Mari's concert was Saturday afternoon, and also included a short question and answer session. She had
another short question and answer session on Sunday, and there were autograph sessions all three days.
Friday Autograph Session
The autograph session on Friday started at 5:30 PM, not long after registration began. The line wasn't as long for
this session, probably because people were working or stuck in the registration lines. I got my copy of
Believe autographed, and also purchased another copy of No Limit. Mari posed for
pictures with many of the fans.
Mari's concert was scheduled for 1:00 PM, right after another concert by someone named "Apollo Smile."
The line didn't start until an hour before, when the other concert's line was out of the way, but it quickly extended
down the hall and out of sight. The convention staff allowed attendees to get good seats--a welcome contrast to some
conventions which insist on leaving twelve rows of empty seats in the front. I was able to get a seat in the front
row, about 10 or 15 feet from Mari.
Mari started by singing No Limit and "D" (English version) to recorded music, and then sang
ai oboeteimasuka and Angel's Paints while playing the keyboard. This was the first time
for her to both play and sing at an anime convention, and also her first time performing Angel's Paints
at a convention. There was a Q & A session after the concert, and after someone asked Mari to sing another
song, so she sang More than yesterday.
Mari then answered questions for about twenty minutes. At the end of the question and answer session, someone asked her to
sing something else, so she sang More than yesterday to recorded music. That made me very happy, since it's my
Saturday Q & A Session
Mari had a short question and answer session on Saturday after her concert. Here's what she had to say:
She needs to sell more copies of No Limit before doing another album. Her manager is looking for another
record contract in Japan, but the economy there is shaky, and she wants to take her time and find a good situation.
She also said that she found someone in Los Angeles to support her career in America--this is very good news!
She will probably go to Anime Weekend Atlanta in early October.
Sixteen years ago, she was sending out her demo tapes and one of them ended up on the desk of a Victor Records person.
He signed her up, and suggested that she go to the final audition for the part of Minmay, which was the next day. At that
time, she didn't know how big Macross was going to be.
She had a hard time with the "Minmay" image--people
categorized her as a voice actress, and kept saying "Minmay did that" about the things she did. It was like
she was walking and had to turn right, and kept on going right. No matter what she did, people didn't want to give her credit
for her accomplishments. Ten years ago she moved to Los Angeles because she had a dream, which she is now achieving little
by little, so she feels very happy.
She feels that she needed the time in Los Angeles to mature and learn English, and maybe now is her time to do what she wants
if she tries hard enough.
She got a role on the USA Network series Pacific Blue. She plays a Japanese girl named Kiko in an episode
titled "God's Gift."
She just did an audition for City Guys. She didn't get the role, but the casting director really liked her, so maybe
he will keep her in mind for another part.
It's easier for her to sing in Japanese, but she did her best to sing in English for No Limit. She pointed out
that Celine Dion also has an accent. She hopes that people will think a little bit of an accent is charming, but radio DJs
usually say, "oriental accents suck." Maybe if the artist is exotic enough, they will be forgiving. She likes doing
both English and Japanese music.
She likes rock bands--her favorite bands are Goo Goo Dolls, Lit, King's X, and Squeeze. She likes bands that use interesting
chords, and surprising key changes. She just saw King's X--they were popular in the early 1990's. She likes loud bands.
(I think she also likes the question, "Who is your favorite band?") :-)
She isn't making a video now. The guy in Los Angeles who likes her owns a TV station, so maybe she can make a video there.
She doesn't keep in touch with many Japanese musicians. She does keep in touch with Ippongi Bang, a manga artist who has
been a guest at some of the same conventions as Mari. Mari's friends are having a hard time--they are very talented, but
they aren't corny enough to be popular. One girl, named Eppo, became so tired of the Japanese music industry that she is
doing street performances.
She learned to speak English so well in Los Angeles.
She asked the musicians who played one song (the song wasn't named, but I think it's Irony of Fate) on
No Limit not to play like country musicians, but it came out sounding a little bit like country anyway.
She made a joke about sending the song to Shania Twain, and she put a picture of herself wearing a cowboy hat
in the CD booklet. She doesn't actually sing or listen to country music at all.
The last thing she did for Macross was Friends, a duet with Tomo Sakurai (the voice of Mylene Jenius on
Macross 7), for the fifteenth anniverasary. If she was asked to do a role for Macross again, she would say yes.
