Tsuki kara no Tegami
~Moonlight Memories 1999~
We dispatched two of our top reporters to cover a new Japanese "Sailormoon" convention! Here is their report!
Presented by the Japanese Mailing List, "moonML" and the organizing group "Smile Works," Tsuki kara no Tegami ~Moonlight Memories 1999~ convention was held on Sunday, April 18 at the Tokyo Bungu Kyouwa Kaikan near the Asakusabashi subway station, Toei Asakusa-sen. ("Smile Works" is run by Tomohiko Mizuno, who is also a member of "moonML.")
The Tokyo Bungu Kyouwa Kaikan is a very small convention hall. The convention occupied only two floors (the fourth and fifth floors) of the building. Admission was a mere 500 yen (approximately $5.00 at the time).
The event was billed as a doujinshi convention. "Doujinshi" means self-published and this convention specializes in fan doujinshis (art and/or stories published by fans). On the fourth floor there was a Dealer's Room with approximately 79 tables available for fans--all of which were filled. The room opened at 10:30am and fans flooded in, eager to pick up merchandise from their favorite animated series.
While fans shopped around and bartered for deals, an entertaining Master of Ceremonies, Tomohiko Mizuno, kept everyone in high spirits with occasional witty performances over the P.A. system. His assistant was dressed as Tin Nyanko from the "Sailor Stars" series. The staff was made up of members from the two groups, yet they functioned almost seamlessly as one. They were very professional and courteous; an A+ effort on their behalf!
While the Dealer's Room was open, contests, games and karaoke were being conducted on the fifth floor. One adorable computer game featured Super-Deformed Senshi running against one another. Fans crowded around this competition to watch who would come in first place.
The fifth floor was reserved for cosplayers and photographers to take pictures.
When the Dealer's Room was closed (at around 2:30pm), it seemed like all of the fans who had been on the fourth floor streamed up to join the others on the fifth in what would be their last chance to take photos at the convention.
There were more than two dozen cosplayers, dressed in everything from the Inner Scouts to characters that only appeared in the manga--such as Sailor Cosmos (Sailor Moon's ultimate transformation).
While everyone was busy upstairs, the staff was hard at work on the fourth floor, clearing away the Dealer's tables and setting up row after row of chairs for the evening's entertainment.
At around 3:00pm, the fans gathered back together to see a show put on by the "Moon ChipS," a troupe of cosplayers dressed in Sera-Myu styled costumes. The leading performers consisted of three women, "Anna" who was dressed as Eternal Sailor Moon, "H-Luka" who was Sailor Uranus and "Lei" who played a dual role, first as Ami Mizuno, and then later as Sailor Mars.
The troupe performed several comedy skits (one of which involved a bunch of bananas that Usagi affectionately named "DI-AN-A"). They also performed songs to prerecorded music, danced and generally kept the audience laughing throughout their act. Prizes were given out to the audience (compliments of the performers).
These performers were so good that one of us swore that they must have been hired professionals but found out later that they were amateurs and not paid at all.
"Moon ChipS" (which drove all the way from Osaka to take part in the convention) consider themselves "Ugoku doujinshi"--which one could translate as either "motion doujinshi" or "moving doujinshi" (though "Doujinshi in motion" might be more appropriate). They had a table in the Dealer's Room from which we purchased some of their doujinshi-styled stationary. H-Luka's artwork was just so beautiful!
When "Moon ChipS" finished there was a brief break and then another amateur group (whom we thought were professionals) took to the stage. They were a dance troupe who performed in Sera-Myu costumes--though their Sailor Moon was dressed as Super Sailor Moon (she also made everyone's costume in the troupe!). Their Sailor Mars was sick and couldn't attend so they dedicated their performance to her.
While the dancers performed, the cosplayers waited in the back anxiously awaiting their turn to participate in the Masquerade segment of the program. When it was finally their time, we (plus two men randomly selected from the audience) were asked to be volunteer judges. We were very honored and hope that we represented English-speaking "Sailormoon" fans well.
Different cosplaying groups came out and modelled their costumes for everyone to see. As opposed to western conventions, there were no skits, singing, lip-synching or dancing. There were many excellent costumes. Especially memorable was a fabulous Sailor Pluto & Sailor Saturn team (whom we gave first prize to), a school uniformed Seiya Kou (second prize), an Eternal Sailor Saturn & Eternal Sailor Moon child team (third prize), a large group in Sera-Myu costumes (fourth prize) and an adorable Sailor Chibi Moon & sexy Sailor Starhealer (fifth prize).
We also got to announce the winners of a "Sailor Moon Quiz Contest." Questions were provided inside the convention's pamphlet. Prizes were awarded to the winners.
The show (and the convention) came to a close by 5:30pm.
Although much smaller than American conventions, Moon Memories was a compact, organized, blast of fun. An experience never to be forgotten we immediately started checking our pocketbooks for next year!