July 21, 2014

THE PLAN Summer 2014


Plane tickets are booked. All that's left is winning tickets.

8/23 - 14:00 Arrive Narita.

8/23 - 18:30 SmileY inc. Talk & Live Event at TSUTAYA O-nest - pending lottery.

See Yukachin Ootsubo Shachou.

8/24 - 19:30 Akuma no Riddle Talk & Live Event at Hitotsubashi Hall - pending lottery.

See Nunu, Yukachin again, Azumin. I never even watched Riddle.

8/25 - TBD

8/26 - 18:30 Kagurazaka Yuka First Concert at Nakano Sunplaza - Pending general sales.

8/27 - 14:30 Kagurazaka Yuka First Concert at Nakano Sunplaza - Ticket secured.

8/27 - 18:30 Kagurazaka Yuka First Concert at Nakano Sunplaza - Pending general sales.

Totally-Not-80s-Yukarin.

8/28 - TBD

8/29 - 16:00 Animelo Summer Live 2014 - Ticket secured.

Ayachi, WUG, Minorin, fripSide, JAMPro, Altima, etc.

8/30 - 11:50 Hapimelo Ebisu tr 2 - Ticket secured.

Ayase Rie = ave;new's Shirasawa Rie. May skip if Anisama outdoor stage is good.

8/30 - 16:00 Animelo Summer Live 2014 - Ticket secured.

IDOLM@STER 765, ML, and CG. angela, Hocchan.

8/31 - 12:00 Amamiya Sora Skyreach Event - Pending lottery.

10ch. May skip if Anisama outdoor stage is good.

8/31 - 16:00 Animelo Summer Live 2014 - Pending lottery.

See "Real" Yukarin this time.

9/1 - 17:00 Leave Narita, go home

Pretty easy compared to some of my past trips, and relatively less DD with a tight focus around Yukarin, Baum, and Nunu.

Posted by Paranda at 5:59 PM | Comments (2)

June 10, 2014

Ootsubo Yuka, redux



Happy Birthday Yukachin!!!

Two years ago, I did a mini bio on Yukachin when I was still just following her with blossoming interest. At the time, the "rookie" had just completed her wildy successful debut role in YuruYuri and was in the midst of a solid industry push backed by the winds of executive confidence.

Soon after, she skyrocketed to my Big 4 (Yukarin, Shaori, Nunu, Yukachin). I went to her lives 6 times, listened/watched broadcasts, sent mail, bought CDs, and shook her hand at a release event. As today is her 21st birthday, I think the timing is good to review just how far she's come.

To list a few accomplishments:


  • In early 2013 was chosen by Seiyuu GrandPrix editors as one of the most notable seiyuu under 20

  • She went on to star as a key character in several high visibility projects (Vivid Red, KanColle, 575)

  • She performed in the famous Animelo Summer Live on 3 different days, and is likely to appear again this year.

  • She won a Seiyuu Award as part of the HaiyoritaiG unit for Best Song

  • She released 2 photobooks, with more planned

  • She appeared as a headliner several times for other magazines such as Seiyuu Paradise

  • She joined the Idolmaster Cinderella Girls franchise (where her character sold an impressive 30,000+ CDs)

  • She debuted in her own Early Wing agency's idol group Twinkle Girls Ailes where she effectively as the center

  • She IS the center of WUG's rival idol group I-1 Club

  • She hosts several weekly and monthly web programs including her own solo program which is approaching its two-year anniversary

  • She launched a music duo "smileY inc" under DIVE II entertainment with Vocaloid Producer Yuuyu (Outbreak Company ED), which will be in charge of performing the Ending Theme to Hanayamata. Their company twitter account @smileYinc_PR went public today.

Not everything went perfectly. After landing a leading role in the major Aniplex property Vividred Operation, she received a lukewarm reception for her performance as Wakaba. Her momentum stalled, and fans had to quickly readjust their expectations. It seemed that she couldn't quite reproduce the Toshino Kyoko magic for other characters - in various forums you'll see the often repeated sentiment "I only like her for Kyoko but her other roles are lacking." There was also various speculation about how she got the Tamao role in the popular Nyaruko anime as there were apparently casting shenanigans involving specific requests by the creator.

Despite this setback, she kept a secure foothold in the industry through her fantastic complementary skills - mainly, her ability to improvise during live situations, skills to keep conversations flowing, a strong hardworking aura, and infinite goodwill from staff and fans through her highly agreeable personality. Instead of being depushed, she maintained decent visibility as she redistributed her work to radio and events which she she's good at, and continued to gain experience and improve on her weaknesses. For a short while, it seemed like she was getting nothing but sketchy roles, but it seems she's ready for prime time and is now re-emerging in relatively high prestige titles once again.

With several big roles this year, and what seems to be a major PR push for her and her duo unit in Hanayamata, the future is looking brighter than ever.

As her strength is still talk, I recommend the following three titles which I still keep up with regularly:

Tubonjour
As a testament to her drawing power, Yukachin was tapped by GA Bunko to host her own monthly hour-long solo program titled Tubonjour. The show's format usually opens with her sampling this month's baumkuchen and tea combination, going through various fan-mail corners (futsuota, nayamisoudan, etc), followed by a publicity bit for GA's light novel properties, some kind of challenge, and ends with an omake. Guests are typically fellow seiyuu from related anime tie-ins, such as Akasaki Chinatsu, Asumi Kana, Matsuki Miyu, and Kayano Ai. Among non-seiyuu , Aniplex's producer Oota Kyouko aka. Oota-san aka. Kyon is also a frequent guest. They frequently cross-promote with Asumin's potato chips show. Notably, instead of traditional email, fans submit things to the show entirely through tweeting messages to @Tubonjour. Tsubonjour is one of the few shows where I've been lucky enough to get a tweet read on air.

