The funny thing is that the next Friday, we've been asked to turn in a Devil Survivor and two Corpse Parties. And Gaston will be coming over that whole weekend. And that's not even all the fun! Athena erased the whiteboard and wrote down the new list, and it looks like we have ten books due by March 18th. That's about seven weeks away. This is going to be exciting! (It would actually look pretty fun if the first project on the list weren't so tiring. I like the series, but it takes a lot out of us.)
So now, let's try to recharge by talking about our Japan trip!
...Sorry, I had to pause to figure out where I was again. Everything is such a blur. But we were just about to watch Fantasmic!! So we were waiting and waiting, and it was cold, but that was okay because it was Fantasmic!, and we're used to putting ourselves through a little bit of misery every once in a while and even moreso when we're at Disneyland. Or DisneySea, as the case may be. Before the show started, they played something that appeared to be some kind of pre-show music, but it was a bit puzzling because it didn't have any of the feel of Fantasmic! that we had come to know and love. In fact, it reminded me of the music they play at the Fantasyland Theater when you're waiting to watch Mickey and the Magical Map. This was not a good sign, but for all we knew it wasn't really related...but on the other hand, it didn't sound very appropriate for the Mediterranean Harbor, either, so... (Speaking of Mediterranean Harbor music, there was so much good ambient music playing all over the park, we wished we could take a picture of it to show everyone!)
Eventually the show started. It had a musical tone, like someone rubbing their finger along the edge of a wet drinking glass, just like our Fantasmic! back home, minus the narration. A promising start, nonetheless. Now, the ocean at the Mediterranean Harbor doesn't have a big island making a stage like Disneyland, CA's Rivers of America, so we wondered how they were going to pull that off, and we soon figured it out. A big...thing...came up out of the ocean and it was covered in lights that worked together to make a screen! And at the top of the thing, there was just enough room for a single person to stand--or in this case, a single mouse. Mickey Mouse!! YAY!!
...But he was already in his Sorcerer's Apprentice costume, which made me sad, because... Come to think of it, I don't know if I ever described our Fantasmic! here. The idea is you're inside Mickey Mouse's imagination, so the show starts with him in his regular park outfit (a black coat with tails and red pants) and he starts directing beautiful images like an orchestra conductor. There are fountains and fireworks, and then he goes offstage so you can see the really big stuff. First, there's a jungle scene with more flowers, and a giant Kaa comes out with spotlights for eyes and King Louie and some of his monkeys dance on barges that float along the rivers. They're in fluorescent costumes, so they glow in the black light. They have a really cool arrangement of Pink Elephants with trumpets and electric guitars while they show scenes from Dumbo on their giant water screens and have fluorescent elephants appear and disappear in time with the music. There's a little bit with Pinocchio and some can-can dancing marionettes, and then Monstro attacks, and when they show Monstro splashing into the ocean on the water screens, they splash the audience! Then the screens show a ship in a storm (from The Little Mermaid), and then BANG! the lights go up on the Jolly Roger (which is actually the Columbia Sailing Ship), which sails by with Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and a bunch of pirates all fighting over Wendy, and it's a really cool stunt scene with real actors. Then the lights go down again, and three princesses (Snow White, Belle, and Ariel) float by, taking turns singing their signature songs on light-up barges.
Then the Wicked Queen comes and is all jealous that she's not more beautiful, only the stakes are higher because in Mickey's imagination, beauty and love are the most powerful. So she summons Ursula, Chernabog, and Maleficent to come help her take over Mickey's mind. So there's an Ursula scene and a Chernabog scene, and then FWOOM! everything goes all red (thanks to some extremely bright fireworks) and there's Mickey (in his Brave Little Tailor costume) and Maleficent, and Maleficent says, "Now you will deal with me! And all the powers of MY imagination!!!!!" And she starts rising up into the sky, and the water screens come up and show the dragon transformation scene from Sleeping Beauty, then a bunch of animated fire. When the screens come down, there's a dragon! Right there on the stage!! And it blows fire, and the river lights on fire!!!
...And suddenly I'm wondering if I'm lessening the potential impact this could have on anybody who has future plans to see Fantasmic! with us. It won't be available again for at least a year anyway, though, so maybe the details will be fuzzy by then. Besides, we've seen it a million times and it's still awesome.
