Mano Erina has an official App out on Android (which can be downloaded here), it's prety basic stuff it's a portal into the social networking sites that she's on. So we get links to her Twitter account, her blog, YouTube video, images etc.
In theory, for fans this type of App is always useful, a quick an easy way to group and view all the activities of Mano. And since owning a smart phone I've had a large number of these style of Apps installed, but the unfortunate thing is that this is less professionally done than the majority of fan made equivalent Apps... although I've yet to see any of these for Mano.
There's a number of issues I have with this app, first off the presentation is awful. If you look at an AKB48 equivalent app (AKB48 App) you'll see that although it's not the best looking thing it's not the eye sore that this is. There's a bit of colour going on, things aren't always just links to web pages and the menu system running accross the bottom works better (as it's scrollable). And whilst I'm on the subject of the bottom bar, the biggest problem I have is that under the menu bar we have some intrusive adverts! I don't quite understand why an App like this, especially an official one would have adverts in it, well obviously I do; to make money. But surely there's no need to?
Something like this should really sell itself without the need for ads, well at least intrusive irrelevant ads. Something like this should be used to the full potential of the artist, the first thing that a user should see when opening this is the latest release, tap that latest release and then it redirects the user to more details on said release and/or redirects the user to a page online where they can buy it, set yourself up an affiliate scheme and you can even cash in a tad more in selling your own releases and then suddenly the need for "Vodafone Free Sims" etc adverts are gone, everyones happy, we don't need to look at pointless adverts and we buy more releases in the long run.
The look and adverts aside, the rest of the app doesn't get any better. It's esentially a web browser, click on the Twitter button and you're taken to the mobile version of Twitter and the same goes for the rest of it. Movies, ultimately link you to YouTube videos, but we access these videos by a screen within the app, we get a little background photo on Manoeri with video thumbs over the top. This isn't too bad, but the problem with this is the background image isn't fixed, you scroll through the list of videos and the background image scrolls to, so after 3 videos you're left with a black screen which just looks ugly.
As for the blog, photos and more options, well on my phone at least they're all a bit buggy. They do load but not all the time, sometimes I have to pinch the screen for anything to appear and with the gallery the page is to large for the screen from the get go so you have to scroll left and right, and when you tap a photo a pop up appears which you again have to scroll to that's too big for the available space.
Overall, I'd say this is an extremly badly done app, which is a shame as so many other equivalently functioning Apps are around that do things much better. All it needed was a smigding of thought and effort, but instead it looks like they've thrown some links together in the hope that something good will come out of it and things like this, especially official things like this just reflect badly.
Getting off the coach in Paris on a Sunday morning at 7am in the Winter is one of the best things I can suggest for waking you up in the morning.
First, you're rudely awakened from the lovely sleep you was having by the coach driver, in a half asleep state you try to remember why a tubby Portuguese guy is waking you up (...was it another one of THOSE weekends?...) you stumble off of the coach with your coat in your bag out into the freezing morning. Suddenly things become clear; Paris, BUONO!... MUST GET TO THE QUEUE! But Paris has one last wake up call and that's the walk across the bridge over the motorway. Usually (well at least every other time I've been) it's quiet, but on a Sunday morning it's filled with the oddest market I've ever seen.
It was selling questionably stained blankets and all manner of 20 year old broken electrical goods, AND then there was the people buying. You'll never see anyone scruffier or smell more of urine.
So, after I spent €5 on a top loading VHS player that would finally let me watch my copy of Top Gun I made my way towards the venue, La Machine du Moulin Rouge.
Having somehow managed to walk a few days before hand to the Palais omnisport de Paris Bercy for another concert (that post is for another time and another blog... PTOM.co.uk) I'd decided that I could walk to this venue too, but in the end I finally caved and jumped on the Metro, Google Maps estimation of a 2 hour walk was slightly off when I reached about half way and it'd taken an hour and a half.
A couple of stops later and I was walking up from the metro and into Paris's Red Light District. Being a frequent visitor to the London's Red Light District in Soho (...would anyone believe me if I said it's a great shortcut and that's the only reason I use it?) and having spent an evening or two in Japan's Red Light District (...would anyone believe me if I said there's a tasty Korean restaurant around that way and that's why we went?) I gotta say I was a little disappointed, admittedly I didn't explore it in any great depth but from what I could see there was one Sex Shop, a Lingerie Shop and obviously the Moulin Rouge. From what I understand there's a couple of other places similar to the Moulin Rouge which are a bit more racey... but come on, I like my Red Light Districts filled with crack heads and old worn out women trying to entice me into a grotty little club where I'll pay £50 for a pint of beer, maybe I'm just not classy enough for Paris?
It seems that people we're slightly more sensible than those that had gone to the Music Bank concert a couple of days before and although there was a queue it wasn't particulaly long. Apparently the queue had formed around 8am-ish so I was only a couple of hours late. Jumping at the back of the queue I waited for familiar faces to turn up.
