Hey hey hey! This is °e
coming to you from my home state of Georgia where Anime Weekend Atlanta just happened. I do believe this is the first(?) (and my first) JPHiP meeting in the Dirty South
! So I'm glad to represent along with Slack and Reichan.
I'll post some pics and videos after I sort them out, and of course our exclusive interview with Kikka! So here's my report.Da breakdown!Friday:3:00 to 5ish PM
Slack had informed us that the interview was on at 5:30 to 6 and needed backup. I wasn't sure I could make it but I knew it was going to be a short day at work. So as soon as I got off of work, I rushed getting ready and ate a little. I wore my hot pink MM 40th single anniversary shirt and wondered if it was a good idea to wear it. (Turned out it did LoL) Then Reichan (who was also rushing to get there) texted me that the interview was pushed back to 6:15 so now I had to worry about rush hour traffic. But it was unavoidable as I got stuck for nearly an hour. Then parking was almost a hassle but thankfully my compact car was able to squeeze into a space next to a concrete beam. 5:00 to 6:15 PM
I was scrambling around trying to find the registration area and something in the back of my mind thought that I won't be able to get my press badge because Daigong put in my name last minute. And sure enough, they had no badge for me. T_T Just then Slack, Rei, and Luis met up with me and tried to fix it. And thank god Rei had the confirmation email from Daigong and Yaz with my name on it and boom! officially on the Press Team.
We quickly tried to organize how we'll conduct our interview and Slack got Rei and I caught up on Kikka's career for we knew little about her other than we knew she auditioned for 8th gen MM (she was my favorite auditionee actually) and that she was in Milky Way with Koharu. As the time drew near we got a little nervous, at least I was, knowing that she has a connection to H!P which meant she knew Eririn.
We got into the elevator to go to the 12th floor and noticed these other guys with huge and expensive camera equipment and realized that they were part of the Up Front or Universal staff.6:15 to 6:45 PM
As soon as we got off the elevator we went opposite directions of the UF/Universal staff cuz we were told the wrong room number, so we rejoined them and Yaz at the "Govenor's Suite". There, they asked us how we wanted things set up and where we wanted Kikka to sit and we like "Uhh..."
We were trying to adjust the lighting but there were little lights in the room. We ended up opening the curtains to let the light in and while we were doing that we heard a peppy voice saying "Onegaishimasu! Onegaishimasu!" and we were all like
We didn't expect her to just walk right in like that.
So we finally got situated, the camera guys surrounded the room. Luis was our main camera guy and I also took video (which I mentioned in the other thread that I lost it later that night. I had a great view of her too OTL) So on with the interview! We pretty much went through her career timeline from her MM audition to being a soloist. Her answers were very thought out and she was very composed. You can also see her genki personality shine through. And of course the best part was showing her the JPHiP sign and taking a photo with her.
Afterwards, the Up Front guy took our names which I assumed he needed to get our photos/videos later but it was actually for Kikka to personally sign autographs for each of us! And it was a photo that wasn't for sale at her booth, so in other words...EXCLUSIVE!
We didn't expect any of that. As we were leaving, Rei almost went out the room without her bag and got a giggle from Kikka.
As we left the suite we were all like, "Did that just really happen?" We all had a moment, I know Slack did. Rei and I were won over. She just had that, as Slack put it, "magic" about her. We were so relieved that the interview went really well, that we were able to make it there on time and got all our questions were answered. Yaz was great too, she translated everything. We believe we are probably one of the few people to have an interview with her so it was definitely an honor.
So yeah, it was worth the hour long wait in traffic, I wasn't planning to go on Friday but I couldn't miss out on the interview. Once in a lifetime opportunity.
Pretty in PINKSSaturday:8:30 to 11:30ish AM
That was unplanned but it worked out perfectly!
Got up early to prepare for today. Got my cameras, packed lunch, and made my own special JPHiP shirt
The spray instructions said it needed to dry for an hour but I was like whatever and just put it on over my air dry shirt. It still felt a little moist but at least it didn't smear.
11:30 to 1:15ish PM
Stuck in traffic >_< GA likes to do construction on their roads like all the time and this weekend decided to close 3 lanes, which made my 40 min trip to an 1:45 >_< and when I finally took the exit and saw the convention center and the mall across the street I just kept reminding myself that my old apartment is like less than 5 minutes away. Right behind that mall. That same mall where Kikka ate at the Cheesecake Factory. SMH Had I still lived there I would've allowed anyone to stay over and saved them from paying for a hotel. Although, my former roommates probably wouldn't like the idea. 1:15 to 3ish PM
I thought I was late for the autograph session cuz it started at 1 plus I had no idea where it was being held and had to ask at least 3 staff people that made me circle around the dealer booths area twice, until I finally found it in the far right corner. And there's Kikka signing autographs in her "Darling to Madonna" outfit! The line wasn't that long but it did curve around. I saw Slack a few people ahead of me and he showed me his two shot with Kikka and I was like "you're going in line again?" and he told me that others did it multiple times already. So I got her autograph 3 times.