Anyway, Mickey uses his sword to zap the dragon, and then they go into the finale, which involves a lot of sparkles, Disney characters dancing on every deck of the Mark Twain, and finally, at the very end, Mickey comes out again at the very top of the stage wearing his Sorcerer's Apprentice costume, and conducts fireworks perfectly in time with the music, and it's just like his dream from The Sorcerer's Apprentice and it's beautiful and magical and the best thing ever. And then all the fireworks die down and the music gets quiet and Mickey disappears, only to appear at the bottom of the stage in his regular outfit one last time to say, "Some imagination, huh?" Then one last blast of fireworks, and the show is over. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. *sniffle*
But back to Tokyo's Fantasmic! (or Chiba's, if you want to get technical). Mickey was already in the Sorcerer's Apprentice outfit, so I was like, "What? But how are you going to build from that? You have nowhere to go!" They did build from it later, by making his robe change colors but A) that's not really very special, and B) Mickey's so far away from shore that you can't really tell anyway. In fact, I'm not even sure it happens. I just saw a Fantasmic! souvenir later with him in a blue robe and thought, "Oh, did the robe change color? I think maybe it did..."
And then the Thing that he was standing on started showing images from Fantasia 2000, and we were like, "THAT's not a good sign," because Fantasia 2000 totally did not get the point of the original Fantasia, and World of Color also uses Fantasia 2000 and it's come to be a sign of people not really knowing how the whole musical storytelling thing really works. Speaking of World of Color, this show had stunning visuals that were quite reminiscent of that very show...which really isn't a bad thing, in and of itself, because they really are very pretty, but going back to Fantasia 2000, they don't work together with the music like they should.
Mickey did the opening bit, which started out great, because it had the Fantasmic! main theme that we love...but only half of it. See, the Fantasmic! theme has two parts. The active heroic part, and the...calmer, princessy? part. I don't know how to describe it, but one is like a fanfare and the other is like a princess song. This version of Fantasmic! switched the princess song out for some new thing in the style of all the new Disneyland shows that we don't enjoy. So not only was the style a problem, but the original song was kind of written into the fanfare part, like they're two sides of the same coin. Only they somehow ripped off one side and replaced it with another one that doesn't fit.
From there I guess we were already let down enough that we didn't pay as much attention to the rest of it. They had a jungle scene, sort of, only this time it was more Lion King than Jungle Book. They had two big barges (much bigger than the ones at Disneyland, CA, but much less mobile, as well), and one of them had a big Simba on it. They also had something that seemed to be like a motorboat or a jet ski, only it was leading a trail of little floating things that I think lit up, because the first time I saw it, they were dressed as Kaa, and later I saw it making sparkly designs to go with the Cinderella scene.
!!! Cinderella! That reminds me! After the Lion King scene, the barges both had giant globes inflate on them, and they project images on them, like the transformation scene from Cinderella. That caught my attention because, since the globes are spherical, they had it set up so it seemed like you were seeing the same scene no matter what angle you looked at it from.
They had a Genie part, which was cool because everything they do with the Genie is cool in Japan. They also had a Stitch part which was kind of lackluster, because it was just Stitch standing on the Thing, and Angel going around on the jet ski/motorboat thing, which didn't really stand out against the two giant barges that just had...I don't know, random images or something. It just wasn't that memorable.
Eventually they brought the villains out, and that was kind of a cool effect. A giant magic mirror came up out of the water, which consisted of the frame, and then waterfalls that they projected images onto. So from there it was a lot like our Fantasmic! in California, which is kind of like big deal the villains aren't even the best part. But what was cool is that when Maleficent turned into a dragon, a physical head came out of the mirror, and when it breathed fire, instead of using a flamethrower for just a blast of fire and then suddenly the river's on fire even though the fire never touched the river, the dragon shoots out fireworks that actually scatter onto the water and ignite it. And when Mickey zaps her, they can actually hit the dragon with fireworks, which is something they can't really do here.
Then they had a finale, with all the Disney characters on the two barges. It was hard to tell from where we were, but I think they actually had Eric's dog Max on the barge with him (and I didn't notice until the finale was almost over, so I didn't have time to scrutinize). And then they played their weird new song, and it was over. And we were like, "That was dumb. Let's go on Sindbad."
