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09 May 2009 @ 12:48 am
Hanakage Arisu BaraAme Ochakai in Esprit Hall  
So me, Manda, and Tegan went to Alice-chan's ochakai a couple of weekends ago.

It was in Esprit Hall again. Doors opened at 6:30PM, and we were there early so we were some of the first to get in.

Our tickets said we were at table C, but I didn't look at my seat number until we were about to sit down.

I was as seat #1.

There was no seat better than mine.

Arguably Mrs. Urakawa (of the infamous Mr.-and-Mrs. Urakawa) at table B had a seat *as* good as mine, but... In any case, I was moved by the kindness of my club. ♥

So then Manda and Tegan sat down in seats 2 and 3 respectively, and I left them there as I rushed to raid the goods table. X3 I was fast enough to buy basically everything except a replacement phone strap for Teffy -- so I bought two key chains instead. :) And the kimono purse. And another Alice-chan bag and pen. And the postcard holder that I so regretted not buying at the AmeUta shimbokukai. And the clear file and ticket holder from 88th soukens that I couldn't go to.

And, well. Just shy of 10,000 yen worth of pictures and merchandise. ^^;;;

Then I went back to our table and the three of us commented on the background music -- Disney songs played in a music-box style -- and other random things. Fukuda-san showed up eventually (straight from work :O) and I tried to talk to her some too, but mostly until Alice-chan came we just blathered on in English. Fukuda-san sat across from me, and girl-with-the-glasses-whose-name-I-should-really-know-by-now (something-kawa-san?) was sitting next to her. I don't remember the other people at our table, but Noda-san, Sakurai-san and her husband, and I think some other people from Nagoya were also at table B.

In total there were eight tables seating eight people each, and I was afraid the room wasn't quite full but the empty table was eventually filled up by staff, so approximately 65 people were there.

Alice-chan came around 7:30PM, wearing the fresh-looking and somewhat Lolita-ish white and blue dress that most of you have probably already seen in pictures. I should note that her shoes also matched -- backless heels with blue and white stripes, and I think they were the type with a small hole cut out of the front for your big toe. Also, that belt with the two stars on the front -- she kept adjusting it / checking to make sure it was on straight throughout the ochakai. The silliest little things keep me mesmerized. ;)

Oh, and she told us at some point that Dai-chan had done her hair, and then later I heard from Kikuko-san that Dai-chan also did Masami's hair for her ochakai. Dai-chan, why are you so interested in doing musumeyaku's hair...? X3 (Alice-chan's headband was ALSO a gift from Dai-chan, but not a recent one.)

We did the toast and then went straight into questions. Of course I don't remember what order she answered in anymore, but...

On Veronica: she's supposed to be 18 years old at the end, which makes her, in Alice-chan's words "er, rather young at that dance party seven years ago." (At irimachi the next morning, we all agreed that this is more questionable for Micchan than for Alice-chan. >.>;;) She comes back from a study abroad in London, but I don't remember if Alice-chan provided any extra details other than what she says in the play ("it was dark and smoky, and the food was gross!!").

Even as a character with only about 10 speaking lines, apparently Masatsuka-sensei gave Alice-chan some pretty specific details about her character. She's 18, which is an age when you're partly an adult and partly still childish, but Veronica suppresses her adultness because she likes being young and cutesy. "That's hard to express in such a short scene," said Alice-chan. For sure. >___<;;

In general there was a lot of "Masatsuka-sensei this" and "Masatsuka-sensei that" talk... not just at Alice-chan's ochakai, but Ume-chan's as well. I think I can guess why he's less popular with musumeyaku. ;P Of course they didn't say that outright, but Alice-chan did say things like "I feel so bad for Helen, Justin's kind of a jerk"... And there was a back-and-forth between her and the MC the about "many women might not like Justin, but I think the men in the audience probably understand his way of thinking more... Ah, yes, I see the men in this room nodding their heads..." Alice-chan laughed a lot. ;) ♥ There was a question about Ume-chan and Masami's characters of Yvette and Helen, but I didn't understand whether they were asking which she would like to play, or which she sympathized with more, or what... But Alice-chan couldn't decide, I think she felt sorry for both of them. And she idolizes Yvette/Ume-chan for being so adult.

