Asakura Momo First Solo Live: Day 1 Report

Asakura Momo, the arguable “center” of Trysail, had her first solo live (1 and 2 out of 4) on Saturday/Sunday, October 20-21, 2018. She will do a series of 4 lives, called LAWSON presents 麻倉もも Fantasic Live 2018 “Peachy!”, on 10/20-21, and then 11/10-11. All shows are schedule to take place at Maihama Amphitheater just outside of Tokyo proper (it’s Chiba!), which is just by the Disney resort complex in Maihama. She goes by the nickname Mocho. I attended the first of the showing so here goes writing it up…

It helps me to center the experience by explaining a bit about my history with Mocho, and her background as well. On one of my very early eventing trips to Japan back in 2014, I saw her, for the first time, at a stage greeting (for the IDOLM@STER movie) and I was smitten ever since. She was an unknown quality to me at the time. It was really her attitude that got me–someone who is a straight-backed go-getter in the most child-like, natural kind of way. She was still just 19, and was spending her second winter in Tokyo. There’s this twisted sense of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington crossed with Beverly Hillbillies crossed with just good fashion orthogonal thinking. She generally held on to the simple stuff, but it works for her and not most other people in the same disposition, at least in my opinion. Okay, I gave her Fukuoka countryside upbringing a lot of credit, but in reality she is the best kind of airhead, the D&D character sheet of 18 WIS but 7 INT, or at least as close to that you’re going to get in the entertainment industry.

In terms of looks, Mocho is actually rather blessed with her Kirby-esqe style going on, and I mean that in the most positive and flattering way possible. Back when she was really holding her weight (in the winter time) she had these adorable cheeks, which now has been largely tamed. It all makes sense to her fans because she’s the kind of person who gains weight in the winter and loses it in the summer, fairly visibly, and this past summer she did a photo book in Guam (comes out this week), showing off some actual chops in the process. We know how that goes in this industry, even for a seiyuu. But the fact that she’s got the curves (as Kirby does), there’s a lot of Mocho to feast your eyes on, for a seiyuu anyways.

Asakura Momo the seiyuu is part of the trio that marks the second “class” of the Music Ray’n seiyuu agency (Muray for short). This SME-attached, seiyuu-idol management produced the four talents of Sphere for Muray’s inaugural class. Muray has actually moved on officially to the third class with the Music Ray’n 3rd audition last year, but this means the Trysail ladies now have even more solo opportunities as the second Muray class move into the next stage of their development as idol seiyuu talents.

The second class hasn’t been in a whole lot of massively popular shows (when’s the next K-ON guys), so it might be a little hard to hear them if you don’t look for them. Mocho is probably best known from her role in IDOLM@STER Million Live as Hakozaki Serika, but westerners probably would have heard her sing in the Witch Craft Works ending as well as some oddish roles like Sumi from Sakura Trick, Yuka from Pripri Chii-chan, or Ayumi from Charlotte (as we’d call it, Imocho #1). She was the lead role in the first Honeyworks film, and will play Iroha in the upcoming Magireco anime (and of course she’s in the game too, being the equivalent of FGO’s Mash in that).

For those of us following Mocho a little closer, we know Mocho is a big fan of showa idols and shoujo manga. Partly influenced by her family, she is really into Matsuda Seiko, the famed mainstream idol who is a fixture in the Japanese entertainment industry since the 80s. Given how Muray always let their talents drive their solo artist styles, it is little surprise that Mocho first live, and building largely on her first solo album, evokes a strong sense of showa idol-dom, with songs that have a more positive and modern vibe than your standard love ballads and pop tunes.

Speaking of all of that though, while Asakura Momo the anisong seiyuu artist has been releasing singles the past few years, everything seemed to lead up to this October where she releases a single in late August, full album (first, called Peachy) in early October, and photobook in October just after the first 2 shows of her first solo live. It’s planned-out marketing I guess, but it makes things challenging for fans to ramp it up all of the sudden.

Setlist:

Just going to walk things in chronological order based on what happened.

I landed in Japan for this weekender the evening before (not related but, the reason why I was there is a long story in of itself–I only partly flew for Mocho 1st). Without doing much I met up with my seatmate for the live as we were both staying in Akihabara, albeit at different places. Without worrying about last trains we spent the time doing whisky gacha and commiserating on eventer problems. Very first world. Happily for me (and not so much for my friend), I was able to ask my friend to buy a couple things at the buppan Saturday morning. I missed out on the Lawson online preorder as it sold out almost immediately and I tried half an hour later since I forgot about it. Why do they do that…? Happily for my friend (and his friends) we were all able to buy what we wanted, even if a good chunk of the stuff did not sell out at the end. The most important merch item, and the one thing I wanted most, was the penlight, which is a peach-colored king blade with a mocho-peach-thing as a light tube. It is the most silly looking thing and there is something to be said if we can attend a live concert where people are waving that thing around.

