Anisama – Animelo Summer Live 2018

It’s not an anime con, but it can feel like one. To me Anisama is a music festival but also kind of like a Japanese festival where people come and hype it up to have a good time. Anyways, thoughts and such ahead.

What dominated my thoughts 12 hours after Anisama day 3 ended and taking this photo were:

It was HOT. Like, the weather. I was talking to some friends while waiting for other friends before going into the venue (~3pm) Sunday afternoon. It was hot all weekend but Sunday was the hottest. Just take a look. There were 2 days in July and 1 day in August that had a higher high temp, during this heat wave. Saturday was hot too, at 95F (an undetectable difference compared to 97F that was Sunday). I didn’t land in Japan until Friday night so I had no comment on Friday’s weather, but the high temperature coupled with the usual high humidity in Saitama meant life was pretty hellish if you were under the sun. As someone pulling a weekender from the comparatively mild NYC weather, the hot weather had a visible impact on my enjoyment of Anisama this year.

I did buppan on Saturday. I was “taking it easy” in that I got to the line at around 7:45, but I already have sweated out about a liter of fluids by then. That was pretty crazy, and it was not just me–everyone in line was in some form of hazard management mode. There was one big guy near me and he was just as drenched as I was. When the sun came out it got tormentingly hot, as a good chunk of the lineup was not in the shade. At some point I did get used to it, but it was draining my energy just by being under the sun, even when I was doing nothing. I had to deal with this until ~3pm, when I went into the venue. And that made day 2 a real chore.

Imagine if you were going nuts at Keiyaki Hiroba because oshijumping at 97F weather really means you like your oshi? I don’t know, maybe that is why things were not as crazy this year compared to last year? LOL. I was talking to Rop about this during the aforementioned Sunday afternoon wait, and we talked about how Animax Musix had proper anikura and I was like, LOL people are gonna die if you do Anikura at Anisama, because this weather is deathly. Shortly after he spotted a guy who has succumbed to heat stroke and had to be taken out of the Keiyaki Hiroba on stretchers. It was bad.

This was a huge contrast to my buppan experience last year in 2017, where a balmy 80F temp with 100% cloud cover meant actually good nap weather. Yeah it was still 80+% humidity, but it did not threatened kill anyone. I got to hang out with Ken P last Sunday, in contrast of this Sunday where he bolted from Station to Inside the Arena because it was hot as all heck, LOL.

The usual eventer oshi whine always come up. Last year’s Anisama was the exception than the norm–it was epic and really freaking great. This year was more of your standard Anisama with the usual hits and misses. For people like me who appreciate anisong in general, it was still an overwhelmingly good time. But if you were at Anisama mainly for a group or two (or even five or six), there will be a bunch of misses you gonna sit through. Even for me, day three’s farewell to Milky Holmes were mostly a miss, although I liked the songs they did and the way they went about giving them the farewell treatment. Yeah, if that rubs you the wrong way (and it does–given how I am into WUG and they too, had a farewell thing), it doesn’t always leave you with a good taste in the mouth as you go home from the venue.

But that’s not the point of events like Anisama. Actually, for the discerning people, you would even realize the Big Three anisong fests in Japan–Anisama, Animax Musix, Lisani–all have their own niches and approaches. I would legit enjoy going to them as their own things and to enjoy their signature strengths. Of course the issue is more that we all have limited time and money and energy and attention span, so we can’t go to all of them. Some of the artists who perform at anisama do a much better job during their one-man lives than as a fest-style performance. The venue sometimes don’t cooperate. The stage presence of some of these artists are completely different in a live house versus at a big arena. The list go on. So yeah, pick and choose what works for you, but realize just because you see so-and-so at Anisama, it might not mean you’ve really seen that artist.

The same can be said of those who go to Anisama for certain artists only–you’re not getting why Anisama exists in the first place. Or why people move to tears to see The MONSTERS jam to Snow Halation. Or many other things that makes me go to Anisama, actually. Anyways, that might be a topic for its own post.

Is Anisama the place to be? I don’t know. Of all the “places to be” in Japan for general western weeaboo-dom, like Comiket or Wonfes or Cosplay Summit or Chokaigi or TGS or whatever, Anisama never gets talked up as one of them. This is the change I want to see. For the longest time Anisama is probably the most directly related thing to anime otaku fandom outside of actually celebrating it in the comiket style or via cosplay. But those expressions of fandom have long since came into their own. Anisong, on the other hand, is still a classic, top-down, pro-to-consumer style cultural distribution and export. Without the marketing there is not much of a scene, and much of the western scene involves importing the marketing (besides, of course, importing the music–which is also becoming marketing itself more often than ever). Unlike video games, anisong is this unknown and not-thought-of category outside of Japan. I guess it’s also a precious thing inside of Japan, which is partly why Anisama exists to begin with.

