I’m back to the States after attending Anisama 2016! The 3-day festival/concert at the Saitama Super Arena was a blast and frankly a pretty heavy-duty experience on both mind and body. I made it even worse by adding a side trip to Chara-hobby Expo Tokyo, now rebranded as C3 Tokyo, before the live on day 3, as there was a Million Live stage event there in the morning. What turned out was even worse because of stuff unexpected. At least now I can cross out going go Mogra on my bucket list.
I have been following Anisama since the beginning. Now that I have visited for the first time I can say it’s basically the anison wota equivalent to comiket, as far as a collective, cultural experience goes. The outdoor stage that was added some years back made it even more so a celebration of young people going nuts during the Japanese summer break, with these somewhat 2.5D idol up-and-coming acts. The main shows themselves are 5+ hours long, with a smattering of old and new performers. Some acts are one-shot things (B.B. Queens??), some are super mainstream (like Tamaki Nami this year), some have been here since the start (Minami, Angela), and some came on a time machine (Ayukawa Maya, Matsumoto Ricca). There are the usual gearing-up promo acts like TrySail and AOP, but also someone who’s never publicly performed as a solo artist until now (Numakura Manami). If anything, it’s hard to complain about Anisama 2016’s diversity, at least on paper.
Anisama is different than the other festival-style lives I’ve been to. The energy and expectation are through the roof. Many of the attendees there are yakkai as F. Most are pretty normal. Some people sat down more than they stood up. Granted I’ve yet to attend Animax Musix or Lisani, where in recent years they’ve been upping their games, especially in the collaborations, but Anisama as a whole feels just that much more epic compared to the ones I’ve been to thus far (P’s Live 02, Nendo 10th). Three hot summer nights are a long time and a lot of cheering for anybody.
This year, thanks to typhoon Lionrock, we enjoyed mild, if slightly damp, weather for days 2 and 3. It rained on and off in Saitama but the Tokyo region was cool, compared to day 1, when heat and humidity were at their usual form. Standing in the sun was not recommended. This was also my third time going to Japan during summer, and I like it as much as getting a punch to the gut. Only for you (and IM@S and Yoko Kanno), Anisama!
A lot of that is what’s special about Anisama, I think. The crowds and the energy and passion is much stronger, better. Maybe yeah, there are those people who whip out their custom umaibou penlights during Calorie Queen, or those digging into their gyudons during Rice to Meat You. How can you blame them
I mean that’s awesome I would too?
I mean look at this (outdoor stage):
— ラマージュ@アニサマ2016参戦 (@Lohengramm_nm7) August 28, 2016
— よちひろ (@rnrfar) August 28, 2016
Anyways, the event-specific key links–
Set list: http://anisama.tv/2016/special/setlist.php
My seats on day 1 was godly; it’s A4 row 3. That means I was still a good 15 meters from the middle of the main stage, and another 25 or so from the center stage. It sounds like far but it was close enough to see everything well. The only two downsides were when people got to the center stage, you see their backs (and if they were on the far right side of the stage); and sometimes the moving camera equipments might block your view or is otherwise a little distracting. It was also good because I was on Iidashi’s side during the Cinderella Girls segment. She’s definitely on the short list of CG seiyuu I’m interested in today. During M@gic, the performers popped up in center stage, but since there were 10 of them, they stood in a circle facing outside, which means I saw her, Baum, MatsuEri and half of Moyochi facing my side of the arena. I was close to losing it at the time. Then there was Tulips, where she and Amina each took one side of the circle (and she’s on my side) (also lost it then). Even if it was in medley format, Trancing Pulse with the upper stage/standing mic setup felt pretty close to what was seen for Nendo 10th. It’s at around the time when I was done with day 1 that I just realized I will go three-for-three for Trancing Pulse live this year…!
— May'n (@mayn_tw) August 26, 2016
Day 1 was hard to describe. Even accounting for the fact that this was my first day of my first Anisama experience, overall it was just most catered to my tastes and wants. There was the obvious and aforementioned Cinderella Girls, but the biggest talking point for day 1 was ALTIMA, and their hiatus announcement. This becomes the first Anisama where an artist debut (MOCHOOOO) and an artist closes up shop on the same year. Nonetheless, imagine Final Cyber Cyber at SSA? The only thing missing is Star Anis and WUG and 9nine going around doing the hand thing at people. At the last part of Cyber Cyber, all the other artists actually came up on the top of the stage, in Yakusoku fashion, doing what’s power called, Cyber Cyber?!
KOTOKO was in her usual form, but it felt like she got robbed with just a solo song and a collaboration. Given how Friday ran the latest I guess it can’t be helped, but Plasmic Fire was as good as it can be. Similarly when Maon popped up as herself for Dead Or Lie with Trustrick, it was pretty darn hype. I also feel robbed with just one Zwei song, since I really like that group.
