THE IDOLM@STER Million Live! 9th Live Impressions, Thoughts

After the missing years of COVID, I was able to return and attend a Million Live solo show. Before 9th, I attended stops of 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 2 stops of 6th.

Since 6th Live, a lot has happened in the world. One thing is that IDOLM@STER has this official fan content guy (and the team he works with) to create post-concert review and talk streams. It’s actually quite nice and informative to relive the event. He also talks about the content in a fairly “first cut” sort of way that highlights what’s notable about every performance. It could be the performance, it could be the meaning for the character, it could be a historical reference, it’s good reference (if quite a bit).

Oh, the other big change is that there are now live streams for these shows, so we can immediately review the content after the fact. The streams are also available as archive here (paid) for a few more hours. As usual, I will try to tell it through the tweets and articles, along with my opinions. Before I dive in, worthwhile resources to review:


  1. Nostalgia from 4th Live…or not?
  2. Untz Untz Untz – the Remixes
  3. M@STER SPARKLE 2 series
  4. The Updating
  5. Stepping into 10th

So, the 765Million Stars (read as Namco Million Stars) performed their solo anniversary show at Nippon Budokan again. It’s a special place for Million Live, not only because of Thank You’s ever-self-fulfilling lyrics, but because of 4th Live. It’s interesting to me how people who didn’t go to 4th thinks of 9th, and how that vibe worked. During MC I think Kakumoto asked precisely this and less than half of the hands went up. While I think you can enjoy 9th quite a bit even if you are brand new to the series, the return to Budokan always will be a big deal thanks to 4th. Which is just to say, those of us who lived it, 4th is a big deal. That includes all of the cast at 9th. The other reason is because 9th plays a lot on 4th in a more literal sense. Not only it weights a lot on the performers (some more, or less than others), the setlist copies several of the bangers and repeated them.

To some members, 9th is revenge from an earlier time. To Million Live, I think the return to Budokan is a framing to show how far we have come in almost 6 years. To me what’s truly amazing is that the thirty-nine cast members are still all here and part of the series, even if not present at the show.

While every song performed at 9th was technically new, the old songs simply were “remixed” so instead of, say, Flooding, we have the ChoruSparkle mix of Flooding. ChoruSparkle, by the way, is basically how the show/stage/songs sparkle with the chorus of voices from the cast? Or some such. But every “old” song in 9th was on the set list for 4th, just remixed. Even aforementioned Thank You makes its inevitable return to Budokan in the Million Radio mix.

KO3’s remixes, to be super duper blunt and honest, like all remixes of loved classics, are hit and miss. From what I gathered among fan reactions, the opinions varied. Even AP Kassy himself had to pause on a couple of them, and he is the official fan shill, so I think it’s fair to say not every remix landed. Personally, I am biased towards EDM so some of them really hit me in a good spot. The runway model-esqe ending to Diamond Days, or the way Hanabidan became Paripdan, as it were, probably made it quite hype. The bass line to Hanazakari Weekend got upgraded and it’s a nice fit, but it didn’t need it. Primula didn’t need it, although I liked it! Etahamo kind of needed it, but not for the entire thing. Some of the songs are showing their age in terms of arrangement. But some songs probably should never get remixed, or at least like this. Eien no Hana was definitely the dud for me.

On the contrapositive side of things, No Sweet Sweet Soul is a huge miss as that song is *the* one you want a dance remix to. To me this is a big omission that JUNGO should have seen coming.

The remixes have several functional purposes. One, since this show is no-calls-allowed, putting the songs we were all too familiar with on a different timing or beat helps suppressing that instinct. It doesn’t make Eternal Harmony any easier to deal with, especially when the chorus part was retained (which is a JUNGO-ism…ChoruSparkle and all) and I couldn’t just scream out the lines. (Or, maybe I could have…)

The other main purpose is to brush up these oldies a tad and give them a new shine. The spotlight on 9th, as predicted going in, was about the Master Sparkle 2 series. I mean, it’s literally in the title of the show.

