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Oshare Macross VD @ Shinjuku Marui One 02/6~02/21, 2013

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The latest in Shinjuku Marui One’s Oshare Macross in-store exhibits – ‘Oshare Macross VD (Valentine’s Day) – opened on Wednesday, February 6th, to 3-degree temperatures, chilling winds, and snow. As with past exhibits, the latest Oshare Macross is rather small in scale and is made up of three main attractions:

(1) Merchandise -  a Macross-themed store on the first floor featuring several new and exhibit-only items and a whole bunch of other Macross stuff, fashion design collaborations with popular brands, Macross-themed sweets or deserts

(2)A small exhibit of Macross-related art – this time for the upcoming Macross 30 PS3 game
(3)Some sort of autograph session with a special guest which is usually held at a later date mid-way through the exhibit.
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This exhibits special guest was actually the same as the previous one’s  (Oshare Macross 30Hirotaka Marufuji. If Marufuji’s name isn’t a familiar one it should be. He was the Chief Animation Director on Macross Frontier meaning that he has drawn Sheryl more times than Risa Ebata herself. He adapted many classic Macross characters to the newer, updated versions that were used in the Macross pachinko games. Most importantly, he is the lead character designer for Macross 30.

Marufuji’s previous autograph session was during the Oshare Macross 30 exhibit back in September, 2012, and has already become the stuff of legend among Macross fans.

Now, the way these autograph sessions usually work is that the first 50 people who spend 3000yen or more on opening day receive a ticket for the autograph session which is then held at a later date. Back at Oshare Macross 30 however, word soon got out that Marufuji wouldn’t just be signing a printed sign board for ticket holders – he would actually sketch Sheryl for each and every one of them – a process that ended up taking over 10 hours. The result was that over 30 people ended up camping in front of Marui One overnight just to get a ticket.

To avoid such shenanigans this time around, the organizers announced well in advance that Marufuji would strictly be doing only autographs and only on a printed signboard provided to ticket holders free of charge.

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Despite this, upon braving one of the largest snowfalls in Tokyo for the year, I turned up to Oshare Macross VD just after 7AM on Wednesday, Feb. 6 to find myself number 40 of 50. Speaking to a number of fans at the front of the line confirmed my suspicions – a good 20 or so people had camped out anyways. In the snow. Now THAT’S what I call a dedicated Macross fan!

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After waiting in line for close to 4 hours (Marui One didn’t open its doors until 11AM and the woman directly in front of me was waiting in the snow the whole time with an infant!), we gratefully filed in to the centrally heated department store to dutifully spend the prerequisite 3000 yen and get our autograph tickets. There were a few new Macross items on sale, including Macross F-themed mugs, socks, train pass holders and coasters, – but nothing that overly interested me. I opted instead for a few illustrated ‘art cards’. These are A4-sized illustrations on thin cardboard stock and seem to be the possible successor to the A4 clear files which have been the scourge of anime collectors who like good art over the last 5 or 6 years (the darn things are difficult to store and display and I vastly preferred it when ‘pencil boards’ were the in-thing back in the 90’s). The line to get to the register looped around the inside of the store, but a television played the latest commercials for Macross 30, FB7, Macross Chronicles, DYRL, and the latest Superdimensional Seminars to distract us. There was also a sketch of the YF-30 in fighter mode by Shoji Kawamori. Upon purchasing my items (at a grand total of 3020 yen – just scraping in over the 3000yen limit!), I received my autograph ticket and headed upstairs to the gallery on the 4th floor.

1011 The ‘gallery’ is actually a tiny 3-walled room (the same one used for previous Oshare Macross events), with an entrance boarded by display cases featuring the latest Macross prize and Ichiban Kuji figures from Banpresto (the next Ichiban Kuji campaign at the end of March has some great Macross merchandise – even the common prizes look great! See the photo gallery at the end of this report for details).

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The walls of the gallery featured art and promotional images for Macross 30. One wall was taken up by character designs for both the new characters Leon Aisha and Mina as well as some of the redesigns for other Macross characters, while another was enlarged screenshots from some of the animated sequences in the game. Another wall was taken up entirely by a huge, framed print of Hidetaka Tenjin’s original box-art for the limited edition. In the center of the room was a waist-high display case featuring the contents of the limited edition box, as well as the unpainted model of the YF-30 that was spotted at the Osaka 1:1 Valkyrie exhibition late last year.

While I was there, I also checked out the fashion collaborations with brand ‘emureverie’ and jewelry collaborations with accessory manufacturer Wargo.

Similarly, the Macross-themed sweets on offer for this Valentines Day event were made in conjunction with Patisserie Swallowtail White Rose, and featured Macross F-themed chocolate cakes, strawberry tarts and langue de chat.

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Ten days later, On February 16, I found myself once again at Marui One, this time for Hirotaka Marufuji’s autograph session. The autograph tickets were split up into groups of 10. Numbers 1~10 got their autographs from 14:00~14:30. Numbers 11~20 from 14:30~15:00 and so on.

I arrived just before my designated time of 15:30, assuming that I’d be in and out in 30mins, only to find that….the line had yet to even reach ticket no.20.

What on earth was going on?

It turned out that Marufuji had decided to add an extra character to each person’s signboard – moreover, he was taking requests. These were small, profile drawings at most, but he was still taking the time to do outline sketches in pencil first before going over his work in gold magic marker.

With so many people backed up, we bunched around the entrance to the gallery where Marufuji’s table had been set up – watching him draw and checking out people’s sketches as they came out. The vast majority of people seemed to be asking for either Alto or Sheryl (with one girl even specifically requesting a young Sheryl from the Wings of Farewell), although I did see a Mylene, Hikaru, Ranka’s phone, and a young SDFM Max (despite the fact that the Max in Macross 30 is the older Captain Max from Macross 7).

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After some deliberation (and 2.5hrs waiting in line), I decided that the classics just couldn’t be beaten, and asked Marufuji for a Minmay when my time came. We talked a bit while he was sketching (flanked by two Sheryl cosplayers) about the popularity of the franchise abroad, and his past experience with Macross. He spoke briefly about the challenges of adapting the various Macross characters and of his experiences redesigning many of them for the Pachinko games. I was struck by how approachable and friendly he was, not to mention how much he wanted to give something back to the fans.

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After shaking his hand, I headed back downstairs to look at the merchandise and noticed that a new video had been added to the tv loop – an advertisement for the recently announced Macross Crossover Live 30 concert. While still 5 months away, this will surely be the next major event on most Macross fans calendars. Fortunately, we will have Macross 30 to keep us going until then.

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