In my previous posts I covered getting to Japan for Animelo Summer Live 2011 – Rainbow and the first of the two concerts on Saturday 27 August 2011.
Sunday was a bit more relaxed. The hotel was 20 minutes walk from Ueno station and closer to the hotel were the main museums and galleries in Tokyo.
I visited the Tokyo National Museum then took a limited express train from Ueno to Saitama-Shintoshin and this time purchased a towel, some food and bottled water outside the arena. Again, I met the person from KNT and we were seated in slightly different seats in the same guest box as the previous night’s concert. The audience was no less enthusiastic than they were the previous day.
There is a summary clip on Youtube that has song excerpts and photos of the artists, mainly taken at the second concert here, but to go into my thoughts, let’s hop on down after the jump!
The second day’s concert started with a duet starring Yui Horie and Nana Mizuki, who fired up a medley of Hikari from Inukami and Cosmic Love from Rosario + Vampire. Both songs were extremely catchy and a good choice to start things off.
I’d seen some concert-goers wearing Minami Kuribayashi t-shirts and was looking forward to her set. First, she sang Rumbling Hearts from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. After talking to the audience we heard Toki sude ni Hajimari wo Kizamu from Katanagatari and Straight Jet from Infinite Stratos. There were a few calls of “Chotto” from Minami-san between songs to get sips of water before she finished with the perennial favorite, Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line from Chrono Crusade, this time, in a duet with Maon Kurosaki accompanied by the strings. Although the choice of songs was good, the audience wasn’t quite with Minami-san, but thankfully, Maon-san made the set finish on a strong note.
Maon Kurosaki continued with Magic∞World and finished with Memories Last, both from A Certain Magical Index II. Although this was Maon’s first Animelo, she had already impressed me with the songs I had found on Youtube, including “Magic∞World” from a television special called Lisan Live! and I thought this performance was even better. It helped that the audience’s positive feedback to Maon-san made the performances distinct and not a repeat of other performances.
Next was Mamoru Miyano with Orpheus from Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 1000% (note that the linked clip has a different, female vocalist) and Body Rock. The orange light-sticks appeared during this set and stayed around for the sporty and fun RO-KYU-BU! with Shoot! and Party Love ~Okkiku Naritai~. This was followed by a rainbow of colored sticks to hail Milky Holmes’ arrival, where they sang Seikai wa Hitotsu! Janai!! and Ameagari no Mirai. There was a fun energy to both RO-KYU-BU! and Milky Holmes that was infectious with the audience.
Steins;Gate was next – Kanako Ito sang Hacking to the gate with guitarist Shikura Chiyomaru followed by Phantasm (Yui Sakakibara) with Tokitsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku. I love Kanako-san’s distinct vocal style and energy and wished we could have heard more of her. If she didn’t sing in Japanese, one could imagine her music being used in a soundtrack for something set in Central or South America. Yui-san, for her part, had some of the angst in her voice like a singer from the USA, UK or Ireland.
Kishow Taniyama of GRANRODEO and Mamoru Miyano then performed the Durarara!! opening theme, Uragiri no Yuuyake which stood apart from the others by being a good grungy, shouty, rock song.
Yui Horie was next, with Immoralist from Dragon Crisis, PRESENTER from Dog Days and Yahho!! from Kanamemo. Yui-san was a stronger performer than I remembered from previous concert videos – she was and still is an understated and articulate professional.
Chiaki Ishikawa then sang the very beautiful Mou Nanimo Kowakunai, Kowaku wa Nai from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Fukanzen Nenshou from Kanisama Dolls. The way these songs were sung were melodically powerful enough to be able to stand on their own without accompaniment – her vocals were very strong, well-pitched and clear with great emotion, or as my notes stated: good!
JAM Project provided part two of their trademark multi-voice powerhouse rock (still fresh and full of energy) with the 2011 releases NOAH and Vanguard, and audience favourite Rescue Fire. I’ve grown to enjoy their music from previous concert videos, but having new songs in their set helped avoid the feeling of having heard it all before.
