April 28, 2013
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.
March 19, 2013
THE PLAN 2013 Summer
Well at this point I'm pretty much committed to my 6/14 - 6/23 dates, so I can plan the itinerary. Will be updated as events fill out.
19:00 Nanri Yuuka Third Live - tentative
18:00 RAYVE 01~Ray's magic castle~ - ticket secured
May potentially go to Denkyun in Tokyo though. Obtained excellent 200's range ray ticket so I can't give that up.
12:20 Iguchi Yuka calendar watashikai - failed lottery
14:00 Hamiraji bromide watashikai - ticket secured free ticket up for grabs if you can meet me claimed
17:30 µ's 3rd Anniversary LoveLive - failed lottery
13:30 WE LOVE Itapara - Saori Sakura Love You Live - Gifu Gaisen - ticket at door
Gifu will be my highest priority event for 6/16 and I may need to sacrifice other events depending on the time of day. Gifu is about 3 hours away from Tokyo.
Update 4/12: Well that was the worst possible time they could have slotted it in. Now I can't make any of the Tokyo events if I go. It really pains me to give up a chance to talk to Ootsubo Yuka face to face, but seeing Sakura Saori perform for 1 hour is a bit more important to me than any single Tokyo event. The only way I think I could change my mind is if I somehow end up winning all 3 Tokyo events.
Update 4/24: Aaand failed Love Live lottery means I am 100% going to Gifu.
Day trip to Takayama & Shirakawa-go
Day trip to Toyosato
19:00 Perfume / MAXIMUM THE HORMONE live in Zepp Namba - ticket pending
TBD (Buy YRYR BD)
Day trip to Izu Oshima
12:00 MarvelYell Tandoku Kouen vol. 1 - ticket reserved. My required quota of Morinaga Mami.
15:00 @JAM 2013 in Zepp Tokyo - ticket pending. I'll only attend partially and leave at 17:00 I'd have to leave at 16:30 to make it on time
18:00 Tamura Yukari Cute'n Cute'n Heart in SSA - ticket secured
12:20 Hanazawa Kana calendar watashikai - failed lottery
13:00 Taketatsu Ayana "apple symphony" the Live - ticket secured. If it's not over by 15:20 I'll have to leave the event early for Yukarin
16:00 Tamura Yukari Cute'n Cute'n Heart in SSA - ticket secured
March 3, 2013
On February 24th, I attended Yuruyuri's third all-cast live concert, Nanamorichuu Festival. I went to both noon and night sessions at Pacifico Yokohama.
I arrived in Yokohama at 8AM in order to buy goods, but even then there were already about 600 people in line. There were cosplayers, crossplayers, lots of people in animal and tomato kigurumi, and even a guy in a huge unwieldy Ganbo costume. It took almost 4 hours to get through the goods, but I was able to purchase everything on my list. Only people with tickets to the event could buy things, and you could buy a max of 3 of the same item. By the time I got through the line though, black T-shirts, black parka, mirakurun penlight had all been limited down to 1 per person, and completely sold out afterwards. I'll do a closer look at goods at the end.
After grabbing lunch with a BasuP (I owe you a lunch man), I headed inside the venue to start my 7 hour trial. Inside Pacifico Kokusai lobby, a huge array of wreaths and bouquets lined the wall from 3 sides, donated from fan groups and companies. Among the most elaborate ones were full size flower arrangements constructed in the likeness of the characters.
Both events started on time. I found my seat near the center front half of the arena, with a great view. My night session's seat was slightly better than noon.
The performance area was split into 5 main sections. A door and platform at the top had two staircases which came down to each side. These branched off into left and right side stages, also with their own doors. In the center between the stairs, there was the main stage with sliding doors behind it and a large video screen above. The main stage had another wide staircase which merged with the side staircases down to the lowest level which spanned the whole width of all the other stages. On the walls to the side, two giant light fixtures on each side formed the letters YRYR that flashed in sync with the music.
From Katou Emiri's blog: http://blog.livedoor.jp/clovercafe/archives/51936848.html
The event started with a schoolbell chime, followed by an opening video of the members wearing Nanamorichuu outfits and riding a van to the venue, making duck faces with potato chips, and running across a grassy field to the arena. As Yes! Yuyuyu Yuruyuri started playing each gorakubu member made their signature entrance from the upper stage.
In comes Mikashii with her long hair wrapped up to form the biggest pair of odango I've ever seen, like two great big bowling balls attached to her head. I'm talking at least 25% bigger than what she had at Utagassen last year. Next came Tsudanyan, with a nice straight long hair with bangs parted down the middle. I was looking to check out her awesome spin jump entrance again, but it seems to have been toned down for obvious safety reasons in their location. Rumirumi and Yukachin appeared last, each wearing their character's hairstyle: Rumi with twin tails and Yuka with a large bow that formed cat ears behind her head. Their make up was similar to Utagassen this time - plain and functional with a bit of glitter spray, and even Tsuda seems to have dumped the eye shadow for a more natural look, which suits her very well.
Streamers burst in synch with start of the first verse, showering the front half of the arena with purple ribbons. And then the arena was awash with colors. We burned through Yes! with ease, and without pause, moved immediately into Lets Love de ikimashou. Deafening yells of "Y. U. R. U. Y. U. R. I. YURUYURI~" with 5000 people ensued.
For these songs, most of the fans had 4 light sticks, two in hand, and lit with each member's color. This meant for an audience of our size, we had close to 20,000 lights waving in chaotic order. Duel wielding was almost required in a way, since the next song Gorakubu, Ai to Yuuki to Kibou to Yujou no Theme called for a double handed motion during a few parts i.e. "maru" which used both glowsticks to form a circle above your head. It has fun moe rap verses, catchy chorus, and fun calls that beg for furious "Let's go" jumps at full power. This is one of my favorite songs, but I wasn't expecting it since it was a season 1 song so I was supremely glad to hear it.