Because ultimately this is a new genre of a thing. It’s not like we can do anime conventions with just music, like how you can do a show with just a dealer’s room or artist alley or just cosplay meets. Anisama actually fills this gap in its 2018 rendition. Maybe this is why I (and some others) feel the need to import anikura to the west, because it also fills a similar gap.

The setlist here.

The actual music festival aspect is notable in that, it’s Anisama. Anisama distinguishes itself most notably with its creative producer SaitoP. In leading up to the event this year, Anisong Station (shortened to Anisute) featured some interviews with him that you can watch. I mention this because Anisute is viable in the US/CAN on Crunchyroll and subtitled, which is a good program if you want to get your bearings straight when it comes to Anisama and the current scene. And this is the kind of cultural thing that we’re missing out here as I mentioned before, finally getting a little bit of it.

SaitoP has said on record that ultimately Anisama is about acts who play anisong, and they balance the kind of acts at Anisama with both old and new, rare and common, surprise and expected stuff, to paraphrase. It’s not as cover heavy, because Anisama would rather invite the original members to play those songs, so they try not to cover those songs that could get that chance. This is also why there was EZ Doo Dance last year, or the City Hunter songs from the year before. Or Do As Infinity this year.

I like to talk smack about Animax Musix, which is the other big anisong festival in Japan, because it is much more just what’s new and popular, plus all the collaboration covers that you probably want to hear, from the more popular anisong artists that you like. But Animax Musix is never going to go out of their way to do, say, Bad Apple; or Hellshake Yano as Anisama did this year. Ok so I talk smack only because a certain somebody who’s never been to  Anisama talks smack about Anisama first (sup Kuro).

Since I skipped day 1, walking the setlist is not that fun. I’ll just keep talking about random stuff. Starting from day 2

“ORE NO AIBA GA.” Horses, then. For people who don’t know, the kind of anisong nerds I hang with are the kind of people in which the Umamusume are a big draw for day 2. It might be people who are appealed to easily by the 3D aspect. But I’m just a dirty seibuta so when you throw a dozen plus quality female seiyuu at me, I probably would budge. It also helps that Umamusume is kind of formulated like IM@S, thanks to Dire1 behind the helm, even if it’s about horse girls running.

The intro to horses is actually the “first song” except it wasn’t really listed in the set list on the website. This was because the Umamusume ran around the arena first half in a lap, while surprise guest Stefuji did the commentary introducing the performers. They had a big spotlight on Stef, who was standing in one of the boxed seats room behind level 200 on the right side of the venue. They even set up a themed backdrop and had a camera on her. The iconic brass to Umapyoi was the BGM. The intro “first song” ends when the team ran back to the main stage and finished out Umapyoi Densetsu from the final chorus. The performers were running in character, basically, then they performed the final part of Umapyoi at the end.

This was one of my favorite performances all weekend because of Fujii Yukiyo’s surprise visit, as I’ve gotten very fond of her in the past couple years. It was also the surprise factor–my seat was right around the first corner of the course so I got to see everyone relatively closer than before. It also needs to be said that Umapyoi is some serious call-heavy sort of thing, and everyone got blue balled when the song capped with just the final chorus since that skips all the calls.

I was also up in the early morning in order to buy for a bunch of limited edition Umamusume Anisama T-shirts that day, as they are pretty strong so look for the lucky hipsters who got one. As you can see I have some strong, albeit short-term, attachment (given the effort to survive buppan) to that series in Anisama’s context.

The other two songs from Umamusume are the standard OP/ED from the anime. They were cute and we did calls. This was pretty normal. What is less normal is how we all got blue balled from Umapyoi, but even leading up to the said blue-balling, the Aniuta booth outside in the Keiyaki Hiroba was playing the song at times, drawing crowds and loud calls. Sot it really isn’t that bad.

Day two’s main notable contributors are probably Ayachi and Aocchi. Both performed and billed as solo artists, and both performed as Petite Milady. That’s like 8 songs from the two of them in total. Taketatsu did two songs from Dagashikashi. That was her normal schtik, twirling maces and all. Yuki Aoi however first showed up in the first half of the show in this fantasy outfit with prominent horns, I guess, because she was singing the theme to Piano no Mori? She later appeared in the second half of day 2 to do Los! Los! Los! in her faux nazi outfit in front of a pulpit. It was pretty cool, albeit awkward for my American sensibility. In between, she did that “I’m going to pretend to be a cat” song, which is just weird. I guess this year’s Anisama a lot of the songs had their PV playing in the back on the main stage, so it evoked the same feeling I had when I first watched that video

The two’s Petit Milady skit was probably the most important, as it ended with a MC that was really a Pop Team Epic skit and that song they did in the anime.

The song did not have the male dub, but the MC did, and the two women memed the same motions as they did in the first MC using their voices.

