The æ„›: Million Live 8th Live Impressions

I write this just as after Aimi announced that she will take a roughly 2-month break from work activity to treat a chronic health condition, so let me start this by wishing her a speedy and complete recovery. During the final MC segment on day two, Aimi jokingly gave us her æ„› as she is christened, so the rest of us (including those also on stage at the time) joked that she is now just 美 (her stage name is 愛美 as written in Japanese). She said we can return it on White Day (or something). But, now, I wonder what she was thinking when she said that! I guess there’s the archive stream I can review.

So despite the gasp of hope we had late last year, the Omicron variant shut down Japan’s borders yet again and inside the country cases has exploded to new heights just late last week. None of that means anything compared to the power of æ„›, as in Japan’s take on Valentine’s Day. Million Live has its big number live as a Valentine’s Day event, a first, which is really just a regular concert with a Valentine Day’s theme.

So, here are thoughts about Million Live 8th. You can still watch it until the end of the week here (paid stream).

Oh, new anime teaser dropped.

As for absences, COVID did take out Koiwai Kotori who contracted it just the week before. Ueda Reina has a conflict, Itou Miku also had a conflict (but she separately caught COVID also a week earlier and couldn’t go to that), and finally Toda Megumi is still rehabilitating from her back injury and couldn’t participate. Other than them, the rest of the cast was present at the event and performed. The non-participants all have in-character segments before the show as usual, each appearing alongside the days their units would appear. Because Kokkochan’s last-minute swap out, we did see some unusual changes–Muujun no Tsuki now has Kokko’s line sang by backing track! This might be the first time I’ve seen this happen at an im@s event, but also it meant the live viewing/streaming camera had to show us the dances instead of always zooming on the singer.

Before the live, we were told in clear terms that 8th is an Unit Live, and it turned out that everyone even performed in unit completely, including songs they cover later on, which didn’t have to be in units. Maybe it made practices easier to deal with? But this is new–it’s a lot like what Shiny Colors and SideM does now.

Being an unit live did mean we expected unit costumes, and more over unit songs with covers later. It’s a lot like ML6th tour, which was based on the MTG units. The first half of the show, the units each performed in turn. Second half of the show, this time, were romance or love songs associated with the Valentine’s Day theme.

Official site.

Day 1:
Official news and setlist
Detail setlist

Official news and setlist
Detail setlist

Kasshi on P no Mi, AP stream day 1 and day 2.

The key thing that made 8th work is that they covered songs–all kinds of songs, although they kept it to songs from ML or songs in the Theater Days game if they weren’t. On day one both Azusa’s solos from MLTD. TintMe covered Dear…and Konomi was performing on the same day. This is exactly what Kahara Yuu dropped on MOR Omake during Yamaki Anna’s “M@STER SONGS” episode… I guess that was a big tip?

Throughout day 1 and day 2 I was stuck wondering what each unit would cover. TintMe was definitely the galaxy brain one. (My pet theory is that Watanabe Keiko somehow tells the staff what she wants to sing, and it gets done.) Opera Seria covered the song that is right up my alley, so I was happy as pie. Hanasakuya covered the banger we sorta expected, but since it was the first cover it was just that, no chance to even expect it. Nageki no Fraction is a great choice and a challenge for this duo. But none was like Kimidori, which entirely blew my mind with a band cover of Praline.

Oh yeah, just like 6th, there were some guest performers. Kimidori had a guitarist, keyboard, and DJ to round out really playing the three songs. It was a sublime moment when they all started playing Praline. It’s one thing to “be” the characters but it’s another level to both achieve that and musically bring the power of the live music to the concert format, leaping off the rhythm game/story commu. It isn’t merely representation of Kimidori, but it is realization/actualization of Kimidori. It was sublime, in short.

