December 29, 2011

Mizoraji 200

Instead of spam twitter, I'll just liveblog Mizoraji episode 200 here as I listen. Shit is hilarious so far.

A bit of background, Mizoraji is the nickname for "Sasara and Ma-ryan Seitokai Kaichou Radio for ToHeart2," a radio program that I've been really into for the last few months. Thanks to catsspat who raved about it a lot, I finally checked it out last summer and I've been hooked since.

The two hosts are Ono Ryoko and Kogure Ema, who are voice actors for ToHeart 2 characters Sasara and Ma-ryan respectively. Each episode is between 30 and 60 minutes long and only has a few basic corners. Special corners like voice requests only last a few seconds, so the majority of it is what feels like mostly unscripted talk in response to questions (futsuota and fukigenyo). In general they seem to have a good time and the talk can derail into amusing ramblings on whatever subject they want. Describing their own show, they once compared it to "two tipsy ladies talking way too loudly at an izakaya."

More than once, they'd say something that they joke about not being broadcast material on air, but of course it always gets aired. In a recent episode, they even dragged Saito Chiwa into a continuing discussion on panties. Ema remarked on a later episode, it was a good thing she didn't have her manager there during the recording or he might have nipped it in the bud.

Ono is a fast talking, gives-no-fucks, wisecracking type, but overall is a nicer and optimistic person who is the "light side" of the duo. Her normal voice is a bit abrasive, but when in the right mood, she will turn on the charm like a faucet and speak in the most godly cute voice. Despite her speech sometimes being very masculine, she's actually more girly of the two, more easily embarassed, sometimes says sappy lines, and tries to give Ema makeover tips (like trying to make her grow her hair out).

In contrast, Kogure Ema a.k.a Ema-sama is the "dark side" of the duo. She's more pessimistic and has a bit of an S personality although I feel it's overstated by many people. Rather she's kind of like Yukarin but even lazier. She's also a bit of a shut-in who stays home all day and claims she has no people skills despite her tremendously clever wit. Notably her abuse is usually self-deprecatory in nature as opposed to Yukarin's tendency to dump on fans. Still that doesn't stop her from occasionally calling out a fan's actions, teasing Ryoko, or finding innuendo in things she says.

At public recording in Tokyo
Ema: So is anyone here from Hokkaido today
Fan: Me!
Ema: What? Are you stupid!?
Ryoko: *sweetly* Oh, could it be you came all the way just to see us?
Fan: No I'm just on a business trip
Ema: Of course not. I knew it!

Their two personalities mesh quite well together almost as if they were like two best friends, and despite the differences, there isn't any dominant personality. Both are very talkative, very funny, and neither one can resist getting a nice burn in at the others expense. A while back, I tweeted a segment from fukigenyo which I think is good to pull out as a good example of their usual banter. Episode 199's Christmas special is also a good example of the general mood between these two: Ema getting a foot massage (slightly abridged).

For the 200th episode which just aired minutes ago, the show dropped the usual format for a special theme where Ryoko and Ema called listeners of the show and interacted with them directly for a strictly timed 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Amusing stuff so far...


Near the end of the first call

Ema: Which do you like, Sasara or Ma-ryan?
Fan: I knew this was coming
Ryoko: Don't hang up, don't hang up!
Ema: Now tell me!
Fan: Maaryan
-time limit cuts him off-
Ryoko: That was really good timing


On calling a fan at the office

Ryoko: Huh are you at work right now?
Fan: Oh, yeah
Ryoko: Well then, get back to work!


So fucking awkward lol

Ryoko: Guess who?
Fan: Ono-san
Ryoko: Ohhh awesome
Ema: Nah I bet he's talking about a different Ono
Ryoko: Wow you really know me. Thank you, I'm Ono.
Fan: Yeah
Ema: Ema's here too
Fan: Oh


Ema is way too clever

Ryoko: Do you know who we are?
Fan: Uh It's...mizoraji, is that right?
Ryoko: Is that right?
Ema: Yeah maybe I might be Kogure Ema


So jealous he got character voices. I like how it suddenly dawns on him he's speaking THE Ma-ryan senpai and Sasara

Fan: Hello
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* Yasu-ryan
Fan: Yes, speaking
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* Yasu-ryan right?
Fan: omg
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* Who could it be?
Fan: Ma-ryan senpai?
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* It's Ma-ryan. By the way, Sasara is here too
Ryoko: *in Sasara voice* Kusugawa here


Ema truly is a Hikkikomori

Ema: So the theme for this time is, what did you do for Christmas?
Ryoko: Do you wanna know?
Ema: If we tell you, you have to tell us. You need to promise
Fan: Ok I promise
Ryoko: Ohhh. Ok, as for me, I worked. Worked on 24th and 25th
Ema: I'm so jealous.
Ryoko: I did an event.
Ema: *backing out*
Ryoko: Hey we had a deal!
Ema: I was doing a Monster Hunter party the whole time. 23rd, 24th, and 25th.
Ryoko: You're living it up
Ema: In a way

Posted by Paranda at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2011

ANIMAX MUSIX 2011 at Yokohama Arena

On November 23rd, I attended ANIMAX MUSIX 2011 at Yokohama Arena.

