Category Archives: Conventions and Concerts

Anime Weekend Atlanta 2017: Wrap

AWA came and went. I was in the middle of another “eventing sprint” so to speak, this time things felt rather last-minute. In August I did 2 weekends back to back: Anirevo in Vancouver, then Otakon, and after one more gap weekend I went to Anisama (didn’t want to make Animefest to become a 4-in-a-row). In September I attended a nerd wedding (which I guess isn’t so bad other than for sleep) and related stuff, AWA, and Hotch Potch Festival in Japan the week after. In other words, I was dying. So dead, I wasn’t able to finish this post until well after Hotch Potch.

Main interests at AWA this year was Luna Haruna, Bless4, and Ueda Kana. Bonus was Daoko and being to catch some miscellaneous guests like Takahashi Taku, Hanafugetsu, the Strike Witches guys, and the veteran Naruto seiyuu folks. I whiffed completely on the last group, but I already saw two of them before at other cons. Also, it’s always nice to hang out with other folks and see some new people.

This post is gonna be brief, because I forgot a lot of the finer details to bemuse on.

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Eventer Police Meta

I think it’s generally expected that people behave like sensible, mature adults. But I don’t know if that is always the best course of action or the most interesting thing to do in all cases. More importantly, it’s not a realistic expectation.

I’m just going to sound off on this post a bit. Please read it if you haven’t yet.

Of the online reaction to “yakkai” this past week as a result of people complaining over little things there are a lot of things I personally reacted to, or found noteworthy.

  • Police exists in EN Love Live community. I want to know how it started, what people felt had to happen, etc. I don’t really keep tabs on the Japan side of things for Love Live, but I think the JP LL Police types have a hard time. Doubly so for oversea LL Police types? But wait, why does oversea LL Police even exist?
  • People don’t even know what yakkai is but they’re using the term, which I think is why Rop posted the second post partly.
  • It’s not a 1% of anything is trash kind of thing. It’s about leadership and fostering maturity within the fandom I think. Yes, there will always be some bad apples and the whine will always be highly visible, but there are still some “good” and “bad” fandoms, and what separate them is not statistics, but people investing into their community in a positive and mature way.
  • People don’t even know the context of things. Rop’s post gives a continuum, but I think it’s only really applicable for Japan. It’s not the case over in the USA at least–most people, after all, have not been eventing in Japan, so it would be pretty hard to explain to people how it works conceptually this way. More importantly, there are a lot of layers (not inclusive list)–
    • Live is not the same as a live viewing. Watching something in a movie theater necessarily mean you can’t do certain things you could in the live, and you could certain things you can’t in the live.
    • There’s a big picture fandom perspective that, obviously, some people don’t care about. Like, it’s fine to ietaiger, it’s not going to hurt anyone. But it’s not good to do things I mentioned in this post, that I saw people do at my LL2nd viewing. It’s not just dangerous, but that level of “bothersome behavior [TL Note: Yakkai]” causes problem for the management, not just other attendees. It’s not about presenting the fandom as good or uniform, but you don’t want to cause problems to the organizers, if you want them to keep doing live screenings?
    • Should fans from different countries and cultures behave the same as Japanese fans anyway? I don’t think it has to be like that.

To me, I don’t/can’t really talk about this without taking about it in the meta as well. So one meta here is that Rop is kind of a police type, if you didn’t know him and just read the 2 blog posts he wrote. It’s a pretty clear bias. It’s not a problem or an issue–he currently resides in Japan and Japanese society is rather police-like overall already, so it is only expected to hear him take a more harmonious view. I think however that is something of a lowest-common-denominator kind of approach to this.

Appealing to authority and making artists sad are also things I don’t really care for in the general context–these are things that Rop build his arguments on, at some level. The consumption of art is personal ultimately. Sure, fans should behave like, well, mature and sensible adults. But from an individualist view, I don’t really think it’s a big deal to cause a ruckus. That’s like the foundation of live performances for some scenes. Of course, it’s as Rop describes, it’s a spectrum. Even in America people need to not KY, but at the same time the level of forgiveness is a lot higher, the tolerance for violence is higher, and these kinds of things don’t “ruin” fandoms and people over here as easily.

I think it’s also a lot simpler than that. Manipulating fandom is easier when the artist gets involved, and if you need to keep fans within lines, that’s one way to do it. I think Anisama in 2017 sort of tried to do it their own way, and while it might be hamfisted (the initial rules they put out caused some online complaints), the method employed suggests they respect the attendee’s freedom to house tiger or do things along those lines. From a management perspective, they want to crack down on the craziest fans and the people who go too deep into the meta, by heading them off before things cross the line into the totally-unacceptable.

