IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 4th Anniversary: TriCastle Story

Or, as some would call it, CG3rd Day 4.

Actually, let’s break down the name a little. The 4th Anniversary Live this time spans 2 weekends. Early September there were 2 shows in Kobe. It carries the gist of the CG anniversary lives. Then there’s the Big Deal 2-day event at SSA, a special venue IM@S-wise for those who remembered 2014’s SSA live.

It’s certainly not the first time there has been a secret guest at an IM@S live–all four shows at SSA had at least one. Turns out that having the four we got this past weekend was also a Big Deal. For starters, Taketatsu Ayana has never done an IM@S live before, so this really floored a lot of folks, both because she’s rather popular by her own rights and SSA tickets were very hard to come by. Even live viewing tickets were sold for a high price towards the final days before the event. It would be rather hard for even the most serious Sachiko Producer to foot the bill even on a strong suspicion of Ayachi’s appearance. And this applied to the other three secret guests as well, just not as strongly.

Whining from tanoshi or the like aside, CG4thSSA is easily the best CG live ever. I had a hunch that if there was only one CG live I need to attend, 4th was it. In reality I was almost too correct and it blew my expectations away. For one, the first half of day 2’s lineup is basically the Most DereAni Thing ever. If they did this in 2015’s 3rd live, it would have been the perfect thing. In some ways it felt like they dragged the whole thing out to 4th across the whole year, giving the fans parts and pieces across the past 2 years in various events like Nendoroid 10th live (CG3rd Day 3) or Anisama.

Back to the name. The 2-day live has 3 parts. The aforementioned Most DereAni Thing ever is “346 Castle” or first half of day 2. That is the second of three castles. The whole of day 1 is “Brand New Castle” or as I’d call, the Deresute Castle. On that note there is a physical castle display at the SSA grounds that fans call the “Kakkin Castle” (課金城) where you can go in and experience a short video presentation of the history of CG. This is an upgrade from last year where Cygames just made a baller display. Now it’s a baller display and a seriken lineup to watch a movie. Anyways, on day 1, we got all the new group songs for Starlight Master, plus the idols and songs that Deresute-inducted players might find more familiar. The last castle is the second half of Day 2, which goes by “Future Castle.” It has the new solo songs from the Starlight Master, plus a few nuggets like Evermore, the 5th Anniversary theme for CG, and, Yes Party Time.

We did Yes Party Time with no prior coordination from the stage! They dropped that song on us cold and many of us were able to do it right. I suppose they did show us the trailer a few times before. Anyways, before I go further here are the set lists from imas-db:

I flew in to Tokyo from home the night before day 1, and didn’t buppan, having able to secure most of the goods I needed from mail order and a couple items from friends who did buppan. For some reason they had a delay for penlights so I had to send my proxy order to my hotel… I think this probably had something to do with how “off” some of these lights were? I don’t know. One revelation I had was in a live with like 26 idols it’s impractical to actually use all their character lights. In CG most idols are colors off shades of pink, blue and orange, so you’re almost fine with just those 3, plus white, green and red. If you also prepare a few chemsticks and/or UOs, that’s plenty enough. In fact I would recommend going this way for everyone, and just add to the arsenal as your power level increases. I did had to learn this the hard way, after getting tired of juggling like 26 lights and two color-switching penlas.

SSA had through seats or two-day tickets, which is a ticket for both shows in the same seat. This proved to be good if you had a good seat both days, or bad if you lost your ticket after day 1. I had really good seats for day 1 and so-so seats for day 2…if that makes no sense read on to my first complaint, which is that more than 80% of the sets both days the performers were all at the main stage area. This means half or more of the audience can’t see the performer clearly unless they were looking at the screen. (Look at the pictures here to get an idea.) The stage layout has a runway and a center stage, which they used like 4 times on day 1, and they used carts for 3 songs. That is terrible compared to SSA 2014, which nearly half of the songs (not counting medley, which would increase it even more) were in the middle of the Arena.

I also understand this is probably because of two reasons: One, they had this wicked background which makes for great visuals in some songs, and two, they were trying to mimic Deresute visually. A bunch of songs had 5 people performing, either because it’s a solo with 4 backup dancers, or 3 with 2 backup dancers, what have you. My seat was 2nd row 200 level (237), by C block arena-wise or about a third of the way from the back, which made great viewing for carts and center stage, but not so much the main stage.

Non-main stage songs for day 1… Ashita Mata Aeru yo ne, Radio Happy, Kimi ni Ippai, Saite Jewel, in fact, Minna no Kimochi (support performers were in the center) and OneCin encore (they walked around and waved, for both days). That’s 7 out of 36! That kind of sucks for like, 60+% of the people! Day 2 was a little bit better but not by much. Complaining about hipster-y but pragmatic issues aside, the trade off was probably worth it for people who had good enough seats, and the eventual viewers of the Blu-rays, so it’s not all bad.

