September 3, 2012

azusa's ~visuel #1~ DVD release event

On 8/25 I showed up outside AsoBitCity Laox to line up for azusa's DVD release event which included a mini-live, an autograph, and a handshake. I had been wanting to go to an azusa event again ever since I came back from the Amagami screening last year, so when she announced it last month I immediately asked my friend to help buy the visuel DVD and secure a ticket.

Around 11:30AM, they let us in to a small basement with about 80 chairs packed closely together in a square in front of a 2ft high stage. The stage was so close you could stick your foot out and touch it if you were in the first row. There were floor-standing speakers on both sides, a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall that was playing azusa's DVD, and a microphone and chair in the middle. Seating order was randomly determined and had nothing to do with your ticket - when we came in, we drew a slip of paper containing the assigned seat from a raffle box. I ended up drawing a decent seat in the 5th row while my brother drew front row dead center (seat #5 in a row of 9).

After some announcements and rules played over the speakers, azusa came out on stage wearing some casual clothes - shorts and dress top. The last time I saw her, she was performing in a school sailor uniform and ponytail, so I don't know if it was just because of the difference in outfit but it felt like she had grown up a lot in the past year. There were some cheers but it was a mostly subdued and polite crowd of fans that reminded me of the types of fans at Kawada Mami's concert last year.

The whole thing was actually pretty short. She didn't really make any new announcements and mostly focused thanking everyone for buying the DVD and doing some audience interaction - asking for show of hands if they've been to her live before, or if they watched the DVD yet, and introducing the background information for the songs. Since it was primarily watashikai event, there was obviously no band. The performance just used recorded instrumental tracks, but that was fine since azusa's singing was the main draw.

The setlist is different at each store, so I got pretty lucky that for the AsoBit appearance, azusa performed exactly the two songs I wanted to hear most. The first song she performed was "Kimi no mama de." I heard this last year too but now I knew it by heart to really appreciate when she sang all my favorite parts. azusa still has the fine velvety voice I remember, and I was very glad there was NO penlights or jumping, so I could just sit and really just LISTEN in silence. You can spend more than thousands of dollars on headphones and amps and preamps to listen to a CD but it still doesn't beat the real vocalist right in front of you.

Before the last song, she asked us if we all knew the preparation call for it. It seems she wanted us to recreate the scene at her first fan meeting (you can see this on the DVD). So she pointed to us and said "ready", while the entire crowd yelled back "CHECK MY SOUL" to start off the song. This time, we did clap along and follow azusa's lead to do the double-clap during the chorus. We also yelled all the "HEY" and "YAY" parts.

At the end of the live, they brought tables onto the stage and they started the autograph session, with staff calling up people one row at a time. Once on line, each person waited until the previous person was done before getting called up individually onto the stage to talk and get the DVD signed. The stage gave a lot of personal space away from other fans so it was possible to talk privately. At the end, she'd give a handshake (2-handed clasp) and bow before you left the stage. Some fans gave her gifts as well, and there was a staff member with a giant bin on the side who collected the presents. By the time I got to her, it was already filled with lots of boxes and I was kicking myself for not being smart enough to bring a few souvenirs from the US.

Once I went up, I told her I enjoyed the performance and that I came to see her from the US. She gave me this hilarious deer-in-headlights "OH NO" look and doublechecked "Oh, so you can understand Japanese." I said I was fine for basic stuff and that made her relax. She was really surprised and said it was the first time she met people from overseas at her events, and that there was a previous guy from USA just now that she couldn't talk to at all. "Oh, that was my brother." Unfortunately, the line enforcement was strict so I couldn't go up to translate for him. "Oh wow. Can you please tell him I wanted to say thanks for coming. Sorry, I completely froze up when he spoke english and didn't how to say it, but please tell him." The handler was also curious and asked if I moved here or was just traveling, so I told them we were here for summer vacation. Technically true - my brother was (I didn't want to say I'm just here because I'm a dirty otaku who only comes to attend anisong events)! After talking a bit more, she signed my DVD and shook my hand. Then the staff member gave me a nifty "all access pass" sticker from azusa's fan event.

Later, azusa mentioned the encounter on her blog and on the staff's twitter

Oh, and the DVD is great by the way. 9 very "personal" feeling PVs (almost like a home cam actually, and not overproduced at all) and a great sit-down concert. Buy it and support an excellent singer.

DVD and pass:

Posted by Paranda at 9:34 AM | Comments (4)

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