I arrive pretty early at 10AM, originally because I wanted to finish visiting all the booths with enough time to spare to visit the Raumen Museum during lunch.

Charity auction items

Instead, I wound up getting caught in a giant 100-man karaoke which was simply so interesting I couldn't leave. The atmosphere was super relaxed, and with lots of decent amateur singers and a very enthusiastic crowd, it was like a live before the live. The format was a pre-determined series of nearly every variety of anisong, but limited to 1 verse + chorus so they could cram as many in as possible. Each time a song came up, the organizer would try and get someone to volunteer, sometimes even guilting people to partcipate. A few choice moments: Eternal Blaze came on, the whole crowd whipped out UOs out of nowhere (so it's not just Momoi fans who keep emergency UOs hidden on their body). For Yukarin songs, a bunch of fans magically whipped out Yukari penlights even though Animax isn't a Yukarin event. When SKILL was sung, they got a bunch of dudes and 1 girl to come up to match the band member composition. At the end, one of the producers came by and gathered us for a big group video, which I'm sure will show up in TV report next year.

The whole thing lasted until noon so I had to abandon Ramen Museum after all. Instead I met up with @jouttex (major thanks for the ticket hookup) and 2 other dudes to grab a quick lunch from Lawson.

I didn't buy any goods, since I already have too many T-shirts and towels and there wasn't anything I absolutely NEEDED to line up for. I did feel a little bit of regret after I saw how bright the penlights were though. The blue and orange ones looked pretty good in their clear cases, but they were already sold out when I walked by the merchandise stands around 1pm. Oh well I'll stick to my flashlights.

After lunch, we split up, and I found my seat in the front A block of the arena. My ticket this time was way better than I could have hoped for the price.

Yokohama Arena is a huge venue, but it feels much smaller and more intimate compared to Saitama Super Arena. The near end was right in our faces, but even the far end of the stage felt close, and when I looked behind me, the guys in the balcony around us didn't feel far away at all. My position this time was a really good, as you had a good close view of the center stage, and a super close view of the left stage. But it went from "really good" position to "freaking amazing" position for 1 major reason which I'll detail a bit later.

When the event started, big jumbo screens came on and they did the whole artist countdown thing on the screen with everyone cheering. The official penlights helped make the entire arena look like a nice sea of blue and gold.

I was actually armed with earplugs this time, but even though I was very close to the speaker, I was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable volume (I used the earplugs anyway). The sound quality was actually good for a big room. Maybe it's because the only other big arenas I've been to were Tokyo Dome (god awful), Budokan (terrible), Saitama Super Arena (terrible), and Makuhari Messe (might as well have been in mono) so my frame of reference is skewed. Yokohama Arena was at least decent: not-ear shattering loudness, not too much echo, and ok dynamic range. The biggest problems were that the singing during acoustic corner sounded flat (might just be the venue) and the mixing - for certain artists, the band was drowning out the vocals. Luckily the latter didn't happen with artists I really cared about. As an aside, the best sounding event that I've ever been to period was probably Starry Candy Stripe at TERRSA hall in Niigata, where Yukarin's rendition of "Namida no Loop" sounded so good it nearly ruined all other lives for me until I could get over it.

Top batter was Nakagawa Shoko. I never watched Guren Lagann (and I read Beelzebub manga without watching anime) so I didn't really know the songs but I jumped anyway since it was a good atmosphere. Shoko-tan is maybe middling-average as a singer, but she's pretty good at MC. Immediately she endeared herself to the audience by making them yell a bunch of shit. I didn't even understand half the references of what we were yelling (Giza?) until she got the whole crowd "tutturuuing." Her interactive MC skills are quite good: controlling the mood, getting different segments of audience like guys/girls/glasses/cosplayers to cheer, and so on.

Nakagawa Shoko:
1. Tsuyogari (Beelzebub ED)
2. Tsuzuku Sekai (1st TTGL movie themesong)
3. Namida no Tane, Egao no Hana (2nd TTGL movie themesong)

angela has been an old favorite ever since they performed at Otakon several years back, so I was glad to see them again (Domestic Love Band doesn't count). During MC, they were waving at the cameras and to all the people watching via simulcast, which reminded me that this year's Animax Musix was being broadcasted live to theaters.

