: “Yu Yu Hakusho.”
Nissy: “Hunter 2”
[Nissy is referring to Togashi Yoshihiro’s (creator of Yu Yu Hakusho) other famous shounen manga series, Hunter x Hunter – but the “x” is meant to be silent.]
Nissy: [repeats self]
Fan: “HUNTER x HUNTER!”
Crowd: [goes absolutely wild]
Chiaki: [smiles, embarassed]
Hidaka: Captain Tsubasa.
Crowd: [insert crickets]
Translator: It’s probably pretty big in Latin America. It’s about soccer.
[It’s also old-school Japanese classic. And Tammy, sitting next to me during this, can tell you I was going “Ohhhh!” when Dakkun said it.]
Crowd: [polite applause]
Fan: “Is there any other American hotspot you’d like to visit?”
[This was the question I wanted to ask. D: But I was going to phrase it like “You’ve been to Hawaii and Baltimore, and Shin and Misako have been to New York. Where else in America would you like to visit?”]
Nissy: “New York!”
Hidaka: I want to see Queens. [HAY AAA GUESS WHERE I LIVES? RABU RABU RABU *shot for typing badly*]
Shuuta: Los Angeles. (He specifically said “LA”)
Shinjiro: I want to visit Six Flags!
Crowd: EEE SHINCHAAAAAAAN!
Me: “Yesterday was Friday, why didn’t you perform Friday Party? D:”
[AAA gives each other guilty looks, their manager cracks up]
Chiaki: “…gomen nasai.”
Fan: “What’s your favorite American word?”
Shuuta: “WHAT’S UP!?”
Crowd: “What’s Up!?”
Shuuta: “WHAT’S UP!?”
Urata: [grinning like an idiot]
Crowd: “Boring? Bowling?”
Hidaka: [makes dribbling motion with right hand]
Crowd: OHHHHHHHHHHHHH! [applause]
Crowd: [deafening squeal]
Urata: [outright laughing]
Shinjiro: “I love you.”
Crowd: [another deafening squeal]
Urata: [laughing even harder]
[I heard “Enjoy”, but I’m going to trust Icy’s word on this because she’s the Chiaki fan and sat right in front of her.]
Urata: [laughing his ass off] “SMILE!”
[EVERYONE MISSED THIS. D< He was laughing as he said it and even had to pull the mic towards him because he was laughing too hard to sit upright, but WTF he clearly said “SUMAIRU”. I felt so bad for him, the room was silent. URATA NEEDS MORE LOVE.]
Misako: [thinks a bit longer] “Dream.”
Fan: “Okay, this is for the guy second from the left.”
Translator: ? [points at Shuuta]
Fan: “Er, no. One more over.”
Translator: ? [points at Hidaka]
Hidaka: “Me?” [points at self]
Fan: “Yeah. I go to the University of Miami, so I’m really curious – why are you wearing a University of Miami T-shirt?”
Hidaka: I found it in a shop in Japan, and it was just the best design there.
Fan: “This question is for the two girls? What clothing brands do you like?”
Misako: “Forever 21.”
Translator: “…I’m gonna go with what she said.”
Chiaki: Anything is fine with me.
Fan: “If you ever perform here in America again, where would it be?”
Fan: I’m going to be in Japan next year, so I was wondering what your schedule was?
Translator: “Do you mean this coming year, or 2008?”
Fan: “Coming year, sure.”
Misako: In September, we’ll be performing in Tokyo at the Nihon Budokan.
Fan: “Are tickets sold out yet?”
Urata: No, not yet.
Fan: “How did you come up with the name ATTACK ALL AROUND?”
Hidaka: We didn’t mean ‘to actually attack people’ with the name, it was a way to display our energy in the face of adversity.
Fan: “Is there a Japanese artist you all like?”
Translator: “Yeah, let’s go with that.”
Fan: “This question is for Naoya?”
Urata: [cheers up]
Fan: “Why are you the leader and what are your duties as leader?”
Urata: [cracks up] I don’t do jack. And I’m the leader just because I’m the oldest.
[Okay, so both Urata and the translator worded it more politely.]