After a 20 minute interval, the anime that involved a girl wrapped up in a futon, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko was up with Erio wo Kamatte Chan, or rather her character voice actress, Asuka Ōgame appearing likewise to perform Os-Alien and Kotatsu Kara Nagameru Sekai Chizu. If you haven’t heard them, they are jarring yet appealing in the way they accompany the series.
Heavier still, GRANRODEO came back with Supernova, Outsider from Cutie Honey: The Live and Go For It from IGPX. Their previous Animelo sets hadn’t grabbed me, but Supernova had a great sense of focus that made the other songs more accessible.
Kalafina was a late addition to the concert program but their performance was extremely polished with Magia from Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Sprinter from Kara no Kyōkai ~ Mujun Rasen. Their performance was very strong, and lived up to the standard of their Red Moon tour Blu-ray disc, but with the advantage of a far more enthusiastic Animelo audience. I can’t wait to get the Blu-ray of the concert for the performance of “Magia” alone.
I had earlier heard the voice of Motsu from M.O.V.E in pre-recorded announcements at the arena, then he appeared with fripSide keyboard player Satoshi Yaginuma and Maon Kurosaki as ALTIMA with I’ll believe from Shakugan no Shana III. It was great to have Motsu as a secret guest and the combination of performers worked well – their energy levels were about the same and it was quite distinct from Motsu’s 2010 collaboration with Yukari Tamura, “You & Me”.
As my tour guide told me, a poll had been held on Twitter for the act that concert-goers most wanted to see that wasn’t yet booked. T.M.Revolution won that poll and obliged with a very polished Flags from Sengoku Basara Chronicle Hero, SWORD SUMMIT from Sengoku Basara II, and Ignited from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. The clips I found don’t do justice to how clear the songs sounded at Animelo.
As with the previous night, when you combine JAM Project members with other performers you get something even better. In this case they incorporated Nana Mizuki and Masaaki Endoh for a stirring rendition of Eternal Blaze from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s, then Nana-chan as the solo vocalist with Unbreakable from UnchainBlades ReXX, Junetsu Paradox from Blood-C and Scarlet Knight from Dog Days.
Then it was time for the theme song Rainbow (the clip has subtitles in Japanese and English) with all the artists except Kalafina and with it, a lot of “goodbyes” and “See you next year for Anisama 2011” on the screen.
After this concert we went backstage again and this time I met Chiaki Ishikawa. Like Minori Chihara the previous night, Chiaki-san was one of the most pleasant people one could meet. If I spoke Japanese and everyone had plenty of time I would have liked to have thanked as many of the other artists as possible for their performances. Outside Saitama-Shintoshin station I thanked the person from KNT for all her help and we shook hands and I took the train back to the hotel, again purchasing noodles for a late dinner.
It had been a great couple of concerts for me, even though I had nowhere near the level experience of the songs and artists that most of the concert-goers had. The spirit of collaboration extended way beyond the songs sung, including the excellent organisation of the event, and how these concerts were treated as the main event of the year by an overwhelming majority of the participants.
On Monday I checked out of the hotel, visited the National Museum of Nature and Science, picked up my back-pack and took a regular train from Nippori to Narita Terminal 2, flying back overnight and changing in Sydney to a Singapore-bound flight that stopped in Adelaide (make sure you are familiar with the transfer arrangements in Sydney if you travel this way).
Since getting back home I haven’t lost the excitement of the trip and seeing and meeting some of the people behind a large slice of the music of anime, even though more than two months have passed. (The collection of Youtube clips referenced in these reviews were put together to help remember the concerts while waiting for the blu-ray releases). In conversations with others since then, many were surprised that I didn’t find Tokyo crowded (possibly due to being there in late summer), and were surprised that it wasn’t as expensive as they’d believed it would be.
In summary, a life-changing trip, great people, places, music and hospitality. I’d definitely recommend doing this at least once just to experience the awesomeness of it all!