YuruYuri
YRYR is a major chunk of her work despite the last real season of the anime having ended two years ago. Yukachin continues to co-host the weekly "Yurarararayuruyuri Housoushitsu" with other Gorakubu cast members, releasing "countdown" radio CDs at regular intervals, doing public recording sessions, and other events, including one this month. An OVA is also in the works.

Hamiraji
Up until it was neutered into a "audio only" version last month, Hamiraji used to be one of the best places to catch a weekly dose of Ootsubo Yuka messing around with her friend Yamamoto Nozomi and senpai Arakawa Miho. Each episode had an amusing drama at the beginning of each episode which can get quite lengthy, and was filled with tons of adlib corners where they attempt to give advice to their listeners.

Posted by Paranda at 2:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2014

Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2014 Spring *Fruits Fruits Cherry*



On 2/15 and 2/16, I attended both days of Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2014 Spring *Fruits Fruits Cherry* at Saitama Super Arena. It marks the second time Yukarin has performed there in a solo capacity, the first being Cute'n Cute'n Heart last year, which I also attended. Betraying any hints of "Spring", the venue was blanketed in an uncomfortably wet layer of slush: remnants of the heaviest snow in Tokyo in over a decade.

With me were tourists to Yukari Kingdom:
Day 1: Omo, Moy, and Kyosuke hailing from the USA (all first timers).
Day 2: mandi from USA/Japan (veteran with war gear), and Ivan from Indonesia (first time).

This live report will focus on Day 1, although I might do a separate follow up post on Day 2 with MCs if I can summon the effort after I write about Non Non Biyori and IM@S events. Be warned, everything below contains SPOILERS about the set list.

On day 1, we arrived at 9AM and encountered a moderate group of about 150 Oukokumin queued for concert goods. Despite the weather, they were undeterred, having braved through similar hazards in the past. Fitting the event name, the theme of goods this time was "Cherry" and many items prominently featured the pink rabbit which can be viewed at the official website. Goods this time were moved to a side area of SSA instead of the main arena last year.

In a separate line near the ticket gates, fans could try their luck playing gachagacha for trinkets, and also draw random collectible photos. The photos at public events are a relatively new development, but with 40 in all, it helped spur some networking between fans due to the necessity for trading if one wished to collect every picture.

Next to that was the fanclub booth, collecting new member applications. Sadly, the nearly decades long tradition of stamping the Yukari Kingdom FC passport with an "entry stamp" had been discontinued, with the final stamp being issued at the FC event last December. And I was just 2 pages away from filling my entire thing too! :(

By 11:30 AM, we were done with both queues and moved to a nearby family restaurant to get lunch with a group of local fans met last year at Anisama. For day 1, we conveniently had an IDOLM@STER related event in Saitama as well where I saw my current #2, Numakura Manami from extremely close range, as well as Watanabe Yui and some other Million Live cast members. Mostly I was just ogling Nunu but retroactively I'm glad I saw Yuiton as well. You can read more details about that at the 059pro blog.

At 4PM we were hurriedly running back to SSA to take our seats.

Inside the arena, we saw various flower stands, including the familiar artwork from Yukarin's friend and illustrator, Nishimata Aoi. Her submissions are now a regular sight at Yukari's concerts.


Nishimata Aoi's Yukari x Yukatan flower display

The inner arena layout was pretty similar to CCH. There was one large multi-level front stage with staircase connecting upper and main floor. The main floor fully extended left and right to the audience. There were two separate smaller square islands, located at the middle and back of the arena, and connected by a movable bridge pulled by four staffers who could ferry Yukari between these 3 separate stages. Video was one large projected screen at the top of the staircase, two mid-size projected screens at either end of the main floor, and then two mounted screens on opposite corners of the arena. In most cases, all screens showed the exact same footage so it was just a matter of looking wherever was easiest for your neck.

A bit past 6PM, the main lights went dark and all five video screens around the arena started playing the opening video. The audience stands lit up with the pink glow of nearly 20,000 penlights, now waving in synch with the opening melody. Same as last year, the opener featured a melancholic fairytale-style story starring a fantasy version of Princess Yukari.

Video 1 - In the story, the princess wonders aloud to her stuffed rabbit doll about what it's like to fall in love as she has never experienced it before, and is startled when the doll comes to life and offers to show her. But, by request of the princess herself not to spoil the story, I won't write much about it. As she starts on her journey, the video ends and signals the start of the live.

1. 純愛レッスン / Junai Lesson - Yukarin appears in the center of a row of dancers, and looking amazingly cute as usual. Ribbons, light yellow top, short skirt with very fluffy support, and low ankle shoes. The song was the perfect opener: a poppy upbeat new song from the latest album that has never been done live before, but also immediately familiar in style as Classic Yukarin. Much of the concert video theme could be said to have been inspired by this one song, with many of its scenes being literal interpretations of some of the lyrics in this song (a lonely person reading about love lessons from a book).

2. 恋のタイムマシン / Koi no Time Machine - Second song switched gears back from new material to the battle-tested favorite, "Koi no Time Machine." It is filled with customized fan chants, "Yukarin" calls, and is gloriously fun to participate in. Up there with Chelsea Girl in my opinion as one of the greats as far as live songs go.