4.Beautiful Fighter (Shikabane Hime OP)
5.Shangri-La (Fafner OP)

As usual, atsuko gave a great performance with a voice that filled the whole event space. Typically, in singer/composer duos like this, only the singers tend to stand out much. After all, so many composers do a ton of work behind the scenes but just get relegated to "the background guitar player" on stage. Not so with KATSU. He's actually a lot like Koike aniki in the sense that his contrasting costumes and crazy playing mannerisms contribute a lot to making the duo interesting. During one song, he gangwalked right over to our side, leaned over the divider, got all in our face, and proceeded to hammer chords into his guitar.

For the last song, I had forgotten that Shangri-La was a towel song and has its own special towel moves so I was smacking myself for not bringing something to throw around. During the MC, atsuko was like "Hey it's pretty hot in here right? Time to bring out MY TOWEL." I ended up just using a penlight.

Next was RAMM featuring ayami. Don't really know them or the song. RAMM came in sharp suit and carrying a keyboard, while ayami came in a white pleather coat. She looked really young and acted so nervous during her MCs, but it was pretty funny when she said she wasn't 18 yet. People were yelling "highschooler" as a response. When they paired up, it did remind me a bit of fripside, except we all know how freaking awesome Nanjo's costumes are.

RAMM featuring ayami:
6. Freedom (Battle Spirits Heroes OP)

Once they left, and even younger looking kid showed up. I didn't really know Kawano Marina, the song, or what show she worked on. But she instantly made me like her when she pulled a page from ELISA's playbook and made everyone yell her name. When I say "Yokohama Arena" you yell "Kawano Marina!!!" (Ma Arena). Later I found out she was one of the winners of ANIMAX's yearly Anisong Grand Prix singing competition, and that all the winners (HIMEKA, Sasaki Sayaka, Kita Shuhei, Suzuki Konomi) got to perform at this event.

Kawano Marina:
7.Morning Arch (A Channel OP)

Then the big screen flashed "Fan Selection Corner", announcing the first segment of what ANIMAX MUSIX is best known for: cover songs!

First up for cover songs was May'n. She had a bunch of lives during this period that I wasn't planning on attending, but I guess I ended up getting to see her anyway. I didn't really know this song but it was pretty fun and there were lots of UO. Speaking of UOs, people were using UOs almost all the time. Because ANIMAX sold official blue and orange penlight, "orange" became a standard color instead of a special color. Everyone there who had a modded orange flashlight or a giant bucket of UO cyalumes (which was about a quarter of the arena) just busted out UO any time others were using the orange penlights.

8.Orfeu (Uta no Prince Sama OP)

Faylan was next with a solid performance. I didn't care that much about Faylan the last time I saw her at Tokyo Game Show but since Polaris came out (and after actually watching Milky Holmes) I knew her better now and had some appreciation for her singing, so I'm glad I got a second chance to see her live. But I didn't know this song. I only remember a little of Slam Dunk in my youth, but that was when ZARD was doing the ED. Too bad. It would have been nostalgic otherwise.

9.Anata dake mitsumeteru (Slam Dunk ED)

After the song, Faylan stayed on stage and called up Sasaki Sayaka and ayami. Even though I didn't know 2 out of 3 artists, I got pretty excited for this one since they were performing one of the best Kawada Mami songs in existence. Big mass of UOs again. Their 3 voices fit perfectly together and it was a fantastic tribute to the original.

Faylan & Sasaki Sayaka & ayami
10.JOINT (Shana 2 OP)

Faylan does pretty well standing in for Kawada actually. Next was HIMEKA, who came out in a long dress and did a much needed ballad so we could rest after jumping too much for JOINT.

1st reaction: ~siren~ bah gawd momma there is a white person on stage at an anisong event
2nd reaction: Oh damn, this live singing is pretty good.
3rd reaction: Hey, waitaminute, didn't I see her on Niconico before during Anisama Girls Night?

I guess I didn't really notice back then during Niconico online, or she's just much better live.

11.Adesso e fortuna~Honoo to Eien~ (Record of Lodoss War themesong)

Later I found out this was one of the songs she won the 2008 competition with so she must have really practiced and perfected it.

angela came back to some big cheers. I was especially happy since I actually believed them during their earlier MC when they said it was their last song. I guess they meant their last non-cover song.

12.Kimi no shiranai monogatari (Bakemonogatari)

And that was the end of Fan Request corner #1.

GRANRODEO was next. Kisho showed up in checkered outfit that made him look like a punk golfer. They're a relatively successful act, but that didn't stop Kisho from making a joke about people leaving for bathroom breaks. Even though I really don't care about the group, Kisho is cool I guess - plus he's goddamn Sensei-san from Bottle Fairy.