After the opening set, each member did a set of call and response for the audience. When responding, fans also all switched to the appropriate color for the character. Mikashii (Red) went with the standard Akarin~ call. Yukachin (Green) made us all do Kyoko's kyupi-n. Rumirumi (Orange) had everyone say "Pink!" the first time, and "Ha-P!" for the night session, and Tsuda (Blue) had us do "Ya-T".
Once MC was over, the Gorakubu girls left to make way for Koi no double punch, a Sakurako x Himawari duet. Mimori Suzuko and Kato Emiri came onto the stage, wearing outfits directly from their PV: matching beige jackets with a sunflower and short white dresses underneath. Mimori had her hair tied into braids just like Himawari, while Emiri had hers parted down the middle, which I guess is supposed to be like Sakurako but ended up making her look a lot like a younger Itou Shizuka. The audience got divided into groups: double cyan glowsticks for Sakurako, double yellow glowsticks for Himawari, or one cyan, one yellow for each. You needed at least two though to throw up alternating fists for the "Double Punch" part of the song. The distribution was fairly even and one color didn't outnumber the other. For noon, I cheered for Mimorin and at night I cheered for Emirin.
Screenshot from Utagassen. They used the same costumes
Fujita Saki was up first representing the student council members, with her hair in a ponytail. Her straight features combined with her starched uniform and red armband really made the whole Ayano cosplay feel authentic. She also packed a bit of vocal firepower, projecting a strong and commanding voice. She may have been the 3rd strongest singer at the event that day (I'll get to #1 and 2 when I talk about them). Additionally, while in the old concerts, Saki always had to stand still behind a microphone, she was mobile this time and her repertoire of dance moves had been significantly expanded. For Nai Nai Niagara, she had incredibly complex hand moves that were nearly impossible to copy on the fly. I look forward to learning them fully once the BD comes out. She also directed the audience since it was a season 2 song. "Everyone, say nai nai naigara with me." We all tuned our penlights to purple and followed along, but the timing was tough and we messed up the key part of the Naiagara response during both sessions. You could almost hear a collective sigh from fans being disappointed in themselves.
Next was Toyosaki Aki with her S2 character song Ai no delusion. When I saw Akichan before at Sphere, I didn't think she was that tall. But when she appeared at the top of the stage alone, holy shit she did seem pretty tall after all. As an Utagassen absentee, she received a pretty warm welcome from the crowd and we all switched our glowsticks to green...er...I mean pink! Chitose's color is pink! Aki's hair this time was a messy helmet cut like Chitose's and she was also dressed in Nanamorichuu uniform and student council armband. Aki's live singing is reasonably good since she was doing the Chitose voice, and several times it crossed my mind that...hey this is as close as I'm ever going to get hearing her sing in the K-On yui voice, so enjoy it doubly. Fitting Aki's skills, her dance moves were complex and had plenty of full body movements, cute jumps, and shuffling. I'd say it was the second hardest dance of the night, after Mimorin's.
After Aki, the other three student council members reappeared for the MC corner.
In the night session, Aki remarked "Y'all change colors really fast." Suspicious, Emirin asked "How many people of you came to the noon session as well?" Nearly half the audience raised their hands.
Then it was the student council team's turn to do call and response.
Saki made us do Bakkin Buckingham~. During the noon session, she also jokingly scolded people who would use green glowsticks for her part. "Don't use that color!"
Aki, during the noon session, had us do Chitose's "Shukketsu-"->"Dai Service!", and then "Mousou ga"->"Tomarahen" at night.
Emirin did the classic Oppai~ Kinshi! call with us. We alternated yelling "Kinshi" during the noon session, and "Oppai" during the night session.
Mimorin had the same Oppai call, but had us yell "Sansei" during noon, and we yelled "Oppai" and while she yelled "Daisuki" during the night session.
Next we had another duet. This time, Rumirumi appeared first on the top left, in the incredible Tuxedo jacket and short shorts magician's outfit which has aleady been made famous in previous live events. Mikashi appeared immediately after in a matching red version on the top right, but from behind bars. As soon as Mikashi exited from behind the cage, the whole arena shifted into red and orange (surprisingly suited for this type of song) for Onna to onna no yuri game. It's another song from season 1 I'm glad to have gotten, if for nothing but to see those costumes, hear Rumirumi wail "Yururiiiii~" and see Mikashii's lifeless gaze as she threw herself on the stairs. Mikashii did her "ueeeeehhh" faces pretty well, though Rumi's "scary face" is actually just her pretty smile - no need to be afraid of that. Welcome it! At the end, Tsuda Minami came out and asked "What are you guys doing?" to a flustered Rumi. "No, senpai! This is not what it seems!"
Screenshot from Utagassen. They used the same costumes
We switched to blue lights and moved on to cheering Tsudanyan and her excellent rendition of E-kagen Yui-kagen. She's got a great voice and gets my pick for the second best live singer that night (though mostly because of tsuntsun ballad which I'll talk about later). By this time, I noticed that all the dances for the solo stuff have been getting fancier. Minami had also been given some upgraded choreography and wasn't constrained to a mic stand this time. She wandered from left to right and pumped the crowd. I especially loved yelling the loud "YUI-KAGE EEEENNN!" call along with everyone in the second chorus - she yelled so loudly with us too. The lighting was really crazy for this song though, and flashed colors so fast it could probably give people seizures.
Next was Otsubo Yuka. A year ago, I didn't even know she existed, and yet now I'm pretty much obsessed with her. I guess I should have seen that coming. She's one of my favorite seiyuu and definitely my favorite among the YuruYuri cast (though I love Akari the character the most). But, Yukachin is actually the weakest singer of the group, while at the same time her Kyoko character song is fast and difficult, so it wasn't an easy combination. She did the best she could though, with the cutest doyagao, and she didn't even mess up singing the "yuruyurayuruyuruyuruyureyuruyuro" part. Her dance was also hilarious. The moves included her doing the worm with her hands while shuffling forwards and backwards in some kind of pseudo-moonwalk while giving us the raised eyebrow. She adlibbed some classic "Otsubo-pro" stuff as well. During the bridge of the song, she suddenly gave us a treat to her air guitar skills. Expecting the same thing at night, she surprised us again with the even better air violin instead. Yukachin is just a pro.