It turns out the MS2 series is full of bangers, modernized hits like Konomi’s “it’s me…” or songs about “another side” of the idols by giving everyone the slow song if they didn’t have one before, or that upbeat piece if they didn’t have one before. Some of them sorely needed one, and things turned out really well. I think this can be said of Tamaki, Sayoko, Nao, Miya, Reika, Yuriko, Kana, Subaru, Mirai, Tsubasa, and Serika.

And then there are just great songs from Anna, Mizuki, Roco, Karen, Megumi, and Emily. I want to harp on Emily’s Ebamoyo a bit because it’s my favorite song from MS2, and seeing it show off in 9th was a main objective for me. The song itself is about growth of herself by comparing it to layering threads to build the fabric of a beautiful kimono. It’s super weeb and it’s beautifully on-brand, yet in a way where captures that detail-oriented, emotionally considerate and nuanced way of thinking that is just the extra mile beyond real-life weebness. It’s also about an idol who is approaching ten years old on this great planet and is in sorely need of more character development, 4 solos in. That’s two and a half year for each song!

To my surprise, this time the stage design was equally beautiful, and in terms of stage direction and artistic design, 9th is way better than 4th, which was closer to a circus than a proper idol concert in some ways. Maybe you can call it JUNGO’s revenge but 9th was very much about building up the character songs this time, and thankfully MS2 is the strongest batch of them, possibly the best since LTH (which powered 3rd tour and 4th live–the best live era for the franchise by my opinion, largely thanks to that fact).

During day one I was particularly looking forward to Koi no WA WO N, Kimagure Humorusque, and Spotlight Mirrorland (this is just an anime OP isn’t it?). Day two was Play GO Round, Reach the Sky, Moonrise Belief, Yue ni Nandesu, Beautiful Believer, and Perfect Game. I hate to say this but you can compare this with my impression from ML5th, which was the comp to 9th. Despite the fact that I still like many MS songs, MS2 is just that much better that it can take attention away from the rest of it.

[I did call Arisa the Elon Musk of idols huh.]

In this live update, ML9th displayed the various colors of the characters. That’s what I really wanted to say. The characters are beyond sophomore but yet far from seniors. They needed a fourth character song solo series. ML5th is sort of this awkward turning point between games. ML9th is this awkward show between 10th anniversary merely a month away and a lost year no thanks to COVID-19 shutting things down. I mean did they book Budokan years ago because that’s when 10th is? And there’s MOIW just a couple weeks before? This must means 10th is going to be all of 2023 right?

Yes, it turns out that the flurry of activities surrounding the Million Live’s upcoming anime will overlap with Million Live 10th Live, as it is a 4-stop tour. Maybe it’ll be 5 stops, but unlikely given the final one is in Yokohama, slated for a stadium that hasn’t even been done building. This also mean I went home from ML9th with a long list of to-dos, because, hell, I didn’t know all of this would happen in 2023.

Since this is more a post about 9th than 10th, I’ll just switch gear and go into bullet time. Listing these stray thoughts probably makes better word economy, although that never stopped me anyways…

