Monday, October 13, 2014

Anime USA 2014 Part 2 ~ Rise to Heaven

Hello Everyone!

I feel it coming. I know its coming. Before this post-con crud completely takes over me, onto part two of my Anime USA report!

First Saturday outfit, something cute and casual.

The first part of Saturday was rather uneventful besides me covering the Mika Takeguchi fashion show for VKH. I got a lot of good pictures which I will upload within the week. But soon after the fashion show I went back to my room because I was feeling kind of sad again for the usual reasons, but it did not last as long as it usually does. Kitty gave me some good, sound advice while I was feeling depressed that made me feel much better afterward. Now whenever I go to fashion shows, I may feel sad/inadequate for a hot minute, but I bounce back almost immediately. It’s getting to the point where it almost does not bother me at all. Well almost. ;^_^

All dolled up for Schwarz Stein!

In any case, Schwarz Stein’s concert was strangely early Saturday evening, well early compared to what I was expecting. Doors opened at 6, I was delighted to have a spot very close to the stage with my colleagues and with Kitty behind me. Before the show started a lot of Schwarz Stein’s songs were playing without vocals and I was singing along and teaching Kitty each and every one. Like I’ve said before, I first discovered Kaya through the music of Schwarz Stein and have been a fan of them for 9 years. But Schwarz Stein in many ways is very different from Kaya’s solo project; while Kaya does have some dark elements in his solo work, there is still a lot of cuteness and sweetness. Schwarz Stein is all dark, all erotic, and all decadence! No cuteness at all. In some ways I actually like Schwarz Stein Kaya best.

After a while the music stopped and the concert began. The melodies of “Testament” filled the air and Hora came upon the stage and Kaya soon after. I could feel my heart begin to race as both Kaya and Hora moved from one side of the stage to another, greeting the fans before taking position for the first song. The upbeat tunes of "Perfect Garden" soon replaced "Testament" and Kaya screamed out "DC! Move your body!!" And from that moment, it was as though the world and time itself had stopped as he beckoned us all to dance and scream even more and commanded the stage with such elegant grace and flamboyant sexiness; twirling and dancing around the stage and moving his free hand in some kind of choreographed pattern. His voice, flawless; his smile, stunning, and I could not help but become completely overwhelmed with an ungodly amount of feels. Good feels though!

Hora was amazing too; he kind of stayed still for the first part of the concert but graually began to move around alot more, playing his keytar and getting really close to the stage and the fans. I was very taken by Hora’s stage presence which is just as commanding as Kaya’s and actually, kind of sexy! *o*

During the second song though, Kaya’s shoe broke and he stumbled a bit but he recovered from it with lightning-like quickness and amazing grace, laughing it off as though it didn’t even happen and continued the song. For the next song though he stayed still. Afterward Schwarz Stein had a brief MC and everyone was like "Daijobu desu ka? Daijobu?" to Kaya. But he continued to smile and left the stage to fix his shoe so Hora entertained us for a bit by talking to us about how he liked America, basketball and some other things I can’t quite remember. He was really funny and at one point some girls were like "We love you Hora!" and he said "I love you too!" What a hoot! XD

 Soon enough Kaya returned to the stage and the show continued. For a while I was really worried for Kaya; he stayed still for a the next few songs but gradually began freely moving around the stage. By the time they performed "Queen of Decadence" (ULTIMATE Kaya song!!!) he was beginning to dance again and by "Rise to Heaven" (my absolute favorite Schwarz Stein songs) he was completely twirling around and sort of vogue-ing in his  elegant, graceful, queenly style. And he is such a skilled dancer! It almost made me cry how amazingly he recovered and after regaining his footing, did not hold back one bit from giving a wonderful show. So captivating! Can you guys see why I admire him so deeply??

The remainder of the concert was nothing less than incredible and I sang along with nearly every song. My one small gripe about the show, well not really a gripe per say, was that they did not perform the song “Beautiful the Virgin”. That is another one of my favorite Schwarz Stein songs but I guess the theme of it may be a bit too, how can I put it, “intense” for a concert at a con. At the panel the day before Kaya had said that the themes of some of Schwarz Stein’s songs are a lot darker than his solo work and it may surprise us.