FFC 2014 Fan Callbook

3. 100 CARAT HEART - Another old favorite, coupled with a quick dancer assisted costume change on stage. Yukarin showed her stamina by leading us through a ridiculous amount of sustained jumping through "HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!" as well as tons of mid-verse "HEY" jumps. How's that for the first 3 songs? Moving on to MC, the highlights that I can remember:

MC

"Welcome to LOVE LIVE 2014 Spring *Fruits Fruits Cherry* I'm glad you were able to make it here despite the snow."

Audience all laughed when she emphasized the Love Live part of the name.

"To those who couldn't come, let's go all out for their sake too."
"Actually my family was supposed to be attending today but they're delayed. Their plane was supposed to be leaving from Fukuoka at noon, but it seems they still haven't made it here yet."

"By the way, speaking of Love Livers, shouldn't everyone here be considered the original Love Livers? I was using that term first!"
"Last week I was actually feeling sorry for the Love Livers. It was also heavy snow last week right? I didn't even want to go to work, but there they were suffering."
"I was pitying them, except I didn't think my own event would turn out the same way! I wonder if this is karma?"

The audience starts mass cheering when camera switches to any sexy angles of her legs

"Eh? What are you cheering about? Oh...it's YOU"

Yukari points at the cameraman, then purposely sits down and re-positions herself to make a more sexy leg pose. This causes the audience to cheer again, and some guy yells "I CAN SEE IT"

"You definitely can't see anything! This is like how I do my photoshoots."

"So where's everyone from? Who's from Japan!?"
*Audience cheers*
"Ok who's from Europe!?"
*Not much response*
"That's far I guess. People from Eurasia?"
*None*
"Huh, don't people live in Eurasia right? I'm sorry, I'm not so smart, so I only know Japan"
"People from America"
ME ME ME ME!

Sorry, that last part was just a fantasy. Discouraged by the low responses from Europe/Eurasia she didn't ask America and just moved on to specific Japanese islands, with small pockets of the audience responding for each one.

Later, a Japanese fan said I should have just yelled America anyway. Oh well.

"Lastly, people from Yukari Kingdom!"
*Entire audience cheers*
"Yukari Kingdom? Huh, where's that? Are you people feeling OK?"


Chocola and Yukarichan. In hindsight I should have brought my Cherry puppet

4. Cutie Cutie - Woah, a TRUE CLASSIC song. I felt a huge wave of nostalgia washing over me - and sheer happiness that I would get THIS song. It hasn't been done in ages, even though there's an entire live tour named after it! Actually Cutie Cutie Concert 2005 is the first Yukarin live that I ever watched on DVD, and was half-responsible for pushing me down the path of being Oukokumin in the first place. All of Yukarin's dance moves were exactly the same as I remembered from years ago, and I could instantly mirror all the hand motions and knew all the call timings. The A/B melody has one of the cutest 2-step parts ever. Similar to what I described with "Honey Moon" when I went to "Fall in Love" tour in 2012, the song was old enough that the audience forgot the old calls and basically reinvented a new call pattern with more modern timings. I didn't care about them though, I went full on with the old moveset, recalling my training from hundreds of hours of watching Cutie Cutie Concert and Pinkle Twinkle Milky Way DVDs back in the day. I never would have thought I'd get the chance to actually use it.

5. Moonlight Secret - Next song was again from the new album. It was pretty normal and had standard audience interaction, but provided a bit of rest needed from me flipping out over Cutie Cutie.

6.アジュールの実 / Angel no Jitsu - Last song of the set. Nice dance moves - very idol-ppoi, which made the chorus pretty fun to copy.

Video 2 - Second video of the night, and a direct continuation of the first. Yukarin travels through various fantastical lands on her quest. Again, no real details will be given because SPOILERS GAG ORDER, but there's a scene where she says "LESSON...WAN" in the most adorable way ever. Also a dude got kneed by Yukarin in the gut (I wish it was me).

7.ひとりあやとり / Hitori Ayatori - After the video, Yukarin returned to the stage in a large pink ballroom dress. While singing, she gradually made her way onto the movable bridge where she got pulled by staffers to the center stage. Once she was at the center, handle bars rose up from base to form a protective U shape railing. When she stepped into it, the center of the base telescoped upward into a very tall tower until she was nearly eye level with the LV300 seats. Like at least 3x as high as Makuhari during DMC a few years ago. This kind of elevated song is standard in Yukarin lives so she can give some service to her fans on the upper floors, but at this height they usually do it with a hanging cage in the past. The platform version was far more risky, but she once joked about jumping off the cage during a niconama event so maybe she's a thrill seeker. The title of this song (solo cat's cradel) also inspired some scenes in the story video.

After coming back down, she did 2nd MC from center stage to let the band set up in the back for upcoming acoustic corner.

MC
There was some brief opening where she tries to get people to sit, but a lot of guys in the arena keeps standing anyway, so she employed a tactic to make them sit.

"So how many girls are in the arena today?"
*some high pitched screaming*
"Actually everyone sit. Now, girls stand up so I can see you"

The audience sits, and a sizeable amount of audience stands up. Yukarin does have a lot of female fans

"Wow there are a lot! Ok sit down."

Everyone sits down

"Now...well I don't care about guys, so let's just move on."

All guys in arena start screaming bloody murder. But at least it seems she got everyone sitting down.

