Million Live 4th: Thank You for Smile

The Fourth Anniversary live for Million Live, for me, was something about me and less about IDOLM@STER Million Live. Kokochan said it during her final MC on day 2, that the idols are a reflection of the producers. In a way that’s why I think the show is only good as the emotional baggage you’re carrying into Budokan. If you are a die-hard ML producer then ML4th will reach stratospheric sublime territory. I thought ML 3rd was already very good, but 4th topped it in a way where only a 3-day, closely knit-together rollercoaster could. I think it was only possible because there are still a very solid group of Ps cheering them on in the usual ways.

On the technical side of things, ML4th did some stuff well, such as opening up the northeast and northwest seats, which gives people a sense of being there while not being there to see the same show the rest of the venue does. It did well with sending us the right surprise guests, in a very no-nonsense way, which is exactly what works best. You can complain about the acoustics on day 3 but day 1 and day 2 were pretty okay. Most importantly the way the stage was set up, there are very few bad seats in Budokan.

IM@S DB has the set list, and more importantly, all the performers. Day 1, day 2, day 3. For handy social media coverage (the performers and fans cover the event best), check out the matomes for day 1, day 2 and day 3.

Personally speaking, day 3 was where it was at, but days 1 and 2 paved the way. Day 1 filled my mind full of WTF because of the way it opened up the surprise guest stuff. My seats were on the northeast side, first level stands. I split my pair of tickets with ohohoP for days 1 and 2 so we were pretty much losing our minds that night during the last block. For day 2 we were just being, well, flooded, but we sorta called the setlist due to the way things had to shake out after Hoshikuzu Symphonia. At the end of day 3 I was full of various emotions and it was a surprise that I kept it all together.

If you looked at the set list you can see the structure–3 solos with 1 LTF song. There were no real breaks between songs but instead the solos were often chained with the next performer entering the previous song to dance or sing along, and the previous performer sing or dance to the next song as she gets off stage. The last block becomes a mix of LTP/LTH group songs, and the last LTD CD. For Day 1, this meant an Emergence Vibe with Rikako, who is probably the sexy tantou for the 3D side of things for ML. Day two we had Yukiyosama doing Beat the World which is a dream come true for me, as I never really expect to hear that song. It actually exceeded my dreams in this case because it turned into a towel song, a first for Million. Also I am a big fan of Stefuji so this was perfect. Todakun shined on that stage as well, and in this case I too hope she gets to perform with Hirorin sometime…

It’s kind of the thing where viewer’s anticipation and being able to appreciate the little things between ML and the performers themselves add all the world to the live. I kind of want to know how casual Million Ps feel about 4th, because that might or might not get across to them so much. Well, day 3 was pretty obvious–having Taneda Risa’s signed message show up at the end of day 3 was something now we came to expect thanks to CG, but seeing Kotoha dance on stage in 3DCG was quite something when all 36 other performers were doing Thank You. That is pretty powerful!

The fact that Thank You with 36 people was a thing is pretty much a tearjerker in its own right. For each day we sang along to the second Thank You performance and went extra loud during the “tezukuri budokan” part, so you can imagine how this was like for day 3. I was kind of stuffed up myself. It was the kind of moment where singing along was almost not enough. Leading up to the end of day 3 was already some major stuff, such as when Stef talked about Kotoha after Jireha. The burning girls set our hearts on fire.

I think Day 2’s performers were pretty much the kind of “idol” performers that typifies a post-765pro experience. If we think of Million Live as adorable kouhai team with their own ambitions and missions, Kokochan, Yunkon, Maple, Nomura (and team Spacecraft) are the best examples of them. It was also why we were a bunch of crying sob on day 2?

The point I’m trying to make is just that these anniversary live for IDOLM@STER is as much about the emotional checkpoints fans and idols have reached as much as the actual live performances. Which is good–I don’t think they could have done a whole lot better than what they did than ML3rd, so by playing to the emotional side with “tezukuri Budokan” as the focus, the ML production was able to top itself yet again. I am fairly certain ML4th is the most emotional and memorable experience for this series and franchise up to this point.

Which is to also say, things are still quite a bit from perfection. Taneda is still out. We didn’t have the 765pro covers this time. We don’t have 765pro collabs still. Not every group song got the original members. Most importantly, we didn’t get that anime announcement.

I think it’s fair to say ML4th has that turning point on day 3, before the encore, and after the encore when Sakagami came out and did his pitch. The anime trailer was really cool–he said to the extent that the animation team did too good of a job? The near-10-minute trailer was very awesome, and long, but all it did was distracted me from the truth for a short time. I think coming into Million Live 4th and expecting an announcement was part of what producers wanted to promote the series, which has been largely a mobile game hole only meant for the bravest (or people who don’t have a gambling problem?). Something a lot more accessible than a 2011-style grind game would go a long way.

It was with this mixed feeling that I exited Budokan. It’s not so much just one lack of announcement soured the thing, but it was the weight of producing 37 idols, that Scamco wanted to count on us, the faithful long-timers, to carry the team. Well, if we aren’t going to do it, who else would? But a little more help would be nice? It was like what Kokochan said. It was reaffirming of my own feelings but yet a challenge at the same time.

It makes me think about how hardcore fans of the original hakom@s or arcadem@s era, and how did they see the series evolve. I guess there were differences but it wasn’t all that different. Million Live currently is mostly about seiyuu doing live performances, for most people, and the rest of the character-driven franchise is really niche even in Japan. Seeing the nicely done anime trailer was both a giant gift for mankind and a giant tease.

With it all said, I think behind it all are a group of fans and group of staff/performers who really treasure this series, so I think everything will work out in due time. The burden is just on the fans to continue to support their idols, and on the series/franchise to continue to provide good content. With a new game on the horizon it’s kind of an iffy thing, and ML4th sort of wrapped it up in a way that I don’t really have good vision down the road.

But that’s okay, the future is always uncertain. I know for sure, however, that ML4th was awesome, it was moving, it was cathartic, it was amazing, it was sexy, it was cute, it was fun, it had all the markings of a great time. It was attended by great fans (and some yakkais) and wonderful performers. Even if Denchan made a visible mistake during final Thank You, it made no difference to us. It was that good and I was glad to be a part of it.

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