I went to AX and had that very special, only-at-AX experience, then I went home. Unusual for this year, I went to AX from Japan, and invariably flew from Tokyo to LA on a plane with JP industry on it. It also meant I had to pack for Japan and LA before I left, meaning I probably omitted a few things in the process that could be useful (like more WUG stuff for repping it).
Also, my body doesn’t really know which jet lag symptom to apply so I just feel generally fatigued now. It did not help I flew back on a redeye from LAX to EWR but at least I had the faux premium economy [booking a premium economy seat on flights that has the hardware but not selling the software] experience, which is something I cannot complain, even as someone who somehow has airline status.
Nor can I really complain about any of my flights this trip, both to LA and just in general between leaving for Fukuoka and coming home. The funny thing was, I wanted to see what flying is like for the JP industry side, but I ended up getting a bump to business so I really was in a strange, strange place that doesn’t give me any stalking options. The business cabin on that UA 787-9 was the older style which proved to be spacious if not very private, but I can’t complain about that. Oddly it probably served the most expensive meal I had all trip until I blew it open at M-Grill.
As usual AX is about eating, so let me get that out of the way first. We went to a Hakata-style yakiniku place one night (Aqours Earthquake night) and it was great, because after the grilling we also had motsunabe. I don’t mind it after eating it twice in Fukuoka. It is my kind of food.
The M-Grill trip was great too because we got a ton of pineapples, plus the meats were great as usual. Again, the MVPs have to be that, the chicken heart, and the ribeye.
I also had the privilege to attend the “dimsum panel” at a Shanghainese place, as well as some home cooking for homesick Chinese expats who were doing the AX thing without going to AX. Giant vat of slow-cooked chicken soup? It felt more China than any con.
Other than the earthquake, which I won’t go into detail here, the other relevant thing was that Yard House lost power that same evening. Great if you just got brews right before, not so much if you haven’t gotten anything. or had to wait until the power comes back to pay. They had to shut the place down and evac because the grills all had to shut down as there was no ventilation.
Just because an idol group ended, it doesn’t mean the fandom stops. That’s super true when the idol group really wasn’t an idol group–they are simply assassins, adventurers, and aberrants that were hired to be a party, and that gig is now over. Now they’re back at work simply being assassins, adventurers and aberrants. Also, when the group exploded like a supernova ramping up to the final live, WUG!’s life as a star kind of ended but it made the loudest bang it ever did in its short life. As a result I think it’s worth mulling over some of the music, maybe you might find something.
Personally though, I’ve been listening to a lot of WUG music just the past 12+ months, actually since March 2018. It’s about a year since that tearful day when the Final Tour was announced and the associated disbanding announcement, but forget about that. I’m just trying to write down what I’m thinking after grinding on WUG music for a while. The purpose of this post is largely me just rambling about songs, yes.
(Before I get started, just limiting to WUGchan songs that they have performed. Not including non-WUGchan solos here to keep things manageable.)
Intro tier: Do these only if you specifically want to. Moreover, I’m not listing every WUG song in this list, so you can consider those also in the “don’t do except if you want to” category…just not intro tier. Like you can do HIGAWARI Princess for the idols you love or their solo event solos…that’s fine obviously. Well I’ll call the ones I know out in the list. But I wouldn’t need to tell you that if you know about them.
7 Girls War
Tachiagare – This song is quite special to me now, and I imagine that is true for most WUGners too, so when folks casually do this song as a chika idol cover or at anikura I might cringe. It doesn’t bother me so much anymore, but just a PSA: Think twice before doing it. This tier list should help with it. I won’t tell you to stop either if you wanna. Go right ahead, and thank you for showing WUG some love.
One in a Billion – Great song with May’n Tie-in and it’s one of their better-known tie-ins, even if the anime is not the kind that will have hardcore fans. A lot of people heard and loved this song (if sales ranking meant anything). The joke was, as the one WUG (well WUM) song not sold by Avex, it outsold all the other WUG tie-ins at that time. Anyways, people know this song, for whatever the reason.
One step up: Good representative songs, and at least shows you know more than just the OP/ED.
Gokujou Smile – This ought to be THE go-to song for people who wanna tribute WUG. It’s their most fun song and the lyrics are pretty amusing. The calls are the best, though. It’s got everything you want. Also see my prior write-ups.
Sugao de Kiss Me – This song is actually a ton of fun for anikura (the hipster kind). (Use April Fools version for the non-hipster kind at your own risk.)
Suki no Skill – The tie-ins from 2016-2018 were all quite good. People might know this song, and as anikura DJ you can point to them and say “these are otaku that appreciate late night isekai light novel adaptations.”
