In the previous article, I covered my travels to and around Tokyo in the days before the Animelo concerts. It was great to wander around on foot and by train, absorbing the surroundings. There were very few non-Japanese tourists around and the experiences heightened my enjoyment of what was to come all the more.
To musically illustrate the concerts, I’ll include YouTube links where possible to complement my thoughts. My appreciation goes out to those record companies that provided clips themselves.
As a note, much of my experience at Animelo was spent absorbing and enjoying everything, so it was difficult to make much comment on specific artists and songs. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t do much note-taking and that my comprehension of the Japanese language is minimal. However, I hope that this review provides some insight into my concert experience.
When I reached the Keyaki Plaza outside Saitama Super Arena, I found it milling with anime music fans, many of whom were wearing t-shirts for the current or previous Animelo Summer Live concerts or of the participating artists. There were even a few cosplayers. I first purchased a souvenir t-shirt, programme and bottled water from a very well-organised set of sales stalls and was met at nearby Saitama-Shintoshin station by a person from Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. Ltd. who led me to the guest entrance area where we were given tickets for the guest box near the stage one level above the main seating not far in front of the stage. Needless to say, the vantage point was fantastic.
Due to power restrictions following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, air-conditioning was limited but that did not dampen the audience’s enthusiasm as the audience, 26,500 strong, was well-armed with rainbow-coloured glowsticks. The energy they possessed when it came to waving the light-sticks (cyalumes – sairyumu – サイリューム) in time with the music throughout both concerts was amazing. I was exhausted from just watching this display.
Finally, things began to get under way and all eyes turned to the stage which was set up with 3 large video screens facing directly frontwards and a promenade platform. For anyone who has been to a previous Animelo Summer Live concert or watched the videos, the same high level of excitement in 2011 continued to persist as it did in previous years.
Minori Chihara with Yukari Tamura opened with a medley of non-anime songs, namely Minori’s “Freedom Dreamer” and Yukari’s “惑星のランデブー (Planetary rendezvous)”, followed quickly by May’n with “Kindan no Elixir” from Macross Frontier, where she sang as her character, Sheryl Nome. May’n appeared to have grown up a little since her previous Animelo Summer Live appearances, looking more like a well-established singer without losing any confidence. She then spoke to the audience and followed it up with “Moshimo Kimi ga Negau no Nara” from Senjou no Valkyria 3 (accompanied by blue glow-sticks) and Scarlet Ballet from Hidan no Aria (with red and orange glow-sticks).
ULTRA PRISM followed next with “Shinryaku No Susume” from Ika Musume accompanied by mainly blue and orange glow sticks. They gave their talk and after that, it was immediately on to the next act. Nanamori Chu☆Goraku Bu sang “Yuri Yura Rarara Yuru Yuri Dai” to mainly orange glow sticks, then Idolm@ster kept things light with “GO MY WAY!!!” and “READY!!”, as did Natsuko Aso with “Eureka Baby” from Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu 2 and a medley of “Diamond Star☆” from Cardfight!! Vanguard, More-more LOVERS!!” from MM! and “Perfect-area Complete!” from Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu – “one more time, never give up!” The rapid-fire procession of artists and songs suggested that this would be a packed concert.
Hyadain and Sayaka Sasaki then performed a medley of the extremely animated openers to Nichijou, “Hyadain no Kakakata Kataomoi-C” and “Hyadain no Joujou Yuujou” followed by Sayaka Sasaki singing the lullaby-like ending theme to Nichijou, titled “Zzz” to blue glow-sticks.
Faylan was next. All the light-and-fluffiness of the previous few acts disappeared with her delivery for “Last vision for last” from Hyakka Ryōran: Samurai Girls which bore sentiments conveying the need to fight one’s way through a difficult life. She spoke to the audience afterward and then launched into “Rasen, Arui wa Seinaru Yokubou” from Seikon no Qwaser 2. The mood did lighten somewhat with ELISA’s whispy-voiced performance of an all-too-brief set of “God Only Knows” from The World God Only Knows followed by Faylan with Masami Okui and Natsuko Aso for the Anisama Girls Night theme song Nettaiya Girls. I’d been wondering how Masami-san’s voice would be after seeing some videos of her with a strained voice but it was as strong and clear as ever. I have yet to hear Nettaiya Girls again and look forward to its release on the concert video.
The last act before the intermission was rock band BREAKERZ with the heavy but cheerful CLIMBER X CLIMBER from Cardfight!! Vanguard, an excerpt of “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” from Neon Genesis Evangelion (which elicited a loud cheer from the audience) and finally, “Everlasting Luv” from Detective Conan.
