With Anime Expo just over 2 months away, the guests for this year’s Anisong World Matsuri event have finally been announced! Given last year’s star studded line up consisting of Eir Aoi, Luna Haruna, Minami, Yoko Ishida, T.M. Revolution, sphere, FLOW, OLDCODEX, JAM Project, and Aqours (meet and greet event only), Anime Expo had definitely set the initial bar very high for themselves. This is especially true given that last year was the first official year for Anisong World Matsuri and that the US market tends to be a lot smaller for Anisong in general.
This year there will be two concerts: Japan Kawaii Live held on June 30th (Day 0) and Japan Super Live on July 1st (Day 1), each expected to be 4 hours in length. While the concert themes/titles were not formally revealed until after the announcements had started, which demolished my guesses, this made the line up potentially all the more exciting! Without further ado, here is the final lineup along with some thoughts after the jump.
Day 0 (June 30th) Japan Kawaii Live
Aqours (pronounced “aqua”) is the school idol group formed in Uchiura, Shizuoka, for the multimedia project “Love Live! Sunshine!!”. The project started in April 2015 and spread across various media including CDs, live events, magazines, and mobile apps. The first single “Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru kai?” was released in October 2015. The TV anime aired in summer 2016, and they had their first live shows at Yokohama Arena on February 25 and 26, 2017, which attracted 12,000 fans each day. Their future project “”Aqours Next Step! Project”” includes a second anime season, tour, and CD releases. (Source)
Yes, you read that name correctly. Anime Expo and Anisong World Matsuri took the anime community by storm on April 28th by marking their final announcement with the return of Aqours. Originally marked as “unlikely” in my guess post given that six of their members made an appearance for a meet and greet/talk show session last year, this time all nine members will be present in LA for an actual live performance! While their predecessor, μ’s, unfortunately never made it state side, Lantis and the Love Live! Project definitely seem serious in at least expanding Aqours’ footprint into the states and this is definitely a huge step in gauging whether future US/international performances are to come. A big plus and I expect a massive turnout given the popularity and size of the Love Live! community alone
THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS
“THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS” is from the mobile game series THE IDOLM@STER, launched in 2011. There are more than 190 idols in the group. The anime series aired in January 2015, and the rhythm game “”THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS Starlight Stage”” was released in September 2015.
- [Special Note] THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS will perform at Anisong World Matsuri at Anime Expo 2017 with a special selection of performers: Asami Takano, Haruka Yoshimura, Hiromi Igarashi, Rei Matsuzaki, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Yuko Iida. (Source)
The other big announcement on April 28th that I’m pretty sure many did not see coming until Anime Expo dropped a hint on their Twitter page. Aqours is one thing but this may as well be a clash of the titans bringing both the Love Live! and IDOLM@STER communities together on a single night reminiscent of Animelo Summer Live 2015 -THE GATE-. Will we be in for a treat featuring a collaboration that can only be seen at Anime Expo 2017? A key piece to note is that two key girls will be absent from the Cinderella cast, (Ayaka Ohashi as Uzuki Shimamura and Ayaka Fukuhara as Rin Shibuya) so I’m not really sure what to expect from this since I personally have not been following the IDOLM@STER franchise that closely in recent years outside the anime
From the TV anime MACROSS DELTA comes the most powerful tactical music unit in the Milky Way, Walküre. Since the TV anime premiered in April 2016, the group has released 2 digital singles, 2 singles and 3 albums. Their first album Walküre Attack! was awarded “Animation Album of the Year”. Walküre performed their second set of solo concerts on January 28 and 29, 2017, at Yokohama Arena, gathering 22,000 fans in 2 days. On May 31, 2017, they will release the concert Blu-ray Walküre ga Tomarana. JUNNA is the singing voice of Mikumo Guynemer. Minori Suzuki performs both the voice acting and singing of Freyja Wion. (Source)
Given the infamous history of the Macross franchise in the US, bringing even part of this group leaned more unlikely than not. Certainly wasn’t impossible given how popular Walküre was despite Macross Delta tanking relative to its predecessors. JUNNA herself is getting a lot of attention so it’s great that the US fans will have a chance to see her live. I can’t really comment on Minori Suzuki since I don’t really follow her activities
Wake Up, Girls!
