Hotch Potch Festival

The IDOLM@STER ran a 2-day live event where the 765Pro All Stars and the Million Stars collaborated on two nights of live performances. The info from the official site is here. This blog post is me trying to describe and unpack what there is to unpack from my little feeble brain. God knows I am not really steep into lore (the type who would look down on people because I produced Hibiki from the Arcademas days, as the joke goes–that joke is also an example of what kind of unpacking I will be doing here) so this is just a fraction of what’s made up of Hotch Potch Festival.

Conceptually on paper, or at least as the live pamphlet and the live MC go, Hotch Potch is about a nabe where good ingredients gets put into the pot, and some ingredients are synergistic. Maybe some are not, and maybe even worse some counteract. The idea is if the nabe is good, all the ingredients are playing some role(s) to improve the experience.

Of the 52 Million Live + OG guys, 48 are present. We didn’t have Tanechan, Ibuibu (who was in Okinawa as part of Everying final tour), Matsuda Arisa’s Rietion, and our favorite baseball tomboy represented by UK-Mrs. Trunks. Tanechan’s outage continues, and I believe this seals Jireha, Blue Symphony and Thank You @ Budokan. Originally I thought they’d do at least Thank You, but nope.

On paper, this combine live between Million Stars and 765Pro All Stars is an extension of what IM@S Taiwan has done. This means we’ll get 765Pro classics, and some of the Million Live songs that originally features 765Pro idols. On top of that we might get a new song (ToP!!!!!!!!!!!!! namely) and some fun collabs.

Well, I guess that’s exactly what we got, in hindsight. But what we got was not what we expected. Or at least, I don’t think anyone expected Ai LIKE Hamburger, Merry, or Honey Heartbeat. I didn’t think anyone would have called Sweet Sweet Soul, Kyouki Ranbu, or “Surprise! It’s Aimi on guitar!”

Before I go too far off the rails, here is the set list for both days (25 songs each) and the last time since they were performed by IM@S. Merry was last performed in IM@S 5th, so that’s 7 years since. Smile Taisou is runner up (I mean, OMG?) as it was last done during 6th. My own favs like Little Match Girl and Hamburger were last done during Festival of Winter and 8th, just over 1700 and 1400 days ago respectively.

This factor alone was dynamite. Not only was the surprise you experience in person something to grapple with, the fact that your IM@S bucket list is being checked off was another thing to deal with. It can also be hard to grasp the significance sometimes, like hearing Curtain Call again–last performed since 10th–or realizing Hasegawa Akiko and Kugimiya Rie are the only two original singers, AND 765Pros, who have now performed 99 Nights?

Just to sum up this intro thought, the one feeling I got from Hotch Potch Festival is “pushing” or “continuity” in having Million Live perform with the 765Pros. It might just be my cynicism. It might also be that when I see the Taiwan set, I see that it is a “best of” of Million and 765Pro with a couple bones thrown in there (Jungle Party and Persona Voice) for Million Ps hankering for that 765Pro crossover. That was entirely appropriate (if not the best) approach for Taiwan. For a domestic show, though, there are so many ways to do this live, that a “hotch potch” approach might be invariably what comes out of. That the only real gap was not having 765Pros do their assigned Million songs in the way that Million Ps would probably want to see (like, where’s my 5p Eternal Harmony?). Instead we got a lot of top Million sets in the show, and we were able to see the Millions do some cool 765Pro songs–stuff they could have also done during the Million Live solo shows as Million 1st and 3rd had.

Don’t get me wrong. The result here is quite desirable and I would not have minded either way how things turned out. If anything, that both days the show clocked in at about 4 hours was the real problem–I wanted more, a lot more. There are a handful of songs they could have done to wrap things up better, but probably couldn’t due to logistics. Some songs, as I mentioned earlier, were sealed by who wasn’t there. There were not enough time of the day, in a way, to do all the songs we’d like. Every incarnation of this vidja idol nabe had to have some stuff saved for the future, and some stuff cut as compromise. Such is how it is.

My seats both days were in front towards the stage in arena, but to the side. Day one I was stage left, in B10. Day two I was stage right, in A1. Day two I was close enough that stage-side lights, monitor and extension-camera were at times obscuring part of the view, but it was nice and close to that side of the stage. Then again as I would say, there are few bad seats in Budokan to begin with. The real issue with these side-ish seats were the people I wanted to look at being on the opposite side. Suwa was in the middle right, so it was a bit hard to see her during the regular lineups especially the angle meant some people were obstructing the folks to their left. Same happened with Mocho on day one, but on the left, although the angle was not as bad then. For the people on my side though, I got a really good look at them basically the whole time. Even performers in the middle were fairly easy to see, the angles playing tricks aside. Also with these up close side views, you get a really good look at their legs. I guess it makes up for not having the view of the full stage, which needs to exist quickly with that Blu-ray release.