"I-it's not like I'm trying to do yuri appeal or anything"

"So is everyone watching Olympics? I'm not, but I heard this just now that we got a Gold Medal today! But Olympics airs...very late at night. Isn't that overlapping with anime? Late night is the time for shady anime. Who won that gold medal...Hanyu?"
In Rika's voice: "I wonder if Hanyu likes cream puffs?" <- Higurashi reference

Yukarin makes it back to the front stage, while doing exaggerated "GOOOOO!!!" poses to her struggling staffers who are pushing VERY hard to bring her back.
"Wow this is a convenient system."
She stepped on her own skirt while going back and tripped.

"I wonder if my parents have come yet. Oh, they have! Make a big circle with lights so I can see you"

The family does as they're told and once fans spot it, they all start yelling otousan, okaasan to them.

"Stop that. He's not YOUR dad. He's Yukarin's dad. And don't call my mom Shouko"

Since Yukarin just gave away her own mother's name, fans start yelling "Shouko-chan!!!" in the idol call style.

"Those are my parents! If you wanna yell for someone, you can go yell for my little brother Yuuki"

Fans start yelling Yuuki, but surprisingly he actually responds and hold up double-penlights and does a T-kemen pose, which makes the spotlight go to him and the fans start chanting for Yuuki even more. This proved too much for Yuuki so he ran from the spotlight to crouch down and hide behind Yukaripapa.


Apple-flavored Ningyoyaki from the event

8. Papillon - Next was acoustic corner, my favorite, and I'm very glad she chose Papillon, as it's probably one of my favorite ballads from recent memory. Maybe because I go to SSA so many times now that I got used to it but the sound quality was actually pretty good. For SSA at least. As usual, I never wave penlights during Acoustic corner because I only listen to the song carefully.

9.フルーツ / Fruits - A bit surprised by this choice since she already did Fruits during Fall in Love tour last year. She usually doesn't repeat songs that frequently for acoustic corner. However, fruits is a great song so I don't have any complaints.

Video 3 - After acoustic corner, the third video played. This was a direct continuation of the plot of the first two videos so far, and has a shady character in it.

10.LUNATICA MARE - After the acoustic ballad corner, it was time for the "cool" corner. Yukarin reappeared at the top of the stairs in this awesome red silk outfit - the most unique costume of the whole event. The whole set got a bit of a middle-eastern feel to it, and featured a fan dance that was heavily integrated with her dancers' movements. It also brought back fond memories of being stuck with Yukari in the Sahara from last year's "Virtual Date" video. This ended up being the second most interesting new song of the entire night.

11.ナルシスが嘘をつく / Narcissus ga uso wo tsuku - I know this song very well since it's currently used to end Yukarin's "Itazura Kurousagi" radio show every week. It's a solid number into her jazzy repetoire.

12.Passion Error - Continuing the Yukari "oneechan" theme, this is another one of those serious songs on the new album. The camera spent a lot of time watching Masanyan shred on his bass (Yukarin gets into a little feud with Masanyan but I'll get into that in a future post if I write Day 2)

Yukarin left the stage for a short break and costume change while the live band held down the fort with some jamming. When she returned, she had a puffy pink miniskirt and bare shoulder top signalling the return to her cute side.

13.PINK AQUARIUM - I didn't care much about this song when I was just listening to it on the album, but after seeing it live, I love love LOVE this song and the dance that came with it. When she sings the line "手をつないでよ ピンクのAQUARIUM," she and all the dancers join hands and walk up the stage to do this cute little hop and it looks so damn good! I half expected Oukokumin to mirror that as part of the cheering. Overall it was a fantastic number that must be seen on stage before being fully appreciated. This takes the top spot as my favorite new song that was performed at the live.

14.Tiny Rainbow - aka Arm Death. Don't let the sweet melody and cute voice fool you, pretty much the whole song is Yukarin torturing the audience with the NEVER-ENDING wiper. And since we love the song we'll do it and put the maximum effort into waving left and right no matter the pain!

15 MERRY MERRY MERRY MENU...ね! - What I call the rings song, because every time it plays, Yukarin brings out rings and throws them to the dancers. A high paced, happy, energetic song that has an advanced and tiresome jump pattern that I enjoy very much. Unlike most "HEY" parts where you do a regular jump, it's not unusual to see full power leaps on MMMMN, with some fans getting serious height. After the song, I was burning up from the energy expended.

Video 4 - This gave us a much needed break. But it wasn't related to the story from the previous videos. Instead it was something else entirely. By Yukari-hime's orders, I won't say anything about it except that it involves adult circumstances.

16.秘密の扉から会いにきて / Himitsu no tobira kara ai ni kite - At last the Nourin OP song, and the one that most average people in the audience were probably waiting for - that is, if there were any average people in the audience. Dance was pretty normal though. Personally I think Yukarin should just run around the entire arena for the whole song and sing while jogging, but I guess shouldn't ask something that unreasonable out of a 17 year old. Excitement was pretty high though, especially during the chorus when streamers shot out into the audience and everyone cheered. Since I was sitting in LV200 this is the first tour ever that I failed to get an event streamer. They usually have her own drawings printed on them.

MC
Yukarin may have performed her latest single still hot off the presses, but the MC was naturally about...that video.

"Nobody say a word about this. No matter how many times this gets shown, I want everyone to see it like it's still fresh."
"I know some people read spoilers on the setlist, but I want them to get to 'G------' and be like...huh what's G------?"
"But it seems everyone doesn't really care what I say and just selectively choose to listen to what I say.
"They treat it like some kind of joke, like 'Oh even if she says don't write it, whatever, she doesn't mean it.'"
"Horie-san's fans listen to her when she says not to write something. I wonder if our own Yukari Kingdom is a lower class of people?"
-> Oh snap, is it's a challenge!