But they did perform “Kuro Ageha”, when they introduced that song Kaya warned us that it was “Very, very dark!” but of course we were okay with that! They also performed “Creeper” and “Succubus”, during those songs Kaya performed in a very trilling, somewhat provocative way accompanied by Hora growling intensely and pumping up the crowd all the more. Kaya did a few… “sexy” things on stage showing off his more....seductive side to the thrill of the audience. It was so fascinating but I’m kind of embarrassed to write about it here but what I will say though is….it resulted in a case of “lolita dominoes” with me Kitty and our two other friends…yeah…XD

After “Succubus” they left the stage for a moment and we chanted for an encore, the band returned and talked about a new single that would be released next month! For the encore, they performed “Last Hallucination”. For certain reasons, I had been purposely not listening to the latter song for the last few years because the lyrics are very deep and melancholic. I could sense the emotion in Kaya’s voice and a few tears began to fall down my cheeks, but I had nearly forgotten how beautiful the song actually is so it was somewhat bittersweet. The final song was my all time favorite “New Vouge Children”. It’s such an empowering, beautiful song that I feel that anyone who is different or has been oppressed in some way can relate to. During the last chorus he pointed the mic at us and the look of joy in his face when nearly everyone in the audience sang back to him is something I will not soon forget. I’m ashamed to admit I was actually crying a bit as I sang along with Kaya as loud as I could. It was such a perfect, beautiful moment. I felt as though I was being transported to a different world, like a dream from which I never wished to wake.

So so SO glad I had decided to switch my eye makeup out to waterproof before the concert!! By the time it was over I could not stop my tears. I quickly fixed my face and stopped crying long enough to go to the next autograph session after the show. For some reason, my nervousness had vanished and I went through it with a great sense of calm. I felt as though my great admiration for Kaya grew even more from this concert and I developed a new admiration for Hora too. I could really see the friendship between them and both of them are such incredibly beautiful, talented, quirky human beings. It makes my heart feel so warm.

Hora signed his name in English! ^o^

After the autograph session I ran into Amanda who was talking to Tomo. He mentioned he would also be at the tea party the next day; I was really looking forward to it! I went back to the room and for the next hour or so mused with Kitty and Camille about how amazing the concert was! And that was Saturday!

Sunday was without a doubt the best day of the entire con and also the day of Kaya’s tea party! I started the day very early, taking extreme care in dressing and doing my hair and makeup this time; seeing to it that every detail was flawless. I decided to go for a Venetian masquerade look with my new AATP dress and I must say, I don’t think I have ever looked more beautiful than I did that day. I also received many compliments from other people at the tea party, the staff and Kaya himself! My skill and confidence in my coords just keeps rising, to think I almost wanted to give up lolita this year!

Sadly, no full front body shot of this coord, not yet anyway. >o<
JSK and bag ~ Alice and the Pirates
Blouse ~ Handmade
Headpiece ~ Sweet Mildred
Shoes and mask ~ Offbrand

Camille, Kiki and the boys went off on their own to enjoy the last few events of the con and me, Kitty and Amanda went to get in line for the tea party. While waiting I saw Kaya pass by with his staff looking as gorgeous as ever in head to toe AATP, I fell instantly in love with his beautiful coord! There were many other beautifully dressed attendees too, sitting with us was this very sweet girl dressed in head to toe BABY who I though looked adorable! When we were all finally seated, Kaya appeared before us all, greeting us with gracious bows and waves and a winning smile. He thanked us all for coming to his tea party and that he would go to each table and greet us all personally.

We were the second table to meet Kaya. He looked even more magnificent up close and I became awestruck again! >o< I managed to say that I thought he looked beautiful, he smiled and said "Thank you!" and touched the gold mask decorating my hair; I think he really liked it! My confidence soared again. He also liked the rose decorating Kitty's badge and Kitty pointed out to Kaya how it matched the roses decorating his dress and bonnet. Amanda was sadly sitting away from us at another table but I noticed when Kaya went to her table he sat right next to her and seemed to adore the Usakumya-chan she was carrying! I was so happy for her!

