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Anime Boston '12: Halko Momoi Press Panel

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Over at Anime Boston, singer-songwriter, seiyuu and self-proclaimed Queen of Akihabara Halko Momoi was kind enough to sit with a bunch of us press-types and go over what makes her tick and what drives her to travel around the world and spread the gospel of Akihabara, moe, and the essences of otaku.

Japanator was lucky enough to finally get some real coverage on this real-deal, otaku-turned-otaku-idol and what she has to say about not only what she does, but what she stands for. Click on and learn a few things about not only what it means to be Momoi, but also the history of Akihabara and much more.

 

Momoi: Hello, I am Halko Momoi. Nice to meet you. I am a singer/songwriter from Japan. Last year, I was invited to perform live at a bunch of different countries. I am happy to be invited to play here at Anime Boston, and I would like to be able to continue to perform everywhere.

Q: How did you start your music career?

Momoi: My mother has an old piano that she got from her mother, and ever since I was young I was playing it. From childhood, I always loved anime. Most people who are into anime from childhood got into drawing, but because I liked music I ended up working with anime songs when I was growing up.

Q: Can you tell us about your album from last year, called Showa?

Momoi: Showa is a way to count years. Now is the Heisei period, but when I was in elementary school it was the Showa period. It's with the memories from that time that I made the songs on the album. Many Japanese people think of the mid-90s when they think of Showa, but I think about the '80s. In Japan now, there's a lot going on, there's a big push to look to the future. But I think it's also a good thing to look at our past. I think that's why I wrote these songs.

Q: Do you have any plans for new albums or singles?

Momoi: Right now, the single for Akibaranger will be available and I'm doing the opening song. Akibaranger is like Power Rangers, but based in Akihabara and they protect Akihabara. The staff created the series as "unofficial" super sentai rangers. I'm so happy that they asked me to do the theme song because it's about people protecting Akihabara.

Q: What type of characters do you like to play?

Momoi: I like characters like Feris from Steins;Gate, characters that have an interesting and funny way to speak. Also, like Yurume in the anime Yurumates, where the character is grounded in common sense. I enjoy these types of characters.

Q: What kind of characters do you like to try to play?

Momoi: Feris is related to Akihabara. I like characters that are related to Akihabara.

Q: Feris says "nyan" a lot. Were you able to do it without laughing?

Momoi: What kind of question is this? Isn't it rude? (laugh) I mean I play my characters seriously, I'm a pro! I wouldn't laugh! It's very fun. Nyan nyan. (laugh) I say "nyan" even when I regularly speak so it's nothing unusual.

Q: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

Momoi: Akibaranger—it is being broadcasted. Yurumates 3Dei is also coming out. I'm also working on a new song for Afilia Saga East.

Q: Who is your favorite singer?

Momoi: I don't know. Momoi Halko (laugh). I like a lot of them. Who do you guys like?

Press: ... Momoi! Your concert from last night was awesome! (laugh)

Q: Live or studio recording?

Momoi: I like live shows. I also like studio recording, but when I make a song in the studio I always think about how it sounds during a live show. Of course it's a lot of fun to perform like last night.

Q: What's your favorite sports arena?

Momoi: Hmm, Fenway Park? I went to Fenway before the con. I walked to it, it was about 15 minutes from the con. It's an older, brick building, so it was lovely. I think by all means if I get to come to Anime Boston again, I'd like to see some baseball there.

Q: How would you describe your music to others?

Momoi: Otaku songs. From otaku to otaku.

Q: Why do you cover '80s American songs? You seem to do a lot of '80s covers. Why is this?

Momoi: When I was little I listened to a lot of them, so I decided to cover them. I didn't really understand the meaning of those songs when I was little, but I sang them and enjoyed them anyway. Now I do understand and I have a different appreciation for them.

Q: When you listen to your cover albums you seem to like games a lot. What are your favorite games?

Momoi: I like older games. Atari Lynx II games. I like American games, more than Japanese games. Rampart. Pacman, even if it's Japanese. California games.