Next was Taketatsu Ayana dressed up in her white and purple Mirakurun costume and showing off her legendary ZR. Though we already got some service earlier from Mikashi and Rumi's costumes, Ayachi's is on another level. She appeared from the top stage singing Yonde Mirakurun. For this song, people who managed to buy the special Mirakurun penlight used it, while others substituted white lights. Some guys put Mirakurun's star tube on top of their kingblades, but that was a bit of a problem since parts of the tube are clear and the visible parts of the flashlight bulb were blinding people.
Ayana herself started off with no wand, doing waving motions, but midway throughout the song she suddenly pulled out a new and improved Mirakurun wand. It was a thin strip with two stars on the end as counterweights and lit up with green LEDs along the entire length. She handled the thing gracefully like a pro baton twirler, doing huge spinning circles in every direction. It was way more complex than anything she did in Utagassen or Recital - this looked like it came from a marching band routine transplanted out of a Tron movie. Unfortunately, we didn't really get a closer look at her because she stayed at the top of the stairs the whole time (she didn't even come down to the closer stage for MC).
I had been really looking forward to hearing Ayana sing since I loved Jikuu Tours, but her live singing ended up somewhat underwhelming. You could barely hear her above the music and the constant "fuu~fuu~fuu~fu~" from the fans drowning her out didn't help either. It sounded kind of amateurish, which was really surprising to me because she has a very strong and clear voice when she was speaking during MCs, so I know she's got the power and yet she didn't use it?
Anyway, during the MC, she sounded really great, so I was gushing about "ZOMG ECLAIRE/AZUNYAN/SUGUHA IRL!!" For call and response, she asked the 5000 strong audience to do Ganbo's "BO-" call, individually from each floor.
Deep voice: "BOOOO"
During the night session, she remembered how funny it was and started cracking up before she could finish her sentence, so she had to redo the call.
After Ayachi left, Rumirumi came out fully changed back into her school uniform to do Anone. A solo singing and dancing Rumirumi is just the cutest girl in the world. Anone is also a rather difficult song, but she managed to do pretty well. She lead the all-orange audience in lots of high energy jumping, and I had tons of fun yelling the "Ikuze CHINA!" part with everyone. Too bad I missed the "CHINA NI SASAGERU I LOVE YOU" call both times. It's timed right before she says "minna, arigatou", but it's not really telegraphed, so it's easy to miss. When I missed it during noon, I said to myself, I'll have to remember for the night session, but then I missed the timing again.
Finally the star of the show, Mikami Shiori came out to perform Shiawase no Gift. This was probably the single most fun solo character song of the night, with the whole audience pumping red lights into the air and yelling "AKARIN" between every single line at full power. It was super loud and exciting. At the start of the song, two huge red balloons shaped like Akari's odango dropped onto the audience, who then batted it around to different sections of the first floor arena. I didn't get to hit it during the noon session, but it finally came to us during the night session. Since I was on the first floor though, the balloon was so distracting that I forgot to pay attention to Mikashii! ORZ. Maybe it was just as planned? Well I did watch her routine, but I just took my eyes off so many times that I feel like I didn't get the full Mikashii experience. I'll defintitely watch her more when the Bluray comes out, I promise!
Also I didn't notice in the dark, but the balloons had "Odango Bazooka" written on them which you can see below.
From Katou Emiri's blog: http://blog.livedoor.jp/clovercafe/archives/51936848.html
Then the arena went dark and the familiar opening of Pajama Ryokou started up. I seriously loved this song and watched it a million times when Utagassen came out, so I was scrambling to get my Green and Blue lights while grinning ear to ear. Tsuda came out in her panda PJs while Yukachin appeared in the Tomato ones. I memorized all the dance moves for this song too, so it took all my might to resist copying them. During the chorus, there's an interesting little sleeping hand motion they do. When I saw Yukachin and Tsudanyan do it side by side though, I realized Tsudanyan is still ahead of Yukachin when it comes to body language. Minami's motions were more fluid, while Yuka's were still slightly more awkward.
During the night session, there was a tiny mishap when Tsuda missed the first count during the sheep part which threw them off and made Yuka start the 2nd count late. Somehow, they managed to save the timing and force it back on track by the fourth count. The concert footage tends to be shot for the night session, but I wonder if the eventual release will splice in footage from the noon show to fix this. At the end, there wasn't a standing bed prop this time like Utagassen so they just went to sleep on one side of the stage and had the spotlight fade out.
From the other side of the stage, Katou Emiri came in to destroy the dignity of everyone in the arena. Emirin's singing is average, but she sure has volume, and she really projected through the venue. It was too loud sometimes, which made me conscious of the fact that I didn't bring earplugs. And then we got to that part in Kiraippai Sukiippai. Ooooohhh yeah, we read that tweet all right.
Emiri: "Let's see whose passion is stronger. Your energy for oppai or my objections? Dakara..."
And this exchange just got faster and harder until in the end the whole arena was furiously yelling "OPPAIOPPAIOPPAI" and Emiri yelling back in an intense shouting match. It was awesome! Because of that, it's my second favorite solo song of the night.
It was pretty hard to come down from that, but it still wasn't break time or MC, so as soon as Emiri left, Mimorin took over and moved on to Sore ha koi dewanai desu no. Mimorin is a decent live singer now, having vastly improved from when I saw her live three years ago. But more impressive was her character's accompanying dance. Out of all the character songs performed today, this unquestionably had the hardest dance, and was probably something that only Mimorin could pull off among this group.
She did this jump step that twisted her entire body while practically pop-locking her arms and elbow and the whole thing looked really cool but elegant, and her voice never shook as she did all this. She also did her famous over the elbow finger point which was also quite deadly to our sanity. Everyone cheered with Himawari's yellow color and yelled along with the IPPAI, ZETTAI parts.