Obligatory tea party selfie, so much fanciness on my head!

Forever frilly besties! <3

Noms noms! XD

While this was going on I noticed my VKH colleagues watching us from the balcony on the far other side of the hotel, we took turns waving to each other! After Kaya had visited each table and met with the guests, he returned to the front of the room and began the promised chanson-style mini show, asking us all to enjoy it. He sang sitting down, the first song being “Chocolat ~ Sweet Version”, a softer, cuter version of the song “Chocolat” that no doubt shot everyone in the room with another ungodly amount of warm feels. So much cuteness! TOO much fucking cuteness!!!

When that song was over Kaya had  a brief MC where the took the time to thank us again for coming to the tea party and explained that the last song was very sweet and cute to fit the theme of the tea party. Kaya also talked about his outfit for the day, rising from his chair and turning around cutely and saying how it’s from BABY/AATP but because he was at AUSA as a part of Schwarz Stein it was a darker dress to fit Schwarz Stein’s theme. We mused about how lovely Kaya looked and he responded in the usual, adorable way. He asked us “Kawaii? Daisuki? Kirei?” and quickly, slyly replied “I know!” UUUUUGGGGHH KAYA!! >////////////////////<

Finally he announced the next song, but warned that it was a sad love song, “Silvery Dark”. Kitty and I listened intently, squeezing each other’s hands trying to keep ourselves from crying. We were so close and I noticed that many others did look a bit misty-eyed by the time the song was over. Kaya’s voice was so magnificently beautiful but the third and final song was much more upbeat and cheerful, “Transmigration”.

We clapped along to the music and sang along with him. Sweet and whimsical, Kaya removed the chair from the stage and decided to sing this song standing, dancing a little too. But by the final chorus Kaya had left the little stage and was moving around the room freely dancing and moving around in his graceful queenly way; even the limited space could not hold Kaya back. It was quite impressive that he could make even the most limited bit of space a stage for himself. By this point it was all I could do to NOT fly apart with inner squeeing. I know I sound like a terrible fangirl but if you could just be there you would understand! Kaya simply has so much energy and feeling when performing and radiates so much beauty and cuteness that unless your heart is made of ice, it is nearly impossible not to be struck by it. But even then I’m sure Kaya could melt that frozen heart!

And just when I thought that the level of feels could not be higher, just when I thought that my heart could not contain anymore joy, Kaya finished the performance beautifully and thanked us once more for attending that day. He also said that while it may be hard to like things like lolita, anime, etc. that each and everyone of us should be ourselves and love ourselves just the way we are. The most important thing is to love ourselves and even 20 years from now he would still be singing and dressing in lolita! He said this with such sincerity too, that did it!

 I turned my head to the ceiling to keep the oncoming tears from running down my cheeks and ruining my face. Up until that moment I was trying so hard to keep my feelings inside but what Kaya said was really too much for my heartstrings because with so much going on with me recently regarding my broken self esteem, it was exactly what I needed to hear. It is obvious that Kaya has a great deal of confidence and self assurance in himself and that is one of the many things I think makes him such a gifted performer and why so many people all around the world adore and admire him. I've always wanted to ask him at a panel or a meet and greet what is his secret to self confidence and being as beautiful as he is inside and out but I’ve never had the courage to and probably never will. To hear Kaya say this touched me very deeply and I really hope that one day I can be like him, beautiful inside and out. I want to live my life being happy with who I am not being ashamed about my weight, looks or skin color and Kaya really is my inspiration for that goal. I admire him so much.

So, so SO glad to have Kitty with me to keep me from crying too much! XD The tea party was over but before we left everyone who attended the event got to take a picture with Kaya and received a special thank you card from him.