13.Ai no Warrior (Angelique Maren no Rokukishi OP)
14.HEAVEN (Koutetsu Jeeg ED)

HIMEKA also came back for one more song, non-cover this time. At the end, she tried her hand at MC and you could see her think so hard at at trying to remember what to say. More than once you could see her shut down for a few seconds and go into deep recall, but the audience was supportive and she always managed to find the right words after a pause. It was cool to see: like when harddrive LED flashes when it seeks, when HIMEKA went into word-search mode she gets a puzzled look and her eyes start blinking like crazy. Weirdly, it made you really want to root for her and it seemed to work since there were lots of "HIMEKA" calls after. She also announced a one-man live.

15.Asu e no Kizuna (Valkyria Chronicles OP)

Never heard of The Sketchbook before and they didn't really sound like "Anisong" group, just a normal band. Sket Dance was playing on screen in the background but I didn't know the anime at all so I was still lost despite the visual aid. Anyway, I don't have much to say about it. Being a group of 3 people, they made use of the big stage well. The two guys split up to go to the walkways on each side and girl with a base hovered around at the top of the stairs in the center. The sound was a bit off on this one, as you couldn't hear the vocals too well.

The Sketchbook:
16.Michi (SKET DANCE OP)

Next was Sasaki Sayaka, who came out and did her one famous song from Nichijou. I didn't know the second song.

Sasaki Sayaka:
17.Zzz (Nichijou ED)
18.Starting Again (Cardfight Vanguard ED)

Next some Singapore jailbait group called Sea A showed up. They seriously looked like 12 year olds and they were all wearing ridiculously small/thin clothes. They might as well have performed in their underwear - one girl's costume was literally nothing but odango hairstyle, skimpy tanktop, and hotpants. As for actual performance, the singing was pretty average but it seems like they rely a lot more on dancing and showing lots of skin, which felt way out of place for this event composed of mostly established vocalists and Anisong grand prix winners.

During MC's, each member introduced themselves with a well rehearsed spiel about who they were, where they were from, their interests, and what they wanted to achieve by performing here. But a lot of people didn't even remember their names. It was kind of funny that after all their work memorizing MCs in Japanese, some dude just catcalls "Hey, Purple!"

Sea A:
19.DREAM SHOOTER (Cardfight Vanguard ED)

According to Wiki they are 20+ years old if you can believe it. Sea A must get their idol singers from the same place the Chinese Olympic team gets their female gymnasts.

Then came KOTOKO who had hands down the BEST performance of the night. KOTOKO owns, so badly. I was dual wielding UOs for every fucking song, and my primary Fenix actually ran out of juice by the end. There were lots of KOTOKO yells during the MCs, and she got the whole arena excited with just the first song. Shockingly, Re-sublimity did not get the top reaction in her setlist. Maybe people in Japan have probably heard Resub live tons of times, but since I only heard it once live before in Sapporo, for me it was still "OH MY GOD RESUB ASDFLKSJF!!!" Instead, the biggest reaction came for the Shana 3 OP.

The stage had pyrotechnics rigged up, and from my area, you could feel the waves of heat between every blast of flame during Light My Fire. Then in a move absolutely no-one expected, KOTOKO came off the stage and walked right in front of us, and continued to take an entire trip around the arena. This allowed us to turn around and get a good look at the crowd as she walked through. The audience was just going nuts. I hadn't watched Shana 3 or gotten around to checking the new KOTOKO album yet so this song was totally new to me, but it was able to stand on its own on the first listen. Even though the song was so new, the calls and yelling parts were intuitive and the entire crowd was able to get into it despite probably a good percentage of them including myself having never heard the song before. Ryo (of Supercell) did a good job.

21.Re-sublimity (Kannaduki no Miko OP)
22.Nanakorobi Yaoki☆Shijo shugi! (Hayate no Gotoku OP)
23.Hirake! Sora no oto
24.Light My Fire (Shana 3 OP)

Jumping furiously from the start of Re-sublimity till the end of Light My Fire was exhausting. Unless the next artist literally started crowdsurfing, there was probably no way to follow that act so we took a short break.

During the intermission, they showed clips on the big screens of artists introducing their charity auction stuff.

Upon resuming the event, we were greeted by Minorin, who is one of the artists that can get major reactions just from her name showing on the screen. Without missing a beat, she continued the pace set by KOTOKO with her popular songs and a classic Utena cover. It was fun cheering at "Re-vo-lu-tion" with everyone. The only other time I got to participate in Rinbu -revolution- live at a big event was also with Minorin in 2008 when she performed it as a duet with Okui Masami.

Chihara Minori:
25.Paradise Lost (Ga-Rei: zero OP)
26.TERMINATED (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon OP)
27.Yasashii Boukyaku (Haruhi movie ED)
28.Rinbu -revolution- (Utena OP)

After Minorin, Kita Shuhei came up. Shuhei was the first winner of Anisong Grand Prix 5 years ago. He did two songs, but I didn't recognize them or the anime, and I was tired after Minorin so I kinda zoned out. Sorry.

