April 28, 2013

Kawano Marina

When I watched Sasaki Sayaka on Niconico Choukaigi today, my mind drifted to another former winner of ANIMAX's annual Anisong Grand Prix - someone who I had much closer contact with.

I mentioned this story on twitter at the time, but I figured I'd relay it in a post now since I remembered it.

My strongest memory of Kawano Marina was during one of her street performances last September at the end of a Yukarin concert in Tokyo. At first I didn't even recognize it was her.

All I saw was that some singer had set up in the park outside NHK hall and was hoping to attract some attention from everyone who was leaving the event. She was in a long skirt and cardigan, and wore a big pink hat over her long black hair.

She sat on a small portable bench and played an acoustic guitar in her lap. There was no microphone, and she didn't sing too loudly since it was already dusk and it seemed like she didn't want to attract any police or noise complaints.

Most people were either tired or pure Yukarin fans, so they ignored her as they walked past, or they watched for a few minutes then left.

But a group of maybe 15-20 people gathered around in a semicircle and watched her perform unplugged. They seemed prepared to stay indefinitely. The level of street performers in Japan is pretty high (even Momoi herself started out on the streets of Akiba), so I stuck around to listen too. After all, I met Hirano Risa in Osaka the year before in the same way, and I ended up buying a CD at the end of it all. It helped that she sang known anime-related songs, so we knew the tunes and timings and were clapping along.

With only the guitar, she sang acoustic versions of various OP/EDs and insert songs, including tracks from Haruhi and Macross F. She did a great job on most of them. Anime songs aren't always performed by such great singers, so in some cases she even exceeded the singing skills of the original artist. Meanwhile, another guy who seemed to be her manager or publicist periodically made his way around the crowd and passed out flyers advertising her next gig.

When I got the flyer, I saw the name Kawano Marina and though "Hmm that name's familiar, didn't I see her live before at Animax Musix? What's she doing singing on the street?" She was the winner of Anisong Grand Prix and only a year ago she had performed on stage to an audience of thousands.

Once the sun went down, the fans were waving Yukarin's pink penlights in the dark. Some guys even burned a few UOs. Even though the concert we just came from didn't have any use for UO, I guess a few fans always pack spare sticks just in case.

She continued singing for nearly an hour after sunset, with almost no breaks in between. Finally she got up and bowed personally to everyone who stayed until the end. Surprisingly, she didn't try to sell us anything and just asked us to come see her show in the future.

I had my phone on me at the time so I looked her up just to confirm she was the same Kawano Marina I was thinking of - it was. I was very appreciative of being able to meet Marina like that, but at the same time I was a bit sad, thinking, "Man she's fallen on hard times if she's resorting to this." Well it's not like she was busking for change or anything. She was just getting some publicity but it made her seem like a struggling artist. Later I learned she was rebooked for Animax 2012, so it turns out she's not doing too bad for herself.

Who knows, maybe her hard work paid off? Or maybe she just likes street performing in general.

Posted by Paranda at 3:24 AM | Comments (0)

« March 2013 | Main | August 2013 »