Note: All opinions are mine and do not reflect the overall opinion of those who attended.
Following up on the successful Japan Kawaii Live, the first official day of Anime Expo 2017 (Day 1) featured six additional Anisong artistes from Japan:
- ALI PROJECT
- Konomi Suzuki
- Mashiro Ayano
- Minori Chihara
Given there are more artistes here and this post is almost a month later than I had intended it to be, let’s jump right in
My oh my! If iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls going first was a shocker yesterday, Konomi Suzuki up first is probably an even bigger surprise considering that her fans made up a larger proportion of the crowd. If anything was an indicator, her autograph tickets were supposedly the first to run out after Wake Up, Girls! that day, which speaks volumes of her rapidly rising popularity internationally in her short 5 year tenure
- Cruel Angel’s Thesis/Zankoku na Tenshi no Teze feat. angela (Neon Genesis Evangelion Opening)
- This Game (No Game No Life Opening)
- Blow Out (Roku de Nashi Majutsu Kōshi to Akashikku Rekōdo aka Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor Opening)
- Redo (Re:Zero -Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu- aka Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World Opening)
The collaboration between Konomi Suzuki and angela that kicked off the night with the classic Evangelion opening theme is one of the three paired collaborations and a tradition that Anisong World Matsuri continues from last year to hype the crowd up typically with classic or popular anisongs. In terms of her personal work, this is a typical Konomi Suzuki set list considering “This Game” and “Redo” are her most well known works along with her newest single, “Blow Out.” The one big glaring hole in this set list is the lack of “Days of Dash,” which many were anticipating, myself included. It’s a fun and energetic song that would have been great to really get the adrenaline going for the rest of the night so very much surprised to not see this here.
The other noteworthy thing about this set list is how short this was – 3 songs excluding the collaboration. Konomi Suzuki’s library is fairly deep so this was rather unusual. Speculation is that because the concert itself started well past the 7pm designated start time, closer to around ~7:30-7:45pm, it forced some artistes to either speed through their acts or cut songs, though this could be debunked by how early the overall concert ended and no intermission like in Japan Kawaii Live. Other speculation is it was known by those in the autograph lines that Konomi Suzuki and angela were running at least 30 minutes late, which ate into rehearsal time and thus could have resulted in cutting short a song or two. Whether any of this is true or false, we’ll never know though.
As a side note, Konomi even put a photo of the fan callbook on her Twitter so props to those who helped organize this.
— 鈴木このみ@スタンディングツアー決定！ (@Suzuki_Konomin) July 1, 2017
Mashiro Ayano is the newest to the anisong industry relative to the other five artists performing but that doesn’t stop her powerful voice from reaching the stage. Like Konomi, Mashiro is known for wanting to be closer to her fans. In fact, she was on my guess list to appear at Anisong World Matsuri and really glad she did!
- Vanilla Sky (Gunslinger Stratos Opening)
- NEWLOOK (Re:Creators Ending)
- ideal white (Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 2014 Opening)
Mashiro’s library is still relatively shallow so her short set list and choice of songs come as no surprise. “ideal white” and “Vanilla Sky” are staple for Mashiro with “NEWLOOK” being her newest song for a currently airing series. The crowd definitely went nuts for “ideal white” as it was what propelled her to fame. I myself cracked at least 3-4 UOs for the song alone. Having seen Mashiro at a couple lives in the past year such as Animax Musix Yokohama and Chiba-Ani, she continues to improve and this was definitely the most fun I’ve had so far despite the short duration. No solo covers of other songs definitely means she’s finally hitting that point of having a core set.
Rounding out the Sacra Music pair is GARNiDELiA. Having seen them multiple times in 2016 and predicting that they would be appear in LA this year
given that they went everywhere in the US last year and some LA fans were salty, GARNiDELiA has always stood out for not just their songs but also the accompanying dance choreography.
- ambiguous (Kill la Kill Opening Theme #2)
- grilletto (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei aka The Irregular at Magic High School Opening Theme #2)
- SPEED STAR (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei aka The Irregular at Magic High School Ending Theme)
- Yakusoku -Promise Code- (Qualidea Code Ending Theme #2)
- Sorairo Days feat. Mashiro Ayano (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Opening Theme #1)
“ambiguous” is their staple but surprised it took a while for the audience to pick up on the song given how popular Kill la Kill was stateside, especially at Anime Expo three years ago. “grilletto” is not exactly my favorite but liked the transition into their new single “SPEED STAR,” which I do like. “SPEED STAR” was a very nice addition since this was just released in mid-June. In addition, I don’t think they have performed “Yakusoku -Promise Code-” stateside yet so this was another plus unless I missed out at Anime Weekend Atlanta last year.