Kita Shuhei:
29.Sekai de Ichiban Koishiteru (Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi OP)
30.Sekai no hate ni kimi ga itemo (Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi 2 OP)

Faylan came next and put on a good show. Solid as usual.

31.mind as Judgment (CANNAN OP)
32.Blood teller (Mirai Nikki ED)

Then came Kalafina. Penlights and cyalumes are banned during Kalafina-only lives (staff will even search your bag like it's contraband) so, the only time to see lights during Kalafina concerts is at big events like these. But despite little opportunity to practice, people were still able to work together to get the right colors. For Magia, everyone went red, which Kalafina members noticed and thanked everyone for. I could say a lot about Kalafina in general, but since I went to a Kalafina event 2 days later, I'll save it for another post.

33.Magia (Madoka ED)
34.Kagayaku Sora no Shiijima ni wa (Black Butler 2 ED)

Once Kalafina finished, it was back to collaboration corner again. It was pretty good overall, but I was just happy to see KOTOKO come back for more songs.


As for Railgun, I like the song but I think May'n was a little mismatched for it. Nanjo fits the song so well that it's hard to improve with any cover, but in general, I think you need a higher voice to do this, like Minorin's.

36.Only my railgun (Railgun OP)

37.Platina (CCS OP)

Over The Future was also rather impressive. For me, it was another throwback to 2008 and the singers were pretty good. Before the song, Kita introduced Suzuki Konomi, the winner of this year's Anisong Grand Prix, as the special guest. When she came out, at first I actually thought they got one of the actual Karen Children members back out to sing it because she was just a little kid in a frilly dress. She ended up having a really good voice though.

Kita Shuhei & Sasaki Sayaka & Suzuki Konomi:
38.Over the Future (Karen Children OP)

For these lesser known new guys, I think it's smart for them to do well known popular songs like Over the Future or Butter-Fly so the crowd gets excited even if they don't know the singers.

The Sketchbook & Kita Shuhei:
39.Butter-Fly (Digimon OP)

Next was my second favorite part of ANIMAX after KOTOKO solo set: acoustic corner! I've said it before, but acoustic corner is one of the best parts of any live concert, because it's when you can really focus on live singing: the background music is much quieter, and the pressure of doing calls goes away. Nobody thinks you are a spoil-sport if you just sit there listening intently. Sound quality was were good even though it was a little flat, but I'm not sure if I can't fault any equipment or mixing for that.

First up, angela. This is where the location of my seats really turned into a plus. Acoustic corner was set up in the center platform to get as close to everyone as possible, so instead of the usual route, angela came in from the side entrance. This entrance happened to be right next to us, so I waved to them as they passed by. On stage, Atsuko did a good job emoting the whole feel of the song.

40.secret base~Kimi ga kureta mono~ (Anohana ED)

Now while all this was happening, Minorin was waiting her turn but instead of waiting backstage, she decided to just chill out right next to us. She was wearing a super tight red dress and we got to see it up close. Then angela came back down the same route, while Minorin went on stage to do her thing. The guy next to me was freaking out afterwards.

Chihara Minori:
41. Anna ni issho dattanoni (Gundam SEED OP)

After acoustic corner, GRANRODEO also came by and got everyone back on their feet yelling about how much they loved Gundam. When Kisho came to the walkways on the side he was shaking people's hands.

42.INVOKE (Gundam SEED OP)

Kalafina returned for cover songs this time. "Nowhere" was an interesting choice but not unexpected, since it's a FictionJunction song. It's impossible to imagine them singing anything other Kajiura's stuff. So it was crazy when the next song turned out to be Sorairo Days. There's just such a huge image gap there. This has to be watched to be believed, so I'm glad they plan on airing this later in February. Shoko joined midway through Sorairo Days to a lot of excitement and carried the baton into the next 2 covers.

43.nowhere (MADLAX theme song)

Kalafina & Nakagawa Shoko:
44.Sorairo Days (TTGL OP)

Nakagawa Shoko:
45.Bouken Desho Desho? (Haruhi OP)
46.Hikari to kage wo dakishimetamama (Rayearth OP)

The series of awesome covers continued with an excellent pick by KOTOKO. There was major major nostalgia on this one, and KOTOKO pretty much can stand in for Yuki. It puts a different spin on the song, but this Sobakasu was so good it actually sounds like it could be a KOTOKO original. It definitely wouldn't feel out of place at all on an album like Short Circuit.