A few days later Yukarin's own staff even issued a warning on their twitter to be on the lookout for spoilers.

Changing topics, next, Yukarin did some fan interaction.
"So what did you guys do yesteray?"

Audience starts screaming what they did, but she yells at them to "SHADDAP" and she'll call on them one at a time. People in the front rows started jumping and raising their hands, so she went to stage-right and asked a guy, putting major pressure on him.
The guy just says "work."

"Work?" she said in a disappointed tone. You jumped so excitedly just to say work?

She went back to the other side and called on a girl this time, who said she was watching Yukarin's lives to prepare.
"OOOOH?" She beamed, "could it be...my recently released CCH? That famous item that costs 10k yen? It's almost as if this was staged PR."

"By the way, I just worked normally yesterday. My life is pretty boring, there isn't anything fun. For what reason am I living again? Well don't worry, as long as my parents are alive, I won't die."


Live Tour Truck spotted from the second floor of SSA

17.スパークリング☆トラベラー / Sparkling Traveler - Continuing with another anime song, we got HenNeko ED which I only casually liked until I heard it live. Best parts were "Neee Darling" and the arm spinning immediately before going into the chorus.

18.LOVE ME NOW! - And at last we get to the pompom song of the night. I think I explained this in a past event report before, but the MV for this song was basically created by recruiting FC members through the official website. Everyone was told to show up in a white shirt, handed a pompom, and taught the very specific moves to do. Ever since then, the pompom and dance have been incorporated into the live events by everyone. Those who weren't there to receive a pompom spend hours of their own time and buckets of mental effort into layering strips of ribbon to make custom ones in preparation for those 4 minutes (the callbook links to instructions).

As for the dance, one peculiarity of this song is that during the chorus, there's a part where everyone grabs partners to their left and right by the waist and sways side to side in a huge daisy chain. During the SSA event last year, Yukarin actually said she would have liked to do this song but was worried that so many people would be uncomfortable doing that in a large scale venue like SSA. Instead the entire arena yelled back that they wanted to. When she asked "what about the girls, are you also OK with this? Some guy grabbing you on the waist?" The girls also yelled back that they were fine. So with those doubts put to rest, here we are this year, doing 20,000 person daisy chains. Maybe we can go for a world record like S.C. Nana Net, would be nice to see Yukari Kingdom in the Guinness book.

Video 5 - This was dedicated to introducing the dancers and band members. As a special bonus, the whole thing was hosted by 17 year old idol Kagurazaka Yuka in a blue and white school uniform. I was almost worried I we wouldn't get to see her. In one of the only times you'll ever see a sea of non-pink penlights at a Yukari concert, the entire arena immediately switched to Yuka's sky blue colors. First she introduced the fruit of the day, Saitama's "Cherry", then called out Momoiro Mates, Momoiro Mates Jr., and Momoiro Danshaku. She also gave a special shout to Jack who got to play a solo piece. After all introductions were done, Yuka called out to Yukari herself who came on stage with a new green outfit. Both of them thanked the Yukari Kingdom audience as the last "member" of their group.

19.惑星のランデブー / Hoshi no Rendezvous - Go Happy, Go Happy, Go Happy So Lets Go! This is pretty much the best song for fan calls other than FBD and You & Me, and despite being released in 2005 still makes it to the top 10 countdown lists at yearly fanclub events. Though it predates the pompoms at lives, after "LOVE ME NOW" it immediately became a pompom song due to the cheerleader-like calls and use of pompoms by the dancers. For this song, Yukarin jumped onto a small rolling platform that carted her around in a big semi-circle until she reached the rear stage. On her way, she faced outwards the entire time to give individual attention to all the audience in the non-arena seats, pumping everyone up as head cheerleader.

While on the topic of this song, due to its suitability for cheering, parts of it were appropriated for a well-known ritual in Yukari Kingdom, where everyone huddles together in a circle, puts their hands together in the center, and yells "Go Happy, Go Happy, Go Happy Yukarin." I briefly described this in my 2011 Live report, but not much about its background. It's called enjin (円陣), and is done by Yukarin and her dancers before going on stage for several years now. Yukarin once said on radio she is incredibly embarrassed while doing it and some of her dancers are too embarrassed to even say the words out loud, but fans don't have the same problem and there are always huge groups of fans in pink happi coats doing this before the start of any live.

20.Cherry kiss - Wow! It's been a while since I heard this, but I guess she can't not do a song called Cherry Kiss in an event called Fruits Fruits Cherry. Lucky me, because it's one of my favorite crowd pumping songs, and this time I didn't accidentally do the calls for candy smile (Spring Mary Rose). Since Yukarin rode the rolling cart halfway around the arena in the previous song, this song was performed entirely on the rear stage, which was great because it looks really cool when she leaps up and you also get to see the entire audience jump up with her. The song has A LOT of big jumps.

21.You & Me - Mirroring Hoshi no Rendezvous, while singing this song Yukari jumped back on the roller cart and circled the arena again back to the front stage to conclude. As usual, the crowd energy for You and Me is always immense, and by now the rap parts are so ingrained that nobody even has to think about it. After the song ended, Yukari announced it was time to wrap up with the final song.

22.Fantastic future - When this song first came out, I loved the 4 Yukari sisters MV so much that I looped it until I actually suffered burnout and got sick of the damn song. For that reason, I don't listen to this track on my phone anymore. However, the live verson is a different story, and still gets my excitement going. Since I had practice with this song at CCH and Anisama last year, I was able to follow along without any problems.

