December 10, 2014

Cinderella Girls profiles - Side M

Move along, nothing to see here.

Posted by Paranda at 2:46 PM | Comments (9)

October 14, 2014

IM@S 9th ANNIVERSARY WE ARE M@STERPIECE - Tokyo, Day 2

I wrote this faster than I originally expected to, so here's day 2 report a bit early.

Day 2

For Day 2, I changed positions from 2nd floor and upgraded to arena B block on the right side. It was nice to get a view of the floor from the balcony the first day, which let me survey the entire audience and stage easily, but now it was time to get into arena mode and focus purely on the stage.

01. READY!! - All Members

READY!! is the kind of song I do on autopilot these days, because I know every part and every call. Not worrying about stuff like calls lets me focus on all the singers, their faces, their outfits, and so on.

For opening MCs, while Eririn managed to safely complete her intro, Harami botched her Takane line and had to redo it. She looked so embarrassed, but it's always cute seeing Nyarami mess ups.

02. Ramuneiro Seishun - Nu, Mingosu, Harami, Kugyu

I was wondering if they would switch up the group songs, but it seems it was same as day 1. Not that I'm complaining since I love Ramuneiro. I had lights prepped ahead of time with the planned 4 colors in case.

03. Taiyo no Jealousy - Eriko

Wow, First solo song and it's already a change. I liked Watashi ha idol, but this is quite nostalgic too. In fact it's one of the oldest Haruka songs out there. Just watch this video from 2004 and think about how far Eririn has come since those noob days.

04. Vault That Borderline!

When Eririn announced the second song, this was HUGE for two reasons. 1. Vault that Borderline! 2. SHE CHANGED TWO SONGS!!! Given that there's only 3 solo songs, this signaled that there was a serious possibility that today's setlist would look drastically different from day 1. This doubled our excitement and suddenly all the possibilities started running through my head.

During Vault that Borderline, Eririn took a page from Asapon's book and divided the crowd up into sections, making each one yell the song's namesake "Vault that Borderline" separately. She even made the "industry guest" section do the chant.

Similar to how staff surprised me yesterday with their enthusiasm, industry guests went full power to engage and almost everyone in that section was waving red lights and yelling. BTW Pyonkichi was in the crowd today.

05. I Want

HOLY SHIT. 3 SONGS CHANGED. Moreover, I Want! is an awesome song and one that I was hoping we'd get. I expected "Otome taishi" but since I already heard that at SSA, I'm quite happy that she expanded the range to include even this. Today's tone was definitely more rockish than idol-like for Haruka. It seems like they're trying to combine day 1 and day 2 set lists to give something like a full spectrum for each character that gives you a good idea what that idol is all about, and that means showing all different types of their songs.

06. Honey Heartbeat - Asapon

Asapon also starting off with a different song confirmed to me that we were about to get a total new live experience complementing all the stuff we had yesterday rather than repeating it. And Honey Heartbeat itself was a fantastic choice. Aside from Start Star and Do-Dai, HH is pretty much the one other major song that I wanted from Asapon. I started enjoying this song ever since Linda AI-Cue guested on Aisute to talk about it a while back, and it quickly grew on me. Yeessssss Asapon rap. On ZA BEACH~

07. Reimei Starline

The first repeated solo so far - so I guess there are still a few anchors. I don't mind though, since this is an enjoyable song. Asapon brought out her penlight and made the audience do a wave again.

The MC after the song got a bit unique today though. Following her customary water-bottle kanpai with the audience, she said she wanted to do a special gag for Tokyo. As this arena was one of the Olympics gymnasiums, she came up with a last-minute idea to recreate the famous Tokyo 2020 Olympics announcement. She had rushed to get a replica completed only yesterday. When she flipped the sign and said deadpan "TOKYO" the whole arena cheered.

"Ahhh Thank goodness the sign got finished in time."

08. Jemmy

Great Master Artist 2 track. It's one that I used to put on regular rotation on my playlist. The break in the middle was really nice as Asapon doublehanded the mic and tried to sing it really seriously, so we all did slow waving with our penlights.

09. Meisou Mind - Hiromi

One of the songs I'm glad was NOT replaced, because it's just awesome, and it's RARE. How many people can say they've heard Meisou Mind twice?

In a key moment during her MC, Hirorin picked up the prop sign that was left behind by Asapon and also did her own "Welcome to my tea party, in TOKYO" announcement. That ended up setting a trend where Asapon's TOKYO sign got reused by most of the other idols who performed after.

10. Jitensha

Super glad to get this one. As someone who got into IM@S in large part due to the anime, Jitensha is obviously my favorite Makoto song. Earlier this February, when Hirorin finally returned to the IM@S family from maternity leave, this was the song she sang to get us introduced to Makoto again - the feelings were incredible when as she yelled "tadaima" to the crowd.

The great feelings associated with that moment were strong even now, so that I still wanted to yell "Okaeri" even though she's been back for several months. The audience yelled "SUKI DAYO" and "KIRAI DAYO" parts timed with the song. I'll never yell "KIRAI DAYO" though. Don't yell things you you don't really mean!

11. Cheering Letter

Aside from being a song I definitely wanted to hear a lot, Cheering Letter is just SUCH a good way to close out her set. It basically embodies all Makoto's hopes and worries and dreams as she writes a letter to her future self. It really shows the softer side of Makoto and nicely complements the girly Omoide no Hajimari from the previous day.

12. Nandomo ieruyo - Azumin

One of the cutest Yukiho songs, and very popular with the audience. The camera felt especially dangerous today as it kept zooming in on Azumin's legs, since she's the only one who wears kneesocks as part of her OFA outfit. This song also has "AZUMIN" calls in between her lines in the A and B melo parts.

Afterward in MC, Azumin thanked everyone for the calls. "I wanted to try this, so please forgive my selfishness, but can you all yell AZUMIN again." Crowd obliged and yelled AZUMIN.

Next, Azumin showed her appreciation for Yukiho, which she called one of her most important roles. Without her she wouldn't be standing here today, so her second request was that we would also yell "Yukiho." The crowd yelled for Yukiho even louder than Azumin.

Finally, Azumin closed off her with own version of Tokyo, but she tried to make it a unique "sexy" version so she sat down on the steps and put the sign above her knees and spoke to everyone.

"Where's the number one hottest place on Earth?"

Audience: "TOKYO!!"

Azumin: "Wrong. It's 'TOKYO, where Azumin is' right?"

Audience: "FUUUUUUUU~ AZUMISAMAAAA!"

Azutoi!

13. Kosmos, Cosmos

Kosmos Cosmos went much like the first day, although it's nice to see it from an alternate angle in the arena now.

14. First Step

This is just an amazing song. I used to think I was immune to Azumin's charms, but thanks in part to watching First Step in Fuyufes, I was won over on her live performing abilities (Solo MOONY at 8th also played a big part). Especially after her MC dedicated to Yukiho, this felt like a super appropriate song since it's essentially Azumin's love letter to her character.

Similar to ALRIGHT* on day 1, this is another song that Azumin has such strong feelings for she has cried while singing it in previous lives, but today she was all smiles and confidence. Ironically, seeing the very growth and courage that the song describes in Azumin herself only makes the feelings even more heavy for the audience.

As she was singing and smiling from the top of the stairs, you could hear people in the audience sniffling from the intensity. It's enough to wrench tears even from the hardiest toughman.

After Azumin, the team assembled again for first half MC.

Lightening up the atmosphere, Hirorin talked about her puffy hairstyle and recalled that she had even bigger hair in Osaka. "I was actually paying homage to someone with that hair, how many people know who I'm talking about?" Not many people in the audience responded, prompting Hirorin to remark that this audience is giving "real responses" instead of humoring her by pretending to know.

Hey at least I have an excuse for not getting Japanese cultural references.

"Well, who are you referencing with your hair today?" "I dunno. A poodle?"

15. Day of the future - Nu, Eriko
16. 9:02pm - Harami, Pon
17. Tick Tock - Mingosu, Kugyu
18. LivE - Azumin, Hiromi

For cover corner, it was the same units and songs as day 1. I was hoping they would switch up which songs got covered by the teams, so Miki/Azusa/Yayoi/Ritsuko might get more song variety, but thinking back I guess it makes sense to repeat what they know rather than have everyone relearn new songs and dances for other characters that they normally wouldn't do. Everyone is probably already strained remembering their own huge changes the solo setlist.

19. Only My Note - All Members

Another solid only my note performance. From my location on the right today, it was hard to look at Nu all the way on the left side so I refocused on Harami. I should pat myself on the back for such a good idea, because Harami's got The Moves.

After the group song, President Takagi's image showed up to announce the secret guest. We knew Jurikichi wasn't going to be there since her speech yesterday talked about it being her real last performance of the tour, so our minds could only go to one person.

As soon as he said "our next guest is a TOP IDOL" the whole arena pretty much screamed. People started cracking UOs in preparation before the name was even revealed.

20. Acceleration - Minorin

Holy shit, this arena turned Kiramekirari level orange, and fast. Minorin showed up wearing an exact replica of Leon's live outfit, complete with wavy skirt and butterfly hairpin. As she spun around stage, I could recognize she was mirroring some of the difficult dances from OFA, including the extended arm move and gyrating hip shake seen in Burst Appeals.

Well the whole song is pretty much one long burst appeal. She lead the crowd into a frenzy of yelling and cheering that really made her seem like the super idol last-boss that her game character represented. The energy level was quite ridiculous, with plenty of people seen mass fanning UOs and rebaking in the middle of the song.

When the dust cleared, all the members came back to the stage to welcome Minorin and give her a huge group hug. Eririn acted as primary liaison, explaining to her: "At IDOLM@STER, fundamentally we use different colors, but for certain exciting songs we'll use ultra orange. Or anything to do with Mayachan. But it seems like we've gained another item to our UO list. That was amazing!"

In a miscalculation, Eririn made her sweat-stealing intentions known too early. "After such a performance, you must be sweating. Let me wipe it for you."
Minori: "I'm not really a person who sweats that much."

LMAO the look on Sensei's face. In the end Minorin did let someone wipe her sweat, but it wasn't Eririn. Sensing her creepy ulterior motives, Mingosu (or was it Azumin?) snatched away the towel from Eriko and did all the wiping in her place.

Minorin introduced her own character, showing off her outfit and pointing out with some pride how closely she matched her look in OFA. "Everyone played the game right?" The audience responds by cheering.

765 idols remarked that Leon in game was a strong character "yet such a kind person. Too nice!" Indeed, Leon is portrayed as super-competitive but also very positively compared to much more antagonistic rivals of past games like Jupiter. Then they asked Minorin if she had a favorite character.

"Ah if I had to say, I guess it would have to be...Producer."

Audience: YEEEAAAH!!!

That's Minorin for you. Top idol.

21. Machiuke Prince

Immediately after Acceleration? My UO pile is growing kind of fast today. Singing along "GO! GO! GO! GO!" is pretty fun.

My UO pile after these two songs.

22. Rebellion

Nubellion again. Good! The more I see this live the better. Yesterday I witnessed it from the 2nd floor, and today I watched much closer from the arena. Seeing Nu do that twisting wobble kick OMG. I had a slight fuckup with my red switching today though which caused me to be a half-second late - Arc Daisenko casing is much thicker than what I'm used to, so my usual opening method of snapping it in-pocket against my leg with one hand failed on the first try.

23. Shiawase no Recipe

What could be better than Overmaster? Now I know the answer to that question. LADLE NU!! AFSDFKJLDKFSHDF!!!! You know, usually I prefer cool Hibiki to cute Hibiki, but this song is just so deadly it could overturn that whole point of view.

First, there's the incredibly cute vocals from Nunu, going Shiawase no (pause) Re-shi-piiiii♪ and winking. Add on top of that a silver ladle which she holds and uses to draw a big heart every time she says that line! Add on top of that a sparkle & bloom effect and heart SFX overlaying all of this in the overhead video. THEN add even further on top of that, a part in the song where she takes the ladle, goes up to the drum stand, and starts playing the drums and wind chimes with it. AND THEN, as if that's still not enough, add one more part where the dance step in the song is literally: SHE STIRS AN IMAGINARY POT AND TASTES IT AND SMILES IN SELF SATISFACTION.

Overkill. This song is God Tier. It's the greatest thing I've seen in my life. No hyperbole, bro.

For MC, Nu kept playing with the ladle and made us all draw a heart with our hands while singing the Shiawase no Recipe line. Then she targeted the band members. She settled on the drummer, half-embarrassing him with the audience yelling KAWAII, but his reward was getting to keep Nu's ladle (DAMN YOU DRUMMER!!!)

Before moving on, the audience yelled to let her know she wasn't going to get away without doing a "TOKYO" skit. Nu obliged by singing "Shiawase no...♪ (monotone) TOKYO."

24. Hatsukoi ~Isshou Kataomoi no Sakura~

O-oh. Nu ballads. The greatest of them is Avalon, but this song is within spitting range. As is the case with Nu ballads, I immediately realized this might be the only time we'll ever hear this song. She amazingly sings them so well and then NEVER repeats them again. At least that's been the case so far. The accompanying video shows a letter that's being slowly written out line by line with the lyrics of the song.

Combined with yesterday's set list, it feels like we've seen the full range of Hibiki's songs showing all aspects of her character, from cool to cute, in rock and pop and ballad and in between. Stitch the five performances together and you basically have a demo reel to showcase how much talent Nunu keeps hidden away.

25. Kimi ha melody - Kugyu

I hadn't noticed it on Day 1, but in the middle of this song the strings section was waving Iori penlights since they weren't on instrument duty.

I actually can't remember if Kugyu did anything for TOKYO or not, because it got completely overshadowed by her doing IORI lines where she just angrily yelled at the crowd.

"What's with you people, swinging your pink rods. You HENTAI! DO-HENTAI, HENTAI TAREN."

Audience: YAAYYYYYYYYY

"Cheering for that, Are you all STUPID?"

Audience: YAAYYYYYYYYYYYY x 2!

Even better than getting called a hentai by Iori is seeing the complete gap between Kugyu the person and Iori the character. After each line, Kugyu just buried her face in the cutest way, acting like she's so ashamed of saying those lines. Come on, Kugyu, we know you secretly enjoy it.

26. Sentimental Venus

SV has one of the catchiest hooks, and sounds like it was almost specifically made for Kugyu's voice. If there was one song to use Ultra Pink for, it was this - the most amped up Iori song that I can think of. I actually saw this performed at SSA too, but only as a unit with Iori + ML girls. It has a much more different and personal feel when Kugimiya is soloing it.

27. my song

Wow, have some mood whiplash! But since I was just on the topic of SSA, this is actually the same order of songs that they did then too. No matter how many times I hear it, each time it seems to get a little better. As far as Iori songs go, this is basically Kugyu's ultimate weapon: at least two Iori Producers I know have it to blame for their conversion.

28. Princess Snow White - Harami

After being almost murdered by "sexy" Takane via KisS on Day 1, it's only appropriate to switch gears to "Cute" Takane. Her competence on two extreme scales is actually one of the most appealing things about her character, and Harami can play either end equally well.

For today's MC, Harami brought up her now-famous "Minna to Issho" painting, a Pollockian depiction of IM@S lives in her mind's eye, and remarked how it's basically being brought to life this very moment. It doesn't seem like she told staff she was gonna talk about it, because she was trying to describe it verbally then got visibly surprised when they magicked up a photo of it on screen.

It's treated like a comedy bit now, and everyone's always making fun of it like it's a terrible painting, but when I see it, I'm like "DAFUQ?? This is a GREAT painting." Trust me, put this up at a charity art auction and it'll easily get into the thousands.

Also, Harami's Tokyo: (in Osaka accent) "TOKYO, ya de?" *head tilt* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

29. Kazahana

The essential Takane image song if there ever was one. It's been seen at many lives, but this time she's making fine use of that live band.

30. Futatsu no Tsuki

Another welcome repeat from Day 1. Can't wait to get this song on CD. Since I've come back to the US, I've been leaving S4U on just for this song.

31. Fate of the World - Mingosu

Blue Symphony was a pretty active song, but this was just absolutely crazy. Once again, Mingosu went NUTS. She ran all over the stage in leaps and bounds. For me this song basically brings memories of Miki wrecking shit in the Nemurihime movie, but Mingosu can match that chaotic scene in real life. It is SUPER FUN to do. For this song, I think almost half the arena went UO, but they also kept the blue penlights up so it was a very cool dual color song. Visually, orange and blue go pretty well together.

For MC, I wondered if Mingosu was going to make us sit again but it seems like she was ready to do Aoi Tori as a normal song today. But before that, the audience demanded "TOKYO!" She refused. I have no idea what happened, but somehow this ended up leading to another mass chant asking her to abuse us. She couldn't hear what was being yelled, so she channeled Yukarin's power and told everyone to "SHUT UP!" and pointed to one person.

"YOU! Tell me what everyone is yelling!"

"Kick us!"

"Kick!?"

I don't get it either. Somebody explain to me. But who cares, she did it! Getting kicked by Mingosu, FWOOOOOOO!!!!

32. Aoi Tori (M@STER VERSION)

Full band Aoi Tori. No sitting. Without Nemurihime messing with my feels today, this song had its full effect. It's quite strong, but I was not prepared for what came next.

33. Yakusoku

Ok. This fucking song. THIS FUCKING SONG AAAAAAAH. I've heard it plenty of times before, but NEVER like this. SSA day 2 came close. It did. It followed the same formula, with Mingosu singing alone and then all the members joining in. Mingosu may or may not have teared up back then. But THIS was just something that has never happened before in the history of anything. She cried, the audience cried, everybody did - it was basically lifted straight out of the anime scene in Episode 20.

In the second half, you could already see Imai lose her composure a bit and her voice was shaking. By this time, the arena was sniffling. Then the whole cast suddenly appears and she just loses it completely. Not tearful singing, but total breakdown. The rest of the group covered for her and sang several bars while she stood there trying to recover, making several attempts to almost get a few words out, but failing and just losing herself again

At the end, Mingosu just dropped the microphone to her side and started singing without it, swaying side to side and singing with the biggest smile I've ever seen. You couldn't hear her, but it didn't matter because she was supported by all of her precious teammates who've stuck with her through all these years. The rest of the song was finished with everyone standing beside her and singing together. It was just an incredible sight, and the tears infected everyone in the arena. I don't think I'll ever see anything like this again.

It wasn't even possible to really do closing MC after this. Mingosu apologized to everyone for making the mood like this but she just couldn't help it.

So, during ending MC, Nunu started tearing up - something which I've also never seen. Kugyu pretty much lost it in her speech too. "Even though I always talk to you like this, I'm always receiving your support." Asapon! Asapon started choking up in her MC, but when the crowd yelled to her, she instantly recovered and put on a fake smile for her fans. But as soon as the spotlight left her and went to somebody else for their turn to speak, she also lost it and was sobbing in the background.

It's easier to list who didn't cry. Uh basically Harami and Azumin were in the teary but not crying state. Hirorin apologized for not crying "Sorry for breaking the trend but I can't let you see me in tears. Because I look really ugly if I do."

34. M@STERPIECE - Everyone

The last song was just...even though I already wrote about this song yesterday, I feel like I have to again because the mood created by Mingosu just changed the arena completely. I didn't even bother with a UO today because I just wanted to do open claps so that the sound of Ps could reverberate throughout the arena and let everyone know we were there. It seems like staff planned this too, because they started showing lyrics on screen which caused the whole arena to sing along. It was a decidedly different atmosphere compared to day one.

Encore featured the 3 married wives and lewd King again, doing mostly the same thing although it was really cool that they taped separate videos for both days instead of repeating footage. Obviously they couldn't know what had just happened since they were their cheerful selves, but it did help restore the mood a bit to prepare everyone for the last two songs.

35. Nijiiro Miracle

Today, I decided to do full 13 penlights for this song. Following Nijiiro, Eririn said "thank you for showing me your rainbow colors."

At the end Minorin came back to help perform the last song together with the rest of 765.

36. THE IDOLM@STER

For the last song of the day I went all out, still holding all my penlights and also burning every UO I had left. I could barely hold them straight and my hands were in pain, but the discomfort was secondary to just yelling with all my strength.

Everyone said goodbye one more time, and Minorin thanked the Producers for showing her something amazing. Finally Mingosu and Eririn did a long speech about how they've had so many memories from this series. Even though it's 9th live, they first met their characters over 12 years ago, from their birth on paper and raised them to this state. Eririn's last few words were in fact her introduction. "I'm Nakamura Eriko, my hobby and special skill is IM@S."

Each idol exited the stage in the same manner as Day 1, with Mingosu and Eririn capping off with their customary no-microphone thank you. After, a video of Takagi and BaneP appeared to announce the next February Winter event and lead everyone in a final arena-wide clap.

Closing Thoughts:

The truth is I almost didn't go to 9th live. I had been focused on saving up for 10th, but thanks to luck and other Ps encouragement and luck in winning tickets, I ended up going anyway. But now I can say with full confidence if I had missed it, I would be crying right now from regret. Instead I cried for different reasons. The greatest set list in recent memory, the strong feelings from all the singers, and the equally strong feelings shared with other Ps I've met on this trip made this almost-skipped trip turn out to be among the greatest events I've ever attended in my life.

Posted by Paranda at 2:25 AM | Comments (12)

October 12, 2014

IM@S 9th ANNIVERSARY WE ARE M@STERPIECE - Tokyo, Day 1

Last weekend, I took a 3 day trip to Japan to attend both Tokyo sessions of THE IDOLM@STER 9th ANNIVERSARY WE ARE M@STERPIECE tour. Not counting M@STERS OF IDOL WORLD in Saitama earlier this year, it was my first time attending a true 765-only IM@S event in person.

Venue

Tokyo Taiikukan is conveniently located beside Sendagaya station on the Chuo local line. Completed in 1953, the arena served as a gymnasium for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, a fact that is still proudly advertised on signage at various locations in the building. With a 3000 square meter floor and seating capacity of 10000, it's a much smaller and more intimate venue compared to SSA.

Inside, the arena floor was laid out in a grid of 4 x 6 blocks, with the performance stage set up as a long platform hugging the the east end of the arena. There was no catwalk or middle stage, but the arena felt compact enough that you could get a pretty good view even from the farthest corners. Stand seating was divided between two floors, with invited guests occupying the middle section on the north side of the 2nd floor.

Seat layout was relatively efficient. The had narrow aisles compared to SSA, but thankfully chairs on both the arena floor and stands were generously wide so it wasn't necessary to fight elbow wars with adjacent Ps. Crew & camera pit was kindly placed out of the way at the rear as to avoid blocking anybody's view.

Flower stands were placed for viewing outside the entrance on day 1, then moved to just inside on day 2 due to rain.


Goods

Good sales were held in tents outside the arena complex in a paved open space overseeing the outdoor track and field. Separate queues were organized for event goods and CDs/BDs/media, with both containing some number of hardcore Ps who began lining up since the first train. The most sought after items were the limited Tokyo-only IM@S T-shirt, track jersey, and nendoroid rubber straps and charms. These were gone within an hour of sales starting. Other popular items which sold out early on were the mesh cap, navy polo shirt, reflector bracelet, keychains, and vivid shadow shirts. Pamphlets, towels, happi, and keychains remained plentiful.

The penlights set, which was previously a very hot item at SSA, remained in stable supply this time, presumably because many Ps already had SSA lights and saw no need to upgrade, or had learned their lesson and ordered them online from AsoBit. Although largely the same product, the newer lights, distinguished from the old ones by the white handles, had some improvements in the quality of the tubing which allowed for a brighter appearance.

The CD booth's main prize was the limited event-only "We Are Masterpiece" CD containing solo remixes of We Have a Dream and Curtain Call. Rather uncharacteristically for CDs, these ran out unreasonably early due to people in line buying up to 10 copies (at 2500 yen each). Staffers handed out bonus clearfiles for every 2000 yen spent, and a tote bag for purchases above 10000 yen.

Oct 4, Day 1

My seat on Day 1 was 2nd floor north side, slightly to the left behind the "industry guest" seats. Supposedly, some CG/MLs were seated in that area, but I didn't think to check until after the fact (facepalm).

From this position, I had a clear view of the left side of the stage, and a wide view of the arena audience below.

After finding my spot, I exchanged business cards with Ps around me and chatted with a local HarukaP from Tokyo who was amused to learn there were several visitors from North America. Shortly after 5pm, the lights dimmed and we were treated to the familiar silhouette of 765 president Junichiro greeting the audience with his trademark hyperbolic praise. He was joined by BaneP and they exchanged commentary on the audience while the camera hunted for cute Produnnes or Ps who were decked out in penlights. IM@S is probably one of the few live events where going overboard on lights is a good thing.

Following the intro, BaneP explained the rules and then asked everyone to get ready.

1. READY!! - All Members

The live started off immediately with all-hands appearing on stage for READY!! The audience exploded into cheers and used a mix of penlights and UOs. Everyone was dressed in their checkered only my note outfits, which are fantastic. I saw Mingosu's and Nu's (OMG GARTER BELT) outfits up close at Anisama this year, but now I finally got to see Azumin's insane kneesock version and Kugyu's stylish custom coat-tails with open front. The squad divided into three groups to serve left, middle, and right sections, and each group rotated through each section of the stage throughout the song so everyone could get a good look.

There was a brief MC with everyone idol getting a chance to talk. Each girl's greeting was a few lines in-character, followed by the seiyuu self introduction and some appeals to the audience. The order of speaking and standing was definitely hierarchical, with the most junior members Harami and Nu standing on the outermost edges and speaking first, and most senior members Eriko and Mingosu standing in the middle and speaking last. Azumin is a bit of weird case since her idol Yukiho can be called a senior idol, so she stands in the inner circle but she herself is actually the newest member of the cast.

As expected: Eriko tongue-tied herself, Nu "HAISAI"ed the whole audience, and Harami was her hayaaaa self.

Asapon did her niichan / neechan thing, but added in an extra request to staff-san, which got a hilariously loud "YEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH" from the staff. At other lives I've been to, staff just usually doesn't yell and just does a nod even if they get called out like that.

Throughout introductions, there were many warnings from each of them that this would be one of their longest lives and repeated reminders to drink lots of water.

For intros, Hirorin deserves some special mention here. She posed a question to the audience "what side should I show to you today, cool, cute?" to which everyone yelled "CUTE." But she kept pretending she couldn't hear the calls, causing the audience to yell it repeatedly as she basked in the echoes.

I don't recall her being this aggressive in the old lives, but it seems like she's just as bold as Kami. Speaking of Kami, it's clear by now that Hiromi's nickname of Ka-chan, which could still be heard during SSA, has passed on (to Kami?) and people are back to yelling Hirorin again.

2. Ramuneiro Seishun - Mingosu, Kugyu, Harami, Nu

Even though it's October, when this song played it was as if summer never ended. The choice of these 4 team members was a nice touch, since we basically used variant shades of two colors symbolizing the summer and spring colors, as was pointed out later in an MC.

Light blue was the dominant color, matching Hibiki/Ramune, and was accented with Chihaya's blue, Harami's magenta, and Kugyu's pink. When the chorus hit, everyone synchronized wiper and it just looked like an awesome ocean of water and cherry petals.

3. START!! - Eririn

What better way than to start solo corner than with START!!? This is probably my favorite Haruka song, even more than Otome Taishi. It also has a kicking dance similar to that song which I always enjoy seeing Eririn do.

After the song, Eriko explained to us this would be the first half of solo corners, and how rare it was that they'll be singing so many solo songs in succession. It's a rather difficult test of stamina. She said wanted to take an opportunity to sing a very important song to her.

4. Watashi ha Idol ♡

Awesome choice. In the last few lives they've only used short versions of this song for medleys, so when we heard a solo full version the crowd went crazy. Eriko said later that it's the first time they've ever done the song with a live band.

That's history being made, right there! It's probably the first IM@S song I ever got hooked on - before I even became a P. When I did calls to this song I had that a very distinct feeling that this was a monumental occurrence in IM@S lives.

5. Kirameki Shinkoukei

3 good solo songs in a row certainly raised my optimism for the rest of the live. This is one of the best solo tracks from the LTP series with a super catchy chorus, and was the perfect theme to end Haruka's set. The crowd had no time to rest and was getting really pumped during the bridge.

6. Otona no Hajimari - Asapon

Asapon started out Otona no Hajimari by splitting the stage down the middle and making each section of the audience chant "GO GO LETS GO ADARUTO AHA~N, GO GO LET'S GO ADARUTO, UHUU~" in succession, followed by live viewing, and then everyone at the same time.

Yelling back those lyrics has always existed as a call, but after she lead us on like this, they were yelled with extra-strength throughout the whole song. All of the performers appeal to the camera a lot, but Asapon definitely does it the most.

7. Reimei Starline

This is a great song for Asapon to strike various poses and faces during certain parts of the song. She also whipped out her penlight magic wand and made the arena do the wave. It's quite fun and the whole thing reminds me a lot of Yukarin's meromero stick.

While the song was playing, the main video screen showed an animated rocket traveling through the stars.

During MC, Asapon made everyone get out their water bottles so she could kanpai with the audience. Then she asked us to get our towels. I don't think anyone knew we would need towels ahead of time, yet true to P form, the whole audience was prepared anyway.