After awhile, Shirow, Lolli and Kea turned up and we all watched in amazement as a handful of French fans decided that they were going to to be the Boss of the queue, they organized into thinner queue, took names so no one pushed in and talked about wacky schemes of running the queue inside the Moulin Rouge's little entrance bit... all crazy stuff... if only the rest of the world was like England, we don't need queue bosses, we all instinctively know how to queue, tsk. Anyway this whole thing lasted up until the point a transit van pulled and the girls jumped out, the queue vanished into a crowd of people trying to get a glimpse of Mono, Miyabi and Airi. Due to the mass crowd I only managed to see the back of Airi's head as she dissapeared inside the venue, on the plus side however our position in the queue had got considerably better and we was now about 150 people in front of where we was before... shhhhhh don't tell anyone
By this time some more familiar faces had turned up; Sswishbone, Krv, Nimrod and Oraboros had all turned up and the discussion turned to yesterdays signing event.
Having missed the news about the signing event I took the chance to hear tales of it and to look through photos taken. And then the inevitable conversation of "Why are the girls being driven around in a white transit van that looks like some fan has kidnapped them and is now driving them off to some dodgy warehouse?"... seriously, wtf? Come on UFA surely you have a bit more of a budget for this than to buy a white van, sure you stuck some stickers on it, but really?
And eventually after much line standing and getting in alphabetical order we entered the venue. The mad rush for merchandise started, out of all it I had my eye on one thing, and Airi towel. And for once it wasn't going to be an emotionally attached purchased item to do with the love of an idol, because to be fair, im not the biggest Airi fan. But on taking a peak at was available I saw that already the towel had been sold out, in-fact by the end of the concert most of the Japanese merchandise was sold out.
So heading down to the stage we got ourselves a fairly decent spot, about 6 from the front (although with the push forward at the start of the conert and the jumping through out I found myself at times as close as 3 away from the stage). We watched a good 20 mins of PVs and people in our surrounding area were already suffering from ringing ears due to the loudness of Sswishbones cheering... luckily their were no fatalities with the swinging of his arms.
And then the moment we had all been waiting for (and probably what you've been wanting to read about) the lights went out, glow sticks were cracked the cheering started and finally the girls came out!
The excitement was crazy, from where I was standing I had a clear view of Miyabi and as she stared at the floor in her spot on the stage getting ready to start the gig, I could see her raising her eyes looking over the crowd and cracking a little smile over the reaction they were getting, and the reaction was amazing, probably one of the best starts to a Hello! Project concert I've attended. Literally the place was a glow with green, red and pink, the crowd was jumping and thrusting and the chanting was just overwhelming.
To say I was expecting great things from Buono! wouldn't be a lie, they've been one of the most consistently great groups within H!P and have an equally great line up, but what I got was so much more. And as ever seeing the girls live has totally changed my perceptive on them and how I rank them, I've always had it Momo, Airi and Miyabi in that order. But seeing them perform live that's totally changed, I'm actually in love with Airi whose now my fave, she was amazing (I even gave her a little wolf whistle after their costume change), followed by Miyabi who was just... adorable, her smiles at the start and her performance throughout, so good! And although she does have a chin reminiscent of Beavis, she so damn pretty! And finally Momo, I actually feel really bad saying I preferred Momo the least in the concert because she was just as amazing. I think getting caught up in the moment and noticing something about two idols that you've always kind of passed on in the past can be a very dramatic thing. You only need to look at my time in LA and seeing LinLin.
We got a little break with an MC where the woman from the previous French concerts came on stage and done a bit of translating. And I felt as much hatred for her as I've felt at every other concert, first as we're all cheering the girls she walks on stage telling us to be quiet... REALLY? You're going to tell fans to be quiet for cheering the idols they've come to see and hear? Well the answers Yes, and she does it everytime she comes on the stage, talk about runing the moment. And then as per usual, her time on stage was not only fairly boring but just took way too long. They're was some fun moments in it, but if I'm honest I'm here to see the girls, I'm here to listen to the songs that I love, I'm here to show support for a group that's just damn amazing, I don't want to be told to stop cheering, I don't want to have some random talking on stage.
Anyways... after the management popping out and presumably telling her to hurry the F up, the girls carried on. We had a little moment of dance instructions for Rottara Rottara which was great fun, and then proceeded to pretty much just rock out to 3 jpop idols! Until the end of the concert.
The concert finsihed the girls went off and the cheers carried on, they quickly popped back on stage gave a bow and headed off again, then the cheers for ENCORE came and they came strong and they lasted for felt like ages I've got to guess that we were cheering for 5-10 minutes at least, during this time the lights stayed off and the backing music played, the cheers never died down and the glow stick were a-waving. Unfortunalty like most (all?) of the European/US H!P concerts I've attended and encore wasn't going to happen, and a lovely random lady who came on to tell us this got the full brunt of the BOOOS from the crowd. Come on guys, organize the encore into the performance, you know we're going to be calling for it.
And with that, those of us lucky enough to be attending the after performance signing hung around whilst the rest of us left to get some snacks and drinks.
Unfortunatly for me my coach was leaving at 11pm so I couldn't stay for long, I had a swift burger and whilst everyone else went off to get a bit typsy with fellow Wota I headed to the coach with my iPod playing Buono! and me remembering the awesome experience I just had.