Anisong World Matsuri 2018: Japan Kawaii Live

Anisong World Matsuri Japan Kawaii Live at Anime Expo 2018 is one of the three AWM shows at Anime Expo this year. It follows from last year’s AWM which stopped at AX, Bilibili Macro Link in Shanghai, and Otakon 2017. This year there is no Otakon stop, and AX gets 3 shows instead of just two.

With July Fourth landing on a Wednesday, JKL somehow gets pushed in to Saturday. Conveniently, Aqours solo AWM show can be put on that Wednesday since the group has to travel back to Japan for the final stop on the Aqours 3rd tour, the same week. Since JKL is going to employ a bunch of seiyuu (i☆Ris and Cinderella Girls), it made sense to have the show on a weekend so the troops can fly back Sunday.

Leading up

We knew AWM was happening. Lantis shacho Inoue-san name dropped all this info early in March. We didn’t know who, which meant the game was on to try to find out. I didn’t really do a good job of this… But then again, I already stamped my ticket last year for AX, comes hell or high water. Getting the AWM confirmation was more important.

The announcement came and went without a lot of fanfare, in retrospect. Aqours solo event was the big splashing deal. Not enough people know about i☆Ris. Cinderella Girls was hype but I think they botched enough from last year that it took some of the edge off on the excitement of the repeat game. I was nonetheless excited and happy to see some new Cinderella Girls coming to the USA.

This also kicked off planning for the party. I wanted to do one anyway, even if its features as an offkai was going to be lacking. AX is huge and I cannot possibly schedule around it. I did what I could, so all the more I’m appreciative of what has happened and how well it went.

Unlike prior years, there were no rush for call books. Some fans made books for i☆Ris and I didn’t know about anyone else. The more interesting thing was the Aqours rainbow thing, which was widely panned as a pipe dream. But now we know.

Ticketing

AWM ticketing is via AX. It seems a well-known secret, but AX ticketing is done in-house via Showclix, mainly because this way saves money and gives AX some flex that they would not have via Livenation or whoever else the venue required. The pros of this is that it is cheaper for AX and for attendees. The con of this is that your badge is tied to your ticket, and ticketing is tied to AX giving you the ticket on site. They really enforced the in-person pickup rule this year, and what’s more you can’t even change the names of the ticket on your own–you have to email them. Ticketing this year was in early June, and they made the ticketing name change cut off pretty much 2 weeks after.

All of that made everything a major pain in the rear. What’s more, the Aqours ticket VIP presale was completely screwed because whoever setting it up did not configure the system right. A lot of the Premiere pass pre-purchasers got screwed, and in the end some tickets were getting scalped on Reddit for thousands of dollars. Some fans were understandably upset about the scalping and AX SNS cranked down on name changes as a result, which just causes even more problem for the rest of us who aren’t scalping.

After all said and done, the demand for all 3 AWM lives are not enough that any of the 3 shows sold out. Some people bought in panic. VIP will always sell out, so that’s expected, but big deal? Microsoft Theater is an awesome venue, and there are few bad seats all around. I think when there’s this much gnashing of teeth in a situation where supply exceeds demand, it’s because some middleman screwed up. And it’s very clear this is largely AX’s fault. If the ticketing went fine without server crashes on the most hyped show, nothing like that would have happened, or at least not this badly.

Personally, I had Premiere and was able to get good VIP tickets for all the shows I wanted VIP for. For OtaQuest (not AWM but lol) I took a silver seat to save money. I got row 5 3xx for JKL and a row 6 5xx for a friend, plus a row A 4xx seat for a friend from TW. For Aqours I got a row 6 1xx which I had to give up last minute, but also rows A, B (went to 2 livers) and D (local friend) seats. For JSL I had a row 6 3xx seat, and had a row 6 1xx seat for a friend. In other words, I guess I had good latency?

But having oversea friends on tickets meant I had to receive them and help with the ticket pickup. Well, it was the easiest way given how I had to receive payment. That was a bit annoying as I had to queue two separate times, rather than just pick up all the ticket one shot, but in retrospect it was an okay compromise, especially since the lines for tickets were pretty short.