Speaking of which, Anisama, for those people who’d play the yakkai game, is its own game for “creative” expressions. What Rop’s informative posts don’t explain are some of the context behind the behavior–why do people run around during Days of Dash? Because it’s Anisama and it’s pretty awesome, the song works with it. And it’s one of those things people end up doing at anikura/wotagei events subsequently, thanks to Anisama. Anisama’s yakkai stuff, sometimes, is what I’d call clearly right and proper side of things. It is its own game, even if it breaks the rules (spoken and unspoken) sometimes.

Of course, you shouldn’t do all of these, to an extent, because the purpose of Anisama is the performers and the live, but performance art is both for artists and audiences, and I think any pro musician has to respect this on some level. Personally I think it’s okay to be yakkai if it will lead to a net positive outcome, so take that as you will. (This applies not just to concerts, but life in general, don’t you think?)

A good example of what I mean is touching the performer–it’s okay to try to high-five them as they walk past, but don’t make it an opt-out instead of an opt-in, if you know what I mean. Which, I guess, goes to why a lowest-common-denominator approach is sensible–because you can’t expect wotas to not be KY and follow common sense and be mature, etc. The online responses of some folks as a fallout of the Love Live 2nd viewing doesn’t do a lot to prove that stereotype wrong.

Which is just to say, the damage of house tiger is way less than the people reacting to yakkai. It is kind of silly to blow it up online, since the perceived damage, to me, is much worse than just some people yelling during a live viewing. I mean here is Rop, a guy in Japan and didn’t go to any of the viewings in North America, telling how some eventers should to behave, only because you made a ruckus online? LOL. I do appreciate his educational posts but at the same time, like my posts, they’re more for people who probably don’t need to read them in order to feel persuaded to make an attitude change. Ultimately, it takes a level of maturity and sense of responsibility, as well as a degree of not being too KY. These are not qualities that a person can be “persuaded” into having. You are either one of those kind of people, or not. Hopefully Father Time will give you a good teaching as you get older if you are not already one of those people.

PS. It’s totally OK to wave non-penlights/towels at Anisama. I waved a banana for Angela at Anisama, during Aho Girl’s Zenryoku Summer, because they did it in the PV and used it as a cyalume. And I saw at least 3 other folks who did too (out of possibly thousands). Use your judgment–it shouldn’t be that hard.

Hotch Potch Festival

The IDOLM@STER ran a 2-day live event where the 765Pro All Stars and the Million Stars collaborated on two nights of live performances. The info from the official site is here. This blog post is me trying to describe and unpack what there is to unpack from my little feeble brain. God knows I am not really steep into lore (the type who would look down on people because I produced Hibiki from the Arcademas days, as the joke goes–that joke is also an example of what kind of unpacking I will be doing here) so this is just a fraction of what’s made up of Hotch Potch Festival.

Conceptually on paper, or at least as the live pamphlet and the live MC go, Hotch Potch is about a nabe where good ingredients gets put into the pot, and some ingredients are synergistic. Maybe some are not, and maybe even worse some counteract. The idea is if the nabe is good, all the ingredients are playing some role(s) to improve the experience.

Of the 52 Million Live + OG guys, 48 are present. We didn’t have Tanechan, Ibuibu (who was in Okinawa as part of Everying final tour), Matsuda Arisa’s Rietion, and our favorite baseball tomboy represented by UK-Mrs. Trunks. Tanechan’s outage continues, and I believe this seals Jireha, Blue Symphony and Thank You @ Budokan. Originally I thought they’d do at least Thank You, but nope.

On paper, this combine live between Million Stars and 765Pro All Stars is an extension of what IM@S Taiwan has done. This means we’ll get 765Pro classics, and some of the Million Live songs that originally features 765Pro idols. On top of that we might get a new song (ToP!!!!!!!!!!!!! namely) and some fun collabs.

Well, I guess that’s exactly what we got, in hindsight. But what we got was not what we expected. Or at least, I don’t think anyone expected Ai LIKE Hamburger, Merry, or Honey Heartbeat. I didn’t think anyone would have called Sweet Sweet Soul, Kyouki Ranbu, or “Surprise! It’s Aimi on guitar!”

Before I go too far off the rails, here is the set list for both days (25 songs each) and the last time since they were performed by IM@S. Merry was last performed in IM@S 5th, so that’s 7 years since. Smile Taisou is runner up (I mean, OMG?) as it was last done during 6th. My own favs like Little Match Girl and Hamburger were last done during Festival of Winter and 8th, just over 1700 and 1400 days ago respectively.