At the end of her one scene with speaking lines, Micchan says something all adult and Alice-chan responds "oohh, that was kind of cool" to which Micchan replies "well you're kind of cute :P" (the tongue is implied in Micchan's bratty intonation ;). The way Micchan delivers this line changes a lot, so every day is fresh and new for Alice-chan.

Connecting to her being paired with Micchan, there was a question about "what would your ideal partner be like?" (恋人, they said in Japanese). Well, someone who's kind of like Francis to Alice-chan's Veronica -- "a kind person who would hold me close, and put up with my peculiarities, and patiently say 'yes dear' even when I was being selfish." The MC joked that her description kind of sounded like she was open to applications. ;)

As for the performance in general, it really is an "adult love romance" as everyone says. Alice-chan's favorite scene is Tani and Ume-chan's dance at the end -- she's fortunate to get to see it while standing on stage, but watching it makes her wish she had a video camera. It has an old-style movie kind of feel, and like a movie it's beautiful both in close up and far away. Apparently a lot of upperclassmen from other troupes who've come to see the show have said the same thing.

On Amour: her favorite dress is the pink one from the prologue -- she likes the puffy sleeves, and the lace gloves which are very pretty but she has to be careful with them. She also likes her accessories in that number, and the otokoyaku's costumes as well.

For a lot of the revue her hair is just in a bun, but she at least got to have a wig in the Tristan and Isolde scene (which is more easily referred to as "the scene with Tani and all the musumeyaku"). She, Ume-chan and the three other musumeyaku are supposed to be princesses, and the rest of the musumeyaku are fairies. Alice-chan was going for a "quintessential princess" sort of look with her wig. She worked really hard on it, and on her hair accessories for her white dress in the chuuzume.

When Tomu sings "She", the lyrics describe various kinds of women, so there was a question of what type of woman Alice-chan is representing. Alice-chan hadn't really thought of it that way -- she was just putting her own feelings into the choreography, moving along with the lyrics. The MC interpreted this to mean that Alice-chan is dancing herself in that number, and heeded us all to watch it very closely. I do ♥ ♥ ♥

Before moving to offstage questions, I feel like there was one more thing... about the shinjin kouen / hatsubutaisei. Watching the hatsubutaisei perform their line dance in the rehearsal room was really fun, because they were all so cute and giving it their all... She's afraid she might have been smiling too much -- she wasn't laughing at them, just really energized!! As far as shinko, it's now her responsibility to give underclassmen advice about various things, and it really brought home to her "wow, I've graduated from shinkos". But it's still very moving to see them all trying their best.

Offstage stuff: What does she do with her extra free time, now that she doesn't have shinko rehearsals? She gets up at 6:00AM every morning to listen to an English conversation radio program. I've since learned from Alice-chan (and other people) that this is a very popular program that airs three times a day so you can listen to it whenever you have time to tune in, and there's a textbook that goes along with it which you can buy at most major bookstores. There are two 15-minute segments introducing a short dialogue on some simple topic. Alice-chan doesn't always follow along with the text, but it's the first thing she listens to in the morning.

She very highly recommends getting up early in general, because it makes your day so watch longer and gives you time to get more things done like cleaning and cooking. She does cook some, but relatively easy things and "only things I like" -- like stew and 肉じゃが (meat and potatoes). "The kinds of meals a man would love you to make for dinner," the MC said. XP

I don't remember how we got on this topic, but there were some great stories about what she did during her days off in Nagoya. In celebration of Masako's birthday, five of them (Alice-chan, Masako, Chii-chan, Kozue and Sakkun) took a bus to Nagashima and went to... "not that hot spring, but a different, less famous hot spring". They spent about 2 hours there trying out various baths, indoors and outdoors.