8. YOU Ou MY Shin!

The first towel song in the history of IM@S? Between angela, Momoi, and various other artists, I've participated in a lot of towel songs as an eventer, but this was by far one of the best towel songs I've seen. At other events, it's usually small muffler towels; the IM@S towel on the other hand is a big white monstrosity that looks more like a fucking bath towel, so when it spins it makes huge circles that look really cool from the second floor.

The dance moves were also changed from 6th live, with Asapon now incorporating the towel into her new moves. At one point she folded it up and did a dance while it balanced on her head.

9. Meisou Mind - Hirorin

Meisou Mind continued the nostalgic trend with another awesome throwback to the early days. Makoto was unchallenged then as the coolest idol. Color discipline was mostly maintained, but this one drew out quite a few UOs from the crowd. I can't blame them.

After in MC, Hirorin reminisced about when she first performed this song over 6 years ago, and we truly felt lucky that the song was chosen again for this live. She also complained about getting a fan letter where someone said they love her talks "as a middle-aged artist."

"Oi. That's a compliment right?"

Fans started yelling that she's "kawaii" again, and she continued baiting them once again with "sorry, what was that?" As she was talking her armband kept falling off and she tried to adjust it several times, prompting "FUUUU" screams from the crowd. In the end she gave up and let it drop down to her elbow.

Hiromi also continued Asapon's idea of doing kanpai with the whole audience, and everyone yelled kawaiiyo whenever she took a sip of water.

10. tear

Another solid Makoto song that's fresh in my mind from listening to the GRE@TEST BEST albums. However, hearing it live upgrades it immensely, because there's a power required that Hirorin's voice delivers perfectly.

11. Omoide no hajimari

Super rare appearance of coupling song from READY!! Didn't think it could get better than Meisou Mind for Makoto but this song live was incredible. I guess this is what Hirorin meant when she said she'll show us her all of her sides. A smattering of UOs that flickered in during the final chorus really helped the mood too.

12. ALRIGHT* - Azumin

I'm always caught off guard from this because Azumin hides in the dark then the "YAYYYYYY" scream comes out of nowhere. I scrambled to find where my Yukiho lights went.

I've had the luck to hear this song live at SSA before, when the feels were so strong on day 2 that Azumin actually cried. She didn't shed any tears today, but thanks to the presence of the live band, we did get to see a more upbeat scene of Azumi dancing back to back with the guitar player. The crowd chanted "AZUMIN" between all the verses and also did the "woooOOOOOoooo" calls during the chorus.

During MC, Azumin also went for her water and got huge yells. "Hey are you guys not really drinking in order to save water for kanpai? Make sure you drink for real ok?"

13. Kosmos, Cosmos

This felt like a nice bridging of past and present, because while ALRIGHT is definitely Azumin's Yukiho song in the present, KosCos is probably THE Yukiho song from the Yurishii era. This song doesn't really have any calls, but there's a part where everyone chanted along to the english lyrics on screen.

14. Ano hi no namida

Holy shit, an OFA song! And this one only came out recently in the DLC storypack! From a song selection perspective it's the best possible choice with ALRIGHT and KosCos. When those songs came out, Yukiho was such a different character, but Ano hi no namida really represents her growth since then.

At the start, Yukiho is just a timid and shy girl with a debilitating fear of people, who can't get a single thing done unless Producer is there to reassure her. But thanks to constant encouragement, in the latest OFA she's finally able to take her own steps, and meet a songwriter by herself to create this personal song.

Following this, all the members came back out to close out the first half of solo corner and talk about the setlist up to that point.

Nunu had a cute moment where she said her color's now not "light blue" but "Ramune-iro," then bopped herself on the head and started spinning in place like a marble in a just-opened ramune bottle. When MC was done, they announced it was cover corner time for all the idols that couldn't come. For cover songs, they used recorded instrumentals, so the live band left the stage to take a much needed break.

15.Day of the future - Nu, Eririn

The dance for this was PERFECT. Nunu and Eririn were doing Miki's full dance, complete with side walking + arm spinners. Rather than split off to different ends of the stage, they did this whole number close together as a pair. I knew Nunu could handle it, but surprisingly Eririn did a nice job matching the movements too. The audience was so fired up! And maybe I died, because goddamn that Nu hip shaking. Nu hip shaking is a miracle of this universe.

16. 9:02pm - Asapon, Harami

Harami is a natural for this song. You wouldn't think Asapon vocals works for this song but somehow it does.

17. Tick Tock - Mingosu, Kugyu

When Tick Tock hit, there were two immediate feelings. 1. Oh, not Kiramekirari? 2. OMG TICK TOCK AAAAAAAHHHHHH. I don't know which I love more. This was an especially nice choice of singers because Chihaya and Iori happen to be the two idols who watch over Yayoi the most.

Throughout the song, the whole audience did extended wiper moves to represent a swinging pendulum, which caused certain arm death but it's the kind of pain that you're extremely happy to get though. Of course, even for a ballad, we still used ultra orange since that's Maya's color, but the deep blue and pink accents provided a really nice contrast.

18. livE - Azumin, Hirorin

Oh god Azumin and Hirorin in glasses. Is it just me, or did they pick the two people who look the most similar to Naomi in glasses for this song? Especially Hirorin in glasses! She captures Kami's look and presence almost exactly.

19. ONLY MY NOTE - All members

OFA is a great fun group song which I love, and it's awesome to see it live. But, it's one of those songs that I played so many times in OFA to get Gold record status that I memorized the whole dance, so it felt a bit weird when the IRL idols did a quite different version than I know. I had such expectations! But I guess some simplifications are expected and necessary when you have 8 people performing like this.

Speaking of 8 idols, I guess normally I'm pretty DD, but at the same time, I do have an absolute hierarchy, so when there's many people spread out, I tend to focus all my attention only on Nu. This is certainly a song that will need to go through multiple rewatches for other members and group dynamics when it comes out on BD.

20. Sachi - Jurikichi

OMG JURIIIIIII (;A;)

When I made the decision to travel to Tokyo for 9th live back in August, my biggest regret was not being able to see Takita Juri. I resigned myself to this fact, but more than any of the other missing 765 members, I wanted to see her. So, when Jurikichi appeared without warning, it was cry moment #1 for me.

In the IM@S world, there are few songs more powerful than Kotori repetoire of 1-kanji songs. I've heard Hikari, and now thanks to Juri's guest appearance I've heard Sachi. It could not have been performed any better than it was that night. Juri's just as much a member of the 765 family as any idol. She also got a matching yellow checkered outfit.

Before the live, we had a bunch of guesses for who the secret guest would be. Minorin was the big expectation, and maybe GamiP/BaneP to hedge, but Juri truly was unexpected. As it is, I wouldn't have traded Juri for anyone, not even Minorin. In LINE a few days ago, somebody asked why Day 1 ranked higher than Day 2 in my live rankings. Well this is the main reason.

Before moving on to the next song, the members came back to do a quick MC talking about the tour up till now and also introduce the band members as well as the all-female strings section, which had 2 violin players, 1 viola player, and cello player. Each band member played a quick tune while the 765 members stayed on the middle stairs to lead claps and dance - Nunu doing her constant pointing motions to each band member were really cute. When they got to strings, instead of playing one by one, they all teamed up to play MUSIC which got a big reaction from the audience.

21. Machiuke Prince - Eririn, Asapon, Hirorin, Azumin

This time it was the 4 members who soloed in the first half getting to do the group song.

Machiuke prince was wasted on me during SSA, but now that I've played it a lot in OFA and had time to let it grow on me, I'm glad I got my second chance to cheer for it. If you were at the live viewing, you probably died from all the times they "Chu-wa chu-wa" kissed the camera. Every moment was a hard decision of weighing opportunity costs and deciding whether to look at the actual performers right there in the flesh or looking at the screen. It's safe to say the BD version is going to be deadly.

22. Rebellion - Nu

Well, what can I say about this song? I have watched Nubellion on BD over a hundred times, and seeing that flawless execution in person, I can still talk about it forever. If Brand New Day is the song designed for Hibiki, then Rebellion is the song designed for Nu. It is without a doubt the greatest Nu song since Next Life, and I've yet to make up my mind over which is better. It truly feels like the kind of song only she can pull off. The dance is top notch - the many drag steps and Nunu's wobble kick are such simple fluid motions, yet deceptively difficult to execute properly, and through it all her singing voice still carried through so solidly with no sign of fatigue.

The audience also did their part, perfectly timing the mid-song color switch from cyan to red in unison. This was clearly a leveled up crowd that had learned and trained since 8th live and SSA. Many anisongs have color-switching parts to them, which typically happens between verses after a long bridge with lots of wiggle room, but Nubellion's switch is a much harder version which takes place on one specific word "AKA" sung in the middle of the chorus. There is no break - you wave blue, and in the next instant you immediately wave red. Watching this rapid transition from the second floor on day 1 was one of the coolest things ever.

After the song, Nu explained in MC that she threw in a little special dance move during the "Shinjitsu no AKA" switch part to make it look like she "commanded" it, because she was absolutely confident we would get the color switch right. She thanked the audience for letting her look so cool, and asked if she could try it some more. "I'm like a magic user. Show me red! Now blue! Red! Blue! BOTH AT THE SAME TIME! Wow, you can all do it!"

23. OVERMASTER

NUVERMASTER. That's it, I can go home, I'm done. Didn't expect a difficult song like this would come right away after an intense dance number like Nubellion, but I guess that's Nu stamina for you. I enjoyed the hell out of this because not only is it one of the top songs (along with Next Life) that helped enable me into this whole P stuff in the first place, it's an extremely significant song to me specifically as a Hibiki P since it was Hibiki's Project Fairy debut single, when she was still 765's rival.

It's another piece of IM@S history. Then Nu said the next song was something she has wanted to sing for a long time. Could it be....

24. shiny smile

Shiny smile SOLO? Maybe it's my bias speaking but this Hibiki setlist sure is OP. Shiny smile is Hibiki's personal song in IDOLM@STER2 - seeing her perform it solo basically took my IM@S2 experiences and made it reality. All my remaining ultra-asagi were broken and balrogged for this song. At this point, it was already far more than I could have asked for so I didn't care that we didn't get BND, or Pon de beach, or Next Life. There will be more chances for that in the future.

25. Kimi ha melody - Kugyu

This song matches her voice rather nicely. Also, Rie has a slightly different unique outfit compared to than all the others with an open front, which made her seem like a boss character.

The MC after the song is where she really shined though. When I saw her at SSA, the huge number of people left very little time for anyone to talk, so she hardly got any words, but today she had plenty of time to play with the audience. When she talks, she is JUST SO CUTE. Back in the day, around Shana S1 era, I had Kugyubyou. It eventually fizzled out and I was cured some time around Hayate S2 (unrelated), but this live definitely brought back some of the old symptoms. Certainly, Kugyu did go up my rankings again.

26. Private Roadshow (playback, weekday)

Nice poppy track that showed off Iori's cuter side. This was actually my first time hearing it, since I never got around to listening to all the LTPs, but it was full of energy so I still enjoyed it.

27. Futari no Kioku

My favorite song from Kugyu performed today. It almost makes no sense that Kugimiya's strength is in ballads but there you go. So far all the songs for each idol have really been showing the huge range that they have, and the talent all the seiyuu need to possess to be able to sing it.

28.KisS - Harami

I was already feeling lucky enough for having gotten OVERMASTER, and then Harami pulls out the other song on the original 961 Project Fairy disc: KisS. The only other time I can remember seeing this was a niconama of Nu's performance at the Lawson Special Party, but thanks to that I knew what to expect. To think I'll get to see the same thing from Harami in person!!! The audience pulled out red lights in addition to Harami's normal deep pink for this song, and waved in anticipation.

When THAT part came: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU~

Cameraman, thanks for all the insanely close up shots. During MC, Harami said she really wanted to sing this song for a long time, but when she finally got to do it, she was so nervous that her hand was shaking.

29. Futatsu no tsuki

Another excellent pick from the new OFA solo songs. Prior to Tokyo, Harami had an awesome showing covering Nunu's dance-heavy Next Life, but she's still unbeatable in her own element. She pretty much slipped into God Mode for this, because it sounds SO good live. Ear meltingly so. I'm glad Takane was among the few idols able to do their OFA songs because it's one of her best.

30. Koihana

Death. Hearing this live at SSA and hearing this at Taiikukan are NOT the same thing. This is already such a powerful song that I was nearly in tears at SSA, but it leveled up again. Cry moment #2 for me. Holy shiiiit it was absolute destruction, I couldn't even wave penlights correctly, so I just stopped and held still. The closest analogy I can think of is this must be what it was like to hear LOST at Fuyufes in person.

31. Blue Symphony - Mingosu

Alright. First off, this song is awesome. Second, Mingosu is one of the craziest most hyper 37 year olds that I've ever seen. I've seen her Jojo pose so I know her physical power, but recently I noticed she is the kind of person who's totally fine with sprinting 100 yard dashes in the middle of her lives too. She did it once during READY!! at Anisama when she outran Nunu and sprinted to our area of the stage (leaving Nu to catch up behind). And she did it again on this song when she made a mad dash from one end of the stage to the opposite end in a few seconds, just so she could sing the opener and first verse on both sides.

Next, Mingosu told us she wanted to try something special. "It might be a selfish request, but I want to sing the next two songs with you sitting down." Fans immediately got excited, so Mingosu had a bit of fun getting us to sit down in a wave. Wave sitting! Now I've tried everything! "If you want to show me your colors, you can hold your penlight in front." Well, playtime is over, shit is about to get real.

32. Nemurihime

OMG. MY LIFE GOAL. I was barely recovered from Koihana and then I'm attacked with this. Thank you Mingosu for telling to sit down, or I would have fallen over from shell-shock. With the audience obediently seated, Mingosu walked to the stairs in the center and delivered the most powerful Nemurihime I've ever heard.

The stage lighting was done so well, bathing Imai in a halo of white light glowing so strongly it made penlights completely unnecessary. Actually I think I just forgot about penlights completely, as I just stared ahead with my jaw glued to the floor.

33. Aoi Tori

To me Nemurihime is basically unbeatable - it's the ultimate Imai Asami song, so much so that putting Aoi Tori after it feels like the wrong order. I'm still dazed from Nemuri! But I know how important Aoi Tori is to Mingosu - it is perhaps the most important Chihaya song. BOTH songs in one setlist is somewhat of a miracle so I had enough sanity left to remember to appreciate it.

In 2008, I attended Anisama and Aoi Tori was one of the first IDOLM@STER songs I ever heard live in person. Being a fool at the time, I didn't care. This time I corrected history.

This marked the end of solo corner so all the idols came back on stage, along with secret guest Jurikichi now standing in the middle. Each one took turns saying closing thoughts and thank fans for attending. Where Eririn stumbled in greetings, Nu stumbled on her closing and blamed Eririn for infecting her. Hirorin did her "Mako~mako~rin." And Eririn had a fantastic closing speech about how far they've come, from a decade ago until and into the future.

34.M@STERPIECE - All members + Juri

BREAK ALL THE UO, ALL OF THEM. After having done this song in February, as well as Anisama, and also played the shit out of it on my phone during commutes and so on, I was afraid the song might some day lose its effect. That day is not coming any time soon. Having just refreshed my memory once again with IM@S movie in theaters a day before the live, this hit me at full power. It's still an incredible feeling clapping to M@STERPIECE with everyone walking around the stage waving to all the fans.

Encore

Rather than have fans just yell by themselves, we got a special treat for Encore in the form of a video featuring all the idols who couldn't appear for the event. A wave of happiness flooded me as I saw the familiar, and NOT SO familiar faces of Maya, Akky, King, and Kami.

After cover corner, I had put their lights to the side thinking I wouldn't use them, but now scrambled for them again. AKKY WITH UNDYED BLACK HAIR AGAIN! MAYA WITH A SHORT CROP! WOW. KAMI (5 months pregnant!!!) Maya actually looks so good in her new style! And King had her usual revealing dress - she even ended up making up a "sexy encore" chant. For me, Encore used to be time where you half-yelled and half-rested, but with these four leading chants and balrogging lights of their own, I didn't rest at all.

35. Nijiiro Miracle - All Members

Since rewatching the IM@S movie, this song really grew on me and I was hoping to hear it, so it was perfect that the live chose it for their encore. After experiencing it live, I have to say the feeling matches close to M@STERPIECE, and may surpass it in time. Thinking back to the moment right now, I think it's already starting to happen.

One more thing about the song, it seems that UO use is rising these days, but I prefer the rainbow fan of penlights, which I feel is much more unique to IM@S culture. I could see a lot of the audience agreed, but I hope as this song matures through more lives, 100% of the audience will switch out of UOs into rainbowing for just this song.

36. THE IDOLM@STER

The true final song with all members. Obviously we went full power. Not much more can be said about it that hasn't been said before, as all Ps know it and can do the calls even in their sleep. It simply can't be an IM@S concert without it.

At the end, all the idols came together hand held hands. They exited the stage one pair at a time, until it was finally Eririn and Mingosu left. The microphone cut out so they could speak to us in their raw voice. Hugging and still clasping hands together, they yelled out their thanks to everyone. Even from my seat I could hear it clearly.

Bonus: Day 1 Offkai

The craziest shit that ever happened.


I won't write much since PRIVACY, but I will say: if I never became a P I wouldn't have met such a group of amazing people. I wouldn't have fallen into a group of awesome Ps in North America, I wouldn't have gone to Toronto and met amazing Ps from Japan and bond over eating brunch with Harami, I wouldn't have met Ps from Singapore and Thailand and France and Korea and Malaysia, and this whole damn thing would just be something I'd read about on the internet and shake my head at thinking "those crazy guys." What a good bunch.

Day 2 in a couple days once I've had time to collect my thoughts.

Posted by Paranda at 11:03 AM | Comments (14)

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 (11)

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 (12)

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 (4)

March 3, 2013

Nanamorichuu Festival


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.

Ayachi: Kyarurun~
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..."

Audience: OPPAI!
Emiri: KINSHI!
Audience: OPPAI!
Emiri: DAME!
Audience: OPPAI!
Emiri: KINSHI!

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
【ごらく部MC】
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
【生徒会MC】
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
M10 よんでミラクるん!/ミラクるん
【ミラクるんMC】
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
【ドラマ&歌 カラオケ大会】
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
【千歳MC】
M18 ウチとわたしを芯まで漬け込んで /千歳&千鶴
【千歳&千鶴MC】
M19 1期メドレー
※綾乃→千歳→櫻子→向日葵→ミラクるん→京子→ちなつ→結衣→あかり
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
【ごらく部MC】
M22 MY SWEET MEMORY /七森中☆ごらく部
M23 100%ちゅ~学生 /七森中☆ごらく部
【ENCORE】
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
【全員MC】
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:

Posted by Paranda at 4:47 PM | Comments (6)

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)

Posted by Paranda at 9:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 9, 2013

Delicious, part 2

Happy 2013!

You may recall my previous post on this subject. In a follow up video, we see that Yukachin extracted her revenge later on a pair of Gamers employees.


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"
Staff: Ok


Yukachin: Ok I'm starting. Rum Raisin...
Staff: Umee!


Yukachin: Aamu, Baumkuchen
Staff: Umee!


Yukachin: Aamu, Mimori-san
Staff: U-*silence*
Yukachin: Hey please say "Umee!" One more time...


Yukachin: Aamu, Mimori-san
Staff: (hesitantly) Umee!


Yukachin: Akari's hairbuns
Staff: Umee!


Yukachin: Shit
Staff: (both enthusiastically) UMEEEEE!
Yukachin: Thank you

Posted by Paranda at 1:59 AM

December 21, 2012

Tsuda Minami

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.

Posted by Paranda at 2:12 PM | Comments (1)

December 6, 2012

Delicious~

Some guy uploaded a "Famous Otsubo Yuka Scenes" video a while back. I watched it last night, expecting my usual dose of Otsubo Pro. Which it delivered in spades. Then suddenly at 14:14 mark, we got THIS


Ok, now I'll try reading a submission from "Things Kyoko would never say but you'd want to hear."


WAIT! WAIT! EEEH? Ok I'm saying it...


UNKうめぇ! (U.N.K. is delicious~!)


Huh, what? Oh it has a different reading?


Fine, fine, I'll say it! Today I'll say it all!


*takes big bite* うんこうめぇ! (SHIT is delicious~)

By the way she was still in highschool when this video was made. How/why her manager let this happen, we'll never know. The comments are filled with "Agency, do your job!"

An outstanding Otsubo Pro moment if there ever was one.

Posted by Paranda at 2:44 AM | Comments (4)

October 24, 2012

Mikami Shiori

I wasn't planning on writing mini profiles for all 4 Gorakubu members, but since I did writeups for Rumirumi and Yukachin already I figured it's only natural to write something for Mikami Shiori. She's the one who convinced me to watch YuruYuri in the first place and plays my favorite character, Akaza Akari.

Mikashii is the kind of person who's actually kind of hard to describe, yet at the same time you can see something and instantly recognize "that's something Mikashii would do." She calls herself relaxed and easygoing, always doing things at her own pace, however it's clear she has a very strong and memorable personality. This can be seen from the fact that almost every single other seiyuu who has ever worked with her has their own variation of eerily accurate Mikami Shiori impressions, and nary a day goes by where another castmate will not namedrop, imitate, or refer to Mikashii in some way. They talk about her so much that she's the central point of most shipping rumors. These rumors are fueled by the fact that Mikami LOVES touching hands (she names "hands and glasses" her own two fetishes on her blog), and doesn't hesitate to get touchy feely with everyone.

Her bubbly kindness and strong sense of responsibility naturally attracts the friendship and respect of everyone around her. But another reason she's so popular with her peers despite her relatively short career is that Mikami skillfully inserts herself into people's way and gets to know them. Both Rumirumi and Yukachin have said that early on in their careers, Mikashii who had slightly more experience, always took the initiative in teaching them and and giving out advice as a mentor and friend. I already mentioned the story about how Rumi got forced by Mikashii to call her using her nickname, but Tsuda Minami has nearly the same story about meeting her. Mikashii simply did not accept being anything less than friends with her colleagues.

In one memorable story told by Keitai Kanojo+ director Tsukikawa Sho, he says he was originally unsure about having a seiyuu act in a live action role, but by the end of filming, Mikashii had charmed the entire cast and crew. In fact, she was a little too friendly and given her role in that production, it became a running joke that her friendliness was far too unnatural and she must have been hiding a traumatic past.

Actually, since Mikashii is so easygoing and naturally becomes friendly with everyone, she's a tempting target to tease no matter where she goes. Especially at YuruYuri events. Mikashii denies being similar to Akarin (she always complains "I'm noooot fubin na ko"), but that doesn't stop the constant comparisons. The popular saying "Mikashii Owata" (Mikami is finished) in fact comes from the famous YuruTen streaming event, where cast members competed against each other to pick names for the songs on the YuruYuri season 1 soundtrack, and scored points whenever fans voted for their name. Just as you'd expect from Akarin's voice actress, Mikashii lingered in last place all the way till the final song, leading to the nico comments being filled with "Mikashii is finished" condolences. "No I'm not!" she begged the audience as she read the screen. Eventually she looked as if she had accepted her fate and even started giving a "goodbye speech" while other members reminisced like she died, but in a surprise move she actually submitted the song name "みかしいオワタ" in a desperate comeback to break her losing streak. This of course won in a landslide, and since then "Mikashii Owata" has been engraved into YRYR lore. True to their word, PonyCanyon kept the title in their soundtrack.

In another incident, Rumirumi recalled how Mikashii disappeared at an afureco session. In Japan, afureco for TV animes are done in a group, and tends to be run in order of the scenes, so even if you only have one opening and ending line in the whole episode, you still need to be there for the whole duration. This situation of course, exactly describes several episodes where "main character" Akari is practically invisible. Mikashii originally waited with everyone at her microphone, but felt so awkward just standing for long stretches in silence that she sat down behind the group to watch them instead (her earlier attempts to adlib some unscripted lines were also shot down by the directors). The 3 remaining cast members did their recordings, took feedback, chatted between takes, and laughed together for ages until Mikashii suddenly commented "You guys seem to have having fun ;_;" from afar. "It felt like she really WAS Akari" the other cast members later recalled.


Live action acting isn't a problem with Mikashii as you can see here. Her "S" is quite cute and convincing.

Examining Mikashii's past, you can see the kind of life that helped shape her. Mikashi was born and raised in Aomori and naturally speaks her native Tsugaru dialect (she coached herself to hide the accent when she moved to Tokyo). When she was 10 years old, she watched Saber Marionette J at her grandmother's house and became interested in the series. Prior to that, she didn't really watch anime. Once she started buying magazines of the series, she learned more about seiyuu and starting getting interested in voice work. By the age of 14, she had narrowed down her future career choices to either daycare worker, piano teacher, or seiyuu. Eventually deciding on seiyuu, she started buying voice magazines like Seiyuu Grandprix, but kept it a secret because she was a little embarrassed about others knowing she wanted to pursue it as a career. In highschool, she was pretty active and played in her school's tennis club. To prepare for her voice career, she also joined the school's broadcasting club and became its president. At the start of her senior year, she attended a summer camp at Tokyo Announce and made her final decision to become seiyuu. Her parents were against the idea but she clutched stubbornly to her dreams and eventually persuaded them to let her go. To Mikami "my pace" also means "my pace, and I'll do it no matter what."

Once she graduated highschool, she moved to Tokyo and enrolled in Tokyo Announce Gakuin's seiyuu school. To avoid annoying her new neighbors, she used to practice her lines and voice drills outside in a public park. She preferred nature anyway and was a bit afraid of people in the big city. It was only after an old lady cheered her on at one of her outdoor practice sessions that she realized urban Tokyo wasn't so scary after all. At the school, she went through a full performing arts curriculum that involved not just voice acting, but also theater, and even stage fighting with wooden swords.

Within a year, she had landed at a role as a member of 7th generation assistants in the weekly radio program "Big Bang" that specialized in cultivating young seiyuu prospects. Previous notable alumni from the program include Imai Asami, Fujita Saki, and Satou Satomi. That made her pretty famous on campus and by her second year, even brand new first year classmates including Ookubo Rumi already heard of her. After graduating from Tokyo Announce Gakuin in 2009, she had a successful Seiyuu Award newcomers audition and was immediately signed by Aoni Production (rumor is that several agencies actually fought over signing her). Her first appearance in an anime was for an uncredited performance in Shugo Chara, but her hard work and personality quickly earned her more roles and more contacts. In 2010, she began hosting one day of the now popular Lady Go series along with fellow graduate Rumi. She is now that troupe's leader.

As a country girl, Mikashii is an active and outdoors type. Unlike Rumi who prefers staying home, Mikashii will go out with friends, play tennis, go shopping, driving (she has a license), eat at restaurants, or sightseeing each weekend. She says she spends a lot of times in parks because she grew up in Aomori and always gets the urge to get away from the urbanness of the city and see nature. However, she doesn't swim in the ocean without a floatation device because she had a traumatic experience where she almost drowned in middle school.

For indoor stuff, she loves cats and dreams of opening up her own kitty cafe some day once she has saved enough money. When she watches movies, she says she enjoys fantasy genre, citing Narnia and Pirates of the Caribbean series as examples. On food, she says she is a huge meat eater who eats yakiniku far too often that she needs to watch her weight. She especially loves fried squid which is common in her hometown, but hard to get in Tokyo. She also likes eating desserts and prefers parfaits and chocolate in particular. She can also play piano, and hopes to get more involved in singing in her future career. Besides those interests, she is apparently officially certified as 2 kyu rank in Kanji, 1 kyu in Abacus, and 1 kyu in Mental Arithmetic.

Only 23 years old but already with a few major series under belt, and having won a "best rookie" seiyuu award, Mikashii may shape up to be among the top 3 personalities who have made it in the last 5 years. Mikashii may not be as spontaneous as Yukachin, or as sly as Rumirumi, but in what matters most, voice, her's is uniquely outstanding. The range isn't great, but it's the type suited to do a few specific roles extremely well. Combined with her sociable personality and networking acumen, she has attained a solid level of career stability that is likely to last years - fans to jokingly refer to her as "immune to scandal." As nico commenters frequently say, Mikashii is a person who "as soon as you see her, you feel from your heart that you want her to be happy and successful."

Posted by Paranda at 11:02 PM | Comments (3)

October 23, 2012

Busou Shinki ~Master! Haiyaku Mite Kudasai Ne!~


Last month, I attended a Busou Shinki preview event at Japan Science Foundation in Tokyo.

They were showing a screening of the first episode, followed by a talk session with the cast members. Even though top names like Asumis and Minorin were all billed to appear, front row tickets were surprisingly easy to get. Must have been because of the Thursday evening time slot. Lots of guys who arrived looked like they came straight from work and were still in suits.

Inside JSF building, we followed the signs down to the Science Hall, which was a pretty small auditorium (maybe no more than 400 people). Just outside, there was a row of boxes with each seiyuu's name where fans could drop off presents or mail. I found my seat in the fourth row center. Since the location was a lecture hall, all of our chairs had small tables bolted to them and lots of fans used these to place Busou Shinki figures that they brought along. About 1/3rd of the audience was also wearing papercraft Shinki headsets cut from the official template - at the end of the show, staff gave presents to each person who brought their own headset.



