CG7th Osaka Rocks

Rather than recap I just want jot down all the thoughts and feels from the live. This bid to try to get this post out ASAP didn’t really work, but I fear it would have been only worse otherwise. But first, the setlist can be had here:

Big picture/general thoughts

Kyocera Dome sucks. It’s not as bad as Metlife Dome, where the Seibu Lions play, but the seats are small and it doesn’t really have much in terms of lounging spaces outside. The main entrance feeds from the Aeon into the venue, which only looks nice if you drive down that one stretch. It rained on Sunday and people were just massively crowding that Aeon prior to the live. I’d rather go back to Nagoya though. Jingu is better even. The only redeeming feature I think, is the open-to-public space underneath the venue, billing itself as a mall of sorts.

Aside: The Orix Buffaloes acquired Adam Jones this offseason, so this not-a-chump ex-Baltimore Orioles slugger is their new prized foreigner, facilitating the below display in the Buffaloes merch shop inside that mall. I get a rise from it only because I’ve seen Jonesy play a lot, just from watching the AL East over the past decade.

The other Orix Buffaloes items of interest are the merch of Wakatsuki Kenya, because he is now the husband of Cinderella Girls seiyuu Tachibana Rika. Well, you know how that goes. If I had more time in Osaka I probably would have paid the famous Koshien a visit, just to get those ballparks tour points out of the way.

Anyways. Lately, I’m not really tracking Cinderella Girls closely. After going to 6th I realize I only know and care about half the songs. I was expecting that going into 7th Osaka, so I studied. Turns out by slicing up the song catalog by genre, the Osaka setlists dipped into CG oldies a lot, and I knew far majority of that, and thus the set. That helped me enjoy the show a lot more than I had hoped.

Making the tour into pop-dance-rock genres really changes the lives. I always liked CG lives for their big production value, but adding this spin made it less theatrical just a tad, but way more “music” as a concert would. If you’ve been to enough character shows, you know some of them are closer to musicals or just better thought as character-centric events where the cartoon characters come to life. It’s a quality that vary between different IM@S branches but always pretty strong for CG…but that takes away from the musicality of the songs themselves at times.

I only got to read about Comical Pop (which is hard to envision, the hardest of them all in fact) and Funky Dancing (this is pretty well-understood to me), so I can’t say how it compares in person. Glowing Rock on the other hand sounds just like what I need to get right back in the groove for Deremas. It turns out what was hype in the live for me was just the same thing for everyone else, but obviously not being so tuned in with the franchise meant I don’t have much payoff dirt to hit–nor would I be that disappointed.

One more general note: This trip I hung out with a lot of people who are newer at CG than I am, and they are pretty hype about all this. I’m glad to be able to meet some new blood! Eventing for this stuff from overseas, even if it’s just from Singapore or somewhere closer by, already kicks you into a strange, selected tier. For all of us it’s emotional paydirt just for the usual trials and tribulations we endured to get there. Which also meant the uchiage on day 1 with the other folks was pretty fun. Too bad I didn’t talk to everyone on the other table, but I think we traded cards and I am following some on twitter. Including the one guy who ranks a lot and I made fun of in my other Awesome IDOLM@STER Concert post (it’s the concert that’s awesome).

The live band, and IDOLM@STER

Let’s start with a sidequest. Prior to going to Osaka, I attended LisAni Live in Makuhari on Sunday the week before. LisAni is a music magazine focused on anime and game music, and the festival lives with the Lisani branding tends to be very artist-focused and music-focused, with interviews after each artist segment and the artists get to play for longer during the music festival. One thing it does is offering an opportunity to have a band to play with the artists, as many anisong acts don’t typically do so.

The IDOLM@STER 765Pro All Stars was one of those artists, and like other years when IM@S participated in Lisani Lives, the music came out a bit rearranged, as a live arrangement often vary somewhat than the studio recorded version; doubly more so when it’s a rock arrangement versus what may be more pop or EDM. It is entirely in this fashion that CG7th Osaka played out as well.

In some cases, the arrangement can be so different that I would rather think of them as a different song–Pallette comes to mind. In some cases, the live instruments are the difference, on top of being a live performance, with somewhat different arrangements. Fascinate probably scored the highest point on this for me. A lot of the songs are already pretty rock from the initial recording, so they might only gain the live music/performance boost you get with a band. The Heart Beat version of Over was probably the best of all of these, and you knew it would only have worked with a live band.

The most epic take on instrument plus IM@S though, was the acoustic segment when Takki (the keyboardist and bandmaster) and Makino Yui did a rearranged medley of Mayu’s solos. I literally was crying because this was basically everything Makino Yui was best at, regurgitated as Mayu but framed as the singer-songwriter-pianist self, in front of a dome crowd. It was both powerful and unforgettable, especially for those of us who have followed this seiyuu musician over the years.

To be fair, this is just my own bias talking. First of all, there was In Fact on day one. Second, the natural pairing between a rock band and Cinderella Girls has got to be all of Syuko’s songs. And they were pretty much exactly as you would expect. If anything, it makes the point that the recorded versions of those Syuko songs are just simple suggestions. The real versions are the ones we’ve had at Osaka, and it was pretty ballsy to cap with the most rock one of them all–Kurenai.

