On with more Anime Expo details! The next day was the official start of the convention, so Dae and I arrived early for opening ceremonies, since we knew Morning Musume would be there. At first we thought there was no line at all, but we soon realized that almost all lines at Anime Expo were outside in the sun (because of fire code/traffic reasons inside), so we worked on our T-shirt tans a little. We got pretty good seats (around Row 15), and took a couple naps since it got started 45 minutes late. It was worth the wait, though, since this was my first glimpse of Morning Musume (un-masked) on stage, wearing their frilly outfits from Shouganai Yume Oibito! Non-flash photos were allowed (the only exception for the "no Momusu photos" policy at the convention), so I took a few grainy shots at max zoom. All of the honored guests were extremely impressive and interesting, but truthfully I spent the whole hour looking at Morning Musume and waving if they looked my way!
Immediately after opening ceremonies, the next job was to try to get one of only 300 guaranteed autograph tickets from buying Momusu merchandise. We got there as fast as we could, but soon realized the line was already over 500 deep (we later found out it had started at 4:00 AM!). I was a little bummed about missing out, but decided to use the time to start waiting for the Momusu Q&A panel, even though it was three hours away. Of course, there were already lots of people in line! After lots of confusion, the staff eventually decided to move us into the panel room for the previous guest (who was the immensely entertaining Toshiyuki Morikawa - I'll write about him later!), and when he finished, Dae and I were able to jump up to third row for Morning Musume!
When they first walked in I couldn't believe how close we were, since I could smile at them all and there was no doubt they were actually smiling back at me! The crowd went crazy, and listening to the girls (in both Japanese and adorable English) was fantastic. My selfish fanboy strategy was to try to get the attention of the members who weren't currently talking, so they could smile and wave back at me (I got the best reactions from Reina, Jun Jun and Lin Lin)! I was totally on the edge of my seat for the whole hour - it was such a great time.
After the Q&A, they handed out 500 non-guaranteed "priority" autograph tickets, and since we were up so close, Dae and I got them! Then they announced the location for autographs, so we ran (along with everyone else) to the exhibit hall, only to find the information was incorrect. Fans were wandering around everywhere, asking staff questions, and finally we got the correct answer and made it to the actual location. By that time, other people that solved the mystery first were lined up, but we were still feeling hopeful. Unfortunately, after the hour and a half was up, they closed the door while we were about 100 back in line. That door closing was a depressing sound, but we were told our priority tickets would still be good on Saturday. (Even though I was bummed, I felt better when I met the guy who was only 7th in line when they closed the door!)
After using up all of our adrenaline that day, all we could do was get some food (and ice cream!) and crash at Dae's condo. At least we had plenty of rest before the concert the next day!
View photos: Anime Expo 2009
Watch video: Morning Musume at AX Opening Ceremonies