During the interval some video interviews were shown along with promotions for the trading card game Vanguard.
The message “We came back to show ESP again” ended the 20-minute intermission and signaled the arrival of fripSide, complete with a magician escaping from a bag in the front part of the stage, the image of the slot machine temporarily stopping, and the songs “Level5 Judgelight” and “Only my Railgun” from A Certain Scientific Railgun. Their performance was quite similar to the 2010 Animelo Summer Live concert and the sound matched the promotional video clips flawlessly. After their talk, we heard “Heaven is a place on earth” from Hayate no Gotoku: Heaven is a Place on Earth.
Next was the first secret guest, the man in a white jacket, Isao Sasaki. The audience reacted with a loud roar to his appearance and he did not disappoint with a strong delivery of the theme songs to Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. Sasaki’s performance was followed by JAM Project co-founder, Ichirou Mizuki, who showed up wearing one of his trademark red jackets and sang Mazinger Z and the Theme from Combattler V, again with a strength that hid how long ago he first recorded those songs.
At the other end of the age range, the girls from Momoiro Clover Z came in with their intro theme “Z Densetsu~owarinaki Kakumei”, with a late appearance by Ichirou Mizuki followed by a medley of “Miraibouru” from Dragon Crisis! and “Pinky Jones” from Yosuga no Sora. The glow sticks in the audience were multi-coloured for this set, reflecting Momoiro Clover Z’s girls who dressed in five different colors.
Hironobu Kageyama from JAM Project and May’n then performed a duet of the immortal Digimon opener “Butter-fly”, and what a great rendition it was! Minori Chihara followed with her normal enthusiastic welcome to the audience for the non-anime “Defection” and her recent single “Planet Patrol”. The strings section of Animelo Summer Live then joined her for “Terminated” from Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere, in which she also provides the voice of Horizon Ariadust. As in her concert videos, Minori enjoyed talking with the audience. I only wish that I understood more of the Japanese language to appreciate it more fully.
The pink glow-sticks came out for Yukari Tamura and “Beautiful Amulet” from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. After her chat we heard “Endless Story” from C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious and “Love Me Now!”.
Up until now, JAM Project’s members had contributed to other performances, but this time, this powerhouse staple of Animelo Summer Live concerts would come together in full force, accompanied by the red and orange glow-sticks for their rendition of “Maxon”, “Victory” “3,2,1 never give up!”, “Rocks” and… “GONG ~ SKILL” with the final secret guest Nana Mizuki who was given an enthusiastic welcome. As any videos of the “GONG ~ SKILL” medley from other concerts show, it seemed like the whole audience joined in for the chorus chant of “I can fly! You can fly! We can fly! MOTTO MOTTO!”
Finally we had the reappearance of all but the secret guest singers wearing t-shirts for Animelo Summer Live – Rainbow giving their thank-yous before a performance of “Animelo Summer Live 2011 theme – Rainbow”. As with other Animelo Summer Live concerts, not everyone remembered when their solo part started, but took any slip-ups in stride. Then with the house lights on, they all came out to the promenade section of the stage to bid the audience farewell. On the screens appeared the message “See You Tomorrow”, then section by section, the audience was allowed to leave.
After the concert we waited to be let into the backstage area where we were offered cold tea (delicious after a very warm concert) and given a chance to meet some of the concert artists. I was able to meet Minori Chihara and one of the people from her record company, Lantis, took a picture of us. After thanking them and leaving the arena, my guide made sure that I was taking the right platform for my train back to Nippori, and we arranged to meet at the same place and time for Sunday’s concert.
The singers, musicians and dancers had all been well-prepared for their performances and delivered a memorable experience while the audience had been enthusiastic participants all the way through. There had been plenty of pleasant surprises both with secret guests and collaborations. So many of the people who had only been voices in songs or performers on videos had become real live people and the magic of previous Animelo Summer Live concert videos had shown itself to be the result of a very large collaborative effort which had again taken place in 2011.
On the way to my hotel from Nippori station I purchased a generous serving of wheat noodles with meat and vegetables for 800 Yen. It had been a really exciting concert experience, but it also left me looking forward to some rest before the next day’s concert.
Saturday and Sunday’s concert set list is at Wikipedia or you can feed http://pc.animelo.jp/anisama/2011/rainbow/special/ into http://translate.google.com if you want a rough translation. In any event, stay tuned for the final part!
PS: there is a video on Youtube Animelo 2011 Day 1 Setlist which contains photos of the artists, most of which were taken at the concert for those who want to see what the artists looked like on the night.