Today is September 12, as I write this, and I have finally fully physically recovered from my Anisama trip. And that is not counting some lingering bronchitis-type symptoms that could take up to 2 months to clear up. Sup, I am getting old, is what.
To be fair, going to Japan for 3-4 days and concert it up in the humidity and heat does take a lot out of you. I think the kids who run and mosh with their crazy jumps at the outdoor stage are something. This is not an activity that I can recommend middle-aged Americans who are not in their best physical shapes to do; namely, try not to go all out at idols and spent 6 hours going out some more at various anison and seiyuu singers. Not even counting the in-between time, which invariably means you’ll be walking around a bit, even if lounging back.
That said, Anisama is the Comiket of Japanese eventing, and it’s worse in terms of stamina in a way. My conviction grows stronger now on my second trip that this is both a festival and a trial. This time around the lineup is way more powerful than last year, and they pulled some items off my bucket list, such as You & Me duet between Motsu and Yukarin, and seeing the SOS-dan get back together. I don’t even think I had that latter act on my list because I did not expected it to be possible.
The long blog post title aside, I don’t have a whole lot to say actually. Actually let me cap the whole day, since that’s how I have been looking at this from the start.
There is more to the experience of seeing an IDOLM@STER live than the live alone. I think in this case we put together something that a lot of producers could enjoy. There was a call book thing, there was some goods sold, there is the offkai. There’s the line-up and socializing. I think people had a good time, at least based on the feedback. There were also things that can screw us up, like AX’s ticket pickup policy. But first things first.
It’s a bit of “lore” but just want to put it out there rather than let it languish in my draft folder. It’s nothing special, really, but also a little neat. Basically, ZAQ is good.
For those who don’t know, ZAQ is a musician who is signed with Lantis. She herself has a solo musician career as a singer-songwriter type. But that’s an inadequate description of the kind of stuff she actually does. For starters, she writes a lot of songs for other Lantis projects, and that includes fellow musicians and anime projects that come attached. Her first big hit is also her debut single, Sparkling Daydream, the opening to Chuu2koi, and in that show she wrote the opening and ending, but only performed the opening as a song in her solo library. The seiyuu unit from the anime made up the vocals for the ending single. This is kind of the pattern for a lot of her work. It works particularly well for her, as someone who is multi-genre and covers classical to rock to ska to even hip-hop, which gives her a lot of options to work on anime-wise.
Over the past few years this has added up to that maybe half of the songs ZAQ worked on are actually hers, but due to the way anisong world works she ends up performing a lot of them during her solo live events anyway. To me, based on a handful of Lantis acts that I’ve seen in person outside of their concerts, it’s almost more like, Lantis artists tend to be music nerds who are also kind of otaku, and I feel ZAQ embodies this idea well. Granted she isn’t really an otaku…sort of. It’s just that she carries herself across this mix of nerd and music in a way that makes you think, huh, yeah, maybe…
Anyways, here’s the thing. Lantis runs Million Live’s music. ZAQ writes for Lantis projects. ZAQ has written a few songs for Million Live (here). Out of all 7 or so of them, though I want to call out one: Sweet Sweet Soul, a song that was released earlier this year. The details of the thing is right here, in ZAQ’s own words on her own blog.
Soul’d Out, basically, are the people who wrote Sweet Sweet Soul. They were a mainstream hip-hop group in Japan back in the 00s, and it was the group that got ZAQ into hip-hop music. I guess she’s only 29 this year, so that means when Soul’d Out’s biggest hit (Yakitate Japan ending) in 2005 she’s 17? Anyways, she was pretty excited to write the lyrics about our three young idols and give their take on hip-hop, but I think it’s more exciting for me to see how Soul’d Out left their mark in ZAQ’s musical DNA.
PS. I actually can elaborate on this post a bit. She did a lot of research on IM@S when she wrote the lyrics to Rebellion. I think there’s the general awareness of the care needed to handle the franchise, and she said something to the extent that I know this is probably not very Hibiki-like, it’s pretty cool so I went with it. And there is our red of truth or something.
The second Honeyworks movie, Sukishun for short, is on Crunchy. This movie takes place in the same universe/setting as the first movie, with the same characters, but told from a different perspective. What interests me in this one is how Music Ray’n talents take some key roles, namely Mocho is responsible for the main character this time.
When the movie came out in Japan some time ago Honeyworks also released a soundtrack, which is what clued me in on it, but also following the social media feed of the theater greeting events (thanks tiny Muray pics). Granted all of this targets a particular audience that might be better described as “middle schoolers who like campy romance” which might include OGs and BBAs who like that archetypal shoujo romance hook. Included in this list of older-than-15s is our 22-years-old (soon 23!) voice actress Asakura Momo, who I think is having a ball of a time playing Hina and living inside her hobby’s wheelhouse, for an avid shoujo/romance consumer but still being non-otaku.
It’s not easy for a newbie seiyuu to get a lead role that happens to also spotlight the voice actor in a way that plays to her strengths, in this case. To thank for that, I can only point to Sony, or Music Ray’n, their seiyuu agency/program. Having seen so many new and progressing careers in Japanese voice acting with a bent towards marketing to the otaku I think this is like, the one thing that sets Muray apart. It’s not to say other agencies and companies don’t develop their talents this way, but they really come around to cultivate each of the talents in this generation.
For that, I can put up with their crappy social media and online photo policy.
As for the movie itself, it’s quite serviceable and I think it’s a crowd pleaser, if you’re into that kind of thing. For me, having to see Mocho in a fairly dynamic role that exhibits a range of emotions and modes of communication is already a win. You might have to deal with the initial “Love Hina” moment but the rest of it is just Mocho being what I like the most about her.
Hooboy, where do I start? Do I begin with how I ninja’d another weekender to Asia, but it’s the first time I did Taiwan in this way. Do I talk about the fans at the show? Do I talk about the show? Or the various uchiage and stuff like that? Or Kuro’s teleporter?
I think the most important thing about 765MLTW is that it’s the first oversea solo IDOLM@STER event. The second most important thing is that they pulled out (some of) the stops, both to introduce the charm of Million Live to new fans as well as giving veteran fans some unusual, unexpected, or brand new collaborations and combos.