Once everyone was settled in, we watched the first episode. I originally thought it was just going to be some generic Angelic Layer clone but instead it turned out to be a pretty amusing "small people doing things" everyday life comedy in the vein of Bottle Fairy, so I follow the series on the air now. There weren't any opening and ending animations as those were not yet completed.

After the screening, there was a bit of silence and then we heard Asumin's glorious voice off stage.

Asumin: "Wow there are so many masters here today."
Asumin: "Master, wake up. We can't keep them waiting."
Daichuu: "Nnmmmm, Asumi Kana in a swimsuit"
Asumin: "My master shouldn't say those kind of things!"

With that, Mizushima Takahiro aka Daichuu came on stage. One by one he called the rest of the cast. Asumin and Minorin came out with ZR while Mizuhasu and Mamegu went with longer dresses. Mizuhasu was probably the most dressed up, with ankle length black skirt, frilly top, hat, scarf, etc, but I liked Asumin's simple look with the white blouse, pearls, and ZR too (omg dat futomomos). Actually I was staring at Asumi most of the time during the event since I didn't get to see her close enough at Anisama. Each person took a turn to describe their own character.

Asumi Kana as Ann: Spent the longest time with master. An honor student and fundamentally a good character, but sometimes scatterbrained.
Minori Chihara as Hina: Cool, quiet, and combat oriented. Kind of a loner.
Mizuhashi Kaori as Ines: A "boku" type. Her outfit is a bit risky, so you can see she's an exhibitionist. You can see the screw holes and the joint cavities between her legs! These are her moe points (sasuga mizuhasu)
Nakajima Megumi as Lene: A clusmy airhead and total boke type, but a good easygoing person.

After intros, they did a quick free talk while Takahiro served as MC. Since everyone already worked together on the games and knew the characters well, Asumin and Minorin talked about how the afureco was pretty easy and they all had a good time. Mizuhasu also showed us some photos she took of shinki figures at home. Apparently Mizuhasu is quite a big figures collector and experienced hobbyist, and everyone commented on how good her pictures were at making them seem lifelike. Megumi seemed like she had a hard time getting a word in though, so at the end Takahiro called on Mamegu.

Daichuu: "Nakajima-san"
Mamegu: "Oh you can call me Mamegu."
Daichuu: "What? Mame..mamegu?"
Mamegu: "Yes"
Daichuu: "How about I call you Megu-chan?"

Mamegu talked about how she got totally psyched out for the event and mimed out her shock pose that caused the audience and seiyuu to laugh. That pretty much set the whole tone for her and Mamegu got relegated to boke role along with Minorin among the group. But, while Minorin is a natural airhead, Megumi is more like the local weirdo who is in her own world.

Then staff brought out two tables and Takahiro relinquished the stage to the Shinki cast for a first ever test session of the radio series "Busou Shinki: Master no tame no radio desu."

As the hosts, Asumin and Minorin sat at the left table. Mamegu and Mizuhasu played the role of the audience/masters on the right.

Asumin: "I wonder if it is OK if both of us boke sit together."
Asumin: "Don't worry, if it's like this, I'll do the tsukkomi"
Minorin: "I wanted to do tsukkomi, but I'm afraid I'm not a person who can pull it off."
Minorin: "Because I can't tell when somebody says boke thing" lol

The first corner was "Master no tame ni" where listeners can send in their hobbies and interests, and then Asumin and Minorin will try to think of how Shinki could please them. For example, if your hobby is soccer, maybe they'll blow vuvuzela. Apparently, Mizuhasu's hobby is "collecting pictures of Fukuzawa Yukichi" (guy on 10000 yen note) and Mamegu's is doing a duck face when she's alone. With this weird answers they couldn't even respond?

Next corner was "Chiisa na nayami" where listeners can send in small things that are troubling them.

Mamegu: "Small prob-"
Asumin: "You don't have to also say it in a small voice."
Minorin: "Mamegu, you are a very interesting person"
Mamegu: "Someone telling that to me is troubling"
Mizuhasu: "Being surrounded only by boke in this room is troubling."

Asumin: Everyone, do you think I'm boke type? Or more tsukkomi type.
Audience Definitely boke
Asumin: Heeeeh?

Third and longest corner was "kasou ga 15 cm." Since Shinki were 15cm, the goal was to imagine if other things were also 15cm. Staff brought out sketchpads and the task was divided up between Mamegu and Mizuhasu. While they were discussing, Asumin stopped abruptly.

Asumin: "Mamegu what are you doing."
Mamegu: Oh I was just showing this microphone is about 15cm right?"
Asumin: "Ah I thought you were moving kind of strangely"
Minorin: "By the way what blood type are you?"
Mamegu: "I'm A"
Everyone: "Are you really?"
Mamegu: "What? I'm hurt. I don't seem like A to you?"

Hacchi's had to name things which would become scary at 15cm. She produced: "G (gokiburi)", "Eye", "WC (toilet)"

Minorin: "Yeah 15cm roach would be scary, but it would be easier to catch!"
Mamegu: "It's like a mouse"
Asumin: "NO. Even a mouse would be more cute."

Minorin: Certainly an eye would be somewhat disgusting at that size.
Asumin: But to Shinki it's that scale isn't it

Minorin: "A 15cm toilet would definitely overflow"
Mamegu: "Now what could it be overflowing with?"

Asumi suddenly jumps up eyes bulging and starts frantically waving her hands at the audience.
"STOP! STOP! You don't need to talk about that! Everyone, erase that from your minds! Erase it!"

I think it took 5 minutes for everyone in the theater to actually stop rolling on the floor laughing. Minorin and Mamegu...DEFINITELY boke.

After that "abunai" detour, now it was Mamegu's turn to name things which would be convenient at 15cm. She wrote down...a washing machine.

Everyone: What?
Asumin: Why a washing machine?
Mamegu: I just moved recently, but I couldn't fit my old washing machine into the new place so I had to buy another one. If only it were smaller!
Asumin: You're getting away from the original purpose of a washing machine.

Mizuhasu: I think you two should also participate. Your topic is "would be cute at 15cm?"

And the two started writing in their pads.

Minorin: Me
Minorin: Everyone would be cute at 15cm, so I thought I'd pick myself.

Asumin: Mamegu-chan
Asumin, mimicking the shock pose Mamegu did earlier, "I want a 15cm Mamegu that I can pose."
Mamegu: If it's Asumi-senpai asking, I'll pose in any way you want right now.
Asumin: I think your agency will get mad at me.
Mamegu: It's OK they're a pretty forgiving agency.
Asumin: I think it's a bad idea. Let's stop here.

That concluded the radio segment. Next, Asumi said it was time to announce the ending song for Busou Shinki. To my surprise azusa came out on stage to join the cast members. Even though I only saw azusa just a few weeks ago at her DVD release event, she seemed a lot different again with her new look and hairstyle. She introduced herself as the singer/writer for the ending song "Taiyo no sign" and described it as a very kind and warm song that she hoped would fit the nature of the series. She also said she was the writer for the opening song. After quick introductions, the cast members left the stage for azusa to perform.

As expected, azusa's singing was so good, and the sound quality was also much nicer and richer than the DVD event at LAOX. I liked the song right away. When all cast members came back, I thought they were going to perform the opening too but no such luck. Oh well, I think one song from azusa is worth more than all 4 cast members singing the OP together. Then, it was time for a secret guest.

Resuming his MC role, Daichuu reappeared on stage and called in Oda Tetsurou who composed the BGM for the series. Oh, another guy I met last month at Anisama! The audience really respected this guy and gave him a lot of cheers, but the one fanboying the hardest of all was Takahiro on stage. Daichuu said that he almost idolized this guy back when he was young and thought his work was amazing and that he was almost speechless. He could barely talk straight to Oda. Mamegu was similarly speechless. After the other seiyuu talked a bit with him, they noticed she was speechless and urged her. "Go on, say something to Mr. Oda" but Mamegu said she was much too starstruck, so Asumin took over the conversation again.

Asumin: "Ne, ne, Oda-san who's your favorite busou shiki?"
Asumin came right under him and started flirting HARD, batting her lashes and making doe eyes at him. Obviously talking about Ann, she continued

Asumin: "Do you think of any character and she makes you feel like..oh she's a good girl. Do ya? Do ya?"
Oda: Well they're all nice, but if I had to pick...I think Hina
Asumin: Hina huh, so you like those kind of girls.
Oda: I guess I like girls that are kind of stoic/mysterious
Asumin: Ann could be like that too!

After Oda left stage, Daichuu was still nervous so Asumin told him "I'll support your love. I'm cheering for you"
Daichuu: "Hey, don't misunderstand this"

Finally, everyone took a bow and said their final message to fans. Asumi told us to watch out for their twitter, as they'd be announcing official Busou Shinki itasha appearances soon at various locations, and once again reminded us of the TV airing dates and single releases. Staff waited at the exit to distribute special stickers to those wearing headgear, so I took the opportunity to get ahead of the crowd and get out early.

Final impressions: For 3000 yen, that was 2 hours very well spent. Megumi has matured into a fine and quirky seiyuu since the last time I saw her at AX, and of course I was happy to see Asumin, Minorin, and Mizuhasu for the second time in the same trip. As for radio, I'm looking forward to the twin-boke combination of Asumis and Minorin in episodes to come.

Posted by Paranda at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2012

Ookubo Rumi

I started getting into A&G Lady Go recently, but just like Hashihime who had the epiphany before me, Ookubo Rumi, has very quickly jumped several tiers into my must-follow list in just a few short months. Hashihime provides some great introductory info in this post and hits on most of the points, including her voice acting, general cuteness, and decent singing ability.

IMO she is probably the strongest singer among the 4 Gorakubu seiyuu at least. She also rivals Yukachin with her quick wits, but combined with a sense of maturity. After personally seeing her charm offensive when I attended the Yuruyuri 39fes event last month, I decided at some point I should also contribute to the Rumirumi bandwagon, as she surely is worth the effort just as Yukachin was.

To start with some history, Rumirumi (who just turned 23 two weeks ago by the way) actually never had plans to become a seiyuu until her second year in highschool. Although she liked anime and voice actors, she originally didn't decide what to study and was just planning to go to a normal college to figure it out later, until suddenly one day she had the desire to be a voice actor. She discussed this with her parents who gave their blessing surprisingly easily, and then she enrolled in the seiyuu program at TOKYO ANNOUNCE GAKUIN Performing Arts College. As she had more classes in the vocational school, she gradually became more determined. In her second year, at age 19, she participated in the 3rd annual audition held by 81 Produce where she won an award. During the audition, she sang Shoko-tan's "Snow Tears." It was also at this audition where she made a strong impression on the young Ootsubo Yuka who also happened to be there, although they wouldn't work together until much later.

Since then, her career has been on a fairly smooth trajectory. When she had her first debut role in Sasameki Koto, she was guided by her senpai Katou Emiri from the same agency and she has held immense respect for her ever since.

In late 2010, she began hosting Thursday (now Wednesday) night episodes of A&G NEXT GENERATION Lady Go!! web series along with Mikami Shiori, Komatsu Mikako, Teramoto Yukika, and Takamori Natsumi (Sumipe didn't replace Yukika until 2011). Mikami was one year ahead of Rumi at the same seiyuu school, so when they met at Lady Go, Rumi originally started out calling her Mikami-senpai and only switched after Mikami insisted on using her nickname Mikashii. Later when Rumi used "Mikami-senpai" again at the start of YuruYuri S1, she got scolded by a very scary Mikashii ("Rumirumi-chan, I thought I told you to call me Mikashii from now on" *death stare*)

You may notice that fans and Rumi will sometimes greet each other on nico broadcasts and radio using "Happy!" But what they're really saying is "Ha-P!", an abbreviated term for 腹黒ピンク (Haraguro Pink) which a neologism referring to certain pink haired characters with a heart of darkness. Of course if asked, Rumi will strongly deny her particular character is evil - rather she's a pure angel who's simply honest with herself. A "Harashiro Pink" character if you will.

Since fans identify her most strongly with her Chinatsu role, she ended up getting a reputation for being evil and crafty. A running joke was that fans would intentionally spin her words and actions as ominous and try to look at the hidden meanings even if she said something completely nice and innocent. At one point in time it was so widespread even her own staff heckled her about it. The "evil" jokes have mostly been played out and gone away, but she still gets called "azatoi" (sly/cunning) all the time, a label she seems to have accepted (or at least doesn't complain when she reads it in the mails anymore). Fans call her "azatokawaii" as praise for her unfair ability to act sickeningly cute. She is a lot like Yukarin with regards to this aspect.

The "azatoi" moniker is well deserved. Rumi can be mischeviously cute (although she's still not good at giving winks) and is a rather fast thinker who can adlib humor quite well. Corners like るWみH really highlight this, as she is required to act out ridiculous roles based on completely nonsensical who/what/when/where/how combinations. In one episode she was throwing handseals around while playing a "ninja ordering gyudon in an izakaya."

When asked to compare her qualities with Chinatsu, she responded she's similar in that she gets very excited about things she likes. However, at the same time she is totally ignorant and incurious of topics that don't interest her, and thus has a rather myopic knowledge of the world. But she doesn't like to admit when she doesn't know something and will often try and bluff her way through. The Lady Go corner "Rumirumi Bijutsukan he youkoso" is actually based entirely around her well practiced ability to do this, and her unscripted commentary while trying to draw obscure/foreign objects is often hilarious. Her bluffing and boasting skills are also frequently seen in other areas, where she loves to say "oh yeah, I'm good at this" whenever she's challenged to anything. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not.

As a child, she was pretty mature for her age, as she tried hard to imitate her older sister, whom she admired her ability to fit in naturally with adults. Even now she's mostly an easygoing and casual person. In fact, she says her friends might even call her boyish. Tsuda Minami went so far as to call Rumirumi an "oyaji" in one interview. She does indeed have a remarkably strong ability to act out on caricatures like that. To this day, her legendary "ikemen" act still persists by popular request. It's funny that in older interviews, Mikashii originally thought Rumirumi was the most feminine out of all 4 Gorakubu cast members.

When Rumi was in the cheerleading squad in highschool, her favorite part was dancing and she practiced it a lot, although she was a bit afraid too since her small stature meant she would be the top half for any aerial routines. The experience proved valuable when she was at dance practice for Yuruyuri events. The physical skill gap vs her castmates was so large at their first practice session that a staff member immediately singled her out and asked if she danced before.

Her favorite food is karaage with soy sauce. However, her friends think she's weird for adding soy sauce when karaage is already salty.

Rumi is a big Digimon fan, and has a tradition of rewatching the series at the start of every new year. In last week's Lady Go, she announced she had actually landed a part in the upcoming Digimon Adventures game slated for release in 2013. Apparently her staff knew she loved the series a lot, so they hooked her up with a role.

Rumi says because she's so short and Yukachin was so tall, she was flustered when they met, but now thinks of Yukachin as the adorable little sister she wish she had. Meanwhile, Tsuda is a person she really gets along with, as they are the same age and also usually on the same wavelength (though everyone says this about Tsuda-chan). If Yukachin is her little sister, then Tsuda is her wife.

She's not really much of an outdoors person, and in her spare time off she'd rather stay at home and read novels than go anywhere. Often, she'll buy entire box-sets in one go at the bookstore and spend a day reading them all. Manga is fine too, but if a series has both novel and manga, she'd rather read the novel.

Even though she has been playing a lot of cute girls, she said she would enjoy doing big variations in characters, such as playing a serious adult, or a totally evil role (like straight up hitler-evil), or an Akari-like angelic role, probably to avoid being typecast.

Posted by Paranda at 1:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 5, 2012

Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2012 Autumn *Fall in Love*

Since I went to way too many events on my last trip, I doubt my procrastinating self will find the time or will to write about them all, so I'll just pick and choose out of order based on my feelings.

First up, the second leg of Tamura Yukari's 2012 fall tour on 9/22. This marks my...8th time seeing Yukarin live? I actually went to Yukarin's NHK live hall on 9/17 as well, but Nagoya was bigger and better so I'll just cover this primarily, and maybe bundle a few comments about NHK whenever relevant. Note, if you don't want to spoil the setlist or videos just skip to the parts labeled "MC Corner"

The venue this time was Nagoya Congress Center. It was a mid-sized hall seating about 3000 people located about 30 minutes by train from JR Nagoya station. Getting there wasn't so convenient, but a few extra train rides weren't going to bother me when I'm coming in same-day from Tokyo.

The event grounds were pretty nice, and the merchandise booths, fanclub table, and concert were all in one place unlike NHK Hall in Shibuya where you had to walk between two far away buildings. Plus, at Nagoya they parked Yukarin's tour trailer right outside.



Merchandise was in much more demand today, with long lines even half an hour before showtime. Despite the lines, not much was sold out except the limited Nagoya-only T-shirts. Even the puppet, which usually sells out at past events, was still in stock. Then again, Koiseyo Onnanoko hasn't appeared with the same frequency lately.

Gachagacha was still disappointing - maybe they're saving the good stuff for Yokohama. Another table was also selling the newly released Yukarissimo photo/score book and including a bonus poster with every purchase. I'll post all the various goods I picked up at the end, but I'll describe the live event first.

My seat was in the fifth row, center so the view was excellent. The stage was pretty standard Yukarin fare: light pink and purplish colors and lots of flower motifs, all surrounded by heavy theater drapes. A large central staircase connected two levels of the stage. At the top, there was large main deck with raised platforms that extended to both edges. Behind sat a curtained door-shaped entrance glowing with Yukarin's flowery concert crest.

A second larger projector screen further above provided visuals. At the bottom, the stairs melded into an ornate concave wall that tapered into substages for drummer and keyboardist. Further downstage was flat open space free for the rest of Momoiro Danshaku, Yukarin, and 4 dancers. This setup allowed three ways to enter the stage - through the curtained door, from behind the first floor wall, or rise out of the second floor.

Once the lights dimmed, the whole arena lit up with pink penlights. I think we actually achieved 100% pink, as I didn't notice any UO or ultra greens like last year's show. Yukari's royal entrance theme this time was pretty enchanting orchestra tune that employed lots of strings and drums as opposed to the usual upbeat brass trumpets. The sound for Congress Center and to a lesser extent NHK hall were both handled well, with nice clear volume and no major issues that I could notice. Yukarin probably has some of the more competent sound crews out there among her seiyuu peers, and she's one of the few artists for whose concert I know I won't need to bring earplugs.

Once the music swelled, Yukarin stepped through the curtained door in a two piece gold dress and started the first song.

Oh nice, it's a brand new song...wait no...Honey Moon? Holy shit! THE Honey Moon? This was one of my all-time favorite songs by Yukarin and one of the staples at older concerts, last being performed almost three years ago during Princess a la mode. The song had been rearranged so I initially didn't recognize it, but as soon as the first verse hit I was flipping out at finally getting to experience the legendary track in person.

Sadly, one casualty of the song's age is that the crowd had lost some of consensus in calls. A valiant effort was made to resurrect the old school chants and moves, but even at the second live in Nagoya some fans were out of practice, and maybe newer people in the audience didn't know the song at all. I would have liked the old energy levels, but really just getting the song at all was enough for me.

Before I even recovered, the familiar "Happy Happy" opening of Chelsea Girl signaled another round of hard jumping. There was no "Momoiro brass band" like at Mary Rose, but it was good to hear the original mix once in a while. You could actually feel the floor rumble, and I couldn't resist turning around several times during the PPPH parts to watch gigantic pulsating human wave behind me move in perfect synchronization. Before the final chorus, everyone did the special chant. It has been around since 08 but it always seems to get louder every year.

Third song was Oshiete A to Z. Ah...Yukarin picked this song again huh? I watched her perform it with May'n at Anisama this year too, but of course Yukarin's solo version is the best. The clapping pattern changed a bit this time, with the double-clap being being used more frequently outside the chorus parts. Yukarin led us by example by clapping for the changed parts.

Once the song ended, Yukarin stood in the center stage and looked out to the audience as everyone showered her with cheers and "Yukarin" calls. Surprisingly, nobody yelled for her to spin around. So times have changed.

MC Corner 1

"This place is pretty big! I kicked off this year's spring live in Nagoya. It was nice, historic, and profitable! But that stage was really small compared to this one."

"Actually Yukari has a lot of attachment to this place. Back in the 90s when Yukari was in highschool...well I'm 17 years old now, but I'm in a time warp"

Audience: *cheers*

"Back when I was in highschool, I came here often to see artists I liked. I want to be where Hiro-kun was. Actually at Rainbow Hall. That has about 10,000 people?"

"That's something I can't even think about. If I tried to perform at 10,000 hall, we would definitely lose money. Here's about 3000 people right? How about you all pay 3X it could work. Ah it's impossible. I had to stretch even to make it here. And in Tokyo it's hard for me to pull it off. I'm not on the same level as Hikaru Genji."

Audience: If it's Yukarin we'll pay any price!

Yukari changed topics when she noticed a piece of glitter came off her microphone. She awarded it to a girl sitting in the center front row. When the audience started cheering, she started picking off more pieces and handing them out to girls in the different sections.

Then some fan yelled out "your bangs are cute!"

This was a reference to some emails she sent to fanclub members the night before abut how she didn't want to bother the makeup artist and tried to cut her hair herself, with supposedly disastrous results.

"Don't laugh! Yukarin didn't mess up!" she says as she grins sheepishly. "Don't you guys do it? Who cuts their own hair?"
"Awww, not that many huh, and almost no girls. Let me guess. Who's hair here looks like they cut it themselves..."

Yukarin runs up right up to a guy near the front and points at him.

"YOU! You cut your own hair right? No? Ok, who else...has a hairstyle that looks like they cut it themselves?"

Fans started trying to wave down the bald guys in the audience, but as Yukarin scanned the room she realized she was basically about to insult the haircut of whoever she singled out and escaped the situation with a generic "Wow you all have some pretty complex hairstyles". Instead, she turned to her favorite victim.

"Masanyan, you look like you cut your own hair."

But Masanyan answered negative, and Yukarin was alone in her shame. During the next song Rainy Rainy Sunday she tried to hide her hair out of embarassment (it looked absolutely fine though). Once the music started, Yukarin and all her dancers circled on stage with umbrellas. It has only been performed live once before at a fanclub-only event, but the moves were polished and cute, and I loved the "do be do be happy~" lyrics. Fans knew the melody well from Yukarin's ItazuraKurousagi radio show.

Bambino Bambina also got a lot of cheers. I listened to this song many times since it has a gorgeous PV, but I only saw it live once before at Animelo 2008. I had just graduated from university back then and was still so inexperienced with concerts (ahhh so young), so I was happy to experience it again now as my grizzled kimo-ota self who has 10x increased arm waving endurance and a giant penlight collection. No more fumbling and nervousness this time as I joined the entire row in copying all of Yukari's hand movements.

Sakasete Otome is an interesting song with pretty difficult vocal parts, a really fun "ai~ya" chorus, and some big "HEY" jumps. It was also one of the few songs that featured a special video with big text that showed you the timed calls, instead of the standard flowing hearts and stars that usually occupied the projection screen. Given that it just came out with Yukarin's new single, and OtaP's heavy use of erhu, I think Yukarin intended to perform it at Anisama Shanghai. It probably would have gotten a great reception from Chinese Yukari fans if those plans hadn't been cancelled due to recent events. It's a great song to hear live and Yukari's singing for the verses is especially impressive.

Video Corner 1

Then it was time for a prerecorded skit to introduce the band members while the stage changed for acoustic corner. At NHK Hall, they played an audio-only version of it, but for Nagoya, we got video. It was a sparsely animated set of dating sim-like scenarios narrated by Yukarin taking place in the "Private Momoiro Academy." Of course, instead of meeting dashing ikemen, each scripted encounter with the Momoiro Danshaku always depicted the band member with an intentionally bad photo of his face pasted on top of an SD body.

The worst/funniest one was Masanyan's giant frowning oldman face floating on screen accompanied by cheesy game music and Yukarin's sweet words. There were also various easter eggs in the background to pay attention to. In the scene with JACK (guitar), the blackboard had Yukarin's name written under an umbrella with something else (maybe JACK's name, I didn't read fast enough). In the scenario with GOD (sax) however, I could clearly read "Princess Yukari is the loveliest in the world" written across the blackboard in English. Hmm, so that's how they'll translate 世界一かわいいよ huh?

During a phone conversation when Yukarin calls up Eagle (drums) with her cutest voice:

"Guess who?"
...
"Me!"
...
*whine* "Come ooon...it's me! me!"
...
"No, it's NOT an atashi atashi scam!"

When the screen retracted, all the instruments were moved down to the lower stage in a semicircle around a padded stool. Yukari came in from the side, wearing a silky knee-length blue dress and jeweled necklace to start acoustic corner.

The first song was Hitohira no koi, which was a traditional slow ballad. The second song, Sensitive Venus was more upbeat so she was swaying and dancing from her seat. As I was listening to these, I thought Century Hall acoustics were pretty good, and might have been almost at TERRSA's level. Yukari has one of my favorite singing voices out of anyone (not just seiyuu) so I'm glad they were able to put it on exhibition properly. I also had a great view without all the jumping distractions. Unlike Hocchan who seems to have a magical Fountain of Youth worth starting WWIII over stashed away in her house somewhere, Yukarin actually does look a little older every year. But at the same time each year she somehow becomes even more charming.

MC Corner 2

"That was acoustic corner! It was really dark. You didn't fall asleep did you?"

"Yukari loves documentary. I always watch them when I'm doing makeup in the morning. Actually I just watched one about Roswell from the Discovery Channel. But it was subtitled, so I was only able to read some parts of it since I was doing makeup."

"They showed all this evidence, but at the end they said 'Oh if it were real you couldn't keep that secret for 10 seconds, let alone 50 years. So it probably never happened. What the heck!? When I saw that I was so shocked I even rewinded it. They built up my expectations then crushed it."

"Do you know about details of the Roswell Incident? Anyone know except Ishioka (from KING)"
*audience yells back "YUUFO"*

"How many of you believe in UFO?"
*Few hands in crowd.*

"How many of you believe in aliens?"
*More hands in crowd*

"Well if you believe in UFO, I suppose you also believe in aliens. But what about all the people who said they believe in aliens and not UFO?"
"Oh maybe you think they never came to earth, but the universe has them some place?"

*audience claps to confirm*

"You see alien invasion in movies all the time but in reality I guess they'd never have a reason to come to Earth right? Because there's nothing of value here."
Audience: No, Yukarin is here!

"Yukari is just an insect to them"
Jack: *plays bwa bwa bwaaaaa~ sound effect on guitar*

"Hey let me try that!"
And Yukarin proceeded to play with the guitar pedal till the end of MC.

Still wearing the same dress, Yukarin sang the latest Nanoha A's movie ending theme Hohoemi no Plumage. The sound was REALLY good for this one and I could hear everything so clearly. The Nanoha A's movie may have been a disappointment compared to the first one, but the song itself is a worthy successor to "My Wish My Love."

Then Yukarin went backstage for costume change while the screen came down for a video segment.

Video Corner 2

As soon as "The Ranking Ten" title showed up everyone cheered. It seems they did a direct continuation of the silver age idol TV show parodies started in the Spring "I Love Rabbit" tour. The announcer (played by Yukarin's cousin again) introduced Tamura Yukari, a recently debuted up and coming idol to the audience. Even though it was just a video, the audience cheered for "Hatsukoi" just like it was a real event, with Yukarin PPPH calls and all (except while sitting down). During the interview segment, they referenced back to an old joke from the last tour's video:


Yukari's "debut" from last Spring's "Let's go Youngster no Hoshi" segment

Kouji: "Yukari-chan, last time you came wearing a dress your mother made out of her curtains. You're not wearing curtains this time are you?"
Yukari: "That's right. This time my grandmother made my dress out of the tablecloth." (bwahahaha)
Kouji: "Well Yukari how has your life changed since you became an idol?"
Yukari: "I got new curtains and tablecloth"

These lines may sound snarky as hell but Yukarin actually played the rookie amateur idol role totally straight, saying everything in a gentle cute voice and acting all shy and nervous.

After the video, Yukari came back in a red dress and performed the hip shaking Love Sick. I never actually did remember the rap part to Love Sick. Following that were Etranger and Beautiful Amulet which were nice nostalgic call backs. Beautiful Amulet replaced Tomorrow from NHK Hall.

After that, Yukari left again to change while the band stayed on and played some instrumental tunes.

Next up was Yumeiro Labyrinth, a brand new song in her upcoming album. Yukarin reappeared in a short skirt, fabric vest, cat ears, and fur leg coverings creating an ensemble outfit that was somewhat similar to the rabbit costume she wore for the 2008 Love Live Chelsea Girl tour. She was joined by her dancers with top hats and canes. It seems Yukarin has been studying up on magic ever since her disappearing act at Budokan, because near the beginning of the song, she magicked up her own cane by pulling it from a silk handkerchief. Next was Ange Passe, which was also nice to hear again after its long absence from concerts.

This was followed up by Kimi to LOVE which is a c/w song on the new Nanoha single. Typically with new songs, it takes listening to them a few times before it grows on me. Sometimes, I really like a song several months after I hear it live, then regret not appreciating it more at the time (even just recently, I got hooked on Flag Tateyou Yo by nao and wished I could see it live. ONLY...WAIT, I ALREADY DID SEE IT? NOOOOOOO!!!!)

