January 14, 2013
2012 Event Wrap up
For my second post of the year, I'll tie up loose ends with some comments on unblogged events I went to in 2012. Helps to have a clean slate for February, as I'll be traveling to Japan again to attend both sessions of the 3rd YuruYuri live concert: Nanamorichuu Festival. I was originally going to write this last week but I ended up catching up on radio shows instead. Note: this is not the full list of events I went to, just the ones I haven't written about yet.
Orikasa Fumiko & KOTOKO at Animazement
Animazement was a laid back trip mostly dominated by the indulgent exercises of eating, sleeping, and spending money. It was my first time in the area, but luckily I tagged along with a few repeat attenders who recommended a nearby restaurant with great mac & cheese. Almost worth the whole trip just by itself.
I went to two Orikasa Fumiko panels. Fumiko is a veteran radio guest and was able to work in anecdotes and lengthen conversations. She and her manager were both friendly and open to fans, placing no restrictions on photos or autograph items. Later I was told Fumiko sold off her hat at the charity auction, but I missed it.
KOTOKO is the real reason I rode in a car for 9 hours down to NC though. She did one panel and one concert with a live band. The panel was the first of its kind that I've seen for singers at a con: a suited exec walked us through a powerpoint with biography, discography, ads, and upcoming releases. After at the Q&A, we had a slightly more adventurous girl in the audience who asked a great question to KOTOKO about playing eroge but she dodged it with "I don't have a PC."
Due to KOTOKO's split with I'VE, I was worried the set list would be limited but those concerns were unfounded as you can see from Omo's report with set list. Finally I was able to make use of all the live goods I bought from 2010. The goods held up as expected; my stamina didn't.
Speaking of goods, I have KOTOKO's shirt. Literally her shirt. You see there's this mannequin...
Nanri Yuuka, Hirano Aya, Nonaka Ai at Otakon
For years West Coast had been upstaging us, but 2012 seemed to be a reversal year with several A-level guests so I decided to go despite recovering from a recent downpayment on my home. Met a few twitter friends again after something like 5 years and almost couldn't recognize them IRL again. A plan to get smashed via moe-themed alcohol was aborted because of how crappy it turned out to be.
My Aipon fandom probably reached its heights back when Stellvia was still running. The flames may have died down, but the embers are still hot. She's crazy and friendly and outgoing and throws around casual English with confidence. A highlight of the Q&A was her shrieking "OOOH NOOOO" at the sight of a Kyubei cosplayer. Nanri Yuuka was great too. Didn't expect to hear "My Favorite Things" unplugged right in the middle of a panel.
As for Aya, I missed almost all of her stuff due to schedule conflicts with higher priorities. I only caught the tail end of the panel and the concert, and both times I had awful seats way in the back. Did luck out slightly with some interaction at the end of the concert though, while helping a friend get an autograph for his CD.
Photokano ~Your Eyes Only~ Stage Event
Lucked into this one by accident. Immediately after the azusa event, I saw a ton of guys gathered around Akihabara BellSalle. Turns out they were doing a Photokano promotional event as part of series of Young Animal anniversary shows. You were supposed to get do a whole mail-in campaign for tickets, but they also had a stand-by area for those without tickets. Ticket holders only filled up the first few rows and then we got pushed into fill in the rest of the space and I wound up pretty close to the middle. I got to see Itou Kanae, Nakahara Mai, Mizuhashi Kaori, Kanemoto Hisako, and Oogame Asuka in person.
Some people impressions: Nakahara Mai just gives off this godly aura like a legend is on stage. And she looks great and elegant in person - much better than how she comes across in photos.
Mizuhashi Kaori: It was my first time seeing Mizuhasu (I saw her again later at Busou Shinki), but she really impressed me with her ad libbing skills during the "caption this manga panel" corner.
Kanae is just "OMG SO SMALL AND CUTE" and she's got a bit of barbs to her.
Then when Oogame came out..."OMG SHE'S EVEN SMALLER THAN ITOU KANAE" lol.
My memory of Hisako...I didn't know enough to appreciate Hiichan at the time because I didn't watch Ikamusume (I only read the manga), but I really liked that she was trying to keep in line with the photo theme. Near the beginning Hiichan whipped out her own point & shoot camera and took a picture with all of us. She said she might post it, but I never found out if she did. Now of course I like Hisako because of Kotourasan so I'm regretting that I didn't fanboy harder.
But I was too busy fanboying over Kanae then so maybe it wouldn't have made a difference.
Animelo Summer Live 2012 Infinity
In August, I went to both Animelo events, then immediately boarded a bus to do an overnight Mount Fuji climb without rest. Boy, that was stupid.
