I recently came back from a trip to Japan and I was able to visit the Hello! Project themed bar, Hello! Tribe. There, I had an interesting chat with a salary-man Mano wota over a few drinks. Here are some of our dialogs.

turbos86: T
Mano wota: W
Hello! Tribe’s owner: O

T: Hello
W: Hi there. Where do you come from?
T: I’m from Canada
W: Ohhh, that’s very far away. Welcome to Japan!
T: Thank you!
W: Your Japanese is pretty good
T: Not at all
W: It’s good, where did you learn it from?
T: Mostly from watching H!P TV shows
W: Wow really, that’s great!

W: So who’s your oshimen?
T: I like Tanaka Reina of LoVendoЯ, for H!P current members, I like Iikubo Haruna
O: Hey, this guy likes Reina-chan too! (Points to the bartender)
(Bartender looks at us with a big grin)
T: (Looking at the wota) How about yourself, who’s your favorite?
W: I like Mano-chan
T: Ohhhhh

W: So how long are you staying in Japan this time?
T: About a month
W: Wow, that’s pretty long.
T: Yeah, I’ve been here for a week already
W: Ah, have you attended any events yet?
T: Yes I have (Pulls out 2shot cheki with Harunan to show the Mano wota), I went to this already
W: Oh niceeee, are you wearing a costume in the shot?
T: Yup
W: What character is that?
T: Kujo Jotaro from Jojo
W: Oh, Jojo!
T: Because Harunan likes Jojo
W: Ah, that’s why

W: Do you know Patlabor?
T: Yes, the show Mano-chan is in.
W: Yeah, that!
(Pulls out an iPad)
W: Here, these are from earlier in the year when Mano-chan was at the Patlabor parade
(Mano wota shows off all the photos he took of Mano at the parade)
T: Wow, that’s a lot of shots, were you following her around?
W: Yeah, it was a long day. Here, I also have shots of the robot
(Scroll to photos of the robot)
T: Wow, that’s huge, is that life size?
W: I believe so
T: Is that bigger than the Gundam in Odaiba?
W: Um, the Gundam is probably bigger
T: That’s still very impressive
W: And here’s a shot of Mano-chan in front of the robot (Scrolls down to more pictures, some are not Mano)
T: Oh, are those Kenshuusei photos?
W: OH, you know what Kenshuusei is?
T: Yeah, I like a few of them
W: Ah~
T: Speaking of that, do you know if Kurumi is still in Kenshuusei or has she quit? (This was before Kurumi and Nanami were announced to have completed their training)
W: Um, Kurumi, she’s been missing for a while now hasn’t she
T: It has been a few months now, but her profile is still on the official website
W: I wonder, maybe she’s busy studying for high school entrance exam and decided to take some time off?
T: Good if that’s the case
W: Yeah, a lot of fans are worried about her
T: Overseas fans are worried too

T: Sorry if this come off as very sudden, but what do fans here think about Cool Hello?
(Mano wota chuckles)
W: Oh man, where do we begin, haha
T: Overseas fans don’t like it at all, since everything is just black
W: That’s right, all the t-shirts are just black nowadays, not very fun
T: I wonder why the management thinks that’s a good idea
W: Makes you wonder doesn’t it
T: If you are DD, you can just buy the concert t-shirts, those are usually black anyway
W: (Turns to look at Owner) He just said a keyword, DD
W: Yeah, black t-shirts are for DDs!
T: This is making it very difficult, especially for new fans to show off who they like
W: That’s right
T: How does fans here handle this situation?
W: Fans now either wear old t-shirts from previous years or make their own
T: Make?
W: They get shirts printed in the correct color
T: In that case, does anyone buys the Cool Hello shirts?
W: Some people do buy it, they can’t help it, especially the collectors
T: So all the money Up-Front can be making now goes to the t-shirt printing services
W: That’s right
T: What is management thinking? That’s a bad business decision
W: Haha, yeah, who knows what they’re thinking, it’s certainly not what we’re thinking

W: So where do get all your H!P news from?
T: Well, everything is on Youtube now. H!P even have official channels there
W: Ah Youtube, of course
T: For everything else, I read it on Ookami
W: (Laughs hysterically) Owner, owner, did you hear that, he just said Ookami, another keyword!
T: Yeah, a good number of overseas fans reads it too
W: Really?
T: (Pulls up Wota in Translation on the smartphone) We have websites like this
W: Wow, what, it’s all in English
T: Yeah, fans translate it for other fans who can not read Japanese
W: You guys know all about our bad mouthing then, wahahaha~
T: Haha yeah (Directs browser to Jicchan) And this one is mine
W: LOL you have one too, that’s awesome!

Not just this wota, other wotas I have had the pleasure to chat up with on this trip actually were surprised to hear that overseas fans knows about the Kenshuusei, knows their wota lingo, and reads the same websites they read. They’re generally shocked by the fact that we’re not clueless foreigners.

I also had a good lengthy conversation with an ex-Berryz wota who I have been acquittance with since we’ve met at Sakura-con in 2011. He told me his own unique prospective on Cool Hello and Berryz Koubou’s indefinite hiatus. Watch for it in a future editorial article.

PS: At Hello! Tribe, while I was chatting with the Mano wota, my good friend sferris had a good discussion with a Kamei Eri wota. The Eri wota says that Eri is currently dating a guy in some indies or just debuted band and marriage looks to be on the horizon. This information has apparently been circling around Eri wotas in Tokyo by word of mouth. Take this with a grain of salt.