This factor alone was dynamite. Not only was the surprise you experience in person something to grapple with, the fact that your IM@S bucket list is being checked off was another thing to deal with. It can also be hard to grasp the significance sometimes, like hearing Curtain Call again–last performed since 10th–or realizing Hasegawa Akiko and Kugimiya Rie are the only two original singers, AND 765Pros, who have now performed 99 Nights?

Just to sum up this intro thought, the one feeling I got from Hotch Potch Festival is “pushing” or “continuity” in having Million Live perform with the 765Pros. It might just be my cynicism. It might also be that when I see the Taiwan set, I see that it is a “best of” of Million and 765Pro with a couple bones thrown in there (Jungle Party and Persona Voice) for Million Ps hankering for that 765Pro crossover. That was entirely appropriate (if not the best) approach for Taiwan. For a domestic show, though, there are so many ways to do this live, that a “hotch potch” approach might be invariably what comes out of. That the only real gap was not having 765Pros do their assigned Million songs in the way that Million Ps would probably want to see (like, where’s my 5p Eternal Harmony?). Instead we got a lot of top Million sets in the show, and we were able to see the Millions do some cool 765Pro songs–stuff they could have also done during the Million Live solo shows as Million 1st and 3rd had.

Don’t get me wrong. The result here is quite desirable and I would not have minded either way how things turned out. If anything, that both days the show clocked in at about 4 hours was the real problem–I wanted more, a lot more. There are a handful of songs they could have done to wrap things up better, but probably couldn’t due to logistics. Some songs, as I mentioned earlier, were sealed by who wasn’t there. There were not enough time of the day, in a way, to do all the songs we’d like. Every incarnation of this vidja idol nabe had to have some stuff saved for the future, and some stuff cut as compromise. Such is how it is.

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A World without Calls Is a World Full of Yakkai, And Not Yakkai at the Same Time

The way it suppose to go in Japan at a live viewing is that people get excited, cheer, and do calls to the performances they are watching. Or you can do one of the things that is customary to movie-going, like kick back and have a soda with your popcorn. It’s not anikura, it’s not a house party, it’s a concert being screened at a movie theater that’s open to the public.

But the problem with American¹ fans is that people don’t know, or don’t do, calls. I say this because it’s plainly what I’ve observed. At the Aqours performance at AX this summer, some people were doing calls, yeah, but I’d say it’s less than 25% of the audience, and that’s a very generous guesstimate. (As a point of comparison, less than 10% was doing WUG calls… maybe close to 1% once you exclude the pit rows.) At the Aqours 2nd screening I attended in NJ, it was nearly zero. During Koiaqua a few people did some calls, but that’s pretty much it. Where’s all the jimo ai calls? I attended that screening because, well, jimo ai! Gotta rep your local event.

Let me take back one thing: It’s not really a problem that nobody does calls. It’s a problem only because some American fans, as per standard operating procedures of cultural appropriation and regurgitation, only take some aspects of eventer behavior of Japan, and not all of it. And then we add our spin and own it. To compound all of this, your average attendee at these viewings are in their early 20s, and are likely just young and don’t know/can’t know any better. The result is a mix of things that don’t quite work well together…at least at first.

The way to channel hype during an anime-idol anison performance is via calls. Calls is not waving your penlights, per se, it’s using your voice to sing/shout/say things along with the song. Glowsticks are bonus. But in America people don’t get this. Some people even think it’s like a rave. If people do calls together and do it in sync, it’s actually really cool, especially for songs that have elaborate calls or songs built for call-and-response. But nope, Americans don’t do calls as a general rule. And I think it’s really because nobody is here to teach them through examples (it’s not only know-how, but dedication to lead it in public). Blu-rays and live viewings don’t quite cut it, at least for seeing in person what calls can do.

If you master calls, then you know how to “be yakkai” in the right way. It’s a lot safer and a lot more fun. Then we can finally have a proper yakkai discussion as Japan has it.

The reality of it isn’t something governed by rules or singer preferring people screaming or not at their performances. Yes, it’s a matter of etiquette–not so much as a set of unspoken rules to be proper, but as a courtesy to everyone else. Yes, it’s a time/place/context sensitive thing, but that is so bare basic of a description that it doesn’t begin to explain why things happen whichever way. And the reality is it’s so much more than that–enough that I don’t expect the average American person who likes Aqours to go to a screening to know. The gap is not just cultural, but also one of language, customs, and it’s something you can really only learn by attending lives in Japan and see how it really is. It’s not something you can really write down and explain unless you are already familiar with these kinds of things from a different context, try as I might.

This is why I don’t think your average Aqours fan at a live viewing in America can even begin to grasp it. They would have to attend a Japanese live first to know how it goes. It’s just not a reasonable expectation of people in their early 20s or late teens. Instead, they will do what they can, which, for the most part, I find acceptable, but it’s a different set of things, a different set of expectations.