At this point the translator announced that since we were running low on time, only four more questions would be taken.
Fan: “Yesterday I noticed you had a lot of martial arts influence in your dance moves. Do you like martial arts or martial arts movies?”
[Kimi’s note: Yesterday (Friday) they just happened to perform both DRAGON FIRE and Samurai heart, both songs with traditional Asian martial influences in music, costuming, and dance moves. Not all of them are like that. But please ignore me being elitist.]
Nissy: “Jet Li!”
[Note how yesterday a member of the audience held up a Jet Li poster. I don’t know if Nissy saw it or not though.]
Fan: “Oh, I like Jackie Chan.”
Nissy: [gives a thumbs up to the fan]
Shuuta: I practiced karate for 10 years.
Crowd: OHHHHHHHHH. [wild applause]
Fan: I lived in Aomori for a while and I was wondering if you’ve ever been there and what you think about it?
Urata: Actually, our manager is from Aomori, so we’ve been there a couple of times. The food is good and we had fun at the hot springs.
[The hot male manager, sitting two rows in front, buried his head in his lap in embarassment. AAA waved at him and laughed, and so did the crowd.]
Fan: “Who among you do you think is the funniest member?”
Shinjiro: [doesn’t even wait for the translator to finish, just starts pointing wildly at Shuuta.]
AAA: “SHUUTA!” [laughs]
Crowd: [cheers wildly]
Shuuta: [raises his hands in a victory pose]
DaRon: “You guys all have pets, do you ever get together and just play with them?”
Shinjiro: We live in different areas, so it’s not possible.
Nissy: But it’d be fun!
Then the first of the pleasant surprises from avex – we were allowed to take pictures for about a minute at the end of the panel. (Unfortunately, all and any pictures I took were on Tammy’s camera, so none here.)
The mad rush immediately after to get to the autograph session… can only be described as mad. I’d brought both the alohAAA! booklet and the Friday Party single to be signed, depending on which question I asked – so clearly this time I got the Friday Party single signed.
From left to right, they sat in the following order: Urata, Nissy, Misako, Shuuta, Hidaka, Shinjiro, Chiaki. (Poor Urata sat next to Nissy at every session. And since everyone seems to tell Nissy “Daisuki! ♥” or “Aishiteiru! ♥” but just smiles at Urata… that’s okay, I’ll love the Leader enough for everyone!)
Because Chiaki was the first and also the person who had answered to my question, I told her that the Friday Party single was released on my birthday. (No lie. And hey, look, I just told the internet my birthday.) At first she thought it was my birthday and told me “Happy Birthday!”, but was really nice about it even after I corrected her. (I felt so bad having to do that.) She told Shin about it too, and asked him to pass the message along. So niiiiiiiiiiice~
But then I gave Shin the impromptu picture of him that I’d drawn with pen in my notebook (the same notebook I took all of this down in) and he was so excited that he forgot to tell Hidaka. “Maji? Ore ni?” And he grabbed Hidaka’s attention and got Shuuta’s too. Hidaka went “Jouzu ne~” though it was a bad picture and I was deeply regretting giving it to Shin. :O (But I think it may have inspired someone else to draw portraits of AAA which were given to them on the following day… but I was the first! A very bad first.)
And with all that I completely forgot everything else I had wanted to say and wasted my second day meeting (and third chance to talk) with AAA.
But no, we’re not done yet. Because Ilan wanted to get signatures but couldn’t afford any more merchandise, and one of the Otakon staff managing the autograph lines graciously asked the avex staff if it was possible for her to get her shirt signed. (The big problem with this? The shirt was literally on her back.) While not too happy about it, they agreed, and Ilan entered the room after everyone else got their autographs and AAA signed her shirt as she wore it. (She later got my shirt to wear so she could put away the shirt with the signatures.)
Icy also began her career as a professional dance teacher, teaching Paulina, DaRon, and I the dance to Champagne Gold, a bit of Hallelujah, and HURRICANE LILI, BOSTON MARI. (Later that night she beat it into us. But it became completely worth it on the following day.)