Koi de Ai de Bokun desu – See above, but it’s a dumb manga adaptation that is far less popular for some reason. This is also the secret Yoppi oshi song. In this point in time there might be more Yoppi oshi than fans of Renai Boukun. Sorry Guri.
Beyond the Bottom – A powerful song no matter who you are, where you are, and how you feel, and it goes beyond the fandom gates.
16-sai no Agape – I don’t know where this really should go, so here it is. It’s the derpy idol song for girl idol units, but at this point it is salve.
Shoujo Koukyoukyoku – This is more “Appreciator tier” (see below) but I think a lot more people know this song from the WUG movies. And it’s really an enchanting song that will forever prime my emotions due to how strongly I now associate it with WUG Final Tour, so I just had to say that.
Jera – This is the one cool I-1 song that WUGs would do and people would die if people would look in their old footage.
Little Challenger – This is a fun song that really captures that early WUG energy and some pure idol fun. Kind of like 16-sai but more anime.
WUG ZOO ZOO
WUG Appreciator tier: The good stuff people find out by farming WUG’s catalog more. And we come to the reason for this post:
7 Senses – It’s a song that is only good because it grew on you, LOL.
Chikatetsu Labyrinth – I did not really understand or appreciate this song until WUG Tour Final. It’s a powerful tune with different genres in it, different rhythms, and styles. That brass section gives it a mainstream feel without feeling too forced. The way they ended that in Final part 3 was some really powerful entertainment.
Jewelry Wonderland – This song is solid all around. It’s got a melodious progression to it that makes it hard to dislike despite the choice of how some of the instruments that were arranged. It sticks in your mind but doesn’t worm, and overall just very good composition.
Polaris – It’s a simple song that makes us cry.
outlander rhapsody – After dragons were slain in WUG Final Tour part 2 I think people opened their eyes finally as to how this song could go…
SHIFT – Similarly, this song is just very good because it is another showtunes-y and not-very-idol-y track that gives WUGs some range. The routine, song and dance aside, it’s just a well put-together kind of a fair (reminds me a bit of Chikatetsu actually). Really wows. And it sits a bit in languish as a c/w to Suki no Skill. Too new to be picked up and during a time when WUG was struggling a bit.
Bokura no Frontier – Great song, great vocals. It’s the overshadowed tie-in among the other hits but it’s probably my favorite in that batch…it’s the most representative MONACA x WAKE UP, GIRLS! song in my mind.
Heartline – Putting aside what happened to this song in Sendai for Final Tour, this song is just a charming tune that should get more play. The calls are fun by default, and also for furicopy.
Seventeen Crisis – It really pairs well with Platinum Sunrise but this song has the power to bring down the house, just it’s so rarely played up as such. Such a waste.
Shirt and Blouse – For OG WUGners.
Tight Rope Runway – I am thinking only I appreciate this song LOL. It’s got a more barebones arrangement that makes it kind of EDM-y in that 90s style.
Beyond the borderline: special songs because they were special and not as much because they are good, or just outright no bueno for other reasons. Or other special exceptions.
Sayonara no Parade – LOLOLOL
Doyoubi no Flight – LOLOL it’s not that bad. But kind of a downer like the other new songs from Final.
Kotoba no Kessho – Yeah….downer a bit?
Umi soshite shattaa-dori – LOLOLOL
Sakurairo Crescendo – Shoutout to Sendai and Airi. What a wonderful little piece she’s got for a solo. Do this only if you really, really mean it.
TUNAGO – LOLOLOL
Taiyou iwaku moeyo kaosu – Please use the original version unless you want to rep Myu or something LOLOL
Any WUGners out there, want to add anything? Comments are all yours.
I have dozens of takes on this, hear me out. It’s all I could think about lately. And it has been 2 months. Not all the takes are sane, or fit for posting here, so they aren’t. A few made it. And I do get to talk about the live itself. I do get there. Trust me. This post isn’t even 5000 words!
Two weekends ago was the International Fan Festival Toronto. The con itself has been run technically once in Osaka in 2018, on the same weekend as October Machi Asobi and WUG Final Tour part 2 Osaka. That’s how I remembered it: it was the fact that a bunch of somewhat-senior seiyuu got to do photo sessions in Japan yet conflicted with these other events of interest that stuck in my head. Still, IFF Toronto was a first-year con as we know it in Toronto.
