So a few other MWers and myself hit Shinjuku for an 8:30 am session on Saturday. This was, for all extents and purposes, the first screening of the film anywhere, although the 'official premiere' was held over in Ikebukuro later in the day.
The cinema was themed pretty much about half Macross Frontier and half Ghost in the Shell (for the upcoming 3D remaster of Solid State Society).
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After the movie, the line for merchandise was ridiculous. Despite waiting in line for 30 mins, only 2 hrs after the cinema had opened, half of the merchandise was sold out already. Pictures of what was left were posted on the walls of the stairwell so we could decide what we wanted while we waited.
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With our minds blown by the movie, and no time to spare, it was then time to dash over to Ikebukuro to check out a Macross F display at the Sunshine 60 Observatory. SAVE also had a talkshow to attend featuring Kawamoru, Megumi, May'n and Aya. Just over 600 people had been selected from a draw from this event. Unfortunately I wasnt among the lucky ones, but events would conspre that would see me catch at least part of the talkshow.
I approve of this poster!
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The crowd waiting to get in.
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It was so hard to get into the talkshow that dozens of people without tickets turned up at the observatory to try to catch some of what was being said. Like these guys. (hint: you couldnt hear ANYTHING by doing this - and they did it for an HOUR).
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As it turned out, a friend with connections managed to sneak me in with a staff pass for about 10-15 mins. The talkshow was a tiny stage at the end of a very long room. The final 200 or so people at the back couldnt really see much and had to resort to looking at monitors which were hanging from the ceiling. I managed to catch a birthday cake being brought out for Aya Endo's birthday, and each of the voice actors do a few lines from the movie on stage while using a hand puppet of their character. Nakamura (Alto) threatened to say Alto's last line from Wings of Farewell... but decided against it since half of the audience had yet to see the movie (SLACKERS!).
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The observatory itself had several displays as well as a merchandise shop (which, funnily enough, had some of the items which had been sold out previously at Shinjuku).
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The YF-29 was being heavily promoted pretty much everywhere I went over the weekend.
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Sooooo much merchandise, nick-nacks, sticker machines, gatcha-gatcha, etc..
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Walls were adorned with lot of promotional posters and stills from the series and the False Songstress.
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Scripts and storyboards (check out the script cover art!)
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Framed autographs by Aya Endo and May'n
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Save says 'why, helloooooo there' to chibi-Klan....
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The SDF-1 Daruma was back (previously seen at the Girasama Festival in Yokohama in August 2010) - with a Wings of Farewell logo on it this time.
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It had also been signed by Kawamori as well as the entire cast and...someone else...I wonder who THIS could be? ;-)
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It seemed as though Kawamori had developed a liking for this whole 'autographing' thing, as we suddenly started coming across his signatures EVERYWHERE. He had apparently walked out of the talkshow at the observatory and started signing everything he could find. Kawamori had a way of jumping you when you least expected it. Like a flasher with a magic marker.
By the time we got out of the observatory it was already too late for the poor poster we had seen on the way in....
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Posters in the startion.
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It was at this point that luck struck again - a friend in the know had heard a rumour that a special guest was going to turn up at the end of the 1:10 screening of Wings of Farewell in Ikebukuro. They also slipped me a ticket to get into the fully booked cinema. It was well past 2:30 when I found out, but a hushed conversation with the guy at the door confirmed that there was indeed a secret special guest on the way, I found some standing space at the back of the cinema and watched the last 20 mins of the film again. After the credits rolled, Kawamori, Megumi and Aya came out for a short 20min talk. Yes, Kawamori was most likely hiding out in the cinema while the police were looking for the cause of the sudden rash of signings that had broken out outside.
Some in audience had obviously been tipped off about the surprise too. I saw at least a couple of familiar faces from other Macross related events. At a guess though, at least half of the audience had no idea what was going on. Two guys in front of me literally jumped out of their seats when Kawamori was announced. Two girls to the right of the cinema started screaming when Aya came out on stage. Having just finished their first viewing of the movie, the crowd was pretty pumped up.
The talk was pretty much standard fare for this sort of event. Kawamori talked about how tight the deadline had been - he completed the film less than 2 weeks before it was due to be released; Aya talked about her impressions when she first saw the film a little over a week ago; Megumi told the audience how shocked she was at how much more real Ranka seemed in this movie. Actually she had a point. I noticed something similar during my second full screening the next day - in certain scenes, Ranka moved a lot more like Megumi. I'd say they studied the way Megumi moves, dances, etc when animating Ranka for these parts. It worked great but felt a little odd - as if fantasy and reality were merging somehow ...