Mimorin finger poke of doom
After Mimorin's set we finally got a break and got to sit down for a drama segment. It's basically a long skit where all the cast members act a scenario from their script books while in character. Chitose and Ayano appeared first, introducing the setting of them getting a phone invitation to an after school karaoke party with Gorakubu members. Ayano reacts in a typical tsundere fashion while Chitose has her nosebleed fantasy. Next, the center stage lit up with Akari, Kyoko, Yui, and Chinatsu choosing songs. Yui's song came up first, so she came down to the lower stage to sing Tsun Tsun Ballad. It was really nice and her performance here is what earned a lot of my respect for Minami's singing voice. Of course, Kyoko in the back was ruining it by leading the girls with "HEY!" calls. Yui tried to ignore it a few times, but finally turned around and angrily yell "Oi, this is a ballad!"
Then, the big screen lit up above them to show a parody of the videos you see in actual karaoke rooms - a combination of lyrics and overly melodramatic sepia toned scenes. A girl was walking alone in the Yokohama Pacifico theme park, only to turn around and be revealed as...Tsuda Minami! During the noon session, this got a HUGE response from the surprised audience seeing it for the first time and they started cheering and laughing. So as Tsuda sang in character on stage as Yui, the parody video of Tsuda Minami above -out of character- showed her strolling across a bridge and crying on the ferris wheel before fading to black at the end of the song. In a later MC, Tsuda explained that everyone shot the karaoke videos in one day, and she was the last one to film the video that day in order to get the evening shot for the Ferris Wheel. Since it was February she was totally freezing.
The center stage then goes dark, and left stage lights up to show a small fight between Sakurako and Himawari telling each other how much they don't want to sing with each other. Then the spotlight goes back to center stage for Chinatsu's turn.
Chinatsu: "I want to sing with you Yui-senpai"
Yui: "But I don't know this song"
Kyoko: "I'll sing with you"
Chinatsu; "No if it's Kyoko I don't need you" -> In the noon session, Otsubo Yuka had the BEST disappointed expression when Rumi says this line OMG. It was a total droopy dog face! I'm so sad she didn't do it in the night one.
Anyway, Chinatsu then comes down to the stage to sing Abashiri Bajou, and boy what a singing voice. It sounds exactly like on the CD. No, it was better! The girls behind her didn't interrupt this time, so we got full on crazy Chinatsu singing her heart out. Like before, about halfway into the song, the screen lights up and starts playing another parody karaoke video. Fans gave another cheer when the subject of the PV turned out to be stylish but somber Rumi who is walking along the Yokohama Pacifico docks in a coat and hat. She looks listlessly at the water, throws a bouqet of flowers into it before holding up and chugging a glass of brandy (actually juice). Rumi said in MC later that while the video showed her as walking alone, she actually had to do this in front of a huge and curious audience. At the end, Rumi, the one singing, delivers the awesome Yui SenpaaaAAAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaaaiiiIIIii scream and just REALLY holds it for an impressive length of time.
From Okubo Rumi's blog: http://ameblo.jp/rumiokubo/entry-11480752238.html
At some point during this drama, two mock Mirakurun commercial come on and Ayachi appears at the top of the steps to sell her fake products. I didn't catch what the product actually was but there was a gag about licking it, obviously a self reference to Ayachi's more kimo fans tendencies to prpr her at every opportunity (dubbed perorists). The second commercial was about continuing her campaign for 24 hours.
Then, Chinatsu and Yui declared they'd go make a run for drinks and left the center stage. Why it must be Akari's turn! "But it's finally my turn to sing. Oh well at least I've got Kyoko." Of course, this is exactly when the seitokai members appear and Kyoko leaves to go receive them. And so, left alone in the center stage, Akari began singing Santa ga yattekuru by herself.
Uwwaaaah Akariiiii why are you such an angel!?
The video hit again, with Mikami prancing around in half a santa outfit above her school uniform. We see her skipping up stairs with a big handful of presents to deliver. The video cuts to a lot of scenes with her popping out of random corners in the park near the venue and handing the viewer a present. There's one series of cuts where she pops out from a series of pillars and gives a present each time, which was so moe I died.
Mikami said in MC that she also had to do this when people were around, and managed to confuse some kids who saw her and said "Look! Even though it's close to Valentine's Day yet she is wearing a santa costume?" Even a kid can insult Mikami! Later I went to check out all the locations in all the music videos shown so far.
From Mikami Shiori's blog: http://ameblo.jp/mikami-shiori/image-11478582516-12434729389.html
After Akari's performance, Kyoko came back with the seitokai members. They sat together, two to a seat, while Kyoko went down to perform her song. The karaoke video for this one featured Yukachin in a green overcoat and black sunglasses acting like a really shady stalker. Her's is the only one not shot in Yokohama. According to her MC, they went to Toranomon in Tokyo first thing in the morning before heading out to Yokohama. This was the most humorous of all the videos, with Yukachin hiding behind garbage cans, sneaking across the road under an oversized traffic pylon (think cardboard box from MGS), peering around corners, and making Pro faces. It was my favorite video of the four shown. By the way, since it was still technically a skit, we watched all these karaoke performances while sitting down and even though some people waved penlights, we didn't interrupt with calls or anything like that.
That concluded the karaoke corner. Tsuda and Rumi, who went to get drinks but actually left to change costumes, returned to perform the next duet Girls Power De. My jaw dropped when they came in: their were costumes straight out of Chinatsu's fairy tale drawings. Rumi had an adorable pastel-pink dress, white ankle length lace socks, and cute pink slippers. It had a very "Dorothy from Oz" feeling to it. But as nice as that outfit was, at that moment Tsuda Minami may have captured all my attention. She appeared in a slim tailored black prince outfit, tapered at the waist and highlighted with gold trim and white cravats. At the thigh, black pumpkin breeches were broken by a perfectly executed zettai ryouiki followed by white stockings and short black boots. Her hair was also changed, pulled back into a stylish pony tail that reached her midback. Tsuda truly lives up to the TKEMEN name. I mean just look at this!