Luckily, something clicked when I heard Kimi to LOVE on the big stage. When Yukarin was leading the whole crowd with wiper, I just became so in love with the song at the very moment it was playing. While it's got some lazy BGM, it hits all the right points - fun furicopy, catchy repetitive chorus, idealistic lyrics, and lovely vocals that rivaled acoustic corner. I knew right then I was having a special experience and I breathed it in fully. It definitely puts the Fall in Love bluray release on my instant-buy list.

Video Corner 3

In the NHK video, Yukarin tried her hand at golfing. This time at Nagoya, we watched Yukari play billiards. Those who listen to her radio or have seen the series of bowling videos from Sweet Milky Way know Yukarin is pretty much a shut-in who never plays or even watches any sports and sucks at all of them (or at least pretends to suck). So Yukarin being bad at this game was expected: at one point she managed to jump the ball over her target. While documenting this head-smacking lack of skill, the cameraman also seemed to put in a few blatant "service" angle shots too where it lingered excessively on her lower body as she leaned over.

However, in billiards, Yukarin actually met her match in suckitude, because her publicity manager Ishioka was just as bad. Both of them sucked so badly that it took an hour to play a single 1v1 game of Nineball due to all the misses and fouls. The majority of the video had to be sped up to 300x speed in order to show the audience the full match, but eventually Yukarin won the game.

When Yukarin returned, she pumped the crowd up with Endless Story before starting her third MC to talk about the video.

MC Corner 3

"How many of you played billiards before?"
*Entire crowd raises hands*
WHAT? So many? Ok and how many of you played Nineball?
*entire crowd raises hands*
"EEEEH? REALLY? I had no idea it was that common. I only played it once before a long time ago."
(Man, Yukarin is 36 years old in a 1st world country and she only played pool once? She really IS sheltered)

"Even the band members ;_; wait P-tan never played! (jumps for joy). We played nineball because the staff said it was the simplest game and only took a few minutes."

"Instead we took 60 minutes. We actually played so long my fingers hurt. I was despairing as Ishioka was making shots, but in the end I got the final shot! HAH!"

"Yukarin also played table tennis. I knew I wasn't good so I teamed up with a "skilled" person for 2 on 2. Well that was skill a lie. We lost in only 2 minutes! I totally had a dead look on me."

"Like when you go to a concert by yourself, yet all the other people went hanging out with friends as a group. Your DS suddenly shuts off during streetpass and your iPhone only has 2% left. That kind of face."

Gee that's awfully specific lol. Especially painful when Yukarin's hobby is literally charging batteries, according to what she told Mamiko on Twin Angel radio ^^

"But let's forget that negative stuff and look forward. Yukari Kingdom goes on. Everyone let's sing the next song together."

With that, we jumped straight into Party ha owaranai. You may recall an official PV that Yukarin put out a few weeks ago. Like the "LOVE ME NOW" video, the Party ha owaranai PV was actually made by fans who answered a casting call posted on Yukarin's FC blog. During the NHK live, when Yukarin asked who in the audience also participated in the video, a huge number raised their hands. By Nagoya, the whole audience had memorized the moves and chants, thanks to that PV and because of the call books distributed at the venue. But Yukarin told us, "even if you don't know the chants, you can just yell random stuff." In the middle of the song as everyone was yelling, concert streamers shot out and scattered into the audience.


Call books which assisted significantly with chants for the new song

We knew it was the home stretch and there would be nothing but high energy songs for here on out and powered through Merry Merry Merry Menu NE! and candy smile. I have to say, I felt SO LUCKY to get both of these songs (and Wakusei no rendezvous in NHK). The big circle step she does in candy smile is just SO CUTE it never gets old. Without a break, everyone pulled out pompoms for Cheer Girl in my Heart, the hugely popular Koi no time machine (major cheers for this one), and the finale fancy baby doll. Damn, I couldn't have asked for a better closing set of songs. During FBD there was no need for the air cannon since the venue was small, so Yukarin personally kissed and threw each doll.

Speaking of those dolls, you know, I sometimes see comments from people saying Yukarin fans have a kind of controlled chaos. Or say that it's interesting the fans somehow keep order via some unwritten rule of politeness whenever one of those little rabbit dolls goes flying into the crowd.

Nope, none of that is true. Maybe it just looks that way from far away. But one of those dolls actually went to our section and was caught by the guy sitting directly behind me (we traded high-fives afterward). And let me tell you, when that thing came in...our section became a mosh pit and whoever was closest to catching it became Blake Griffin. The guy next to me got his glasses knocked off, I got elbowed, people were diving across seats, etc. But what was true is that as soon as one guy got a firm grip, everyone suddenly went calm, congratulated the winner, and then went back to their seats. And dudes who trampled each other were totally cool with each other again, acting like nothing even happened. No harm no foul. I guess it's an understood thing.

After thunderous encore chants, Yukarin, her dancers, and band members came back wearing concert T-shirts and kicked off another two big songs: Andromeda made 1hour, an upbeat tune that fit the live format pretty well and might become a staple in the future, and Super Special Smiling Shy Girl, for which we repeatedly yelled the ending verse an exhausting number of times.

Then it was the final MC.

MC Corner 4

"Thank you for your encore call. Today, Yukari noticed some obvious empty seats for the first few songs. I wonder if they had something important come up. If you can't make it, you don't have to force yourself. But thank you those who came since the start, I love you. I had a really good time in Nagoya today. It may just be a pipe dream, but I want to perform in Rainbow Hall some day. I'd love to come back to Nagoya again."

"Oh the clock isn't lit up (digital clock on the side of the halls), what time is it? Nakamura-ya!"

A few audience yell out it's still early.

"I think it's about time for us to finish."
Audience: "EEEEEEH"

"Yukari is EEEEH too. I don't want to go home"
Audience: "We don't want to go home either!"
Audience: "Let's go for all-night event!"

"Oh it seems like not many people get the Nakamura-ya reference. I guess you have to be a bit old to understand it. If you look it up now I think you get the curry house. Look for Nakamura-ya flash video." (seems to be some kind of comedy routine where a guy is giving a speech and audience keeps yelling stuff trying to interrupt and finish his sentences)

"Anyway let's do the final song. I'd be happy if we can all sing together."

And then the whole audience put in their max effort for the last song You and Me. By amazing fortune, we got this song at Animelo this year with motsu, but this song is just as powerful at a Yukari only event. As she put it, "When motsu isn't here, everyone is motsu."

Finally, everyone on stage joined hands to take a bow. Yukari stayed behind to prepare her farewells. As is her custom at concerts, she spent a long time waving and smiling to each individual section of the concert hall, slowly working her way from left to right, top to bottom and each section of the hall responded in kind with a single loud coordinated "Yukarin" chant. It's a really cool moment of fan/singer bonding that I rarely see for other artists. Once she finished, she stepped back to the center of the stage and gave her closing lines.

Closing message

"I truly want to thank you for today. You know, Yukari is not young anymore. Well I may be 17 though...I know I'm not young anymore. But while I worked my hardest today, I want to dream even bigger. It might be foolish, but I want to aim for grander events. I'd be happy if you'd keep supporting me. See you again"

Audience: UOOOOOOO!!!!!

What an ending speech! Once she exited, the whole audience started clapping and shaking hands, but some girls even started crying. Then fans concluded the day with sanbonjime claps.

But things weren't over for me yet. Instead of hanging around at the live hall, re-browsing the goods booth, and crowd-watching like I usually do, I hightailed it back to Nagoya station. I didn't get a hotel in Nagoya, so I needed to catch the Shinkansen and reach Tokyo in time before the last train.

When I got back to JR, I was originally planning on taking the 9:50 train but I messed up my order at the machine (trying to incorrectly buy the limited express instead of regular ticket) and didn't get it in time. Which meant I had to take the more expensive Nozomi train at 10:15PM, as well as cutting very close to my deadline of reaching Tokyo before the last subway train at midnight. I was totally ready to grumble about wasted time when I got to my platform, which was crowded and noisy with a lot of people. Wait, there's something about that group...is that...Yukarin? She standing in the middle of a circle surrounded by her staffs and band members. OH SHIT IT IS YUKARI! I couldn't believe my luck that I ran into Yukarin at the train station - this is something I joked about with some friends but to think it actually happened.

"Well it was a nice treat to see Yukari one last time," I thought, "but now that the train arrived I should get to my car." Except, they moved first into the exact same line, and I ended up directly behind one of the dancers (I believe it was Yukie). Oh fuck we're not only in the same train, we're in the same car. Welp.

So we ended up getting on the same train, I helped move some staff's luggage, and then sat about 8 rows away from Yukari. At this point I was debating whether I should go talk to her or not. If this happened in the US, it wouldn't even need to be a question, but I wasn't sure I want to go all gaijin KY on her in Japan when there were other Japanese fans around who clearly knew she was there yet pretended like she didn't even exist. All that stuff about respecting personal space and all. But I also knew Yukarin loves getting her ego stroked and she probably totally wouldn't mind if a foreigner dude just went up to her (funny enough, I actually have another foreign friend who did just that), so if I did it I should definitely go at it from a "big dumb foreigner" angle. So at the last last stop, when I knew if I passed up this chance I would never ever get it again, I threw all caution to the wind, pretended not to understand a word of Japanese, and put on my best AMURRICAN accent.

"Hey exyooze me, are ya Yukary Tamera?"
"Hi, I am Yukari"

Full setlist:
01. Honey Moon
02. Chelsea Girl
03. Oshiete A to Z
04. Rainy Rainy Sunday
05. Bambino Bambina
06. Sakasete Otome
07. Hitohira no Koi
08. Sensitive Venus
09. Hohoemi no plumage
10. Love Sick
11. Etranger
12. Beautiful Amulet
13. Yumeiro Labyrinth
14. Ange Passe
15. Kimi to LOVE
16. Endless Story
17. Party ha owaranai
18. MERRY MERRY MERRY MENU NE!
19. candy smile
20. Cheer Girl in my heart
21. Koi no Time Machine
22. fancy baby doll

Overall impression: Great show. Way more polished than NHK, and probably the third best set list for a live Yukarin event I've attended in person to date. Could have used a puppet song, and MERO~N though. No complaints about MC.

Final Goods:


Posted by Paranda at 3:41 AM | Comments (3)

July 18, 2012

Otsubo Yuka

I actually started watching YuruYuri for two reasons. One because I was a refugee from Shining Tears who could not get enough of Mikashi's voice, and two because I figured I should actually know more about a group I'm going to see live next month (I foolishly passed up a chance to see them last year). So I kind of became a Otsubo Yuka fan by accident.

As it turns out, YuruYuri turned out to be so good I ended up watching the lives. And once I watched Yukachin perform the most excellent Miracle Yurukuru 1-2-3, I was just so impressed that this nobody I had never heard of was doing such a earnest if somewhat awkward job. And she was really witty during talks as well. What can I say? She's a natural. I decided to do more research on her, sourcing from various wiki, radio, interviews, and her own blog (highly recommended btw as it is full of newbie enthusiasm and "first time doing X " posts).

I guess I will post more about her (and Mikashi) in the future.

Some basic info points below:

Described as a "Golden Rookie," this Chiba prefecture native has only just freshly graduated from the "seiyuu curriculum" at the CLARK Memorial International Highschool. She signed on with the Early Wing agency in April but has already played leading role in YuruYuri for two seasons, and a support role with OP performance for the recently aired Nyaruko anime, as well as a handful of game voices.

The origin story goes: as a child Yuka sometimes watched mainstream anime with her older brother, but wasn't really into it that much. However, some time in 5th grade she became sick. She took drowsy medicine, slept through the whole day, and woke up at night, leading her to watch late night anime programming which she found to be wildly different from the prime time stuff. After being awestruck by the performance in "Lucky Seven" she began aspiring to become a voice actress. After that, she started watching late night anime more regularly and basically started on the path to her seiyuu career.

When YuruYuri was broadcasting, she was still a senior in high school so she had to miss school. There weren't any make-up classes, so she had to rely on friends taking notes, teacher help, and all-night cramming sessions for tests to get by. Because she attended a high school with a seiyuu program, she was a bit worried about the competition and rivalry with classmates, but those concerns were lessened when everyone was supportive and threw her a YuruYuri celebration party with her favorite baumkuchen cakes.

Asked about her obsession with baumkuchen, she explained it accidentally came about from her love for chiffon cakes. When she saw baumkuchen she thought it resembled the spongy base of chiffon cake and tried one. It was so eye openingly delicious that she converted. Later during her 2nd year of middle school, she did 2 weeks summer homestay in Germany. It was meant to be a third year trip, but she crammed English classes on the side in order to go early. Probably because she was itching to have some of that German cake in its native country.

One of her nicknames "JK Baum" was made up by her YuruYuri castmate Tsuda Minami during a live broadcast and comes from "Joshi Kousei Baumkuchen" - highschool girl [who likes] baumkuchen. After her highschool graduation, this was updated to "JD Baum" (JoshiDaisei for college girl). Nico commenters often just drop the prefix entirely and call her Baum. Her other nicknames are Yukachin - which seems to be the prevalent normal nickname, Bon - acquired when Matsuki Miyu called her this during the DIVE II Summit Nyaruko corner (derived from Baum), and Tsuboyuka - which she uses on her own blog. A final nickname, "Dobechin," is usually used by fans but only when she has a FAIL moment or comes in last place during an on-air competition.

Aside from eating baumkuchen, her other interest is watching soccer and her self-stated special skill is coloring with highlighter pens. Another one of her skills is her ability to do a DFE (dead fish eye) stare, though she likes to deny that one sometimes. It has become somewhat of a trademark gag now and fans love to point out DFE any time she stares at anyone/anything.

When she did her first live appearance last year, she was nervous about how people would respond to her. She knew Mikashi would get a nickname call from fans because she was already established, but she didn't expect it for herself who had never appeared at any event before. She got really surprised by "Yukachi~n" calls and felt validated as a seiyuu.

In elementary school, Yuka participated in track club and basketball club. In middle school, there was no track club so she followed in her brother's footsteps and joined the student council, becoming vice president. She said it was pretty laid back and ate baumkuchen in the council room. In high school she participated in the dance club.

Asked to describe what she watched in elementary and middle school, Yuka flexed her nerdy chops and named "Yoshinaga-san Chi no Gargoyle", "Black Lagoon", "Kage kara Mamoru!", and even "Magikano." Her favorite voice actor and inspiration at the time was the great Nakahara Mai (an excellent choice who did some of her best comedy work ever in Magikano IMO). Later on she watched "Haruhi", "Lucky Star", "Inazuma Eleven", "Macross F" and even worked a booth selling goods at Comiket. Her favorite manga is ARIA and she has a soft spot for pink haired characters.

Speaking of ARIA and pink haired characters, you can find her Akari cosplay pictures in this month's Megami Magazine. Yuka specifically requested ARIA when her agency asked what kind of cosplay she wanted to do.

During her highschool graduation, she received her high school's special achievement award from the principal Miura Yuichiro (this guy).

Her voice for Toshino Kyoko was originally higher pitched and more energetic than what you hear on TV, but the director told her to tone it down closer to her natural voice.

Due to her fantastic ability to adlib, you'll often see comments from niconama viewers like "さすがプロ" (as expected from a pro) or "やっぱりプロは違う" (pros are just on another level). Yukachin has even earned her own term "Otsubo Pro" from her endless outbursts of unscripted brilliance but apparently she takes her work very seriously even if she seems like she's just messing around. According to Rumirumi, during afureco sessions, Yuka is one of the most diligent workers she has ever seen, who takes an enormous mountain of notes to carefully incorporate feedback and criticism from the director and senpais with a smile. Every other cast member corroborates, saying she perfectly fits every trait of the sweet and hardworking little sister stereotype (they all very specifically use the imouto-chara term to describe her)

Posted by Paranda at 7:19 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2012

Legs, spreads, and maturities

Discussing seiyuu as financial instruments was some stupid fun between some friends on twitter, but after reading this from Akirascuro I ended up thinking too hard about it and my reply morphed into this post.

What kind of considerations would be needed to set up a seiyuu backed security?

Seiyuu careers unfortunately have few similarities with trading vanilla stocks or bonds. You don't really own seiyuu as equity, nor do you enter into the fandom with a large purchase you intend to cash out at a later time. Rather seiyuu career trajectory is much like a series of cashflows without a principal payment at the end. If she reaches maturity date (retire) it's not like you get your money back. Similarly if her career tanks you will not be first in line during the liquidation to receive payout (though this has happened in a certain sense for those in other idol fields).

Instead you pay for her slowly over the years, and you enjoy a seiyuu's work season after season. You could think of them like a dividend paying stock, self issued, but purchased by their agencies who sink the initial cost in training and bringing them up. As they establish their fame in the industry, they may pay out increasing dividend. Fans aren't the agencies so they'll never be able to see the payment, but through the magic of derivatives they CAN still take a position on that dividend. To take account of the complexities of seiyuu career modeling, some sort of security similar to a dividend swap or TR swap on the OTC market would be my choice.

How to design it? The pay leg would probably be some floating rate linked to an index on Seiyuu Income per Season plus or minus some spread. This could be adjusted based on the seiyuu's drawing power, as well as some risk adjustment for the likely direction of her future. Naturally, a seiyuu with lots of fans and very few antis would allow anti-side to demand a huge premium over the index rate. Conversely, seiyuu who are widely expected to fail or have a scandal that kills her career will have no shortage of counterparties willing to discount that rate.

On the other side the receive leg can be some quarterly payment linked to the money she makes per season. This can be derived from episodes acted, media appearances, Oricon sales charts, and other factors in income. Since it's all hypothetical anyway you could even link to some intangible like personal enjoyment out of the roles. Or something dumb like skirt length.

As for maturity, it's hard to say because with individual seiyuu, the cashflows could end at any time and career length varies wildly. Sure you can link the underlying asset to some basket of seiyuu from an agency, or large group with varying ages and an annual rebalance policy, but that takes the fun out of it. After all why be a seiyuu fan if you can't play favorites? We could deal with the uncertainty via short maturity and roll or set it up like a constant maturity swap, but for the TRUE FAN (tm) who's willing to bet some serious money they can do long maturity with a call provision to exit the position. It could be based on time periods or base it around some defined events like career-derailing scandal, tragic illness, a Hirano Aya-type lateral move that changes classification of the underlying security, a systemic Arts Vision style incident, or other unforseen risks. But truly hardcore fans won't even want a call provision so they can lock in their opinions and prove their loyalty.

Designed like this, there is still big money to be made. Assuming you're locked in with a far off maturity date, there are plenty of good trades you could have made.

Loyal fan trade:

For a period of time after K-ON, Toyosaki Aki was overvalued. However, when the boyfriend scandal hit, the market overreacted and spreads went the other way. The loyal fan said "fuck the haters, this scandal is stupid" and bought into an Aki-swap with a massive discount. Now her career is better than ever.

When Nazuka Kaori announced her marriage, the cautious investors remembered what happened to Kaida Yuko and tried to net out their position. More loyal fans who remain unfazed and considered the type of actress she was snapped her up on the cheap. Though there was indeed a brief hiatus, Kaori came back and went on to do several more beloved roles.

Eyes for the rookie trade:

For those with a bit more appetite for risk and bragging rights to say "I liked her before she was cool", you can always take a position on a promising newcomer. People who did this in 2001 for Mizuki Nana hit the jackpot. People who did this for Sakai Kanako in 2006 (including myself) sadly got wiped out. Harukas investors probably broke even since her career mostly matched expectaions. Personally, I would go long on Uesaka Sumire right now for the nice obscurity discount.

Of course there will also be challenges. For example, seiyuu merchandise sales are illiquid enough that an investor with deep pockets could potentially manipulate the underlying asset via large CD/BD purchases that lead to the seiyuu getting a big push from the agency. Another point is that these are obviously uncollateralized, so "seiyuu-backed" is not even remotely true: Ain't nobody gonna gift-wrap Kobayashi Yuu and deliver her to my doorstep (except maybe in my dreams). And we are well familiar with the risks of undercollateralization. But I'm already overthinking this thing so I'll stop here.

I'd love to hear other ideas for instruments and strategies.

Posted by Paranda at 6:37 PM | Comments (5)

January 9, 2012

A fast denial

Ono Ryoko: Mystery bus tour "ToHeart2 'Mizo'teri Travelers" Mizoteri = Mystery
Kogure Ema: Who the hell thought of this name?
Ono Ryoko: It wasn't me yo

Mizoraji show was on break last week since they were doing their third all-night event "Boku ha mizo ga sukunai" (somebody pls write event report). I now realize how important listening to this show is to my Monday morning moods. Oh god so ronery without them...

Withdrawal.

Posted by Paranda at 12:14 PM

December 29, 2011

Mizoraji 200

Instead of spam twitter, I'll just liveblog Mizoraji episode 200 here as I listen. Shit is hilarious so far.

A bit of background, Mizoraji is the nickname for "Sasara and Ma-ryan Seitokai Kaichou Radio for ToHeart2," a radio program that I've been really into for the last few months. Thanks to catsspat who raved about it a lot, I finally checked it out last summer and I've been hooked since.

The two hosts are Ono Ryoko and Kogure Ema, who are voice actors for ToHeart 2 characters Sasara and Ma-ryan respectively. Each episode is between 30 and 60 minutes long and only has a few basic corners. Special corners like voice requests only last a few seconds, so the majority of it is what feels like mostly unscripted talk in response to questions (futsuota and fukigenyo). In general they seem to have a good time and the talk can derail into amusing ramblings on whatever subject they want. Describing their own show, they once compared it to "two tipsy ladies talking way too loudly at an izakaya."

More than once, they'd say something that they joke about not being broadcast material on air, but of course it always gets aired. In a recent episode, they even dragged Saito Chiwa into a continuing discussion on panties. Ema remarked on a later episode, it was a good thing she didn't have her manager there during the recording or he might have nipped it in the bud.

Ono is a fast talking, gives-no-fucks, wisecracking type, but overall is a nicer and optimistic person who is the "light side" of the duo. Her normal voice is a bit abrasive, but when in the right mood, she will turn on the charm like a faucet and speak in the most godly cute voice. Despite her speech sometimes being very masculine, she's actually more girly of the two, more easily embarassed, sometimes says sappy lines, and tries to give Ema makeover tips (like trying to make her grow her hair out).

In contrast, Kogure Ema a.k.a Ema-sama is the "dark side" of the duo. She's more pessimistic and has a bit of an S personality although I feel it's overstated by many people. Rather she's kind of like Yukarin but even lazier. She's also a bit of a shut-in who stays home all day and claims she has no people skills despite her tremendously clever wit. Notably her abuse is usually self-deprecatory in nature as opposed to Yukarin's tendency to dump on fans. Still that doesn't stop her from occasionally calling out a fan's actions, teasing Ryoko, or finding innuendo in things she says.

At public recording in Tokyo
Ema: So is anyone here from Hokkaido today
Fan: Me!
Ema: What? Are you stupid!?
Ryoko: *sweetly* Oh, could it be you came all the way just to see us?
Fan: No I'm just on a business trip
Ema: Of course not. I knew it!

Their two personalities mesh quite well together almost as if they were like two best friends, and despite the differences, there isn't any dominant personality. Both are very talkative, very funny, and neither one can resist getting a nice burn in at the others expense. A while back, I tweeted a segment from fukigenyo which I think is good to pull out as a good example of their usual banter. Episode 199's Christmas special is also a good example of the general mood between these two: Ema getting a foot massage (slightly abridged).

For the 200th episode which just aired minutes ago, the show dropped the usual format for a special theme where Ryoko and Ema called listeners of the show and interacted with them directly for a strictly timed 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Amusing stuff so far...

-------

Near the end of the first call

Ema: Which do you like, Sasara or Ma-ryan?
Fan: I knew this was coming
Ryoko: Don't hang up, don't hang up!
Ema: Now tell me!
Fan: Maaryan
-time limit cuts him off-
Ema: NOOOO EVEN THOUGH HE SAID HE LIKED MA-RYAN
Ryoko: That was really good timing

-------

On calling a fan at the office

Ryoko: Huh are you at work right now?
Fan: Oh, yeah
Ryoko: Well then, get back to work!

-------

So fucking awkward lol

Ryoko: Guess who?
Fan: Ono-san
Ryoko: Ohhh awesome
Ema: Nah I bet he's talking about a different Ono
Ryoko: Wow you really know me. Thank you, I'm Ono.
Fan: Yeah
*silence*
Ema: Ema's here too
*silence*
Fan: Oh

-----

Ema is way too clever

Ryoko: Do you know who we are?
Fan: Uh It's...mizoraji, is that right?
Ryoko: Is that right?
Ema: Yeah maybe I might be Kogure Ema

-----

So jealous he got character voices. I like how it suddenly dawns on him he's speaking THE Ma-ryan senpai and Sasara

Fan: Hello
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* Yasu-ryan
Fan: Yes, speaking
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* Yasu-ryan right?
Fan: omg
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* Who could it be?
Fan: Ma-ryan senpai?
Ema: *in Ma-ryan voice* It's Ma-ryan. By the way, Sasara is here too
Ryoko: *in Sasara voice* Kusugawa here

-----

Ema truly is a Hikkikomori

Ema: So the theme for this time is, what did you do for Christmas?
Ryoko: Do you wanna know?
Ema: If we tell you, you have to tell us. You need to promise
Fan: Ok I promise
Ryoko: Ohhh. Ok, as for me, I worked. Worked on 24th and 25th
Ema: I'm so jealous.
Ryoko: I did an event.
Ema: *backing out*
Ryoko: Hey we had a deal!
Ema: I was doing a Monster Hunter party the whole time. 23rd, 24th, and 25th.
Ryoko: You're living it up
Ema: In a way

Posted by Paranda at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2011

Amagami SS All Night Screening


On 11/19, I attended the Amagami SS all night screening, part of a new series of "Roppongi Anime Night" events held by Toho Cinemas in Roppongi Hills. This was the second of Amagami SS screenings, each of which show 3 major arcs. The first one, which I didn't go to, featured Tanamachi Kaori (Satou Rina), Nanasaki Ai (Yukana), and Nakata Sae (Konno Hiromi). I was still in America at the time.

This time, the featured girls were Morishima Haruka (Itou Shizuka), Sakurai Rihoko (Shitani Ryoko), Ayatsuji Tsukasa (Shintani Ryoko). There was also a 1 episode arc for Kamizaki Risa (Kadowaki Mai).

The format involves a 40 minute talk session with host and voice for the main character, Maeno Tomoaki, along with the 3 seiyuu featured (Maita not included since she doesn't have a full arc), followed by a mini-live by azusa. Both the talk and performances were held in the pit area at the base of the screen. Since it was a movie theatre, even the back rows were quite close to the stage, and since each row sat higher than the previous row, visibility wasn't a huge problem.

I went into Amagami SS with almost no knowledge of any kind and only discovered this event while looking at seiyuu sites. I even originally confused the Amagami girls with Love Plus girls, but I ended up having a pretty good time regardless.

The seiyuus were pretty much like how I expected, and I'm glad to finally see them in real life. They were all mostly casually dressed. Itou Shizuka dressed hippie flower child but had a very sharp tongue, and Shintani Ryoko radiated her Shintani aura just like in videos. I wasn't sure what to expect from Nazuka Kaori since I only saw her photos but never heard her on any radio or extra stuff. She looked like a no-nonsense suit and stockings type but ended up being pretty chill as well and almost seemed to be role-playing her character a bit.

For the talk, it was pretty open and anything-goes. Since this screening was 11pm Saturday night, the host asked them what they'd usually be doing at this time. Everybody said they were getting drunk. Host himself included. The chat was playful, with the seiyuu acknowledging the unusual format of resetting arcs and feigning jealousy. Itou said she had it the worst because she gets reset so early on. Shintani was more of a "I'm glad everyone has an ending" type, and Nazuka says it wasn't so bad since she was the final arc.

Once they started they talked about afureko, thoughts on singing the EDs, and other show-related topics, it became clear to me that not having any knowledge of the Amagami series was a bit of a drawback. Each seiyuu picked one of their major memorable scenes in their characters' stories.

Itou of course picked the back-of-knee kissing scene, which she described as "back of knee peropero play."

Shintani picked the scene where the MC holds her character's cheeks while wearing her hand-knitted mittens.

Nazuka picked the scene where she pulls the guy's tie. "This really doesn't seem like it belongs in a renai anime" she said. Of course the context of these scenes were lost to me at the time.

Another memorable part was when Maeno comments on the bread eating scene and Shintani gets embarassed. "Hey now, we don't need to talk about that episode." When he keeps trying to persuade her by saying how it's an endearing trait and he likes all the girls, Itou cuts in to say he's total scum.

After the talk, azusa came in to sing "i Love" and "Kimi no mama de." While I knew she was going to appear, I never researched azusa or listened to either song at all so it caught me off guard when this random girl who didn't look a day out of high school suddenly puts out this awesome voice. I instantly felt like she was like a cleaner version of Makino Yui, and she had better air control too. Musically, that was the highlight of my night. Later on, I bought the album and was pleasantly surprised to find she wrote all of her own music as well. The compression on the album wasn't bad either, and as long as it's of this quality, I think I'll follow her works.