I arrived at the venue in early afternoon and got straight into the can badge gacha. It’s pretty common these days at seiyuu idol anisong artist events, isn’t it? I was really lucky and won a signed badge. Otherwise, I didn’t get a lot of variety and I have a ton of duplicates. I guess that does not matter anymore once you won one of the grand prizes. There were also autographed t-shirts to be had, which I think is the rarest prize.

There were T-shirts, towels, socks, sleeping masks, keychains, and other things I don’t remember. They were also selling Peachy with a special daily on-site bonus item, as well as early sales of her photobook (with also a special daily on-site bonus item). You could buy 2 copies of her CD and 2 copies of her photobook and get 4 different bromides, basically. This is on top of the daily special merch (green versions of the towels and t-shirts for day 1, yellow for day 2, plus different pluffy mocho-face keychains each day). It’s not a lot of goods but they sure pile it up daily.

I met up with some other friends as well as my seatmate and went to get food. Then we returned for the show. One thing we messed up was not realizing the bonus good for people who paid for it had to be picked up at the Lawson where the ticket was paid for. I had won the tickets via the Trysail fanclub lottery some time ago, but another friend helped pay for it. That caused us to ask around to find out that we have to get the payment coupon back to the friend guy who paid for our ticket at his local Lawson. Oh well. The item is a handkerchief, but since it’s not available until November, we don’t know what it looks like yet.

For people unfamiliar with Maihama Ampitheater, the seating and stage layout is very similar to a semicircle. You can get a good taste of it with the PSVR game THE IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls Viewing Revolution, since it is the same venue. There are not many bad seats, and even the back of the theater is fairly close. The only real caveat is that the stage is really big and protrudes into the middle of the theater, so when the performer is at the edge of the stage, she is literally a couple meters away from the first row–but the opposite is also true. When Mocho was at the back of the stage near the entrances to the stage, she is quite far from everyone in the audience.

My seat was left side, half way up on the second section. It isn’t one of the worst seats but 70% of the seats in the theater, give or take a few, were better than mine. When she is towards the front of the stage, I can see her well enough. The high sloping seats also makes seeing the performers easy, as there is no obstruction. The only catch is you are looking down at her, but maybe that’s for the best since Mocho’s outfits tend to show a lot of legs as is.

By the way, she had 4? outfits plus the encore t-shirt look. In the first outfit change video she even plays around with 3 more outfits that we don’t see her wear in the show. I wonder if that changed between day to day?

  1. Pumpkin Meat Pie

The lights dimmed and we see this corny ice castle ala Disney bumper reel, except it’s not. Kind of mashup between Frozen and the standard Disney bumper. But we know what Mocho was trying to do–it ends up with a glass slipper and a peach and a pumpkin, as the iconic blare of the intro to the song kicks in, along with main stage rising up from the deep pit. Mocho shows up with her standard fairy tale, white-teal with transparency kinda-outfit with a ton of legs.

Her dancers also runs out of the platform along with her, as she hopped and danced along the stage edge in two circles. It was really memorable towards the bridge of the song because she did this cool jump routine and got some real air (and leg exposure).

2. Happiness Peace

My memory is probably already failing me, but for this song she had a little play with the screen background as well, casting some magic.

There was a MC.

3. Traveling Time

In this song, as Mocho explains later in the MC, she wanted it to be somewhere she wanted to travel to on her free time. The screen backdrop shows a cartoon drawing of Hokkaido landscape, it turned out. There was a bear that came out in from the trees with a thing of honey, in which Mocho high-fives during the song. Maybe it’s based on the European look of Otaru.

Yeah your guess is as good as mine. I was like “Yogi bear” when I saw it first but nyoro~n.

She did the “where did people come from” MC segment here, but only called out Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Chiba, and “everywhere else.”

4. Hakoniwa Borderline

Hakoniwa Borderline is possibly my favorite Mocho song. I felt this is at least the kind of open throttling her voice needed to be. I liked the live version more than the studio one, even if she is a little less under control here. It’s just a much more honest and bigger presentation.

Now is as good as any point to say that despite the good acoustics at the various venues I’ve see Trysail at before (can’t be much better than NHK Hall IMO), their audio sound is generally subpar. It is true here as well at Mocho 1st, but that loud, lo-fi backing track actually adds a layer of flavor to this showa-idol-sekaikan kind of thing.

