The MC turned to Sho Hayami, a dead serious look on her face.
‘At fanclub events, there’s something very important that we ask all of the guests.’
Sho was all dressed up, pimped out in a silver sequin-lined suit with big dark glasses. He looked more like something out of a 70’s yakuza flick than a voice actor. He paused, evidently troubled by the request.
Looking quickly around the room, the MC picked up the microphone. ‘So…are you Team Sheryl or Team Ranka?’
He slowly looked over at Megumi Nakajima and Aya Endo on the other side of the hall, thinking.
‘…..I think I’d have to say….Team Ranka.’
At least half the hall erupted into surprised cheers. Aya’s jaw dropped, a look of shock on her face.
Most people said Sheryl. Others (such as Kawamori) took the easy way out by siding with Grace. To have such a high profile guest, let alone a member of the original SDFM TV’s cast, choose Ranka was practically unheard of.
But Sho hadn’t finished.
‘But I’d probably want to swap between the two every other day.’
Aya paused. ‘That’s probably a bit much.’ She looked at Megumi. ‘How about every other week?’
Megumi nodded in agreement.
‘…….sure’ said Sho.
And with that, Captain Max had again proved that he was still just as much of a genius when it came to the ladies, as he was in a Valkyrie cockpit.
Being the first fanclub event since the Macross fanclub rebranded itself from the Frontier fanclub to a more general Macross one (coinciding with the originals 30th anniversary), entry was strictly limited to fanclub members and their guests (3 forms of ID were needed just to get in). As with most events of this variety, it was held twice (midday and evening) with the basic stricture being the same each time, but details being different. This meant that more casual fans would be satisfied with seeing it once, while the more hardcore would fork out double the ticket money in order to experience everything.
As has been the case at the last few Macross events, no-one was really sure what to expect going in. Being a fanclub-only event, it was unlikely that there would be any major new announcements. Having said this, the guest lineup was impressive and bound to get any Macross fan’s attention.
Mika Doi (Misa Hayase)
Sho Hayami (Max Jenius)
Tomo Sakurai (Mylene Jenius)
Aya Endo (Sheryl Nome)
Megumi Nakajima (Ranka Lee)
Upon entering the lobby, I was struck by how little was on either display or sale. Previous events in the same location had put artwork and models on display so that fans had something to look at while waiting for the show to start. This time, however, apart from a meager merchandise counter, all we got was a small display case featuring some Macross Frontier themed footwear and the upcoming Bearbrick figures, and a LOT of FB7 and MUSICALTURE posters. Speaking of which, the majority of the lobby was taken up by people in line to purchase advance tickets for FB7 and the MUSICALTURE.
Attendees who had purchased a slightly more expensive ticket to the ceremony received a small merchandise pack which included a small branded carrybag, an Alto-branded pair of stage glasses and a hand towel with the lyrics for DYRL printed on it. All attendees received a small Megaroad security card and several pamphlets for upcoming events and merch.
I had originally only planned to attend the first of the two sessions, but had received a last minute invite the night before from a friend who had a spare ticket for the second session as well (he had mistakenly thought he had lucked in to 1st row tickets until I broke the news to him that the seating rows were in alphapetical order so that ‘1’ was actually an ‘I’) so I wound up seeing both. As expected, while the details were different, the overall structure of both sessions was more or less the same.
The Megaroad Launch Ceremony 2012 began with the only real reference to the Megaroad in the whole event – the lights dimmed and two scenes were projected on a cinema-size screen at the front of the hall. The first of these was the scene towards the end of SDFM where Captain Global asks Misa to become captain, and the scene from Flashback 2012 showing Misa as the captain of the Megaroad 01.
After this the MC came on stage and introduced the guests. What followed was half talkshow, some live readings, and an introduction to Macross The MUSICALTURE.
The MC started off by asking each guest their memories of Macross, being the 30th Anniversary and all.