From the avex x 81produce Wake Up, Girls！ Audition’s second anisong vocal audition, the seven finalists formed the voice actress unit “Wake Up, Girls！” The girls are also the voice actresses for the anime Wake Up, Girls ! where the setting of the anime is based in Sendai. In January 2014, the TV series and movie were released. Their support activities for the Higashi-Nihon earthquake were highly appreciated and the group was awarded the 9th “”Seiyu Award”” special award in 2015. They have toured every summer for 3 years. In 2017, a new anime series will premiere. (Source)
As if bringing Aqours and IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls wasn’t enough, Anime Expo will also be including Wake Up, Girls! as well, bringing the count to three major powerhouses in the anime idol scene in a single night. Wake Up, Girls! had previously attended Anime Central in Illinois back in 2014 when they were first starting out but this will be their first major performance in the US. The community and recognition of the group is certainly smaller than the other two behemoth idol franchise but having seen them at Anime Festival Asia Singapore last year, I can attest that it will be a fun performance regardless.
Day 1 (July 1st) Japan Super Live
ALI PROJECT is Arika Takarano (lyrics and vocals) and Mikiya Katakura (composer and arranger). Since 1992, the pair has charmed audiences with their unique melodies, poetic lyrics and strong visuals. They have performed many anime theme songs such as “Seishoujo Ryouiki” for Rozen Maiden and “Yuukyou Seishunka” for CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion. ALI PROJECT is a one of a kind duo who takes control of all aspects of their performance, including visual arts, design, costumes, and stage design, in addition to the music. ALI PROJECT will release their 25th Anniversary Best album in June. (Source)
One of the first performers announced for the event, ALI PROJECT is a long time veteran in the industry having changed many styles over the years. They are arguably well known in the anisong community for her Rozen Maiden and Code Geass covers. While community reactions are often mixed due to her distinctive style, it’s unquestionable they have made their mark in their 25+ year career. They performed at Anime Boston in 2015 as well as Sakura Con in 2008 and while I can’t comment on the reception, it was clearly enough to convince Lantis to bring them back this time to LA for the largest US convention
angela, the group formed by vocalist atsuko and guitarist KATSU, made their major debut with the opening theme “Asu e no brilliant road” for the anime Stellvia in 2003 and has produced several opening themes for popular anime series such as FAFNER in the azure, K, KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA, and more. In 2015, they toured Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. On March 4, 2017, they held their first successful Budokan concert in Japan. They will perform theme songs for the anime Aho Girl airing this summer and the anime movie BLAME! (Source)
Outside of Aqours, angela is arguably the one group I am looking forward to the most. With 15+ years of experience, angela has created and charted many memorable anime theme songs. In addition, their interaction with the audience, particularly KATSU, is one of the best I’ve personally seen, which makes their performances incredibly fun to attend. Having seen them in 2013 and 2014 at Anime Festival Asia Singapore as well as briefly this past March at fripSide’s 15th Anniversary Live in Saitama Super Arena, I am already eager to see what kind of performance they will be doing this time.
As a side note, I hope KATSU follows through on his “promise” for an angela version of “Sister’s Noise” (we all know this is not really happening)
GARNiDELiA is the creative artist unit of female vocalist MARiA and male composer toku. They formed GARNiDELiA in 2010, and made their major-label debut in 2014. The name GARNiDELiA is an anagram of Le Palais Garnier de Maria, which means “Maria’s Opera House, her place to sing”, and Cordelia, the name of the asteroid. MARiA is also a popular fashion model, and toku also works with other artists as a composer and sound producer. The unit has performed songs for various anime such as Kill la Kill, The Irregular at Magic High School, Gundam Reconguista in G, GUNSLINGER STRATOS and QUALIDEA CODE. (Source)
As the one artist that is rapidly growing popularity around the world, GARNiDELiA also happened to be group I saw the most last year, totaling three times and it didn’t get old one bit. I won’t say much beyond that and instead let the audience determine that for themselves. Excited to see them again on the big stage at AX2017!
Konomi Suzuki was born in 1996 and is 20 years old. She won the first prize of the All-Japan Anisong Grand Prix, and debuted with the song “CHOIR JAIL” with lyrics produced by Aki Hata when she was 15 years old. She has made consecutive appearances at the largest anime-song festival in Japan, “Animelo Summer Live”, ever since. She has performed various TV anime themes including “This game” (opening theme of No-Game, No-Life) and “Redo” (opening theme of Re:Zero). She will release 3 new songs in 2017.
The announcement of Konomi Suzuki was the start of throwing my guesses down the drain as she is associated with Media Factory rather than Lantis or Sony. At the same time, it opened the doors for possibilities of artists from other labels including 3 of the 4 artists on Day 0’s concert as well as angela above. At the young age of 20 (soon 21), Konomi has put out a significant number of powerful singles with my personal favorites being “AVENGE WORLD,” “Days of Dash,” and of course “This Game,” and supposedly is expanding her career further into the voice acting industry. I managed to catch her performance at Anime Festival Asia Singapore last year and can say it is certainly performance I wouldn’t want to miss if I could see her again. Just didn’t think it would be so soon!