But more relevantly, IFF Toronto was run by the same guys who did AniRevo Summer, as I recognized a lot of the interpreters and guest folks from the year I went to Vancouver to attend that con. In fact even some of the guests overlap, mainly in Ueda Kana and how Takadera Takeshi did a lot of stuff to help run the various aspects of the con from the JP side. Speaking of which, I saw him all con long in the background because he would shadow a lot of the JP guests and that were the events most of us went to.
As an anime con in Toronto, IFF Toronto was in its first iteration and it had first-year-con pains. The crowd was quite hardcore for a first-year and the badge sales were skewed heavily towards the VIP style, with a 5000CAD (Master) and 2000CAD (Diamond) tier available. Most of the spenders went with Platinum, or 400CAD. A better cost performance tier, Gold, at 250CAD was also available but there were maybe twice the Plats than the Golds. I won’t get into which tier got you what here but most of my acquaintances and friends were either Plat or pleb, and a few Golds.
Guest-wise, I don’t think there were a first-year con anywhere North America with a better JP guest list. It is partly made possible because GTA area is critical mass in terms of weeb and asians. They even have wotagei game, which made all the DJ Kazu sets a lot of fun, both to watch and to participate. On top of DJ Kazu, there were Tokyo Active Neets, which are TAM and Akai Ryusei, doujin anison cover artists. Then there were the Fate/Stay Night lead casts: Saber, Shiro, Rin and Sakura (Kawasumi Ayako, Sugiyama Noriaki, Ueda, Shitaya Noriko). There were also Nakajima Megumi and Suzuki Konomi, who did panels and sang for us during the Saturday Concert.
Besides the JP side, there was also some local Japanese anime-adjacent actors that you probably have heard from Sailor Moon, but I forgot. I got a photo with ProZD, who is at least an influencer/tuber who knows his stuff (and also because Plat badge comes with a photo ticket). There were cosplayer guests.
The con itself was in the MTCC, which is a wonderful venue for a small-ish event. I would say the con probably didn’t even crack 2000. I (and a lot of folks from out of town) stayed at the Intercontinental, which was really close to the action. It would take literally 5 minutes from line to hotel room, and vice versa. Parking in downtown Toronto cost money, but you could have taken the local mass transit around, or walk to a nearby place to eat as there were quite a few.
I drove up with 3 friends for the weekend, leaving Thursday night and crashed at around Rochester. Then we left at around 8am and made it to the con by 11-ish. Since we didn’t care too much about the Friday schedule, we went to CN tower and had lunch at the famous rotating restaurant. It was kind of worth it, tell you the truth, but it was kind of expensive. It also helps that the CN tower was literally right next to the con center, along with Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays were out of town, the weather was wet and dreary, so it was a quiet weekend downtown along with people doing their Easter stuff. More in the PS.
Well, I certainly didn’t spend much time outside! Friday night the local wota/anikura folks threw a panel which was just a DJ set, and it was fun to get warmed up to some of this stuff. Other than taking a photo with ProZD I didn’t do much at all. The dealer’s room really is just a giant artist alley with a couple dozen booths of nothing really interesting. It’s kind of unavoidable given Sakuracon and Anime Boston going on at the same time, I suppose. So we spent some time watching lives and just hanging out, eating ramen or whatever. Toronto definitely also has a ramen game, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.
I did catch the showing of MechaUde Friday night, which was always a neat thing. With CyberConnect2 picking up the pieces maybe it’ll get a proper airing sometime? I don’t know. Takadera is the sound director for it, so he was there to present it. Since I watched it a long while ago this was a nice refresher, being a backer of the Kickstarter.
Saturday morning was the first time the con got busy as far as I can tell. The 50 or so Plats and few dozens of Golds lined up to go up the escalator to enter the exhibit hall, which is where not just the AA but also the photo and autograph areas were located. The line up was a bit of a mess because they generally didn’t start any lines until about 20 minutes before the start time. It worked okay because in the end there weren’t too many people, but it was enough to create some havoc especially since they have to stage 3 different lines (Plat, Gold, Plebs) and that took up a lot of space if there were multiple sessions going on in a staggered manner.
I don’t know, as a Plat everything worked out well. There was one Diamond tier guy who bought it, but he was no show until the Kawasumi Ayako autograph and panels in which a bunch of the plats cheered him on. On Sunday even Ayako caught on to it and cheered along with the rest of us. In essence he got to cut everybody and get all his stuff signed. That Diamond guy was kind of a running gag throughout the con in a “the legend of” kind of way, and it wasn’t even a bad thing.
There was a community stage kind of thing also at the dealer’s hall and that is where DJ Kazu spun his first set. Since we already know where the level was at from Friday night, this turned out pretty well. The only problem was I chose to run out half way through (a 30-minute set) to go to an autograph panel.