Let me just highlight some key items for each day. One thing I’m going to omit below is how hearing all these classic 765Pro songs was a huge nostalgia hit back when I was binging on IM@S music climbing the gates of this fandom. I still remember how all these songs go, which made this live a little more special.

Set list day 1 via imas db, day 2. Linking it again for added info.

The usual pre-live announcements were done by Shacho and Kotori, but also now Aoba-kun. There were this cute kouhai/senpai thing going on. Day 2, Aoba did the warning messages. Fans were using a light blue/white color for Aoba, matching her outfit.

Day 1 song 1: Welcome – I kept back but it’s fun. I heard some do the daisuki da calls. It’s a quick ramp-up in terms of hype but things were just getting started.

The MC was long, with so many people. Seems largely scripted in standard Million fashion. When it was Minami-chan’s turn the dunus behind me were kyaaing. She’s quite something.

Day 1 song 3: Animal Station – The kigu hats were really cute, especially for Chaki. It made a nice segue. Didn’t see it at the time but Hamzo was in Nu’s hat even.

Day 1 song 4: Kyun! Vampire Girl! Yunkon as vampire was hot. Wanst flashback. The capes were a nice touch.

Day 1 song 5: This was the best Start Star cover. I mean literally, actual U21.5 seiyuu idols. Made me think back to 10th during Romantic Now.

Day 1 song 6: Home Sweet Friendship. Did not expect this one but made me think we would get Etahamo on day two, after hearing it on day 1. Thanks, Blue Ranger/Red Ranger coupling. It’s not really all that of a song for Million in my opinion so it was more because of who was performing.

Day 1 song 7: I Want. I didn’t know I wanted SG food. Joke aside, this was the theme where Aimin would guitar in these songs for great effects. She also sang in this so, very hot. Oddly this was one song I’ve heard a bunch of times now so I don’t get that nostalgia hit? LOL.

Day 1 song 10: Ai Like Hamburger. I was still recovering from seeing Smile Taisou. This song came a bit like how a Million cover medley would drop the song on you. I did UO though, because I like hamburger too…? Too bad it was not as god-tier as the Nigo and Wakabayashi take.

Day 1 song 11: Pretty Dreamer. All but Fuka was present but somehow they had Nao not participate? I don’t get it. It was still quite hype with all these performers though.

Day 1 song 14: KisS. Harami x Mocho KisS is awesome and cute and cool and sexy and wau. Mocho was on my side and I was too busy dying. Difference between the two was one rolled her hip, the other didn’t.

Day 1 song 16: ToP!!!!!!!!!!!!! was good and expected. The calls were kind of scattered and nobody really came together for it besides some of the ones built into the song. I want to do a lot of Fufuu’s and “I/we can do it now” calls.

There’s a quick MC after the mid section leading to the final block. And this is the “good” part of the show both days. On that note, there were a short “corner” kind of thing for MC where Hirorin plays host and the teams each had to do a cute thing? It ended up with Aimin doing a sexy? line, Minami-chan getting Reina to do cute things instead, and Nunu dogeza’ing to Yuucha while Nansu just went along with it.

Day 1 song 17: Kiramekirari. It’s been a while since we got a full-blown version of this. Aimin was a big surprise but a fun one too. She didn’t sing, but did the guitar solo and the furi for the second half of the song.

Day 1 song 18: Amaterasu. During the MC later they called out the train move, and Minamichan sure was cute in it. Can’t quite see Yuucha… Chiaking and Harami were more or less the same as before.

Day 1 song 19: Raise the Flag. You can really tell who are the ML Ps and who are not with this song, LOL. A lot of people heard this song for the first time even among people I know, which can’t be helped but made me feel that Bannam made the right decision for Hotch Potch–push some Million Lives by luring OGs in to their events! Double UO cyclone for me! Too bad I could’ve brought a flag if I knew…

Day 1 song 20: The Live Kakumei de Show! This is a 4-player version of a really hype song from P Meeting, and I think it had to fall short of the full-cast version then, so just to set your expectations some. What’s probably a little more disappointing was that for the most part the four of them played it straight. I think the six of them were just too busy trying to not screw up the song, LOL. Still there were a couple big appeals. It was hilarious to see Chochou trying to behave in Miya-character and does her talk lines just a beat slower. Aimin also basically forced herself onto Nansu which was great.

Day 1 song 21: Beat the World. It’s here! KITA! The ONE SONG that I knew it will happen, when the cast was announced, because Todakun just can’t help herself! There were the stories behind the song you can glean from Todakun’s MC but to me it’s just great to hear Hirorin belt it out finally. Her towel-fu is impeccable, too. This is another great song to add to the “Musical feel” of day one’s set, at a climactic moment.