Continue to avoid walking the playlist, let me also preface that I don’t know all the performers from day one well. Shinoshii for example, is really a good looking performer who plays Yuka (karate idol), and her song is really catchy too, but it does nothing for me because I am not into her character and I don’t recognize her by face. On the other hand I recognize Aki, so I sorta recognized Muranaka… Or because I recognized Koi no Hamburger, I kind of recognize Acchan… Well, it’s complicated as to what my mind omits and retains, and often it’s not how I want things to go.

It’s almost with that in mind, that for SSA, the character stage outfits were based on various SSR character cards. That cosplay aspect really helped me identify the day 1 performers, at least the ones I don’t immediately recognize. Like I could tell Shinoshii by her pigtails, because Yuka had them. Or because Harabou wore a trenchcoat I could tell that’s Takumi (CV Harabou). You get the idea.

The one exception to this is actually Kunochan. I know what she looks like, but for day 1 she looks way prettier than what I had in mind. Her Nina costume is pretty unique and a standout, so that was a bit of confirmation (as if her voice doesn’t give it away).

As for the day 1 experience, in usual IM@S fashion the live is broken up into blocks. The lead-in video voiced by Chihiro (CV: Satou Rina) said the usual stuff, but also there’s no intermission. Each block had about 6 songs a piece, give or take, and there’s a few minutes of MC as fans recover and the cast gets ready for the next block. There’s no medley, and during the encore (a couple minutes of restful chanting) there was another Chihiro video and some trailers for new announcements. Day 2 was more or less the same with different announcements, and 3 spots where TakeP took the stage to say various things, plus an intermission video to close out the first half.

Block one runs to Everyday Dream, which doesn’t include the opening set. It’s great to see Makinon in her Mayu mode, and Chocotan is looking hilariously awesome. But I think the most striking was Maou, who wore Asuka like a cosplayer would. It’s just a level different than the rest of the cast. In contrast, for example, Nanamin wore Yui’s outfit as if she was an idol, which seems more like a normal stage outfit. It’s hard to pin the difference. The Fake Paris song is fun, but having Fake Cop chase around Fake SDF while using a fake assault rifle as the prop/reason was a little too insensitive for my taste, LOL. I mean they are in Paris! LOL. Is this why Paris Syndrome is a thing?

The second block punctuated with the first cart song, which, like all the other cart songs for day 1, would roll up or down the sides of the arena (one cart on left, one on right), and it would go straight in or away from the main stage for the duration of the song. For Ashita Mata Aeru Yone it was going from the back to the stage. Both carts would roll up about 1/3 of the way and stop for a few minutes, and continue to roll up and stop at the end of the song at the end of the stage. This is where my seat for day 1 was good because it was right by where the stage-left cart would stop, for all 3 of day 1’s cart songs. I had a really good look at Makinon and Riccasama for this song.

The second block would proceed to kill me while I was still recovering from carts. Radio Happy, Itosho, and Can’t Stop back to back also means my UO supply finally got a huge hit that I was expecting off of day 1. I can’t say much about these songs besides you just had to be there. For Can’t Stop, a ton of the performers showed up at the main stage to do the fan thing too. For Radio Happy, it was bliss to see Nanamin dance along with her backup dancers in the center stage. Yui is basically Nanamin’s garu character anyway. And Itoushou…yeah. Harabou did the intro with the same schtik Reichama did last year.

The next block was a little more normal, with exception to Kimi ni Ippai rolling Suzueri, Harabou and Nappi near me, and Hanakazashi is always fun to see in this context. A lot of people did master the color change. I’m not sure where the block started, so it could have been before Kimi ni Ippai? Anyway.

At some point Saite Jewel happened, and I was pretty hype about that, mainly because while I wasn’t in range with Iidashi, I got some really good looks at Maou and Ruchan. I was mostly enjoying the songs.

Then there was Miracle Telepathy. It’s the same gig she did the last two years. People were also expecting the song to summon something, and little did we know? The song ended without anything summoned, but Suzueri (who looks nice in black and red by the way) did the summon thing and it cut into Ayachi’s solo song. The place also exploded at the same time. After that we got a group song and MC, just so we can have Ayachi talk about IM@S.

The next segment kicks off with all the cool stuff, which runs a bit like CG 3rd’s Project Krone segment. Well, it’s Abunai, Hotel Moonside and in fact in that order. Like 3rd, this was also hype as all hell, with exception that there’s a feeling that there’s nothing left to prove, and everyone’s all looking forward to Hotel Moonside. The almost-OG Abunai was just as good as the 3rd version, but it’s not as powerful just because it has fewer voices. It’s a big question going into 4th if they can top 3rd’s Hotel performance, and I’m glad to say they did, because of the way they were able to work lighting and the stage backdrop video. What would happen is that for most of the song all you have is shadows and white back light. Dancers would stand at certain spots like in 3rd, but they won’t always get a spotlight–they’d get the backlight. This means you just see shadows of people dancing. Then they would slip in Iidashi in and out of the backlights too….and then they would slip in a shadow Kanade in there, and that blew people’s minds. Leveling this song with 2 more singers also helped. Pictures here–and scroll down too to see what they did for the other Deresute Masters group songs.

