Explaining Anisong World Matsuri 2018: Part 1

What does Anisong World Matsuri do? Can I eat it?

Anisong World Matsuri is a brand set up by some Japanese folks as a way to ship their (niche) performing acts oversea as big showcases. There has always been a trickling interest for anime and game musicians and performers from Japan, in the west. But like all major media categories these things come in many forms. Some of us like the Zelda cover orchestras, or the Final Fantasy ones put together by Roth and Nobu. There are people into V-kei, Jrock, Jpop, 48G, and all that stuff. There are mainstreamers who dig the brand name stuff like Laraku or TM Revolution. There are anisong wotas who like Suzumura Kenichi or Sakamoto Maaya. Now there’s Love Live and the IDOLM@STER. Throw in some traditional music like the Yoshida Brothers in there. It runs the gamut.

Anime cons out here bring these guests over, traditionally, by making contacts with various agents and agencies in Japan, building relationship and reputation, and eventually make offers that hopefully will get accepted. Usually this means a large con can bring one or a few, based on their costs/budgets, and connections available, and other factors. Big acts like AX which gets both more attendees and way more industry support can bring more. The cost usually comes in the form of providing travel, accommodation, and support staff (guest handlers). For music guests the cost includes obviously the venue and the necessary equipment, but also added cost to ship tech, show crew, possibly shipping more equipment, and just the need to handle more people from Japan. There are sometimes added costs such as an appearance fee, but most cons can’t justify those guests. So it’s hard for a mid-size or semi-large con to get more than one big music guest, although it does happen.

More importantly, who is to say who should come over? I think fans know what they like, but a con can’t please everyone. Labels and artists get a say too, plus some acts are so busy in Japan already. So how do you coordinate all these voices? That’s the role “AWM” plays. In essence, this Japanese organization help to put on shows. Cons will play a part to pay, help and coordinate the show, to help secure resources and the venue, and most importantly, bring the audience and promote the show. AWM helps cons deal with the talent side.

From an eventer perspective, AWM is basically like “Animax Musix” or “Lisani” lite. Those are anisong festivals that run from 10000 to 30000 people, featuring dozens of acts, big and small. In years past we had Sphere and TM Revolution, Angela, Suzuki Konomi, and more. The rougher, tougher guys ventured further east last year to Washington DC, and FLOW, Jam Project, Yousei Teikoku and TMR played at that set of AWM. It’s a less expensive version of AWM compared to LA, which had a bigger Japanese crew and acts that required more staff to make work (like Cinderella Girls and Aqours).

Which is great, because America needs this kind of Anisong acts as a in-person showcase–so we know who are truly impressive, and not just through OP/ED videos on Youtube. America also need this kind of thing because America is a big country and sparsely populated, and only strong enough draws with a large set of stars will have enough pull to make a big showing. It’s not hard to fill out 1000, 2000 folks in Tokyo with a small-time idol act (hello, WUG), but it becomes an order of magnitude harder in the Americas. Cons are a draw for people, but even a solo top act cannot fill a 10000-person venue in the States for anisong (at regular prices), maybe except the best of the most popular. So if you have 5 or 6, there’s a better chance of filling out that Microsoft Theater or what have you. Plus, there’s economy of scale to have a few acts over just one or two, so it isn’t that much harder.

The great thing also, is that these festival lives enable the same anisong culture that grew around these types of lives in Japan to come over. By this I mean, say, flower stands, call books and calls, what have you. I did an anikura afterparty partly for this reason too. Being an otaku is not just a person as a huge fan, but also that there’s certain context being built around it. Eventer-ism is largely a thing in the States today thanks to the large number of anime conventions, as they are technically events themselves, but AWM and other anime guest events are just growing a different aspect of it. And if you’re an eventer you will know the joy of meeting like-minded people who go all in doing crazy stuff.

Well, let’s get to guessing.

The main down-to-earth issue that matter is actually visa. I think now that AWM has had it happen once last year, things should be better this year. But getting entry to the USA on a non-ESTA visa is probably still a challenge and far from a sure thing. It will take some time for all the processes to play out. Furthermore, we don’t really have much insight besides that acts that traveled to the States successfully (maybe except…Elisa?) are more likely to repeat.

Second, it’s eventernotes time. I’ll filter out who’s busy on each day, based on AMW suitability. Note that this is just a guide, it doesn’t guarantee that someone busy on 7/7 can’t make it to AWM on 7/4. Also obviously subject to change. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because it’s speculation that will be pointless once the answers are announced probably in late April/early May.