Day 1 song 22: Haruka na Mirai. If you watched ML3rd bonus footage you would have seen this already. They did the card pose to wrap up the song, which was really sweet. Seeing it performed on a bigger stage meant they couldn’t do some of the little things the same way as they did on a small stage, so it’s amusing to appreciate that difference.

Day 1 song 25: THE IDOLM@STER. I was expecting Thank You but this was amusing, in that they say this paves the way for tomorrow? Most important note is that they adopted the TW formula, which is only reset position after the second chorus. People generally made their way all around the stage, with a few had to dash back at the reset. And yeah, you got the usual appeal sequences. For me it was mostly the Mocho x Harami moment. I couldn’t make out some of it because it was taking place a bit far from where I was, but yeah…

During the encore, we got the usual treatment of promo videos and the like. For day 1 the announcement was for the name of the January 765pro solo live, and there were some random things, like delayed live viewing, that I forget. Day 2 was mainly for ML 5th announcement, which is captured here, and showing us the trailer for Jiburi in Theater Days. Naturally it turned Budokan into a sea of UOs.

We had uchiage afterwards at the usual spot, with a large crowd. Hi guys who I’ve not really met before and all you folks that I had…

Day 2! I actually went to an Onsen Musume event, which involved a public radio recording and introduction of some guests. Nitta Hiyori…gonna have to keep an eye out on this one.

Day two started similarly as day 1, including even the seat switcheroos I had to do to sort out who gets which ticket and get to sit where. The ID check was fast and cursory. I won pair tickets both days so I can take someone in, in which the other guy would swap with another person who has their actual seat. It’s silly but it worked fine. It didn’t take long to go through security and name check.

Day 2 song 1: Ready!! I wasn’t ready for this, being half expecting for the group songs to repeat. Well, this was a nice tip. I recently saw this in Taiwan so this isn’t some rare treat (actually I saw pretty much every Ready!! performance since 2015). Still, it’s nice to see so many Million Stars doing those iconic furi.

Day 2 song 2: MEGARE! This is an unusual combo by any means, with Kami and Beisen. Has Kami ever performed this any time in recent history? But what’s great is the megane plays, which Beisen would remove hers half way through the song. I think if Komagata wore more fitting lenses she’d look good in them. Instead she has these not-that-dorky ones to rep her character.

Day 2 song 3: Sweet Sweet Soul. Nobody expected this. I dig the dancer outfits, because they reminded me of one of ZAQ’s PV outfits. Without Mocho and Chaki this song sounds so different, especially because Chaki can actually roll off a beat during the rapping part of the song. Instead we have some embarrassing Miina lines, and Chouchou being Chouchou. Denchan did pretty well too. The original lines worked although they were definitely less catchy than the original. Still, this was a highlight for me at Hotch Potch.

Day 2 song 4: Refrain Kiss. I was too busy changing gears, but seeing Kokochan and Suwa doing a cool song is always a treat. It’s a little bit less sexy and a lot more chuu2 in this version, I guess, because it’s on purpose trying to ape a school music festival vibe? Without telegraphing that I’m not sure anyone got it. Later in MC they said that’s why the stageside displays were showing school festival things, but who’d pay attention to that during such a hot song LOL. In the end of the performance Kokochan and Swua went and did this. I’m not too sure if it worked because my seat was on the side and I didn’t look up at the main camera on the side screen, but from where I was standing, it was unmistakably this:

As an aside, Kokochan did all these obvious shipping nods for Matsuri, during MC and throughout the show…also the whole Suwachan daisuki thing. Kyaa?

Day 2 Song 5: Understand? Understand! I didn’t quite understand why Keiko and Kugyuu was doing this song. Later they explained it’s because Momoko and Iori are tsundere! I expressed the reaction they were looking for. That said Kugyuu moves quite well, and matched up even better than Keishama at this.

Day 2 Song 7: Marionette no Kokoro. Finally, that Tsubati and Miki combo. Forget MOIW 2014, this is how it was supposed to be.

Day 2 Song 8: Arcadia. Not much to say here besides Kokochan and Corey (Koori is the more common spelling I guess) are better than I expected. Corey is probably better than Mingos…

Day 2 Song 9: 99 nights. Mentioned briefly earlier, but also the dancing was pretty good. I dig Kugyuu rolling her elbows.

Day 2 Song 10: Little Match Girl. If I had any more, as the saying goes, shit left to lose, I lost the remainder here. It’s “white” I guess? But I UO’d towards the end because it’s just one of my most cherished IM@S songs ever. Highlight would be Aberika taking the low and mid lines. Komachan and Ten did well adding to that power, while Azumin gave the song that high pitch edge it always had. I was so happy.

Did I ever mention that I am a Matsuri P when it comes to Million?