To round out the lulz, Ayachi also showed up during Aozora no Rhapsody, as a patron in fhana’s maid cafe. According to Waga Yuki, she was eating A5 Kobe beef during the song. Man, Otsubo-pro can’t be taking this sitting down.

First plus Best has been the pattern for a lot of artists on days 2 and 3, and looking at the setlist, also day 1. For example, fhana did Que Sera Sera and CHU-CHU YEAH. Minami did Precious Memories. True did Dream Solster. Hasshi did YES. These are all great songs for first-timers to watch. There were a handful of first-timers at Anisama this year that I know, so good for them.

Trysail is probably the group that I repped the most on day 2, with fhana a close second. They followed also the First plus Best format with Adrenaline, which is definitely their most popular song, bypassing the already-very-hyped High Free Spirits. It’s just really good, and this year Anisama’s crowd got the calls down pat. Wanted Girl lead in was solid and very in spirit of Trysail.

Somehow, however, the guys really rocked during day 2. SideM is definitely the coolest thing for day 2, although Miyamo Mamoru definitely was the best and most talented performer out of the whole day. I haven’t been able to keep up with SideM but I at least know the 3 songs they did at Anisama. I did not know however you do that with Glorious Ro@d.

Revue Starlight was really good. Well, more like I guess it was better than I expected, more than that they were good. Their schtik is more theatrical, which scales well with the venue. Their sound did not have to win as long as those grand orchestral notes can fill the room. Not every musical act scales well to a venue like SSA, in a music festival style.

However that the fact they covered TeiGeki is really, really revealing. Like, isn’t that basically saying who they are? And I welcome more spiritual followers of the Sakura Taisen way. Maybe they’re not fighting demons as imperials, but fighting each others in a surreal dream. Same difference?

There were a lot of improvements that Revue Starlight 99th troop could do, but I think if they can front their Anisama set as the top billing at their shows, it will be a riot and you don’t even need to be a fan to enjoy it.

Hm, I guess Mimo x Mino made a return this year in black and sexy outfits, doing JOINT. This is again not my song, but Kawada Mami covers are always welcomed now.

Day 3 boils down to: THE MONSTERS, HELL YEAH, and Milky Holmes farewell.

It started with a blast when iRis and Milky kicked things off, but each added guest became a new level of hype. To me it makes sense because those are also the artists people like to see. It was fairly solid “anisong artists cum seiyuu doing stage performances.”

Which is to say, a farewell to Milky Holmes at Anisama needed that factor. I missed out on WUG farewell on day one, so I can’t say how fairly it was done, but nobody was more of a shocker and downer than Altima going on hiatus on Anisama 2 years ago. That was just weird. In contrast, Milky day 3 of Anisama felt such a premium treatment that it almost seemed unfair. But I think Milky earned it well, and it is overall a good thing at nobody else’s expense really. I guess it kind of reflects how many years they’ve been at it?

It also reminded me when baseball players in MLB announces retirement at the start of the season, they get that farewell tour thing. Anyways.

Sister’s was oddish because I don’t UMR but I know Kageyama Akari from Kawaiikon earlier this year. When she got on stage I was like, the hell, she’s in this? Oh yeah… I guess I couldn’t spot her out from the artist photo on Anisama’s website. Also what did not click was I didn’t know Sister’s was part of UMR until they started to do UMR songs (that I kinda know).

Their performances were pretty hype, and there were two standard yakkai kids, next to my renban buddy, who were pretty nuts at their performance. Actually, those two kids were pretty funny to watch that night.

THE MONSTERS is another highlight for that day. I probably have never heard a better rendition of Snow Halation. The act begins when a large platform gets roll in and the main screen shows THE MONSTESR. On the platform are the 5 Jam Project members performing while Makkun MC’ing the members. The screen also shows each of the member and their MONSTER name. Like Monster Bomber on drums (Fukuchan). Then the three front guys get off the platform with mics and plugged away at Snohale. It took a second to get the color down. Then it came the orange.

It is the most dad rock.

Right after that was Hellshake Yano’s turn, which was basically the Pop Team Epic skit modified to be SSA. The AC-bu guys got the crowd going to chant his name, and we all obliged. Then Sumipe went on stage and shot people for the Pop Team Epic OP, a kind of weird but cool sort of a performance, which was very Sumipe.

I think the other big chunk block for day 3 was the Card Captor Sakura block where Suzuki Minori and Hayami Saori did Catch You Catch Me. Their songs also happened leading up to it, and both had done one song for the new CCS anime. It was exactly the peak programming fit for Animax Musix but it  is nice to see Anisama swing that way as well.

I’m glad to hear the new Naobou songs. Unlike last year her anime tie-ins this year doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth, so it is all good. Hayamin’s newer songs too are better suited for her I think. Going big jazz was a mistake with this one.