Q: Of all the different characters you played, which do you find it most interesting?

Momoi: I think any voice actor being asked this question will have a hard time. When I act out a character, that character is my favorite. My first role was Komugi, so that one is a special role to me.

Q: How did you learn to play the Keytar?

Momoi: When I was in 3rd grade, my parents, or Santa rather, gave me a little red keytar for Christmas. I asked my parents for it, but anyway, ever since I have been playing the keytar.

Q: How do you prepare for a live?

Momoi: I try to get in a good mood, and get excited. So many people came to the show last night, and their encouragement helped me. I also read people's messages on blogs and twitter, and it really helps me.

Q: What is your goal?

Momoi: Hmm, I want to continue to do what I am doing now. Making songs, being a voice actor, doing concerts. Going to Anime Boston. It's so much fun doing these things that I hope I can keep doing it.

Q: What anime do you like?

Momoi: It's a very difficult question. Maybe for genres, I rather like things made for boys over things made for girls? How about you guys?

(One press member was a diehard ROD fan)

Momoi: It's just a hard question.

Q: Where do you want to go in America?

Momoi: Inside Fenway Park. I was only able to see the outside, but I really want to see the inside. I also want to see a NBA game. I've never seen a basketball game live so it would be great if I could. I also want to see a lot of anime conventions. If anyone reads your articles and wants to invite me, please contact me!

Q: How do you feel about the future of doujinshi in Japan?

A: While you can download things online, books are not going to go away. If you have a book it will be kept around for a long time. I don't think doujinshi will be replaced by digital downloads. Someone in Japan is creating a doujinshi library, a huge collection. I wonder how people will feel when they come to look at it—will they think we are all perverted? But maybe in the future it will be looked as a type of art like ukyio-e or other traditional Japanese art.

Q: What kind of anime/manga/light novel do you think will be popular in Japan?

Momoi: The new anime I'm in, Yurumates, is 5 minutes per episode. These short anime, because people are more busy these days, will be more popular.

Q: Do you have any story of being nervous before a live?

Momoi: It's a secret! I am not going to tell you about it!

Q: What inspires you creatively?

Momoi: When I go see a movie or an anime as a customer it's fun, but that is it. When I read the blogs or twitter of a normal person—like an OL or a high school girl--or when people write to advice columns about their relationships, for example. Or about a tough situation in their romance life in a journal or on 2ch's love life help section, these things inspire me to write a song.

Q: In the past 30 years Akiba has change a lot, and some things have gone away. What is the saddest thing for you that it has lost?

Momoi: There is the Akihabara Department Store. It's a small store despite the name. It was right next to the train station, it got to be too old and it was replaced by a different department store. That was sad. Ishimaru Electronics had an event hall. The meeting space was like an event hall or concert hall and sometimes they have CD releases there. I'm sad about that. The people who used to work there were able to find jobs elsewhere in Akihabara. When I was in high school I would go to to Ishimaru to buy CDs. When I debuted as a singer I was able to have a release there, and that was great to see myself there. But of course it's no longer there.

Q: How has the Tohoku disaster changed Akihabara and yourself?

Momoi: Earthquakes happen often in Japan, and it's still happening today. It's gotten a bit scary. When the word traveled around, I was moved that people are so concerned about Japan and myself, and I was able to make some friends. Having that connection was at least a good thing. Thank you very much for your support.

Q: What are the commonalities between otaku all over the world?

Momoi: I somehow just know. For example, when I'm in the elevator in the hotel and a normal person walks in, I know that person is normal. But when I see someone who is an otaku I just know, "ah that person is an otaku." I guess most otaku at least like anime? In Japan, even if you can't speak English, if you go to an otaku event, you feel at ease with everyone around because know just know they're "one of us".

Q: How did you become an otaku?

Momoi: I came out of the womb as an otaku. It's just how I was born. When everyone was little, everybody watched anime. As people grew up, in middle school, the girls begin to talk about their boyfriends or TV dramas, and people gradually stopped watching anime. But I realized I was still watching anime. That's when I realized that I am an otaku.