Day 2 Song 11: When Etahamo came on I just stopped caring so much. It was too hype and I was too busy being hype. The only thing was, I had to time my UO/cyclones, then went with Matsuri balrog, then maware clap, then back to UO cyclone. Only 3 out of 5, but during the bridge each one of them step out of the lineup to deliver their lines. It was also nice to finally hear Mingos on Etahamo…

Day 2 Song 12: Kokoro Exercise. Since gotten to see Ueshama up close earlier this year I was more hyped for Umimi songs than before. This combination though made no sense, until we learned it was “Tadokoro” “Tokoro” and “Roco” for “Kokoro” Exercise. Yeah I don’t know.

Day 2 Song 13: Motomu VS My Future. OK wow they were able to level up this song somewhat by adding Asapon to it. The ML3rd version was still better theatrics on some level, especially during the bridge parts. In HotchPotch we got this lead in where Asapon and Nana headbutt and we got that sfx on the screen. So good. I wish there was still a way to work in the No Ri Ko chants, but I guess we did it anyway, kind of as a lead in to the song.

Day 2 Song 14: Merry. I hear a few guys near me losing it when the lead in instrumental started. I was like, wait, really? Some just chose to say the same thought out loud. The cast member made sense if you were wielding individual penlights like I was: Green, Red, White. In fact at the MC after this song they said even that.

Day 2 Song 17: Otona no Hajimari. I cracked up laughing when I saw and heard the song. I think I saw the four of them and said, “otona team” right as the music starts. Expect nothing less. Feels like these teams and songs are just bad Fechigawa jokes at this point. What was a bit impressive was Suzy doing the bon-kyu-bon as part of her dance routine in a way that’s kind of embarrassing but yet not at all sexy. Good theater skills I guess. Unlike ML4th, which you can see Rikako in the day 1 trailer here, Rikako is actually not sexy in Hotchpotch, as appropriate.

Day 2 Song 18: Honey Heartbeat. It’s rap again! Too bad I always feel kind of weird about this song, so it was a little weird getting into it. At the same time it’s great to see it performed live after so long, since I missed 9th…

Day 2 Song 19: Kyouki Ranbu. I should’ve seen it coming, given they so far followed the same “pattern” as day 1, but the cool 765Pro version of this ML4th highlight is really too cool for school. It wasn’t as dramatic as when it happened to 4th, but the song was hype and I had no URs… well, I made it work.

Day 2 Song 21: Machiuke Prince. Millions did a medley version of this before as well, but this is the full version and it’s nice to see at least Aberika delivering the goods. It really makes me think back to MOIW 2014…

Day 2 Song 22: Jungle Party. Thinking back with some distance now, this was still the MVP song of the weekend. ML4th’s Jungle Party had the production value, Taiwan had the cast, Hotch Potch had both and more. The final MC mentioned that there’s a musical quality to this performance that adds a level to the show, especially with Kami, Suwa and Suzy strutting their stuff. They danced the same routine as the backup dancers during the bridge while Pon and Inarin posed on the jungle throne. Kami kind of fell down because she went at it too hard, even. Not as bad as when Suzy fell during MEG@TON but man, it was well played. Plus, those outfits.

Day 2 Song 23: Alive Factor. I think the Miliraji after Hotch Potch Koroazu said something along the lines of wanting to win at this song. The two power vocals did go at it pretty hard, and it’s a level up compared to what I heard at 3rd. What I remember the most is the smile on Koro’s face right after the performance was over before Mingos did the obligatory hug with her. It was Koro’s best smile. Too bad I could not see Mingos’s face because of my seat being on the side, but I’m sure it was hilarious.

Day 2 Song 24: Curtain Call. People got the pattern and were expecting it, after the final MC. It was good. ;_;

As mentioned earlier we got not only the new announcements, but also new clips from Shacho for this encore. Jiburi trailer was just the thing we need, as 25 songs is kind of short!

The cast came out and wrapped up the show with BNT and Utamas, and we went home pretty happy. It took me some time to wrap my mind around it, but Hotch Potch was delicious, deep, meaningful, and yet hype. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I desired, even if I didn’t quite want it before the show. Or rather, I didn’t even know I wanted this.

I’m okay with Bannam never stop pushing Million Live. The OG and Million, as far as popularity goes, pale compared to Cinderella Girls. That’s fine, but Million is, well, good. It really infuses a new weird energy to 765Pro All Stars in the live context. Rather than replacing one with a successor, it’s more like the power wheels the old people ride on so they go to places and keeps up with the youngins. In some sense, it’s real trail blazing for an idol cartoon franchise and at 12.5 years old the IDOLM@STER is still going strong, and going places no one else has gone before. The mingling between the two is also something that has been long due, with Million approaching its 5th anniversary next Spring–this goes both for the seiyuu as well as for fans looking for those sweet 765Pro Live Theater collabs. For better or worse we are just getting started?

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