After she exited the stage, the arena did a long encore chant then got treated to the final video of the night.

Video 5 - This went back to the main story at hand regarding the Yukari's quest and wrapped things up. Whether the princess found love or not, I'll leave to the BD to show.

For the last set, Yukari came out wearing a modified version of the black tour shirt that had the sleeves cut down.

23. 恋と夢と空時計 / Koi to Yume to Sora Tokei - At last, the song I was waiting for. This is my favorite one on the new album, and also has a wonderful MV that highlights all of Yukari's best qualities. As a light song, the dance and fan calls are pretty subdued with just a few motions, and no chanting. This song also has a great bass line so hearing it live from Masanyan was pretty nice.

24. fancy baby doll - No matter how many times we yell "sekaiichi kawaii yo" it never gets old. As part of the tradition for this song, Yukarin throws rabbit dolls to the audience, but in SSA, this takes forever because she literally goes around the entire arena. It adds about 10 minutes extra to the song, and of course fans still do "Yay, Yay, Yay Yay" throughout the whole thing. Since I had a LV200 seat this time, I discounted any chance of catching dolls but it was still fun to watch the arena dive at every throw. Yukarin has also been practicing her shooting skills since last year, and successfully used the air gun to launch dolls to LV400 seats several times.

MC
"Thank you for the encore. It feels a bit lonely to end, but I've already done 24 songs even though I'm 37 years old. I wonder if I can continue."
"Yukari's been learning some popular net slang. But I can't remember sometimes if I can use certain terms. I don't know the meaning so please warn me if I'll say something bad"
"Recently I like 'Fwa.' Oh, can I say that? 'Fwa!'"

Fans start cheering her on. Feeling emboldened, her next term was the waayyy more risky AWP - Ahegao Double Peace. She teased almost doing the full thing several times which lead to chants for it.

"ARE YOU STUPID!? Uh..what I meant was...since Yukarin is 17, I have no idea what ahegao double peace means."
"Plus I'm holding a microphone so it's not possible with one hand" - Way to ruin your own credibility there.
"I've got 12 performances in this tour, I don't think I should going all out here the first day. Maybe I'll do it by Iwate's live."
"By the way that's not a guarantee. Some "adult circumstances" may occur. (ref to video #4)
"Jeez you know my own mother is watching me today. To do AWP in front of her.."

Fans start chanting Shouko

"Don't chant her. You can go chant Yuuki instead"

Fans start chanting for her brother Yuuki instead, but this time he doesn't show up. Wouldn't want to risk being forced into doing AWP in Yukari's place.

"Yuuki went on stage before once and got meron. At first I thought he had a lot of courage, but his hands were shaking. Isn't he cute?"

Sparing her family from anymore teasing, she announced it was time for the final encore song.

25. W:Wonder tale - W:Wonder tale seems to have been turned into a concert staple that has been peformed at every show since it came out, but with good reason. It's one of those fun songs that causes the audience to go crazy, but at the same time it's a powerful song in its own right just from vocals alone, especially the ending where Yukari just knocks it out of the park with those long notes. But because it's always at the end, it's kind of like SSSG in that it started to become a bit lonely to hear it, because you're reminded the event is over.

After the last song, Yukari went around the arena one last time for audience greetings. Unlike CCH though, she didn't ride the platform around the arena and did a shorter version of greetings. She still took the time to wave to every section of the arena though, and also used the telescoping platform to greet the upper levels. Each time she looked at a section of seats, that section yelled out "Yukari."

Finally, she returned to the stage and gave one last message thanking everyone for coming.

"It's been a while since I've done a tour, but it's been a very fun first day. Who's also coming tomorrow?"

About 80% of the arena cheers.

"Each of my 12 shows won't be too different, but I hope that we can enjoy travelling together. Let's all go looking for 'love'"
"Thank you so much for coming."

All the dancers and band and staff raised their hands for a last bow, before exiting off stage. Yukari stayed around to wave one last time and blow kisses into the crowd before following them out. The arena started chanting for a second encore, but got cut short when the lights came on, so they moved on to the 3-clap cheering ritual used to end each show. After more than 3 and a half hours, day 1 was concluded.

Goods purchased:

Yukari photo collection:

Thanks to everyone who attended the live with me. And also special thanks to cyun from Japan who took us to lunch and dinner with his group of oukokumin, and shin1 from A-button for supplying me with a pompom and a peek at several years of callbooks from past lives.

Posted by Paranda at 4:07 PM | Comments (3)

December 15, 2013

Seiota vs Koebuta



One word that you see pretty often in seiyuu fan threads these days is koebuta.

Koebuta, meaning "voice pig" was originally a label assigned by seiyuu fans to distance themselves from the more "undesirable" elements of their fandoms - general assholes, guys with bad manners, dudes who cut up photos and break CDs when seiyuu announce they have boyfriends, people who say creepy stuff, etc. It's a term that has been around for a while, however in recent years it has seen a lot more usage. A lot of this can be linked to the growing enmity between new-school and old-school seiyuu fans - that itself being product of the slowly building backlash over the rise of the "idol seiyuu."

Idol seiyuu fans have been around since Hayashibara Megumi and maybe even earlier, but things really came to a head in the last decade after fandom reached large enough numbers for the inevitable market forces to overcome the old-school seiyuu types.