I know it's a Japanese culture thing, but whenever seito say they went to an onsen or something together, I'm like ##*_______*##

Masako's birthday was actually *on* one of their days off, and apparently they busted into her room and woke her up at... 12 in the afternoon. XD She was not exactly thrilled about it. XD XD XD Alice-chan and Dai-chan got her a present together -- a blue pendant necklace that she has often worn to rehearsals since then, which naturally makes them happy. :)

Then Chii-chan's birthday was during rehearsals for BaraAme, and they had an epic surprise party for her. It involved inviting her over to Kanachin's to "just have dinner with a few people", when actually there were about 12 people, including kumichou... in COSTUMES. They were all waiting in the dark as one person led Chii-chan in and was like "okay, put your stuff down over here..." And then they all jumped out and surprised her. X3

Alice-chan herself has never been given a surprise party, but you never know what could happen this year. ;)

I think that's about it for the question corner! :O

So next was the by-table photos. Alice-chan randomly chose the numbers 2 and 8, which meant that Manda and Fukuda-san got to sit next to her. :)

It seems like at ochakais they never take pictures in a logical order, starting at table A and going downward... I didn't have time to eat my cake before our turn, so I don't think I started on it until after photos; I remember that I didn't have time to finish it between that and the next part. Anyway, depending on where you were sitting there were three cake varieties -- mine was a yellow cake with cooked chestnuts.

...Like you all cared to know that. ;P

The next bit was "taking pictures of Alice-chan time" -- I've already posted the photographic evidence. ;) The MC encouraged us to call out to Alice-chan to look our way, or suggest various poses -- she did peace signs and made a heart with her hands, which we all loved of course ♥ ♥ ♥

After that was the game, called "Which is Alice's??" We would be shown three things, in five different categories, and write down which one we thought belonged to Alice-chan.

I totally would've aced this game if I hadn't convinced myself that two of them were too easy. T______T;;; But I felt better seeing that Fukuda-san didn't get any more than I did. ^^;;;

The first object was a mug. I don't remember the other two varieties, but the correct answer was a mug with a picture of Alice in Wonderland on it. (I got this one wrong -- as I said, from psyching myself out. :\) Alice-chan piped into say that she drinks a lot of herbal teas out of it.

The second was a hat. "If you go to iride a lot you should know the answer to this one" -- which I did. ^^ The white lace hat; Alice-chan said she had actually been wearing it that morning.

Third, a makeup bag. The correct answer was a black one with a pattern of little pink bows on it -- again, I convinced myself that black and pink was too obvious and instead picked one that looked like something she might have received as a gift. Stupid me. :X

Fourth, a purse. Easy, again, if you go to iride a lot. ^___^ The black cylindrical one decorated with a big pink "A" key ring.

Lastly, a sweatshirt. Fairly easy if you've watched enough rehearsal footage... But also easy considering the other two looked like they would be pretty big on someone is skinny as Alice-chan. ^^;;; A black sweatshirt with two pink lines running down each arm and down along the zippers in the front.

Three people actually got all five right, one of them being ?-kawa-san at our table. They rock-paper-scissored against Alice-chan for... something, I don't remember. I just remember that the challenge was to throw the same hand as Alice-chan, not to lose or win against her. She threw rock first, and then scissors, and the MC teased not to assume that Alice-chan would go for paper last... She did "rock" again.

So from there we went into the lottery. As I said, all three of us gaijin won something. ^^;;; Tegan won an onstage photo that was different from the ones sold in sets -- she gave this photo to me, and I gave her an extra photo I had in return ♥ ♥ Manda got a personalized signboard. :D And as I said, I got a signed and personalized offstage photo. ^________^

After the various prizes of signed programs, magazines, pictures, etc, there was the "personal prize from Alice-chan". Sakurai-san won it, which made me really happy because she helped the club out a lot by being defacto staff in Nagoya. The prize was something that Alice-chan had gotten at Universal Studios Japan -- a big stuffed Snoopy in a pink bunny costume. X3 It came with a picture of Alice-chan holding the stuffed animal.

Then, there was also the section of prizes that various club people had *earned* -- me and Fukuda-san getting our two-shots for buying so many tickets, me and other people getting signed photos for the number of points on our point cards... And ?-kawa-san got this amazing portrait-sized photograph of Alice-chan in the light green dress with the rose for reaching some amazing number of points.

