As 6pm rolled around, the much anticipated special guest of DaiCon – Chihara Minori’s Q&A and autograph signing session finally began. Just before that, the DaiCon committee had ushered ticket holders and media people into the stage area, and had been trying to whip the crowd into shouting out ‘Chihara!’ ‘Minori!’ to greet Minorin when she showed up. These efforts kept falling flat halfway through as the crowd ran out of enthusiasm – that was until Minorin showed up, at which point everybody found a renewed surge of energy and wild cheering, as well as the chanting of ‘Minorin!, Minorin!’, set the tone for an amazing Q&A session.
Now before we go into the Q&A session proper, just let me say that Miss Chihara was simply gorgeous in person, even more so than in any of her photobooks I’ve seen. Dressed in a orange and blue number, she was the epitome of charisma as she stepped onto the stage, covered her mouth with both palms in a show of amazement (at the greeting she had just recieved), and finally said ‘konichiwa’ to the hall. If she had ordered us all to fall on katanas then, I think we’d all have done so.
After a 5 minute photography frenzy, Miss Chihara finally got settled down and we started the Q&A session in earnest. Ticket buyers had earlier on been told to submit questions they wanted Minorin to answer, and the lucky few were now picked to pose their questions personally to her.
If it was at all possible, I would give you an actual transcription of the Q&A. However, due to the usage of Japanese, this isn’t very feasible, so the below will be my interpretation of events.
The first question asked was ‘What is the most enjoyable, and the hardest thing, about performing outside of Japan’. Minorin said that for her, the most enjoyable aspect was seeing ‘us’, as in the fans, smile. This got the crowd cheering. Her answer to the 2nd part of the question was that due to how rushed the event was, she hasn’t had enough sleep. This of course had the crowd going ‘awwww’ with sympathy.
The second question: would Minorin come again to Malaysia, if there was another event such as this. Minorin answered that Malaysia was a beautiful country, and asked us to invite her if back again for events, and added that indeed, she would love to come, even if it wasn’t work related.
The third question was posed in Japanese, so I’m not sure what was asked, but Minorin’s reply was that she would love to come back after retirement, and perhaps stay for life.
Question four (in Japanese): What has been the most challenging role for her so far? To which Minorin answered: Nagato Yuki from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, because she is so demure and quiet, and expressionless. She further added that she would practice Yuki’s lines with the script after recording sessions, even though all she had was one or two words (if you have seen Haruhi, you’ll know this for a fact).
Question five (also in Japanese): What has been the role that she found most similar to her own nature? Minorin said that it was Shirakawa Nanaka (from Da Capo II). Nanaka is an active girl who loves to sing, much like herself. Also, Nanaka was always true to herself.
Question six (again in Japanese): Which seiyuu does she look up to as a role model. Minorin picked Hisakawa Aya, who voiced Natsume Maya alongside her own Natsume Aya in Tenjou Tenge (note: Natsume Aya was Minorin’s first ever seiyuu performance). Minorin further elaborated that when she was starting out, Hisakawa Aya would take care of her and give her guidance in voice acting, and that she was very impressed with Hisakawa san. Indeed, Hisakawa san became almost like an older sister to her.
The next question was actually asked by a Japanese, who had an exchange with Minorin in their native language. All I can tell you from this exchange is that Minorin likes ‘Sambal Udang’.
At this point, the committee opened the session to the hall. The first guy picked was ‘Chiaka’ (he had a huge Chiaki mask). His question was quite simple, but strange in a way. He asked if Minorin was married. There was a slight problem in communication due to Chiaki being soft spoken, but when Minorin finally got the question she actually giggled til she bent over. She asked back ‘what do you like about me’, and seemed to be having a good time, but Chiaki being Chiaki, had trouble answering. His final answer was a simple ‘moe’, to which Minorin said thank you, and answered that she wasn’t thinking of marriage yet, and would like to focus on her career first.
The penultimate question of the session was what got Minorin into the seiyuu business. She replied that her initial interest was singing, and that she attended music school. There, due to her soft voice, the teachers suggested a career as a voice actress. She took them up on that advice and thus here she is today. This question was also asked in Japanese, which resulted in Minorin praising the level of Japanese fluency amongst Malaysians.
The final question of the day went to a very brave 15 year old girl, who asked ‘what was the most memorable/funniest moment so far in your career’. Minorin said that it was when Sugita Tomokazu, who voices Kyon in Haruhi, ad libbed a scene with her. The end result of that was so good that the producers decided to go with it. The nature of the scene wasn’t explained, so don’t ask me. I’d like to know as well.
That ended the Q&A session, and holders of AWSM tickets were herded onto the stage in groups to get their items autographed. This part of the event was quite personal, with Minorin signing items on the spot and shaking hands. Someone (e-jump) managed to hand Minorin a teddy bear (a Minami-ke reference. Minorin voiced Chiaki who has a bear named Fujioka). The autographing itself lasted past 7pm, after which Minorin said ‘Malaysia something something, bakayaro (no, she wasn’t being rude. I couldn’t really catch what she said though. If you did do comment and I’ll edit it in)’ in Chiaki’s voice and left the hall.
All in all, a very satisfying event. Minorin was down-to-earth, humble, and friendly, and the DaiCon committee did a good job handling things. Some minor gripes about the way translation was handled – I would have preferred a more professional translator – but overall, the fans left satisfied and eager for day 2’s concert.
With that, I end day 1’s coverage. Its 1.30am and I have to be up pretty soon for day 2, so good night and see you tomorrow!
p.s. Again, this post is incomplete without pictures. You will have to wait for Quaz to go through the 300+ pictures he took and sort them, but he does have photos of Minorin, so don’t worry. They’ll be up soon.