Since I last went in 2008, a lot of things got improved. For example, the whole event now has a festival feel to it. Previously we just showed up, bought goods, then squatted in a nearby cafe until showtime, but now there's lots more to do. They added an open area with tons of vendor booths and anime and seiyuu themed foods. The best addition was the outdoor stage, where lesser known artists could perform. Since it was wide open space, the crowd did more wild stuff like mass otagei. I got to see Terakawa Aimi perform this way.
Anisama was long but didn't feel as long as 2008, maybe because I actually brought enough water this time. I had good seats in the arena both days to see my favorite artists. First time seeing Asumin and Yukachin in person. Best thing of the night was Milky Holmes x Gorakubu collaboration which almost killed me. Misawa Sachika was also surprisingly good, so I bought some of her goods.
One thing about Animelo...when the acts are good, they're really good, but 3 songs later and they're gone. When you get someone you don't really know or care about...it gets boring. Even in the middle of 20,000 cheering fans. So I think this is going to be my final Anisama event. It's not a knock on Anisama. It's great way to check off a ton of "artists you want to see at least once" in a single event. But now that I've seen pretty much everyone I ever want to see, in the future I'll be focusing more on one-man lives of my favorite artists. Milk Lariat is an exception though, because the set lists are long enough to actually be really satisfying (see my Milk Lariat report from last year).
YuruYuri 39 Fes. Nanamorichu Kanshasai
I attended both the exhibition part, and performance part. The exhibition had us walk through a intricate maze filled with rough sketches, original drawings by namori, manga drafts, and so on. At the end, the maze opened up into a huge open space filled with YuruYuri goods (now and upcoming), costumes worn by the seiyuu, and props inspired by the show. On day two, the open space got replaced by a stage where they the gorakubu members held three separate talk events.
I originally planned to go to all of them, but the demand was so high it quickly became obvious that obtaining 3 tickets would not be within my budget. Especially not with 70 yen to USD. Auctions were going for about $300 - $500 per session. I decided to attend the final session of the day which was being MC'd by Ookubo Rumi. It was so expensive, but so worth it. I got to see YuruYuri cast talk for an hour and perform two songs from season 2 from the fourth row. The fans were great too. Everyone showed up in festival happi or YRYR shirts, and pretty much everyone had 4 glowsticks corresponding to each member's color.
Happiest moments were hearing 100% Chuugakusei live (especially since they didn't sing it at Animelo), Rumirumi reading sound effects from the manga, and Mikashii's "MINNA, EYE CLOSE." But I'm a DD so the hardest part was trying to figure out how to split my attention among four members who I all really like. But maybe I looked the most at Yukachin.
Oh yeah I bought a few things and snagged a signed 100% Chuugakusei single from Yukachin as well.
AnB Premium presents The Best Ten vol. 28
Since DearStage jacked up their prices, I'd been looking for an adequate substitute for how to spend my weekdays in between packed weekends while I was in Japan. Then came Mandi to save the day by introducing me to the insane world of chika idols.
My mind was blown. I was already used to heavy audience interaction from DearStage but this is on another level. The hint came during one idol's set where a fan in the front row suddenly turned around, pulled out a tube from nowhere, and unfurled a huge 6 foot long scroll with a list of custom MIX shouts specific to this girl. Without missing a beat, the entire room started yelling out the contents. So someone actually does come up with these! During another set, a fan came around to pass out green glowsticks to every single person in the audience (and after the song, he even came back with a bag to collect the spent sticks from everyone).
Just look at this video. Take away the surprised looking TV guys, and move the fans even closer to the stage, and it becomes an accurate depiction of what actually happens between idol and fans at these events. Except some idols replace the "beating to death part" with other things, like shooting you with a ray gun.
Which is just what Morinaga Mami did, shooting her way past my tiger defenses. I was content just doing standard jumps in the back, but for her set I could no longer resist and dived forward into the moving human wave. In one song, we stomped into the left and right sides of the room, in another songs we were getting shot with toy guns (mero~n style). The best moment came in the middle of Tornado, where she jumped off the stage and ran into the middle of the audience. Everyone dropped to the floor, the UOs came out, we all started doing kecha while crawling around her. Despite all these gimmicks, she also happened to be a better singer than most of the performers there.
After Mami's set, I had to leave in order to pick up some concert tickets, but I vowed to return to a similar event in the future. This was the closest experience I had to a Momoi event in some time.
