On Million 7th Reburn, Online Events

Since I only watched IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE 7thLive Q@MP FLYER!!! Reburn (that is a mouthful) online, I did not actually travel to Fuji-Q Highlands Conifer Forest to participate in the audience. There is a world of difference between going to a concert live in person, versus watching it in the comfort of home (although I enjoyed the comfort of someone else’s home, not mine). As a fan of the franchise, and especially the live concert part of this franchise, I think there is enough in the remote viewing experience to count for something.

Anyways, I will save the pontification later. First, on ML 7th.

(I had wondered by what “Conifer Forest” meant but it gets clearer if you see it.)

The show was a two-day affair. The entire crew of 39 was short of three (Nomura, Yukke, and Todakun), and the rest of the 36 showed up between the two days about evenly. Let’s get right into it. I kind of hot-blogged it on twitter so I will just crawl through that and flesh things out.

Official site news & setlist day 1, day 2 – IM@S-DB setlist day 1, day 2 (which has performers).

In case you didn’t know, ML 7th live was supposed to be last May, but they decided to postpone it to 2021, and adding “Reburn” to the concert name. This is the first IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE outdoors concert. Because the show is outdoors, rain or shine, the official site has been showing us the Teru Teru Boozu made by the cast. Due to the changing waves of COVID infection in Asia and Japan, originally the show did not have a live stream (an archive stream is available but will be available in June), but a live stream was added about 2 weeks earlier as COVID infections changed for the worse in the region, forcing some theatrical live viewings to shut down (including all the ones in Taiwan).

Over the years, Million has always wanted to do fireworks at their shows. Being outdoors let them do that, which they did. Properly big ones. Second, it’s the 7th live in that while we are at the 8th year of the franchise, and it’s not the 8th show the series have done, it’s effectively the 7th main concert series/show. One last thing, Fuji-Q is in Yamanashi Prefecture, at the base of Mount Fuji, and it’s an amusement park/resort/camp ground sort of facility. (BTW: check out Yurucamp, which takes place in Yamanashi).

On the note of camping, ML7th employs a camping theme. This means I have some metal cups at my Tenso storage… But also the outfits, stage and all that has this outdoor camping theme. The performers wore walking/hiking shoes. Some of the outfits have hoods and seems to be water-repellant. More importantly they look really good!

Here are some more from Day 1 of the show. I will add some tweets and links from both days throughout the rest of the post.

I would even add that the backup dancer outfits look nice in the same way. The overall skirt asthetics with a miniskirt cut really does wonder, even if that is closer to an optical illusion (for those with longer legs). The skirt lengths also vary with some cast members. The suspenders also causes a certain effect lol. Even the hiking jacket look is great, I think, giving it a chic autumn vibe, if you can handle some of the odder color combos.

For long timers, just note that the show’s order felt similar to previous anniversary lives. The big brained moment is realizing 7th was full of older Million Live songs, which is a bit of a reflection of the Platinum Theater events from the game this year. For old folks like me, it’s hearing songs you haven’t heard since 3rd or 4th. It kind of blows my mind that the pivot to Theater Days was so hard, but at the same time it isn’t like those songs disappeared, the management just didn’t put them on much at all.

The nostalgia factor for me was not as strong as it might be, actually. I have made peace about things like Legend Girls or Blue Symphony–I mean it’s been so many years I sorta had to, both in terms of play frequency and the orimen issue. When I see all of day 1 performers do Legend Girls, though, I still feel it and the good vibes came right away.

The other unexpected thing 7th gave us was group-singing the solo songs. This is a technical power move because some seiyuu and some songs (sometimes one and the same) can use more, uh, horsepower (also partly why idols are in groups, too). Singing in a group, harmonizing, filling out the sound waves just give a more humanly-pleasant sensation. Also, taking existing songs and giving them to new units or teams opened the book to new interpretations and fulfilling some hints in the Million Live dramas from events and CD releases. Some are cast wishlists. Some are also just dumb Jungo jokes.

Another thing about Million Live these days is the hair game. The cast often do something special for the big show every year. Pyon has since migrated to extensions and wigs years ago (and I guess being a former fan cosplayer helps with this). Some dyed the hair just for the show, like Chouchou and Aimi. Some wore extensions like Miina. See the tweets in this post I guess, but lowkey Rietion’s twin tails wins my reward for best hairdo. Suwa wore an extension this time, and added the green strand. Tanechan’s wig made me think of Strike the Blood for some reason, even if it’s obviously Kotoha’s look.

Back to day 1. The first segment seems to be about sports. Then it transitions into friends and children. Then it goes into this powerful slow song segment which is extremely effective against me, and that leads into halftime. I really enjoyed the Reika solo with Pirami and Chaki, because Chaki’s vocal adds an extra timbre to a really stretchy and positive tune. Big Balloon is always a personal favorite and we got Chaki giving us a “guru guru” motion which is…just slow cyclone. Official Cyclone in Million now?

