I had the pleasure of seeing Momoiro Clover at Japan Expo 2012 in Paris on Thursday and Friday so I thought I’d write a quick blog post about it as well as giving some brief thoughts on the Expo overall.
I arrived in Paris on the Wednesday with my girlfriend (who I met in Paris two years earlier on the day Morning Musume performed there). So this meant on the Thursday there was no reason to miss anything. Indeed we were in the queue to get in to the festival nice and early. We knew Momoiro Clover Z had a showcase event at half 12 and a mini concert at half five as well as a signing session in between so we wanted to make sure we saw them all and also had a chance to look around the Expo in general. We spent the first hour or so looking round the Expo before going to try our luck with the draw for MomoClo autograph tickets. Only to find that unfortunately the draw started at ten and had already finished. >< That was quick.
Anyway onto the showcase event and we got good seats just to the left of the stage. There were plenty of great Japanese fans who had made the journey and they made sure that there was a fun atmosphere. There were plenty of individual member t-shirts and glowsticks. There seemed to especially be a lot of Reni and Shiori fans there. As they are my two favourites this pleased me. ^^ MomoClo themselves came on and performed (I think from memory) five songs including their latest single Otome Sensou. The girls were great. They started off behind silhouette screens dancing before writing on the screens with paint. Then they burst through and started singing. It was a great opening and for the next 25 to 30 minutes they performed with energy and charm. It was a good taster for the 45 minute session on the main stage later that day.
The signing session was a good event to watch too. Even though I’d missed out on the chance to even draw for a signing ticket it was still really enjoyable. The one difference to two years ago when Momusu did signings was that people didn’t walk onto the stage to get the autographs and hence the members were sitting high up but I’m sure those lucky enough to get autographs didn’t mind. I did notice that Ariyasu Momoka spent a lot of time standing up and leaning forward to speak to people though which made her seem closer to them. It was a nice touch even if it was probably only because she is tiny. Compared to Momusu there was less cheering and calling out names from the crowd and therefore less waving and so on from the girls themselves but there was still some and the girls did engage with those watching when the chance arose. At the end of the signing session the girls came down from the stage and went up to the barrier to pose for official photographs (those watching were not allowed to take pics but I did get a few crap ones on my iphone camera). They also talked to people in the crowd too. Two nice things happened during this time. One woman who I think had been made to leave the autograph queue because she didn’t have anything official to get signed came back with something official only to find the girls off the stage and the signing session seemingly over. But following a quick discussion between Expo staff and the MomoClo manager she was allowed to get her item signed by the girls. This was probably the best autograph of all as the girls were off the stage and standing right in front of her. The other nice touch was some female fan who had not got an autograph ticket had bought a present for Ayaka. The manager allowed her to give it to her in person and then Ayaka hugged her. A nice touch indeed. Free hugs? 😛 Then jokingly one of the other members (it might have been Momoka) made a joking hands held out do I get a hug too sign. Then the other members started competing to see who the fan would choose to get a second hug from. In the end the fan chose Ayaka again and Momoka fell to the floor jokingly. After that the fan left the area crying happily. It was a really nice thing to see. Funny and heartwarming.
Onto the final session of the day. The mini concert was 45 minutes of idol glee. Just why are idols so wonderful to watch? To quote Berryz/C-ute “Because happiness”! The fans had a great time waving glowsticks (I wish I’d had some) and chanting. The girls were again charming, athletic and great to watch. They performed plenty of songs including the excellent Mouretsu Uchuu Koukyoukyoku Dainana Gakushou “Mugen no Ai”. Although I’d have loved them to also perform Z Densetsu ~Owarinaki Kakumei~. It’s such a great song and they were wearing the outfits from the pv. Nevertheless I loved the concert and came away smiling in that way you only get from seeing idols perform. To be honest I liked MomoClo anyway but not to the kind of level I love most H!P artists. I had mainly gone to the Expo this year as it was the anniversary of meeting my girlfriend and we thought it would be nice to see the Expo again. But once we knew MomoClo were going that quickly became our main Expo focus. Nothing else really appealed to us but we both liked MomoClo enough to have felt happy to be seeing them. I think now we have seen them we are both probably fully fledged fans. The girls are really nice and the music really enjoyable too. Plus the wotas are every bit as committed and likeable as any H!P wotas.