Dempagumi inc. 2nd ONE-MAN LIVE Ai wo denpa ni
Out of all the events I didn't write about, this was the overall best concert experience. Dempagumi inc. puts on a hell of a show with unique, strange, and interesting choreography. There isn't any idol group quite like them. But what makes the show even more fun is the audience. It's a lot like the AnB event I described above, but on a larger scale. Imagine a crammed subway car at rush hour. Then imagine everyone in that car trying to do furicopy. An official digest of the event is available on YT which shows how pumped everyone is, but it's actually even more crazy than that. They copied not only the hand motions, but all the footwork as well, and most songs had their own unique chant.
The crowding worked for and against the event in some ways. There wasn't a boring moment in the whole thing, but it was a fight to see between the cracks in a forest of outstretched arms. At the end of the show, everyone cracked red glowsticks for Mirin's birthday.
Speaking of glowsticks, I started to notice the progression of glowstick choice is more conservative from fans recently. People went from using nothing, to chemical lights, to electric lights, and then back to no lights again. For groups like dempagumi, the hardcore fans seem to have evolved beyond glowsticks, as the cheering became so specialized that it became a burden to have to hold something since it interfered with all the specific finger motions, hand signs, and clapping. Nowadays it seems everyone just carries one or two dedicated multi-color lights and pack a few chemical cyalumes for the specific moments that require it.
AgeAge Idol Carnival 136
As mentioned before, after the ridiculous experience at AnB I had to give the chika idol scene another chance. I specifically chose this show since Morinaga Mami would appear.
She once again proved to be the top act, but even among all the other artists, I found that in a whole 3 hours of music I was only bored for maybe 3 songs total. Mostly it was awesome. The majority of songs were popular anime covers, but we also had a few cool originals. Two original acts that stood out to me: first was an idol in school uniform and randoseru who was by all counts a TERRIBLE singer, but had a crazy setlist where she furiously jumped around for 5 minutes repeating "santa santa santa" over and over in a WTF moment. Second was a four girl rock band that picked a random member of the audience, then adlibbed a song entirely about him. The rest of the audience got roped into cheering for the guy and circling around him while yelling MIX using his name.
I was able to stay the entire night this time. After the show, all the performers stuck around to sign autographs, shake hands, and play games with any guests that bought CDs or game tickets. Lots of idols also had a instant polaroid camera where you could buy two-shots with them for 1000 yen. I just went to visit Mami first.
"Hi. I'm visiting Japan this month. I thought your s-"
"OH! You must be the guy from overseas! Thanks for coming. I heard you were a fan of Momoi. By the way, do you know these other Momoists who are also fans of mine?"
"What? How did you know!?"
It turns out she heard about it from another friend. I'm super impressed that Mamipyon not only remembers her fans, but even remembers off-hand remarks about the friends of fans. At the end of our chat, she came up with a -pyon nickname for me and said I should use it when I go to her events. I guess that's what I'll be writing in for the ticket reservations from now on.
On September 20th, I went to attend Furukawa Mirin's birthday event at DearStage. Entry ticket was 2000 yen and came with a pamphlet and lottery ticket for prizes. Mirin is really popular these days, so the room was packed and all the bonuses were already sold out by the time I came in. The theme of the night was online MMOs, so Mirin came in wearing a mage outfit to celebrate her "leveling up."
The event started with a prize raffle of several photos. When they ran out of photos, a staff member with a camera came in to create more on the spot and throw them into the raffle box. This was followed by a few group performances with Mirin and her friends from dempagumi. At the official dempagumi live, we saw them all perform as a group, but now individual members were either doing duets with Mirin, or giving solo performances in between her breaks. In this way that I got to hear some favorites like Nemu's Mahou Shoujo Miman again.
Halfway through the event, fans lined up to go on stage and individually give birthday presents to Mirin and take a commemorative photo with her in front of a birthday wreath. Then Mirin did a costume change into a princess outfit and did her solo set to close out the night, ending with Mirical Fantasy. Red glowsticks were prominently used during almost each song.
I only went to day 2. I don't regret missing day 1 as I was busy meeting Yukarin on the train, but B.G.M Festival is really a festival that one should dedicate a full 48 hours to. The full experience is best had by going to the day 1 outdoor morning stage, day 1 indoor afternoon stage, day 1 overnight stage, day 2 outdoor morning stage, day 2 indoor afternoon stage, and then closing ceremonies. Lesson learned for the future.
The format was divided into "Makers" and "Artists". During the "Maker" segments, each studio would send out a few artists to sing the most popular songs from their most famous series, so we'd get things like the Circus set with Rekka coming out, the Navel set with YURIA, or the Aquaplus Set with Uehara Rena. "Artists" was meant for singers that couldn't fit into one maker group; they got their own separate corner where they could pick 2 - 3 songs that represented their work.