The Animal Station group song was great neta. There was Cat Tenchan, but also Elephant Minamichan which is just lol.

One trick that happened on day one first half was how Kouri in Good Sleep Baby acted like a vocal teacher, played games with the other three cast members, and semi-tucked them into sleep. Then those three slept through Yumeiro Train right after. Also since Big Balloon was before Good-Sleep Baby, Keishama, Akarichan and Denchan joined the last part of the song with balloons (almost … 4th-like?).

Now Yumeiro Train with Mocho and Yucha was extremely, extremely, cute and fun. I can’t say how much fun this song is, you can see for yourselves. Now we have twice the cute–Mocho and Yuucha really have the same powers when it comes to this type of appeals. Both sporting twintails. Just so good.

After wiping the slate clean with a full-crew Do the IDOL!! (5 people sing the first part but everyone shows up half way, armed with plushies) and the half-time MC, the songs resume with more oldies on day 1. (And also day 2.) The cast start to swap in their jacket/alt outfits as well.

Day 1 second half starts mid-tempo with SUPER SIZE LOVE but also some slower chunks in Yuukaze Melody. Kokoro Kaeru Basho is reminiscent of 10th. Then suddenly, it’s KPOP time with Super Duper. It’s the one of the newish songs that would have their proper debut delayed by COVID, and predicted by cast list. Also, there was Hyakka wa Geka no Chirinuruo. Those flip the mood of the show towards the final ramp up to climax. It also feels like the new songs have slightly more amped up choreo versus the old dances that, at this point, I can furicopy at 5am in the morning. I mean Hyakka has a lot of torso moves, and Super Duper is more about positions. Anyways.

At some point in the second half of the show, two things happened. One, the sun goes from “up” into “twilight” and then sets. Second, there was this weird music interlude where the cast and dancers come out with lanterns and lines the H-shaped stage with them. I am not sure the significance of this, maybe it is a take on a certain camping tradition? Or do they just want to show everyone off with the hoods on? I don’t know.

As the sun sets we got some interesting songs, like all these star-inspired songs on day 1, which happened after darkness started set. The deep dark forest vibe gives Million Live shows something it has never had. Acoustic Ryuuseigun with Momoko was preordained from the CD drama, perhaps, but the effect was a campfire singalong. Too bad they didn’t play up that aspect. It was really memorable.

The full crew ends the last part of the day with brave HARMONY. At that point I was just loaded with emotion surviving Hoshikuzu Symphony and Standing Alive. The overcast sky has parted enough to show us a glimpse of the moon, but that was it, by the encore.

One other thing I want to mention with adding random folks to old songs is that Kouri and Minami are just new to all of this, being added to the series with Theater Days. Kouri especially has a big voice, she can lean it big if she wants to (like Yuukaze no Melody), or just punchy in Hoshikuzu. Minami is not as powerful but it’s really nice to add some freshness too where she could.

And it makes sense. During Greemas era, some of these songs were performed quite a bit, so the pause and shuffling the performers made all the sense to me. I think Million Live should keep doing this, it’s part of what people liked from back when, orimen issues aside. Farming solos to make them into group songs can be extremely powerful. Making Charlotte*Charlotte sing old Emily solo like Kimi Dake no Kakera is just medicine for my soul.

That’s pretty much day one.

Day 2 basically follows the same pattern, but the live stream got upgraded a lot. During day one, there were minor technical nitpicks–faint feedback, uneven audio volumes (especially between mics and backing tracks), the drone shots didn’t work well after the live started (Before the live we got a lot of camera footage of the venue from drones and cameras around), and the shot coordination just was not as good as day 2. I think it adds up to a lot, and it explains why they wanted to do the archive a month later, so they can fix it all up. Part of it might also be the weather, as the sun was out properly, along with tops 20% cloud cover. The uniform and bright light probably do wonders with just shot comps alone than heavy overcast as it was on day 1. Mt. Fuji was in full view on day 2, by the way.

Also new on day 2 was a tribute message from Ayumu, whose cast member Todakun had to drop out due to a sports injury with her back. The venue played Beat the World over the speakers and the Ps spun their towels in tribute.

Day 2’s chemistry shifted more from heavy hitting vocals to more like, the soul of Million Live concerts to me. Sure, cute Japanese voice actresses prancing around in a cute outfit singing cute songs and bangers are still the thing there, but the soul of what makes up Million seems to be more laid bare. Like, odd ball songs like Zettaiteki Performer (the waves didn’t work that well by the way) or NO CURRY NO LIFE, as well as eternal bangers like Eternal Harmony and Growing Storm. Adding to that list is Cherry Colored Love, which gets its first live performance. Miina and ChikuwaP adored matching cherry earrings, which was really cute, plus that skirt addon…

It’s also appreciating what we got, which is original member Seichouchu Lovers and Jireru Heart o Hi wo Tsukete. Or the eternal heso of Machico.