From Tsuda Minami's blog: http://ameblo.jp/00dpd/entry-11479731892.html
Original for reference!
I literally could not take my eyes off of her. But both costumes were so nice, so I am going to rewatch this a zillion times when the BD comes out.
Next, Saki and Yukachin came out wearing short colorful yukatas to perform Miracle Duet. These were the same costumes as in Utagassen, but they also tied matching ribbons around the mics this time, one blue and one purple. Saki wrote on her blog that Yukachin had given her those ribbons for her birthday. I loved these costumes before so I was glad to see them in person. The song is really catchy too.
Screenshot from Utagassen. They used the same costumes
After their set, Toyosaki Aki came back out alone and apologized to everyone about how she wasn't able to come to the previous live but that she'll give it her all this time. I knew she did her solo character song already, so I was actually wondering what she was going to do here since she doesn't really have a duet partner. Then she called to the secret guest Chizuru and I about fainted.
Kuraguchi Momo is here? YES!
Ever since I watched Utagassen, I started following Momochan and even started listening to Radio Big Bang because of her. Even though she got a big break in YuruYuri, Momo's career is kind of struggling lately and her fans were a bit worried for her since she had an agency change and pretty much lost all contact with Yuruyuri staff to the point where she didn't even know when her own BDs came out. A few months ago she answered that wasn't sure she would be invited back for any YuruYuri events but that she hoped they'd reach out to her. So when she appeared, I was pretty ecstatic. But I could probably write an entire blog post just about Kuraguchi Momo entirely, so I'll save my words for a future post.
Anyway, Momochan comes down in her own school uniform with long black hair and bangs, and starts performing Uchi to watashi o shin made tsukekonde as a duet with Aki. I was under the impression that Momo was totally unknown but she got a TON of Momochan calls, so I'm feeling a lot better about her career prospects now.
They did a fantastic set together. During the song, they had matching dance moves where one person would sing while the other would do a dance, and then they'd switch and the partner would mirror the same dance. After hearing Momochan live, and I can now say with confidence that she is the best singer out of everyone who performed today. Once the song ended, Momochan came to do her own MC. She didn't have any call and response, but she talked how she was always watching seitokai members from behind and that she was really grateful to get this chance to appear again. In the noon session she actually started crying from the gratitude and you could tell that this really meant a lot to her.
At the end, Momo said she had one more request, and that was to hear the members do a medley performance of season 1 songs again. This lead into the next segment, which was an interesting mash of the season 1 character song themes. Basically, each member showed up to do 1 verse and chorus in rapid rotation and no breaks or MC in between.
First up was Fujita Saki who did Koi no Bakkin Buckingham. Unfortunately the song didn't get to my favorite part where we all yell "Non non Notredame", but we did get to yell my second favorite part "Bakkin, Fukkin, Mokkin, Tekkin, etc." which was a blast. Next was Toyosaki Aki with Anata no shiawase uchi no shiawase, another incredibly fun song to watch and participate in. Kuraguchi had substituted for Aki last time, but now we got the real thing. Then we moved through Emiri's Kirai janai mon and Mimorin's Day by day. I'm glad I got some practice with Day by day at AWA.
Next for Ayachi's turn, she sang Majokko Mirakurun. During the noon session, an accident happened and the star on top fell off. Since it was still attached by a wire, it just dangled off the wand which totally threw off the weight balance and messed with her spinning. I'm not sure how many people noticed since Ayachi was quick to react and tried to cover for the broken stick but it was pretty funny to watch it flop all over the place during certain moves when she couldn't hide it. The stick was fixed for the night session and didn't break again.
Next was Yukachin with Mirakuruyuruyuku 1 2 3, where she did the awesome henkawaii dance move that I love during the chorus. The whole crowd also yelled out loud for "kira kira nyan nyan." Rumirumi did one verse from Marugoto. Minami did Goyururi World so we got to do the insanely fun "nyanyanyanyaaa" call. Finally Mikashii performed Watashi Shuuyaku no Akaza Akari desu which was especially funny because by nature, some of the calls for the song are designed to be yelled over everything she says. So it was basically just listening to fans scream Akarin chants while Mikashii moved her mouth silently.
After the medley, everyone including secret guest Momo came back on stage to sing Yell all cast version. Even Ayachi finally came down to the lower stage for the first time since the entire show started. Yell was insanely fun yet sad at the same time since it basically signaled the beginning of the end. In the noon session, Yukachin started crying during this song. I think she was the only who cried though. All the fans went back to 4 or 8 glowsticks and cheered very hard for the "fure" parts.
Then the stage went dark and we got a short video that thanked us for coming, which got a lot of EEEEEEH's from the fans. It moved on to showing us a certain girl who has been working hard to see our smiles and cut to behind the scenes footage of Mikami in a cardigan carefully poring over sheet music, making notes, and practicing on a piano. Then the center doors opened, and Mikami got rolled on stage along with a grand piano.
Alone without any other background music, she played piano and sang Minna daisuki no uta. I could see Mikashii's form was flawless - wrists above the keyboard, great hand placement, upright sitting posture, and how she worked the pedals. After all Mikami trained piano since she was a child, and even listed piano teacher as one of her career paths before she became a seiyuu. Her singing was really sweet too and the soft vocals reminded me strongly of other pro singers like Makino Yui. In the noon session, Mikashii totally broke down during the second verse and started crying so much she couldn't even sing the words. Fans yelled "ganbare!" to cover the gaps and keep sending her their energy. At the night session, she actually made it through most of the song with just tears streaming down but not crying too much. Well, not until the surprise happened and the other three members suddenly came out to sing to her at the end of the song. Then it was bawling time again. Not just for those on stage but for the whole audience too. The guy to my right was shut down, incapacitated.
From Mikami Shiori's blog: http://ameblo.jp/mikami-shiori/image-11478582850-12437054389.html
During the MC that followed, they explained that Mikami had been working very hard for four months to prepare for this solo piano performance. Even her piano teacher was watching and had very kind words for her on twitter afterwards. The rest of the members also noticed, and they decided a few weeks ago that they'd also practice on their own to surprise her.
