March 21, 2012

2011 Trip Wrap Up: Kalafina, Kawada Mami, Mizuki Nana

Figure I should wrap up my outstanding live impressions since in a few months, I'll be starting yet another cycle of concerts. But since my memory is too shot to do detailed report like MLT, I'll just post from my notes like I did with Sphere SPRING PARTY last year.

Kalafina "After Eden" Special LIVE 2011
Date attended: November 25, 2011 @ Tokyo Dome City Hall

I saw Kalafina live for the first time ever at AX 2011. I liked them enough that I decided to attend their November live - it seemed like a "preview" of their 2012 tour of the same name, which in turn is named from their latest album "After Eden."

1. Strict no cyalumes or penlights rule enforcable via bag search. The searcher specifically looked for lights and warned not to use them. Not like anyone would try to sneak one though. Nobody used one. There wasn't much jumping either, but that doesn't mean the crowd was standing still. Lots of cheering between sets, but respectful silence during the songs while they sang. Crowd did do hand waving and stuff.

2. Stage design was great. Theme was something like a big Greek temple. Large stairs and platforms of varying height for all 3 of them, stone blocks that shifted during the sets, and a narrow walkway down the center that let them come all the way into the middle of the audience.

3. Kalafina knows how to put on a themed show. They started off with flowing white robes fitting the Greek theme, but in a later set, they came up to the center stage in cloaks and hoods and holding candles to set up for dramatic costume change reveals, kind of like KOTOKO's Re-sublimity opening act.

4. Kalafina MC seriously does not match their visual image at all. Each time I see them, it feels like it'll be all serious and shit but that goes away as soon as they start talking. Wakana seems like the big sister, Keiko is the teenage middle child, and Hikaru is the prodigious weird kid. I felt the same way at AX as well.

5. Hikaru was once again my favorite. She's so good on MC she has her own corner where she plays salesgirl and pushes the Kalafina concert products while the other members snipe her for faulty logic. "This keychain is good...for holding keys!" "That's what it's for," Wakana interjects. "But the the gigantic unweildly size means you can find it in your purse easily," Hikaru responds. She got everyone to do commentary on shooting for the pamphlet, and then she even tried to sell us a Kalafina shirt by saying "You can make friends with this shirt by meeting other people who wear the same shirt." She did successfully convince me to go for the watch, but it was sold out when I went by the goods table later.

6. Some MCs were written like radio corners. When prompted to name what they think of in winter. Wakana had a pretty normal answer going into Christmas seasons, snow. Keiko said she eats ice cream, which prompted Wakana to chastize her. Keiko responded saying it's perfectly fine to eat icecream in cold weather, rather it tastes better when you're eating it indoors next to a heater. Hikaru went way deep intricacies of convenience store nikuman and the various types that she enjoys eating lately, buying 2 almost every day. The other two called her a junk girl for eating so much junk food. She recommended a salty pork one which I ended up getting after the show. It was about 50% grease, 30% pork, and 20% mystery.

7. Thanks to the center walkway the view was very good. All three came down to the center and rotated in a triangle on the small platform. Each one handled 1/3rd of the live hall and together they looked like a single multi-armed/multi-faced deity scanning the entire room.

8. Kalafina doesn't dance, so much as pose awesomely in mudra-like forms while singing. Which is just as well, because their singing can be sometimes be described as haunting and the movements work well to visually accompany that.

9. Sound quality was acceptable, and I did not need to use my earplugs for the majority of songs, nor did I want to. When Wakana holds a note it's really something. Could listen to that all day.

Hikaru's blog entry contains a full setlist.

Kawada Mami m.a.l.l LIVE 2nd stage
Date attended: November 26, 2011 @ Club 1ne 2wo

Been a Mami fan ever since watching Onegai Teacher, so this was the perfect chance to see my other favorite I'VE artist. I attended day one of this two day event with some new friends I met just a few days earlier.

1. The audience that went to her show was mostly fanclub members, and it far outnumbered general admission. Live hall had a high concentration of core/dedicated longtime fans; in fact more than 1/3rd of audience had been following her since beginning of her career 10 years ago based on a straw poll held during the MC

2. Following that, the audience didn't really "feel" like anime wotas that you normally meet at other events for anisong singers. Just seemed like regular music dudes, and they didn't react specially to Shana OP vs her other songs. They knew all her songs equally well.