Kurenai probably is best explained as its own cultural phenomenon. It’s also dated–that song was hot when I was still in High School/Undergrad, to date myself. It was amusing to see the lackluster reaction from young oversea Producers, because they don’t really know about Kurenai. Having the opportunity to rock to X Japan’s biggest hit, in a dome in Japan, is both the best meta-homage and the perfect showcase cover. I am just glad to be a part of the echo of a distant glory from decades ago.

Seiyuu performances

After the live, I was so taken with Fascinate that I went and got it from Mora. Unlike the live experience, the M@STER version was just a shadow of the one in Osaka. It helped to have your renban explain it to you, LOL.

On that note, Fascinate was an event song from 2019 that introduced Chitose and Chiyo, raising irk from the “hey where’s my voiced girls” crowd but really just a blip on my radar as I was not closely following the series at the time. Since it never had a physical release it isn’t even on my study guide leading up to the live. It was the one song that I missed and yet it was so impressive in the live.

It’s also worth noting that the newbies at Osaka, which includes Chiyo’s and Chitose’s seiyuu, Sekiguchi Risa, was pretty amusing too. I mention that here because Chiyo’s seiyuu was a bundle of nerves and blanked out during MC a couple times, full with nerve face. If you know Mei from Shiny Colors, it is kind of like that–she seems cool but really probably had a blanked mind while on stage.

The other newbie of note was Riamu’s CV, Hoshiki Sena. During day 2’s MC (only half of them had final MCs each day, which is kind of interesting) she pull a full-speed out-of-character word dump which carried the same vibe as her character. It was great. The other newbie was also adorable as Nakazawa Mina behaved more like a fresh seiyuu would.

I was in stitches when Hego busted out Hot Limit on Day 1, as Uzuki did her best to cop TM Revolution’s classic hit from the 80s. She sang normally in a normal outfit, but they manage to get fan to blow into her face, fluffing her hair, which added to the comedy.

As someone who is somewhat a Miho/PCS P, hearing Tsuda rocking to Junjo Midnight Densetsu as the way to wrap up each day was very comforting. It’s a great rock song and it would be remiss if they did not include it. Tsuda also felt like she did leave more of it on the stage, getting it loose more so, so that was fun to watch.

There were a lot of cool songs, including the few that didn’t involve a rock band. The Ranko ones, for example, featured a flustered Marei and the usual cool-meme Maou. A more straight-on version of this happened during the day 2 Gaze & Gaze, as Foreign(?) Seaside did this brow-to-brow stare for a while. Naobou was pretty aggressive. Speaking of which, this is my second time seeing Hanai Miharu in person, but she was a spec in Nagoya when she did her solo when I last saw her. In Osaka, she was able to play a bigger part of the live, it felt. Definitely someone who has made a bigger impression on me this time around.

The cross-over nature of the songs in the second half in terms of the performers brought out some interesting chemistry. Aachan played tsukkomi when she pinched in Max Beat, for instance. This arrangement of Absolute Nine and Valkyria are purposeful (beyond me) and pretty unusual. There are different levels in which you can enjoy the performances, whatever it may be.

Wrapping up

It’s hard to write a review of this concert, because so much of it plays out on the performative level. I just hope you can watch it on home video once it comes out, because it’s one for the ages. I definitely enjoyed this as one of the most fun Cinderella Girls concert that I’ve attended, for a wide variety of reasons. I can wax poetic about Dereani-era songs re-enacted with live instruments, I can talk about new songs being great on its own. I can enjoy the meme moments, and I can even enjoy the new ED song to the Princess Connect Re:Dive collab event, as I am an active player there. That was very left-field of them, by the way, to perform this NewGene song just like that.

PS. Osaka is great meshi-land. I had some great takoyaki and okonomiyaki. I also had some pretty great time shopping, since the touristy stuff is pretty competitive. Even the uchiage was next level.

PPS. We sure dodge the coronavirus! By the skin of our teeth, given how big events are all cancelled now.

PPPS. Hindsight is nice, also, that Makino Yui has been on Music On Radio this month and she talked a lot about the live with the guests that are on the show. Moreover, the guests are the MVP themselves–the live band members. Takizawa, the bandmaster, then IMAJO, the guitarist, both were guests. Mutsuki Shuhei, the other guitarist, is on this week. All 3 have written songs for IDOLM@STER franchises. Please check it out if you can. (Mutsuki wrote both Fascinate and Shinsou Mermaid, huh.)

On that note, I just want to expand a bit more–my first time watching Makinon live was in 2012 when she visited NYC for then NYAF. We watched her played on stage and moved to those early-era tracks (man how old is Tsubasa Chronicles?) and hi-5’d her on stage. Then I got to see her as Mayu a few times, and again her solo when she visited Otakon some years ago. She’s got that solo singer-songwriter-seiyuu thing down. It’s kind of funny how she hasn’t written a CG song yet, actually.

All of this rushed forward as a surge of nostalgia and emotions when I heard her acoustic set at the live. It was just amazing and powerful. It was a bit too powerful for Mayu, but Mayu also transcended at the time, becoming someone who she always was but never really visible.

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