December 10, 2014

Cinderella Girls profiles - Side M


Move along, nothing to see here.

Posted by Paranda at 2:46 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2014

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


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

Day 2

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

01. READY!! - All Members

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

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

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

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

03. Taiyo no Jealousy - Eriko

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

04. Vault That Borderline!

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

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

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

05. I Want

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

06. Honey Heartbeat - Asapon

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

07. Reimei Starline

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

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

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

08. Jemmy

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

09. Meisou Mind - Hiromi

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

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

10. Jitensha

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

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

11. Cheering Letter

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

12. Nandomo ieruyo - Azumin

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

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

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

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

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

Audience: "TOKYO!!"

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

Audience: "FUUUUUUUU~ AZUMISAMAAAA!"

Azutoi!

13. Kosmos, Cosmos

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

14. First Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19. Only My Note - All Members

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

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

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

20. Acceleration - Minorin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audience: YEEEAAAH!!!

That's Minorin for you. Top idol.

21. Machiuke Prince

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

My UO pile after these two songs.

22. Rebellion

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

23. Shiawase no Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

24. Hatsukoi ~Isshou Kataomoi no Sakura~

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

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

25. Kimi ha melody - Kugyu

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

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

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

Audience: YAAYYYYYYYYY

"Cheering for that, Are you all STUPID?"

Audience: YAAYYYYYYYYYYYY x 2!

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

26. Sentimental Venus

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

27. my song

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

28. Princess Snow White - Harami

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

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

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

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

29. Kazahana

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

30. Futatsu no Tsuki

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

31. Fate of the World - Mingosu

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

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

"YOU! Tell me what everyone is yelling!"

"Kick us!"

"Kick!?"

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

32. Aoi Tori (M@STER VERSION)

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

33. Yakusoku

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

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

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

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

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

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

34. M@STERPIECE - Everyone

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

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

35. Nijiiro Miracle

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

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

36. THE IDOLM@STER

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

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

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

Closing Thoughts:

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

Posted by Paranda at 2:25 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2014

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


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

Venue

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

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

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

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


Goods

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

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

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

Oct 4, Day 1

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

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

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

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

1. READY!! - All Members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. START!! - Eririn

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

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

4. Watashi ha Idol ♡

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

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

5. Kirameki Shinkoukei

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

6. Otona no Hajimari - Asapon

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

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

7. Reimei Starline

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

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

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

8. YOU Ou MY Shin!

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

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

9. Meisou Mind - Hirorin

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

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

"Oi. That's a compliment right?"

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

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

10. tear

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

11. Omoide no hajimari

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

12. ALRIGHT* - Azumin

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

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

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

13. Kosmos, Cosmos

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

14. Ano hi no namida

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

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

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

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

15.Day of the future - Nu, Eririn

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

16. 9:02pm - Asapon, Harami

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

17. Tick Tock - Mingosu, Kugyu

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

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

18. livE - Azumin, Hirorin

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

19. ONLY MY NOTE - All members

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

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

20. Sachi - Jurikichi

OMG JURIIIIIII (;A;)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22. Rebellion - Nu

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

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

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

23. OVERMASTER

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

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

24. shiny smile

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

25. Kimi ha melody - Kugyu

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

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

26. Private Roadshow (playback, weekday)

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

27. Futari no Kioku

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

28.KisS - Harami

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

When THAT part came: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU~

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

29. Futatsu no tsuki

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

30. Koihana

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

31. Blue Symphony - Mingosu

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

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

32. Nemurihime

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

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

33. Aoi Tori

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

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

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

34.M@STERPIECE - All members + Juri

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

Encore

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

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

35. Nijiiro Miracle - All Members

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

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

36. THE IDOLM@STER

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

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

Bonus: Day 1 Offkai

The craziest shit that ever happened.


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

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

Posted by Paranda at 11:03 AM | Comments (3)

October 7, 2014

My top 10 live experiences of all time, ranked by feels


1. Tamura Yukari - Starry Candy Stripe in Niigata - Sep-23-2010 (Live report)

2. Momoi Haruko - Hajimete no Live House in Koriyama - Oct-03-2010 (Live report)

3. 765ALLSTARS - IDOLM@STER 9th in Tokyo, Day 1 - Oct-04-2014 *NEW* (Live report)

4. 765ALLSTARS - IDOLM@STER 9th in Tokyo, Day 2 - Oct-05-2014 *NEW*

5. Various - Milk Lariat vol.4 - Nov-27-2011 (Live Report)

6. Sakura Saori - WE LOVE ITAPARA in Gifu - Jun-16-2013

7. Nanamorichuu Gorakubu - Nanamorichuu Festival, Night - Feb-24-2013 (Live Report)

8. Tamura Yukari - LOVE LIVE 2011 SPRING Mary Rose, Day 2 in Tokyo - Apr-16-2011 (Live Report)

9. Various - ANIMAX MUSIX 2011 in Yokohama - Nov-23-2011 (Live Report)

10. Suara - Suara Live 2008 in Yokohama - Sep-06-2008

This is not an objective ranking based on set list. It's entirely based on the amount of positive feelings I had associated with the event at the time, even if I'm not as big a fan of some artists listed now as I used to be.

Posted by Paranda at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2014

THE PLAN Summer 2014


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

8/23 - 14:00 Arrive Narita.

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

8/24 - 14:00 Arrive Narita.

8/24 - 19:30 Akuma no Riddle Talk & Live Event at Hitotsubashi Hall - Ticket secured. 3rd row.

See Nunu, Yukachin, Azumin. I haven't even watched Riddle yet but...dat cast.

8/25 - TBD

8/26 - 18:30 Kagurazaka Yuka First Concert at Nakano Sunplaza - Sold out.

8/26 - 18:00 Akesaka Satomi no Riamachi - public recording. Look for HARAPEKO shirt on Nico.

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

Totally-Not-80s-Yukarin.

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

8/27 - 19:00 Blade Dance Matsuri at Theater 1010

KIDOCHAN KNEESOCKS!

8/28 - TBD

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

Ayachi, WUG, Minorin, fripSide, JAMPro, Altima, etc. And Kancolle might provide another chance to see Baum.

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

Ayase Rie = ave;new's Shirasawa Rie.

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

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

8/31 - 12:00 Amamiya Sora Skyreach Event - Bumped by Watanabe Yui.

8/31 - 12:30 Teekyu Festival at Anisama Outdoor Stage

Skipped 10ch because Watanabe Yui at Anisama outdoor stage is more important to me.

8/31 - 16:00 Animelo Summer Live 2014 - Pending last minute sale.

Backup plan will either be to see Ookubo Rumi

8/31 21:15 Ohenro Screening at Kadokawa Cinema Shinjuku - Ticket Secured.

Because Yamashita Nanami is my favorite WUG.

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

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

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

June 10, 2014

Ootsubo Yuka, redux



Happy Birthday Yukachin!!!

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

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

To list a few accomplishments:


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

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

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

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

  • She released 2 photobooks, with more planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27, 2014

Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2014 Spring *Fruits Fruits Cherry*



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nishimata Aoi's Yukari x Yukatan flower display

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

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

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

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

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


FFC 2014 Fan Callbook

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

MC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone sits down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Apple-flavored Ningyoyaki from the event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Live Tour Truck spotted from the second floor of SSA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fans start chanting Shouko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About 80% of the arena cheers.

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

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

Goods purchased:

Yukari photo collection:

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

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