Mika Doi (Misa Hayase) noted that there was really no such thing as a Misa fan back when the original first aired. Minmay was just too cute. However she thought that the resolution to the love triangle had quite an impact on viewers. With the way Misa and Hikaru first met, no-one could’ve predicted the show would end as it did. Not to mention that he called her an old lady… although he could be forgiven for calling her that THESE days. But it was the first time many viewers had seen a relation like that in anime before one that went in a different way to what people expected.
As a young voice actress herself at the time, Mika felt that she and Misa grew up together.
Sho Hayami (Max Jenius) interjected- ‘I was always a Misa fan!’ The crowd applauded.
‘Minmay was, in a way, too perfect,’ he continued.
Sho talked a little about how Max had grown up as a character. ‘I played max 30 yrs ago and then again in Macros 7, 18 years ago, so 12 years had passed between the two. So, little more than a decade after playing teenage Max I was then suddenly father to a teenage daughter like THIS!’ (Points at Tomo)
Now it was Tomo Sakurai’s (Mylene Jenius) turn to interject.
‘Aya and I were talking about this backstage earlier and had decided we shouldn’t bring this up but…well… Milia’s hair is green right? Her father’s is blue…..why is Mylene’s hair pink?’
‘Uhm….’ Sho looked around nervously. ‘ In Macross people can choose their hair color right? Right?’
The MC piped up. ‘Well, let’s try to get Kawamori to come to the next event so we can ask him directly!’
Tomo then went on to talk about how, back when she did Macross 7, everyone would talk about their work on the original and she would be very nervous. They were all veterans by that time but she was still relatively new to the industry. Sho, on the other hand, never looked like he got nervous at all.
‘No way!’ exclaimed Sho. ‘I was nervous but I kept it in by concentrating on work. On the other hand, you (Tomo) were this young idol so I was too nervous to speak with you.’
Aya Endo (Sheryl Nome) discussed her experiences when initially auditioning for Sheryl. When the staff first showed her a pic of Sheryl she thought that the character very mature. Very complicated. But the staff kept telling her to talk like a regular girl. Aya couldn’t help thinking though that, since Sheryl was a professional performer, surely she would have more life experience than a ‘regular girl.’
She also felt that, as a character, Sheryl had changed and developed over the course of the (Macross Frontier) series. She also got to revisit the character again for the movies. While five years may havr already passed since Frontier, she still hopes that she can continue to be involved with the character in some way in the future.
This brought us to Megumi Nakajima (Ranka Lee), who noted that, despite being a 2D character she definitely felt like she and Ranka had grown up together. When she stood on a stage for the first time back at the 25th anniversary event she had yet to even record any lines as the character. But once she got into it, after recording she sometimes had trouble knowing what was real life and what was fantasy. She then thanked all the fans for their support over the last 5 years.
The talk then moved on to what was my favourite part during both sessions: ‘How to shoot down a flyboy! – A lecture by Misa
Hayase. This segment started with the scene from DYRL where Misa brings the song lyrics up to Hikaru’s room only to find that he has a guest. Mika then discussed the character of Misa and this moved into a more general discussion of the various romances in the Macross franchise before culminating in the live reading of a skit between voice actors on stage.
Mika talked about how Misa was a very strong female character. Most people who walked into that room (to find Hikaru with Minmay) would have slammed the door and ran. Not only did Misa entered the room, she closed and blocked the door! Women sure can be scary.
Tomo said that she thought Mylene liked both Basara and Gamlin but probably leaned more towards Basara… at which point Sho interrupted declaring that her father didn’t approve of either of them! She also mused that it would be kind of interesting to see an older, married Mylene.