Finally, after all the live events, the episodes started. The screen was very big, probably IMAX level, and video scaled surprisingly well. I had expected worse since the Miku screening in NYC was full of artifacts, but this time's picture was nice and clean and the sound quality was also perfect. However, at this point I had been up for close to 28 hours and I fell asleep during 2 - 3 of the episodes. I was awake for back of knee licking scene though, which got a huge reaction from the audience. Haruka and Rihoko are so cute. I'll have to rewatch parts of Haruka and Tsukasa though because I was out like a light during some of those scenes and thus completely lost on some developments. Each arc was separated by a 10 minute break which did help me regain my energy. As for Rihoko, well, this very much holds true.

Clearfile present for attendees

6 hours later, I emerged for Chaos Party.

Posted by Paranda at 10:45 PM | Comments (3)

June 27, 2011

Spring Party notes

Earlier this spring, I went to a sphere concert. I wrote some notes about it but it never materialized into a real "live report." Eventually the motivation went away so I'll just dump the snippets and close the book on that.

  • The jump timing for a lot of songs don't make any sense. Basically don't expect to go with the flow on calls. Need to know them beforehand
  • Ayahi is really popular with girls. I saw some female sphere fans in full Ayahi jumpsuits that were pretty neat
  • Aki gives off big sister vibes even though she's smaller than me. Also she doesn't really tower over others as much as I thought
  • Didn't hear anyone use Tomacchan nickname. Fans called her Harukasu instead. I guess the name from the photobook?
  • Tomatsu's color being orange means she gets the benefit of a ton of people pulling out UO
  • Minako did the most in terms of crowd leadership (calls, waving signals, clapping, etc). Also the whole stage turned purple.
  • Really long intro where 4 members read a sappy script about spring time.
  • At the end of concert, they held a fundraiser for earthquake victims. When you left, you passed by a donation box so if you went to go put in coins you get to slowly walk past like 3 feet away from them. When you passed each one, they bowed to you and you could talk to them for a few seconds. During bowing session, other sphere girls would turn their heads to look at you directly, but Haruka did shifty eyes instead lol
  • Sphere fans pretty organized. Guy next to me had a big case of glowsticks divided into 4 compartments for each member.
  • After costume change, Aki in her green miniskirt + green boots gliding around the stage on supports totally looked like feminine Peter Pan
  • There's an interesting mechanic where a secondary stage would actually split into 4 parts while the girls were on it. Each stage would move through the concert halls down one of the aisles and recombine in the middle and back of the stage. Very clever to give everyone a chance to see them up close considering the randomized seats. Sadly it was underused - they only went down the aisle this 3 times, which means every section lost out on 1 member
  • The concert title was "Spring Party is Here" and so seating blocks were arranged as YTRAPS with Y all the way at the front row and S in the last row. Backwards it spells S. Party. Unfortunately, I got screwed with "S" but it's good experience to know for future Sphere concerts if they randomize the seats. You can sort of guess the arrangements based on the title and pick a letter in the middle to be safe. Or gamble on the end letters. On the up side, I was in the aisle so the members came right by me when they went around the hall.

Posted by Paranda at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2011

Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2011 SPRING *Mary Rose* day 2

On April 16th, I attened Day 2 of Tamura Yukari's spring concert in Budokan. This is a much shorter supplemental report to cover new MCs and variations in the performance or set list. For the original set list, see Day 1 report here.

My location for today was the front row in Arena B6 block, directly along the center aisle like so:

So every time Yukarin came down the aisle, she crossed directly in front. She was also directly above us during the cage part for Shinseiro, but no feathers happened to float down by our section (or maybe I was just too mesmerized to notice).

During 1st MC, Yukarin surveyed the crowd comparing the colors. Since it was 千秋楽, in addition to the pink parka and happis, there were also a ton of people wearing the limited edition pink T-shirts. Yukarin remarked that this time there was a lot of pink that fit well with the spring atmosphere.

Waving to whole audience: "All the people in pink are like cherry blossoms"
Pointing to a few guys with green cyalumes: "Green is like the leaves of the cherry tree"
Pointing to two guys in red live t-shirts: :Are you two guys friends? This will probably get cut, but you two are like Atashi Sakuranbo:
Pointing to people in blue shirts (actually these guys are technically wearing the wrong shirt, because blue was supposed to be for the first day): "Blue...blue is like what??"
JACK suggested the sky, which Yukari gladly obliged. "Blue is like the cracks of blue sky you can see between the cherry trees"
Pointing to black shirts: "Black is..the darkness in peoples hearts." Laughing and clapping from audience for that one.

For song #5, Spring Fever was replaced with Tenshi no oshigoto, a c/w song on Douwa Meikyuu that was only performed on tour during Sweet Milky Way 2007. It's recognizeable by its "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" opener and it's simplistic and repetitive tune makes it easy to follow along.

For song #8, the acoustic version of YOURS EVER was replaced by Yoimachi no hana, another rare track from her Gin no Senritsu, Kioku no Mizuoto album that was only performed during fancy baby doll concert in 2006. The sound quality was a little bit better than the day before which I'm thankful for, but since this is a faster song I think it could have been better still if they tuned the instrumental down slightly so her voice can stand out more.

For second MC, Yukarin talked about her baby blue sky song again. "It's not played often, but it's the first song I wrote by myself. You all got really pumped for it huh?"

Well you told us to yesterday!! Although the truth is it's not really a kind of song that matches heavy calls, and she knew it.

"Although it kinda died down near the end. But you put lots of effort so thank you!"

By this time Yukarin had already changed into her purpleish candy wrapper and bow outfit, and as she was looking at it she mentioned it was really cute. "Don't you agree? It's really cute. Although it's totally different and the designer probably doesn't even know, it's kind of like Meruru right? Well the real Meruru outfit is a lot more revealing, but this outfit has a kind of magical girl feel to it right? Maybe not everyone knows who Meruru is, but her song..."

At this point a good part of the audience pretty much explodes into cheering with anticipation of Hoshikuzu Witch Meruru, but Yukari takes great joy in crushing their dreams

"..is something I can't sing"

Crowd: EEEEEEEHHH?

"Huh you really want me to sing that? But I can't. Danshaku doesn't know it. I considered it, but if I did it..."

Yukari flashes a smile to audience getting their hopes up

"JASRAC will get mad. So I won't sing it. But this outfit really is cute.."

Having been denied their Meruru, the audience gives up. But they insist on a consolation prize: one twirl at least! The 回って call is a long tradition at Yukarin concerts and there's no way to deny it. Yukari played along but not before more required teasing of the audience. Turn...like this? She half-started on a cartwheel, a front roll, and other moves. "But I can't do that! If I do it (a cartwheel) my skirt will fly up. No way!" Eventually she relented and just did a normal spin.

After she did it she caught a glimpse of herself on the big screen behind and got interested in playing with that. "How fun, I can see myself from the back." So she ordered the camera to zoom in, then slowly zoom out. When the camera had pulled far enough, she yelled STOP! Neither audience nor camera guy had any idea what was going on. The camera just did as it was told and we watched while she barked more orders.

"TOO FAR, ZOOM BACK IN! OK NOW ZOOM OUT A LITTLE MORE. NOW STOP! STOP!"
...
This is "zettai ryouiki"

She had stopped the camera exactly so the bottom of the screen would end an inch below her skirt, thus creating the perfect gap.

For song #15, Hoshizora no Spica was replaced with another Nanoha song, Beautiful Amulet. Similar to the previous day, she went down to the center of the stage for an extended period of time, so I got a full blast of Yukari up close. Beautiful Amulet had pyrotechnics as well, but it didn't fit as well as Spica.

During MC after Meron Ondo, Neko rowed Yukarin back to the stage again, but she had some fun toying with the staff who was actually pushing the platform. She told them to stop, go back, and go forward, changing her mind several times. "I was just lying, sorry. But you should be grateful, fans would love to do this job!". I'm sure if Yukarin were a boss, this is how she would give employees paycuts too.

Once the cats did their magic trick to disappear behind the curtain again, Yukarin tried the same routine. But instead of Cherry coming out like the previous day, Tamachan came out instead. At least this time people remembered his name. Once Yukarin reappeared, it was meron time. Since Yukarin bragged that kokumin only become meromero for her, Masanyan got the stick to test out that theory.

Everyone became meromero for Masanyan.

Yukari got up in a huff, went up to the front of the stage, pointed to everyone and said "ARE YOU PEOPLE STUPID?"

"I told you! You should only become meromero when I do it!"

Next the stick passed to GOD. While GOD was getting ready, Yukarin was making motions behind his back telling all the audience how to react. She feigned a slumping motion and winked at the audience, then told GOD to go ahead.

Everyone became meromero for GOD.

Again Yukarin pouted in the same tone as before "HEY! ARE YOU PEOPLE IDIOTS?"

HA! It was time for the audience to tease Yukarin this time. Every cast member decided to try with similar results. During each member, Yukari tried to remind the audience NOT to meron, but it was useless. During Hatabou's turn she tried to make a special appeal.

As we all know from SCS, the H in Hatabou stands for HENTAI. "Hatabou, they are not going to mero~n for you because you are hentai". But instead Hatabou got loud HENTAI chants and a subsequently huge mero~n.

Now Yukarin was puffing her cheeks and getting frustrated that the crowd even mero~ned for Hatabou. But she quickly rationalized it away.

"Ah, I get it. Those weren't REALLY serious. When I do it, you'll give me the true super mero~n."

Almost nobody became meromero for Yukarin.

The tables have turned himesama. It is us who denies YOU! Instead everyone went into slumping position that she had been trying to get people to do earlier. She went into shock. Has everyone graduated from Yukari Kingdom? she said sadly. Wait it must be broken, so she tried again and again.

Only a few people did it each time.

"People who don't read the mood and do whatever they want to stand out are not good."

Woah, a bit of a harsh scolding from Yukarin? I thought she'd congratualte their loyalty instead, but the correct move was to follow the audience and no-sell yukarin mero~n

Though personally considering the mero happened in some sections of the 2nd floor rather than single individuals, I think it's just parts of the audience misunderstanding due to following the leads of clueless people. There has been some speculation online on whether Yukarin was trying to use this opportunity to say something that had some deeper hidden meaning, like telling people to wear the proper shirts, use only pink lights, do normal calls, or don't yell loudly during her MCs, etc. It could be reading too much into it, but I decided I'll change even my own behavior to retire Fenix mounted pink lights for the next Yukari concert I go to (even though it's pink, having less bright normal pen lights is easier on her eyes). Crowd harmony is important.

Finally, she decided it was time to give the rest of us who had desperately been resisting mero~n a chance. So for the final wave, after we all agreed it would be for real, she hit the audience with several waves of mero~n and got a huge thunderous response back.

For song #19, Koiseyo Onnanoko was replaced with Love Love Baby Happy Star. This is a great choice, and as I mentioned from last year's lives, one of the most fun songs to do live on the recent Citron no Ame album. ゆかりと視線ぶつかる~♪ *faints*

Apparently this song got upgraded into a "puppet song," although they didn't warn us beforehand. The instructions on the puppets very clearly said "Use during Koiseyo Onnanoko and Sugar Tune, so I was about 10 seconds late in getting Chocola out after I realized the stage dancers all had them. I didn't even have time to put it on so I just held her normally. Lots of timed jumping, but the song is still too new for the audience to get fully coordinated so IMO there were some misjumps/heys.

The final encore MC was mostly the same thing as the previous day, announcing her participation in Anisama 2011, Universal Studios Japan events, and the release of BD/DVD for SCS and today's live sometime this summer. One new thing she told us though was she was really glad this time's concert went well. During the previous time in 2007, she was actually really nervous back then because she had gotten throat surgery a little while before.

After the concert, since this time's concert was recorded for BD/DVD and we had finished so earlier (only 7PM), the crowd tried to start a second encore chant but this fizzled out after lights came back on. Still given the set list we heard in the last two days, it was still a really satisfying concert and I'm glad I went and the best part is in 6 months time I'll be able to relive it again through the BD release.

Interestingly for both days, Yukarin did not make any tongue in cheek references to her age. Is the 17 years old joke finally played out?

Maybe not

Day 1 Set list
01.LOVE ME NOW!
02.Picnic
03.Happy Life
04.Platina Lover's Day
05.Tenshi no oshigoto
06.Don't wake me☆ up!
07.Nagareboshi Jenny
08.Yoimachino hana (acoustic)
09.floral blue
10.baby blue sky
11.Super Special Day
12.Koi ni ochita painter
13.Koi no ageha
14.Shinseiro
15.Beautiful Amulet
16.Mero~n Ondo
17.Oshiete A to Z
18.You & Me
19.Love love baby happy star
20.Cherry Kiss
21.Kono yubi tomare
22.Chelsea Girl
23.Gratitude
24.fancy baby doll
25.Super Special Smiling Shy Girl

Next will be image-heavy goods post.

Posted by Paranda at 8:05 AM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2011

Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2011 SPRING *Mary Rose* day 1


On April 15th 2011, I attended Tamura Yukari's spring concert in Budokan. A good live experience begins with a day of queuing, so at 4AM I struck out for the concert hall from my hotel on foot. By the time I arrived, it was nearing 5AM and there were already plenty of people around.

The last time I went to Budokan (quite disasterous if you'll recall) it was very late at night, but today, it was already light out so I finally got a first good look at the place. Budokan's layout is a bit like a fortified castle. To enter, you must first walk halfway up a big hill, cross the bridge over a wide moat surrounding Kitanomaru Park, and then step through large imposing gates into a stone walled courtyard.

Though there were still 5 hours until merchandise tables opened, many fans were already wearing official goods bought from the previous day's early sale, and the throng of similarly dressed fans pressed against the courtyard's outer gates at the top of the bridge made it look like an organized siege from some invading force (in this case the Yukari Kingdom army). By 5:15 AM, the crowd at the gate had grown to about 200 strong, an impressive number for so early in the morning. However, it turns out the line started at the street instead of the gate so when a suited guy helped up the "最後尾" sign at the bottom of the bridge he nearly caused a stampede.

Luckily for me, I was near the bottom at the time anyway. I had figured 200~ was still a safe number, and saw no point in squeezing into the mass at the top. My decision to stay at the bottom and snap some photos of the cherry trees filling the entire park instead means I had the luck of winding up 50th in line.

The guide led the group through the courtyard then through another set of gates to the Budokan grounds where a long row of booths had been set up. Since the weather was nice, the wait wasn't too bad. There was no freezing rain to contend with for example (see Niigata). Each time the wind blew, we'd be treated to a shower of cherry petals and it was almost like a big group doing hanami, in a way.


We watched staff unload boxes of goods into the booth until 10AM, when the line started moving. With upwards of 10 separate purchasing stations taking on customers, I was in and out of the goods line within half an hour. I tried to stick to the planned list, but as usual, this planning is wasted because I always break budget. The most popular items this time around were the Cherry puppets, puppet one piece, redesigned happi coat, and gachagacha - all of which sold out within 2 hours. Since I could get into a lot of details for each of them, I'll do a separate post about individual goods in the next few days.

After goods, many fans stuck around in the area. There was some chatter about whether or not Yukarin would make a surprise appearance and wave to the crowd from the top balconies (referencing her stunt as seen during the "Making of" segments in Love Live Chelsea Girl 2008 DVD). She didn't appear, but we were fortunate enough to get to listen to a full sound check in the afternoon, where she went through several songs including Cherry Kiss. A nice enough reward for waiting around!

At 5:00 PM, Budokan doors opened and people starting making their way inside. In some corners, groups would first erupt into "Go Happy, Go Happy, Go Happy Yukarin" chants before going in. I found my seat in the third row of the 1st floor balcony, which offered a decent view of the stage as well as the crowd below. Woah it was a sea of pink! With vast majority in happi or parka, this audience was definitely the most uniformly colored group out of all the Yukarin shows I've been to so far.

An hour later, lights dimmed and the arena got flooded with pink glow of pen lights. Introduced by the giant screen up top, Momoiro Danshaku, NEKO and NECO, and Momoiro Mates came out to lots of fanfare, and there was even a fully suited Momoiro brass band. When the dancers all pulled out pompoms, it gave away the 1st song and the crowd cheered in anticipation for "Love Me Now." It was a surprising choice considering pompom songs usually came at the end during previous lives.

Once the music hit, Yukari rose from the trapdoor in the center stage (but no jump this time). She had a silver/white two piece dress that ended just above the knee and a crest of white feathers in her fixed up hair. When she raised her pompom, the crowd followed in kind, jumping and waving with pompoms of their own. This song has its own unique moveset thanks to being worked into a PV, but it's pretty easy and possibly less complicated than even just default concert calls (Love me now *HEY!*). Having experienced this song live twice already, I was able to follow things without much trouble.

Then out of nowhere, a familiar brass opening...and then "OMG CAN IT BE??". As someone who has rewatched Pinkle Twinkle Party DVD about 3 dozen times (not all complete rewatchings), there was no way I could mistake the first song of that fantastic 2006 concert: Picnic! It's one of the few songs that I can recreate all of Yukari's motions by heart, so I was able to see she nailed the performance with the same grace as back then, but with a few variations (improved shuffle). Picnic is one of my all time favorites, but it seems it was just a normal song for the crowd or it was simply too old for current fans ("のんびりいこうぜ、ゆかり!" and "笑って" calls were a bit sparse.

Next song was Happy Life, an upbeat song that called back to the time when she first performed it live here in the same location during Chelsea Girl 08. For this song she took off the top layer of her dress to reveal the skirt was actually part of a frilly one piece, then joined her dancers on a large moving platform that sent them down the middle aisle of the arena. The platform traveled all the way to the end of the arena where it stopped for the rest of the song before returning to the stage to do MC.

First MC was a bit shorter than average, but pretty standard fare for Yukarin. She welcomed everyone to day 1 of Budokan. "But even though it says "Opening Day" it's only just a back to back performance." Then as usual she played with the audience, running around the stage calling out every part of the stage (Arena, 1st floor, 2nd floor, etc). Amazingly she resisted the usual temptation to omit certain sections.

Typically, it goes something like:
"Arena!"
"YAYYYYYY"
Second floor!
"YAYYYYY"
Ok that's it"
*1st floor goes EEEEEEHHH*
"Ok fiiiinnnnee. 1st floor"

But today Yukarin was surprisingly nicer than usual and hardly had an insult for anyone. Ok, she did at least try to tease the fans in the stage side seats, calling them はみ出席 being in such a bad position but it winded up being cute instead. She would run all the way to one side of the stage and hide behind a speaker, poke her head out, and say "Hah if I do this you can't see me right?". It was so cute the other side demanded she hide for them too. Guys with full balrogs of ultra bright glowsticks started going nuts trying to flag her down. Yukari seemed to enjoy the spectacle since she gave them plenty of attention, though I get the feel that fans who do full hands of glowsticks are more numerous in recent times than the old lives shown in DVDs. Without any official endorsement though, the opinion on this shift is divided among fans especially since some of the guys don't even use pink (why would you balrog ultra green at this kind of concert)??

Interestingly, she also didn't do any weird crowd surveys this time like getting age ranges, male/female ratios, working vs unemployed, people who came by train/plane, dads who brought their kids, guys who went to comiket and bought dirty books, etc (all real things asked in past lives before). Instead of her usual prolonged teasing, she transitioned pretty into full blown SERIOUS teary eyed mush mode (typically reserved for finales) and concluded the MC by thanking everyone who came, wishing for everyone to have a good time, and hoping they'd take back great memories. Woah? Spoiled princess Yukarin being so nice to us in opening MC. She must have thought hard on this and decided to open with a more sincere note to really appreciate people who came in light of recent earthquakes, though she didn't reference this directly.

She sang the title song of her latest single Platina Lover's Day. The song is too new to get its own special cheers but it got a pretty good response crowd-wise since we all knew this song would be included. It's a good medium tempo live song that fits "Yukarin" calls well. Then she jumped back in time again, to Spring Fever from her 2005 album Kohaku no Uta, Hotohira. This is not an often performed song, but enough people knew the calls since she had a four-stop tour in 2005 named after it (see extras on Cutie Cutie DVD). It was a good choice considering the season, though I personally did not know it too well - only watched those Cutie Cutie digest extras once or twice.

Next was Don't wake me☆ up. It's a very simple yet catchy tune that I used to loop quite a bit when Tomorrow came out and pretty much describes my work life. Inexplicably, it got skipped in the set lists for both Dreamy Maple Crown and Princess a la mode, so I'm glad it finally made live rotation at least once. During the song, Yukari came over to top of the stairs on the left and right arms of the arena so that 2nd floor sides (where we were) could see her up close. After the song, she left for a costume change while announcer Haramaki Kouji (and Yukarin's real life cousin) narrated for band member introductions.

Momoiro Danshaku was the same members as usual except...the brand new P-tan on keyboard, who has now replaced Nobupyon. Looks like they are still trying to find a permanent keyboard position ever since Julian left (stripped of baron nobility??). As an aside, I believe Masanyan currently has the longest tenure among the danshaku right now. While most band members played a quick piece, GOD as usual came out with his own special pompom dance.

Once the band was introduced again, Yukari reappeared on the stage with a new costume: a deep blue skirt with white polkadots, shoulderless red top lined with black trim, and high heel slippers to sing Nagareboshi Jenny, the c/w song on the latest Meron Ondo CD. Of course at the time, I only just bought the CD hours before and hadn't listened to it yet, so I was standing around wondering "WTF when did this song come out?" But it's great. It had this 1950s musical feel, with dancers coming out in opposite colors of Yukarin (red polkadot skirts, blue top) and doing a zigzagging line dance that looked like it came straight out of a broadway production. Yukari's dance routine for this is also really RELALY cute - possibly one of her best routines ever - with her kicking her tiny heels up and back like a swing dancer during the "only you" sabi (and she has such nice legs for it)! It's something I'll rewatch on a DVD just for the dance.

After this, the stage went dark for YOURS EVER, the first acoustic performance of the night accompanied by P-tan's piano. It was another song I didn't recognize, but actually it's on the Sincerely Dears album, (I only listened to that 2 or 3 times so I must have just forgotten). No matter, acoustic corner is time to just enjoy singing without worrying about calls so I just tried to soak in the sound. I mentioned in older live reports that acoustic corners are one of the best parts of a live since it gives you a chance to just take in a performance. Although 神曲 are really fun, they also divide your attention as you desperately multitask between watching the singer, listening to the song, trying to do calls, and watching others do calls out the corner of your eye to make sure you're not doing everything wrong. So I took these rare opportunities to listen hard. Unfortunately Budokan's acoustics (or perhaps my location) was not too good so I felt like the sound was a bit off. I remember from Niigata when she sang Namida no Loop it was so sultry my ears nearly melted off. Yukarin tried her best today, but the sound just wasn't on her side this time. I hoped next time might be better.

Following the acoustic performance, Yukarin moved on to Floral Blue (c/w song from Platina Lover's Day) Yukari sang while two dancers appeared at the top of the stairs in short blue one pieces to perform some sort of slow tango.

Giving band members time to set up again, there was another round of member introduction for Momoiro Mates, who each entered after being announced with the slightly oddly phrased "Number 1 *adjective* Girl." In Yukari Kingdom, everyone is No. 1 in something! Each girl had a few seconds to show off some dance moves. There were high kicks, cartwheels, spins, and jumps although some dancers did some hilariously out of place moves like booty grinds.

Unlike Momoiro Danshaku, I didn't recognize any of the Momoiro Mates. It's hard to keep track because there are so many regulars who rotate in and out of lives, and the absence of some known members doesn't mean they're gone or replaced. I really only remember MAMIKO and NATSUMI's faces because they taught me the Meron on Theme dance in the Chelsea Girl DVD and Happy Loop in Pinkle Twinkle Party respectively. So I looked for either of them, but no luck today.

Once dancers were done, Yukarin reappeared in a fancy dress that looked like a big purple candy wrapper and was adorned all over with large ribbons that circled her entire person and went into the next song baby blue sky.

Now getting to the the third song I didn't know, I was starting to wonder if I had missed an album release lately. I prefer getting to know and like a song before I hear it live so I was kicking myself for not researching new releases. But, a lot of the crowd was also a bit lost so we just tried to fill in with normal cheering.

Then came MC which explained everything.

Wait! Wait a minute everyone! This song was the first song I ever wrote
Audience: "OOOOOOOHHHH"
"So how come there's such a pitiful reaction? It's more like people are going 'what the heck is this song?'"
*Crowd laughs and denies, even though they know it's true*
Tomorrow. If, IF by chance this song happens to play, I want you all to get really excited about it. Even though you don't recognize it. Because you know, if this song gets on DVD, I get paid 0.03 yen in royalties! Well that's less than 1 yen per copy, but anyway if this gets played tomorrow I want you all to get pumped up for it! First, when you hear this opening, I want you to yell KITAAAA. Let's practice

Ahhh greedy Yukarin is the bestest. Yukari opens her arms wide and starts singing the little tune and yelling "KITA!" The band plays the opening again, and everyone feigns extreme excitement. After a HUGE KITAAAA scream, Yukari leads the fans in "hey" chants, and then mimes out her fantasy scenario of seeing tomorrow's fans getting totally confused by the heavy cheering. She also mentioned very specifically not to reveal the plan online. Apparently she wanted them to get the same weird feeling we all got, but intensified even more because hey EVERYONE ELSE KNOWS IT! When she asked who really didn't know the song this time and got a big response, she explained that it was a coupling song from her 2002 single (Love Parade). Woah that's before I even became otaku, but unlike Baby's Breath it was never played enough for most people to know it unless they were really long time fans of Yukarin. On a separate tangent, she finished off MC by telling a story of the previous day about how she tried to make some melt some chocolate cream over bread, but when she baked the combination, it hardened instead.

"Ok it's about time to get to the next song. Super Special Day"

What!? Don't announce something as awesome as Super Special Day so casually! Even though not many people knew a song from 2002, they sure as hell knew this. Though this song is even older (2001), it got the biggest reaction of the night so far. To be fair, this is a popular fan favorite from Tokimeki Memorial 2 and has actually been played during lives with its own calls (L. O.V.E. Yukarin!) And the calls were very loud. Everyone was just so excited about this coming back since it hasn't seen at a live since Sweet Milky Way in 2007. I personally didn't think I'd ever get the chance to do this song or picnic.

Jumping forward to more recent times again, Yukarin followed with Koi ni ochita painter which was one of the songs on her Citron no Ame album that she didn't get to sing during SCS tour. After this song, Yukarin changed costumes again while each brass band member did a piece. No member got introduced by name though.

Koi no ageha is a jazzy song from her 2008 album Komorobi no Rosette. Though I'm not a huge fan of the melody on this specific song, these jazzy songs in general are interesting because they let Yukarin drop a few octaves and go into deep voice mode. It was a good choice especially since she had the full brass band today and could make good use of them, so we got all the real instruments instead of a recording. I couldn't remember if she was usually supposed to have a cane in this or not, but she didn't have one today.

For Shinseiro, another newer song on her latest album, Yukari got on the moving platform again and it brought her to the center of the stage. As she was singing, a gilded white cage lowered in from above. After she stepped in and closed the door, the cage lifted back up until she was around first floor eye level. The lighting changed again, and a slow rain of feathers came down all around her. This must have looked pretty dramatic from the front, but being at the side, it just looked kind of weird. The cage was slightly tipped at an angle from her weight, and all the feathers were falling slightly behind. So my view was basically this:

That's not a complaint though. Yukari in the bird cage brought her within much better viewing distance to us, and any effort to do that is always highly appreciated.

Next was Hoshizora no Spica. This is a pretty popular song that got a decent reaction. Similar to Douwa Meikyu, its live rendition is accompanied by pyrotechnics. During climaxes of the song, blasts of fire would shoot from the stage in a pattern as if someone were playing a flame organ. It did seem to be manually operated because I recall the at least one time when they forgot to trigger the flame. I guess the operator was too engrossed in the scene.

Finally came the most highly anticipated moment of the night, Meron Ondo time. A video came up with NEKO and NECO in Happi coats. They went over each move, step by step and paused at each segment for the audience to repeat what they just learned. Narration was done by Yukari in her "Yukari-chan" voice (I believe that is the name given to her chibiko form now, at least according to the FC page's web comic). This is the same voice as used to say "めろ~ん音頭がはじまるよ~" She even did sound effects, going "aaaahhn" when having everyone lift their hands which drew muffled laughs from the crowd. Now imagine an entire instructional video like that.

Once the video was over, Yukarin came out along with several members all wearing the happi coats. Rather than just having only the 8 dancers who were already introduced, there were also some new faces including a bunch of kids in the group. Some of them seemed no older than 12 yrs old (woah shouldn't you girls be in school?). I guess they were all there to give it a "festival feel."

With everyone out on stage, we all raised our hands into the starting position. The dancers stayed on stage, while Yukarin, NEKO, and NECO all got onto the moving platform to lead the audience from the middle of the arena. Then music started and it was all *clap-clap-clap* A~SORYA for a few wonderful minutes. This is certain to look sooo crazy on video. My only wish was that they clarified the correct starting side, because the problem with Yukarin moving on the center platform is for everyone in the front half of the arena including us, halfway through the song we need to turn around and then...uh...which direction should we do now? Same "mirrored" direction as before, OR, copy Yukarin exactly now that we are facing the same way? Eventually I settled on copy exactly, swapping between mirror/original depending on the location. Minor details such as this aside, ondo was definitely a fun time.

