IM@S 765ML First Time In Taiwan

Hooboy, where do I start? Do I begin with how I ninja’d another weekender to Asia, but it’s the first time I did Taiwan in this way. Do I talk about the fans at the show? Do I talk about the show? Or the various uchiage and stuff like that? Or Kuro’s teleporter?

I think the most important thing about 765MLTW is that it’s the first oversea solo IDOLM@STER event. The second most important thing is that they pulled out (some of) the stops, both to introduce the charm of Million Live to new fans as well as giving veteran fans some unusual, unexpected, or brand new collaborations and combos.

First, let’s break down the setlist some.

The lives started at around 5 and ended before 8, giving us almost 3 hours of content including the Shacho/Kotori segments, and an encore call. There is the opening MC, the ML MC, the 765Pro MC, a fast break after Etahamo, the pre-encore MC, and the final MC between Utamas and The World is All One. Both days followed the same structure, with Jiburi and Diamond Days on day one replaced with Happy and WELCOME, respectively. The full lists is here and here. It’s also in the Million Live game, of course. Basu walks it pretty well so you can read his write up for those deets.

Worth repeating is how Itou Miku caught the flu and did not travel to Taiwan. It’s not clear what the impact of her absence was, besides having Toumei na Prologue performed by Mingosu instead, to pair with Harami. Fans still wore Yuriko gear (two of team USA did that in fact) and I had my Yuriko penlight handy. Considering the announcement came while I was 35000ft in the air, there was not much I could have done. I get the feeling we would have had a duet Aoi Tori if Mikku made it, but others disagreed and I’m not gonna fight this point.

The true power of Million Live live performances are the unit songs, especially ones that have the extra layer of sentimentality. Oddly enough Harukanamirai was the least effective of these in my opinion, because that point has been driven home way too far already for me. That’s okay, because between the other 4 group songs (and DD/Dreaming/Welcome) I think we have it covered. And that’s not even mentioning Maspi and Jiburi, for that matter.

Well, when I say sentimentality, there are songs like Sentimental Venus, which is now god-tier thanks to ML2nd’s story. It was already god-tier to me during SSA 2014 when Kugyuu did her thing with Mocho Nansu Aimin and Ibuchan (IMO, the first true ML power unit song ever performed live), but you get my point. There are the other kind of god-tier group songs from Million, which is what Shinso Mermaid and Jungle Party are, because they are lit like crazy. Or what Praline is to a lot of people.

Which is to say Persona Voice, for long timers, is a bit of both. It’s Azumin’s first live performance of the song, it’s with the original members, and the song sounds like your typical upbeat Yamaguchi Akihiko track, which means it’s lit AF. It’s even notably better than the ML3rd version, probably because both Nomura has upgraded and Azumin’s style just fits the song better than Koroazu. Anyways, it’s my favorite out of the set list for sentimentality, performance, and song type.

Azumin, in general, doesn’t perform much with the Millions. Having hear her do Dreaming (well, more like seeing) is already really moving, and it didn’t hit me until day two. It circles back fully to the last time she performed with them during 10th,when Dreaming was debuted for the first time.

The same could be said of Eternal Harmony and Mingos, but Mingos has more Million exposure than Azumin does. I’m just hyped to see a 3-player version of the original group members (Eternal Harmony is also the unit name) perform the song live, as this is the second time it was performed live with Mingosu. I totally pulled out my Matsuri light during the “hi-ho” call.

The medley format for the solo songs is kind of cool, in that it hits two birds with one stone–to introduce musically the “baseline” as I call it–to a lot of new viewers, and to give vets something new. The aforementioned Toumei no Prologue is an example. Hearing the truncated versions of these songs are new for Million Ps. Some of the collabs will naturally remind you of 10th during their dream medley sequence–namely the Double Asakura Tokimeki no Onpu ni Natte is a page right out of that book, sorry Haramii. I think the rest are nice fanservice for loyal 765Ps, like seeing Eriko going at it with Yuiton on the Jet Machine or Mingos’s Masquerade with Nomura. Or Nunu doing Inagawashi’s routine.

I guess producers are not hard to please. Just being able to go L O V E LOVELY ASAPON is fine for a lot of us. Or shout Rally/Machico during Alright* instead of Azumin. Whatever floats your new fangled boat in Taiwan. For newer people or people not familiar with Million it took more. And we have more in the form of the unit songs with 765Pro.

And at the same time, we didn’t get a lot more. Million Live is set up in a way where it’s actually a juiced up version to the original 765Pro, with different crossover character relationships, and different songs to match. If anything we only got a bigger bite of the full, possible pie that the “765ML” system can provide. It’s kind of different than the very distinct solo identities that come together for the occasional unit song that makes 346 products a comfortably cute thing.