The autographing went well. Not sure what there is to say. I even took it easy on day three and just went with whatever the flow of the schedule is, skipping some autograph sessions instead for panels.
Sticking to the highlights, I think it had to be the Fate content. I only actually attended the live dubbing panel, which had the four cast members run through some recording while the sound director guy perfunctorily showed us how it kind of works, what adjustments may be done, and the whole walk-up-to-mic quietly thing, or the flipping of the script pages. Same stuff. More so, we got to see live dubbing of those iconic Fate UBW lines, which was great.
Besides the dubbing panel, there was a screening of Heaven’s Feel II and a Q&A panel. Somehow I skipped them. Or the Ueda panel. And the Sugiyama panel. And a good portion of Ayako’s. I stuck to all the Shitaya content in the end, including the 2shot. I guess that’s just how the schedule shaked out given that I wanted to go to all the DJ Kazu events.
The AniMaple stuff I mentioned, but DJ Kazu is one of item of interest on my list at this con. So I went to see him spin. He didn’t have any other content so it was kind of odd. He jumped on stage Friday wearing a happi with his Heisei Anisong Taisho album cover, which I had the CD of and used it as prop.
The last major things were the programming for Konomin and Mamegu. Mamegu had a lot of fans! Some of them rushed to center aisle during her set at the Saturday show. Konomin had this dude who solo rushed the center, but hilariously broke his penlight while trying to crack UOs on the ground. I was laughing badly in row 2 so that was also not a great look, but this is some high grade shamefur display. Otherwise the Saturday night show was really 4 acts in one, with TAN, DJ Kazu (WUG WUG WUG), Konomin and Mamegu. Feels like because DJ Kazu really let out the “tigers” the other two sets had the fans in really high gear out of the gate, as the saying goes.
Their respective panels were a little boring, I guess, but Konomin’s turns into a WTSK at the end, which was a nice treat given she did not have any other event, such as an autograph session. There were a few singles
Other than anikura, seiyuu guests, the anisong guests and visiting friends and local eats, IFFT was pretty hollow. The dealers room was really 90% AA 10% actual vendors. Some even had bootleg wares. The AA was really diverse–there is even a chikaidol scene in Toronto so I saw a few perform. It was interesting when you can go to the said idol group’s AA booth and buy chekis.
But being hollow is okay–this is a first-year con that was extremely tailored to my interests, so to speak. It is a real question if the con will continue in the longer run, and if it will be this good in the future. International Fan Fest Toronto probably pleased a lot of the locals because ANorth is really the opposite kind of experience. Plus, since I can drive to it, it is a mighty good get.
PS. The main eats to share on the blog is the aforementioned the 360 at the CN Tower. Literally around the block from the con center, this iconic restaurant is fairly high class as tourist joints go, and comes with a lift ticket so in essence you’ve bundled ~42CAD in that meal. I had a full 3-course thing plus a drink, so it came to be about $100 CAD, or just under $90 US bux after tip. That’s a really good deal for what we got. The food was good for what it is, but it is also overpriced–a big surprise here. The views was great, despite zero visibility some of the time due to low-hanging clouds (and a rainy day). You can see wisps of the cloud coming in and out as the wind blows, but most of the time you could at least see the immediate area, like the airport Porter flies in and out of, or the local high rises in the downtown. The menu allows for some degrees of ala carte ordering so you could have had a similar experience for much less, but it is structured so you spend at least the lift ticket price, to nobody’s surprise.
Below is a picture of the con center and the Intercontinental hotel attached, which is a short skywalk across to the Union train station. As for the eats, I liked the dessert, a proper temperature gradient with a local peach cobbler (but they aren’t in season so the peaches were just OK) topped with some maple syrup ice cream. Really aiming at those tourists.
After meal it’s good to walk around a bit to digest, also let that adrenaline run a bit when you stare into the depths from those transparent floor panels. Well, thanks for the poor weather we had no problem getting a window table at the 360 or finding much of a crowd inside the observation deck. I say that is a win.
It occured to me, repeatedly, that there are 3 baseball anime this season and I’m also watching the MLB as per the past, uh, decade. It’s still April so nothing really newsworthy other than Ichiro’s retirement game and how it was done in Tokyo Dome. It was a bit surreal because the news was all over social media and I also had to hear my big boss talk about it in a company meeting. That was fun. Anyways, IMHO baseball anime is also fun.