In fact was probably just as good as 3rd’s, minus the emotional baggage from Amina–just a very solid performance for all the ArisuPs (and they were out in force today). Aikurushii was a very nice touch at this point, just so to sneak in this piece of non-CP anime-related song. It would be the one slow song for the closing section of the show. It’s also one of the shows where Makinon’s vocals would kind of blow up Riccasama’s so she had to adjust, LOL. On that note, Riccasama and Ruchang’s Ao no Ichiban Hoshi earlier in the show was pretty good too, working around the various limitations in this setting.

Seizon Honnou Valkyria, Lunatic Show, Tulip, Junjou Midnight Densetsu and Hi-Fi Days are all hype-as-hell songs that would see lots of UO use (well Lunatic Show more just red). At that point I had nothing left to UO with, nor did they actually feel hype in that way. It was more just celebrating that we finally have that crazy-large CG live with original singers and few compromises to none. What is notable for me was how Valkyria turned into this huge group chorus song, and I’m not sure if I liked it. It was okay but it felt like a different song than the original version vocally. Also for these group songs they were able to use the stage to display the corresponding Deresute characters to enhance the show. For example they showed Mika for Tulip and the two missing Hi-Fi lolis for Hi-Fi Days.

As for Hi-Fi Day goes, Kunochan didn’t solicit the same reaction as Ayachi, but almost the same number of people were surprised, because we did not expect two surprise guests, even if they introduced her in this way to make us hoping for it. Needless to say, putting that and then putting Minna no Kimochi at the climax of the show was on purpose, as she proceeds to bring the house down…by turning it into a zoo? For Minna no Kimochi about half of the other idols took the stage with kigurumi ears and paws, and did the dance. It’s made for furicopy too so everyone can dance along to the chorus. I also proceeded to knock out a couple penlights from my belts while trying, so there’s another to not wear all 26 lights…

The main show closed out with GOIN’!!! after that, and we got the encore, EVERMORE, the 5th anniversary song (minus Kunochan and Ayachi), the ending MC, and lastly Onecin. I think Minna no Kimochi blew my mind so badly that I haven’t fully recovered. Musically I found Evermore to be all over the place, but the only observation I can say is that the dance furi requires the group to be numbered in a multiple of 3.

Leaving SSA after the live, we hit up a late uchiage/offkai back in Akiba. It was a good time.

Day 2 was about the same overall as day one, except everybody and their mother now expect secret guests. I think Kaede/Hayamin was the lead in terms of the guessing pool, along with Naobou and some even guessed Satorina. Anyone could have been.

People also went extra hard at lining up at the various displays outside the hall before door opening. Some friends waited an hour in line to see the new merch on display, some images of that you can find here (along with pictures of the Kakkin Castle). I ended up overeating during lunch because I had the worst munchies ever, and regretted it all afternoon. Oops.

I spent day 2 pre-show watching the video at the Kakkin Castle, and paying more attention at the flower stands this time (because there were fewer ArisuPs clogging things up!!)

As for the second day, we have not just Chihiro, but TakeP, to open things up with some arousing speeches. I guess it’s a tradition, but did you know his gift box is full of P cards?

By the process of elimination, I had a good idea what all the songs are going to be for day two. I also slimmed down my penlights just because that seemed like the sensible thing to do. That balances out with the mild digestive discomfort I was experiencing for the first half. The ride of all the DereAni song from start to finish was a lot of fun, but it’s also where the problem of positioning comes into play. Other than Let’s Go Happy all the songs were performed on the main stage, so it’s a real drag.

On the other hand, seeing the cool visuals to go with Love Laika, and then Ranko collab, and then Mayayan rocking the best red all weekend (behind her in the display), and then there was my day2 MVP Nasukichi chaining the rock segment between her rendition of Twilight Sky and Rocking Emotion into the best rendition of Over ever. It’s all those little details from the anime coming to life.

Out of nowhere comes Trancing Pulse. This was a little odd in that during 3rd, it came during the climax of the Project Krone segment so there was a lot of leading up to, but not here. Dropped right before the big reveal people went nut over it as usual…and it kept going as crackles of thunder lead the way to Koi Kaze. The arena turned green and gave way to spots of UO. The floor was shaking.