The first time she signed my CD that I struggled to get open, and got a pic with her. I asked her, "Genki desu ka?" and she replied back something I didn't understand. Then I went back a 2nd time and made her sign the heart on my shirt. She looked at it and then I did the jphip sign to her and said "JPHiP, watashi." and she was like "Oh!" and did the sign back to me.
And then I ended up back in line a 3rd with Slack and got his CD booklet signed and took another pic with Kikka. BTW She smelled really nice, wonder what perfume she uses. Then I was like, "Ok, that's enough. Let's not bother her anymore." LoL So we kinda hung around her booth, there were some fans videoing her the whole time. At one point, I was on the side of her booth with her back facing me and Slack said that when she stands up to take pics with the fans getting her autograph that I should sneak some butt shots. And I did.
Her autograph session actually went over her scheduled time so no one was turned away. Afterwards she got up from the table and went in front of her booth. She sort of did some weird poses while everyone took pics of her. Then we were all gathered together to take a group photo with her. I ended up in the front kneeling down. Then she told us to do this pose with her that looked like double fingered guns about to touch each other. Apparently she called it "One Love" (lol wut?
) [The group photo posted by the staff is the 2nd group photo from after her concert. ] Afterwards she hung around her booth, she made a sign promoting her concert on a sketchbook, danced to a Berryz Koubou PV playing on the TV (had video but some staff guy was in the way), she also spilled a box of glowticks on the floor and had the cutest derp face and I kicked myself for turning off my camera at that moment. LoL Then she pretty much went around to every dealer booth handing out flyers about her concert while a group of fans trailed behind her. I did for awhile but stopped after a few minutes. Then I lost Slack in the crowd. 3:30 to 4:45 PM
After losing Slack, I just went around the con by myself trying to locate the concert area, ate lunch, took pics of K-POP
Right around 4:15 I headed towards the concert area, the doors were open so people could just walk in and out of there. I peeked inside and saw that it wasn't that big at all, the size of a wedding reception/banquet hall. There were no chairs so people were standing or sitting down/leaning against the back wall. The artist before Kikka was still performing so I went inside to do some test shots with my camera. I was on the far left side of the stage right next to the speaker. I guess it's fortunate that I'm deaf in my left ear so the speaker didn't bother me too much.
Soon afterwards Reichan and Luis found me and we got our cameras ready.4:45 - 5:20 PM
Concert time! It actually started a little late but pretty much all the concert performances that day were back to back with little time to set up for the next performer. I saw all the Kikka wotas up front with their super bright yellow glowsticks and everyone chanted "Kikka, Kikka!" And then there she was. I think I've seen her so much that day it's like I already knew her for a long time. LoL She started with "Kokokara Hajimarunda!" (which is actually the first song I heard of hers when I decided to check her out). There were some audio problems where it got loud then got muted, but Kikka kept singing, and she was actually singing! No lipsyncing and she actually sings well live!
Koko kara Hajimarunda
Taan Taan Taan! (Milky Way)
Romantic Ukare Mode (Mikitty)
Daite! Hold On Me (MM)
Konna Watashi de Yokattara
Darling + Madonna
Kikkake wa YOU!
She performed the Milky Way song with her star tambourine, and afterwards to our surprise she started singing Miki's "Romantic Ukare Mode" and of course that's like the Wotagei anthem. They went crazy! We got to see the Over Action Dolphin by real wotas!
Some of the general audience were either fascinated or freaked out by them. lol Shoot, I even stopped taking pics and joined in.
After that was the old MM "Daite Hold On Me" and I thought that was a difficult song to sing, by yourself. Afterwards I wondered if that was a good idea to add those songs in there knowing that Kikka's not in H!P anymore. I mean the non fans probably didn't notice anyway and of course it brought back memories from us H!P fans. Then I realized that yeah it was ok to put those songs in because without MM, Kikka would not be where is she is right now. During her MC (which had no translator) she explained her humble beginnings from auditioning for MM, to being a part of H!P Eggs, and now soloist. So her concert was pretty much a timeline of her career, singing old to new songs. I'm sure Up Front strategized that.
She sung a few more of her solo songs and lastly told everyone in English to come see at her booth after the concert. One of my favorite highlights of the concert, aside from Romantic Ukare Mode, was when Kikka took a sip of water and a wota shouted "O-mizu!" and Kikka was like "Hai! O-mi-zu! O-mi-zu!" and made the audience chant it with her.