5. Zutto Kimi no Koto ga Sukiina desu

This is one of the more memorable new song from Peachy, because it’s got a very catchy refrain and sums up that shoujo manga aesthetic well. I think at this point I was getting into the swing of things, so this light pop song worked where it did during the set.

During the performance, it has this very long, drawn out music video footage of Mocho looking at the camera as if she’s filming a PV (it was as long as the song), but with no singing. It was really striking not only because of what is happening (she’s basically emoting the song with her face to us), but it was this huge, emo Mocho on the screen the whole time, while the actual person is singing the song normally in front of it.

6. Akai Sweet Pea (Matsuda Seiko cover)

I knew it was gonna happen, but at least I know this song! It was a real crap shoot since I don’t know Matsuda’s songs all that well, but this one is obviously a really big hit. All I can say is that Mocho had some big shoes to fill, but her sweet tones just didn’t quite rub me the same way as Matsuda’s somewhat more emotive delivery. Sort of sums up how I feel about the showa idol spin on Mocho’s solo approach actually–it’s quite fitting but she’s not going to be able to reach the same level as the people she admires.

7. Seikan Hikou (Ranka Lee cover)

This cover is using a no-backing mix, so it was the draggy guitar mix (lo-fi blarring (c) Muray) against Mocho’s showa-era idol vocals. It worked really well and that brings out this flavor to the song that the original doesn’t showcase well. Like, this song might be 10 years old now, but Mocho made it sound like the others in her repertoire, as in some kind of reborn, early 90s idol song with today’s sensibilities.

You know what I am gonna give Kanno Yoko credit for this, but it’s always good to know Mocho has covered it before, to the same effects.

8. No Distance

9. Koi no Prelude

10. Hoshizora o Omoeba

It was nice hearing these songs. We sat for the performance, upon Mocho’s request, and for the ballads she didn’t do a whole lot anyways. To be honest while I was lightly mesmerized hearing the live version of these songs, I was pretty tired and fighting the sleepy impulses. The bad audio probably helped on this regard too, but at least the vocals came through clearly.

11. Hana no Akaiito

12. Run for you

13. Ashita wa Kimi to

For this block, we were allowed to stand again, and it’s nice hearing Hana no Akaiito finally. Actually it’s nice to hear Haniwa at this point, felt like a refreshing breath of air to prepare us for the last segment.

As an aside, the way she mentioned the below segment was pretty lol. Anyways. Mocho is gonna Mocho.

14. Fanfare!!

The dancers did the “m o m o” calls with this catchy hand motion that makes me wanna furicopy. In general this song is great hype and lots of fun. It also feels like a rejected Trysail song because it’s too soft-pitched, so it feels right at home at a Mocho solo live.

Despite not having a backing band, this version of Fanfare!! has an extended bridge so the audience can call some more. Let’s go everyone, m o m o m o m o.

15. Colorful

16. Tokubetsu Ichiban!!

During Colorful and Tokubetsu Ichiban there were some rowdy calls going on. On the whole, the crowd is a diverse mix of bunny hopper types, yakkai kids (and old people), and just regular folks. Definitely skews male 4 to 1 or so. You can tell some of these people anikura’d to Colorful and Tokubetsu Ichiban, since that’s how those call would work. My favorite one was the chant during Tokubetsu Ichiban chorus/bridge.

It’s expected that Trysail otaku to be pretty high level at yakkai calls, so that did not disappoint. Friend next to me commented out hearing gachikoi and mix, I’m like, I already heard that during Anisama lawl.

17. Good Job!

I actually like Good Job quite a bit, but it hasn’t grown on me. The “album single” is a good way to wrap up the set, much like how the album opens up with Pumpkin Meat Pie. Thumbs up at Mocho during this one.

EN. 1 Pumpkin Meat Pie

EN. 2 No Distance

So for the encore, she did a bunch of more MC and introduced the dancers to us. She even let each dancer say something, which is something I’ve not really seen before.

For the two encore performances, she pulled the song name out of a box, and performed them just by walking around the stage. It was nice we got something upbeat because it was all RNG. In retrospect she should have pulled out both and then she could have pick the slow one first to do out of the two.

After the show was over it was time to go home. We tagged along with some other Japanese and Chinese Trysailors and had uchiage at Oimachi. It seems half of them are hakooshi and only a handful are Mocho oshi. Speaking of Chinese, there were definitely quite a few at the live, at least based on the mandarin and cantonese tongues I overheard.

PS.

I don’t think I’ve ever won anything from Music Ray’n, other than pre-sale ticket lotteries. And I was in the fanclub for years LOL. There’s a first time for everything.


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