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)

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)

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)

April 6, 2011

Love Live trip, 2011

THE PLAN

4/13 11:00 AM - Depart from Newark Airport at 11 AM
4/14 02:00 PM - Check in to Ochanomizu Hotel Juraku
4/14 06:00 PM - Dear Stage
4/15 03:00 AM - Leave hotel on foot and camp out at Budokan for goods
4/15 05:00 PM - LOVE LIVE 2011 SPRING *Mary Rose*
4/16 05:00 PM - LOVE LIVE 2011 SPRING *Mary Rose*
4/17 05:00 PM - Sphere Spring Party is Here
4/18 04:00 PM - Go home

Budget for Yukarin Goods:

6000 - Pamphlet A and B They always come in a fancy case that makes it hard to resist. I'm not sure why I buy these, but I've done it for 3 different sets of lives so far so it might just be collection momentum
3000 - Calendar - These are usually include a nice cover, and one page per two months. You can tear off the date along the perforated lines and have 7 posters (Because I collected 3 years worth of these calendars so far, I have more Yukarin posters than every other seiyuu combined)
4000 - Puzzle - Giant 1000 piece puzzle set that I will surely use to decorate the coffee table in my house. But otherwise it will gather dust in a closet somewhere. But one day, it will have been worth it!!
4500 - Microfiber towel - Big 90x40cm towel with Yukari printed on it. Good for street cred if you whip it out in front of the bros at the gym.
3000 - Limited T-shirt - Contains a drawing by Yukarin. TBH the wreath design is not as nice as the giant glitter heart from last year's event, so I'll only buy limited edition T-shirt to commemorate the event and no regular live shirts this time
6600 - Happi coat - I already have a very nice ゆかり命 (Yukari Life) version, but this year's pattern includes additional patterns along the bottom and new msg on the back ゆかり愛 (Yukari Love)
4800 - Usamimi parka - When they sold the black version of this last year, I actually wore it around to several things (even to work during breast cancer awareness week) but this color............I'll find a way. It's not wrong for guys to wear pink hoodies right?
4500 - Chocola puppet - One of the 5 rabbits. After this, there's still Milk (white), Purin (yellow) and Kurosuke (black)
4500 - Cherry puppet (maybe) - Wish this were a different one. I actually already have a Cherry that I bought off auction several years ago at something like 150k yen so I'm almost sad it's so easy to get it now. But I might get it anyway because the opportunity is rare and it's good to have extras in case
2500 - Puppet onepiece - Finally! My puppets will have more than an a option between naked or that one maid dress. The apron is removable.
3500 - iphone4 case - For over 10 years, I've hated Apple. Ever since high school when I lost all of my work on a shitty OS9 I vowed never to give money to that company. No amount of "That was the old days. OS X is great!" changed my mind. But I guess now is time to give that company a second chance. Get an iphone4 just so I can use a $40 case?
1100 - Meron Ondo ~Festival of kingdom~ - 3rd live single in a series. Festival style music is hit-or-miss but we'll see what hime comes up with. She pulled off death metal already.
12500 - Gachagacha - I don't know how many unique items there, so I'll estimate 8 + 1 atari. To get all 9, it will take an average of 9*(ln(9)+0.577) = 25 tries. Profits from gachagacha machines will be donated to Red Cross so overplaying could be considered a good thing.

Posted by Paranda at 5:23 PM | Comments (5)

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)

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 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)

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)

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 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)