At the night session, there was also an extra part where Koushiki-san announced "Thanks for coming. It's the last yuruyuri event...is that what you really think? Towards the goal of season 3, there will be a Gorakubu solo event in July." The crowd went crazy. The girls on stage said they weren't told about this beforehand and were just as surprised as the rest of us, but overfilled with joy.
Then they decided to end the night with two more songs
During My Sweet Memory, the doors behind them opened up and a huge super bright spotlight created a glowing white halo around them while they sang. It was bright enough to illuminate the audience too, which meant that they could look at us too. To preserve the mood, there wasn't much dancing and no fans were jumping for this. However, we ended on a high note and moved to 100% Chuugakusei, where we picked up our glowsticks again and exerted maximum effort one more time.
Once the lights dropped, the audience moved into encore calls. The whole arena switched to red penlights and just yelled "Akarin" for about 10 minutes. It was actually a relatively short wait.
Then the lights came back and all members, Gorakubu, Seitokai, Mirakurun, Chizuru came on stage wearing the black festival T-shirt along with an oversized can badge (the ones they include with the anime series BD and DVD) and sang My Pace de Ikimashou. Each person got to sing a few lines, and they ended the song with everyone gathered together in the center in a special 10-person pose.
After that it was time for farewell MC. I don't recall too well what was from the noon and night session since it blurs together in my head but I'll try to highlight differences that I can remember. During the noon session is when they explained all the points about the karaoke videos I wrote about earlier though.
Momochan went first. She cried a lot for the noon session but was doing a little bit better for night. "My eyes are drooling." Her words were a lot about gratitude: strong gratitude to student council members who she said looked over her, gratitude to fans who asked to see her again, gratitude to Aki who had a duet with her. She talked about how she would always watch from the corners just wishing to be part of it, but was so happy that they would actually bring her back again even though she's not good at singing or good at acting (her words not mine, cause I think she's awesome). There was just a really strong sense of appreciation and happiness from someone who hasn't really had a career yet, but got thrust into this popular thing with so many fans. Her speech both times was one of the best ones and most moving ones.
Ayachi said she's glad to be doing this event even though she doesn't show up in the series much. She was watching everything from the third floor and was filled with everyone's excitement. She also said that everyone cried backstage when Mikami was doing her piano segment.
Mimorin said that she was really glad to have been a part of this. She's not the crying type, and as a child was even called a "dry kid" because of it, so this was one of the rare exceptions where she said she's trying to hold back her tears.
Emirin used the opportunity to play with the audience again, setting us up with "Oppai" -> Audience: "Kinshi!". But just for today, "Oppai" -> Audience: "Sansei!". She thanked us for going through with the ridiculous Oppai calls so many times.
Aki said she was happy to be back and doing a live event this time, and also happy that she was able to work with Kuraguchi. It looks like they'be become friends now.
Saki used her MC in the night session to announce the new Season 1 Best album to be released in June. She said if Yuruyuri continues to be popular they hope to do another live event with all the members again, including Midorikawa (Ganbo).
Rumi gave her thanks and apologized saying she's not good at doing these kinds of speeches. She said she can't imagine what it would be like for Yuruyuri to be over. She was looking forward to seeing everyone again at the next event in July.
Minami used the noon session to play with us with another Ya-T call and response. After doing all 3 floors of Ya-T, it moved on to demographics:
"Boys!" -> 70% Ya-T
"Girls!" -> 30% Ya-T "Ohhh there are girls here"
"People with glasses!" -> 50% Ya-T
"Wow there sure are a lot of people with glasses."
During the night session though Minami had this super long speech prepared that personally addressed every single person on stage and talked about her memories with them.
Yukachin also had a memorable speech. I don't remember much of the contents of the night speech, but her noon one was really good: "I'm really so happy that this is the series I debuted with and I'll have memories of it forever. Even when I become an old grandma, I still want to put on this uniform with everyone."
And of course she cried. Yukachin ALWAYS cries. She cries at every one of her own farewells, at other peoples farewells, between songs, during songs. And when Yukachin cries, it's not one of those elegant "oh I have a tears coming down my cheek, look how cute I am teehee" thing. Nope, it's ugly ass swollen red eyes, tears running down to her mouth, streams of snot coming out of both nostrils, full blown wailing-so-hard-I-can't-even-talk kind of crying. So it feels really genuine and I think she's a sensitive girl who wears her heart on her sleeve.
Last was Mikami, who surprisingly held it together during both noon and night sessions. But she did most of her crying earlier anyway. Mikami's speech was good though, and she talked about how she'll never forget this time or the friendships she made as part of the series. Part of that feelings went into how she sang the piano solo. She honestly didn't know that there would be more Yuruyuri events, so she was really sad about it all ending. Koushiki-san's announcement really revitalized her again. She thanked everyone for demanding season 3 and said she would work hard for the next event.
Then, Mikami looked at us and said "It can't be the end until we have this song" and raised her hand out to us. Everyone yelled at the same time Yuruyurararayuruyuri Daijiken as hundreds of heart shaped balloons rained onto the audience. On stage, all 10 members were singing together and doing the dance. Off stage, the crowd got whipped up into a frenzy, throwing balloons all over the place, doing max height jumps, furicopy, yelling as loudly as possible, and burning any energy they had left.
Ballons made in the USA!
When the song was over, the cast took a bow and moved to all the corners of the stage to wave at everyone. Finally after another big bow, they left to huge cheers and the concert hall lights came back on. The venue announced exit procedures, but the background music still had Daijiken on loop so no one wanted to leave. Instead the whole audience stayed in. The front half of the audience turned around to face the back half and everyone just kept doing cheers and jumps to the BGM over and over until they finally cut the music.
So, when's Live #4? I'll fucking go.