3. No call coordination or stuff like that, more relaxed and just people enjoying music. Maybe only 60% used lights. A bit different atmosphere than KOTOKO event. I went with the flow and stayed quiet.

4. Nice casual MC in general. She told a story about how she got drunk and fell asleep in the bathroom at a producer gathering, among other war stories in her long career. Though I bought tickets on sale for general public, this was really more of a "fan club event" and she treated us as such.

5. While all songs got good reaction, Hearing Sora no mori was my big win for the night. Though it is an ED song, I feel it stands on its own regardless of Ontei or not. Good sound quality on that.

6. Small stage, real unfiltered singing, and not overproduced. The only effects were the lighting. Really did feel like a club event. Club 1ne 2wo was a small building nestled up on a hill. Crowd size was maybe 200-300 people, but I didn't feel squeezed and was able to stand comfortably.

7. Acoustic corner was awesome. Just her and a guitar, playing a new song she just wrote and had not released yet. She asked for feedback on it at the end.

8. Mami actually does have some dance numbers, surprisingly. Even came out in a miniskirt and ZR. But I prefer songs when she did just concentrate on singing.

9. Props to seriously hardcore dude who screamed Mami at max volume during the encore chant - that lasted something like 15 minutes. His voice was destroyed by the end.

Mizuki Nana LIVE CASTLE
Date attended: QUEEN'S NIGHT December 3rd, 2011, KING'S NIGHT December 4th, 2011

My fandom for Nana peaked around 2007 (would have known every single song then), so it's a little late but now I can finally say I've done a Nana concert. She still puts out good tracks once in a while though, so I still enjoyed it. Good mix of new and old songs, although they didn't really seem to be picked on any theme of QUEEN'S NIGHT or KING'S NIGHT that I could tell. At least not obviously. Only real difference was some costumes and which direction the White Lion came from during the interlude.

1. Fave songs to do live: DISCOTHEQUE, Zankou no gaia, POP MASTER (Jump-YES!), POWER GATE, ETERNAL BLAZE

2. The sound quality is not good. You go to these giant dome concerts for the experience, not the sound. After all it is a major event to play at massive venue like this. Could not hear singing over drum and guitar. Also too much reverb due to arena size, shape, distance relative to where we were sitting. Maybe BD will fix this.

3. BUT: When she was unplugged, clearly hearing Nana from 200ft away was truly impressive. She wasn't even shouting. Such strong voice.

4. Crowd coordination is good. Too good for me actually, who couldn't keep up for some songs. Not so much complicated or hard moves, but hard to time HEY/Jumps out of nowhere that I couldn't predict. Kind of like Yukarin's concerts: you need to know the song's jump timings beforehand. Pop Master for example. Good thing I learned it at karaoke before.

5. Good color coordination. Can watch the entire arena flood with blue, red, pink, orange all at once. Saw really cool big group that coordinated enough to stripe 7 colors of the rainbow across several rows in the audience.

6. Otagei color is green. Can be disruptive, or interesting - everyone has a different opinion on this. But I saw an awesome guy who had a goddamn headdress made out of ultra greens. He looked like big a green peacock and he was fun to watch when Nana was too far away or out of view. So I hold the latter opinion, at least in this particular instance.

7. I brought my non-wota friend to QUEEN'S NIGHT and he was blown away. Btw we also got his co-worker (total non-wota type, fitting the investment bank stereotype) slapped extremely hard at a maid cafe. He was downing drinks and rubbing his face hours later, but that's another story. Sorry if we ruined your career bro.

8. You know how live concert videos might try avoiding dark spots or empty sections when shooting the audience angle? No need here. The arena was PACKED both days. Almost every seat was filled except the ones waaayyy on the very edges. Nana is probably the only seiyuu who can draw a full audience at Tokyo Dome.

9. Nana sure knows how to sell goods. Can spend close to $1,000 if you buy 1 of everything given the exchange rate at the time. I wanted to get a lot since this was my first and likely to be only Nana live, but still couldn't stomach throwing down 1 grand on goods. I did get enough to have 10 spare Nanacas though, even after trading for a full set.

Posted by Paranda at March 21, 2012 4:15 PM

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