Even though this was well within expectation it still took a bit for things to sink in, which is to say right after this Naobou showed up to even more screams, but I didn’t even fully realize the magnitude of this as things just did not sink in fast enough. Yeah this is OG Nocturne, but so what? My brain could not process it beyond as purely information.

TakeP came on stage to chat with the nice ladies who were the special guests after the amazingly shocking segment, so this is when stuff began to sink in for me. During this time, the rest of the cast went through an outfit change and they were wearing the CG3rd outfits (minus the special guests).

The middle block begins after that, which gave us Kono Sora no Shita to M@GIC, which is a fitting way to conclude “346 Castle” or the anime segment. But since there was no intermission, they instead gave us a video collage to Goin’ of the best cuts from DereAni, and at the end TakeP came out again to explain to us now that we’re in Future Castle.

We think Akai drew this key visual for CG 4th’s 346 Stage, which now you can purchase from Lalabit. At SSA, they also put up an autographed board of the same that people went to see after the live (I didn’t even know until after I got on a train).

This is when everyone came back out for Yes Party Time, with their third outfit change, and we march through all the new solo songs. It’s a long stretch and featured probably my favorite performances, namely Okashi no Kuni no Okashiya-san (an Ayachi joke in waiting aside) and Nudie. Let’s just say Nudie needs to be seen to be believed. I thought Sparkling Girl and Anemone Star are also a lot more fun to see in person than their songs would lead me to believe.

For Okashiya-san, Baum wore a head mic and performed the song musical-style. Sumipe was the prince in the song and acted and sang as needed. She also continued what she started from CG 3rd, which is to eat during the performance. This time she did it as part of the act (on script). What blows the mind though, was that the cake she ate from was made by her. Supposedly as part of practice for the song she also practiced baking.

After the new solos, we got Hego MC leading us to the wrap-up into EVERMORE. From there is the encore call, Chihiro’s video message, and more announcements (a yea for Comedy Anime). Then we got carted. Finally. God damn. Did I mention only two songs in the second half was in the center stage?

This time, everybody except Naobou and Hayamin are on carts at the same time, so there were four carts total, two each side. Because there are two on each side, the carts parked slightly differently from day one, and my seat was in the middle of both carts, making me choose which cart I should face during the period when they were stationary (and they were for a good 4+ minutes). Should I look at the cute cart, which is a little further up (would be facing my neighbor), and has Etti, Hego, and Candy Island? Or the cool cart which has Love Laika, Marei, Maimai and MatsuEri? I think Marei made a really, really strong case for her side. Ask me in person if you’re curious as to what happened.

The carts during encore is a good way to wrap things up. We called out our secret guests (who also wore their 4th outfits) and they all performed OneCin to close it out.

The TL;DR

Overall this was the best CG live ever by pretty much any measure. You have a handful of performers making their IM@S idol debut, including the long-awaited Taketatsu Ayana. There was an idol who didn’t even get a solo song yet. There was kigurumi dancing. There was every anime wet dream collab on day two. Hotel Moonside topped itself. The performers didn’t even overlap between days. There were glimpses of CG’s future beyond the Deresute power group event songs too. TakeP did his thing. Surprise guests were definitely surprising. It’s the sum of the whole of Cinderella Girls, minus the actual headcount of having everybody literally in the same event.

My favorites are many from both days but I finally got my Itoushou experience. I continued my 3-P Trancing Pulse streak. Let’s Go Happy full was just as good. Radio Happy was orgasmic. Nudie was a sight to behold. Nasukichi’s sets were tops. And Minna no Kimochi was the best way to round out day 1 that is beyond imagination.

It’s not the same, so Okashiyasan gets a special nod for being special and continuing the Ai Like Hamburger tradition, but that was a ton of fun. On the flip side there’s always Hayamin’s excellent Koi Kaze, which is a miracle itself for existing. Maybe in the middle was seeing Maou singing passionately from the cart during Saite Jewel.

That said there are still a lot of issues and problems that are inevitable with some of the ideas and concepts they tried for in CG 4th. The large cast itself also posed some problems. The high demand for CG event tix raises everyone’s stakes.

But I think this was really it. If you had to buy 1 CG blu-ray, make it 4th’s. You can’t go wrong.


2 Responses to “IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 4th Anniversary: TriCastle Story”

  • TheBigN

    >>It would be rather hard for even the most serious Sachiko Producer to foot the bill even on a strong suspicion of Ayachi’s appearance. And this applied to the other three secret guests as well, just not as strongly.

    Even so… orz

    • omo

      I know one guy who didn’t try for CG4th because, say, Hayamin wasn’t one of the performers announced. I feel bad for him, but at the same time if they just wanted to see Hayamin perform CG songs it’s probably not worth their time to do just that–going to Japan for a live is a lot of effort. If it was just an excuse, well, it worked and they can enjoy their regret. And I speak of them in general, not just for Kaede fans. It’s fine, life goes on in the Blu-ray.

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