(May 3 - I have since learned that yes, Megumi was indeed motion captured for a certain scene in Wings of Farewell.)
Just like at Shinjuku, fans were lining up for merchandise in Ikebukuro too.
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After the mini-talkshow, it was off to Akiba for a few drinks - and we just happened to stumble across one of the most awesome bikes ever!
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But of course, this was no day to have mere alcohol! Bar Queen Dolce in Akihabara was all done up in a Macross theme - all three of the 'key art' posters adorned the walls while a tv on the back wall played episodes of Macross Frontier. A special menu for the occasion contained nothing but Macross F themed drinks. At 1000yen a pop. each also came with your choice of a Ranka or Sherryl themed coaster.
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Due to a ticket mix-up, my second viewing would have to wait until the next day, so we dropped by marui One in Shinjuku to check out their 'Oshare Macross' display. The first floor had an amazing array of Macross Frontier goods, while the 4th floor features some art by Tenjin. Unfortunately the store was about to close, so we just poked around the first floor (I'll probably head back next weekend to check out the fourth).
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KAWAMORI STRIKES! These poor innocent Valkyries were completely trashed by his binge of SIGNING MADNESS!
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I then headed to one of my favourite local watering holes and bunkered down for the night. After stumbling onto the first train the next morning at around 5:30 in the AM, half blinded by that toxic combination of hayfever, intoxication and cigarette smoke, I managed to somehow get a few hours of sleep before heading out to a book signing by Tenjin at Yodobashi Camera. at 2:50pm.
The book section had made sure all the Macross stuff was on display. You had to purchase a copy of Valkyries: Second Sortie to get an autograph ticket. Along with my second copy of Second Sortie, I went ahead and grabbed a second copy of the original Valkyries as well - the darned book is getting harder to find these days, so I figured why not?
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The YF-29 was getting a lot of attention, same as over at the Ikebukuro event.
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In all, about 100ppl turned up to get their books signed by Tenjin. This is some of them.
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Exciting! Actually, I noticed the rather infamous No. 1 Macross fan in all of Japan in line, as did Renato, who was talking with him. It turned out that he had already seen Wings of Farewell SIX TIMES! Moreover, a local cinema had been rerunning The False Songstress the night before, bringing his grand total of viewing for that film to...FORTY SIX TIMES!!! Yes, at the cinema! At 1800yen a ticket....well...thats more money than I want to think about really.
Stumbled across a Mikimoto sketch at the bookstore too - only in Japan could something like this be left out on public display and not disappear.
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After the signing Tenjin did a talkshow - it was pretty free-form (a lot of Q & A) and went a lot longer than expected - about an hour in total. He brought one of his most prized possessions - a framed, signed armoured VF-1 by Yoshiyuki Takani. Apparently his parents had bought him the model with that exact artwork when he was a kid. He had no idea what a Valkyrie even was, but was so fascinated by the picture that he looked at it for pretty much 3 months straight. He has two other Takani originals at home. Then, pulling out an ipad, he discussed some of the work he did on Macross Frontier -both the series and the movies. A lot of this discussion focused on the detailing and texturing he did on the 3D models. These would often arrive in his drop box - 70 or 100 at a time - with a note saying simply 'Full detail please!' For examples, please check out Second Sortie.
Q&A time was fun -when asked which Valkyrie is his favourite, Tenjin replied that apart from the VF-1 (which is a class unto itself) he liked training models like the VF-1D. he particularly likes the orange colour scheme. When asked if he would ever create his own Valkyrie he said that he doubted it. He feels that any Valkyrie not designed by Kawamori isnt really a Valkyrie. Designing them is a talent that only Kawamori really has - think of how a Valkyrie transforms. What sort of guy comes up with THAT inside his head?!? Really?!?'
MWer Graham's name came up in relation to a mistake Tenjin had made on the numbering on the side of a Valkyrie in one of his pictures. 'How is it that the only person who noticed this was a guy all the way over in Hong Kong!' he exclaimed.
Of course, the question of a potential 30th anniversary production came up as well. When asked what he thought of such a possibility, Tenjin replied 'What do I think? I think I just finished a movie and would like a break! Seriously though, I haven't thought about it at all.'
Sunday ended with a second viewing of Wings of Farewell and some well deserved sleep! Will keep this thread updated with anything else that I come across over the next week or two. Also, I might squeeze a third screening in tomorrow if I'm lucky ;-)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
But the Macross madness hardly ended there. The following Tuesday (March 1) just happened to be a day off work, so after dealing with a few of those annoying errands that life tends to throw at you, I decided to follow up on some of the Macross campaigns that I hadn’t had time to get around to over the weekend. I started off the day with a 4th viewing of Wings of Farewell at 11am at Shinjuku, before heading over to Ikebukuro to meet Save and descend into the depths of madness that was Macross-themed food.