Full set list, unromanized. From http://yuruyuri.com/blog/archives/2397
M1 いぇす！ゆゆゆ☆ゆるゆり♪♪ ／七森中☆ごらく部
M2 レッツラブ～でいきましょう♪ ／七森中☆ごらく部
M3 ごらく部、愛と勇気と希望と友情のテーマ ／七森中☆ごらく部
M4 恋のダブルパンチ ／さくひま＊ひまさく
M5 ない・ない・ナイアガラ！ ／杉浦綾乃
M6 あいのDelusion ／池田千歳
M7 女と女のゆりゲーム ／あかり＆ちなつ
M8 Eかげん☆YUIかげん ／船見結衣
M9 はしゃいでみたり悩んでみたり恋する乙女はゆるゆり ／歳納京子
M11 あのねっ！／ 吉川ちなつ
M12 しあわせギフト ／赤座あかり
M13 パジャマ旅行 ／京子＆結衣
M14 きらいっぱい×すきいっぱい ／大室櫻子
M15 それは恋ではないですの？ ／古谷向日葵
EX1 つんつんバラード ／船見結衣
EX2 網走慕情 ／吉川ちなつ
EX3 サンタがやってくる ／赤座あかり
EX4 地獄の底へもついていく ／歳納京子
M16 ガールズパワーで ／結衣＆ちなつ
M17 Miracle Duet ／ 京子＆綾乃
M18 ウチとわたしを芯まで漬け込んで ／千歳＆千鶴
M20 え～る♪ ／ごらく部＆生徒会＆ミラクるん＆千鶴
M21 みんなだいすきのうた（ピアノ弾き語り） ／赤座あかり
M22 MY SWEET MEMORY ／七森中☆ごらく部
M23 100％ちゅ～学生 ／七森中☆ごらく部
EN1 マイペースでいきましょう ／ごらく部＆生徒会＆ミラクるん＆千鶴
EN2 ゆりゆららららゆるゆり大事件 ／ごらく部＆生徒会＆ミラクるん＆千鶴
Goods for the day:
January 28, 2013
Open call for YuruYuri Live Event 3 Nanamorichuu Festival
Gonna repost the same offer I just made on twitter. So Yuruyuri Live Event #3 Nanamorichuu Festival is coming up next month.
Due to various circumstances, my various YRYR ota friends couldn't make it so I've got 1 extra ticket. And it's been surprisingly hard to get rid of that extra ticket.
I got these through legitimate means by winning the BluRay promotional lottery and bought them at retail price. In the worst case scenario, I'll just eat the cost because both tickets combined are still way cheaper than if I even bought a single ticket on auctions (which goes for close to 40k yen for a similar seat). Or I'll probably try to auction it off when it gets too close to showtime.
However, I'd much rather have them used by another fan who can enjoy the live. If you are in need of a ticket, write me via comments here, twitter, or email. No price markup if you buy it from me this way.
Location: Pacifico Yokohama
Date: February 24th, 18:00 (doors open 17:00)
Seat: 1st floor, 19th row, center
Cost: 7605 yen (7000 ticket + 605 fees)
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.
January 9, 2013
Delicious, part 2
Yukachin: Let's try doing some call and response spots from Recital. I'll start from saying "Rum Raisin" as Kyoko, and you say "umee"
Yukachin: Ok I'm starting. Rum Raisin...
Yukachin: Aamu, Baumkuchen
Yukachin: Aamu, Mimori-san
Yukachin: Hey please say "Umee!" One more time...
Yukachin: Aamu, Mimori-san
Staff: (hesitantly) Umee!
Yukachin: Akari's hairbuns
Staff: (both enthusiastically) UMEEEEE!
Yukachin: Thank you
December 21, 2012
Last but not least, I'll round off my Gorakubu cast coverage with Tsuda Minami.
Described as the "Mother of Gorakubu," Minami is the kind of hardworking responsible girl who was trained from childhood to be in show business. When she was only 10 years old she enrolled in a local choir group and began studying singing and acting. With experience ranging from musicals to live action to anime, a reasonably strong singing voice, and conventional good looks, she is probably the most versatile member of the group, and the one least likely of the four to be pigeonholed in the anime seiyuu industry. Tsudachan loves acting in general and one can easily picture her doing commercials, movie dubs, theater, TV dramas. Unfortunately, her mainstreamish charm is also a liability among the quirk-obsessed seiyuu fans who love their 2.5D oddities. As the most "normal" Gorakubu member, her wikipedia page is a bit lacking compared to the rather lengthy entries on the absurdly dojikko Mikashii, devilishly azatoi Rumirumi, and slightly bonkers Yukachin.
But no less than the others, Tsuda Minami has a lot of passion for her seiyuu work. Ever since she was young she knew she wanted to work in the voice industry. In YuruYuri, she plays Funami Yui so well she basically DISAPPEARS into the role. This is a person dedicated to her role enough that she cuts her hair to match the character image of whatever role she has. And while she likes to describe herself as boyish, those who have watched her live or at events know it's a humble statement and she can channel her girly side just as well.
As a child, Minami was part of her school's chorus club through every year. She functioned primarily in the role of mezzo-soprano, but there were also times when she also sang soprano and even helped sing the boy's sections when their dwindling male membership left them short of deeper voices. Her grades at the time were said to be excellent. As mentioned earlier, she also received private training and was part of a local chorus run by musical actress Itou Eri. Through her connections, they would record things like backing vocals for musicals and it was around this time Minami became pretty interested in voice work. She thought about how fun it was to do recording and thought about following in her mentor Eri's footsteps.
From the start, Minami never specifically had the role of anime seiyuu in mind but a few things did eventually nudge her in that direction. For example, at age 8 she remembers enjoying watching Sailor Moon and Pokemon and admiring the voices done there. Another fond memory as a child was when she made a deal with her older sister who originally wanted to be an animator. "When I make my anime, I want you to be the voice" she was told. Her sister eventually chose a different career path, but Minami kept working at her seiyuu ambitions. Once she turned 18, Eri introduced her to Tomizawa Michie (seiyuu for Sailor Mars) with whom she consulted about her career plans. Michie recommended that she enroll in Aoni's professional training program. She followed that advice after high school and began commuting to classes from her home in Kanagawa. The training lasted just one year, but the transition to working was smooth.