Our gift to Alice-chan was a Nintendo DSi, in pink. Alice-chan already had it on the table and showed it off to us -- she said she'd been using it for a while. Harada-san told us at Sunday iri that she had bought it as soon as they went on sale... for fear that they would run out of the pink ones. ;) They had almost forgotten to have Alice-chan *bring* it to the ochakai, though, which would've been a shame because then Alice-chan wouldn't have had anything to show to us. She uses the DS for all sorts of things -- not just games, but also pictures... "It probably has lots of pictures that I can't show you all," Alice-chan said. TEASE.

Alice-chan's gift to us was singing "Aida no Shinnen" ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ It was heavenly, of course, although she made a tiny lyrical error... One of those things where you were about to say the wrong word, so you put an unintentional consonant at the front of something, and she sang "tatashi" instead of "watashi".

...Like it mattered to me, when she was singing like THAT. ♥ ♬ ♥ ♪ ♥________♥ ♪ ♥ ♬ ♥

I was already misty-eyed at that point, so then during her closing speech when she was talking about all the retiring stars... 10 people, two of whom are only a year above her... Tani, whom she learned so much from during AmeUta... Ume-chan, who has brought forth a new style for musumeyaku, and taught her a lot for the Valencia shinko... Masami... ever since they were underclassmen, she's helped her so much (I started crying around here)... Eriko... She couldn't even find the words. It's just unbelievable to think that she's leaving. She said she was watching "Understudy" on Sky Stage the other night and remembering all the things they shared and learned... But she wants to honor the taidansha and send them off with good memories, so she tries not to be too sad.

Then during "what's up next for Alice-chan" she revealed that some time this year the club is going to release A SECOND PHOTO BOOK. *___________* They hinted at this back during the ParaPuri ochakai when she said she had gone to Taiwan again. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I guess... that's about it. We applauded as she made her exit, and then lined up to shake her hand at the door, and she gave us our ochakai gift which was a pink Alice-chan notepad, and when it was my turn I told her how much I loved "Aida no Shinnen" and that I've sung it at karaoke and she said it's a song she's always loved and wanted to try singing. (At iri a few days later I asked her about "A Song for Kingdoms" and she told me she had seen it two or three times in the theater ♥ ♥ ♥)

After that we actually hung around a while longer while Manda did demachi, and even with TWO extra gaijin waving at her in her car, Magee didn't even look surprised anymore. XDDD;;;

Aahhh~~ long report was long. I'm so happy I can do long reports again. :D :D :D
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
(Deleted comment)
Juliewao_wao on May 8th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
Eh heh. Yes, she said it was a gift. ;P

Photo book!!! *bounces too* ♥ ♥ ♥ Will definitely keep you informed about it. ^____^
(Deleted comment)
michiru42: Maa-chan and Kashimichiru42 on May 8th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
*squeals incoherently for several moments*

Thank you so, so much for this report! Oh, she's awesome! She's even more awesome than I knew! I so hope I can get back to Japan and see her live before she retires. Heck, I hope she never retires, but you can't have everything...

A question, though. You say Ume-chan and Alice-chan both talked about Masatsuka-sensei, which shows they don't like him as much? I don't think I get it. Why would they like him less? He tends to give musumeyaku more interesting characters than, say, Ueda-sensei or Tani-sensei. Or is he rude to them? And why would talking about him more mean they like him less?

I hope I'm not being too forward. If I am, feel no obligation to answer. :) I'm just curious, since I loved the parts he gave musumeyaku in Romance de Paris and Boxman.
Juliewao_wao on May 8th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, of course just talking about someone doesn't mean you don't like them. But Ume-chan said that Masatsuka-sensei is very particular about the details in his productions, and that it's hard to create a character in "Masatsuka-sensei's world". It's hard to live up to his expectations, the images he has in his head.

Plus the stuff that Alice-chan said about the main character in the BaraAme being a jerk, and male audience members being able to relate to him more than females... She was like, "men and women are really different, huh..."