July 4th: Chatmonchy

July 6th: Buck-tick

July 7th: Lots of people–

Does this eliminate all the July 7 people from showing up at AWM? Yeah, a lot, but it’s not a sure thing. Flying out of Los Angeles on July 5th will land you in Japan on July 6th. That might be enough for some people to do their activity on July 7th, but obviously it is very case-by-case. The V Station 20th event is not a hardcore event for most of the performers. Aqours tour and Nana’s solo live, OTOH, are very tiresome. Older people like Otsuka Akio (apologies) aren’t likely gonna fly hard, as you’d expect. Plays in general are more taxing than some of the other things, like normal recitals. I’m not entirely sure of the differences between the different stage shows.

One last tip, Lantis’s Inoue, who is heading up AWM, says that he wants one day of anisong, one day of solo acts, and one day of the more jpop-ish stuff. That translates to one day of anime acts, one day of artist solos, and one day for the OLDCODEXes and FLOWs of the anisong world.

Based on these assumptions, I’m guessing we will get the following:

  1. Roselia. It makes sense to send them over only after Endo Yurika retires. So AX will nicely line up. It’s hard to fathom Bushiroad not send one of the BanG Dream teams over, if they could. Popipa came last year, so it makes all the sense to see Roselia next.
  2. IDOLM@STER. I think we will get different people this time compared to 2017, but it’s hard to say who. CG has literally not much going on until September, when the dome tour begins. Million has not announced anything beyond 5th and Anisama in late August. 765Pro is up for P-Meeting 2018 in early August. Side M tour is on now and will end in late May, plus they’re also going to Anisama. Honestly, any of them could be going to LA. My feeling is that I am going to be surprised if no IM@S acts actually show up between LA and DC. I guess we’ll get the next main info dump at Chokaigi but by then I hope AWM would have already announced the acts. What would really surprise me is if Shiny Colors does anything…
  3. Love Live…who knows. I think Aqours is out, but DPD might be in, and if they are it’ll be a talk stage. It’s also possible that Aqours will only do a talk stage with not full team.
  4. Walkure probably will return. I’m thinking the main reason is because if all 5 of them represents, 4 of them can also do solo stages. They are also all free for the week, which is unusual. 5 acts for the price of 1 sounds really good on a money perspective. (Same can be said of Million Live and 765Pro, actually.) Also, Walkure, Minori, Toyama, Kiyono, and Junna all are Victor/Flying dog…
    1. Let me indulge that parenthetical a bit. Assuming the same thing Million Live Anisama crossup happens with AWM, we could probably expect 5 out of these 6: Pyon Koro Mochi Ten Nansu Machico. God damn I hope Koro makes it… Wild cards would be Rietion, Yuiton, Kidochan, Ueshama and Mikku. They’re all unlikely because musically they don’t really work with a baseline western audience. Well, maybe not Rieton and Mikku as much… Especially if Pyxis becomes a thing (which seems unlikely as hell). Pirami and Bey probably don’t have enough songs to qualify. Rest of them don’t have solo careers, at least not signed to a notable label.
    2. Million can work with just 5 people, but it doesn’t take a much more to mimic half a 765ML TW, if you know what I mean. Add 3 to that 5 and you can do some cool group songs and still showcase different stuff between the two teams. It’s not hard to toss in Mingos and Nunu, plus someone like Asapon. Or they could go with a full Arts Vision team.
    3. Unfortunately the record label situation is not as clean as Walkure is, since while Million Live and SideM are Lantis, the solo artists aren’t except Ueda Reina and Tadokoro. Machico is Columbia. Trysail is Sony/Sacra. Pyon is NBCUniversal. Nu is Victor and Mingos is 5pb. It’s quite mixed up.
  5. As for the anisong acts, I suspect the usual suspects, especially ones that haven’t been to LA before. Here are the list from last year and the year before at AX, and add to that Yousei Teikoku, JAM, FLOW, and TMR. TMR is probably out thanks to Zerotopia, anyway. Sphere is obviously no good.  From 2016’s super live, I’d say that leaves Eir, JAM, Luna, and wild cards like Chihhi or Yoko Ishida.
  6. For total newcomers, I think True might be the most certain one, since she just went to New York late last year and she has that tie in to Violet Evergarden, plus more. Well, I guess that AnimeNYC event was affiliated with AWM… I would have shooed Asaka in but she has a possible conflict, so it’s hard to say.
  7. As I alluded to in point #4, some of the solo artists might come from anisong teams like Trysail or Naobou or Yasukichi or Mimoringo, etc. They didn’t do this for Junna last year, which probably shoots this logic down to size, but why not?
  8. Some more Jpop-anisong groups? There are so many. Other than FLOW, Oldcodex and Granrodeo(??) are there any hadcore anisong groups that are Jpop-ish? Some of these could be really popular, now that I have thought about it. The Pillows would be a good get as it overlaps with PR for the new FLCL anime, for instance. If you wanna be a hopeful wisher, the sky is the limit on this.

So yeah, it should be a good time. If they do 3 days of AWM in DC too, oh man, it’ll be nuts.

Part 2: more aimless musing.

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