Overall, a solid performance by GARNiDELiA though it felt rushed as they sped through almost all their songs given little to no MCs from what I recall. Would have preferred a little more diversity in the set list given their short time on stage and that they are one of the more popular artists. “BLAZING” or even “Gokuraku Jodo” would have been a nice touch, especially the latter considering they brought their dancers.
As for the collaboration with Mashiro, it was “Sorairo Days” from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is perfectly fitting for the 10th anniversary of the series. The disappointment? Like “ambiguous,” It seemed as if most of the audience hadn’t heard the song before, hadn’t watched the series, or completely forgot it. This is possibly a sign that Gurren Lagann has unfortunately not aged well in the states or a crowd that simply doesn’t care for the show.
Kicking off the first of two Lantis artists, is ALI PROJECT. ALI PROJECT last performed in the US at Anime Boston in 2016. I’m don’t closely follow ALI PROJECT but given the set list, I didn’t have a problem rocking out to the unique performance. Note, ALI PROJECT concerts are meant to have no pen lights though I didn’t expect people here to really know that.
- Boukoku Kakusei – Catharsis (.hack//Roots Ending Theme #1)
- Yuukyou Seishunka (Code Geass -Hangyaku no Lelouch- aka Code Geass -Lelouch of the Rebellion- Ending Theme #1)
- Seishoujo Ryouiki (Rozen Maiden Traumend Opening Theme)
- Rara Eve Shinseiki (Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo aka The Girl Who Leapt Through Space Opening Theme #1)
ALI PROJECT had a fair share of fans towards the center and the back of the stage but definitely not in the front as many members of the audience ended up sitting down for the performance at least for the first song. “Boukoku Kakusei – Catharsis” is from the 2006 .hack//Roots TV series. The series was overall a flop in Japan and long forgotten and the musical score was generally considered weak even with Yuki Kajiura and ALI PROJECT both involved. In the US, the series was picked up by Funimation in 2013 – seven whole years later – and the release definitely did not make any notable splashes. As a result, it’s not surprising to see a lack of response. Luckily, “Yuukyou Seishunka” was next, which the crowd instantly responded. While not the most popular Code Geass song, anything Code Geass usually gets the average US anime fan jittery, especially as the series is now also in its 10th year.
Interestingly, “Seishoujo Ryouiki” garnered a similar if not even more wild reaction even though Rozen Maiden itself is older and received negative criticism in the west. Maybe there is hope for a fourth Rozen Maiden title in the future? Lastly, “Rara Eve Shinseiki” felt random. It’s a fun song, especially if you know the source or understand the lyrics, but the series didn’t really make an impact. It aired in Japan in 2009 and was rescued by Sentai Filmworks in 2013 for a release in the US but like .hack//Roots, I don’t think it was viewed by many let alone stick.
Overall a very interesting song selection with a lot of blast from the past if you have been watching a diverse set of anime for at least 5-10 years. Definitely a different performance from the rest of the crew that night but arguably the biggest unknown to a more newbie crowd. I’m curious to know how the Anime Boston performance went last year now.
Minori Chihara is a bit different from the rest of the performers in that she’s actually most well known for her seiyuu/voice acting roles. Her role as Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the last time we saw her both state side and at Anime Expo ten years ago and both the concert crowd and autograph lines showed that this impression has not changed.
- Paradise Lost (Ga-Rei -Zero Opening Theme)
- TERMINATED (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon aka Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere Opening Theme)
- Kyoukai no Kanata (Kyoukai no Kanata aka Beyond the Boundary Opening Theme)
- CELESTIAL DIVA feat. ALI PROJECT (Chaos Rings II Main Theme)
- Hare Hare Yukai (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu aka The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Ending Theme)
- Freedom Dreamer (Anison-Plus Ending Theme)
This set list if I recally correctly is exactly the same as what she performed at Anime Festival Asia Singapore 2016 so was a bit surprised to hear the exact same songs here. “Paradise Lost” is arguably her most iconic song dating back to 2008 and made no effort to hide that even in her introduction video. As such, it was guaranteed and always a good song to get people hyped, not to mention the special intro version only heard during her live performances. “TERMINATED” was a bit more unknown to the crowd as Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon was not exactly a popular title. On the other hand, “Kyoukai no Kanata” was slow but one that many recognized.