Aya said that, looking at how the relationships developed over the course of Frontier, she thought that Sheryl’s relationship with Ranka stood out as the most important and that…well…maybe they were better off without Alto? (Laughter) While everyone talks about the love triangle, the bigger impression left on her was the friendship between Sheryl and Ranka – their experiences and development as entertainers. In a way, they were like sisters. Alto, on the other hand, had to go off and fight and stuff so he wasn’t always an important element
Microphones were then set up, and all five voice actors did a short cross-over skit. These were different for each session. The midday session’ s skit was mostly Misa giving relationship advice to Mylene, Sheryl and Ranka. The bulk of her advice was centered around the point that the girls should just outright confess their feelings to their respective men. The funniest part by far was when Ranka said that that was just what she had done.
‘Wait..you confessed to Alto? Just when did THIS happen?’ exclaimed Sheryl.
‘Well, you know…’ replied Ranka. When we all thought you were…kinda dead…^^;’
The second session’s skit revolved around Max complaining to Mylene about her love life, with Misa adding a few comments here and there. At one point Mylene declared that she liked Basara and Gamlin the same. ‘The same….just like someone….we know,’ said Sheryl. The wall was suddenly lit up by a huge picture of Alto, mid –‘You are both my wings.’ The crowd was pretty much in stitches by this point.
Once the skits were over, three guests showed a scene that they had chosen because they felt it represented their respective characters in some way.
Mika chose the DYRL scene of Misa and Hikaru in the kitchen of the sunken city. She thought that, by having the characters effectively stranded on a desert island, Kawamori managed to explore their relationship and characters more quickly and in interesting ways. As such, she thought it was a stroke of directorial genius. (Some discussion followed regarding what the various guests ould do if faced with a similar situation. Aya thought that Sheryl would snap. Tomo said that Mylene would start…burning things. Meanwhile Sho declared that Max would just be yelling at the top of his lungs for someone to save them…hmmmm, I think I see the beginnings of another potential skit here).
Aya chose Sheryl’s initial arrival at Frontier at the beginning of episode 1. She had thought a lot about which scene to choose but
that first scene, that first line, just saying her name, really set the scene and remained in her memory. It was also a line that came up many times after that. It left an impression. It’s cool in a way only an anime character can get away with. ‘Can you imagine someone in real life introducing themselves like that?’ she asked the audience. ‘Im Aya…. Aya Endo. The crowd laughed
Sho chose… THE knife fight!!!! (Of ALL the things to show on a huge screen…), followed by Max talking to Hikaru in the coffee shop about wanting to get married.
Sho: ‘You know Hikaru, Misa and Minmay’s relationship was so complicated, but for Max it was so simple….’
MC: ‘You tamed her with just a single word.’
Sho: (turns to Aya & Megumi): ‘Do you think thats really possible? ‘
Aya: ‘Well with the voice…and if you both are interested…theres the atmosphere…’
MC: ‘At what point did she (Milia) become ‘cute’?’
Sho: ‘It was the tears. Men are weak when it when it comes to that stuff. We are easily deceived.’
MC: ‘But when you say tears…I mean… those were tears of frustration weren’t they? Because she lost the fight?’
Sho: ‘That’s right. You know, the saline content of tears of frustration and tears of happiness are different.’
Meg: ‘Then tears of frustration are bitter?’
Hayami: ‘I’d say so. Not that I’ve ever tasted my own tears.’
After this, there was an introduction to the MUSICALTURE.
The following guests came out on stage:
Kanae Yoshi – Sakura Crawford
Sayaka Kanda – Charlotte Marion=Glass
Yuki Katagi – Winner of the ‘Actress Wing’ of the Miss Macross 30 Contest.
Each of the girls spoke about their experiences being chosen for the musical and what elements they thought the fans should keep an eye out for:
Kanae (from the group ‘9nine’): The MUSICALTURE is her first ever stage production. She was really surprised and happy to have been chosen. Rehearsals have been going for two months so far and she feels that she is learning something new everyday. As a Macross 30th Anniversary production, there are links/connections between characters in the Macross franchise and those that appear in the MUSICALTURE. She hopes that they can, through the musical, bring the world of Macross to life on the stage. Her character is similar to Ranka in that she is very happy and energetic.