It’s not just Friday; it’s a bit of a recurring theme this year–these great anison acts only get 2 songs, max. It’s rough, but I suppose that was always Anisama’s conceit–good artists don’t get more songs than artists you don’t care for. On paper, Anisama is that kind of thing that makes it easy to skip if you appreciate a more intimate and authentic experience with just the solo artists you like. It’s easy to write it off as a sampler, or a discovery mechanism, but Anisama is really beyond that by a lot.
Other day-one wonders include Rieshon and Aisaka-kun. The Inside Identity duet could only be better if ZAQ somehow joined in as well (and I was half expecting it).
— こーすけ＠通販始めました (@kousuke_LP) August 28, 2016
Suara though… that was the other mind-blown omo moment when she whipped out her first big tie-in.
— Suara (@Suara_FIX) August 26, 2016
Along similar lines, it was a lot of fun to finally see Koroazu doing her solo. I really digged her new album (one of these days I’ll have to write up all the seiyuu solo albums I sampled this year, or at least the notable ones) so hearing that AZ-lead-in was a lot of fun. Also she wore this interesting “rock” inspired outfit and ended up showing her belly half the time because the see-through layer would be stuck on her belt. Just a little detail that I found charming (not even in a sexy kind of way).
— 芹澤優(i☆Ris) (@iRis_s_yu) August 26, 2016
This was my first experience with iRis, and I am not impressed: to a degree, it only reinforces my earlier biases. This unit triggers my real-idol defenses a little too much for my liking, and they act that way like seasoned pros. I think it’s good fun and I respect their work, but iRis is not really for me. And it’s not anything really objective–to me they came across too try-hard, but I can easily see someone else thinks they are doing a good job appealing to the crowd.
While CG made history closing out day one of Anisama (being not only the first idol group to do so, but the first anime-tie-in unit completely), May’n did her part for closing the first half of the show. Singing all her old hits from Frontier was great, but it falls a little flat compared to what I used to remember. The girl’s still got it though! It’s also fun to see her going after the CG girls, and hopefully we’ll see more of it in the blu-ray.
On that note, predicting who was the closer was part of the fun about Anisama. We didn’t expect Cinderella Girls to do so because there were no precedent, but they were certainly the biggest draw on day one. Frankly most of us probably expected May’n to do it.
Tamaki Nami was interesting to see. She bursted out on stage for Believe for the first half, and popped out for ALL-WAYS collab. Feels as if she just did two songs in different sets. I suppose I can say the same for Iguchi who first came out with this white dress that looked nice, and changed into this black dress underneath for Lostorage, featuring her usual showy legs and upper chest. The disrobing happened during a musical interlude where she ducked underneath the main stage drop doors.
My favorite gothloli model Luna Haruna did pinch hit for Aoi Eir on day 1. It was actually the one slow act for the night. She even did a shout out to Eir during the MC. As an aside, the pamphlet includes a segment on Eir, which presumably went into print before she pulled out of the show. Get well soon!
Everying has some pretty yakkai calls but they are lots of fun. Whats more fun though is when Bless 4 came out for their top songs, or when Matsumoto showed up to do a medley of pokemon songs. Thanks PokeGo, if anything I got to see Matsumoto again because of it! But Bless4 tho, they are legit good and left a strong impression on me.
Zaq was her usual self, but her collab with Yamamoto Yohsuke was pretty interesting. Yamamoto is this guitarist that does instrumental rock, and it was a pleasant change of pace for me.
I don’t know, I dig this kind of thing. Enough about day 1! If anything, this was my favorite day and it’s a blast of a start.
— 響け！ユーフォニアム2 (@anime_eupho) August 27, 2016
Day 2 was just weird. It’s both the most anime and the most international of the three. At some point during Fighting Dreamers/Go (Flow closed out the first half) I was like, I feel like I was at Anime Expo. This is the kind of thing Flow’s done all over the world at different cons. Now multiply that by like 27000 people and yeah. What added to that was also the GirlDeadMonster part, the Lia set and collab, Lisa’s set, and freaking Komm, süßer Tod. Yeah, death sure is sweet. (I cracked an UO during the last part of it just so I can say I cracked a UO during Komm, susser Tod. I also busted out laughing when Sato started on the piano intro.) Even fhana was a tad on that side because of me seeing them for the first time at AWA last year. Seeing Ayahi and Hayamin in the States this past year or two… It’s nothing really special but the totality of it is a strange coincidence, that many of day 2’s artists performed oversea in the past few years.