Seiyuu ended up being divided into two factions by fan opinions. The "jitsuryoku" camp contained seiyuu with true voice ability that get casted based on their own strength. The other camp contained seiyuu tainted with various unflattering speculation: they're just idols, failed mainstream wannabes, casted from the couch (makura eigyou = pillow trade), they have a monotone voice (bouyomi), they're only popular because of the agency's monstrous PR power (gorioshi = Gorilla Push), and so on.

Within all of this bubbling resentment, the word "koebuta" ended up getting thrown around to describe fans that entered into the fandom because of the latter group. What it implies is that they like the idol aspects of seiyuu more than the voice acting.

The ones on the receiving end of the word took it in stride, and some even began calling themselves the term with pride, considering the detractors as elitist old farts. Besides there's nothing wrong with liking seiyuu for other reasons so who cares?

So what was once seen as a universally negative term used for the worst elements of the fandom now actually just describes a rather large split between fans with differing priorities.

Traditional Seiyuu fan/seiota


  • Voice acting is the main thing that matters.

  • Personal life of the seiyuu isn't that important

  • Avoids using cute nicknames, just uses names

  • Show great disdain for koebuta as "ruining the fandom"

  • Seiyuu they like: Hayami Saori, Seto Asami, Nakahara Mai, Kugimiya Rie, and most seiyuu's who can do a good boyish voice

Koebuta


  • Physical appearance is a fair game. If she's cute, they can let other things slide

  • Personality is also important. Will praise a seiyuu for being clever, funny, cool on radio or variety programs

  • If they really like the character, they'll like the seiyuu by association regardless of how their performance was (see the seiyuu hosei effect)

  • They value the hard work that goes into the non-voice parts (dance practice, talking skill, dieting, image control)

  • They use nicknames, chan, tan, etc

  • Seiyuu they like: Ootsubo Yuka, Taketatsu Ayana, Ohashi Ayaka, Ogura Yui, 80% of Love Live cast

Which type are you? I actually used to be more of former category but have shifted to the latter in recent years so I guess I'm probably 60:40 on the sei/buta ratio. The truth is there are almost no pure seiyuu entering the industry anymore, since multi-talented seiyuu are just more pragmatic for business reasons. Even "jitsuryoku" seiyuu these days have idol qualities that the traditional fans are loathe to admit.

I do get still get a kind of annoyed when some people who are almost 100% idol get pushed as seiyuu and the acting actually suffers for it (Love Live's biggest weakness is this) and my first instinct whenever I see new faces is to hate them until they prove themselves, but that's something I've learned to deal with ever since I was a pro-wrestling fan so I can live with that.

Posted by Paranda at 11:22 AM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2013

THE PLAN Winter 2014


You know the drill. This time's trip will carry an IDOLM@STER theme since I became a producer earlier this year, but I will still have some time to devote to my Yuka*ins (Tamura and Ootsubo)

Updated 2/4 to reflect new events and ticketing

2/14 - 14:00 Arrive Narita.

2/14 - 19:00 Steins;Gate Special Fan Meeting with Imai Asami at Kadokawa Cinema Shinjuku - ticket secured.

158k to see Mingosu: worth it.

2/14 - 22:00 Watch THE IDOLM@STER MOVIE if there is a showing.

2/15 - 11:15 Idolmaster Movie & Cast Greeting at MOVIX Saitama - pending lottery.

Was gonna watch the movie anyway. Now I will watch it and also meet Numakura Manami as a bonus. As a Hibiki P there can be no greater reward.

2/15 - 13:00 Imai Asami 4th Album release event at Gamers - failed lottery

Other than Chiaking, Mingosu is simply the best singer out of all the idolm@ster girls. It's not even up for debate. While this particular event may not be affiliated with the series, her label 5pb treated her well, giving her a nice array of catchy songs. If she sings Dear Darling I'll die.

But I failed the ticket lottery and there are no auctions..orz

2/15 - 14:25 Idolmaster Movie & Cast Greeting at MOVIX Saitama - pending lottery.

Watch IMAS again and meet Nunu again. Oh yeah there are some other cast too, but I tend to have tunnel-vision when it involves anybody in my top 5 seiyuu.

2/15 - 18:00 Tamura Yukari LOVE ♡ LIVE 2014 Spring *Fruits Fruits ♡ Cherry* Day 1 - Pending FC lottery.

I prefer smaller intimate lives than SSA, but if it's Yukarin I'll take what I can get. Last year's Cute & Cute & Heart was one of the best Yukari events I've ever been to. Will apply for legitimate FC lottery entry with my membership, which can request up to 4 tickets so people are welcome to join.

Update: Got tickets for 5 people plus myself, all from USA. We'll be the AMURRICA section in SSA!

2/16 - 12:00 Hamiraji DVD vol. 3 event - ticket secured.

2/16 - 14:00 Idolmaster Movie & Cast Greeting at United Cinema Toyosu - awaiting general sale

Different cast greeting with Azumin this time. But have to leave early to catch Hamiraji event.

2/16 - 14:30 Hamiraji DVD vol. 3 event - ticket secured.

I went to the DVD vol. 2 event last year where I got photos from all 3 members, it was amazing. Talked to Yukachin and Nozomi and Miho in person. Yukachin was so cute, I almost got a heart attack BEFORE I talked to her just from waiting in line. Since this is an event instead of owatashikai, it's possible they will perform Fuwari Brand New Day together as Yunomi, which seeing live would be a better gift than any possible autograph or handshake or goods could compete with.

I go to these for Baum, but this year I also have a much stronger appreciation for Nozomi thanks to more radio listening and also that blasted card collecting mobagame.