The top performance was Momoi, who pulled out Koi no Milkyway and Popotan from her library of game songs. These are the BIG GUNS for me, and I still knew every call and jump as if it were still 2004 and I'd just finished watched the UNDER17 DVD 100 times. I never thought I'd get to hear Milkyway in my life. Seeing Rita and Uehara Rena for the first time were good too. Rena singing Heart to Heart brought back massive nostalgia, and the biggest reaction in the crowd overall was probably Rita's Little Busters. Later, one Circus founder said he got so emotional during that performance that he started crying.
Unfortunately ave;new only got only 2 songs as part of the "Lump of Sugar" maker group, and no solo corner of their own. One song was True My Heart which I've already heard at every ave;new event I've been to so far, so the only new material was "My Sweet Lady." Good, but I wish I had more. On the other hand, Sakura Saori and a.k.a.DRESS were the only two people I bumped into while waiting around at the exit. They came out with beers in hand and started toasting with everyone.
Before leaving, I also met up with the frequently traveling Momoists group to say hello. I never tell most of them in advance that I'm visiting Japan in advance so it's always nice to run into them and get a surprised greeting.
Oh yeah. The venue was Diver City. So I also went to go see the life sized Gundam in the same area.
Mimori Suzuko at AWA
First of all, congratulations on your solo debut Mimorin. Now tenton and I can say we got to meet you before you hit it big, and before your management got more strict. Because they couldn't be further from strict at AWA. Mimorin's handlers from Hibiki were so chill at Atlanta that we were pretty much allowed to stalk Mimorin for hours on end, all under the implicit endorsement of the staff. At some point we started chatting up the Hibiki manager too, who was more than happy to drop some hints about the set list. Sadly, part of that reason may have been because there weren't many fans of hers at the con. She spent a lot of her time sitting alone at the autograph table just waiting it out, and we took advantage of that downtime.
There was no limit on photography, no limit on number of items signed, and her staff was even giving away clear files and uchiwas to sign if you ran out of things of your own. They really felt like fans ascended into the industry, rather than the suit and tie managers. Furthermore, Mimori herself was a PR pro. When I met her, the first thing she did was give a big smile and the "Akkarin~" greeting. I want to thank her for coming to AWA, yet I felt like I was being the one thanked. I watched her repeat this magic over and over again for every person who came to talk to her. "You bought the Milky Holmes DVD? Oh I can't believe you know it!" "You know gdgd fairies? AMAZING, THANK YOU!" "You want to take a picture of me? Sure, let me pose for you and give you a great picture. Did it come out OK?"
It did come out OK (yep that's the same towel from YRYR festival picture above)
Every time I look back to my album I'm thankful they let me take so many photos. You might recognize this one from various seiyuu fan blogs :D
JAM Project, Faylan, Natsuko Aso at Otakon Music Festival
Apparently I have a recognizeable lightstick waving pattern according to one person.
I'll defer to Omo's post again on this one for most of the details. One thing I'm still bad about is taking notes for domestic events. After the concert, we had a VIP meet & greet. Being early in the autograph line worked against us though, because we got rushed about talking to guests. That rule got relaxed a lot more for people later in line. I got a few words in with Faylan (talked about BGM Festival) and Nacchan (I brought the callbook from her first oneman live event, but she didn't recognize it. I guess fans never showed it to her). Unfortunately I was barely any time with JAM Project guests except Endoh. Since we were both lifters, I talked training with him.
One good thing about finishing up early though was being able to get bar seats. That turned out to be a good idea because all the guests came down right next to us and held another Q&A and did a toast. Lucky.
Looking forward, I have two trips planned at the moment.
On Febrary 23rd, I have the YuruYuri trip I mentioned at the start of this post. It was originally meant to be a 2 week trip starting with ave;new x ULTRA-PRISM and Sword Art Online x Accel World events, but the difficulty of obtaining tickets is making me think about just doing the trip as a 3 day weekender exclusively dedicated to YuruYuri.
Using the PTO saved, I am very likely to go to Japan a second time in June where I will see Yukarin again at her very first Saitama Super Arena one-man live.
If the yen continues to depreciate, I will go back a third time to FINALLY hit up an ave;new one-man live, which has been on my goals for years now. I'm tired of going to collab events and only getting a handful of songs. I want to hear Tearful, Snow of Love, Otoko wa lion, etc. And I want to see Rierin! But they need to announce it first.
Beyond that, I'll keep my calendar open for any local American cons. I have a VIP ticket saved for AX so here's hoping they rise to the challenge from the east coast cons and bring someone worth seeing.
Posted by Paranda at January 14, 2013 10:57 AM
This ... turned out to be an epic blog post didn't it.
I wonder if there is more sites with info one can find in English about underground idols.
Posted by: omo at January 14, 2013 2:05 PM