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THIS was the line just to get INTO THE ELEVATOR to GET to the cinema to see Wings of Farewell at 11AM on a WEEKDAY!
Namco’s ‘Namja Town’ is located at the end of the Sunshine City 60 shopping complex in Ikebukuro. Designed as a combination of family entertainment destination and date spot, it consists of two floors – the first being dedicated to ‘Gyoza’ (Chinese meat dumplings) and the second being nothing but deserts. These food stalls are scattered throughout each floor, with games, old fashioned ghost houses, an arcade, photo booths and other exhibits filling up the spaces in between. The whole place has a retro 50s feel and theme, with narrow alleys in between and behind the foodstalls leading to anything from a mini teahouse to an old style pachinko machine (Corinthian machine).
(For more information on Namja Town, try here)
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The foodstalls often hold campaigns to tie in with new anime theatrical releases. I’d been to one for Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 6 or 7 years back. The most recent was, of course, for Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell. What such a ‘campaign’ amounts to is basically Macross-themed gyoza and deserts costing between 500yen-800yen each. With each type of desert comes a custom Macross trading card. The hard-core fans naturally try to catch..er…eat-em-all. While there was no way I had the money (or the stomach) to try all the Macross goodies on offer, half the fun is seeing just how each footstall manages to make something that is, in some way, Macross-related.
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Thr full list of Macross goodies
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This was supposed to look like Sheryl's mic. I know what it ended up looking like but will refrain from using such language here.
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All of the above are edible dumplings, from the little Ai-kun to....Sheryl's midrift?
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This was supposed to be Ranka's mic. The pic and the end result look just a teeny bit....different imo. Was pretty tasty though.
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The local arcade had also been decked out in full Macross attire. From the posters out front to the UFO catchers with Sheryl and Ranka decals plastered all over them, it was all about Macross merchandise. Anyone who put 500yen into a machine (regardless of whether or not they actually won anything) was eligible for a Wings of Farewell plastic file (A4). Three were available - Sheryl, Ranka, and Alto holding mysterious wedding-dress woman.
Having had our fill of meaty goodness, we decided to navigate our way upstairs to check out the desert floor. Navigate is definitely the most appropriate term to use, since the twisty corridors of Namja Town are meant to keep the visitor trapped, lost and helpless within its walls. But eventually we stumbled across the magic escalator to the 2nd floor.
One thing that surprised me was the amount of cosplayers that were just hanging around. The strange interior décor of Namja Town apparently makes it a popular spot for cosplay photography, and despite it being a weekday there were dozens of them around. The majority were dressed as Macross Frontier characters (of course!) but there were a few Naruto, Star Driver and Monster Hunter ones wondering around as well.
The desert floor was much brighter and easier to navigate than the Gyoza one below. There were a LOT of Macross deserts on offer – good thing we hadn’t completely filled up on Gyoza.
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Alto and Ranka consider devouring Klan. Meanwhile, Klan contemplates an ice cream stand, unaware that the Alto behind her is obviously an imposter.
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This monstrosity was the most embarassing thing I've ever ordered. You should have seen the smirk on the cahiers face when I asked for a 'My Boyfriends a Pilot Ice Cream.' Kira!
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Meanwhile. Save had decided he had finally had enough of Ranka's annoying mobile phone. Just what the heck is that thing supposed to be anyway?
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Save is...kinda?
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Also on the 2nd floor was a Macross Frontier ‘Entertainment Center.’ What this meant was that it was basically a big merchandise store with ONE game. Said game involved throwing a paper airplane through heart-shaped hoops. Certain hoops won certain prizes. The pre-game explanation had actually been recorded by Aya Endo and Megumi Nakajima, which was pretty cool.
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The big thing however was the merchandise. While most was obviously aimed at a demographic in possession of a little more estrogen than myself, they DID have the Wings of Farewell flag and bromide set. These had both been sold out at the cinema on Saturday, so I snapped them up.
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Oh, they also had these:
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Yes, that’s right, Ranka’s ‘Maguro-man’ are REAL! The best thing about the store by far though had to be the Ninjin (carrot) man :-)
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Klan considers a new dress while Sheryl (in the background) seems to have already made up her mind.
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Choose?!? Why can’t I have both?
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The true (and final) test of the day had been decided the moment we saw it on the menu - Pineapple Cake!
It actually turned out to be Pineapple Cheesecake, but the results were unfortunately, the same...
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March 1st (cont)
But it was actually that evening, believe it or not, that turned out to be the biggest Macross surprise of the day, if not the whole week!
