Anime Expo 2017 Anime World Matsuri (June 30) Japan Kawaii Live

The long blog post title aside, I don’t have a whole lot to say actually. Actually let me cap the whole day, since that’s how I have been looking at this from the start.

There is more to the experience of seeing an IDOLM@STER live than the live alone. I think in this case we put together something that a lot of producers could enjoy. There was a call book thing, there was some goods sold, there is the offkai. There’s the line-up and socializing. I think people had a good time, at least based on the feedback. There were also things that can screw us up, like AX’s ticket pickup policy. But first things first.

The Live

The live started about 30 minutes after 8, which meant my after party ended up running 15 minutes late. We ended up compressing the event a little.

My seat was in row E on the right center aisle. Close but not the best.

I want to just quote this because it’s kind of how I feel about the minimum threshold that the Cinderella Girls have achieved.

which “THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS” took part in, has succesfully finished with round of applause.

We are so greateful[sic] to “Producers ” who came to see “CINDERELLA GIRLS” in L.A.
It could be said that the “Produces” over here were as enthusiastic as those of Japanese and other Asian countries.

We would like to be proactive about making “THE IDOLM@S[T]ER” well-known to “Producers” in overseas.
We hope you continuing to produce them to expand in the world.

M1  Star!!
M2 GOIN’!!!
M3 夢色ハーモニー
M4 Yes! Party Time!!
M5 お願い!シンデレラ

CG was top batter so I had to quickly switch gear since I expected Walkure or WUG first. Maybe in retrospect this made more sense. They went with a full talk corner where each seiyuu enacted a brief segment in Cingeki. It was not translated. Why not? I don’t know, but they could. They had provided video clips to dub over, so they were using the top screen. I think there may be a lot of logistical reasons why, but unlike Taiwan most people still need the translation. (Insert P5/FGO EN joke here.)

The song list is a bit lacking. I think it would have been an easy A if they ditched yumeiro symphony and the game with Ankira and Tulips, or a medley.

As for fans, callbook or not, calls did happen. From my seat I can hear the calls pretty much coming from a small % of the crowd, but nonetheless calls did happen. I think the most obvious thing is during YPT, like 10% of each section did the jump for YPT bridge correctly. That’s more or less what I expected. CG calls are kind of hard! Also, a lot of people don’t really understand calls–it’s not about penlights and waving them, it’s about shouting for prolong periods of time at the performers and at each other. The penlights are part of the experience, yes, but it’s called “calls” for a reason.

The songs and calls aside, I was a little disappointed with this performance. It was just not as good as what I have now come to expect Cinderella Girls to do, based on my experiences in 2016 seeing them doing mini lives at various times in the year. I thought compared to the set Lisani Taiwan had, this fell really short. Maybe everything seem a bit underprepared had something to do with it.

Speaking of calls, my voice definitely went away after Tachiagare. God damn this WUG combo.

M6 Tachiagare!
M7 Shoujo Koukyou Kyoku
M8 Koi? De Ai? De Bokundesu!
M9 Beyond the Bottom
M10 7 Girls War
M11 Gokujo Smile

BTB is the one song that I haven’t seen live so it was great to see it. Everyone followed the lead and went white, which is great. I was sitting with a TO Yoppi Wugner from Taiwan and he was helping with guiding and calls, someone to follow. WUG had other overseas fans at this event–probably even from CN or just a higher-than-usual group of Chinese-Canadians? I don’t know. The calls were there, but a little light. The venue turned white on BTB.

I think it’s easy to say that WUGchans have improved a lot over the years, so this is quite the contrast compared to the other 2.5D idol acts that night, or even their Chicago selves in 2014. On the flip side, Renai Bokun and BTB aside, I’ve seen all these plenty and I’m not dazzled, no more than being in the same presence of the seven idol warriors. Still to me they were definitely the best act of the night, LOL.

M12 Koi! Halation THE WAR
M13 Ienai Borderline
M14 Bokura no Senjo
M15 Ichido dake no Koi nara
M16 Run ga Pikatto Hikattara

Wo-wo wo-wo-wo. Walkure is fun and it gets hyped to me, but after watching their Yokohama Arena show on Bluray I think I need all 5 to be impressed. JUNNA and Mimoringo are great but the two of them singing karaoke only go so far to fill MS Theater. I like RunPika in this context, and obviously people loved Ikenai Borderline. There weren’t any obvious gaffes but JUNNA was a huge bundle of nerves on stage. Can’t blame her.

The night ended with Aqours. People were pretty excited about them. It’s a reoccurring theme but the yelling was loudest when the act gets on stage compared to the subsequent calls.

M17 Aozora Jumping Heart
M18 Kimino Kokorowa Kagayaiterukai?
M19 Koini Naritai AQUARIUM
M21 Yume Kataruyori Yume Utaou

I stood up for all the songs! Just sat down for most of the MC, and there were quite a few. I was wondering what was going on considering for WUG they rushed through their MC, but I guess they did do 6 songs. As for Aqours, they were very good, pretty much exactly what you expect. The outfits were cute and sufficiently pleasing, and the crowd really got into it. It definitely had the loudest calls out of all 4 performing groups, but even then it was not very loud. Americans just don’t know or don’t do calls so much.

There was no encore. After the final song everyone gets called on stage for curtain call.