Saturday Autograph Session
The autograph session on Saturday started after Mari's concert and panel ended. The line for this was long, as most of the
people who were in the concert went on to get autographs and buy copies of No Limit.
Sunday Q & A Session
Mari had a short question and answer session Sunday afternoon before her autograph session. As usual, I recorded it.
She enjoyed the convention, and the people and staff were nice.
Her debut album was Rosé, in 1983. Her only voice acting role was Lynn Minmay.
She knew since she was a kid that she was going to be a musician--she never thought of doing anything else. She was lucky
that she knew what she wanted to be, because usually people have to search for what they want to be.
Mari's singing while playing piano is a famous thing for Japanese fans. She does it in all of her concerts in Japan for one or
two songs in the middle of the concert. It gives them a kind of relief from the loud band sound, and they can enjoy her voice.
For her, one or two songs on piano is enough, and more than that would be boring for her and the audience. She has no plans
to release a CD with piano versions of her songs, but if people like it, she would think about it.
She is a classical-trained piano player. She likes to play Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy. Maybe someday she will release a
classical music album independently--it's one of her goals.
She wanted to be a professional singer, so she sent out demo tapes to various people. When she released her first album, she
felt like she was a professional now, and she has a responsibilty to do it. She has a drive to make music, and couldn't stop
feeling that way.
At her Anime Expo concert, she was singing her new English songs, and someone yelled, "sing something in Japanese."
She was really shocked, and a bit hurt because she had worked so hard to be able to sing in English--it made her a bit confused.
When she thought about it, she realized that anime fans like Japanese culture and sometimes try to sing in Japanese, so she had
to respect that aspect of anime fans. That's why she sang two Japanese songs from Macross at her concert on Saturday.
She doesn't really feel like she is famous, and she wants to be more famous.
She does volunteer work in her sons' school as a sort of art teacher.
She never retired or stopped releasing albums after Macross--she has released many albums since then.
She writes music and lyrics together for Japanese songs--she just writes them down together. For English songs, she wrote the
melody first. The lyrics were like a puzzle--she used a dictionary many times to find rhymes.
It was difficult writing English songs--people would say, "we don't sing like that," and she would have to make
adjustments. She enjoyed it, though, and at the end she was more comfortable with it.
Because she has lived in LA for ten years, she thinks and dreams in English now, so she can express her feelings singing in English.
She doesn't think she could have done that ten years ago.
She recommends that people who want to follow her career and see how she matured as a musician start from the beginning
with her debut album, Rosé. For people who can only buy one or two CDs she recommends Good
Medicine and No Limit. She is proud of every CD she did, but Good Medicine is particulary good
and the engineers did a very good job mixing it.
For people who want to buy a "greatest hits" album, she recommends Best of the Best. However, if
it says Best of Best (without "the"), it's a fake--JVC released it without her permission.
It's hard for her to choose which album is her favorite, because they're like her children--she can't choose which is her
favorite. Good Medicine and No Limit are good to start, though.
Good Medicine was released by East/West Japan, which is a division of Time Warner. Now she doesn't have a
contract, and is looking for another.
She only made her first three CDs in Japan with Japanese musicians. Her fourth album was done in London, and her fifth was
recorded in Tokyo with New York musicians. From her sixth album, she has been making records in Los Angeles. She has much
more experience working with non-Japanese musicians as a result. She doesn't really think about what country she is working
in so much. But, when she is in Japan she needs to be careful not to act like a strong woman. When she expresses her feelings
too much, Japanese guys don't like that--record company executives would think she was being obnoxious. There are rules about
how she has to express things, and she would get in trouble if she made a mistake. Not all guys in Japan are jerks, though.
Writing her bi-weekly column LA Story is a very hard job, because she has to find topics--she's not active all the
time. If she has time, maybe she would try doing an English translation along with the normal Japanese version.
She doesn't have any plan for her next album yet. She does want to work with a guitar player--her albums usually have a lot of
guitars, so she wants to have a guitar player as co-producer.
She thinks of herself as a pop music singer. She can do many different styles of music.
Sunday Autograph Session
This session started right after Mari's panel. The line was shorter, but it kept being refilled by people, so it stayed the same length
almost the entire time. There was a camera crew from the Discovery Channel on hand filming for a show called Splat!
They were going to interview her after the autograph session, but I had to leave to catch my plane, so I couldn't photograph that.
She was also interviewed by a writer for Protoculture Addicts.