After Mero~n Ondo, NEKO/NECO treated the platform like a canoe and rowed Yukarin back to the stage. On stage, NEKO did a disappearing/reappearing trick with a cloth and the stage trapdoor. It was pretty obvious how it worked, and anyone on the side could easily see behind the cloth but everyone humored the magic trick anyway with applause and cheering. Once NEKO finished, Yukarin also wanted to do it too. Her trick involved an extra step where she switched places with a Cherry puppet before finally returning. "Ah but I forgot my meromero stick! That means I can't do mero~n"

Cue a guy coming in with the stick while chanting "UnUnSodaSoda" which the crowd also copied. As an aside, I always get my hopes up for Meron no Uta when this chant starts but it never happens. So this guy says he COULD give Yukarin the stick, but he wanted some attention first. "Come on guys, what's my name?"
Audience responses were: *silence*, "Uhh", and "おまえ!!" orz
Finally someone got his name. Actually it was sound producer Tamachan. After I heard that, I remember I saw him twice before during Starry Candy Stripe tour, but I forgot his face entirely.

Yukarin took the stick and did usual demonstration by waving all the band members. Since P-tan was new she told him to pay special attention to his first ever mero~n. Masanyan actually dodged mero, but Yukarin must have not seen it because she didn't give him too hard a time. Once danshaku all fell to the floor after getting meromero she said it looked like BL.

Then it was the audience's turn. Since she mero~ned a few times already without n~rome, we all just assumed n~rome wasn't coming. So when she did try it everybody had to scramble back into mero~n position. Redo! She tried it again but just decided to freeze the audience in their backbreaking position without releasing them. "Ahh I'm tired." Fans yelled "EEEEHHH" but she just said she enjoyed seeing such a wonderful lit up sight of everyone's face in pain. So cruel, himesama! Finally she returned everyone to normal with n~rome and started into Oshiete A to Z.

I got plenty of "A to Z" practice last year so it was easy to follow along. The standard fare during this song is the double-clap, single-clap rhythmn.

When she followed up with You & Me immediately after, that was the signal that we must be getting close to the end. You & Me is such an energy hog, since the audience winds up shouting 30% of the song. Not much to say about the song that I haven't already said for SCS, but the audience seemed especially loud today. Fans just really love their rap.

Next was Koiseyo Onnanoko. YES! The 1st Yukari song I ever memorized the entire choreography for. I had only did this song once during Animelo 08, and I didn't have a puppet back then. I had hoped for it during SCS but it never came. Now was my chance, and this time I was able to follow everything, from jumps to waves to drawing giant hearts in the air. For my puppet, I chose to use Chocola with the latest one-piece, because she's such a good girl.

Keeping the momentum of high level songs, Yukarin jumped onto the moving platform and continued with Cherry Kiss, a very popular song is usually saved for ending concerts on a high note like Dreamy Maple Crown and Princess a la Mode. I love this song, and knew to expect it from the sound check, but I often confuse the chorus with that of candy smile (they're pretty similar and both act as closers IMO) so I was constantly thinking "hey when she was gonna do that famous kick?" After was Kono Yubi Tomare, another from the latest single. This is a fast paced pop tune that is definitely going to be a staple of lives in the future. Lots of "hey, hey" in it that fits well with concerts. Yukarin and dancers all held up towels that they started to swing around during the chorus. All the fans did the same. Well, except me, because I didn't buy one of the Live towels that day and I certainly wasn't going to use the microfiber towel with Yukarin's picture on - way too fragile. Made a mental note to go buy a pink towel the next day.

For the final song, she ended with Chelsea Girl - now an "always play" during lives that we all know and love. But, I don't think we've had Chelsea Girl with full brass band since the last time she did it in Budokan in 2008, so that was a major plus. As is usual with final songs, during the chorus, ribbons shot out and fell into the crowd to celebrate the end of the show.

After wave and waves of encore chants, Yukari returned to do Gratitude. I have great memories of this song thanks to SCS tour, and the ARIGATOU parts still lifted my spirits as much as ever. It's easy to overlook if you only listen to it on CD (as I did before SCS) but as soon as I heard it live I fell in love with it and I was very happy to hear it live again.

For final MC
Wow it's really hot in here isn't it. Gotta replenish water. But if I drink too much I'll have to go to the bathroom. If I keep drinking like this I'll be in trouble. lolwut? She said it in such a worrying tone too, not like a teasing fans kind of way but a "oh shit I've got a real dilemma here" kind of way. Yukari also had 3 announcements to make.

1st announcement was that she will be part of ORICON INFINITY MUSIC 2011 at Universal Studios Japan. Apparently her love of Terminator 2 came about because she took a ride on the T2 attraction in the past.
2nd announcement was that she will be part of Animelo Summer Live 2011's Day 1 Lineup
3rd announcement was that the last day of Starry Candy Stripe 2010 in Tokyo Kokusai Forum, plus tomorrow's 4/16 Spring Mary Rose concert will be on BD/DVD by sometime this summer.

Second to last song was fancy baby doll. During the extended bridge for FBD, as always, Yukarin brought out a big basket full of bunny dolls but this time there was a special bonus. While she threw a few in every direction of the arena, NEKO and NECO prepared the big guns to reach upper balconies. Enter FBD Cannon, a huge muzzle-loaded single-shot air cannon that blasted a cluster of dolls out 50-70 feet - far enough to reach the 2nd and 3rd floors. They had several of these cannons that she would just fire one after the other. The first time she took it out we were curiously cautions, then *BOOM* bunnies just fly out and smack against the balcony wall with the crowd going "WOOOAHHHH"

And finally the true last song of the night was Super Special Smiling Shy Girl, enough to kill the last of any energy we had for the night, as well as our voices. Near the end Yukarin turned the microphone toward the audience so arena, 1st floor, 2nd floor, and 3rd floor all got their own separate turns to sing the final segments and do chants.

After everything was over, Yukari did her farewell wave, going to each side of the stage plus the moving platforms so she could cover every part of the concert hall. Each section also started its own Yukari chant. Yukari even started a coordinated wave on the third floor, something that didn't happen last year. Yukari's really good at doing farewells because she just exudes this aura of gratitude - like she REALLY doesn't want to leave, and we don't want her to go either. But it was already close to 9:30PM, so after 3 long hours...LOVE LIVE 2011 Spring Mary Rose Shonichi was finally concluded.

And just as I was thinking how crazy awesome that is and how my trip was all worth it and done, it hit me that yeah, I've still got tomorrow :P

Day 1 Set list
01.LOVE ME NOW!
02.Picnic
03.Happy Life
04.Platina Lover's Day
05.Spring fever
06.Don't wake me☆ up!
07.Nagareboshi Jenny
08.YOURS EVER (acoustic)
09.floral blue
10.baby blue sky
11.Super Special Day
12.Koi ni ochita painter
13.Koi no ageha
14.Shinseiro
15.Hoshizora no spica
16.Mero~n Ondo
17.Oshiete A to Z
18.You & Me
19.Koiseyo Onnanoko
20.Cherry Kiss
21.Kono yubi tomare
22.Chelsea Girl
23.Gratitude
24.fancy baby doll
25.Super Special Smiling Shy Girl

Number of songs by year of release
2001 - 1
2002 - 1
2005 - 3
2006 - 1
2007 - 2
2008 - 3
2009 - 3
2010 - 6
2011 - 5

Next post will be Day 2 MC and set list variations, followed by third post for goods report. Speaking of goods, I think I spent over $700 on them this time. Where hell did that all go? Even I haven't accounted for it yet.

Posted by Paranda at 2:19 AM | Comments (3)

February 8, 2011

Seiyuu Paradise 3 goodies

Seiyuu Paradise 3 arrived today. The magazine itself has 12 full pages of Tamura Yukari including full photo spreads and a lengthy interview about her latest single. She talks a bit about the driving themes of the spring, and about her own upcoming birthday. She also speaks to the single event and the 400th kurousagi radio broadcast. Plus there is also a concise Q&A page where we learn, among other things:

- Her childhood dream was to be an idol.
- The animal she likes is cats (eh, not rabbit!!!?!?, but we knew she loved cats from Cats Living).
- She eats a lot of Pokotto Cheese
- Her favorite time is when she's at home. Sleeping.
- She's bad at interacting with people. (IMO she says this all the time, even on her blog, but you can never tell because she seems like a good conversationalist!)
- She likes the sound of steel drums, and windchimes, and totally-not-the-sound-of-money.
- When asked about foreign countries, she said she likes Japan best and didn't name drop any countries. No mention of France.

Has some good info and nice pics, but really I only ordered it so I could get the pouch :P. Turns out it's actually just a pencil case with a cardboard insert. Looked better in the previews, but hey who can argue with free magazine bonuses?


Case and box


Cover


Back


Sample page.


Case, outside.


Case, inside. With DS for size comparison

Other stuff in Seiyuu Paradise 3: Hocchan and Minorin pinups and interviews, live event coverage for Milky Holmes, iCarly interview with Mizuki Nana, ridiculous cheesecake Chiaking photo, big portraits of Sphere, big portraits of Hanazawa Kana and Kobayashi Yu, and Naosan's Hopes for 2011

Posted by Paranda at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2010

Minorin day at NYAF

Though I missed Friday's events entirely, I had a pretty good Minorin-centric Saturday, starting at 2AM when I went to line up at Javitz for autographs. It was cold, but at least not too boring after moy and alexd showed up a few hours later. After the con opened up at 7 and we got tickets, alexd went back to his apt, while moy and I went to the nearest couch and promptly passed out dead for a bit. The moment of rest was short lived. By 11AM I was back camping the panel room for Minorin's Q&A.

Though there was no fan participation this time, the East Meets format is pretty interesting. It consisted of Minorin (east) opposite several western voice-over actors (west) having what amounted to a semi-scripted and friendly dialogue to discuss their different experiences in voice acting. Welcomely absent from the panel...

- Biographical questions that could have been looked up 2 seconds on Wiki
- "Who/what is your favorite" dilemmas
- What's your inspiration? x 10000
- Guys more concerned with promoting themselves than asking the guest anything

Admittedly I do derive a bit of guilty pleasure from seeing the occasional oblivious fan ask questions of a career-ending/bridge-burning nature if talent were to answer truthfully. It's funny to see seiyuu rack their brains trying to formulate fluff non-answers to dodge things that most people would know better than to ask.

There were good bits and pieces which will no doubt make it onto youtube. In one part, some of the western actors talked about how they auditioned for a role by recording a demo-tape at home. Minorin misheard and thought American voice actors could phone in entire sessions in their own home and flipped the fuck out for a while before somebody picked up on her confusion and re-clarified that it was for audition only. Minorin totally froze up and went "Oh yeah. Of course, we do that too!" with a REALLY embarassed look on her face and started laughing. It's ok Minorin, nobody thinks you're an airhead for missing a translation (they think it for the million other reasons). Probably the funniest part was after Minorin learned that for American cartoons, voice actors would record with only a script and some storyboards, but no video. She just burst out with very loud and cute "EEEEEEEHHH?" several times while the translator was explaining things. The english VAs thought she was adorable with the reactions. I think that may have also been a bit of misunderstanding at work though - Maybe Minorin didn't get that for our cartoons, the animation is done to match dialogue after the voice recording, because she was asking stuff like "how do you know how the pace of the lines?" and remarking how incredibly hard it sounded.

After the panel, we took the group picture that is now posted on Minorin's blog, and then immediately rushed to autographs. I previously got a name-personalized pinup thanks to moy, and this time a non-personalized autograph on Kimi Ga Kure Ta Ano Hi, an older single. When I brought out this CD, one of her handlers (anyone else feel she looked like an older version of a certain other seiyuu?) was really amused and called over another handler to share like there was some inside joke associated with this item. I wish I had asked what was so special about this item but I was momentarily starstruck by Minorin being way too close, and didn't really have time as they were rushing us through the line at top speeds. So I give my CD to the handler, and she gives it to Minorin who signs it in just a few seconds - even faster than May'n. But even though the encounter was brief, Minorin has a way of looking straight at you and delivering a killer smile that makes all that time waiting in line overnight worth it.

Since I didn't have a VIP ticket, I figured I had to line up as early as possible to get a decent chance at finding a seat so right after the autograph I grabbed a quick lunch and then headed straight to IGN theatre. By this time, the lack of sleep combined with the effects of post-lunch food coma caught up with me and made those 3 hours wait in line an absolute torture. I was in a zombified state yet unable to sleep because of the hard floors and cramped space. Finally the doors opened a little past seven. I wish the staff had allowed people to file in a bit earlier and in a more orderly manner, because as soon as they started letting people in it turned into a mad dash for the best remaining seats. Originally, I was in 6th row all the way on the sides, but somehow got moved up to 4th row center-right into VIP seats reserved for people that were no-shows. Still I was away from the main FC section to my left (see video - I'm the lone UO guy on the right side while most fans with UO are on the left). As I tweeted earlier, there are advantages and disadvantages to this. First, in my section people were sitting down while the FC section was all standing up. At first I was really low key with my glowstick and actions because I felt like a bit of a jerk being the ONLY stander blocking the view of people behind me, but by the middle of the first song I decided "hey how many times do you get to see Minorin perform this close live, if people aren't going to stand up...well fuck-em" and went into full-on concert mode. It was also harder for me to see what others were doing and follow along since it meant I would have to turn to the side and divert my attention from the main act (I decided to just do whatever felt right based on experience from other concerts, and it turned out all right and mostly in synch). Some advantages were the extra space from the aisle being so empty and the fact that being the only standing and participating person in the area, whenever Minorin came over she waved to me a bunch of times (yayyyy).

Minorin came out in a short blue dress and thigh high leather boots, but more impressively she was rocking the same hairstyle as she had during Anisama 2010. She must have gone straight to dressing room right after the autograph session to get it ready in time. Similar to what MELL did at AX and Otakon before, Minorin's MCs were 100% in English for the entire night. The sentence structure wasn't very good, and the english wasn't polished at all, but it only made the MC better because she was trying so hard with what she had memorized and added a certain charm like she prepared her speech herself with only minimal translator help. "Do you like Haruhi? I like Haruhi too!" *trademark minorin giggle*

As predicted, the set list was dominated by Haruhi songs. In order:

Yuki, Muon, Madobe Nite
FC went UOs. I should mention though that it's well known that full blown "otagei" is frowned upon at Minorin concerts, so even though we were standing up, we just did calls with high intensity and standard stuff. No craziness. Still I was kind of pissed that most people near me were sitting down though, even though they got free glowsticks. WTF, didn't you line up for hours to get to the front and all you wanna do is take crappy cellphone pics (despite the ban on photography), check mail, and watch the jumbo screen?

SELECT?
Almost 100% blue glowsticks

Junpaku Sanctuary
Slow song, but pretty popular. Got a decent reaction when she announced it. FC went all white

Tommorrow's Chance
UO. Crowd starting coming alive at this point. Couple of people starting standing up as well and coming up behind me.

Freedom Dreamer
UO. It's VERY fun to do live with all the call and response, and especially the coordinated jumping. This is probably what broke the ice for most of the crowd though and people starting getting up and participating as they got the hint during "everybody jump". Frankly she should have opened with this song as it set the tone for the rest of the night. I was doing leaps at full power several feet off the ground, so I can't walk now.

Paradise Lost
UO. Because Minorin doesn't want us to rest.

Keikenchi Joushouchuu
When Minorin did MC and said "Do you know...Minami-ke?" the crowd erupted into cheers. FC went UO again. She must not do this very often live though as there was a bit of confusion about the glowstick waving pattern. Even FC was confused, so it was very much a learning experience for all of us.

Yasashii Boukyaku
Blue/White. Break time from excitement.

Hare hare yukai
UO finisher. For the final song, Minorin called out Christi-nyan and another dancer Carrie and they all did the Haruhi dance. Minorin called for everyone to do the dance. I think it was the only time the FC got outmatched though, most of them, and myself didn't really know the moves and had to resort to hasty copying. In a reversal of roles, a lot of random people in the audience without glowsticks DID know the dance moves.

At the end Minorin read her thank you message in English and said how much fun she had coming to NYC. After she left, the FC "leader" put up his beacon and tried to start an encore chant but unfortunately it kind of fizzled out since not enough people were chanting "Mi-no-rin". Lights came up soon after so we left the arena and freed up seats for people who were there primarily for masquerade.

Afterwards, some fans had BBQ and afterparty but given how much energy I expended at Minorin concert I was on the verge of collapsing so I headed home for the night.

Final goods:

Autographed Minorin poster and CD

Not pictured, signed Puffy Ami Yumi CD.

Posted by Paranda at 12:44 AM | Comments (7)

September 30, 2010

Starry Candy Stripe in Sendai

For Sendai, I won't go into songs since the set list was the same as Niigata which you can read here. I was hoping to catch Koiseyo if Yukari was going to mix up the encore, but looks like all the tracks are going to be identical for each live. Still, there are some interesting experiences to mention, because the MCs are different and the fans are different.

Sendai Sun Plaza Hall was very cozy, and even though it seated more people they felt closer to the stage. Since I had no pressure to buy limited goods this time, I came only one hour before the live thus skipping all the lines and arriving fresh with maximum energy. When I went to the goods table, I was surprised to see the limited Sendai-only t-shirts hadn't sold out so I bought one. It must be the unappealing green color and weird drawing on the back this time that killed the sales. After I got into the hall, I found that my ticket, originally thought to be 6th row center based on a seating chart, was actually third row again since the hall was using a compact layout. My section was a tiny little patch roped off by cords way in the front and the best seats in the house. Wow that's lucky! When I sat down this time, all the fans in the area around turned around and said "yoroshiku", a little bit of camraderie building that was repeated for everyone who entered the section. Since people were being really chummy in this section, I introduced myself to the fan next to me and he showed off a Nanoha costume that he put together himself for the "Cherry" puppet. I'd have taken a picture, but the staffers were being very strict about cameras even attached to phones and I didn't want to get kicked out for any dumb reason.

Yukari has been in Sendai before so the tone of her MC was kind of like that of a reunion. She remarked this time that people looked like bugs with all the green t-shirts, and what was up with that? The audience went "EEEHHH? This is your own T-shirt!" Well she was totally taken aback "WHAT? That's the gentei shirt? Sorry, I really didn't know. I'm serious I really didn't see it before!" In the middle of talking she noticed the ropes that were sectioning off the different zones, and said it really looked like a cats cradle. We got called the dangerous section since we were roped off from all sides. When she followed the lines, she also found that left and right sections' seats come to a single point. So she rallied up cheers for the people who had solo seats on the tips. Never trust Yukari's kindness though, because she continued "How come you're sitting alone? Don't you have any friends?"

She followed up by asking how many people came to Sendai the same day like her, so I and a big group of people rose their hands. Then she asked who came in the day before, and another small group rose their hands. Finally she asked who was in Sendai about even before that? Another big group rose their hands. "What? Why? What did you do before?" Fans yelled out "Well we live in Sendai" to explain, but she shot that down with "Oh, if you live in Sendai then shut up I don't wanna hear you." She revealed that she herself was part of the first group, and that she actually didn't come to Sendai until that morning. So what about that tweet she posted the previous night about eating gyutan (Sendai's local specialty)? "Actually I had that in Shinjuku lol." Another huge "EHHHHH" from the audience. Oh Yukarin...

In the second MC, Yukarin joked that everyone probably staked out at the Sendai Animate for nothing, since she only just came to Sendai today and the only thing she did was go to eat ramen. She said the full name of the restaurant, but I don't think anybody knew where it was.

In the third MC right after acoustic corner where she had changed into her frilly skirt, the audience coordinated claps and she got really interested and wanted to try. She became de-facto clap leader. It started out innocently but of course with Yukarin, it ended up with her trying to fake out the audience with surprise claps and odd patterns. Yukarin asked who came from Niigata and some fans cheered. Then she asked who was coming to Sendai for the first time, which was the majority. She said she was disappointed. "Did you check online to see what the set list and stuff was gonna be?" Fans replied yes, so she said "Ok then, quiz! What dance did I do in Niigata?". She proceeded to once again do that ridiculous dance (only halfway this time though).

She was in the middle of talking when a staffer tried to move from one side of the hall to the backstage area. Unfortunately, he wasn't stealthy enough as he caught Yukari's attention when he was hunched over. Since his shirt was riding up, Yukari yelled "Ahh I can see his underwear!" as he embarassedly scuttled away. Then she debated whether it was boxers or briefs. As she was on the topic of underwear, she suddenly asked the audience "know what I have on underneath this?" For this dress, she implied she was wearing something that wasn't safe to show to keep the form (not bloomers) and teased lifting up her skirt but then said "I'm definitely not showing you." Since she brought it up, it was fair game for the audience to keep calling for it. I didn't quite understand the exchange after, but somehow Masanyan and the drummer Hatabou ended up taking the blame for the fan reaction, and Yukarin loudly exclaimed "The H in Hatabou stands for HENTAI." It became a running gag for the rest of the evening that the drummer wanted to see Yukarin's pantsu and the rest of the band tried to assist him with this like positioning his seat directly under the big staircase where Yukarin stands to perform. They also joked that he had a camera hidden in his shoe when he was standing awkwardly near her.

The Sendai travel video was less interesting than the Niigata one, probably because she only had one day to shoot it. She went to Sendai station to buy some omiyage and had some noodles at Tanaka. Actually the most interesting part was just when she was sitting in a car trying to guess what HDTV stood for (HAADO, no, HAI...HAI...DISSOLUTION? DIMINITION? DEBANATION, DEFEENEESHON? HAI DEFEENEESHON *whips out portable english dictionary* DE-FUH-NI-SHUN. DE-FUH-NI-SHUN. HAI DEFUNISHUN TEREBI SETTO!). The engrish was cute, but her attempt to imitate the american accent in her dictionary was just so damn funny. But I guess the humor is lost to non-english speakers - I was the only person laughing at the final "correct" pronounciation.

During MERON time, Yukari tried to find her staff but this time they wised up and were nowhere to be seen. Angry and disappointed, she resorted to using just using band members to demonstrate this time. She also meroned the girl holding the camera (during which we suddenly became aware that unlike Niigata this event was being taped). Then she turned to the audience. Since this hall had balconies, she did meron and reverse meron starting from the 3rd floor down to the arena. It was standard fare for the 2 balconies, but when it came to our turn in the arena, she froze it, and froze it way longer than last time. Then she went to get water, and everyone in the arena, still frozen in back bridges, managed to force out strained "omizu oishii" yells. She thought it was funny how painful the calls sounded and did an impression of it. "Even though your'e meromero, you'll still yell that?" She threatened to start the next song without releasing meron.

Aside from unique MCs, the live mostly went the same as the one in Niigata but I had as much fun the second time as the first time around, and I gained a further appreciation for just how wonderful the acoustic corners are.

Goods for the day: just a green "mushi" T-shirt

Bonus:

Yukari fan spotted on the Matsushima island cruise.

Posted by Paranda at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2010

Starry Candy Stripe in Niigata


On 9/23, I attended Tamura Yukari's LOVE LIVE 2010 Starry Candy Stripe in Niigata

I arrived at 5 AM and there were already about 30 people in line, probably from the night before as they were clearly in for the long haul with folding chairs and thermoses. More people showed up around 7AM and the line grew very quickly after that. Looking at the line, most people were wearing Yukari shirts from the previous year's fanclub event or live, and a lot of girls were cosplaying as Yukari. I guess it's kind of easy to replicate since a lot of her wardrobe is from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright line, but a few fans went the extra mile and duplicated costumes such as her bunny outfit from Love Live Chelsea Girl (aff. link). This wasn't a great day to wear expensive clothing though. Niigata was cold and wet. It rained the whole day, very heavily at times, so by the time the goods booth opened at 12:00, almost everyone was totally drenched even though they had umbrellas.

After entering, there was a big prop sign welcoming people and speakers playing Citron no Ame album tracks in the background. Multiple tables were able to process people quickly. The most popular goods were obviously the limited stuff, but especially the Chibi Yukari doll - virtually every single person in line bought one. Gentei shirt this time was an orange T-shirt with onigiri drawn on the back (rice being a specialty of Niigata). The hoodie was also a popular choice, and even though it wasn't limited it sold out pretty quickly. Pink wristbands, pink towels, and pink shirts were also selling faster than their other colors since it's the official Yukari Kingdom colors. I got everything I needed, but when I went back to check on the booth at around 4pm, all of the above were sold out. After goods, I played gacha to try and get the special prize. I ended up winning on my fourth try, and turned in the winning ticket for a leather Yukarin pocket book. I decided to keep playing gacha anyway though because I wanted to see what other stuff came out. Exhausting all my 500 yen coins, I ended up with some neat stuff like mint tins, tiny dolls, and a bunch of posters (many extras). I've got Poster A x 3, Poster B x 2, and Poster D x 2. I'm happy to give away the extras, but will gladly trade for a Poster C if you got it (trades get 1st priority).


Fans waiting in the rain for goods

After gacha, I just chilled on the couches in Niigata TERRSA's lobby with other Yukari fans until they started letting people into the hall. When we were walking in, some fans gave out callbooks which looked pretty professional and had full color pages.

I found my seat in the third row and immediately noticed that the stage was very close - about only 3 feet away from the front row's do-not-cross line. The rows were also close together, so I'd judge that the stage was probably about a total of 12 feet away from me. Not only that, but I was sitting on the inside corner towards the center of the stage so it was a great unobstructed view. Around starting time, people started taking out the Yukarin happi coats and tying headbands. I had mine with me but I decided it was too hot and just stuck with T-shirt. I'm not that hardcore of a fan anyway to go in uniform.

Around 6pm the lights dimmed and there was a brief countdown before Yukarin stepped out of the mist and came down the steps. Her first outfit was a spotted red & white top, a poofy dark blue skirt with white frills, and white lace-up boots. She launched a strong opener with Heavenly Stars, then Chelsea Girl. I probably watched and memorized various performances of Chelsea Girl about 200 times across different DVDs so often it was really hard to fight the urge to copy her movements, since I should be harmonizing with the fan calls instead. Looks like some fans next to me had the same problem, and were trying to decide whether to copy Yukarin or just go with the crowd actions and would switch from one to the other and back again. Next was Oshiete A to Z, another recent favorite with its own unique synchronized clapping.

After she finished there were lots of very loud "YUKARI" screams. She opened up her first MC asking if anyone actually knew the full name of the venue. Nobody replied, so she read out the concert hall's incredibly long english name "Niigata Town Employee Relax Refresh Social Amenity" (Niigata TERRSA) and its introduction. When she went to get water, some dude yelled out "omizu oishii" which became a main focus of MCs later on.


Niigata TERRSA

The next song was Kamisama Rescue Me!!, a tropical sounding tune with steelpans that was choreographed with hula hoops held by each dancer. When this song started, Kusundeneko and Kusundenaineko, who I didn't notice were missing for the first few songs popped out onto the stage. She tore off her blue skirt to reveal a frumpy pair of short red bloomers. Following was Goody & Happy with a very jazzy feel to it, and Little Wish ~first step~. It was pretty surprising to hear Little Wish so early. This is a fan favorite which everyone in the audience knows and loves, so all the calls and hand motions were practiced to perfection. During the final chants, she went behind the stairs to change costumes while a video narrated by Donna Burke played to introduce the band members and dancers. When she came back, she had changed into a short cyan dress and matching slippers. Then, she did Shooting Star and Suna Ochiru Mizu no Kyuuden before she took another break to talk to the audience.

This was a fan teasing segment, as Yukarin started to talk about how she got creepy messages on twitter where people said they licked her thighs in her pictures. Secretly, she's actually quite proud of it. Since she was wearing that really short dress, she teased hiding her thighs by crouching down and turning to the side. All the upper rows started going "eeeeeeh" and yelling "let us see!" When she was gloating to most of the audience, she suddenly looked in our corner's direction and went "Ah, even though they can't see, you guys have a nice position right?" Yeah Yukarin, lined up a pretty open view for the bottom left side from that angle. If this were an anime, it would the part where the entire row shoots nosebleed fountains.


Lobby just as they opened doors into the live hall

When she got back up, unrelated to any topic at hand, she did this incredibly stupid looking dance out of nowhere which looked like a sumo prep routine but with more stomping and flapping your arms. After she did it once, the audience started chanting "mouikkai" but she became embarassed about it and refused to do it unless everyone else did it too. So we did! The entire audience started doing the same ridiculous looking dance while she lead on.

Next was Hadashi no Princess. She went ran back and changed into a red dress with fringes and an elaborate skirt that folded around the back but left most of the front open to show off her legs before coming out to do Tomorrow. The song included some pyrotechnics, so there were flames shooting out from parts of the stage. Next was Cursed Lily and Love Sick. During Love Sick, the audience tried to do motsu's parts. I barely knew this song so I just mumbled gibberish - you can't tell the difference during a live anyway. But, it didn't seem like too many people knew the parts in my section either. It must be too new. Yukari's dance for this song was nice though, and it had her doing a lot of interesting steps outside of her usual predictable idol moveset. She was really moving around a lot for it.