Q: When did you realize anime became a popular thing world wide?

Momoi: I never thought it would be this popular. I never looked at it as "this is going to be it, the next big thing." (laugh) I find the whole thing mysterious. I'm very happy about it but it's mysterious.

Q: What is your message for all the “otakusan” (wordplay for okyakusan, or the portmanteau of "otaku customers")?

Momoi: To find something in life that you're very in to and dedicated, that's great. For example last night at the show everyone was super and I'm glad we got together and be super. I hope we all can continue to do that.

Q: Is your job now something you always dreamed of doing? Did you dream of doing something else?

Momoi: The work I'm doing now, in America and do concerts to promote Akihabara all around the world, this is more than I have I ever imagined. I grew up in Akihabara, a 30-min walk home from the train station when I was a child, and seeing all these anime producers working and living just right there. If I could bring these feelings from my childhood to everyone in the form of concerts, then that is something that makes me really happy. There are so many anime and manga creators in Japan who don't even know how popular it is overseas. When I go home from America, I tell them how many people overseas love their work. I give them that message so they are encouraged and keep going. So I want to continue to do this job of going overseas and bringing back that message to the creators.

Q: You seem to do fewer jobs for eroge than your U17 days...

Momoi: I still do some—I wrote the character songs for Da Capo 3. There is also an yet-to-be announced work I'm doing for another galge. Please look forward to that. I also made some songs for Super Sonico, and it sold well, so I probably will keep doing that. These are just some examples.

Q: What is your dream for Akihabaralove Records and Afilia Saga East?

Momoi: It would be really nice if we can do another cover album. A lot of people are asking for it. If I could, I would love to do it overseas and collaborate with lots of people. But to start, a cover album. I also want to make lots of new songs this year. As for Afilia Saga East, there is an idol boom currently. Right now, Shikura Chiyomaru and myself are working on it. Ultimately there are different groups—manga, anime and idol. They're part of the same otaku world but they are separated as subgenres. We wanted to create something that is between 2D, like characters, and 3D, like idols. With ASE, we want to create something that people who like 2D and people who like 3D will like—2.5D.

Q: What is your least favorite interview question?

Momoi: What kind of question is this? Probably a question like this?

Q: How about the question you'd like to be asked?

Momoi: I mentioned it earlier but questions like “Do you want to come back to Anime Boston?” There's a direct flight between Boston and Tokyo now, so it would be great if I can come again next year! If you're in the capacity to invite me to a con, please by all means go to my website and contact me by email.

Q: How do you feel when you see people cosplay the characters you voice?

Momoi: Super happy! It's hard to talk to people who are just coming and going in the halls, but if you're dressed as one of my characters you should come to my panel or Q&A or autograph session and I'll be really happy to see you!

Q: Have you cosplayed as an American comic or game character? Would you like to?

Momoi: Sure, there are a lot that I would like. Yes. Like Leia from Star Wars. Kick Ass's Hit Girl. Transformer! *laugh* Maybe made out of cardboard! Who do you want me to cosplay as?

Press: Rogue from the comic! Baby Doll from Sucker Punch! Jubliee from X-Men!

Momoi: Not exactly related, but I like Smurfs too. I have a little figure of a Smurf on the computer—Geek Smurf.

Q: Which country do you like best playing in, besides US and Japan?

Momoi: Even in the US each place is different. I thought the shows I did in Vegas and AX were good, and as well this one. I liked Mexico—people were good natured and the people were very loud during the concert when they were cheering.

Q: Where did you study music?

Momoi: Honestly I never studied music formally, but when I was in third grade I had a piano tutor. The tutor ended up going abroad to Austria and it left me with a bad feeling and I never got back into it. Maybe it would be better if I studied more. I really want to study jazz piano.

[Thanks to 98.1 the Fan, Anime Diet, and Anime Dream for the questions, and Anime Boston for making it possible!]

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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures


 


 



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