Lapis Re:Lights Live

It’s seiyuu idol biz in the new decade. Lapis Re:Lights employs dance-focused seiyuu units sing for the multimedia project, launching with an anime with game in tow. Lapis Re:Lights also put on youtube their old lives from 2019.

The Venus Fort mini-live was really impressive because they were able to convey the dancing with the idol standards of an environment-controlled mall stage. But the “First solo live” thing was really doing not much for me. In any case, you can watch both in the video here.

I think a big limiter is the screen. The way that mix reality stuff works today require a compromise on viewing angle and fidelity. It is like, if you watch it from a distance, it looks pretty okay. But at the same time, it’s unclear how much value it adds versus a backdrop. Well, you can have both, but then both screens are a constraint on each other lest it’s just crazy disco lights and colors.

What is clear is the drawbacks of mixed reality performances where it’s literally “candy” on otherwise dance-focused performances. If you want to do mixed reality stuff, you kind of go this far, right?

The limitations, from my own experience:

  • Viewing angle: This one everyone knows. Ever been to a Hatsune Miku live and situate yourself beyond 45 degrees from center? 80 degrees? It’s not a good experience. This is mediated by being farther back, but you don’t see the image as clearly, and you already lose some clarity versus looking at an image without a double screen.
  • Clarity: Well, I mentioned it above, but if you perform behind a screen, people will see the screen and it just won’t be as vivid in terms of how the stage light reflect on the performer. It also depends on the opacity of the screen, and of course, if the projection is in front of the performer and blocking them.
  • Fewer seats closer to the stage: This is an impact of the viewing angle. If you have a simple theater stage and a trope of dancing idols (let’s say, 16 of them). They can move in formation and engage all across the front edge of the stage. People at the front can look around and they’ll get their eyes full of performers. The performers can engage all parts of the stage at all angles. But if you put them behind a screen, first of all, you won’t be able to fit as many people because graphics can’t layer more than you have screens (eg., performers in staggered formations won’t really benefit from the mixed reality stuff when they are behind others, even if they are still plainly visible). Second, viewing angle comes in play again. If your normal act is 2-3-4-5 folks dancing around around a focal point on stage, then only really the area right in the center-front will get a good view. If you are side-front, well, it’s going to be kind of funky seeing the graphics not line up with the dancing. That said, I think Lapis Re:Lights can work this in their routines, even if generally this style of performance performs “for a camera” so to speak.
  • Limitation on stage layout: It’ll be pretty hard to have layered stages, elevation changes and formations, etc, if you have a screen. Not that you can’t, but the screen loses a lot of value. Of course you won’t be able to fly in the venue, or ride a whale. Or more commonly, it doesn’t work well with a cart, or when the performers walk around the stage freestyle and appeal to the crowd. Well you could, but what good is the screen? Like, the MR stuff is really just icing on top of solid dance formations at that point. Certainly a live can have both MR and normal parts, so there’s that. It’s also possible to have a moving stage with a screen, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

I think the standard Love Live style dancing works well with this gimmick. It’s also kind of an odd thing because it works even better with staged camerawork, but you might as well just edit the video in that case? But in Lapis Re:Lights’s case, it puts the hard work on the dancing seiyuu. They may still be seiyuu dancing as characters, but they gotta do those milkshake while singing. So in that sense this is nothing really worth writing home about. It is what was always going to bring the customers to the yard in the first instance.

What I find amusing, looking at the anime, is that the light tricks are literally that. The impressive things about the performances in the anime were the stage arrangements and how the performers interacted with the stage, plus the performance itself. The SFX were just as gimmicky in the anime as it is in real life. What is amusing and impressive with the anime “orchestras” are the stage direction and the fancy stages themselves. Using projector mapping seems a bit cheap looking when there literally are lives with fancy stages?

Having watch these, I feel like the usual known suspects are naturally good. Matsuda Risae particularly was noteworthy because I’ve seen her twin Satsumi perform for Cinderella Girls for quite a while now, so it’s good to have this reference.

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