2/16 - 15:00 Milk Lariat Special Live 2 (Vol 6S) - Ticket secured. Resold.

This respected live organization names its events like apple names gadgets, but unfortunately 6S is not quite the same as an upgraded Milk Lariat 6. Arguably their best singer in the entire lineup ChouCho is noticeably gone. And who did they replace her with in the same headline position? Hitomin. LOL.

But, it's not a bad event at all, and I actually did buy tickets since Mimorin, KatoFuku, and even Nanjo (though a bit depowered without her fripside counterpart sat) are worth seeing even solo so giving it up was not easy. But given the dilution from other names, it ended up losing the edge to the recently announced Yukarin events. So now I have a spare ticket. Talk to me if you want it.

Update: Damn with the Sakura Saori and Ootsubo Yuka added, Milk Lariat's guest list was suddenly upgraded from mediocre to REALLY good. But Yukarin takes precedence. Mimorin + Nanjo I was lucky enough to see at Animax Musix Taiwan this year already. Baum I'll see twice earlier on the same day. But I'll have to suffer for my decision to sacrifice Sakura Saori, my favorite non-seiyuu singer in the world.

2/16 - 16:00 Tamura Yukari LOVE ♡ LIVE 2014 Spring *Fruits Fruits ♡ Cherry* Day 2 - Ticket secured. Wouldn't be oukokumin if I didn't go to the same even twice.

2/17 - Visit official IM@S Museum in Namco Nakano (MUSEUM IS CLOSED) THE IDOLM@STER MOVIE 2nd viewing

2/18 - 19:00 Kawano Marina Oneman Live Imperfect Blue +S - TBD. I actually wrote a thing about meeting Marina on the street in the past, so I might go to her live now to see how much she's developed.

2/19 - TBD

2/20 - TBD

2/21 -18:30 AgeAge Idol Carnival #176 at Shibuya Club Crawl - ticket secured.

A long-running chika idol event which includes Morinaga Mami. I last went to AgeAge Idol Carnival #136 back in 2012 and it was solid. Will be good physical warmup for the big IM@S event the next day.

2/22 - 17:00 THE IDOLM@STER M@STERS OF IDOL WORLD!!2014 - failed all lottery attempts. No choice but to auction

2/23 - 13:00 NonNonBiyori Web Radio NonNonDayori! Nanon public recording at JSF Science Hall - tickets go on sale 2/8.

Ayaneru, Rieshon, Asumin!!! Aside: JSF is great, the seats are super close. Also this will be the second time I see Asumin in this place. First time was at the Busou Shinki preview event.

2/23 - 17:00 THE IDOLM@STER M@STERS OF IDOL WORLD!!2014 - Ticket secured.

2/23 - 22:00 Idolmaster post-live offkai - reserved

2/24 - 17:00 Leave Narita, go home

Relatively short and only uses 6 vacation days if I do things right, leaves plenty in the tank for IM@S 9th live, and potential YuruYuri-focused trip for later in the year.

Thoughts/suggestions

Posted by Paranda at 10:57 PM | Comments (5)

August 18, 2013

Animelo Summer Live 2013 Flag Nine


I didn't actually plan to go to this until a month ago, but a few things happened with AX that caused me to take the plunge. Like my YuruYuri trip in February, this will be a quick and focused "business" trip: go in, do the events, and get out.

Here's the plan:

8/21 11:00 - Leave from Newark Airort
8/22 14:00 - Arrive at Narita Airport
8/22 18:00 - Arrive in Akiba, buy shitload of Kingblades
8/22 19:00 - Official MarvelYell Channel - Niconico Uta Studio. Required Mamipyon viewing
8/23 06:00 - Go to SSA, buy Anisama official goods (undecided)
8/23 11:00 - Anisama outdoor stage - Some Dwango newbs, plus Sanada Asami, HIMEKA, and backstage Kanda idol group
8/23 16:00 - Anisama Day 1 proper - In order of caring about: Minorin, Choucho, Milky Holmes, ray, μ's, earthmind, Cinderella Girls, Misawa Sachika, May'n, EE (everyone else)
8/24 11:00 - Anisama outdoor stage - Nagareda Project, some Dwango newbs, plus Iizuka Mayumi, some indie seiyuu units, and backstage Kanda idol group
8/24 16:00 - Anisama Day 2 proper - A good day. Gorakubu, Million Stars, fripside, angela, LiSA, Sumipe, Kurinoko, Aiurabu, Mamegu, Luna, Eir, EE
8/25 11:00 - Anisama outdoor stage - TBD
OR
8/25 11:15 - Dekashatsu Kissa 4 year anniversary event to see Mamipyon again (depending if none of the TBD interests me)
8/25 16:00 - Anisama Day 3 proper - Best day. Yukarin, HaiyoritaiG, Nana, Ayachi, Maon, petit milady, sphere, Pikasha, YuiKaori, Ogura Yui, Nanri, KitaEri, Itou Kanako, Mikakoshi, Nomizu Iori, EE
8/24 10:00 - Check out, buy imas goods
8/24 17:00 - Leave Narita Airport

Also I want to go do Yukarin karaoke at least one of the nights, but haven't decided which day yet.

It's going to be awesome. My only regret is missing Dempagumi inc. at JX

And I realize I'm already taking my next trip before I even wrote about my June one. I do have a ray concert report, I really do. And Itapara. Itapara was the best thing I did on my last trip. I just have to edit it once things stop getting in the way. Or not, since I never follow through.

Posted by Paranda at 1:14 PM | Comments (0)

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)