“CELESTIAL DIVA” was a very odd choice given how unknown the source game, Chaos Rings II is. It’s not something many members of the audience have likely heard let alone knew about unless you were a hardcore Minori Chihara fan, have been to her other lives, or had played the now defunct game. “Hare Hare Yukai” was definitely the highlight of her act for most and the song that got the audience back up on their feet though with even some members attempting to reenact the infamous choreography! Lastly, “Freedom Dreamer” is another odd choice given that it’s part of a TV Tokyo television series about anisong. Again, it’s a song one would know if following these artistes closely. It’s a very high energy, happy-go-lucky song and one that I have seen Minori Chihara perform at a few performances now so probably one of her personal favorites.
Last, but certainly not least was angela composed of vocalist Atsuko and guitarist KATSU! Personally, angela was the group I was looking forward to the most considering they got shafted when they last came to Anime Expo in 2014 with a minor performance only. I have only seen them twice previously but they have always left a lasting impression each time in a different way
- Boku wa Boku de Atte -angela solo- (Ajin Season 2 Opening Theme #1)
- Asu he no Brilliant Road (Uchuu no Stellvia aka Stellvia Opening Theme)
- SIDONIA (Sidonia no Kishi aka Knights of Sidonia Opening Theme)
- KINGS (K Opening Theme)
- Shangri-La (Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor aka Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor Opening Theme)
angela kicked off their act with “Boku wa Boku de Atte,” which I literally popped off my chair and cracked 2 UOs just at the start of the song and then another 2 during the bridge. For those unaware, I’m a big fripSide fan as well, so having them perform this solo instead of the usual duet was incredibly unexpected and likely a rare treat for those who attended this concert. Up next was their semi-debut single “Asu he no Brilliant Road” and like the crowd pleaser they are, they always teach their audience to dance with them. It’s a song likely to be unfamiliar with many given the age and low impact of the series but it’s still performed regardless.
“SIDONIA” is other song with call signs in angela’s lineup and one that the crowd was more familiar with given the promotion video that was playing prior to the live and all of us in the front yelling it throughout. “KINGS” and “Shangri-La” are the final songs of the night and both of which angela again taught the audience how to do the basic dance. Wonder if angela-senpai noticed me doing to the full version in the front?
What was the highlight of all of this? The fact that angela actually referred to themselves as fripSide during their introduction. This is probably a result of the few “fans” who went to their autograph session earlier int he day and attempted to get fripSide merchandise signed instead, which was more disrespectful than anything else. More on this later in upcoming my convention review post. Regardless, angela is known to put on these comedy acts and get the crowd laughing with them. Heck, Atsuko even donned the lion head costume that was from their Budokan “LOVE & CARNIVAL” concert earlier in the year!
After “Shangri-La” from angela, it was curtain call and all the artists came back on stage for one last bow…that is until Atsuko utilized the fripSide joke again this time with GARNiDELiA (which is somewhat appropriate lol. Maybe a potential future collaboration?). Not sure if MARiA was expecting it but nicely followed up Atsuko’s dogeza pose immediately. This was great in that it happened twice and Atsuko had to explain it as “Japanese greeting.” Like Day 0, those with VIP got a special after event (hi-touch/hi-five) with each artist in the basement of the theater.
Definitely the biggest opinion change I heard going around was angela where many ended up regretting either not getting their autograph (there was a large stack left from what I saw) and/or did not expect how fun their performance would be. I was extremely pleased that they anchored the performance and as mentioned earlier, surprised me with “Boku wa Boku de Atte.”
The biggest letdown I would say was the collaboration songs. Outside of “Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” the crowd was clearly not in the groove for “Sorairo Days” and “CELESTIAL DIVA” was just too random of a pick. For those who don’t recall or didn’t attend last year, the collaborations were “Melissa” from Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and “God Knows…” from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Overall, the concert wasn’t nearly as sold out as Japan Kawaii Live on Day 0 but it was still really fun and hopefully bolds well for more niche artists in future Anisong World Matsuri and anisong events in the US. While there have been feedback that last year’s was “better” with bigger name performers, hopefully the exposure to these lesser known groups over time will change that opinion and open the door for more opportunities or even full length solo lives in the US!
Next up is
BiliBili Macro Link (I posted this too late and plans fell through) Otakon with their first year in a new convention center in Washington, D.C. as well as the final stop for this year’s Anisong World Matsuri. See you there!