When it was my turn my hands were shaking badly, resulting in a very awkward hand pose. >o< But despite this, I absolutely adore this picture!! I was so happy and felt so beautiful in that moment. Not as beautiful as Kaya, but beautiful all the same, it was so unreal. I was really on the verge of tears again but managed to keep my crying until AFTER I met Kaya! XD This had to be my happiest lolita day in the five years I’ve been wearing the fashion; there was no insecurity nor any feelings of inferiority compared to anyone else. And I was even happier having Kitty by my side to experience it all with me. I really could not ask for a better lolita friend! <3 If for any other reason, all the hell that I went through to make it to AUSA was worth it for this day alone, this moment. I really wish I can have more days like this day and hope that in the future I can experience true confidence in myself more often. I don't want these happy feelings to ever go away. 

And so we left, we met up with Amanda, who was also on cloud 9 like the rest of us! We met up with my VKH friends and said goodbye to them, we also saw Tomo again and said goodbye to him too. The last thing we all did before leaving the con was pose together for a group photo.

We are all so cute! ^o^

Goodies from Anime USA, Schwarz Stein merch (not including the towel I also bought) and birthday gifts from Kitty and Camille!

That was Anime USA 2014 for me. I’ve been con hopping since 2008 and AUSA is the con I’ve been to the most besides Otakon. This year had to be the best AUSA ever and the best con I’ve been to in years. Even with all the hell I had to go through to prepare for this con and even with my brief moments of sadness and self doubt, it still ended up being a wonderful weekend. I would not trade a moment of it; I got to finally see Schwarz Stein, something I once thought would never happen, celebrate my birthday with great friends and meet Kaya again! I think it is great that I ended up having such a great time, especially since I’ll be taking a break from serious con hopping next year. Katsucon and Anime Matsuri are my only confirmed cons for next year, Anime Next maybe but at this moment not very likely. But I plan on doing so much while I’m in Japan that I feel like it will be worth it in the end. So look forward to hearing more about my plans for that in the future! Thank you for reading my Anime USA 2014 report, hope you enjoyed it! ^.^

Yours Jasmine

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anime USA 2014 Part 1 ~ Perfect Garden

Hello Everyone!

I just got back from Anime USA about 3 days ago. I had planned to make a prelude post before the con but I jest you not, since my last post to about an hour before I left for the con, I was just dealing with so, so, SO much getting ready that there was no time to write. Everything from roomies for the hotel dropping out up and down and having to find new ones in little to no time to important new dresses not arriving; preparing for Anime USA has been little more than hell.

But, in the end, was it all worth it? Absolutely! If for any reason, because of Sunday alone, that had to be not only the best day of the whole con but also one of the happiest days I’ve ever had as a lolita. But I will get to that euphoric day in a little bit.

Naturally, I went mostly for Schwarz Stein. I had originally planned to go to Rufflecon this past weekend but due to strange hints from others and odd feelings in my heart all throughout the year, I decided back in May to cancel all of my Rufflecon plans and prepare for AUSA. And in August, my feelings were finally justified when Schwarz Stein was announced and h.Naoto designer Mika Takeguchi soon after. It was gearing up to be a fantastic con, and it was! I was so happy to meet Kaya again and I was also happy to meet Hora too, Hora is actually very funny and kinda dorky too to my surprise! XD


After a sleepless Wednesday night, and running around like a madwoman with last minute errands most of Thursday morning, we left for DC around 1pm. With me this time was Camille, Thomas, our other mutual friend Kendall and even Kitty got to go too! And waiting for us at the hotel was Amanda and her friend Kiki! I was so happy to see Amanda again since we had not seen each other since Anime Next last year.

In any case, we checked into our room and unpacked. There was still a lot of time before the Thursday night events began so we decided to visit the Smithsonian Zoo which was actually a very short walk away. The grounds were still open but a lot of the exhibit buildings were about to close. I REALLY wanted to see Bao Bao the new baby panda and we were extremely lucky that we managed to get into the indoor panda exhibit room before it closed and there inside was Bao Bao!! She was sleeping in a high up corner all curled up like a little ball of black and white fur and sadly I could not get a good picture of her but she looked so adorable.

Another one of the pandas in the same cage as Bao Bao, also apparently sleeping.

An adorable wild fishing cat, stalking it’s prey. Kinda reminds me of my Jasper.


