A bit of editing has been done to this post as I’ve added a few more photos (a bit of cosplay, the meet & greet room, the second autograph panel, kimomo scans and cute candid shots of AKB48) and commentary throughout and may do a bit more in the future with more video hopefully!, also thank you to MB for keeping this post atop for the time being oh and I’m an-D, Andrew, Andy I’m called the latter much more though by those I’ve grown up with =). It’ll make much more sense after you’ve read MB’s opening just below. I’m still in search of a few more photos and especially the one where I’m shaking hands with the most cute idol Mano Erina while getting her autograph and also video of the second autograph session for AKB48 where I’m hoping to find myself in the footage as well and again, my writing here is being edited in a bit late so the rest of the post will flow much more naturally as it was written in a single happy swoop so to speak! There may be more to come in this post with additional editing so please check back!
MB: Hello~*, the following was written by guest writer an-D and this all resulted from a request or rather a lot of pestering and begging on my part to a friend as while I wouldn’t be able to attend this year’s Anime Expo my hopes~* were still to somehow acquire AKB♥ autographs and maybe even Manoeri’s♥….selfish I know (._.;)! And really from the very beginning none of this looked to be at all like it would come true.
Everything has been so much of a surprise for me as well, I mean not only did this friend go to the event, well after saying ‘no’ at first but he also managed so much more than maybe even was dream~worthy~*.
Please enjoy~* his written accounts of all that he experienced just below and it looks perhaps that there may be another making of a wota in the family after all……..hmm now if only I can convince him that Yukorin♥ is the most adorable member in AKB as she doesn’t even get a mention here (*≧▽≦)♪！！
“The idols you can meet” and I’m off to LA for my very first idol experience!Here’s the 16 member AKB48 Dream Ambassador Team to LA!
Well doing a little bit of editing here well adding just a few things since the original posting that came to mind later. Well I have just this one post so it may just keep getting larger in time😄.
In preparation for my very first trip to LA and with the one mission in mind of acquiring autographs from AKB48 and Mano Erina that and of course attending a great concert and film event!, surely I needed to have some sort of memorabilia, photos or just something for them to sign. So I did some bidding on this B.L.T. booklet on auctions and what was important was that it included all or at least most of the the AKB48 girls as I wasn’t really sure of whom would be attending (this being before the official AX website announcement of the beautiful “Ambassador Team” to the U.S.) and luckily this B.L.T. booklet actually includes every AKB48 Team member!!
The “Ambassador Team” is pictured here all in beautiful kimono and I later would learn that just one girl from Team B girl would be there (Kitahara Rie) although I would hear that Kasai Tomomi was there too? Although I’m yet to speak with anyone who had met here at the event. To the left are very special members for me with Kitahara Rie, Sashihara Rino and Maeda Ami, and you’ll have to read on to learn just why they became so endeared over this most memorable trip!
I originally was going to try to get this B.L.T. booklet signed but while in line for autographs I had noticed that many fans nearby were holding what I would later learn are these fancy board panels called “shikishi” and while you simply wouldn’t be able to display autographs contained in a booklet all at once these shikishi are readily easy to frame and display. So I tried at first unsuccessfully to purchase one from a nearby fan who had a few extra (just missing out as he needed 8 for the 8 girls who would be signing) but was so lucky to be offered one a bit later and for only $2, such a generous gesture!
I’ve added in a few additional photos found on Kondo Sayaka’s blog whom I learned from Chris is a member of the group SKE48 as she was present at every event taking personal photos and there’s even one very special photo of the “meet & greet” room, that will mean much more as you read on!