Mashiro Ayano is a female singer who was born in Hokkaido, currently residing at Sapporo. Her straightforward and clear voice creates a strong connection with her listeners. She debuted with the song “ideal white,” the opening theme of anime Fate/stay night, in 2014. She then performed theme songs for GUNSLINGER STRATOS, D.Gray-man HALLOW, and Re:CREATORS. She has performed not only in Japan, but also in Singapore, Los Angeles, Germany, and Taiwan. She released her 1st album WHITE PLACE last year. This year, she will release her new single “NEWLOOK” in May and will tour this summer.
I missed Mashiro at AX when she was at AX in 2015 and only managed to see her at mini-lives during my trip in Japan last year. She was on my guess list last week and really glad to see that she will be returning to AX this year and joining the line up. Given how Japan Super Live worked last year, maybe we will see some collaborations between her and GARNiDELiA as they have done some joint performances in the past previously?
Minori Chihara is a voice actress who has performed roles in various popular anime series such as Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Mitsuki Nase from Beyond the Boundary, and Kaori Nakaseko from Sound! Euphonium. She is also a singer who has successfully performed at huge venues such as Nippon Budokan and Saitama Super Arena. She is a singer who can represent the anisong industry while also being a voice actress. Her signature songs include but are not limited to: “Paradise Lost,” “TERMINATED,” “ZONE//ALONE,” and “Kyokai no Kanata.” (Source)
Last, but certainly not least, is Minori Chihara! To my knowledge, she has only been at AX way back when The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was at its peak but as an industry guest. I don’t think she has performed/attended a US convention since and we didn’t get her at the Lantis 15th Anniversary Festival in Las Vegas either. As a result, really excited to see her in July as well
Per Anime Expo’s website:
ANISONG WORLD MATSURI ~JAPAN KAWAII LIVE~
- Performers: Aqours, JUNNA and Minori Suzuki from Walküre, THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS, and Wake Up, Girls
- When: Friday, June 30, 2017 @ 7 PM (Doors Open: VIP Seating 5 PM / GA Seating 5:30 PM)
- Where: Microsoft Theatre
- Tickets On Sale:
- Premier Fan: Monday, May 1 at 6 PM PDT
- General Attendee: Wednesday, May 3 at 6 PM PDT
- Loge: $45
- Orchestra: $65
- VIP: $130 (includes priority access, a special commemorative badge, a light stick and an invitation to an exclusive Special Goodbye event with the performers.)
- *There will not be any handshakes or hi-fives at the Special Goodbye event
ANISONG WORLD MATSURI ~JAPAN SUPER LIVE~
- Performers: ALI PROJECT, angela, GARNiDELiA, Konomi Suzuki, Mashiro Ayano, and Minori Chihara
- When: Saturday, July 1, 2017 @ 7 PM (Doors Open: VIP Seating 5 PM / GA Seating 5:30 PM)
- Where: Microsoft Theatre
- Tickets On Sale:
- Premier Fan: Friday, April 28 at 6 PM PDT
- General Attendee: Sunday, April 30 at 6 PM PDT
- Loge: $45
- Orchestra: $65
- VIP: $130 (includes priority access, a special commemorative badge, a light stick and an invitation to an exclusive Hi Touch event with the performers.)
The line up is definitely solid and Anime Expo managed to live up if not (far) surpass the bar they set in my book. Bringing not just Aqours but two other idol groups plus Walküre is HUGE, especially for a Day 0 event. Now its up to us fans to really show the passion and anticipation we have been built up over the years for these kind of performances state side. As for the Day 1 Super Live, while I love the entire line up especially the diversity of it, the names are a bit more niche than last year. Having said that, I am really hoping for a big success like last year as it will hopefully pave the way for more niche/growing artists at these events in the future!
The “bad” news, depending on what side you are on, is not only the lack of male artists but also the lack of rock groups. Last year there was a good balance with JAM PROJECT, T.M. Revolution, FLOW, and OLDCODEX, but based on social media comments and other folks I have spoken with, there are a handful whom are disappointed with the lack of this content and unfortunately won’t be attending at least one of these performances as a result. While the idol culture has a solid following and there’s no denying that it’s here to stay for the near future, it’s not for everyone. Can’t please everyone unfortunately.