There is another reoccurring thing with Anisama this year, which is built on last year, which is how there are some first timers who used to be Anisama attendees but are now performing. Zaq did that in her MC as the honorary dreamer spokesperson last year and this day 3 was YURiKA. The young new comer also used to go as a kid.

Suzuki Konomi showed up to wrap up the first half of day 3, and it was a great closer to do Watamote OP as that. It makes up for that Lost Song nonsense, lol.

There were still a lot of exciting stuff for day 3, but nothing really struck me as that memorable. The real surprise guests on day 3 were Mocho-Ten-Nan as solo artists, but I felt it was only because this is such a rare treat on its own that it would be memorable. If you didn’t dig them on their own you might have not cared for it all that much.

Mocho did an announcement over the MC before the end of intermission, which concluded with her signature owaridayo line. People were like ??? and then bam, Mocho got on a cart and we were doing Pripri Chiichan.

I was disappointed that the cart didn’t even get to the second half of the arena, and I was all the way in the back corner. But I knew at least Nansu will get her solo at Anisama, which meant Fuwakoro (Fuwari, Korori, Karan, Koron). This is something you furicope to.

And it was great. Nansu popped up from the center stage with a trope of elementary school girls who did backup dancing. (Meanwhile, Tenchan walked off the top of the center stage with her humongous dress for her solo just prior).

The three surprise guests get out of the way quick without MC or anything, so we got iRis. They did their usual set, except their Pripara medley actually has every single OP, which was quite strong.

Trysail solos and iRis felt like a good fresh intermission as we roll back into more King Record artists. Aoi Shota and Chanyui were both really good this year, so that helped boost day 3 overall. I particularly liked Eien Shonen, and you can’t go wrong with Baby Sweet Berry Love.

ZAQ and OxT are both really good normally, and they were their usual selves at Anisama, although I’m not sure what we were suppose to do for the Overlord songs. Their collab cover to Sugar Song and Bitter Step however was really great, in that they probably surpass the actual band who plays this song, at least on some level.

On that note, it’s not like I forgot Oresama. I already looked into them from (LOL anisute) watching half a year’s worth of Mahoujin Guru Guru. That show is such an Oresama marketing vehicle. There’s this mid-high brow pop cultural aspect to their act that it almost bothers me. It’s not unlike any band who makes a music video in 8-bit graphics in the year 2017-18, but not as bad in that Oresama wholly sells into it without any trace of the modern toxicity that video game anything is tainted by. That being said seeing them live made everything a bit more sensible, although I’m not sure I dig them other than having a DJ who seems to be the coolest person in the unit.

Finally we got the tear jerker Milky Goodbye as they do their classics. NGL I was a bit tired of it at this point, but respect needs to go to where it is due. I hope those who care all got tickets to their final show.

The second half of Anisama 2018 Day 3 second half closed expectedly with strong notes. There was that Milky goodbye thing.  Then there was UNION. And there was SKILL. I don’t know what needs to be said.

Well, sure. UNION was great here–it’s the 4th time the Million Stars have performed it in public, twice during 5th which people were just learning the song. Once during the public event in July. And then Anisama. I finally got the context and how this song is suppose to go. It was great.

I feel like JAM Project is getting on age-wise, and it shows in the performance. Fukuchan notably had some health issues over the years, and the outfits they wore for Anisama was pretty crazy lol. The high heat weather didn’t help either. Still it was pretty much what I wanted and expected, nothing really disappointing except that SKILL was not 15 minutes long.

Someone asked me over that weekend who I am seeing for Anisama. I guess I have to say Million Live, but truthfully I see Anisama as Anisama. Once you’ve been following this stuff long enough you kind of know too much to not be able to care on a higher level, what the scene is, what the industry is, how everything kind of work together. The culture develops over time and changes over time. I don’t even think I’m a DD in this sense, it’s more like I enjoy the stuff Anisama provides me more completely and it’s more than the sum of its performers. Even Milky Homes were a good sight for me, seeing them do Anisama farewell and remembering seeing them on the Blu-ray from way back… But yeah, it’s all important and enjoying all the acts of the show makes it just much more fun than flying to see a few people.

PS. Police at Anisama. So the rules this year forbid mixing and yeahtigers, but it still happened, perhaps not as badly as in other years. Part of it was the song selection–the iRis 3ren mix got cut because they cut the lead-in to fit in more songs in the medley. Umapyoi got sliced into the last chorus. There were a few other cases. There was also forbidding of holding more than 1 penlight per hand.

I got policed for that last rule. Nothing happened on day 2 when I did a triangle for Trysail, nor did dozens of others that I saw. For day 3, when I pulled out the 10th penlight during BNT, the staff near me took note and told me to use 1 penlight per hand after BNT was over. So much for official penlights used in ways that were acceptable at the official Million Live events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.