Finally getting in shortly after 3 pm I scanned myself in with my registration barcode and then was given a set of coupons including my name badge and events I would be attending at the expo (actually just one for the AKB48 concert) Received an extra bag of goodies and proceeded to stand in yet another line where concert tickets were being redeemed from our coupons and this is where it gets a bit redundant. While standing in that line for about 2 hours without us moving an inch I began to wonder why they didn’t just give us our tickets when we scanned ourselves in, them knowing precisely which events each one of us were attending wouldn’t that have been so much easier? Anyway. The staff doesn’t seem to know what’s going on as we questioned this one guy why our line wasn’t moving at all. Hi reply being something to the effect of our tickets being mixed up with the premier fan tickets. It seemed that the premier fans were supposed to get their tickets first (hence better seating for the concerts) but it wasn’t at all the reason given. Really confusing and by then my legs were both numb from standing in the same spot without moving for so long. Meanwhile directly to the right was a line for those AKB48 raffle tickets, more like a drawing as this girl was stamping each person’s name badge (so you don’t go more than once!) and then she’d hold up this black box with I think it was 500 losing tickets? and only 32 winning ones. Tough odds for sure! And originally they were said to be $100/apiece (I think many would have gladly paid it too) with a limited quantity available and now there was this. Eventually I slipped out of line to give the drawing a try as I heard the losing tickets were being placed back into the box therefore worsening your odds the longer you waited considering that every so often a winner was seen celebrating. But it was complete fail! Yep I was a loser and headed back into line to receive my AKB48 concert ticket for the next day.
Row “J” “seat 314” (in row 10!) turned out to be incredible!!!! as I was seated in the very center of the theater the next day for the concert!
Now about the AKB48 “Meet and greet” drawing, you see everyone who had previously lost (me included) began just hanging out in hopes that maybe there would be some extras not given away and what happened next was actually a bit hilarious! As the time was winding down getting closer and closer to the start time of the “meet and greet” event there still remained about half of the winning tickets in that box, so eventually the girl gave in and allowed everyone a second chance to get lucky. 2nd time pure fail for me! But wait the line soon changed from a sort of “L” shape into a complete circle as everyone who lost just continued on nonchalantly back into line for another try, it was so funny just to see and be a part of it. 6 pm was looming near and only about 2 minutes until the event with AKB48 would start and I was up for yep my 4th try. 4 times turned out to be lucky as I picked one of the last two (I think?) winning tickets out of the box and then it was a mad sprint for a few long blocks to find the JW Marriot hotel, atrium A whatever that was and it all worked out as I soon saw Chris just up ahead of me making his way there as quickly as he could too! We arrived at about 2 minutes after 6 and just in time to where they were just letting everyone into the room.
So here I am now sweating a lot, out of breath and not knowing what to expect to happen! Turns out this was just amazing!!!! There were eight of the AKB48 girls there all in those amazing “Iiwake Maybe” outfits which are probably the sexiest of them all with two seated to a table, four tables total with chairs for eight of us to a table along with a translator. You see it turned out to be a chance to ask whatever you wanted and unlike with the latter Q&A panel where personal questions weren’t allowed here in this room there were no real restrictions said. We were told that we’d get 10 minutes per table but it turned out to be for only 3 out of the 4 tables but I made sure to head to the tables where I recognized maybe one of them seated there making sure not to miss out! Here are the eight girls that were in the room:
Thank you to Chris for helping me with their names as I only recognized a few of them. Nothing like sitting there suddenly in front of beautiful perfection and be sweating profusely from having run a few blocks, and I first was seated at the table with Sayaka and Akicha. The thing I can’t stress enough is just how immaculately pretty these girls are!!!! From the photos and videos I’ve seen so far nothing can do justice to just how beautiful they are in person, like living dolls. After this trip I have to say that Maeda Ami struck me the most with her looks, I loved that her eyebrows were so awesome and they complimented the girl in the room with the most large and beautiful eyes I think she’s just gorgeous! Okay a bit young, just saying though =).
to hang out with! Your soul mate and the girl you’d want to marry
If there’s one thing I can say from the eight members that were in this room (with the exception of Moeno and Mocchi who I sadly missed being seated with) it’s that Sasshi is such an amazing and engaging girl she really stood out even during the later Q&A panel I thought just with how outgoing and expressive she is! In some ways I was telling a buddy at work today that she reminded me so much of some of our local girls here, haha some don’t hold back with shyness and Sasshi is all of that and much more! Sayaka definitely came across as the most mature of the girls we were able to meet and I can really see why she’s been appointed Team leader =). Still Maeda Ami. Girls don’t get any more beautiful I think! The girls were all so close, it was amazing! So in terms of idol daydreams I would have to say that Maeda Ami would be the girl you’d love to date while a girl like Sasshi could be your soul mate, your best friend, the girl you’d most want to marry.