That all being said, let’s talk a bit about the execution. Which is to say, well, it’s a mixed bag for me but overall things came close to the plan on paper, so it was pretty good. I think the best example of this is the “yuri” segment during Utamas. If you watched 10th day two Utamas, this is basically the same thing that happened, just with its own twists. During day one, the group had to reset during the middle (“demo, mada…”) for the furi, prior to the position swap. They ditched that on day two and instead just played musical chairs as each performer stood still where they happened to be. And man did they … do a lot on day two. I had a fairly center seat and it was challenging trying to keep track what the 14 of them were doing. There’s always two groups making appeals to the stage-level cameras on the left and right sides, a few in the center singing normally, and some number of people in the back doing their own things. There were maybe 2-3 kisses on day one but at least twice that on day 2, plus the usual friendly hugs and random silent dramas and teasing. It’s seiyurim@s.

Other things to note are some of the dancing or actual performances. Actually there are definitely more mistakes, although they are mostly pretty minor, across both days. There were a couple big ones on day two, such as Etahamo when Mingos decided to do the dance facing the opposite direction. Which is to say, they may be “mistakes” but the effects are kind of adlib-y and not all undesirable. One other mistake was when someone was suppose to sing a certain line and forgot… Well, this wasn’t the first time (and probably not the last) that it has happened, and it’s okay. It’s like seeing Aimin’s garter snap off during Praline–is that a bug, or a feature? I don’t think anyone minded it either way.

I think people were having a good time anyways and the performers were both nervous and laid back? Suzie struck me as especially nervous, but I guess that’s just how she goes. Which is to say, it’s quite the contrast when she and Harami performed together. One was this nervous girl trying to sing and dance, the other has already channeled the Moon Princess from the heavens and is now actually Shijou Takane. The joint MCs were a bit revealing as to how the performers approached the thing, too, but you kind of had to be there to see.

The ML-only and 765-only MC segments are also kind of a work in progress. You would think after so many years, the 765Pros should ace this, but when put their segment next to the ML’s, there is a huge gap in terms of the kind of banter between them. It’s like the 8 Million Stars are totally doing that Miliraji, uchiage-style chat, like a bunch of Japanese girls touring Taiwan… The 765Pros are just doing normal seiyuu work? It’s a drastic difference that lead to our charades game on day two, since they probably needed a thing to carry the conversation. Thanks, Panda Eriko. It’s not to say which is better or worse, but just that their differing attitude and the kind of relationship between them is quite amusing.

The rest of the execution is not really remarkable, besides maybe that nothing was screwed up so it was unremarkable. The flowers were placed inside the venue, around the area of the entrance to the hall. The buppan lineup was outside, but the actual shops were inside the building as staff funnel the crowd, 20 at a time, up an escalator and into the buppan room. You were handed an order form (with pictures) and you went about your business. A lot of CDs were on sale, but with a small markup. The buppan cleaned house on Saturday, with just the Pamphlet left in stock. Saturday had also the towel and penlight left IIRC.

By the way, the event sold this penlight that is totally a piece of crap.

The big meta lesson I’ve learned going to this live was that the best thing about IM@S TW is actually just Taiwan. The local producers and organizers worked hard to produce the event, but the city of Taipei was welcoming and friendly to those who are “sufficiently accepting of its Chinese-ness” and are willing to engage it on its terms. For those of us familiar with Japan, Taipei is basically bizzaro Tokyo, with Chinese and less English signage. It’s not nearly as a conformist hellhole that is Japan and the people are more open and friendly. I have to give massive prop to our TW liaison Gary, or as in Kemofres terms, the Friend who likes to event and wotagei, and speaks English. Thanks to him, we have an inside track to Taiwan Producers/765Pro TW shibu, who was also busy accommodating the other international groups. We exploded the main TW offkai initially so Akutoku (one of the key TW shibu guy) and company pulled out the stops and hosted everyone in a live house. Because we were also talking to many of the Korean producers coming, we were able to drag in a DJ and VJ for the offkai (TW party featuring Korean DJ? LOL.), and that made things go pretty well.

I attended the “kind of HPT” offkai for day two with the same JP/KR/EN-international crew that we coordinated with before going to IM@S TW. We were pretty crazy but I guess that’s partly why we get along so well, sorry to the locals who were able to put up with us! But to get back to the point, I think all the first/second-timers who came and visited TW (partly because how off the hook the Lisani TW P offkai was) as well as to attend the live were impressed and well taken-cared-of by the local people, food, and partying. As others have said, even if we were pretty nuts the live was less “tiger-y” than a similar Million Live event in Japan. Generally the fans were well behaved, probably due to a big mix of newbies and veterans, and people who are here mainly for 765Pro.

Taiwan is not just noteworthy for its touristy values, but Taiwanese producers are basically “one of us” yet a lot closer to their seasoned Japanese counterparts. It’s both the best of kaigai and Japanese. The scene is very fluent in Japanese, which meant the live carried on without any live interpretation. Only the Kotori/Shachou parts were subtitled in Traditional Chinese. Even the live pamphlet is mostly in Japanese, which struck me kind of odd.

Where does IM@S go from here? I think Asapon kept teasing us about it both days, as a talk item for the live during the last MC. The different people have done it at different times, especially the 765Pro reps. With everything that has happened in the sweet river of memories past I can only have hope so precariously balanced between the familiar ditch of disappointment and the sweet embrace of expectation satisfied.

In before AX surprises me I guess.

PS. A good P-soul-nurturing report of the live here, from celebrity Producer Kurotsuki!


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