I felt that Lisa was MVP on day two. She demonstrated her tori powers with a set that really brought down the barrier between yakkai fans and a real sense of emotion from the stage. I was moved, if anything. It’s a great example of how music can transcend language and culture. It was also a good contrast between something genuine and something not quite there, from the average idol acts out there. She certainly got me.
— 竹達彩奈MusicStaff (@AyanaTake_Music) August 27, 2016
I think the first set that got stuff going was Ayachi. The AOP Osomatsu-san stuff was a lot of fun and hype for all the fangirls, but Taketatsu Ayana’s yakkai cheering is what kickstarted the show, as going nuts for her is now becoming a form of performance art. Umaibou cyclones are just the beginning. Dropping Hey! Calorie Queen and Rice to Meat You is an explosion of flavor in SSA, I guess, when you get gastro-scientific enhanced umami bomb in your gyudon or some such. I would link you a tweet of someone eating it during the song but you don’t need to see it. I guess sometimes yelling “I Love Beef” just doesn’t cut it, you have to eat some.
On that note, my seat on day 2 was middle of block C 8, which makes it more or less the middle of the arena and to the right. A couple times Ayachi’s cart went around my corner and slowed down, so I got a good look of her outfit. Sure is chesty!
Day 2 has some pretty awesome collabs, come to think of it. It has songs like the ending to Sore ga Seiyuu, and aside from the very adorable Earphones seiyuu you have Yoko Ishida popping in doing a whole song in the middle of that song. This song is something I wish they would do every year. (Also Ishida, who I just saw at AX earlier, looked way older while doing Otome no Policy, somehow?) Collab-wise, my other favorite has to be Lia and fhana’s Toki o Kizamu Uta. It’s widely known among fhana fans that CLANNAD is one of the unifying concept behind the band, so this was what I’d call a fhana wet dream. It’s also the kind of a collab that makes a hell of a lot of sense. It’s decidedly the sort of thing that Anisama was good for in the earlier years, instead of just people doing karaoke to their favorite anime songs (although there’s nothing wrong with that per se). On that note, that was sort of how Sato’s Komm susser Tod went down, where Sato lead the backing instruments on the piano while Hayamin and Ayahi tried to do that big vocal thing with some freestyle towards the end. And even that makes a little more sense than some of the other covers this weekend, because of the type of vocals the two can bring and what the song is good for.
— ＜ワーナー・ホームエンタ＞アニメチーム (@wb_anime) August 27, 2016
— 内田真礼 Official (@MaayaUchida) August 27, 2016
On the kusoeventing seibuta side of things, there was Mayayan and her banner songs. I’m glad to finally hear them from the source, and see the kakkai stuff first hand. Gimme Revolution is a ton of fun. SB69’s Plasmagica brought the other surge of cheering as popular seiyuu took the stage and strut their fake instruments. The OP to the Show By Rock series proper is a catchy little tune. TRUE and the Euphonium core cast also took to the stage with some brass musicians to do the OP and Tutti. Yeah, they’re cute!
I think what separates day 2 from day 3, for me, are the really awesome single-shot acts. OxT live doing Clattaonia is great. Konomin is a homerun derby champion and I went ham during Redo. Even Ohashi Ayaka’s songs are two of my favorites from her, such hego-y angel. And speaking of who, Hasshi totally stole the show during PoPiPa’s two songs with her standard hego-smile and meticulously novice-like drumming. She literally is the HoriPro android money cannot buy. The gap between the two is precious. And it’s not to knock the other BanG_Dream girls–Aimin being possibly the most musically talented seiyuu that I follow, and thanks to Saechi I have finally seen actual seiyuu shredding.
— 沼倉愛美（公式） (@numakura_manami) August 28, 2016
— ゆいかおり(小倉 唯＆石原夏織)スタッフ (@YUIKAORI_STAFF) August 28, 2016
My seat for the last day is also the worst, but it’s also the best if you are lucky. It’s located first row, stage left, on the second level, so you can get really close to the performers if they come around the side of the stage or on a cart. Depends on where people stood I could also get a good look of their back and sides. This means I got a really good look at ChanYui’s legs. And by the seiyuu idol lords theses are not just any legs, these are the legs of a terminator. The shape and tone is out of this world. There is incredible muscle definition. It’s not like a body builder’s legs, but it’s quite muscular. Tomatsu Haruka also came to our side and strutted her stuff. Atsuko (of Angela) did a thing around there. Two of the five Bouei-bu got on the cart on my side. But that was pretty much it. The rest of the time I’m looking at the screen or at the side of people.