There was another break for costume change. We watched a video of the cats trying to wake her up. They starting with yelling, then escalated to banging pots and pans, tickling her with cattails, and throwing ice on her. At one part, they came out in Yukari Happis and started doing Yukari PPPH which got the entire crowd to follow along. This woke her up, but she told everyone to shut up and went back to sleep. After a long time, she finally woke up and the cats put on her new outfit and stepped toward the screen. Real Yukarin synchronized her exit onto the stage in the same outfit, an elaborate pink lolita dress with ribbons. During the video, the band members had swapped out all of their electric instruments for acoustic ones to do Namida no Loop. For the song, Yukarin came really close to the audience and sat in a chair to sing the ballad supported only by these instruments. Everyone stayed pretty quiet and just enjoyed her singing voice. Acoustic corners are one of my favorite moments because there's no pressure to do any calls, and the complete silence from the audience allows you to just sit there and really take in the atmosphere and focus 100% of your attention to the singer on stage. You could listen to all the intricacies of the singing and it was really nice. I never really listened to this song much on albums, but it sounded really great live. I guess she uses corners like this to remind people that yeah she's actually a good singer and it's not all about idoling and cheering.

During MC, she showed off her changed costume. Fans yelled out that the ribbons were cute so she told them jealously if they liked ONLY the ribbons so much they should just marry it. Continuing the theme of the evening, every time she went to get water, or even reach for water, people yelled "omizu oishii." She tested it out with other band members and had the same thing happen to them. Then she had every band member drink from their water bottle while the crowd cheered, and asked them "omizu oishii?" When they said yes, the crowd exploded into way overly enthusiastic celebration. IDGI I guess Yukari fans are really easily amused?? After all the band members had water, she asked if everyone in the audience also brought water, and people held up their water bottles. What happened next was crazy: she went to each section (middle, left, right) and picked a random person in the first row. Then she went over and sat REALLY close, like legs dangling over the stage close, leaned into them, made them drink and asked the same question. As a bonus for our section, when the guy started drinking she started panting really heavily and said in this totally deep ero voice like "....is...is...that water good?" Even for us in the third row, it was the best and closest view of Yukarin all night. In another segment, she asked fans what specialty should be eaten in Niigata, and the prevaling answer seemed to be yakisoba with meat sauce. Gotta try that when I'm back in Niigata next week.

She announced her next song Sugar Tune, which got a loud crowd reaction and also made people bring out the koiseyo puppets. The song also has its own hand motions which had to be copied, so it was a good thing I watched some concerts beforehand and followed along. Then, Metausahime came. If there was any UO song, this was it, but from what I've seen Yukari concerts only accept one color: pink. During the "hizamazuke" line, the ENTIRE crowd just went down quickly and it was an awesome sight to see. The "Haaahaaaaaa" chants also involved throwing yourself down in a bow, immediately followed by scrambling back up again to yell out "Hime, hime, hime hime hime." In all, it was pretty intense and definitely one of the highlights of the night.

Another break this time. She played a clip where she went to the animate store in Niigata the day before. At the store, her goods were selling at the end of one aisle so she hid around the shelf to see if anyone was buying it. She was really disappointed when nobody was looking at her goods so she tried to hide close to where customers were standing, yell a really quick "AHEM~SELLINGYUKARIALBUMSHERE" in a disguised voice, and then duck away. When the people ignored it, there was a huge EEEHHHHHH from the audience. After a lot of tries, someone finally came over and Yukari happily ambushed the surprised customer. When he revealed he bought the album, she signed it for him and initiated a handshake. This got a huge reaction from the concert hall. She did this with a few more customers and was then asked by animate staff to sign her name on one of animate's store posters. She couldn't spell the kanji for Niigata so she was trying to copy some tiny text on the bottom corner of the poster, but messed up with a hilariously ugly looking 潟 and had to write "niigata" in hiragana on top of it to clarify - if you go visit animate in Niigata you'll find this amusing mistake still displayed on the wall for all to see.

After the video, Yukarin came back in a white sailor (officer style, not the school kind) blouse, layered checkered skirt, and knee high white boots. She did one more song Koi no Time Machine before it was Meron time. The fans pre-empted the great reveal because they saw Meromero stick on the counter and called out for it while she was still talking about other stuff, so she had no choice but to cut her MC short and bring it out. For the usual demonstration, she caught several staff members (trying to flee) and lined them up execution style alongside the band members and meroooonnned them all. Then she said "I wonder if this works in reverse" and waved them back into standing position while going "nrooomeeee~". She tried the same thing with the audience, MERON and then reverse NROME. On the second pass, since we were all expecting backwards meron everyone froze after doing the meron wave but she just cut it off after meron and went "wtf are you all doing?"

After we got all got our fill being zapped with meromero, she did You & Me. There was a lots of hype for this song since everyone was pumped to do the motsu rap part. Yukarin feat. kokumin was a great success and very very loud. During the rap, Yukarin looked like a kid who just made a huge heist from the cookie jar with that smile on her face. I guess she had a good time getting everyone to yell out such long segments. Then the band immediately transitioned into Fancy baby doll. There are two kinds of people in this world, people who have yelled out "Sekai ichi kawaii yo!" during a live FBD performance and people who haven't. The latter is missing a vital life experience, which I'm glad to say after years of waiting I finally got. She also continued the usual tradition of throwing out usagi dolls randomly into the audience. Before the final sabi, there was a segment to introduce band members and dancers. When the song resumed at the climax ("and I'm Tamura Yukari, 17 years old") the crowd just went into insane overdrive. The next few songs had almost no breaks, but there was just so much energy I think we all forgot to be tired. She went through Love love baby happy star, a song from the new album which will probably become one of the most fun and energetic live pieces in her repertoire, and candy smile. In the middle of candy smile, she removed her top and skirt to reveal a tiny orange one-piece. For the last two songs, Gratitude and Love me now, a ton of people busted out pompoms that they must have kept from FC events earlier this year (recall Love me now PV). Also during the Gratitude climax, there was a big pop and gold ribbons dropped from the ceiling onto the audience. For the rest of us without pompoms, we just continued to use pink penlight or ribbons that we caught. Again, Love Me Now had a special dance that was taught to fans during the FC event so you couldn't just rely on usual call instincts. Luckily the dances have a certain predictable pattern to it, and I was able to copy easily.

During the encore, I took time to turn around and fully absorb the feeling of an entire mountain of people behind chanting and waving pink penlights. Yukarin quickly came back in a pink concert t-shirt, miniskirt, and Chibi Yukarin doll attached to her hip. She thanked everyone for the encore and launched into Douwa Meikyu, which always ranks very highly during the FC events. Next was Super Special Smiling Shy Girl which was so much fun with fans singing part of the chorus and yelling "SUPER SPECIAL SMILING SHY GIRL" together.

During the last MC, she was supposed to blow a dinky little trumpet and surprise everyone while GOD (saxophonist) secretly busted out a sax solo from behind, but she missed the cue and messed up the timing causing everyone to laugh at her.

For the final song, she sang My Wish My Love, an appropriate track to wind everyone down for the night. At the end, she held hands with everyone on stage and asked everyone in the audience to do the same to take a huge bow. Some guys were hesitating, but she used some reverse psychology which appears to have worked. She said, "if you don't want to do it, just shake off the person's hand like this" while doing a disgusted throwing motion. After that, everyone started reaching across even between the aisles until all the lines were connected and then the whole audience took a huge coordinated bow with Yukarin leading.

I thought there would be a second encore, but Yukarin signaled it was the true end and stood on the stage to wave at people for a long time - like a really long time. She moved really deliberately from each aisle to aisle and made direct eye contact and waved to every single person who attended, which was pretty cool - you could just see her eyes moving across each row slowly, waving, and doing a smile. Whenever she reached a new aisle, the aisle coordinated a big "Se-no, YUKARIN" yell that she enjoyed getting each time. Finally after almost half an hour of waving she gave one last actually sincere sounding "thank you" and left the stage while blowing kisses. When the lights came back on, fans led the post-concert chant and everyone did the clap-clap-clap-HEY thing that you see in at the end of DVDs all the time.


Goods table

Outside in the lobby, they had tables that were selling a ton of Yukari CDs and DVDs, including some really older ones like Sugar Time Trip. They were giving away special items for purchases over 2000 yen, so I picked up a B Gata H Kei vocal album in order to get a clear file. I also talked with the fanclub staff near the Yukari passport stamp counter for a bit, but unfortunately they said they had no way of handling overseas addresses (Momoi spoils us so good).

Even at 9:30 PM, it was still pouring outside, but as I stepped into my cab I could only think about the overall fantastic set list, with more of my favorites than I could have hoped for. Her MCs were a lot closer to her radio personality this time too given how dirty some of them were, maybe because Niigata isn't being taped. Performance-wise, Yukari and all of her costumes are totally adorable up close, and her live singing is the real deal. My only wish is that I could have heard Yukarin-solo version of Koiseyo (only heard Yukari x Nana version at Anisama 2008) but it's a minor complaint considering how many good songs I did get.

Final goods for the day:

Bonus:

Close-up of super limited Chibikko Yukarin doll (only one per person)

Next, MOSAIC.WAV and Yukarin again in Sendai.

Posted by Paranda at 2:41 AM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2010

Thinking about 1980 birthdays

The following ladies are about to be eligible for the 17 club this year.

Arai Satomi
Chihara Minori
Itou Shizuka
Kadowaki Maii
Sakakibara Yui
Ueda Kana

They'll be joining Endou Aya, Kaida Yuuko, Kobayashi Sanae, Mizuka Nana, Morinaga Rika, Noto Mamiko, Sakamoto Maaya, and others for 2010 inductees

Actually this year probably has the most people ascending to the next level that I can remember in recent history. For shows that I've watched at least...

It's a good year for 30s. One of these days I'm going to plot the ages of all the seiyuu I like against some arbitrary perceived favorability point system to see the distribution. If a tenuous link to ageism can be made at all, it actually seems to work in reverse in this industry - at least up to a point. Or of course, the other explanations being experience, "paying your dues", likelihood to land breakout role are probably better indicators.

Then again I can just write everything off as a stubborn refusal to admit there are people younger than me in the work force. I only graduated a little over two years ago dammit I'm still a kid and I want to watch my cartoons without feeling guilty! 24+ or bust!

Posted by Paranda at 3:06 AM | Comments (0)

May 5, 2010

Yukarin's average skirt length gets shorter every year

I said that aloud when I flipped my calendar today to see this May/June 2010 page.

Since I was thinking about it anyway, I decided to go back through some old concerts to take a look. Results...

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

There is clearly a trend as the hemline begins creeping above knee length. But of course we must be objective observers. Before we draw conclusions, how do we know it's not just random or if Yukarin is merely representing an overall larger trend? Well we'd have to compare it to a benchmark. Unfortunately, with my weak Google-fu I could not find year-over-year average skirt length data in Japan. So I used the next best thing. Normalized Nikkei 225 prices pulled for all of the concert dates. Why substitute a Japanese equities index? For the sake of this post, let's just make the completely ridiculous assumption that Hemline theory holds and that whatever tracks this mythical hemline has a beta of one.

So with that, if we consider the index to be reliable, it can be shown conclusively that KTS (knee-to-skirt) spreads on Yukari have been widening drastically since 2006. We can only conclude Yukari is clearly diverging from the trend with skirt length reductions which cannot be explained by overall shifts in the skirt fashion trends. Thus there is a strong possibility these changes are intentional and will continue further.

So... with Princess a la mode about to ship in a month, do we have to prepare for nosebleed levels?

Posted by Paranda at 2:22 AM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2010

Yuzuruu no kobeya visual book arrived

For some reason I bought this. If you were a yuzuruu follower you probably remember getting bombarded with hype for several days. I guess tweet spam got to me and I had a moment of weakness.

Originally a C77 product, Yuzunee's venture into doujin publishing recently became available for mail order on Kirakira Shokai..

Seiyuu doujinshi is not unheard of. After all, Halko Momoi has manned Comiket tables herself and already published two volumes of Siesta, each containing her essays, short stories and other bits of literature.

Yuzuruu no kobeya of course, is just a leeeetle bit more lowbrow. Not that I'm complaining. It is a visual book and I knew what I was getting into.

That's actually just the back cover. I didn't get lucky with a signed one (1 in 30 odds). Rats :(

The contents are a mixture of cheesecake, photo montages, and scrapbooking.


Considering her past, I don't think anything here qualifies as risque though, contrary to some more outlandish claims on her site. It's actually pretty tame and you won't have to worry about the mailman looking at you weird if he sneaks a peek into your package.

The highlight is probably a four page feature inside where guest seiyuu doodle animal representations of Yuzunee. I didn't post the inside since she has been using it on her interview as a big selling point, but there are plenty of recognized names in there including Ueda Kana, Kugimiya Rie (lazy lazy tsk tsk), and Nakahara Mai among others.

If you buy the CD, you are also treated to two half-hour recordings, and a mini exercise track (see "yuzuruu to issho ni training" above). Supposedly, they are all recorded on location by what seems to be handheld equipment given the enormous amount of background noise but they do have a nice amateur feel to them. The first track is Yuzuki chatting with Koyama Tsuyoshi and has a home video kind of feel to it. The second track is supposedly a "real life bath" but it was so awkward and embarassing I had to turn it off. I can't listen to someone talk with running water in the background. Maybe you'll have better luck.

Ordering both book + CD as a set (now sold out) netted a bonus gift of Tirol chocolate squares with a special Yuzuki wrapping paper. Apparently, Tirol is known for its collectible wrappers and there are even hobbyists who dedicate their lives to cataloging candy packaging.

Since I am a rube I just opened it up like a normal person - no gloves or tweezers involved.

The chocolate itself is nothing special, but it looks nice and has a tasty chewy filling inside.

Posted by Paranda at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2010

March means double Yukarin calendars

Momoi's calendars run from January to December and come in a nice case which doubles as a table stand. Tamura Yukari on the other hand, is too good for us plebes to care about our limited wall real estate. So she'll just make her 2010 Calendar start in March, even though her 2009 calendar runs through April. Inevitably, with this overlap, both are hung together and I am drawn the compare the two.

2009 Calendar

Calendar dates as "tear off strip" on edge of poster. This means you can reuse each page as a B2 poster.

2010 Calendar

Calendar dates are part of the B2 portion of the poster. This means it looks pretty bootleg to hang these up once the month has passed - unless you're willing to live with the slight offset

And talk about a noticeable downgrade. While 2009 kept the dates as extra removable strips outside of the B2 area of the posters, 2010's calendar date cuts into the poster itself. BY TWO WHOLE MILLIMETERS!! Thanks a lot Yukari!

Update: actually I must have been hallucinating when I wrote this (at 1AM). Just took a spare B2 I had lying around and you know what I realized? Both calendars are actually B2 size including the date strip. That means if you tear the dates off along the perforated lines, you have non-standard size posters. I've been living a lie this whole time!

Or so I would like to say if I were into sperging about minor details, but hell I just appreciate some seiyuu make huge calendars. This year's picture selection is quite good so all is instantly forgiven.

Now come on, Momoi, sell me some B2s!!!

Posted by Paranda at 1:16 AM | Comments (2)

April 2, 2009

Punkolle - listen once, then sweep it under the rug forever

After over a month of waiting due to some shipping snags and the delay of another accompanied item, my copy of Punkolle ~voice actresses' legendary punk songs collection~finally arrived last weekend. Well..where to start?

It's fitting that the cover features moe avatars of the six seiyuu all delivering the middle finger squarely to the listener. I suppose that is exactly what was promised though - terrible renditions of songs pronounced with atrocious engrish accents in ridiculous voices. In fact even the "engrish" part is suspect as many tracks are utterly incomprehensible. The liner notes naturally do not contain any lyrics, since it is clearly a wasted effort. I suspect the recording process involved the recording crew ambushing stumbling drunk seiyuu on the way home from a bar with a microphone and betting if they could sing from memory.

Of course for everyone who happily listens to the Moetans, Maritans, and countless other "this is a pen" style attempts in the world by seiyuu to cutely mangle the English language, concerns about quality or clarity take a backseat to novelty. With this in mind as context, Punkolle was generally a success. Sure some songs had a few wasted opportunities to get creative with the source material, but most tracks met expectations nicely, and three particular ones exceeded way above and beyond. In order of preference:

1. Sex and Violence. This song practically defines the entire compilation.
Momoi opens the album on a high note, taking generous artistic liberties with "Sex and Violence." In order to compensate for having exactly one line, each slightly-too-happy reptition is done with a slight variation on the voice or background effect that progressively escalates into the absurd. By the second half, Momoi has gone clearly lost her mind and has gone from just adding "cha cha!" in between lines to declaring herself to be a cat, yodeling in high falsetto for the backing vocals, slurring her speech like an old man, and inexplicably screaming "Oniitan!" (in a song about Sex and Violence). Listen carefully and you can probably pick out more than two dozen different voices in all.

2. God Save The Queen. I have no future.
Ikezawa Haruna's take on God Save The Queen is excellent and probably my second favorite track on the entire album. Ikezawa has a decent enough voice, but what really distinguishes this performance is that instead of just singing the words, she makes a ridiculously cute attempt to throw in an accent, tons of vocal slides, and plenty of style. She even rolls the R's! The effort is quite amazing and at some points it almost seemed as she really did believe she was a punk superstar. The song sort of runs away with its own personality and makes for highly amusing listening. She does this well in Basket Case as well, although to a lesser degree. Either way, Ikezawa's strange accent is something I can't quite pin down but I know I like it.

3. Pretty Fly (フォ・ア・ホワイト・ガイ)
Since "Pretty Fly" is already a satirical work in itself, intentionally corny, and a popular target for parodies, I figured there wasn't really much potential in this song aside from maybe the humor in Kadowaki Mai calling herself a white guy. Yet somehow, Mai manages to create a musical abortion that few people can ever be ready for. The entire song sounds like it was done by a second grade student desperately trying to recite lines for the school play while making "> <" eyes and running out of air. The delivery is occasionally broken up by her piercing "ahaa ahaa" that is enough to make me nervously check over my shoulder for policemen (explaining the situation probably wouldn't make things better). This is the track you can show to annoying people if you want them to look at you funny and leave you alone.

While there are a few other nice covers, these three tracks are all that make the entire album worth getting. Of the remaining titles, Momoi's Call Me was probably the strongest in terms of singing ability. Other fun tracks included Goto Yuko's surprisingly non-abrasive "Smells like Team Spirit", "London's Burning," and Shimizu Kaori's "Blitzkrieg Bop" which sounds like it was ripped out of an Adventure Island level. The weakest tracks were Tanaka Rie's covers which, while not actively bad, did suffer from extreme dullness. Punkolle could be a historical album noted to be one of the few song compilations where Goto actually comes out ahead of somebody else.

So I guess I lied in the subject, because the truth is I actually might listen to it a few more times, but only certain songs and I probably wouldn't admit it under any non-otaku social setting. In the right situations though, it is a nice CD to bring out especially since it appears to have flown under the radar in the English speaking community (I only read 2 - 3 sites talking about it at all). As proven in Hawaii by another Momoist, it can be weaponized for highly effective use during road trips - great for springing on a captive audience. To avoid severe bodily harm when listening in a group setting such as the above, make sure everybody involved has a safety word established in case things get out of hand.

Buy it!

Also, I got the Momoi card :P

Posted by Paranda at 11:15 PM | Comments (20)

March 17, 2009

DMC concert goods

I'm back home finally. Forgot to post this before I left:

Despite eventually bailing out on attending Yukarin's Dreamy Maple Crown 2009 tour, I managed to get a few concert goodies shipped over thanks to nyol (lots of overlap between Momoi and Yukari fans) who sacrificed many hours on line and some $200 in my stead.


In the picture starting from top left, going clockwise: Yukari Oukoku Hachimaki, bag, DMC B2 poster, mon cheri single, METAUSAHIME single, 2009 B2 calendar (six poster pages), Cherry key holder, portrait set, and pamphlet/photobook.

I wish I could have gone but the circumstances just weren't right. Here's looking at 2010. Maybe then I'll finally put these to use.

Koiseyo puppets are serious business.

Funny story while at Chuck's in Hawaii: Another Momoi/Yukari fan asked me who I liked more: Momoi or Yukari. On my seiyuu idol fandom scale from 1 - 10, Momoi would be the only 10, Yukari would be an 8, and most everyone else would be somewhere below that so it wasn't a super hard question. However when I replied out loud, I somehow slipped and said "もちろんゆ-" before correcting myself. It was too late - she commented on the "yu" part. How can I live with myself after such blasphemy?

Posted by Paranda at 10:25 PM | Comments (7)

January 20, 2009

DMC sadness

As I have learned over the weekend when looking for DMC tickets, Yukarin's concerts appear to employ a remarkably fair ticket system to prevent resellers from picking off good arena level seats and auctioning them. The entire front arena section is apparently determined by random drawing for those who buy specific fan club lottery tickets, with final seats revealed about 10-14 days before the show dates and then mailed to you. When browsing through the general public tickets, I have only seen listings for second and third floors. While I could opt to participate in a fanclub drawing through a proxy, it would be cutting it pretty close with a number of things potentially going badly. In the end I feel this element of uncertainty makes the trip not worth it. I'll probably just save the money for Animelo 2009 and aim for Yukari in 2010 if she does something major again with a more transparent ticketing process like Budokan.

I will have to be making trips in March and May to see Momoi anyway, so this gives me some breathing room. Note: there have been pretty big price drops for tickets to Hawaii for that exact weekend March 12 - March 16 so if you are still thinking about it, take a look at some airlines - the prices are cheaper than you may think.

Posted by Paranda at 9:10 AM | Comments (5)

January 5, 2009

Age cults

Since Tanaka Rie's birthday passed over the weekend, she is now eligible to be 17 years old, a concept she once lampooned (in character as Maria) during an episode of Hayate no Gotoku.

The age 17 sect is probably the most well known club in the seiyuu industry, with a motto that embraces eternal youth with an sense of bittersweetness. The criteria for membership include being a female seiyuu, being 17 years old plus a minimum of 156 months, and being personally recognized by the cult leader Inoue Kikuko. Members can usually introduce themselves using their name followed by a proclamation that they are "17 years old" which gives the crowd an opportunity to call out a response or cheer depending on the person.

Although Kikuko did not proselytize much, the movement gained momentum in 2006 when notable seiyuu Tamura Yukari was officially initated into the club. Horie Yui followed Yukarin's example shortly after. Although many seiyuu after have adopted this line of thinking, the list of actual members remains small due to the strict membership requirements.

Due to broad appeal but surprising exclusivity, a number of interesting situations have arisen in response to this organization.

For those supporting the movement, some seiyuu seem to have earned a transitional status in the club where they are implicitly endorsed, but do not hold official membership because they do not meet all eligibility requirements.

There are also power struggles and resistances. Lately, as anyone who has seen the last DVD can tell, Yukari (supposedly bored with the central tenets) has injected some sarcasm in her declarations as opposed to deadpanning the usual lines. Then again, with the release of Meron no uta~Yukari Oukoku Kouka (Melon song~Yukari Kingdom's National Anthem) her religious heresies have been more or less retconned into a very blurred dual personality explanation.

My own theory is that the highly disparate modes she can switch into implies there are actually two Yukaris: One being the normal witty professional voice actor Tamura Yukari, and the other being her delusional alter-ego, an eternally 17 princess who believes she lives in a castle on a pink moon, has magical staff powers activated by winding herself up and then spinning in circles, and is also simultaneously married to Horie Yui and Mizuki Nana (presumably fantasies created as some sort of defensive mechanism to cope with the reality of the soul crushing seiyuu business). This kind of tongue and cheek cheating is still diverging quite a bit from Oneesan's original vision though. Still she remains an official member to date.

Additionally, the 17 brandname has faced the threat of dilution with various spinoffs such as the 10 years old cult formed by Kaneda Tomoko, and the 23 years old cult formed by Takahashi Chiaki, and even radical resistance movements. Team 30, an underground counter-cult originally formed by ARIA seiyuu during a radio broadcast, has declared that veteran seiyuu should embrace the reality of being over 30, and as such have marked the 17 age sect to be its sworn ideological enemy.

Posted by Paranda at 11:54 PM | Comments (3)

December 30, 2008

Spring concert plans

Since my vacation days are about to replenish when 2009 rolls around, I have already started thinking about some events that are coming up. I'll post my plans early in case somebody else making the same trip would like to enter into some sort of buddy system to make traveling safer and easier and less boring.

First thing I am eyeing is Tamura Yukari's LOVE LIVE 2009 *Dreamy Maple Crown* tour from mid February to early March. Back when Pinkle Twinkle Milky Way came out, I swore to myself that one of these days I would run the Yukarin gauntlet and attend a bunch of concerts back to back. Love Live Chelsea Girl reinforced those intentions, and finally the "sample" Animelo performance pushed me over the edge. I can't wait any longer. I must attend this tour!!! An early search for airline tickets is showing me about $950 for a round trip during most of February. This is about $200 less than my flight for last September's Animelo trip, plus it is eligible for a first class seat upgrade thanks to a bunch of unused frequent flyer miles that I accumulated from the last trip. Additionally, if I factor in President's Day, it is entirely possible to attend 3 concerts in this tour while only using up 7 vacation days: Leave New York morning of 2/12, arrive in Tokyo 2/13, take shinkansen to Fukuoka and attend the 2/14 concert, do some random stuff in between, attend Osaka performance 2/21, Tokyo performance 2/22, and return to the US on 2/23 (arrive same day thanks to the time zone difference). This makes this trip very attractive economically, but things could get pretty expensive if I start bidding on FC front row seats instead of just buying general public tickets.

Second event I am looking at is the 2009 Honolulu Festival. US fans who missed out last time rejoice, because Momoi is a guest once again. Given the incidents that happened in Hawaii that time (wotagei on stage, going for a swim, shooting a fan video with Momoi), this trip is very very difficult to turn down if only for that 0.001% chance that they might happen again. This would be a short trip using just 4 vacation days (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday). Honolulu Festival itself is FREE, so the only costs would just be flight, hotel, and a few cases of glowsticks. Unfortunately, seeing that this takes place March 13-15, there is less than one month to recoup costs from "Dreamy Maple Crown." This makes budget a rather large concern, and may require a strictly enforced diet of bread and water, freezing cold nights without heat, and giving up all figure/CD purchases from now until March...especially as it would be unwise to dip into savings given the current environment.

So..if I had to pick only one, which should I choose?

Update 01/05/09:
Much to my dismay, I discovered there is a mini Momoi event (part of a larger Ani-Uta live) in Japan on the same day as one of the Yukari concerts. There is a slight gap in times, but it is too risky to attempt the two consecutively. Since the purpose of the trip is to attend Dreamy Maple Crown, I am forced to choose Yukari who has the more focused event. I will of course go to Hawaii in order to ease the pain of choosing one over the other. Also, I will likely shorten the Yukari trip to just one weekend 2/21 - 2/22 in order to conserve vacation days and expenses thus making the cost of all the trips manageable (spending another week in Tokyo to see only one more show costs nearly as much as simply flying out again in the future - not worth it). My second motivation for this cost cutting is due to anticipation of another *unconfirmed* Momoi event in May that, if finalized, I will attend (you know the one).

Posted by Paranda at 1:47 PM | Comments (5)

December 23, 2008

More details on 'Punk Collection' tracklist?

Bookservice.co.jp is the first site that I've heard of with an update to the Omniverse Seiyuu Punk Collection item on their order page.

Based on this list, some singers and trackes have been changed. None of this can be corroborated with any other source so far though, so take It with a grain of salt.

[update: 12/26/08] Amazon has the same list up which I guess is a confirmation of sorts.

1. Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen (Ikezawa Haruna)
2. Green Day - Basket Case (Ikezawa Haruna)
3. Iggy & The Stooges - Search & Destroy (Kadowaki Maii)
4. The Offspring - Pretty Fly (Kadowaki Maii)
5. The Clash - London's Burning (Goto Yuuko)
6. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Goto Yuuko)
7. The Clash - White Riot (Shimizu Kaori)
8. Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop (Shimizu Kaori)
9. T.B.D (Tanaka Rie)
10. T.B.D (Tanaka Rie)
11. The Exploited - Sex & Violence (Momoi Halko)
12. Blondie - Call Me (Momoi Halko)

They should have gotten Ueda Kana to do one since she rages against the machine (presumably the establishment consisting of old men). Someone obviously spent too much time on XBL.


[update: 01/06/09] Release date pushed back to end of February :(

Posted by Paranda at 11:30 AM | Comments (5)

November 28, 2008

Seiyuu Punk Compi[lation]

Let's talk about the punk cover project that Momoi is participating in. People who get the CDJapan newsletters have probably already seen the advertisement for Seiyuu Punk Compi preorders.