  • 10th Tour has 4 Acts. Act 1 is 1st to 4th, and Act 2 is 5th to 9th, right? That’s what the names mean. Kasshi sort of hinted at this as well, and compared this to what CG 10th did, but nobody really knows what the final show is going to be in Feb 2024.
  • I hate how the movie is going to be fully pre-screened in August and September before it airs properly in October of Fall 2023. I don’t hate on people getting to watch it early, but man, this data disparity sucks, in a world running on social media, this is just not the way it should go. And it’s not even a poverty thing, just pure access pain for about 3 months when the anime is available before we can see it all. Since it’s an anime, it’s going to suffer through the usual licensing problems for global distribution. I’m assuming a streaming service is going to be able to let you binge it? Any one will do, because it will get ripped immediately lol. That said I plan to catch some of it at least, if I can make it back to the country.
  • Did anyone mention that April 29 is way too soon?
  • The food I had on this weekender to ML9th was wonderful. We hit up a semi-celebrity chef’s A5 Yakiniku place. They have their own beef variety and it tastes a good hybrid of A5 grease and meatiness. I got to go to another A5 wagyu place for uchiage and it was pretty solid, just maybe not the costpa.
  • The stage, the lighting and the presentation at 9th was great. It is one of my favorite of such things from all of Million. It’s interesting because most of the time, the allure of the Million Live concerts is about the casts’ own allure and the songs and performances–like if it’s orimen, or a cover, or what twist the show will give something familiar. For a show mostly about new songs (MS2), we got a really cool asymmetric stage that plays to the vertical presentation (which suits Budokan) and a lot of LED displays, making the thing pretty colorful from afar. It’s really too bad that the video don’t really capture the full look well. This jumps out at me for some songs; some others are not as fully engaging and more traditional in terms of focusing on just the performer.
  • For the cast members, some say that returning to Budokan is a form of revenge, that they can do better than they did the last time. To me this was more like a revenge from 5th live, which was the show that went through the MS series. That show definitely was a bit rocky and some things just was a lot better in 9th. What made this link click for me is not just the “format” of the show, but also they did the pose from 5th during Diamond Days?
  • There is a cast commentary stream also available before the end of the archive viewing period, which gives a bit more insight. I hope I can finish watching those LOL.
  • Runway Diamond Days is great. I love that little bits in the song with the posing.
  • On the live viewing stream, some P commented “Senkou Paripi-dan” after the Hanabi remix started rolling and it took hold. I heard it from the P no Mi stream but yeah. Is great.
  • The “kirai” slayed. The suki bounced off me like water. The cutest water.
  • I loved Ebamoyo’s performance. Sure, it’s my favorite MS2, so that made me easy marks. The stage transformed into this pretty kimono pattern and Yucha delivered what she could on stage. Everyone lifted that performance in a way where it felt powerful genchi.
  • Notable was Chikuwa and Yucha who did not perform in some of the group songs, but did perform Seven Count and Thank You, besides their respective solos. Makes you think they had already practiced Seven Count before either of them went on medical break which made them miss practice (Chikuwa for a leg injury and Yucha from Covid).
  • Speaking of pre-show, WakachikoP (Wakako Hazama, one of the producer for Million Live) coordinated with the audience 30 minutes before the show started to record our clapping sounds, to be used in the upcoming anime.
  • WakachikoP also showed up at the exhibit on Sunday about an hour before and greeted fans!
  • Just as an aside, I had an event on day 1 before ML and also day 2 before ML. On day one I went to Azabu Area Meeting (Denonbu) at Shinkiba, and taxi’d back. On day two I went to a Seaside Communcations event at the Science Museum down the road from Budokan. The talk show lasted about two hours and change which gave me plenty time to walk 10 minutes back to Nippon Budokan.
  • There were on-and-off light rain at the venue, which wasn’t too problematic.
  • The subway stop right in front of Budokan (Kudanshita) had some Million Live promo. After the announcement on day 1 two more pillars and signs went up.
  • A big reason ML9th feels a bit of a setup is because there was not much of new stuff. Well, there were A LOT of new stuff, but not much of realization. We did get a taste of the new anniversary song, but it was clubbed with this tear jerker music video from all the live footage….and then they sell 10th Tour on you. Which starts in April. ARGH. I have to say though, Crossing! is pretty okay so far! the ML new logo refresh is OK so far!

I’ve rambled long enough. I gather I still need more time to fully decompress and pick out all the remaining memories in the crevices of my brain grooves, while studying the film. It is always a big deal to fly for a show like this, meet friends I haven’t seen since COVID, and have a great time together. It also helps I really like the content to begin with? That’s a win-win-win. I’m hoping to continue the streak in 2023 while keeping my money and time spends down at sane levels. Maybe it’s not possible. Maybe it is. There’s only one way to find out.

PS. Where’s the mix reality stuff? Soon?

PPS. Went to this beer place the day before the show, which names their microbrews after IM@S songs.

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