The biggest act on day 1 had to be Opera Seria Kiramekiza, but by the time they roll on stage as the last unit, I was already pretty satisfied? Still, the musical-style show only materialized as their orimen songs, featuring a very ikemen Kori Arisa. Everything about it was great, to me anyways. Suwa Ayaka and Taneda Risa shows up on this feeling od

Opera Seria Kiramekiza was the other day-1 group that had special guest dancers, besides the usual team of back dancers (who are credited in the pamphlet). I couldn’t get the full list of the special guest dancers, but these dancers are regulars on musical productions and they performed both as back dancers for Opera Seria and 3 of them were also part of the team of four on day 2’s performance for Chikaamor. Day 2’s other special guest is the giant-sized Akanechang for Trick & Treat, and there is not much else to say about that.

For day 2, cover-wise, Jus-2-Mint’s Tsuioku no Sandglass was the big curveball, since they used the sky_delta remix from the LTP remix series. For the most part, Jus-2-Mint slayed as you would expect, with Yuiton donning the 1-to-1 costume yet again. On the heso front, Yuiton was on par with Machico for sure. It was like, dark heso versus light heso (speaking of outfits). Fleuranges did Ordinary Clover, including the tea-pouring appeal dance. Mocho was extremely cute throughout the event, especially in that outfit. Chrono-Lexica played it very straight, although the Maria Trap’s cover felt both spot-on and a hat-tip to Kokko’s absence. It felt also like the four of them were walking on stilts the entire time (they wore high, hard platform heels).

For day 2’s big JUNGO moment, it was probably Cat Crossing with Trick & Treat, but that one felt more like a pun than anything actually punchy. Eternal Spiral was the one song people forgot about but generically appropriate for ChikAAmor. This straight-punch outcome also gave us KimiAsu from Ichipomu, which was fine, sniff.

Just to also mention: ChikAAmor shows that the suit makes the gentleman, but so does the dress for the lady. Or is that both? I’m glad this unit exists, if only to really platform Komagata Yuri. Nomura shows off her charms here very well.

From a Trysailor’s point of view, Day 2 had Mocho cover a bunch of Nansu/Anna songs. That was pretty fun. I think Nansu will go ham on this later…

From a personal point of view, Day 2 had more Matsuri, in some ways, than Day 1. I really enjoyed that Princess à la Mode…covered by the chef and the dessert eater, I guess. I dig the crowd doing green lights for this, thank you fellow Ps. Also, Jitensha??? Is this allowed? I jest, but some of these covers are totally “hotchpotch” level in that these are just songs the cast want to sing I think? Okay, sure, shouting SUKI DA YO is appropriate for a V-day live, but all of day 2’s cover block just chafed all the attendees who can’t do calls (due to COVID measures). I mean, when was the last time people did Happy Darling? I almost felt bad for those at the venue. Almost.

Having the concert available as a live stream meant a lot of people watched it and tweeted it. Sure, it’s not the same as being at the actual venue and participating, but it makes available one of the important part of this franchise and brand in a way that is much more accessible, and immediate. Ps tweeted their real-time opinions as the event went, and so did the cast who were able to watch it. It certainly makes writing this impressions post easier as I can review the footage LOL. Looking up the cast impression and Kasshi-san’s videos, it definitely made everything a lot more apparent, in terms of the feelings from the viewers to the cast, that a lot of first-timers were at this live after watching the previous streaming concerts, and that the real-time SNS posts and comments on the stream provided an emotional outlet for those watching by themselves, and that act created a record of our collective feelings.

Anyways, ML8th was a great fun time, with all the usual marks of Million Live being their silly selves. They are, as the song goes, seichouchuu lovers, on a weekend before Valentine’s Day. It was an emotional rollercoaster from funny jokes, gut-punching mismatches, shocking reveals, not-so-shocking reveals, avoiding the FBI, fuego🔥, D4DJ, and hot crossdressing. There’s even an audio mishap and a streaming disruption thrown in there just for good measures. (Fleuranges covering Super Duper when?)

I really enjoyed this show and, in summary, ML8th showcases the strongest aspect of the sub-brand of IDOLM@STER: great songs, great entertainment on the stage, and a great time linking the games, the characters, and a slice of reality in performances and fans.

PS. You can watch the archive stream until the end of the week–just need to create a Japanese Bannam ID, and purchase the stream using any credit card that works in Japan or internationally.

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