So day one was over and it was onto day two. I didn’t really know what the MomoClo event was going to be as it was some kind of Sailor Moon surprise event. It turned out that MomoClo will be singing the theme tune to a new Sailor Moon series. So they came on dressed in Sailor Moon outfits, sang the theme tune and were then interviewed on stage. There was a live link-up to some NicoNico event in Japan too and then at the end they sang two songs including the latest single Otome Sensou again. I’d have preferred a second showcase or mini concert really but it was great to see them again anyway. It’s a shame they didn’t do an encore though since it was the last event on the stage that day and the fans were calling for it. Some fans had travelled from Japan and it’s a long way to have come. I think overall it was a shame also that there wasn’t at least a second signing session on the Friday. MomoClo were obviously popular and just one signing session on the Thursday doesn’t seem enough. Indeed on the Friday many people myself included got into the main stage hall as soon as it opened and watched the first act just to get a good view for MomoClo when they came on. Not many left after the first act (an entertainingly bonkers bloke called Professor Sakamoto who puts a games console on his head and then plays games music on the keyboard). It did mean I had a great view to the right of the stage with just three rows in front of me and crucially none of them tall (although photos were not allowed at this event just as with their showcase event on day one. Yet curiously nothing was mentioned at their mini-concert on day one). Regardless MomoClo were great and would be well worth seeing again if the chance ever arose.
As for the Expo itself I have but one grumble. Obviously there’s a lot of manga there and lots of stalls selling sweets, tea, other foodstuffs, trinkets and things generally kawaii. Then there is the ComicCon part with all things cult (including some Doctor Who related stalls and some cosplayers too). But as for music fans there was generally very little. The official merchandise stall for the festival had cd’s for guests of honour Flow and some other artists performing there but curiously nothing Momoiro Clover at all. The only other stalls that had cd’s had mainly just kpop. I know kpop is popular but this seems ridiculous. Japan Expo has many musical guests and all of them from Japan yet finding Japanese music items to buy is virtually a hopeless task. For instance I only found one stall selling MomoClo merchandise (some books, cd’s and overpriced dvd’s). They also sold t-shirts which had sold out by late afternoon Thursday. Yet this stall wasn’t like the official MomoClo merchandise stall or anything. I’m actually surprised the woman who got a signing ticket but then had to leave the queue as she didn’t have official merchandise to get signed actually made it back in time. The autograph draw opened at ten. The showcase was 12.30 and the autograph session pretty much straight afterwards. With only one stall selling official merchandise I’m surprised she found it. So yeah the one thing I don’t understand is why the lack of jpop stalls? Music is a big part of the Expo after all. To me it seems bizarre there’s hardly any music stalls and about 95% of what’s on sale at the few music stalls there are is kpop.
Having said all that I did find some jpop stuff and even made a H!P purchase or two. Well actually three. The stall that sold MomoClo stuff had one Momusu 2012 calendar for 5 Euros. Even if the year is half over that’s a bargain. Sold! ^^ The same stall also had a H!P Best Shot book and Reina’s latest photobook but I passed on these. Meanwhile one kpop stall had a small section of Japanese music. There were several dvd’s including a couple of Buono live dvd’s, some H!P Winter 2012 dvd’s and even Hangry&Angry’s live dvd. They were decently priced but that’s because they were overseas verions (probably Korean then). I did buy C-ute’s Forever Love (cd with dvd version) and Berryz Kobo’s Madeyade (also cd with dvd version). I’m not a big fan of Berryz but I do quite like that single. As for the C-ute single it’s one of my favourites of theirs but I only had the cd version. The dvd comes with a Making Of as there had been no single V for this release due to the fact the pv was included in a just then released pv collection dvd.
So that was it for H!P purchases. The only other purchase I made was a MomoClo book. It’s from a drama they had done but has lots of nice pictures and also comes with a double-sided poster. ^^
Oh before I forget on the Saturday five members of Idoling performed at the Expo. I don’t know anything about them but afterwards they had a handshake event at the stall that sold MomoClo items. I didn’t go up and get involved but I did take a crap picture or two.
So overall the Expo was fun if a little frustrating. Momoiro Clover Z were really good but I wish they’d had a little more to do. Maybe another showcase event and certainly another signing. They travelled a long way for a four events in a day and a half. The Expo itself was full of cosplayers having fun and lots of interesting stalls. It’s like stepping into some strange alternative reality and it’s great for it. It’s a pity there wasn’t a bit more jpop to be found on the stalls though. That would be my only real gripe. Having said that I had a great time at the Expo mainly due to MomoClo and especially the company I was in. ♥ I hope next year C-ute or Mano Erina are there. I would love to see some Hello! Project there again. Morning Musume two years ago is my idol highlight. The best moment of my idol fandom. More H!P would be brilliant. But certainly I hope there are more idol guests there next year and that the happiness idols bring continues there for many years to come!