I shouldn't presume to know how Takarasiennes feel about their directors. But *my* relationship with Masatsuka-sensei is pretty rocky. :P Personally I was really unimpressed with the female characters in Mariposa, and as for Boxman... Other than the female lead, O-Hana, and her mother, a Senka member, the other most outstanding female character was... played by an otokoyaku? An otokoyaku I adore, admittedly, but still. The other musumeyaku characters were pretty minor, and not nearly as memorable as various otokoyaku characters. And in Mariposa the musumeyaku had astoundingly little to work with.

Aaaaaaanyway. I'm glad you liked my report, and if you ever come back to Japan please come the Takarazuka way and visit me. ;) ♥
michiru42michiru42 on May 9th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
Thanks for the answers. :)

(And granted, there were only two good musumeyaku parts in Boxman, but that's more than many plays, so I was happy.)
Becca: Yuuhi muffin_song on May 9th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
I feel like it's not just musumeyaku who have said that Masatsuka-sensei is er, "particular." I think Jen may have once heard something in regards to Masaki in the Magician no Yuutsu shinjinkouen? I think there's also a comment about it on his bio on the TakaWiki.

For the sake of argument, Magician no Yuutsu had decent-ish musumeyaku roles for people other than Mihoko. (Okay, so I really liked Ai-chan's character. And then Remi, Nene, and a few others got to play small, but fun roles).

And then there was Scout and Sakura Ichika as a demon...

In any case, as a whole, I'm never quite sure what to make of Masatsuka-sensei. His shows can get awfully wordy...

P.S. Obviously your ochakai post is also love. I need to make a proper comment eventually.
kirakira_sorakirakira_sora on May 9th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
I'm still not sold on Magician no Yuutsu as Mihoko's character was inconsistent and probably a very difficult role for anyone to act out.

The other musumeyaku parts only in theory are they interesting. But, its fine as the story as a whole was fairly shallow.

I just believe Matatsuka-sensei has a strange almost too masculine expectations for the female roles and frankly has issues when has to deal with large casts.

He works well with small shows and characters that have a predictable temperament.
♥ƹ̵̡ӝ̵̨̄ʒ♥°``'まりい'``°♥ƹ̵̡ӝ̵̨̄ʒ♥amami_yuki on May 8th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
Oooo, thank you for the report!! It was really interesting and I read the entire thing. I love all of the little details you put in, too - even the kind of cake,haha - yes I like reading about everything! ^_^
Juliewao_wao on May 8th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
I'm impressed that you read and liked all my ridiculous little details!! ^___^ Thank you for commenting!!
lliri_blanclliri_blanc on May 8th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
mine was a yellow cake with cooked chestnuts.

...Like you all cared to know that. ;P

Are you kidding, food reports are awesome. :P

Thanks so much for the report. <3
Juliewao_wao on May 8th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
It was my pleasure to write it, all the way down to the cake report. ;)
Stephanie: Riseskye_fall on May 9th, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
Long report of love, thank you so much ♥♥♥ She really does seem like such a wonderful person and I love reading these. ☆

'Siennes must really have the best surprise birthday parties. XD */random*

whenever seito say they went to an onsen or something together, I'm like ##*_______*##
XDDDD Have to agree with you there. X3
Jess (Ducky)just_keep_on on May 9th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
I <3 details. Like the Disney songs and the cake <333

- Dai-chan the hair stylist makes me LOL
- "it was dark and smoky, and the food was gross!!" I'm always impressed by how much thought they put into their characters~
- I *love* the stories about the parties they throw each other! The love they have for each other is so heartwarming <333 I definitely wonder if they’ll throw a surprise for her!
- A Nintendo DSi!!! Awesome!! "It probably has lots of pictures that I can't show you all," Alice-chan said. TEASE. <--- seconds that comment XD

Thank you so much for sharing!! Yet another amazing ochakai!! <33
Ms. Britt: [daixalice]ladybretagne on May 9th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
I cannot even tell you how much I loved reading this. She's such an absolute darling and good grief the more she talks about Dai-chan the more incriminating she is. ;-)