That is assuming I’m looking anywhere at all. Because of first-training to C3 and the non-stop partying since the end of day 2, I had not a lick of sleep since the morning of day 2. Jet lag and the asphalt pavement kept me up for most of the camp (and it didn’t help I had to run to catch the first train). Pretty sure when Minami went on and talked for 5 minutes for MC I fell asleep, and at some point during AliPro’s set I was doing calls with eyes closed. I think when Petit Milady showed up I opened my eyes and realized what was happening, and sat down a bit.
The seiyuu duet partnered with YuiKaori for a cover of Motteke Sailor Fuku, which was very fun as we see everyone do the calls. But somehow I think I’m just burnt out from all the eventing and the cumulative fatigue of two days of Anisama. Still, I was just fine once the adrenaline started running again, which by the time Angela came out to close I was in good shape, especially for Aoi Haru.
Doing Aoi Haru with Angela at a live has been one of those things I always wanted to do. Although it was just the medley length version this time, it scratched that itch a bit. I might even aim for their Budokan show next year if things work out…just so I can Papapashuwan with everyone. Anyways, Angela was my highlight of the night, definitely because of all of their hype songs that I know for all these years.
Nu solo sure was solo. It’s like when Mocho announced her solo, but less hype? I guess my mind has already normalized it at the time. Sakebe was an OK song. Really dunno if they’re just going to have her spit fire the whole time.
アニサマ終了！沼倉愛美さんソロデビュー、堂々とした初ステージでした！まさかのコラボもあり本当に嬉しかった！ 叫べ！！ pic.twitter.com/l1uVtjy2qU
— マイケル (@mikel_bk) August 28, 2016
Trysail is the number one reason why I was at Anisama day 3 (and not at WUG Tour). They for the most part delivered what I expected, but somehow having 2 songs and no collab feels a little short for me. High Free Spirits is acceptable but since they were all center or at least main center stage the whole time, my seat did me no justice. In my heart of hearts I was hoping for a collab or a cover, but I knew Muray is stickler for group image and there was none breaking out on day 3.
In that way, Maon is a bit like a consolation prize where her songs I can get into, between random bouts of Petit Milady and YuiKaori, neither which I can. Ojou is great and I would love to see her more often. I also dig these songs so that helped.
A lot of the acts for day 3 are not particularly my jam, so I won’t labor on how to describe Pile or Rippi (besides she did a great job and I would listen to her music). Mimorin is as pro as usual. Ali Project is still great for what it is. Aoi Shota might be a Mamo knock-off but he’s still good at it. I rather dig The Du, even if just for one song. Buei-bu is legit.
Nano is probably the one stray act in Day 3 that I could put my back into. They did the whole “not gonna show her face” thing on camera and she didn’t appear for the encore.
I was definitely out of it for good chunks of the show. It cannot be helped in retrospect, but that did impact my overall experience. The two guys behind me in the row up was making smartass comments during the show, which kept me amused.
All three days, the plaza area in front of the main level entrance is occupied by the Anisama crowds. The outdoor stage has an idol event starting at 10am and public karaoke after. The pit area is where the real yakkai is happening (see tweet up top) but there were also food booths all over the area. There’s even a stamp rally (I got only 4 out of 6). There’s a gyuton place that’s great. There’s a karaage place that’s great. There was also a smoothies place and a yakisoba place. There are a bunch of booths near the stadium where the event goods are sold. There were also a couple booths promoting other stuff, like a JCB card. The CD/DVD booth also had artist bonuses giveaways all weekend long, such as autograph boards and what not.
The outdoor stage is pretty crazy, but during day 1 it was so hot people rotated in and out between songs like a hockey team. Thankfully most of the plaza is shaded, so the bystanders had a good view while standing in the shade.
PS. This weekender was brought to you by ANA. I flew them because JAL and ANA are the only airlines servicing the NY area with a morning arrival time on weekdays, which means I can get into work on Monday. (Technically I booked it as a UA codeshare.) It also turned out ANA has a 6pm flight out of JFK, which means I can squeeze in that precious workday on my way out. I landed in Narita at around 9:30 which gave me plenty time to catch the last Skyliner. And failing that there was another NEX and the Airport bus to Tokyo station too. The flight to Japan was overall uneventful, but the flight from Japan was fun because 1) I got upgraded to premium economy due to full flight, and 2) some of the Japan Paraolympics team were on it. As a result I got to see a boarding ceremony, lots of bowing ANA attendees, and the reason why my flight was full. I think it has to do with the typhooon which didn’t make landfall until Tuesday or so.
I also visited the Ani-on collab cafe for IM@S on Saturday. It’s a much more laid back IM@S cafe experience. All that burst cookies … but I didn’t bring any home. The DJ request list are all oldies plus the new PlaStar tracks. They didn’t have Smoky Fruits yet though… The collab ended on 8/31.