Wow. This got long.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped work on this video. To say I’m surprised would be an understatement. If I can get personal here, I had a really long and emotionally exhausting day at work, saying goodbye to some of my students and feeling worn out beyond measure; watching this video when I got home really, really helped me feel better, even if I was crying through it. I’d blame my hay fever but it’s really just that I’m soft!
Life in Japan has been full of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have traded these years for anything! w-inds. worldwide was a HUGE part of my time here, sometimes much more of a time (and heart!) consuming job than my actual paid one, but it made me so happy.
I’ll always remember being a university student in upstate New York, lying on my crappy dorm mattress and praying with all of my might to one day have the chance to see a single, solitary w-inds. concert. I didn’t care if it was in a venue the size of a football field and my seat was in the deep back — just to be in the same space as these three guys would have been enough. Back then, the Internet fandom was sprawled all around, and, if I can be really honest, I never felt like I belonged in any of the existing fan spaces. Actually, the place I felt most comfortable was a Thai BBS, even though all I could understand were the few English words and the merry “555555” chains. Ash was my main w-inds. friend and my other fandom friends were almost entirely local. It’s so funny to think about that now, but it was true… almost every single one of my friends who liked w-inds. lived in either New York or the Northeast US.
And w-inds. themselves felt half a world away — in part because, well, they were. They blogged sometimes, and I remember once being so happy to get the “first” comment on an entry Ryuichi made, likely about his owl pooping on his sofa or something like that, but for the most part, I had no real idea what was happening with w-inds. and had no real network of people to enjoy them with. The few “goods” I had were knockoffs from China Town and even though I often dreamed about somehow finding enough money to get on a plane and hop to Japan for their summer tours, these plans always stopped short because I had no idea how I’d even go about getting a concert ticket once I made it there.
I worked hard to come to Japan after graduating, and I’ll always remember my first w-inds. concert. It was during the Seventh Ave. tour in Kobe. My seat was in the back of the third floor, and w-inds. themselves looked more like tiny action figures than real flesh-and-blood people, but I could just feel the years of love and gratitude rushing through my veins as I watched them dance and sing. At that moment, I was hooked.
With w-inds. worldwide, it has always been my hope to let other people have the same feeling. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t difficult or stressful at times; ticket lottery time was always hard, especially with trying to find Japanese fans willing to ballot for the fans we ran out of ballots for, and you’re all aware of how terrible I was at sending goods orders out on time — but when I saw fans flushed with excitement after a great show or got happy messages from people halfway across the world about their t-shirts or pamphlets finally making it to their hands, I could feel nothing but happiness. And to think — that my fandom circle, once isolated to the upper right corner of the US, now spreads to almost every continent! (Does anyone want to move to Antarctica and make it all seven?)
And not just this — to know that the members of w-inds. know about all of you through our video projects and other projects is just so amazing to me. The Internet has really made the world smaller, and the kindness w-inds. has shown in accepting our messages has blown me away. I would have never thought, holed up in my concrete university in NY, that one day I’d be working on videos that Ryuichi himself would comment on. I never thought that one day I’d hear Keita say things about wanting to go worldwide and perform in countries even outside of Asia (this has been a huge theme of his solo, and one of the reasons I urge all of you, even the non-KT fans, to please support him). I never thought I’d hear Ryohei say in MCs that he was studying English for his “future”. While I can’t say that w-inds. worldwide has caused some of these changes, I can say that we certainly were a catalyst, and I hope you can all be proud of that.
Ash and I were lucky enough to go to the 10th anniversary concert on 4/28/2011. Do you remember how almost the entire show was broadcast on the Internet for everyone to watch? The last song they performed was “THANK YOU” and something I’ll never forget is how it felt to look up at the screens above their heads and realize that “thank you” was being spelled out in many different languages — not just Japanese. That thank you was for all of you.
I don’t know so many different languages, but if I did, I’d thank all of you in all of them. It warms my heart when people refer to w-inds. worldwide as a family. I certainly hope that you can feel that way. Like all families, there are sometimes fights, disagreements, misunderstandings, and heartache; with a family this size and spanning so many countries and cultures, this is almost certain to be the case! But whether you are a fan who participates in all projects or a fan who has never said a word but just quietly sat on the sidelines observing, I deeply appreciate you being here. We are family. Thank you so much.
Sincerely Yours With All My Heart,
Project AM participants and www,
Firstly, thank you guys so much! I don’t have the words to express how much this video means to me. I also had no idea you were planning something like this. It’s really hard to surprise me, but you guys managed to sneak one by me somehow! I know things like this take a lot of time and patience, so thanks so much for going through all that just for us.
In light of recent incidents, I actually felt quite defeated about my work with w-inds.worldwide. I’m not the sort of person to think about the sort of things she has really accomplished, instead I dwell on mistakes or imperfections and it really makes it hard to see the big picture. I’m my own worst critic, and when I feel I’m doing the best I can and my best isn’t good enough for some people, it’s just a terrible, terrible feeling. “Behind the scenes” of www, there were a lot of tough times where I totally bit off way more than I could chew, but I somehow managed with Melissa at my side to do it pretty well anyway. It’s kind of weird, but I gained a ton of communication and management skills that will probably help me in future jobs. And to be honest, even if it was stressful, I really enjoyed doing it because of you good people and because w-inds. are the best.
All I wanted to accomplish with w-inds.worldwide was a feeling that people could come together to celebrate something we all love despite differences in culture. I can happily say that we managed to build that community together. In the past, there were places scattered around the internet for international fans such as feel-the-fate, feel to w-inds., and baidu, which were all essential in growing our love of w-inds. as a fandom, but there wasn’t really any one place that united us before, so I’m glad that we were able to fill that void.
I’m thrilled we got the chance to help people actually come see w-inds. themselves. All the late, late nights communicating with fans and organizing tickets were well rewarded by the smiles and tears long-time fans had after seeing w-inds. in person for the first time. It’s a feeling that many Japanese fans will probably never understand and I was so pleased to be able to help people make their dreams come true. It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.
I’m also glad by some happy coincidence our message was able to be heard by w-inds. themselves. Not only did it solve the problem of foreign fans feeling completely out of touch with what was going on in the world of w-inds., but it created a direct connection. I think knowing that there are a lot of people outside of Japan that really love their music was a positive thing for w-inds. too. Hopefully they could see that they weren’t limited by their circumstances here and it encouraged them to expand their horizons as artists. We as fans went from having to wait for the summer tour DVD to come out to getting facebook updates (IN ENGLISH) in just a few years. How cool is that?
On a personal note, a lot of the friends I made early on through w-inds.worldwide were mostly quite young girls and I’ve really enjoyed seeing you mature and blossom into smart, internationally-minded young women over the last few years. Though we came together because of w-inds., we’ll continue on as family. I’m really, really proud of you all and all of your accomplishments. I hope that, if nothing else, our journey to Japan and our experiences here have shown that even when the odds are really against you, if you stay positive and passionate about something, you can make your dreams come true (no matter how crazy they may seem).
Keep in touch, guys!