47.Sobakasu (Kenshin OP)

By the end of Sobakasu I was pretty satisifed so I was totally unprepared when Minorin and angela came back yet again to do...ETERNAL BLAZE. Minorin was undoubtedly the most popular artist in the arena that day, so having her and atsuko sing etabure together pretty much pushed the crowd to critical loudness levels. If I had to judge auidence noise level, that was the single loudest point of the whole day and it was amazing. To be honest, I actually had more fun during this cover than Mizuki Nana's own original performance of Eternal Blaze during King/Queen's Night. It was just insane how high people were jumping and each time it was timed with a blast of fire on stage.

Chihara Minori & angela
48.ETERNAL BLAZE (Nanoha A's OP)

Finally, May'n came out with a Cheryl-esque black outfit and closed out with a surprisingly long set of 6 songs. I liked the Macross F stuff but I didn't really know the other songs. Brain Diver was pretty good though.

49.Scarlet Ballet (Hidan no Aria OP)
50.Kindan no elixir (Macross F insert song)
51.Moshimo kimi ga negau no nara (Valkyria Chronicles 3 theme song)
52.Universal Bunny (Macross F insert song)
53.Ready Go! (Okamisan OP)
54.Brain Diver (Phi Brain OP)

Including collaborations and covers, May'n got 9 songs total which was more than any other artist. If you look at the other big names, Minorin and KOTOKO came in second with 6, Angela had 5, Kalafina, Faylan, and GRANRODEO had 4.

During encore, everyone came back on stage wearing ANIMAX t-shirts and did their closing speech one by one. During angela's speech, katsu was just gonna say some words and end it at that but atsuko egged him on to do his salute schtick. So, he sheepishly gets to the front and gets the whole crowd to salute to Animax.

After everyone finished, they all sang the Maruko-chan song. Instead of a music video, they put big lyrics on screen so everyone in the audience could sing along.

Entire Arena
55.Odoro Pompokorin (Chibi Maruko-chan ED)

And like that, after almost 7 hours, Animax Musix 2011 came to a close. The problem with big super-long events (especially Anisama) is that they can get boring when it's the turns of artists you don't care about. I was really only a true fan of half of the artists showing up today and either casual fan (or worse didn't know them at all) of the others, so I was especially afraid of that happening. But it turned out to be fine since for the most part, even artists I didn't know were good singers or picked good songs.

Rather, I was still in the mood for more anisongs, so I trekked over to Tsukiyume Anisong DJ Bar in nearby Kawasaki for more music and half-priced food for the rest of the night.

None, but I did pick up a sweet pamphlet and the usual streamers/ribbons that fall on the arena section during the finale

Posted by Paranda at 7:25 PM | Comments (3)

December 22, 2011

Chaos Party Special 2011

I finally have enough time around the holidays to put my notes together into a blog post. Although I was excited to see Amagami SS seiyuu, Chaos Party Special 2011 was the first "real event" for me. After all, the main reason I even considered a 2nd trip to Japan this year was to go to some Sakura Saori events.

This year's Chaos Party was hosted on November 20th at Kawasaki Club Citta, a venue with special significance since it was where the first ever UNDER17 live DVD was filmed.

I arrived early to buy ave;new goods, and met up with friends @mandimandi and @eliasross in line soon after.

Around 1pm they started letting us in by number order. The hall is pretty big as far as live houses go, about the size and shape of a tennis court. A large otagei pen (about 20 ft x 20ft) was squarely in the center-rear area of the floor and labeled as such and there was a balcony on the far end with seating where staff and guests could look over the floor. I was only able to recognize ave;new's a.k.a.dRESS there.

The performance stage was flanked by two huge speakers. It was low and wide, with enough room so all the band members had their own personal space. A cleared area in the center was for the main singer, but due to lowness it was not possible to see the lower half of anyone that night.

First up was Riryka. She appeared to be popular with fangirls who were constantly yelling "Riryka-sama" but I didn't know her songs at all. She had a big black costume and a bit of a gothic theme going on. As soon as the music hit, the room lit up with lights of every color and people started jumping everywhere. I took a moment to really appreciate the kind of atmosphere these events create since the crowd for the last concert I went to just a few months ago (Montreal) was so lethargic. Her songs had more of a "cool" feeling to it so at first it didn't really seem suited for calls but the group somehow made it work.

1. 硝子のLoneliness
2. In the Dark
3. Bravin' Bad Brew

For her last song, Riryka introduced marie, a popular singer from various game openings for a duet. I sort-of knew her thanks to listening to GWAVE compilation series but wasn't too familiar with her set list today except the last song. Marie performed 4 songs, and drew some impressive degree color coordination of glowsticks. Koi no recipe went all pink and went over well, but Clover Heart's was the most popular. There was loud cheers when she announced it and everyone switched to green lights and yelled out lines of the chorus. The screams of "Clovers Hearts" were deafening.