The Yoko Kanno Homage Group, ‘Drooly Hiyoko’ (usually shortened to ‘Dorohiyo’ - the name is a long story, so don’t ask ^^ was holding its 3rd ever major event since being created a year or so ago. The first of these was a Kanno Tribute concert where fans either performed or danced to Yoko Kanno songs. The second was a live stream Christmas vid-cast. The third was to be a talk session at Shinjuku’s infamous Loft Plus 1. The talk show was open to anyone, with entry priced at 1500yen. Of course, with the event being held in the immediate aftermath of the release of Wings of Farewell, everyone expected there to be a large emphasis on Macross Frontier’s music. What no-one had really anticipated was the entire night turning into one big Macross related event – and a rather drunken one at that.
Shinjuku Loft Plus 1 is an utterly tiny underground bar/event space. There’s a small stage to one side which is rented out to anyone wanting to hold an event. The owners make their money by keeping the participants drinking and eating and drinking while they are there. At maximum capacity (with tables and chairs) it holds no more than 150ppl. I’d been there previously for Megazone 23 and Yamato related events. On the evening of March 1, approx. 100ppl were in attendance, possibly less.
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Save and I grabbed a table about 3 rows back from the stage. It was slightly elevated and gave us a great view. The first two rows (approx 30-40 ppl) were already taken when we arrived an hour early. The seats behind us started filing up soon afterwards.
Dorohyo Chief Shiho Takemoto had been twittering away furiously in the week leading up to the event and had secured some very special Macross related guests. Hidetaka Tenjin would be speaking for a bit, and according to Chie Kajiura’s blog she was also intending to drop by.
Overall however, the nights structure was somewhat loose to say the least.
After a few words from Shiho (as well as a check of who had seen the movie), Tenjin took the stage for a general chat about Macross Frontier, the audiences reactions to the movie and some of his experiences making it. A couple of representatives from Bandai were there as well, including a sales rep and a promotional idol who went by the name of Misty. The topic of conversation soon turned to Shoji Kawamori. The Bandai rep pulled out a sample of the soon to be released new Sousei Aquarion boxset – being a digipack, the cover could be unfolded to display one continuous Mugen Punch. The whole set was designed like this at Kawamori’s request. Everyone was ooh- ing and aah-ing when Tenjin commented offhand ‘Oh yeah, I drew that.’ The Bandai rep pulled out a few of the Patlabor movie Bluray reissues as gifts – of course it turned out that Tenjin had drawn the cover art for those as well. This became somewhat of a running gag throughout the night. No matter what the various guests had brought with them, Tenjin had invariably been involved in some way. Tenjin has apparently drawn pretty much everything in existence at some point or another
Chie then came out on stage and talked for a bit about her history with Macross and how she had never imagined Mylene’s character and music would still be relevant 15 years on. She then introduced two guitarists before warming up and launching into a 3-song acoustic set:
Chie had performed Remember 16 acoustic at the Mylene Night concert back in early February so I had already heard it, but the acoustic version of My Friends was a first for me personally. And it was a great arrangement that got the crowd up and clapping. Pillow Dream also worked well and was a bigger jump stylistically than any of the other arrangements. Overall the three songs only strengthened my opinion that Chie needs to do an acoustic album. I mentioned this to her afterwards on Twitter but unfortunately the only reply I was able to get was a rather non-comital ‘I enjoy doing acoustic versions too!’ from Chie.
It was around this point that Misty began getting...tipsy. When a speaker takes the stage at Loft Plus 1, the bartender gets up on the mic and asks what they would like to drink. Misty decided to go with one of their original cocktails - rum mixed with melon soda. She was about halfway through it when another mysteriously materialised in front of her. And this is when the poor girls mistake became obvious - room of 100, mostly single otaku males + cute idol drinking = everyone buying Misty drinks. Soon after, another 2 drinks appeared. After that, 8 more. Eventually the bar had ask people to stop buying Misty drinks. By this point however she had already gulped down 3 or 4 and...well I daresay she doesn’t remember much of the night after that.
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(photo property of Dorohiyo. Please do not reproduce without permission)
Shortly afterwards Shiho revealed that another, previously unannounced Macross-related guest had decided to come by. I had been speaking with the sound/video engineer just before the event started and he had mentioned that there would be a very special guest in the second third of the night. He wouldn’t tell me who though.