The red carpet
These were taken just before AKB48 exited from that great big white tent seen below leading onto the red carpet!
The original photos are quite large as I maxed out the mp’s so I can zoom in on them. So sorry MB! Yuko wasn’t looking this way when she passed us so cute though Acchan and Tomomi are holding hands =).
There are a few more photos but these were the better ones I could take. The opening ceremonies followed and to I think everyone’s surprise we were all allowed to take photos throughout the entire event as long as no flash was used =). I took video instead of AKB48’s complete appearance but I had a bit of lighting issues while filming so it’s a bit washed out looking for the first half until I figured out how to make it clearer, therefore I’ll spare you from my awful quality video clip as I imagine there are lots of great ones out there to watch. The girls basically introduced themselves one by one, stood for the media for a bit before exiting in preparation for their upcoming concert at Nokia Theater. And their producer Akimoto Yasushi made a brief appearance too, he appears to be a man of a few words heheh he was gone before you knew it it seemed!
“Kai-Ki” was comprised of two mini horror stories, the first had so many seat jumping moments and the guys up front right in front of me were having their fair share of frightened moments!!! So much that there was this Japanese media guy I think he was, but he snuck up in front with his video camera and began filming for reactions to the film you know something really fun and candid that can be shared for sure and I’m thinking maybe it’ll be shown back in Japan on a t.v. program? Mano Erina was great as an actress I thought capturing the tone and mood of both of her characters as she also starred in the second mini tale of terror. The first story though was definitely the scarier of the two while the second story was a bit more on the sad/scary side, still well done I thought. Mano Erina seems to have an acting career going! One funny moment in during the first movie was when one of the school girls said something which was translated in English as being “….oh snap!” that really got a reaction it was too funny and unexpected! Now I wonder how does one say “oh snap!” in Japanese? heheh!
Here’s where a bit of luck helped me, while I had already purchased goods earlier it became a case of sitting in the “right” place right then! I had watched the movie in the second row towards the far right of the seating and the autograph area turned out to be on the right side of the club! So while the entire audience moved like a collective mob heading in that direction I got there quickly and secured my spot about halfway of the 25 lucky to receive autographs.
I can’t tell you how special this meeting and autograph from Mano Erina was!!! Not only can I not stress enough about just how cute she is in person!!!! so tiny and her hands were so tiny too! and her voice was the most sweet you could have ever imagined!!!! While in line we were all told that there would be and I quote “no touching” that struck me as odd I mean who was going to try to touch her that would be rude! Well as I got closer in line I saw a couple of fans shaking hands with her so I thought well if she holds her hand out I’m in no way going to refuse! The writer of the horror stories was also present so I asked Kihara Hirokatsu to sign the back of my movie ticket given that I well didn’t come “prepared” with a photo of him XD! Mano Erina was so gracious and adorable more than imaginable of any human being I think as you can imagine I was so touched by her demeanor she was so happy and thankful for the fans being there and it really showed too lovely! Well, Mano Erina held out her hand after signing so we shook hands and when as I was turning to leave I felt her still holding onto my hand for what turned out to be maybe about 7-10 seconds and what I hadn’t realized is that the Japanese media were wanting to take a photo of me shaking hands with Mano Erina. Oh so I saw the flash and that’s how I realized it, if only I had known I would have posed or something just something much better and yet I know there’s a photo of me meeting Mano Erina floating around somewhere on the internet. I’ve been searching without much luck so far but I have to believe it’s going to be used somewhere for publicity for this event, I hope! While I’m keeping this one for myself, I have something very special for MB =).