Immediately after graduation, she landed a spot in Aoni Production's junior division. Her first ever (uncredited) job was to provide stock voice notifications for cell phones. But a month after joining Aoni, she got a little PR push as a debutante at a series of Newbie Seiyuu chat events. With her previous acting training, she also landed her first musical role, playing a kunoichi "Shige" in the musical production Nintamarantarou. Minami happened to be a BIG theater fan who follows various productions and collects ticket stubs so it was especially exciting for her.
After her 20th birthday and coming of age ceremony, she continued to study and practice her craft and also started changing some habits. She started dieting to improve her image, learning how to be more photogenic (you can actually see the photo improvement on her blog over the years), and when she watched western movies, she attended dubbed showings instead to study the voice acting. The photo practice came in handy when she was called on to participate in a photoshoot for the infamous BiseiTokei smartphone app (but she also suffered some embarrassment there when her skirt flipped up in the middle of a shoot).
At 21 she finally landed her big role in Fractale, and finally followed up with another lead role in YuruYuri. At the time, she wasn't aware of just how big it was going to become. During the auditions, she said they were never even told they would be wearing offical school uniforms. Once she landed the role they suddenly told her they'd not only be voicing for the anime, but also dressing up as the characters to shoot PVs, singing the opening and endings, and doing events across the country.
Describing her YuruYuri character, she says Yui and her are very similar - almost eerily so that even her own family and friends will draw the comparisons. They are both frank with their choice of words, both give an adult-like vibe (like Mikashii, Minami also has a driver's license), both get lonely easily, and both enjoy RPG video games. In Minami's case, the game stuff is not just lip service. She has demonstrated her RPG street cred several times, and she especially enjoys Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest titles. Her taste for fantasy extends to books/movies as well, and she has described Harry Potter as among her favorite series. Despite being an indoor person like that, Minami is a little bit claustrophobic and doesn't like enclosed spaces without windows. Whenever possible, she'll always take the stairs instead of elevators (tip for stalkers, wait at the stairs!)
She takes on a somewhat mature role and functions as a kind of glue that holds the members together. For example she's the one who started the whole UNO boom among YuruYuri seiyuu which as since spread to Milky Holmes cast. Her theater experience also comes in handy as she teaches the members about body language (on the PV making-of bonuses, she can be seen trying to demonstrate proper doyagao and posing). According to Mikashii, Minami has a very strong empathy skills where she will just naturally get on the same wavelength as anyone she talks to. She is most close with Okubo Rumi though. They are the same age, coincidentally buy the same foods, and similar interests. In praise of their high synchronization, Okubo Rumi has called Minami her wife (now husband) several times. In some ways you could call her an emotional empath. Minami herself says she has somehow gotten more sensitive since highschool and even cries a lot more at movies than she used to.
Since Yui and Kyoko are often alone in scenes together, Minami also spent a lot of quality alone time with Otsubo Yuka during afureco sessions. Yukachin has described Tsuda as someone who always calms her down when she's nervious and rubs her head when she is worried. As food lovers, they've shared in some some mischief through their mutual love of snacks. There were times when they'd finish off a whole bag of food meant for the cast, then plotted to hide the empty packaging so the rest of the members wouldn't find out later that their share was eaten too.
Minami can cook a little, and supposedly makes a nice omlette rice (though she denies this and says the ketchup helps disguise her incompetence). She is not picky about foods and enjoys almost everything, including bitter or spicy things. Probably the only foods she doesn't really like are paprika and sweet bean paste. It's much harder for her to name foods she likes, because there are so many, but the two meals she eats the most are likely pasta and yakiniku (her favorite is salty beef tongue). Actually, all Gorakubu members eat a lot of yakiniku. Mikashii once noted that whenever the whole group goes out for food, they wind up at a yakiniku joint 80% of the time. One person on nico said Tsuda used to work part time at a Yakiniku restaurant, but this is unconfirmed.
Minami's signature greeting involves spreading her arms out in a T and exlaiming "Ya-T!" (a shortening of "Yatta, T!") Why T? This comes from a broadcast of DJ TSUDA no COUNTDOWN early in the year. During these broadcasts, Minami would write one katakana on paper at set intervals. Viewers who watched the entire broadcast could then piece together the katakana to form the secret word to redeem for a prize. However, right at the beginning of the show, Minami wrote the first character イ hastily, and it wound up looking like "T" instead. Immediately she realized her mistake and started saying "oh yeah, don't make a mistake. That's I, not T" but by this point commenters already sensed the trends and began replacing I with T in all subsequent scrolling comments while a visibly embarassed and giggling Tsudanyan watched helplessly on screen. This also is how the secret word for the broadcast "イケメン" (Ikemen) turned into "Tケメン" (Tkemen). Eventually liking the ring of it, Minami decided to embrace her I to T mistake, also earning her the "Tkemen" nickname in the process.
Speaking of nicknames, it's been a question among fans for quite some time as to which nickname is dominant. Unlike Mikashii, Yukachin, and Rumirumi, who have a "primary" nickname (though each they all have situational and program specific sub-nicknames), the jury is still out on Tsuda Minami. Aside from TKEMEN, she's been called Tsudanyan, Tsudachan, Tsudamin, Tsudacchi, DJ TSUDA, Tsudealer (because of the UNO tournament), DJ MANGOOnyan, Tsuu, and so many other variations that it's become a running joke. Most recently, the weirder names have been weeded out and we seem to be (MAYBE) arriving at Tsudanyan, Tsudachan, or DJ TSUDA consensus. Though Tkemen persists in written form as a way to refer to her online, as it is too good to discard even if doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. She personally thinks DJ TSUDA sounds the coolest, but it only fits within a certain context so it doesn't get much use.
As for future activities, Tsuda Minami hopes to act someone cheerful like Kyoko, do a dubbing role for a western action movie, and release a song album, but no matter what, she says she wants to stay in this line of work for life.