She's so cute.
I was freaking out in the beginning cuz all my shots were coming out blurry and I knew I was the only one out of us taking photos cuz Rei took some videos and Slack was fanboying with the wotas LoL So I looked over at the press guy next to me to see his camera and realized that I needed to fix the shutter speed of the cam. After that everything was good. All the shots were pretty much the same, there were no costume changes, just some action and close up shots from one angle. I wished I moved around some but I was enjoying the show too. Even though the venue was small I think there was a good turn out, it felt more intimate in a way since it wasn't huge. Even people who were in the back could still get a good view of the stage. And of course, without the wotas, the audience wouldn't have been so energetic. 5:20 to 6:20 PM
Kikka came back to her booth still genki as ever and signed more autographs. I bought her photoset to sign and Reichan gave her JPHiP's present. I told her "Konsaato, sugoi!" and she replied "Hontou ni?" and then I said "Tanoshii~" as in "It was fun" but she thought I asked her if she had fun so she replied "Un, (japanese words)"
We ended up getting back in line again because Rei forgot to get a two shot with her, and I also made her sign her other photo from the photoset. I was like "Mou ichido~" and she was like "O-K" At that point I thought I went over my limit since I got her autograph 5 times that day
The Up Front link guy was pulling people over to the side and interviewed them about their thoughts about the concert, I presume. Rei and I were like "Hey interview us too! We're fans too!" but he probably didn't because were sort of a "staff" and we had JPHiP logos on us, so it was like advertising.
But he did talk to us and thanked us for our support. Then when it was time for her to leave we took a group photo again with another wacky pose and that was the one the staff posted on Twitter. Afterwards she was hanging around her booth again talking with this hyper lady who's probably from the staff. And then the moment I've been waiting for...Kikka did "Gangnam Style"
!...for like a split second. Miss hyper lady was probably showing her. I saw it and was like zOMG! Why isn't my camera on???? I missed the opportunity but it was brief anyway I'm sure no one noticed. So yeah that was that. Dinner & AFTER PARTY!
After that we were starving so I drove all of us to my side of town and ate at a Korean Tofu House with the karaoke place above it. Soon my fiance joined us and afterwards went to a bakery for desert and H-Mart which Rei enjoyed a lot.
Then it was karaoke time! I enjoyed it A LOT since I can finally sing J-pop/K-pop songs with other people (other than my sisters) who know the songs too! We also went through 3 bottles of Korean wines
My fiance later asked how do we all know the same Japanese songs. I think he missed the part where I told before I went to the con that I'm meeting people from a forum where we share a love for Japanese music Sunday
I mentioned in the other thread that I missed the Q&A because I came there too late and it was in another room other than the one specified in the schedule. I'm sure Slack attended.Final Thoughts
Honestly, I didn't expect this to be that big of a deal. I got reeled in about getting into the con for free but mostly to meet fellow HiPsters. I knew I would be able to take pics and all but I didn't expect to be actually treated as "staff". The privilege was an honor and I thank Daigong for making it happen! You can see my dramatic change of thought in the con thread from being indifferent about Kikka to instant fan.
Even if my fandom ends up shortlived at least I will always remember this weekend.
About AWA...I first heard of it 2 years ago when my cousin from TN mentioned on facebook that he was there, and I asked him why he didn't tell me he was in town. Then when I looked it up I realized it was 5 minutes from me, right there across the mall. I didn't think it was that big of a con because, as Slack mentioned in one of his videos, the old AWA site looked like something made by geocities.
Well it is definitely a lot smaller than say, AX, for sure but it was still a good size. Perhaps the great thing about is that it's located right on the edge of Atlanta so there was no worry about traffic and the busy city. I always say "Better than Nothing." It's nice that there are things like this in my area and I don't have to travel far. So, good job, Georgia.
Security wasn't as strict as AX, I mean Kikka walked freely around the con with no problems and fans weren't restricted from taking pics and videos of her (except at the concert). So fans were able to approach her in a nonrestricted and calm environment.
Lastly...I wanna thank Daigong again for hooking me up with the press badge, Rei-chan for rescuing me when I was trying to get my badge
Rei's bf for being our main camera guy, Slack for his extensive knowledge of Kikka's career, the wotas for being a huge part of the concert experience, Yaz for being our translator, AWA for having a con in my home state, and of course, Kikka for being the reason all this happened!
I said to Slack and Rei that one day Kikka's gonna end up doing the JPHiP sign accidentally during a future photoshoot.
Btw, this is all written from memory after the con. Yay for my good memory!
Pics and videos coming up!