Day of JKL

With the show on Saturday, I was already dying. My voice is mostly gone thanks to Mogra and May’n. I think I wanted to take it easy until the live–this mean standing in the dealer’s room for two 22/7 stages after breakfast, having a quick dinner at the Mexican place, and just chilling at the hotel until time to roll. I met up with the TW friend who flew in Saturday morning just for the show (man i☆Ris wotas) and generally we met again before the show. I wanted to go in to dodge the heat, but lots of people had the same idea so I socialized just as much inside. Earlier in the day I also bought some buppan goods, as they were selling goods on the side of MS Theater by Staple Center side.

Having been to the theater already twice, I know about Aniuta. I also got some water from seller up front, bought a drink for a friend, and just hung out with whoever else was in the venue.

Before I forget–earlier in the day the plans were put in motion to do happy anniversary signage for i☆Ris. A few of the people were drawing it up in the RI and I also went in to scout out who are in our seat group so we can make a row. I talked to one of the guys who was in the seat next to mine about it. Later on he and his friend were gracious enough to swap seats with two of our other crew so we can have consecutive seats of 9. This means everyone holds up 2 characters and last guy holds up one (which happens to be me).

There was another group who also did the happy 6th anniversary sign too, and it was convenient that they lined up right next to us on row 4, which is up front. Anyways, it was a team effort.

The Live

The Microsoft Theater is a good venue. In the pit I was able to hear well and still see everything, despite pretty much underneath some of the loudspeakers on the left side. It’s got a curved setup so the side seats in pit are really close to the stage. I was not that close to the side so there was still some distance.

Learning from last year, I had a hunch that CG was first. I already had the bandolier up and ready to go when the trailer was playing. Somehow I’m decked out in 765Pro gear though, LOL.

So yeah, new and hype songs. If that was one feedback from last year, it was you gotta bring your A+ music game to America if you wanna make a splash. Unless you are Aqours, you gotta rep! And even Aqours needs rep if you ask me; none of the AWMs sold out after all. It was good that CG (and the other acts) kept it focused on the musical performances.

Shine was almost expected. I was fine. Up front I can hear calls, but it’s not so guttural as you’d expect (you can tell not a lot of people in the back did, but some were). Whatever it was, it was a big upgrade from last year I think. Sunflower was a surprise. LOVE DESTINY was WOOOO surprise and I just furicopy where I could. And by this measure TULIP was confirmed. Personally, LOVE DESTINY is really my jam, with Makinon doing a cool tune with RUURI AAAAH. Kotomin and Iidashi are always an eyeful and Kotomin in idol getup just have that nice vibe… Well, it was the usual deal.

The ending MC happens before Onecin as everyone quickly talked about themselves. Reichama then plugs TWO DOMES. I was too excited from LOVE DESTINY and TULIP to say anything other than ZETTAI IKUUU. I think it didn’t help that I was next to Sky…

Onecin calls were on spot for the most part, people generally did it right. Mou Ikkai was spot on. You did it Producers!

After Onecin there were even more MC, which then people kept talking more about TWO DOMES and, well. I can tweet about it, I can sign up for the Asobi store lottery (which I did), but I guess we’ll find out in a few hours. We are at the mercy of lady luck. Meanwhile, have some tweets.

Iidashi blog here.

Next up, by logical progression, was i☆Ris. We readied our boards. There will be a signal. MC was kind of a crapshoot because we don’t know how many and when. Thankfully it came naturally right after the Pripara medley. We were waiting to go during the MC before, but that was the right call to not.

We ended up raising our sign when they mentioned “did you know this is our sixth…hey you guys (ry.” We got the photo OP (I got cut off lol). It was good.

The fact Changing point was on the set meant all the tiger gachikoi stuff came full force from my group. Medley gave us all the fan faves, and the song new i☆Ris fans and supporters know. Got some nice tigers and mixes in there.