So we made our way back to the Arabian Coast and went on Sindbad's Storybook Voyage again. This time, I was taking pictures of everything! (But I think I missed the guards eating bananas at the end.) So I felt a little bit unfulfilled and asked if we could go on it one more time. They were still letting people on, so we got back in line! Of course the cast member at the loading dock recognized us and she asked if it was our second time, and I said, "It's our fourth!" and her reaction really stayed with me. She was surprised, and then she sounded really touched when she said, "Arigatou gozaimasu!" I'm not sure how to explain it, but it was like by going on the ride so many times, I was paying her a personal compliment, and I guess I was really touched that she cared so much about the ride that she works on. And it makes me happy, because I care about that ride so much. I feel like in America, they would be like, "Okay, whatever floats your boat!"
And the cast members all waved really big as we left, but we really did have to leave, because the park was closed. So we went back to our hotel and did not have a good night's sleep, because Cecille needed to get up and go to Saitama. We woke up as she was getting ready to leave, and we felt like good friends would have gone to Saitama with her. I suspect she didn't want to impose on us by waking us up early for her thing that we're not necessarily all that into, so she was at least halfway ready to go before we were starting to be functional. And so we ended up not going with her, but we did decide to stay in the hotel, as a contingency plan in case she got lost. She would find a place with internet and message us on Facebook so nobody would have to be charged for roaming texts or calls. Also, we had work and hadn't yet adjusted to being in a foreign country, so we were quite happy to stay secluded in our hotel room, thank you very much.
But before work, I turned on the TV to see what was on. They had some pretty cool preschool shows on, and the adorableness was addictive. I had a really hard time forcing myself to turn the TV off so we could get to work. And we really did have to get to work, because we had a chapter of UQ Holder! due. It turned out to be a very good idea to get started early, too, because our brains were not working at full capacity that day. Translating that chapter was like wading through quicksand. After our first draft, we took a break for an hour, maybe two or three. When we finally dragged ourselves back to edit it, it was exhausting. The chapter itself didn't really help, because it was talkative and had important backstory.
After that, we looked at the DisneySea guides we'd been given and discovered one of them was a guide to all the Duffy desserts that were going around...and somehow that led us to the decision to pull up the internet and look up every restaurant at Tokyo Disneyland to see what was on the menu. Of course, we can only do that for so long without getting bored (I bet you thought I was going to say hungry), so that's when we started to get impatient for Cecille to get back. We thought she would only be gone for a few hours, but it had been practically all day and we hadn't heard from her at all. We started to wonder if we should be worried. That being the case, we decided that 50 cents for a text was a small price to pay for the safety of a friend, so we texted her...and then she walked through the door. Good thing, too, because later, I got a text from that number saying, "I think you have a wrong number."
She showed us all the UtaPri concert goods she'd bought, and we helped her open up all the random items to sort out for her friends. Apparently she waited in line for almost six hours. It was a reminder to me why we've become so detached from the idea of anime merchandise (didn't stop us from buying a bunch later, though).
By then, of course nobody had had a decent meal, and we had been messaging Kyoya about details for our drive out into the country. The plan was to meet at the McDonald's by the train station, and Kyoya sent us a map, but since we'd be meeting at 6:30am, we figured it would be a good idea to know ahead of time exactly where it is. So off we went to McDonald's for dinner...and all we got was chicken mcnuggets, which isn't even close to the most disappointing food choice we made during the trip. But then we came back to the hotel and watched TV, including some anime with an extra voice actor thingie after the rerun of Attack on Titan Junior High! The actors had to ad-lib a line in a scene where a girl was mad at her boyfriend (a guy in a Colossal Titan mask), then he grabs her from behind in the shojo-manga way and...that's where they had to make up a line. They tried a few things, and after each time, the scene continued with the girl turning around and happily saying, "I really do love you!" After one particularly abysmal ad-lib, Yuuki Kaji commented, "She just loves anyone, doesn't she?"
We also watched a new TV show called Keishi-Cho Zero-Kakari, which we'd seen an ad for on the train, with the tagline, "He can't read the room, but he can read a case." Apparently this one police department started a division basically for exiling the people that they want to get rid of, only the one new guy totally doesn't get that, and he says they're gonna make it the best ever. And he has such a dreamy smile...
And then we had to get up early on Saturday, so we went to bed.
Today I'm thankful for getting to see Fantasmic!, Sindbad making it better, having lots of Noragami in our future, Page being super cute in her heated cat bed, and it being time for dinner.