Happily Nokia Theater was so organized and fan friendly and we even were let in early to get set for what would be two hours of pure concert bliss!!!! I couldn’t believe how close I was, even with no premier pass I ended up in row 10 and in the very center of the theater. I’m sure many can document the show so much better than I, being much more familiar with the set list but I was so glad to recognize actually a lot of the songs their performed. The smaller unit solos were new to me but I have to say that seeing Yuko kick the mic stand in full rock n roll attitude was most sexy!!! Their outfits, the choreography, the MCs all so amazing!!!! AKB48 doesn’t just perform a concert, they put on a show! From their opening with “RIVER” till the closing encore with “Hikouki gumo” the energy was like nothing I’ve experienced before, given this was my very first idol concert still I can’t say enough of how impressed and immersed I was during the entire time! Thank you to Chris for the concert set list and details!
1 – River
2 – Aitakatta
3 – Iiwake Maybe
4 – Kuroi Tenshi
5 – Seifuku Resistance
6 – Bird – Takamina, Rie (Mariko), Sasshi (Maimai)
7 – Heart Gata Virus – Haruna, Ami (Nozomi) , Mocchi (Maimai)
8 – Blue rose – Sayaka, Sae, Yuko, Miichan
MC with Blue rose unit – Yuko and Sayaka want to go to the beach, Sae wants to go to Universal Studio, Miichan Disneyland.
9 – Boku no Taiyo
10 – BINGO! (English version)
11 – Oogoe Diamond (English version)
12 – Sakura no Shiori
13 – Namida surprise!
14 – Ponytail to Shushu
15 – Hikouki Gumo
There was a bit of impersonation/quiz like things going on stage during one of their MC’s and from matching faces it was Minegishi Minami who did something so cute with her impersonation of Winnie the Pooh! she said “I love/like honey” while holding her hands curled up to make like ears of a bear. Sae I think did Jaws and there was a t-rex impersonation too although I have no idea of what Yuko was doing. ???? The audience needed to guess whom they each were impersonating =). Nokia theater is an amazing venue, everything about the show rocked!!!! Stage presence wise I found Maeda Atsuko to really get your attention, she’s really an amazing dancer they all are but somehow Atsuko stood out so much I thought.
And while photos were not allowed as we were warned that we’d get kicked out with no second chances or refunds, media were able to take photos as long as no flash was used and luck would have it that a friend I had made during this trip sat right next to me and he offered to take photos throughout the entire show. Now my camera suffers without the use of flash and much of them turned out blurry, but there are really a lot of great photos in there!!! Thank you to David Chan of UCLA Office of Residential Life for doing something so generous as I know taking photos during a concert takes away so much from the enjoyment he could have had, thank you so much!!!!
Here are just a few of the almost 2 GBs of photos taken, oh and there are a couple of videos too one of their performance of “Sakura no shiori” but I may upload that a bit later.
While waiting in line there were a few staff members selling this edition of “Kamikyoku Tachi” which includes both a CD and DVD! but the real selling point turned out to be that it said on it’s back “Los Angeles, California” it’s a special L.A. edition! Must have I thought to help commemorate AKB48’s appearance at the Anime Expo!
The AKB48 Q&A panel and a second chance at autographs!
I had arrived yet again late and had done some shopping earlier in the day as the exhibition hall didn’t open until 10 am:
Cosplay was everywhere sorry for my poor photos.
I purchased three books and they were giving away a free little photo which turns out to be from “Kamikyoku Tachi” =).
The line to get into the panel was incredibly long as it traveling way down the hallway outside, I soon joined up with some friends and eventually ended up sitting in the fifth row center but to the left in an aisle seat. The aisle seat would turn out to be the charm for today’s last chance at getting their autographs!