The current roster consists of Momoi Halko, Sakura Nogawa, Ikezawa Haruna, Kadowaki Maii, Kuwashima Houko, and Shimizu Kaori. According to mu-mo, this CD will have twelve songs so I'm guessing we'll either see these six seiyuu covering two songs each or another six announced to make it one seiyuu per song (which would be awesome*1). We know Momoi can pull off some radical style changes, but the rest of the cast is untested in this genre as far as I've ever heard - pls. post examples if they exist. I suppose of the remaining group, Sakunyan is most likely to pull off something that doesn't sound like a donkey braying as I have a good idea of what voice she will probably use. This is not a knock on the member selection though. If they announce more artists, seiyuu like Morinaga Rika or Watanabe Akeno would probably feel right at home but I like this theme they're going with where they apparently select people at random with a dartboard and no regards to how much anything fits their projected persona or musical history.

So far we have a pretty diverse group of songs revealed (in no particular order):

Sex Pistols - Anarchy In the U.K.
The Crash - White Riot
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
U2 - With or Without You 
Green Day - Basket Case 
Ramones - Blitzkring Bop
Rancid - Rudy Soho 
The Offspring - Pretty Fly

There is no indication of which seiyuu is covering which song and I have not been listening to any radio recently, but looking at the above list my guess is that Momoi would probably cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit" given that she is a Cobain fan. I don't know if the singers choose their own songs and how strict the genre guidelines are but another possibility could be Momoi covering a Weezer title. There is no mention of whether these songs will be rearranged to be more suited to the seiyuu, or if they are expected to imitate the originals. It is also unknown whether the lyrics will be Japanese or English. If they go with the latter options, the results will probably be a lot of fun in that jaw dropping train wreck sort of way, but something that any self respecting person could only hear exactly once before taking out a sledgehammer, smashing the CD to bits, and then if the hammer is still intact, smashing themselves to bits (assuming having lived through Kadowaki - hopefully she is placed at the beginning to put us out of our misery early). Therefore, for my own sadistic sake, please let it be the trainwreck.

Sound work will be done by FREE-WILL who has worked with some big names like DIR EN GREY so at least we can expect it to get polished to a mirror shine. Maybe it can even be used as a weapon for blinding.*2

P.S. Momoi's Hot Shot Jr. released tonight!

*1 No Hirano Aya please.
*2 Add Goto Yuko and it will become an illegal weapon of mass destruction.

Posted by Paranda at 2:31 PM | Comments (4)

November 3, 2008

Matsuki Miyu owes 27% of her best songs to Momoi?

miyu.jpgSo I've basically been MIA for the past few weeks due to the unique combination of insane credit markets, CFA cramming, presidential election obsession, and an inability to resist reading economist blogs when I should be sleeping. A.K.A. "Getting the Grima Wormtongue makeover." But I will come out of my cave to mention that Matsuki Miyu's new "Best Songs" album released in late September caught me by surprise when hitting the playlist. Four out of the fifteen songs in there are written by Momoi including "Musume Gokoro Otome Gokoro," which I actually had never heard before. It's interesting stuff. In fact I hadn't realized Miyu was the singer for the Coco version of Kokodayo. It also has Camera=Mannenhitsu (Miyu's labeling doesn't include the !!! part even though it probably should), a bit of an amusing coincidence because I was really looking forward to hearing the same song in Momoi's self cover album coming out next month. Matsuki says they are really cheerful songs. Momoi is not mentioned by name in the liner notes commentary though

Posted by Paranda at 12:53 AM | Comments (1)

September 27, 2008

Chiiiii


Pretty good location to watch from :)

Rierie is one of the earliest seiyuu I ever liked before I became a Momoist - in fact probably the first one. To this day, I never outgrew my initial Rie fandom, so when I was able to see her perform live today it was an incredible rush. When she sang "Let me be with you," or when she spoke to the audience as Chii and did her signature '~chiiiiii' my inner Chobits fanaticism (shamefully buried away since 2003) manifested itself and I started waving my glowstick like a maniac. Rie doesn't have too many songs so it is difficult to judge her singing ability, but she does have a few (one?) good albums and she is decent live (on key, loud enough, and very stable). Of course she also cosplayed, though I'm not sure as what. Overall I am very satisfied, though it is my opinion that Rie needs MORE SONGS MORE LIVE. It would have been better if it lasted more than 20 minutes, but just seeing even that was enough for me.

The biggest complaint I have is with the location of NYAF itself. If Javitz Center is someone's first experience to NYC, I can understand them having a terrible impression of the city. The area around it looks like a third world country with torn down buildings, empty parking lots, crumbling bridges, graffiti everywhere, and a certain section on 38th street that inexplicably smells...'farmlike'. I hope she can enjoy Times Square and some of our more famous nicer areas without that part of Manhattan leaving a sour taste in her mouth.

Now to get some rest so I can camp out tomorrow for autographs.

Posted by Paranda at 7:56 PM | Comments (3)

September 2, 2008

Some photos taken over Animelo weekend


Ikebukuro. This will be home for the duration of the trip to Japan.


There is lots to see and do. But since this is a Momoist/otaku blog, let's just skip all the other touristy stuff I did and get to the substance...


animate! 9 floors of stuff. Took a good 4-5 hours to look through it all.


k-books (lots of good used stuff and comiket items)


Only bought a few things...spent conservatively since if I want to waste money on things that should never see the light of day, there was still all of Akihabara and Nakano Broadway.


Spotted while heading toward Animelo on 8/30.


Was so excited to be walking toward Saitama Super Arena


The Arena.


Merchandise tables. Combo sets and wristbands were sold out unfortunately by the time I got there. Picked up 2 shirts, towels, and pamphlet.


Outside map. Momoists set up camp in the marked area the next day.


Crowd began to swell as time got closer.


Had a blast at the concert. Jaw dropped when trying to find the number marked on the ticket and then the realization they were direct stage-side seats. Damn this thing was long. A great time was had, but I learned my lesson this time. 2 ultra oranges, 2 pinks, and 2 neon sticks is NOT ENOUGH. Wanted to UO on so many good acts but blew my entire stash right out the door with Yukari.


Goods obtained from the concert. Managed to catch a streamer that got shot out of the cannon during the encore. Since the thing was right next to me, when it went off I thought something exploded and nearly ducked for cover.

8/31

Posing with another Momoist.


Huge group of Momoists hanging out in the lower food court while waiting for seating to open. It was the same reliable group that has been to every concert I've ever seen so far. They came from all over. Some big trips to see Momoi include travellers from Osaka, Aomori (8 hrs by train), and even Korea.


T-shirt present for Momoi. Everybody included their own personal message. Takayama Saki (actress of Momoi from Haruko Update) was also attending Animelo to support Momoi and showed up to sign the shirt and say hello to Momoists.


These seats were actually pretty good and you could get a clear view of the performers as well as the entire arena. The "not as lucky" comparison is only relative to day 1, but otherwise it was awesome.


Lesson learned from day 1: stock glowsticks!!! Used up 15 ultra oranges, 6 ultra pinks, 2 ultra greens, 4 red and blue glowing bracelets, and fully drained 6 AAA batteries for neon red and neon blue light sticks.


Picked up 2 MOSAIC.WAV shirts along the way.

Still in Japan right now this is concise to save time. If you want to see parts of day 2 including Momoi you can probably find some recorded segments on Nico or Youtube although I won't bother posting the links since they will be constantly deleted/reuploaded. Also consider visiting seiyuu3 for a more detailed description of other artist acts.

Visited Akiba and a few other famous Momoi spots and specific stores/buildings thanks to a local fan who took a full day off to play ad-hoc tour guide. Maybe will visit more Momoists in Kyoto and we have a Suara concert to go see on Saturday. Let's see how it goes.

Posted by Paranda at 11:35 AM | Comments (3)

August 30, 2008

Blah

Day 1 of Animelo just passed. It was a bad idea to explore Ikebukuro in the morning because the concert itself is a massive test of stamina. After tomorrow I will never walk again. Too tired to title this post.

Highlights of the day include seeing Suara, Mizuki Nana, Minorin, and Yukari. ESPECIALLY YUKARI...getting to draw hearts to Koiseyo Onnanoko, getting zapped with the MEROMERO stick, and actually implementing the moves taught to the meron song in the latest Chelsea Girl DVD (good thing I watched that before I left).

Posted by Paranda at 10:29 AM | Comments (3)

July 26, 2008

Yells ~It's a beautiful life~

The new Animelo theme song has come out this week. Since a version has begun floating around online I couldn't resist but preview it while I wait for my copy. The song is rather simple but I derived great enjoyment at the constant switching up of singers, which occurs much more frequently than the previous three Animelo theme songs. Aside from a slightly annoying pronunciation of "Yell", the song has quickly grown on me after multiple listening sessions, and I currently rank it somewhere above Generation A and below Outride.

This year, Momoi got to have three solo lines, slightly up from last year, and more noticeable thanks to more balanced artist rotation (though some still got more coverage than others). Meanwhile, Mizuki Nana, Arika, and most of JAM Project except Makkun got major cuts in their line count, possibly in favor of promoting some newer acts and also because of how many verses they had in previous years.

Unfortunately despite her increased role, Momoi does not appear much in the accompanying video since she was not present during the taping of the group session. The only Momoi footage was of her individual recording session, which is played during her solo segments. This is a shame because she appears in the video very sharply dressed and in perfect makeup, giving off an incredibly radiant smile that would have been sure to draw some attention from anyone getting their first exposure to Momoi in this video. One thing that Momoi is really good at is smiling. Also as consistent with last year's DVD reveal when responding to a comment by Yoffy, Momoi always records sitting down so it was interesting to see her posture again in contrast to other artists who did their singing while standing up.


Thoughts on other artists:
1. Best delivery goes to Suara, for her version of "立ち止まらずに歩こう" compared to everyone else who sang the same line.

2. Tanimiya looks WAYYYY different from what I expected him to look since he is usually so clean cut in cast pictures.

3. I almost didn't recognize Ishikawa Chiaki despite seeing her in person at AX last year, and almost missed it since she only got one solo line like Arika. She looks like she reverse aged 20 years.

4. Kitadani is awesome as usual and likes to acknowledge the camera. Yoffy still does his handwaving. I miss seeing Naonii do his neck twisty thing whenever he sings though...this was not the year he should have sat out now that I'm finally going to see it dammit!

5. I have no clue who the hell May'n is, why is she part of Animelo again? I guess I am ok with her though, based on the video.

6. It is going to be fun seeing how they are going to split this up between like 40 people on stage for each day. I also seriously cannot picture denpa singers like Shaori or MI~KO doing anything this poppy at all. My mind will be blown.

Posted by Paranda at 1:53 AM | Comments (2)

July 24, 2008

Happy Love Live 2007 was pretty bad

In anticipation to clear my watching queue for when Momoi DVDs arrive, I finally found some time to watch two other seiyuu concerts I had been putting off.

Biggest letdown: Sakakibara Yui's Happy Love Live 2007. I really enjoy listening to Yui, so it was a major disappointment to discover that she can't actually sing very well live. You have some seiyuu idols who sing so perfectly on DVD that you can't help but wonder if there is some sound engineer heavily doctoring up all the audio before release and piping in a studio-recorded dub (Yukarin, but maybe she's just that good), and then you have performances like Yui who gets winded by her own movements. I think I will stick to listening to her CDs from now on. I managed to go about 4 minutes before I could no longer resist the urge to hit fast forward. Even the MCs were boring.

The concert was just two hours of mediocre singing and dancing, two things which Yui can't seem to get to mesh together well. In fact she is so unremarkable, the only way I could tell her apart from her own background dancers was knowing to look in the center.

I fared better with Chihara Minori's Contact First Live Tour, although I already had experience with her live singing from earlier Animelo and Lovedol DVDs so I was familiar with her approximate live singing skill. Even so, I still did a lot of skipping since a lot of the songs just didn't really appeal to me...I think I just stuck to the more well known songs that she released in singles earlier. Since I don't really follow Minorin closely, one thing that I was surprised about was that she seemed much more subdued than her "strawberry" loopy uncontrollably giggling self shown in last year's Lovedol concert or from her AX appearance. MCs were still interesting to watch through though, and Minori could still get a good reaction from the audience. My favorite part was probably the encore, which I didn't skip any of at all.

Posted by Paranda at 2:24 AM | Comments (1)

July 6, 2008

20% off Izayoi no Tsuki, Canaria no Koi

Surprisingly, what made me post this today was because of a Yukarin album that was featured on the front page CD sale at CDJapan. Can't they move enough of these without the sale?

Bargain-binned for $6 off, this limited edition album with DVD is actually cheaper than the regular edition. With SAL costing $5, the discount effectively nullifies shipping costs. Now I have no excuse not to get it.

Izayoi no Tsuki, Canaria no Koi.
Izayoi no Tsuki, Canaria no Koi. / Yukari Tamura

Speaking of Yukari, I am a big fan of Yukari live concerts. Even though I don't listen to her music that much by themselves (except for the 8 - 10 songs that I tend to loop), she is probably the most entertaining live performer I have seen other than Momoi, and her concerts are roughly equivalent in terms of infectious fan energy (I am unable to resist drawing big hearts with my hands during Koiseyo Onnanoko). She also delivers cute talks, sends people into matrix-like convulsions with her mero-mero-stick, and makes jokes about her dancers in cat costumes (it must be really hot in there...*breathes heavily*).

Probably the most appealing thing about Yukari is that she is essentially a character. In fact it is so well defined I could probably borrow her name as an adjective to describe other things. That something is Yukari-like...

Off stage, Yukari carefully cultivates a single idiot-savant image that renders Tamura Yukari the person virtually indistinguishable from Yukarin the 17-year old. Even her walking mannerisms are deliberate, as she "shuffles" in a particularly awkward gait (that I guess is supposed to be cute) yet when actually singing, she can be rather graceful. Keep in mind prior to becoming a seiyuu, Yukari worked in a finance position at a corporation in Fukuoka and holds several professional certifications in the field.

Although I do not know when I will have a chance to experience a true Yukari concert myself, maybe I will get a small hint of it at Animelo this year (plans are still tentative but chance to go is greater than 50%).

In the meantime, I will be getting my next Yukari live fix from the upcoming Chelsea Girl DVD.
Yukari Tamura Love Live 2008 Chelsea Girl
Yukari Tamura Love Live 2008 Chelsea Girl / Yukari Tamura

Posted by Paranda at 2:38 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2007

Momoi injures leg in PV shoot

While shooting the PV for her next single, Momoi fell from the stage and injured her leg. She received stitches for the first time in her life. And yet she's still not even taking that much time off still and is still zipping from one event to the next. Don't work too hard Momoi! Health comes first! Please recover soon.

In other news, San Seto obliterates competition in Saimoe. Defeating a heavy hitter like Souseiseki is truly something. Go go Momoi seiyuu magnum opus!

Posted by Paranda at 4:46 PM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2007

I love CHIAKI


Now unquestionably the best Aice5 member.

Other Chiaking exploits: Victim of a punishment game on the radio, creating an incident on AT-X due to skimpy clothes, impersonating Nishioka Sumiko, countering Inoue Kikuko's "eternally 17" cult, and more. Eronechan has no shortage of quirks.

Posted by Paranda at 9:27 AM | Comments (1)

September 9, 2007

Can Horie Yui please not be in every show in existence?

Ah Horie Yui, responsible for one of my first tastes of seiyuu fandom. I remember when I was still a budding seiyuu maniac, I would occasionally watch an episode of something, go "Hey that sounds like Hocchan" and beam proudly later when the credits confirmed my guess. Gone are those days. She is in everything, so when you suspect a voice to be Hocchan, you already know you are right. I wouldn't go so far as to say I dislike her now, but in the last six months, the novelty has certainly worn off.

I like watching her live performances in Aice5 and I do enjoy Horie Yui's cute voice, which I feel is fine for doing characters like Manabi or Suzu, but when there are too many roles done in the exact same voice, there is a point of saturation where you can only associate the voice with the actress, and no longer with the character. This is somewhat bearable if the voice at least matches the character personality, but things gets very bad when it doesn't. She often tends to dumb down characters even more than they were probably originally intended to be and I cannot stand her brand of predictable "moe" stupidity when it doesn't seem to fit the character at all.

I am especially critical of two of her latest roles: Higurashi Kai where she essentially plays an emo dope, and Sky Girls which when comparing her performance to the excellent performances of Shizuka, Ayako, and Saori, allows Hocchan's annoyingness to stick out like a sore thumb. I do not want to hear a high ranking military commander say "hauuu." If Horie Yui wants to do anything more than 3 shows per season, I would hope she stayed out of relatively normal character roles, because she really can not do those well. Sure there are some times where she actually tries to discipline her voice to match the character, but recently more often than not, she injects her own trademark style into the character.

This is a good thing right? Well, usually yes. But with Horie Yui and the sheer number of roles she plays in one season, no. I wind up cringing because of her inability to resist shoehorning her hamfisted Ayu style into clearly NOT-AYU characters. Ayu is in fact my least favorite character in Kanon so the less I am reminded of that Taiyaki eating retard, the better.

And yet the strange thing is I would probably still consider myself somewhat of a Hocchan fan, in most aspects at least for now. I just hope she scales her acting projects back a little, because she doesn't have the range to stretch herself across so many series. Idol seiyuu should just stick to being idols :3

Posted by Paranda at 5:36 AM | Comments (3)

May 17, 2007

Riepantsu

I was looking through Nico video yesterday as usual for seiyuu stuff, and one clip of Kugimiya Rie stood out as a testament to how creepy some hardcore seiyuu fans can be. In some guest appearance on Takahashi Mikako's show, Kugimiya does a cute stomping action on TV. Since she was wearing a skirt, there was apparently a panty flash for like one millisecond. Given the context of the action, and the length of exposure, there really should have been no way for any normal person to notice it. The fact that somebody was hawkeyed and vigiliant enough to see it blows my mind. It shouldn't even have occurred to them to check, unless they originally watched the entire appearance with the specific intention to catch something like this. They must have went through frame by frame. Who the hell does this?

Posted by Paranda at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)

May 2, 2007

Seki Tomokazu & Noto Mamiko at Otakon

That kind of news means I'll probably have to go to Otakon for the third time, if work doesn't get in the way. I'm disappointed it wasn't Halko after a bunch of US hype from J-ENT, but these guests are pretty good so I guess I'm not in a bad mood.

Aside from being the guy behind some legendary characters, Seki is an awesome guy based on his HM3 articles and it will be great to finally see him in action, in person. This notion is further reinforced by other famous seiyuu, such as Kawasumi Ayako who named him as her favorite to work with last year. I am currently having trouble deciding what I plan to get signed. It's down to copy of a Seki-featured HM3 or a Pierrot poster.

And, ah, Noto Mamiko, the seiyuu famously known for transforming all of her female coworkers into temporary lesbians. I'm not a huge fan of her voice work, but she is one of those people I'm actually a bit scared to meet, just because she is so pretty that I by comparison, feel like some variant of pond scum, and by pond I mean an open-air septic tank. I'm fear my self image may never recover were I to approach her for any sort of autograph. What the hell do I get signed anyway? She doesn't have any solo albums, and I refuse to look like an otaku by bringing character singles instead (although by being there at all I suppose this is pointless). Much thinking about this will be necessary.

Posted by Paranda at 6:07 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2007

I've overlooked Goto Yuko for a while

goto.jpgAnd now it's time to atone. The more I read and listen to Goto Yuko, the more I realize how incredibly good she is at her job. Although she's not a great singer, she makes up for it in a lot of ways. Rapid-fire speech, a fine tuned ability to harmonize with her character roles, quick interview wit, a very appealing "default" voice (for live appearances and events), insightful prose even for a daily blog, and all around sense of natural style combine to make a powerful seiyuu, and one that quickly wins fans.

She might not have the same vigor of some of the younger seiyuu, but she's already got some moderate fame and recognition, and I think it has the potential to snowball into something much larger if things go right - which they appear to be, if her recent victory at the Seiyuu Awards means anything. I just hope she doesn't get lost as another cog in the machine that is Production baobab.

Posted by Paranda at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 1, 2007

Ar Tonelico, 18 hours and counting

After killing myself for two weeks with a MASSIVE amount of work, I've finally had time to take a break. Reviewing Haruko UP DATE 2 is temporarily on hold as I spend this precious weekend mass playing Ar Tonelico before I return to another week of midterms and papers. Luckily, the game is short enough that I can probably beat it by today.

Ar Tonelico is a 2D RPG game with zero grind, a light hearted story, plenty of distractions to break up the crawl, cute character designs, heavily disguised (and sometimes not-so-well-disguised) sexual dialogue, and plenty of moe dating game elements. I've gotten pretty tired of the sheer amount of boring tasks required to complete games for RPG perfectionists, especially after sinking some 90 hours into FF12 in nothing but dark dungeons. Ar Tonelico, with its short zero tension romp through bright forests and villages, was the game I needed to cleanse my mind from FF12's dirty aftertaste. But how can it get better? Ar Tonelico's three main characters are voiced by none other than the RAMS power cast.

There's RAMS's flagship female, ultra veteran Nogawa Sakura as Misha, the childhood friend. Representing Clover, the high pitched "gyaorurururuu" Miyazaki Ui plays Aurica, the traumatized girl with no confidence. And, my favorite rookie superstar Sakai Kanako stars as Shurelia, the heavily armed oneesama.

edit: Finished.

The no "new game+" is bullshit though. I should have saved more at critical plot points. I had to betray the Aurica storyline I was running throughout the entire game because Sakai Kanako seduced me with her voice at the last second :D

Posted by Paranda at 8:06 AM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2007

I mean this in a good way

motsu.jpg
I fucking love Saito Chiwa. 良い意味で!

Posted by Paranda at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2007

I need to satisfy my urge to praise Itou Shizuka

So I'm going to do it. Things have been going well for Tama-nee recently. Although debuting in 2002, she has really only been in the spotlight these past two years. After further dearimasu-ing her way into my heart as Wilhelmina, among other significant roles here and there, I realized I had to watch at least one show where she was the lead. I chose Asatte no Houkou for my Shizuka-sama fix, and I was not disappointed. There is nothing more aurally satisfying than listening to an angry Itou Shizuka, and in this show, she is quite angry. Combine with the visual absurdity of that voice coming from a little kid, and it becomes even better. Whatever Shizuka lacks in range of "alternate" voices, she makes up for more than enough in range of emotions displayed. She is eerily convincing in the role of the serious Shouko, especially since Itou generally acts so awesomely laid back and semi-stoned when out of character (in one guest appearance, she intentionally banged her forehead on a desk when bowing, and cradled a bottle of wine like a baby. She also let her hair down and unrestrained so it kept getting in her face and she had to push it out of the way every five seconds during the interview). Behind that facade is some hidden serious conviction her work (see also her Zoids Genesis duet with Koyama Kimiko). Itou has racked up somewhat of a wild reputation though. I just hope she doesn't wind up dead from one of her hobbies - there's too much talent at stake.

Posted by Paranda at 12:44 AM | Comments (1)

February 14, 2007

HM3, not Megami

I've been reading HM3 for a while now, and I find that it is only partially like the Megami of seiyuu magazines, because their scope is kind of limited since there aren't that many seiyuu superstars yet. I complained about Hirano Aya's mass appearances back in August, but that was before I started getting an actual monthly subscription. Now I realize I was getting unlucky, as it's not just Hirano. It's pretty much the same people every other month. On the female side, Mizuki Nana shows up the most. After her is Tamura Yukari modeling her gothic lolita dresses, Nogawa Sakura, Horie Yui, and Iizuka Mayumi.

On the male side, Naozumi Takahashi is by far the most featured (probably more for his live stuff than anime voice work which is very little), followed by Tomokazu Seki (generally a cool guy who isn't afraid to do ridiculous poses for the camera) and Takehito Koyasu who sneers an awful lot for someone who plays some very funny characters, and also appears to be best buddies with Tomokazu Seki.

Posted by Paranda at 1:15 AM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2007

They gave Kugimiya's character to Tamura!

So it seems Kugimiya Rie's character will be instead played by Tamura Yukari for the anime adaptation of Idolmaster.

My response: What the fuck?

I haven't seen/played Idolmaster before, but from the looks of the bio page, Minase Iori appears to be a nasty tsundere type. Hey I love Yukarin but I'm sorry, there is nobody who can beat Kugimiya at her own game. That character just LOOKS like someone Kugimiya needs to voice for. I don't care if she doesn't sing as well, this is just a baffling to me.

Since I skipped out on Zero no Tsukaima (for time reasons, and also because it looked like shit), I have been seriously starved for Kugimiya for far too long. The brief Shana OVA last month did nothing other than push me over the edge of insanity by making remember just how much that voice can affect me. I must hear it! Now I can only hope Alisa Bannings appears a whole damn lot in Nanoha Strikers to make up for this awful state of affairs.

Most arguments I hear against Kugimiya knock her on range. This probably more due to the fact that her very different roles tend not to overlap with the same audience. She pulls off some incredible stuff in her demo. We all know she can do stuff like Shana or Alphonse Elric, but the demo has one more surprise. It starts off pretty standard and typical "Rie", but then suddenly jumps into a horrifyingly impossible segment where I actually thought Kugimiya Rie had secretly been swapped wtih Satou Akemi instead. Kugimiya imitating a 98% accurate Shiori-style voice out of nowhere is to me, almost as impressive as Saitou Chiwa going into "deep sexy" mode from her usual voice. Speaking of deep, Kugimiya is also a surprisingly good live singer, although one wouldn't think so.

Another good thing about Kugimiya is that she seems to bring the best out of Park Romi.

Posted by Paranda at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2007

HM3 Issue 42

January's issue 42 features Mizuki Nana yet again and the guys from Marginal Prince.
hm3_200701_front.jpg

They usually give you big posters too, like this fold-out Mizuki Nana poster.
hm3_200701_poster.jpg

The pages are pretty thick they're bound more like a photobook than a magazine, so there is basically no way to scan these without ruining the spine. I care too much about my precious volumes to scan these myself, so I also simultaneously grab the online version whenever I get my physical one. This issue has a lot of good pictures, including two Momoi photos. I've posted six selected ones below. Click for large.

First off, Nonaka Ai, one out of a series of photographs.
hm3_200701_ai.jpg

Next, Kanda Akemi. Kanda was interviewed for this month's Aice5 article where she talks about herself and opinions on all the other members of the troupe. She has a much longer history than I thought (FYI: Last month's interviewee was dear Chiaki).
hm3_200701_akemi.jpg

Momoi and Goto Yuko do a joint interview about their respective Lovedol characters, so here is one from them. Last month's Lovedol feature was Nogawa Sakura and Nakahara Mai (dream team <3).
hm3_200701_halkoyuko.jpg

Goto also has an extra two pages dedicated to her new album so she gets another pic.
hm3_200701_yuko.jpg

Mizuki Nana, being on the cover has the most pictures in this issue, in addition to that rad poster.
hm3_200701_nana.jpg

I also included an image of Shintani. I'm not a really big fan of her but I know pantsgoblinx is so he might like this image. It's part of a pretty big pull-out booklet promoting her recent album.
hm3_200701_ryoko.jpg

Posted by Paranda at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

January 5, 2007

Surprise of 06: Takahashi Chiaki

Blah blah blah New Year. I'll be brief: Went up to Canada for the holidays this year. Surprisingly, NO SNOW in Ottawa. When has that ever happened before?

Now that I'm back..I've created a new category since I think a lot of my "anime" posts are more about seiyuu than any show itself...such as today's.

The title is slightly misleading, since I have already dedicated 2006's "best seiyuu" title to Nakahara Mai (and she damn well deserves it), but I must say I have been incredibly impressed and surprised by Takahashi Chiaki. Not only is she the best singer out of Aice5, she also gave the most memorable performance in Otoboku as the fiery Takako. I've always liked Horie Yui and Asano Masumi before, and I knew the rest of Aice5 well but I wasn't too familiar with Chiaki. Apparently she did have a big role in japanese dubs for American cartoons, i.e. Rugrats' Angelica, but in the anime world, mostly erogames (under the name Ishibashi Tomoko) or small TV roles.

It might also be fitting to mention that I have never seen anyone more flirty in front of a camera than Chiaki (based on the Love Power PV and "behind the scenes" segments). She appears to be eternally posing and winking during every scene, and her spastic speech and jerky movements are kind of endearing. Her demo style also reminds me a bit of cross between Kuwatani Natsuko and Sanada Asami for some reason, although she doesn't really sound like either of them. I'm not sure why.

I decided to watch Otoboku mostly as part of my goal to see Sakakibara Yui's two debut series, and partly for Aice5. Little did I know Chiaki would steal the show from everyone! May this year bring many more leading roles come to her. I shall follow with great interest.
chiaki.jpg

Meanwhile, Sakakibara Yui's voice acting debut has been a bit bland. It's not bad, but I expected more after hearing her radio and demo work. She was pretty good as Hisako in Otoboku, so my complaint is primarily against Happiness, which she had the lead role as Kamisaka Haruhi. She just sounded so forced. Maybe that was how she did her game lines so she was stuck with using the same method? Did she wing it because she suspected everyone would have their ears on Yuimoto Michiru instead?

I have no idea, but I know it was a wasted opportunity (though I can say differently for Naruse Mia who, for a game actress, did a great job with Anri on TV). That's ok though, because Sakakibara made up for it with ridiculously awesome accomplishments in singing. She may be more suited as idol seiyuu. Oh well. More answers will come this year.

Posted by Paranda at 6:42 PM | Comments (0)