So it was to my, and everyone else’s surprise, when Aya Endo walked into the room. She had heard about the talkshow (possibly through Tenjin?) and had literally decided to drop in. After she squeezed in between Tenjin and Bandai people, Aya talked a little about the character of Sheryl and how she was the strongest female character she had ever played. She also talked a bit abut the soundtrack to Wings of Farewell. Why? Well she has the entire thing in her ipod. Keep in mind, this was 2 weeks before the album actually went on sale, so there were a lot of envious fans in the audience - myself included.
Thanks to a bit of urging from Shiho and Misty, Aya agreed to do a line in Sheryl’s voice. After a countdown by Misty, Aya broke out the ‘Konnna saabisu mettani shinaindakarane’ (I rarely do this sort of service) line - and the audience went absolutely nuts. As anyone watching the U-stream no-doubt noticed, the cheering afterwards completely blew the levels on the mic.
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(photo property of Dorohiyo. Please do not reproduce without permission)
With that over, Aya retired to the guest section of the bar to sit with Tenjin and Chie, while Shiho and an increasingly drunk audience managed to keep going for almost another hour or so. The night finished with a prize draw, including autographed models and a copy of Valkyries Second Sortie. Oh, and an autographed broken umbrella handle from Misty. Like I said, she was drunk.
The talkshow finally wrapped up at about 11pm. On the way out, Chie was selling tickets for her next concert in May. All tickets were hand-made and autographed. And of course, this meant you could buy the ticket from Chie herself.
Now I have to admit - I already had a ticket. But the chance to shake Chie’s hand was too much to resist so I went up and bought another one. Fortunately Chie had pulled her hair back and was wearing a cap. Seriously, that hair of hers reminds me of Sadako from The Ring at times. I introduced myself and told her I’d been a big fan since ’95 and that I occasionally tweeted her. ‘Oh,’ she says. ‘I’ve heard of you!’
Wow... Chie actually knew who I was - I have to say, that moment surpassed pretty much everything else that happened that night for me personally. Turning to leave, Aya passed by right in front of me, with the Bandai reps acting as impromptu security guards. I would have liked to introduce myself and doubt that I’ll ever see her so close ever again, but my head was kinda full of meeting Chie at that point. And it remained that way during the trip home - and for several weeks afterwards.
Well, the Macross Frontier festivities had to end sometime, although I could never have imagined them ending in the way they eventually did. April 24th was the final day of the Sunshine 60 observatory Macross Frontier display. In the wake of the March 11 earthquake though, Satellite had decided to do something special for the final day.
From 1pm-5pm, a special area was set up where they were selling all 3 issues of the Nyankuretto creators magazine and a special set of charity postcards drawn by various Macross staff. I didnt think that this would be enough to cause much of a crowd - until I got a message saying that some people were lining up from 10am.
I found out later that some fans had, in fact, turned up from 7AM! For postcards?!?!?!
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Anyways, Save and I headed over to Ikebukuro and turned up just before 2pm, to be greeted by a 90min+ line and staff warning that some items were likely to be sold out. But hey, we had already come this far, so we decided we might as well get in line and wait. It turned out that we had made the correct choice. About 45mins into the line there was a bit of a commotion down the line - Kawamori had appeared with Tenjin close behind him.
From what I was told afterwards, Kawamori had been hanging out at the charity shop for a while but hadn’t really been doing much - he said hello to a few people but wasn’t really approachable.
Then, when leaving, he randomly decided to go up the line of people waiting outside and shake everyones hand! Very much in character for the man - the random autographs on posters in the street below from the day Wings of Farewell was released are a testament to him doing these things on a whim.
Save and I were just at the end of the row where Kawamori stopped shaking hands with everyone - so we just made it. Most people just said a quick thank you - the line was pretty huge after all. I managed to say 'Thank you for a wonderful movie' (The event was all about Wings of Farewell after all). Save was hyperventilating in a nerdgasm attack so Im not sure if he actually managed to voice any words ;-)
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Once we got into the shop itself, Vol. 2 of the Creators magazine had sold out (strange considering Vol. 3 was the new one) but I managed to get Vol 3 and some postcards. (Vol. 3 will probably pop up at animate before too long if Vol. 1 and 2 are anything to go by). Tenjin, meanwhile, had actually returned and had a whiteboard set up at the back of the room where he was showing how to draw a YF-29 to a crowd of maybe 50 or so onlookers.
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And here all I was expecting was a quick visit to buy some postcards! It quite randomly turned into a unforgettable experience - over the course of the last year,I've now shaken hands with Kawamori, Mikimoto, Chie and Megumi. Moreover, it was the best possible way I could think of to end not only Wings of Farewell, but the entire Macross Frontier boom which had carried me along on this crazy journey for just over 3 years - shaking the hand of the man who had started it all. And saying thank you.
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Edited by Tochiro, 02 May 2011 - 10:28 PM.