4.Double Moon, World Fusion
6.battle royal
7.Clover Heart's

After marie, the lights went out and a shadowy figure came on the stage without introduction. At first, the silhouette made it look like she had huge hair but the lights came on to reveal Sakura Saori in a red dress and a gigantic frilly bow on her head. "Now it's my turn" she yelled in her ridiculously high voice. I was starstruck immediately. I saw Saori once before at Anisama 2008, but circumstances were different back then. 1. She was so far away I could barely see her, and 2. I was only a casual ave;new fan at the time. Now that I've drank the ave;new koolaid and Saori herself was less than 20 feet away I was going "ohshit-ohshit-ohshit it's really Saori, it's REALLY Sakura Saori." This is one of those moments that you can only get one or two experiences per artist when you FINALLY see them live after years of anticipation (Momoi at AX in 2007, KOTOKO in 2010) or something insanely awesome and unexpected happens (Momoi at Hawaii and Fanime in 2009). I thought I was used to that voice from radio by now but hearing her do it live during MCs in person was unreal. It's just so insanely, mind-bogglingly high.

Once I got over my giddiness, I joined with a huge group of ave;new fans in cheering. Being an ave;new fan in the US is so very lonely, and sometimes you feel like you are the ONLY fan in the entire area. But in Japan, that is not the case at all. There were so many people wearing ave;new shirts and wristbands that I'd estimate close to 20 percent of Chaos Party attendees considered ave;new the primary draw of the event.

Saori started off with true my heart aka "kishimen" (by her own admission). It's a truly difficult song to sing properly. I know from torturing a captive audience at karaoke with my failed attempts in terribad falsetto (sorry everyone ^^) but that's another story. Even Saori has a little trouble hitting all the notes singing and dancing live, but compared to the 2008 performance at Anisama, it was a lot better. It's very clear her singing has improved to a other new level, so those years of voice coaching weren't for nothing. Plus there was no random DJ going "What, what" this time. The choice of Eternal Wish was also very good.

8. true my heart
9. Eternal Wish
10. 超越↑↑恋してナイしょ☆メア!!

Before announcing the final song, Saori asked if she could request a small favor from the audience. She sang a bar from the song and requested "When I say 'Chu chu chu chuu chu chu chu', you jump and say 'Ole'" Everyone erupted in "OOOOOOOH" from recognition. The band went into overdrive, many UOs were cracked and the next 5 minutes were intense. At the end, while still doing her signature voice, Saori thanked everyone for coming and gave a tiny shout out to American fans (us) that she knew were in the crowd.

Next was AiRI, the artist formerly known as UR@N, probably most familiar to western fans as the singing voice for Kirari in Kira Kira. I last saw her at AX in 2010 where she performed in a traditional yukata, but here she was wearing more rockish clothing and had longer hair. She played three songs, none of which I knew, but I do enjoy AiRI's high pitched singing style (a different type of "high" than Shaori), and they were all very catchy and had an immediately recognizable style to them similar to the d2b songs I knew. Usually, I never really get excited for songs I hear for the 1st time and it always takes a few tries for something to grow on me, but her setlist was good enough that I could appreciate even listening to it once. During MCs, she was pretty coy with her name change, pretending as if she were an industry newcomer and then "surprising" people with her past identity while the audience humored her. "You know, I used to have a different name." She even had us redo some of her old UR@N chants swapped with her new name and had the whole crowd going "Airi-chaaaannn." She did end up giving a pretty sincere sounding speech about how this was a major year for her though and thanking everyone for supporting her for so long.

11. 運命
12. learn together
13. Pieces
14. Reincarnation ver.2011

For the last song, she called up ASTLYRE. I didn't know ASTLYRE or what to expect, but he turned out to be a guitar player and acted as an extra band member for the next few songs. Once AiRI finished up, Ishida Yoko took her place. At first we were surprised she only did one song but then realized it was really just ASTLYRE's set cycling through artists.

15. Over Beat ver.2011

After Ishida, a short rotund woman in a poncho came onto the stage. To my suprise, the audience started shouting Rekka. So it came as news to me that woman was in fact the respected Katakira Rekka well known among various circles. In photos online, her face was always hidden behind a cat mask. The poncho was a very odd and visually jarring choice for live attire, but I guess maybe she's a little self-conscious about herself. Not that voice fans really care that much. Certainly, there were a lot of Rekka fans in the crowd and she got a big reaction for almost every song, especially Tamayura. The opening of the last song was particularly amazing and I was marking out unbelievably hard for how well they built up the tension. It's a cool song in its own right, but when I listened to it late on Youtube I realized I had been permanently spoiled by the live band version.