The Offkai

I ran an offkai. Just to put some context into text, before AX and its AWM announcements, we were in this LINE chat that had a lot of people, mainly people who know each other and the people they knew, who were all going to AX. It’s your typical “AX chat” kind of thing. It was also already huge and mostly just a place where you can info share and get excited about things.

After the AWM announcement that chat hit over 200 people, and we used it to coordinate ticket buying/selling. For the most part it worked out and things kept themselves civilly. A lot of people also didn’t want to join the kind of spammy thing that it is, which was just fine. But to do an offkai that can possibly be pitched to a chat like that meant necessarily a huge venue.

I guess since CG is coming to America, it’s time to YOLO. WUG and Aqours and Walkure were additional burden/pressure/opportunity, too. Turned out that since so many things had to be done for this AX, focusing on the offkai ended up being my primary responsibility. Still, it was only possible because many people helped, such as brother Mushroom who was local and were able to scout things out for me. Many others also helped along the way and despite what other failings the offkai had, things largely went okay. You can still watch the dance part of the offkai on Chun’s Twitch channel for now (the videos probably won’t last forever).

I won’t labor the details leading up, but it was pretty cool we were able to get the Novo for this, so that was the degree of YOLOing. It cost a lot, yeah, and some people didn’t go for this reason, but at the same time this is for the best given proximity of the Novo to everything, and given how it’s very hands-off in terms of what the organizer needed to do. I think it was the right fit.

But really, this is just anikura. Not really an offkai but people did lounge a bit; maybe half of the attendees were jumping around at any given time, while the rest were just resting. A good number of folks left to go sleep in line, before the offkai ended. LOL.

The Callbook

There was a CG call book, but I guess the thing is everyone will do a book. There was even a Walkure pamphlet but there were only 100 or so of those. CG printed about 500 copies and that ran out pretty quick. In some ways I knew someone who was working on the book except the Aqours one, including even Konomin’s book.

Distribution of the book was tricky, because appearently you cannot do it from the MS Plaza. That is private property and they outright ban this kind of thing. Somehow things ended up happening under the deck behind LACC West Hall, underneath where the ticket pickup is and just around the corner from Staples Center across the street. It was a giant group of people giving out call books. I guess this is what happens when WUG, CG, Aqours, and Walkure do one show together.

The CG book is pretty cool if I say so myself, having had a little bit of input in it. I worked mostly on logistics of the funding but I guess I also helped WUGners print their book.

The Buppan

There was a buppan. You could pre-buy some Love Live penlights and pick it up at the venue. They were also selling CD, Tshirts and other goods. I guess there was a CG 5th T-shirt for sale, and some miscellaneous WUG 3rd tour goods on sale. Love Live had an actual set of things you can buy for Aqours that they’d proxy to you in time. I didn’t know how that worked, but some folks in that big chat did just that.

The lines for buppan was pretty terrible. It was right outside the main entrance to MS Theater, and snaked all around the plaza. I cut to pick up some things, because that line is nuts and I had no time the day of to do these things. Anyways, the deeds is done, while I am unhappy about the fact but it cannot be helped, especially since I had to go to the venue early to set things up, and that conflicted with the lineup.

The Ticket Pickup

For AWM concerts and other AX shows, everything is will-call. And typically you can pick up all your tickets all at once. This means people have to get their 6/30 tickets before the concert starts, which means they needed their badges before the concert start. In the end, AX said one thing online, but did another thing in person, which made life easier for everyone–if you bought tickets, you can pick up the tickets you bought. If you want to pick up a ticket that is yours but isn’t bought by you, bring your ID and purchaser’s email and do that. So I did just that. Things worked out like a charm. AX this year has Day -1 ticket and badge pickup, so nothing was terribly pressing on 6/30.

The VIP Event

After the show was over, the VIP event took place downstairs from the venue. You had to have one of the VIP badges that came with the VIP ticket. Basically what it was, was that the performers lined up and waved at you as you left. Eye contact and speaking chance! The VIP event for 7/1 AWM was almost the same except for the high touch, in case you went to one and not the other. I basically cut this line so I can jet out to the venue for the offkai, but thankfully the whole process was quite fast anyway, so many regular attendees weren’t waiting too long for the offkai checkin. Because I was near the front for the queue I actually had a bit extra time with Myu while the front of the line sorted out how it would proceed. Thanks! I pointed out Moyo’s signed penlight but I didn’t think she understood. Just thought I liked Miria I guess.

The Rest & Conclusion

I think America is definitely ripe and ready for an anison event like AWM at AX. The lineup was impressive, at least. However I think only WUG and Aqours really hit the ball out of the park at the show. They definitely impressed the first timers who were merely interested, and maybe even some not-so-interested attendees. I was not very happy with Cinderella Girls but that’s just me, because just by being here IDOLM@STER has done more than what I could have asked for, it is also that I know they can do much better. On the flip side, America still has a long ways to go in general. The calls are not part of this culture. The population density is still an issue; it’ll take a con like AX to sell out 7000 seats. Fans are kind of organized, but overall most are inexperienced. I learned a lot about American fandom thanks to the various participatory things I saw happen, and the things I help ran. I think overall however things are taking shape in a positive direction. The things Japan wants to do are certainly possible, but it won’t be easy.

People partied hard at the offkai, but most are just happy to be there and not too many actually know the moves. There’s a lot left to do for the rest of us, may it be teaching, guiding, organizing, and generally taking the next step.

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