So I think people can really do what they want, within reason, at US live viewings. It’s America. Freedom reigns. Just don’t do anything you shouldn’t do? It would be bonus points to be considerate of people around you, though.

Still, there are some simple guidelines. For example, at a dark movie theater it’s probably best you don’t start a party train, just because you don’t want to trip and fall and hurt yourself or someone else. This happened at my live viewing, and it’s the most yakkai thing I’ve seen at any live viewing. Nobody should do this at a movie theater. If I was staff I would stop it, because of liability reasons.

Obviously, don’t throw lights or king blades or glowsticks inside the movie theater. The chances of you hurting someone with it is a lot lower than someone tripping and falling, but this shouldn’t even need to be said. It’s not really that yakkai, just dangerous. Plus, if a bunch of 20yos want to behave like a bunch of 10yos there are better ways to do it, and you can do it in a way without painting a bad image of Aqours fans. I guess that’s no big deal, though.

Oh yeah, be considerate of other people is a pretty simple rule of thumb too. There might be people watching the live who aren’t as into it as you are, it might be nice to be considerate of them. Sure, maybe you only get your jollies off if you are allowed to act a certain way, but consider the trade offs and if this is a problem you personally have to deal with. After all, this is a delayed viewing of a concert that you could have went to see if you didn’t spend all your money on avocado toast or some nonsense LOL.

Avocado toast and live viewing, that’s a combo I can get behind on. Sure beats flying for 14 hours one way to watch a show. It’s so first-world of a problem, the “live viewing yakkai” issue, that I wish my fandom had live viewings so I can complain about them. Which is basically everything except Vocaloid and Love Live.

Who is yakkai at a JP live? The best example I personally witnessed this year had to be the guy who, in his best “yakkai voice” screamed out some nonsense (not even ietaiga) during Ippun Ichibyou Kimi to Boku no. It resulted in the guy being hit (didn’t see this part). It seems kind of extreme, but when you kind of ruin an emotionally pregnant silence by yelling, the consequence is kind of deserving. I think physical violence is overreach in this case, but at the same time that guy is an asshole, so it’s two wrongs that don’t quite make a right–but they make a nice anecdote. What’s relevant here is that I don’t think American yakkai are even possible at this level, since their game are limited by the general lack of public coordination among fans in general. It’s easy to stick out as a yakkai in a sea of uniformity, it’s hard when people are just chaotic and doing whatever they want. In a room full of yakkai, there is actually no yakkai?

So what I recommend is, instead of being crazy, just do calls? Lead calls, do calls, make other people learn the calls. Because Japan will continue to write songs that have calls, since it’s the thing to do and it’s way fun. Americans, please go learn them. It’s free and you don’t even need a penlight most of the time! And calls are free to evolve too, once enough people know how calls work. Sure, people are free to not do calls, but the idea here is calls can fill the gap that yakkai people probably should be doing anyway, and it guides yakkai people into do the right things. If you are at an American screening and are telling people to not do house tigers, you probably don’t even know what typical yakkai looks like, let alone actual yakkai.

¹TBF some Canadians I’ve ran into know their calls. Like, there are some tricky calls in IM@S and the GTA and Montreal Ps I ran into did know them. Can’t say what the Liver community is like up there though.

WUG 4th Tokyo & Shinso Ongaku Ensoukai #4

I yolo’d to see the Million Live concert at Nakano Sunplaza last weekend, but while in Japan (for ~28 hours) I also caught two other shows, so I just want to talk about them a bit. It’s going to be mostly on the Shinso Ongaku Ensoukai and a little on WUG 4th final stop @ Zepp Tokyo. WUG is kind of a known thing at this point, so I want to focus more on the less known thing.

But let’s start with the WUGchans. During the earlier session May’n dropped by and did One in a Billion, which was nice, but I was still on my way from Haneda Airport at around that time. Maybe I was in the immigration line? Anyway, I had a good gap of time waiting for the early show to finish so I made my way to the Unicorn, while enjoy crowd viewing of Ultra Japan. I guess Porter Robinson was there Sunday? I’ve not been to Odaiba since years ago, so this was nice.

Zepp Tokyo is the right kind of venue for WUG, but tickets were sold out really hard for it unlike their other stops, so there was a sizable markup to see them. Anyway, their set list for the show says all you need to know. It’s arguably their most definitive one. It was my first time hearing the second solo medley live, so that was neat. At the end of the night session Mayuc pretty proudly declared that this is WUG, and it sure was…

The setlist for the night show is on Aniuta, while the afternoon setlist is here. Have to say, it’s quite the gap since Osaka for WUG 2nd, the last time I attended a WUG solo live.

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