I really enjoyed Cross Games, which is my only personal connection to Adachi’s brand of baseball. Maybe that’s for the best–I’m not sure if I can stomach his other works (like Touch namely). I’m willing to give Mix a try, especially if I had some easy way to stream it.
But I’m continuing on the Ace of Diamond series now that it has resumed again. I think it is still the best baseball anime that balances reality with the dramatic overall. Oofuri, as much as I loved that, is probably too real and too boring for most sports-anime types.
And yeah, baseball is kind of boring! Oofuri deserves mad props to incorporate that aspect into your story, while still maintain some excitement to make the story not suck.
I realize the amazing thing about these 3 baseball anime this Spring is not just that there are 3, baseball anime this spring. The amazing thing is how different all of them are at tackling this genre. Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine (HachiNai or Hachi9 or 89) is your standard group-gathering of cute, school-age anime girls building out a baseball club of legends. It comes from the root of a media-mixed, gacha-based freemium mobile game, so the expectation is very character-driven. That just means each of them will be really quirky and easy to remember.
And media mix as in, there’s a 4-koma manga by bkub and a proper manga adaptation I think…? What I loved about the Hachinai game (that got me playing a couple years(???!!) ago) was how the game visuals and designs were extremely “up my alley” in that soft pencil, sweat-drenched youth style (sup Oofuri) complete with materialization of hopes and dreams in sparkles and silly motion-comic dialogs that I always hit skip on. I mean the gacha animation is 2d anime of the protagonist running after a sparkle (and depending if you got a SR or SSR, the sun would set or turn night!!) which she jump-grabs by the fist. It sums up the concept so well.
The story mode for the game features a series of minigames that “produces’ the team through a set of time-specified training tasks (think: WING in Shinymas) in which you can grind mats to level up your guys, and/or beat the competition in the tournament. The baseball game itself is more like a statistical display than an actual game. As you would imagine, most of the baseball coaching and management is dealing with “cards” that you level up and otherwise make more powerful, your deck being the bench slots and batting order of a baseball team.
So far the anime is too preoccupied to not self-destruct to carry forward with all that tender loving sakuga so I am a little disappointed. In exchange, all the cool animation from the trailer and OP and the series so far has made it back into the game, so that’s a nice touch. Also a nice touch is hearing the voice acting cast doing it anime-style. This is a shock in that there are some very new seiyuu mixed in there with some experienced newish seiyuu (is Hanabe new still?) which makes for a delightful, if jarring, experience. Man I need to get used to Karaage sounding so high pitched.
Yeah Hachinai is the odd one out. Well, maybe Adachi’s comic adaptation is not so different than Terajima’s Ace of Diamond, but in my mind one is actually about baseball, the other is a lot more about soft aspects of the sport, like an ESPN 30-for-30. And then you have this thing that’s arguably not even about baseball in that standard postmodern sense. Well, it’s more about that brand of Koshien-tinted, romantic reminenence to high school sports than baseball, at least. So I think it’s not too unlike Mix even, if you can see past the plot device.
I’m watching all 3, or will try. Two of them are on CR so it’s business as usual but it will be trying to follow Mix, especially if it doesn’t grab me strongly at first (but this is Adachi…so if it doesn’t, it’s not without trying).
PS. Just some random notes:
There are 4 WUGchans in Hachinai, hopefully we’ll see at least two if not all of them. Most of the usual seiyuu baseball people are in this game, for those who follow the HRr mainline and spin-off events/shows.
By the way there was a free 10-draw campaign in Hachinai to coincide with the first week of the anime release, and I pulled Myu’s character’s SSR during it. While watching the anime. The anime is a good way to remind me to play this game (as I have neglected it most of the time).
Nonchan voiced one of the little boys in episode 2, which is cool.
ChikuwaP is still doing the player announcement for Dia no A, and Mako’s jelly tweet for that after the last event was lol. I mean, I understand where she’s coming from. Baseball seiyuu dream gig would be announcing at Koshien, yeah? BTW during her anniversary event last weekend she did the beer pour from a backpack keg! Another cool thing I want to see more of re: JP baseball culture.
PPS. Oh, right, I wrote this post after reading this and forgot the riposte. I quote:
Unlike Mix, where baseball has been a part of the characters’ lives for a long time, Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine features mostly neophytes, at least in terms of skill level.
What a load of bollocks. Did you even pay attention to episode 2? At least 2 of our core 4 characters grew up with baseball. Actually 3 out of 5. OK fine Mix it’s 100% but I think you meant to say that there’s a clear difference between living with baseball and actually playing it? Actually, isn’t that entirely the heart of the matter, mister media critic? I think this is a critical failure in wording.