And seals!

In the gift shop at the end of the day, can you tell that I really love panda’s?! XD

By the time we got back from the zoo it was nearly night time. We got our badges and went to a few of the pre-con panels. When we got back to the room we all celebrated my birthday with pizza and chocolate mocha cake from my favorite Asian bakery! All in all Thursday was a great day, even if it started out rather stressfully! *o*

Friday was the first day of the con but I was feeling strangely down for nearly half of the day, I don’t know why though I think part of it is because the outfit I had originally planned for the first part of Friday had gotten messed up and I spent a great deal of the morning trying to come up with a new one.

Trying to go for sort of an onee gyaru look.

But I really like how my alternative outfit cam out. I started feeling better around the evening when it was almost time for Schwarz Stein’s Q&A. I met up with Kitty again and my two friends/colleagues from VKH whom I had not seen since Otakon. I also met two very nice girls who also followers of this blog! It’s always surprising meeting other people who know me from online and follow me and stuff. Anyway, while in line for the panel I also got the chance to sign these fanbooks for Schwarz Stein, finally the panel started and I started getting very anxious again, but in a good way!

The panel was awesome, if not for any reason because I just loved watching Schwarz Stein and their responses to some of the questions. Kaya was adorable and charming as always but this was my first time seeing Hora so I spent a good part of the panel listening to his responses to questions and trying to figure him out more. He’s also very adorable but also kinda dorky and his some of his answers really had me cracking up! One person had asked Schwarz Stein something along the lines of what were their favorite traits about each other and Hora blurted out in English: “Nothing!” We all laughed but Kaya looked shocked and was like “Really!?” so Hora changed his answer to that he likes Kaya’s “softness”, attention to detail and how he caares so much about everything like the music and fans. When it was Kaya’s turn he said “Everything.” But Hora said in English “He is a liar!” lmao! But then Kaya replied that he also likes that Hora writes songs for him too.

 Another time someone actually asked the band the boxers or briefs question and Hora decided to answer for Kaya and replied that he wears traditional Japanese thong (I forgot the word for it, sorry). When Kaya caught wind of what he was answering to he quickly replied "No! NO!" and then said he would "leave it to our imagination"! OMG! Also, I already kind of knew this already, but Hora loves video games and manga and is a big sneaker otaku! XD

During the panel there was real loud music blaring from the other room so much that it leaked into our room, at one point everyone in my row was dancing to Pharrell Williams' "Happy". XD I did not get the chance to ask a question but after the panel was an autograph session and I was able to get my chance then. I decided to ask my question to Kaya but the minute I got to meet him again I was immediately struck by his sweet smile and amazing beauty and became completely tongue-tied! I’m afraid parts of my question may have gotten lost in translation because of it! I asked what Kaya’s favorite historical era since he really likes history (like me!) and he replied the Rococo era! When I told him it was my favorite era too he gave me a very big, cute smile that all but melted my heart! It can’t be put into words how happy I was; I also loved meeting Hora too though sadly I was by this point too frazzled to say anything else besides “Hello” and “Arigatou”. Afterward I got to also take a cheki with them since I had bought more than $60 worth of merch.  

So now I actually have 2 pictures with Kaya! Well actually 3, but again I’ll get to that later. I really adore this picture but I look so short compared to them because I was wearing flats for once! But I find it hilarious how Kaya and I are both posing cutely and Hora is just standing there being all cool and statue-like! XD

It was such a fun evening! Afterward I met up with my VKH colleagues and we hung out for a while until I decided to return to my room for the night for some needed rest after such a lovely first day of the con…until Kitty, our mutual friend Syra Kiki and Amanda came back to the room and convinced me to go out with them to the rave! Which I did with little objection! I don’t even want to think of the time I actually went to bed! XD

The next day would be the concert and then on Sunday, a special tea party with Kaya!

Yours Jasmine


OMG! How could I possibly forget this?! Well, while buying stuff at Schwarz Stein’s merch booth, guess who I see? Tomo! Apparently he was doing staffing things for Schwarz Stein during the weekend; it was great to see him again! :)