The master of ceremonies resembled to me that of the Monopoly Man not in disrespect though as I like the Monopoly Man! Must have been his top hat😄. As the panel ended he announced that no one was to leave until “I release you” suddenly I felt as if I were back in high school, ‘release’ us? Then he made the announcement, there will be no autograph tickets handed out. You see, everyone was under the impression that there would be priority given to those would be ticket holders and that by attending this Q&A panel you were eligible to receive one, hence the reason why so many fans had arrived so early for this panel. Well that was a monkey wrench thrown into the mix no doubt. No autograph tickets anymore and meanwhile with this new announcement being suddenly sprung upon us I had noticed that well fans towards the rear of the hall were already busy ‘releasing’ themselves so I jumped up and so lucky to be in an aisle seat as there were no others to impede my exit at least from my row as had I been in the center of a row it would’ve taken much longer to get out into the open aisle! So the mad dash to get to the designated autograph area was on in full and while I had no idea of where exactly this location was I thought at first, just follow the stamped which was about to ensue!!! While we were getting clogged up together and slowing down while still in the room I noticed that I could freely cut across one of the side rows of seats as they had all cleared by then so I crossed over and was now in the far right aisle of the room and heading for the exit!! Behind me I could hear a girl’s voice saying in cute desperation “OMG AKB! OMB AKB!” so as I finally got out of the room I saw her take off down the hall and with her red backpack I was able to just about keep up with her as I just knew she must know where we needed to be. On the way the AX staff kept yelling at all of us “no running! no running!” while other event goers and cosplayers filled the hall and were heading in the opposite direction than us, the result? I nearly cleaned out or was cleaned out by three very close calls all while sprinting full blast just trying to keep up with the girl with the red backpack!!! And I’m thinking sorry AX staff but are we really supposed to be expected to slow down? You created this situation by not giving autograph tickets and instead making it a first come first serve affair XD! Meanwhile people in the hall watching us run frantically around and towards them kept asking us “where are you going?” “what’s happening?” It surely must’ve appeared that an axe murderer were chasing us all, it was that nuts really!!!!!
I managed to keep up with the girl with the red backpack until we reached the exhibition hall, where it was basically a gigantic shopping complex with hundreds of sellers and booths everywhere I weaved and ran weaved and ran as fast as I could eventually reaching the rear of the exhibit hall. And there it was. The AKB48 autograph line, all set up using those snake dividers you sometimes see in banks for the customers, only this snake line was extremely long. I think about 30 or maybe more fans had beaten me there, still I had managed to outrun even those who appeared to be much younger heheh I had run like the wind or well as fast as a breeze at least and had made it!
The fruits of my frantic running? It’s just below and this my gift to MB, AKB48 autographs. And all 8 signed so cutely and we all had a chance to chat just a little while they signed everyone was so friendly and cute! cute! cute!!!!! A friend I had made during these past few days, David Chan was able to shoot video of the entire autograph event and when I’m able to trade footage with him I may be able to share the video here so you can get a close up look at the girls heheh maybe I’ll be in the footage I wonder? Only time will tell.
You can see a portion of the crowd lined up above in the snaked sectioned wanting to get autographs from the AKB48 girls!! Again this is the very back of the exhibition hall where all of the anime vendors were set up, sort of like gigantic Hawaii “Swap meet” all for anime and with just about anything you could imagine for sale and on display! I’m in the “snake” line above somewhere and much nearer to the front as this was taken from the far opposite side to the front of the line, Sayaka is in the forefront as she signed for me last.
My treasure and just knowing how I had to run for this like mad to get in line early enough!! well now it’s MB’s😄.
A bit more shopping! AKB48 singles.
Gifts from Chris!!!! Thank you so much I couldn’t have done any of this without you!!!! You’re a wonderful friend!
On the way back to my hotel (I had to walk because the cab drivers must’ve been jaded by then with so many requests for “short fares” to and from the nearby hotels to the Los Angeles Convention Center :/) and I caught a glimpse of an outdoor concert underway, while I have no idea of who they were I just know that the lead vocalist wanted “more” of something as he kept screaming “motto motto!!!!! motto motto!!!!!) :O
The Staples Center, never thought I’d be so up close! Somehow it looks much more shiny on t.v. I wonder?
And look! it’s Magic Johnson across the street! Where’s Kobe though?..does he need one more ring to qualify?
And now from this AKB48 experience, my favorite members? I’ve now got my favorite three and so much had to do with actually meeting them in person and up close in the “meet & greet” event again sitting less than a foot from an idol and speaking with them has its special powers! =):
(please if re-posting any of the photos of AKB48 here, please credit back to this blog thank you =) ).