The remixed performers on solos also gave us all kinds of jokes. Like Miya playing soccer in Elena’s solo. Mirai and Roco faces off in the sequel match of Big Bang Volleyball which was just luls. Hop Step Rainbow was playful in a “Yukiyo and her sisters” kind of way, which can never come across solo. Miya and Noriko bike together in My Pace My Way. Then again, when you throw TSV into Kawaranai Mono, what does that even mean? I guess this was one “unit” that is indeed “forever”? Or is it just to see them with the sunset? I laughed at Star Elements Mirai Hikou and Under the Orange Sky during sunset, almost as much as I enjoyed seeing Maru doing Marionette…

A slight difference between day 1 and day 2 Do the IDOL was the chupa grips some cast members had. Like the obviously death grip from Abe Rika. Or the wrist bands that connects the plushies to their other arms. The five credited singers on day 2 wore the chupa plushes like purses, complete with scarfs. It is quite cute.

What else was notable? A lot–but for the sake of keeping this recall from any more overgrown than it already is, let’s just say that Miina had tweeted about singing Sirius, so she did. The IDOLM@STER 15th theme song, Nandodemo Waraou, has its first live performance on Day 1, and again on Day 2. We got an announcement for an announcement stream (on June 7th), so I figured we didn’t get any real news–will we get 8th, though? They did leak us the new splash screen.

The original concept of Q@MP FLYER!!! was to unveil Glow Map, the series theme song from 2020. Glow Map plays out in the game just like how the song would in a theoretical 7th Live, which is now a real thing, complete with the cast running to center stage and, as mentioned earlier, the fireworks. It is also funny how they used stage-top sparklers and saved sky-bridging bombs for the last song, Thank You. The live ended on that note with the usual COVID-era clapping encore interlude. Having no yellowing is always a bummer but I think everyone took it into account and made the best of it.

There was an official producer message submission project, which you can see above–since gifts, flower stands, etc. were all banned for the event.

In this time of uncertainty with live shows, I don’t know what we can really do. I think it’s going to be up to concert organizers and companies to respect the health of their customers and employees, and the underlying guideline set by science and government authorities. I’m just glad ultimately 7th happened and it can provide much-wanted relief for Ps and the staff.

Which is to just to say, this is why I think watching this livestream meant almost as much as being in person, even if the experience is quite different. Being able to participate in the event remotely means you still have that connection with what happens. It’s a bit of a slight of hand or change of perspective, but it is in the territory of being a self-subscribed fan in a well-defined fandom. You know you are climbing the mountain, you feel the resistance. It’s different if you were independently wealthy or can torrent it, so you watch it out of morbid curiosity, but if you care for the thing, your love shows through no matter how, really.

In as much as pilgrimaging the concert in person is no doubt a mark of climbing that hill, doing an online stream is just another form–maybe a ski lift–that helps you participate in the same thing. We recognize they are different, yet it is the same stuff you are ultimately consuming.

Which is also to say, as someone in US Eastern Time, it’s hard to take it easy at 4, 5am in the morning. Laid back music acts or even not-that-boring talk shows are hard to enjoy when you are barely awake. Timeshift is great. And the same principles apply there. Of course, this is on top of the general problems of buying anything from Japan: the language barrier, the payment processor barrier, the network barrier (which, in the COVID era, is pretty much minimal now), and even knowing that it exists and where to find it.

Which is all just to say, having been equipped with this information, and the means to access and Produce (capital P), I made 7th Reburn a weekend and watched it at a fellow P’s house. It is way more fun watching it with other fans, and that’s something live streaming will never quite replace. I still was chatting on discord and twitter during the show, which can be a challenge, but it’s a ton of fun.

PS. I would be remiss to not talk also about the Assistant Producer Youtube streams, which gives you both a back-stage kind of look (more like, front stage but up close?) at the live and going through the whole concert and highlight all the meaningful things. They made a playlist of all the videos they’ve made for 7th, including p-card exchanges and pre-show discussions.

PPS. A lot of creative staff also watch/enjoy/live tweet the concert streams. But lately the costumers (plus81costume) have been writing a bit, and it’s worth noting here for ML7th. “Is it adrenaline?” It’s the feels… Your outfits were lovely and novel! If anyone wants to know the details on the outfits form the show, that tweet has a lot of the details.

PPPS. The next Theater event is Refrain Kiss, itself a massive banger. What’s neat was that fans already noticed is the featured artwork comes from a legendary scene from 4th.

PPPS. Obligatory: JUNGO ONORE lol.

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