Sayaka: the daughter of legendary idol Seiko Matsuda, many were wondering what it was that made Sayaka, who has a decidedly bad-girl image, want to be involved in the MUSICALTURE. Well, it turns out that she is a big fan of Frontier and is, in particular, a huge Sheryl fan. When Aya a few lines to Sayaka in character as Sheryl, she literally started squealing and running around in circles. She claimed that she would have originally gone to see the musical even if she hadn’t been selected to be in it and was really excited when she heard she got the role. Her favourite part of Macross Frontier were the concert scenes. In the MUSICALTURE, her character is the daughter of the Mayor of Macross 29 City immigration fleet , so she is a bit selfish. She thinks that people will enjoy the songs that will be performed in the musical and how the (visual) performances for them have been put together.
Yuki: The winner of the ‘Actress Wing’ segment of the Miss Macross 30 Contest, Yuki was a complete beginner and, to be blunt, her inexperience was obvious. She was far too nervous to even smile during the first session and was sort of holding the microphone all wrong. The Megaroad Launch Ceremony was Yuki’s first ever experience on stage. Compared to her, Kanae was very energetic and obviously idol-trained, while Sayaka was heavily media trained – she knew what to say and said it very politely.
She had originally gotten the call to say she had been accepted for the role (out of 550 other entrants) while she was out grocery shopping and was so surprised that she has no recollection of what she said on the phone. Yuki is finding the training for the role to be difficult, particularly the physical training, but everyday is fun and she is always learning something new. She hopes that the musical will be something that will satisfy the fans.
It’s worth noting here that Yuki was the only one of the three actresses to get calls of encouragement (think, the call out to Minmay during her first concert in DYRL) from the audience while she was on stage, so her inexperience may actually work in her favour.
The Macross guests then offered messages of support to the three girls and presented them with bouquets. Aya apparently whispered some Sheryl lines into Sayaka’s ear while doing so which started her squealing again….
The audience then got a bit of a sneak peek into what to expect when the MUSICALTURE debuts On October 3, as everyone cleared the stage for Kanae who did a cover of Diamond Crevace (preceded by the MC reading out the introduction/setup from the website – explaining the fleet, neo-Zentran, etc).
All in all it was a fairly good cover although much of it sounded like she was attempting to directly emulate Mayn’s style and she had a little bit of trouble with some of the higher notes. And for some reason she couldn’t pronounce ‘Long’ correctly. And no, I don’t mean in the usual L-R differentiation problem that many Japanese speakers of English struggle with. Rather, it sounded more like Flong or Fwong which just sounded…strange. Still, overall, if Kanae’s singing ability is indicative of the general quality of singing in Musicalture, then we should be in for quite a fun show, come October. (For a sample of her singing, scroll down click on the first sample song HERE)
The then MC announced some upcoming events:
-9/13: Emergency Broadcast on Niconico with latest Musicalture and FB7 info.
-9/22: Macross 30th Anniversary talk session at the Bandai-Namco booth at the Tokyo Game Show
-Details on the stamp rally and attractions at Tokyo Dome to coincide with the Musicalture
After this, there was a prize draw with items signed by their respective artists up for grabs.
The cast then said a few final words thanking the fans for their support over the years and asking for their continuing support in the future. Megumi said she was looking forward to the 40th, 50th, 70th and…100th anniversaries in the future. Sho countered with ‘If I try really hard I might make the 70th… but the 100th is probably gonna be a little bit difficult…’ Finally, Mika thanked everyone for their time and for the memories and everyone then marched off stage to the SMS Anthem.
And with that it was all over. Ultimately, the event didn’t have all that much to do with the Megaroad or its launch and in all honesty it felt a little like it was thrown together at the last moment – much like many aspects of the 30th Anniversary. Having said that, it was amazing to see Sho Hayami and Mika Doi in person and on stage together and the banter between the cast members, past, present and future, was just a whole lot of fun.