16. ときめき☆ガーディアン ver.2011
17. Fate Through The Regret
18. パラダイムシフト
19. 魂響

There was a much needed intermission after the triple combo of Saori, AiRI, and Rekka. During the break, we moved to the back to escape from the heat and desperately fan ourselves and exchange drink tickets. Since most of the artists we were interested in already performed, we were planning to hang back rather than suffer the front again for the last few artists we wanted to see, but then YURIA came out right away so we squeezed back in.

YURIA said she thought a long time about what kind of songs to play from her long and varied career. These years she has been part of Pinky Doodle Poodle, which I admit I haven't really followed, but she decided to close out her set with a specially picked song from her Honey Bee days: Plastic Smile. According to her, it's a song she hasn't played in a long time so I felt very lucky to hear it this trip.

21. Samsara
22. プラスチックスマイル

Next was milktub. bamboo, who AX con-goers are probably very familiar with, came out to join the rest of the band members (who had been playing for every artist) in full makeup while wearing Mickey Mouse pants/gloves/ears over a skin tight black body suit that showed off a prominent gut. During Amaenbo Shogun, he actually changed out of his Mickey gear and came back with a topknot wig and shogun outfit (while still wearig the black bodysuit). He also brought out a dakimakura of what appeared to a grotesquely muscular naked 2D version of himself as a prop.

Bamboo is actually more popular than I thought, and everything he sang had custom moves to it which became fun to imitate even when I didn't know the songs. Unlike other sets, he also did a lot of talking with fans between each song. During one MC, he started attacked us with various imaginary guns and swords (think of Yukarin's meromero stick) and got all the band members to come up with their own unique slashes.

23. 月曜はキライ
24. 甘えん坊将軍~大奥は抱き枕編~
25. バカ・ゴー・ホーム

Baka Go Home was the most energetic out of those, but there were a LOT of milktub shirts in the room so almost every song went over pretty well. Following milktub was Misato Aki, looking a lot older and and sounding more polished than from when I first saw her at Anisama. She actually has a lot of singles and albums for someone who was only active the last few years, and she has been to many many overseas conventions (several in Asia and South America, one in the US). Unfortunately I couldn't really get myself interested in her style so I went through this set mostly on autopilot.

26. 最後のエデン
27. Jewelry tears
28. Spread Wings

Already having done one song earlier with ASTLYRE, Ishida Yoko returned to finish up her set with 3 songs. Oddly, I did consider myself a casual fan of Ishida Yoko, but I only knew her "official works" from anime OPs and Para Para stuff. So I went in expecting that, but instead I didn't recognize a single song she performed that day and was left slightly disappointed. Carnival was decent though, even hearing it for the first time. Later I found out from friends that they were all songs released under her alternate NANA name.

29. Carnival
30. 恋する神通力
31. 太陽のプロミア

Just as I was getting slightly bored, the legendary last act Satou Hiromi came out. Back in the day, I was a huge Hiromi fan, and before the live I was a bit afraid I wasn't up to date on her newer stuff - as always due to a lack of time. But as soon as she started the first song, those worries melted away and I knew I was in for an awesome ride.

32. Angelic Symphony
33. Guri Guri
34. ラブレター

That's right, that set list does not lie: fucking "Angelic Symphony" with a live band ~hoooleeeee shit~. And then Green Green OP and Love Letter? I don't know how many times I looped those songs in my teenage years. And the best part was all of these work really well with a live band. In half an hour, I pretty much relived my high school senior year. Hiromi-nee's performance style is great too. She was going all over the stage like a rockstar and really pumped the crowd into a frenzy. It was an excellent choice to end the show with her and I consider it my second favorite performance all night after ave;new. A general theme for MCs from these veteran artists was showing a lot of gratitude to fans for their long careers and Hiromi-nee followed suit.

After, there was a brief wait and relatively short encore chant before everyone came back out to perform the last song. Though, it was mostly just Hiromi who actually had the microphone so everyone else was doing background vocals.

35. ハローグッバイ

Finally, there was one last send-off where everyone lined up and each artist said a couple of parting words, the usual thanks and goodbyes while bamboo acted to organize them all. Once all the artists said what they wanted, everyone took a bow and the event came to a close.

Overall, it was a very fun event, and one that I'd definitely consider going to again next year if my schedule permits. Although there were some slow parts, the focus of the event around a narrow range of music kind of helped keep more boring points to a minimum (unlike the bigger range of Animelo). Additionally, the time of 5 hours was just on the limit of satisfying exhaustion without going too long, and that long time was helped by good distribution of bigger name artist appearances throughout the show instead of stacking them all at the end. As for sound quality, it was pretty clean, but a bit too loud - 2 hours later after dinner, my ears were still ringing. I picked up some earplugs the next day.

Event goods purchased:

ave;new T-shirt, towel, and wristband set with bonus postcard

Chaos Party T-Shirt and towel

Posted by Paranda at 4:20 PM | Comments (0)

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