In a blink the set was over. All six idols did well to “fish” and we are pretty impressed with their performance. The distance between us made all the difference, I think. I saw i☆Ris at anisama twice and neither time was not this impressive. I guess last year it got better but it was still not the full power burn I saw in LA. If I get into these guys (and I still don’t think I can, but I do like the more than before), I might have to go with Zuchan and maybe Miyutan. Really can’t decide. Anyways, some tweets.

Third up was AKB48 team 8. For the most part they served up a list of short classic hits. I actually know most of their songs just by exposure, and I don’t make a point to listen to mainstream idol stuff. Some righteous gachikois were there. I furicopied when I could. This was surprisingly a lot of fun.

As far as real idols go, they prove themselves in that i-1 club kind of way. I mean, yeah, they are cute and impressive! I miss WUGs… Well, I think it’s clear that I am a seiota and real idols are too much for this otaku. That’s all on me, not on them.

Finally, Shokotan wrapped up. It made sense because her act doesn’t quite fit in all of this. This was on the other hand a bit more emotional because she came back to LA after 10 years, and she said some interesting things during MC. It was pretty funny watching her perform in front of the screen showing her music videos from ~10 years back. How times have changed. She did good, but well, maybe she could have paired with May’n or something.

VIP Greeting Event

Learning from the last one, we decided to either go first or go last. I kind of went with the first group, as in, before the cut the line off upstairs. I was in my P outfit, held out the towel from 4th that I had, and told them thank you, and I’m going to 6th! Then I held out the “u” from omedetou to the idols of i☆Ris. I also got “enforced” by that point so I made haste. I hear the others in my group had more talk time. One got called out by Moyo for wearing the potato shirt and being from Europe (Sweden? Finland? LOL). Others did a similar thing with 6th. I did the onigiri hand motion with the team 8 girls.

I went out side after and hung out in front like everyone else. It was a good time. Food-wise, uchiage was at BCD in Ktown.

Final thoughts

For an anisong wotaku, JKL was really good. It was more hype than any live last year. This is the real power of idols. But I don’t think the billing was as impressive. Truth is, Aqours is the biggest act over here, short of some top kek jpop/jrock thing that can draw from the general public. If you play at AX, it behooves to have the top act for that particular audience. So Aqours solo made all the sense in the world. But what about everyone else? If Aqours is the main billing, who can take their place?

Looking at the crowd and empty seats for JKL and JSL, I’m guessing we have a ways to go. There is a way to do it, I don’t know how, but it might be what I hope to see next year to celebrate Lantis 20th. Microsoft Theater is too nice of a venue not for AWM to play at again. Maybe they have to do an Anisama-type thing instead of an AFA type thing as we have now. I guess we shall see.


2 Responses to “Anisong World Matsuri 2018: Japan Kawaii Live”

  • DiGiKerot

    I think I probably had more hassle with JSL tickets than I did for aqours – mainly because the Prem JSL sale was being run opposite the general aqours sale prior to them switching any of the traffic throttling measures on. Lost out on pit seats due to check out failures twice. Very annoying.

    I do wonder whats going to happen next year as well, though I have to presume they’ll run at least something. I mean, empty seats and all (not that it was LanFes bad), I have to wonder what the expectations for their ticket sales actually were? The problem they’re always generally going to have with anything other than the day 0 shows is that there’s kind of this entire convention of stuff people have already paid for going on at the same time, and all it really takes is for one persons high-priority event to be running during the concert for them to ignore it entirely. Attending both JSL and JKL did preclude being able to attend some comparatively big-deal stuff (would have liked to see Gridman, anyway). The AX app gives a pretty good indication of what a lot of attendees were looking to go to, and a lot of the hot tickets were problems versus the lives.

    Who knows about artists, though, I guess. I mean, technically Lantis doesn’t even exist at this point w. Had the Sunshine movie been later in the year, I might have wagered on them giving that one more punt. I’m somewhat doubtful that anyone else really has the broad enough draw to one-man a show around there. I daresent say that moving back to the more stylistically broader line-up of last years JSL or the previous years AWM shows may end up being sensible if ticket sales really were a problem (and they could probably get away with inviting Jam Pro back again next year).

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