“Idols and Anime”
- Event: Anisong World Matsuri ~Japan Kawaii Live~
- Date: Saturday July 7th, 2018
- Location: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles
Intro: Get your penlights ready!
Saturday evening outside the Microsoft Theater, a hoard of idol fans gathered awaiting a concert of dreams. Half of the musical talents that would be gracing the stage had never performed in Los Angeles, and it was a rare treat to see so many amazing idols performing for one event. Despite the intensive heat, older teenagers to middle-aged adults of all genders lined up in the oppressive heat before the doors even opened. Some attendees were dressed in cosplay unconnected with the concert, given that the concert started at 5:30 pm which would be a little early for people to change out. There were even more people cosplaying characters from anime the performers voiced, shirts with those characters, stage outfits, or clothing meant to show their support for their favorite idols.
The six Cinderella Girls from iDOLM@STER were a mix of girls who had performed before and those who hadn’t which gave fans a sense of familiarity and a breath of fresh air. This concert was i☆Ris’ first ever overseas show, so the audience made it their mission to make them feel welcome and wanting to come back. While other members of AKB had made their way to the states, it was Team A’s first time so there was a chance for new love from old favorites. Shokotan is no stranger to AX, and people were excited about the accomplished otaku idol taking the stage again. With a night of cute girls and anime songs in store, everyone was in high spirits. As the crowd made their way inside, some people stopped for drinks while others rushed to their assigned seats, not wanting to miss a single moment!
Performance: Otaku for Otaku
First to take to the stage were the iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls. Kurosawa Tomoyo (Miria), Matsuzaki Rei (Kirari), Makino Yui (Mayu), Aoki Ruriko (Riina), Aihara Kitomi (Shiki), and Iida Yuko (Kanade) started off the night with Shine! Everyone captured their character’s subtle differences so well from Kanade’s more sensual movements to Miria’s cuter, sharper style. After their first song, they took a moment to introduce themselves and make a note of who had been to AX before or not. Then they asked the audience to which both repeat attendees and new-comers enthusiastically replied. Makino Yui did most of the talking, perhaps a tribute to her character wanting to be the best to get her Producer’s attention. Surprisingly, after introductions, they broke off into duos for unit songs. Tomoyo and Rei stayed on stage as the other 4 made their way off and performed Sunflower. After that, they switched out with Yui and Ruriko for a cute rendition of Love∞Destiny. With only characters Shiki and Kanade left, the audience expectedly waited for Kitomi and Yuko to return. Sure enough, they performed Tulip, easily one of the most popular songs of the set. For their last song, they somehow managed to get the crowd more excited with Onegai! Cinderella. The loudest voices came from the VIP section up front, but throughout the theater, there were many voices doing the cheers or calls for the song. Some people could be seen doing the dance along with the voice actresses on stage. They finished their song, said their goodbyes, and made way for the next group.
As i☆Ris excitedly ran out, loud cheering filled the area. They mostly spoke in Japanese but tried to throw in the English they knew as well to reach their audience. With their first song Fantasia WONDERLAND, they wowed everyone with their precision and coordination in dancing. Despite having a rather cute, energetic image, their second song Changing Point showed their versatility with a more serious, eerie song. Images from the anime “Mahou Shoujo Site” played as they sang the theme showing bleeding eyes and creepy faces. Their third song was a PriPara Medley which really got the crowd going as fans of both i☆Ris and the PriPara series. As they took another break to talk to the audience, they realized the VIP audience members had spelled out ‘Congratulations on 6 years!’ as it was the 6th anniversary of i☆Ris. They were so excited and grateful that a few of the girls went to grab their phones to take some pictures of the special display. For their last song they did their cover of We Are! from “One Piece” again delighting both i☆Ris and anime fans alike. Everyone in the theater sang along to the familiar song. As they bid their goodbyes, the crowd yelled ‘omedetou’ (congratulations) not only for their first overseas live but for their 6th anniversary.
AKB48’s Team 8 had an intro video unlike the other groups to get the audience excited. They started off their set with the well-known Aitakatta which had fans both singing and dancing along. After their second song, they introduced the present members and got right into their third song, Everyday, Kachusha which people seemed to enjoy. After another song, they took a moment to talk to the audience about how their trip had been. Of course, they had gotten a legendary American hamburger and were impressed with how big it was. They had also tried to make use of LA’s beautiful beaches but complained that it was far too hot, a sentiment the crowd all too readily agreed with. Next, was Koisuru Fortune Cookie, a song the crowd was pretty familiar with, the girls mentioned, as it was used for a commercial for Just Dance Wii U. Their final song was 47 no Sutekina Machi e, a rather chill song to end on. They excitedly exited the stage and shouted “I love you! See you again!”
For the final number, Nakagawa Shoko, also known as Shokotan, took to the stage. Music bumping, her eccentric dress with layers of fabric and fluffy sleeves bouncing with her movements. She had two backup dancers with loose, simple clothing by comparison. With her next song, Tsuzuku Sekai, she got the Gurren Lagann fans excited and the giant middle screen showed clips from the popular mecha show. She took a moment to ask the crowd “Do you like anime? Do you like otaku? Do you like cats??” The cat bit took everyone by surprise but with everyone being anime and cat fans, it made everyone laugh and cheer. She mentioned how over the years she’s had many good and bad things happen, a surprisingly somber note, but she said that it was thanks to anisong that she could meet so many wonderful people. The audience felt a special connection with that as they were all here for an anime convention. With anisong after anisong, she kept everyone pumped up. When she got to Zankoku Tenshi no Teeze, the already fired up crowd screamed the words along and jumped around. She had everyone change their penlights to blue for her final song Sorairo Days, and thanked everyone for being with her.
Outro: A special goodbye
As everyone made their way back on stage, the crowd continued to applaud until i☆Ris came back in In-N-Out Burger hats and then they erupted into thunderous applause and laughter. They blew a goodbye kiss to the audience earning them more cheers. The Cinderella Girls thanked everyone who had seen them before and those joining them for the first time. As AKB was saying their goodbyes, i☆Ris was silently doing a bit of the dance from Koisuru Fortune Cookie, further endearing themselves into the audience’s heart. Shokotan’s closing words were a wonderful send-off for such a special night of anisongs. “We are otaku!” She yelled proudly, and the crowd yelled in agreement. The girls waved happily and kept yelling out goodbye as they, for the final time, exited the stage. Somewhat winded but extremely happy with the performances, the crowd meandered back onto the streets.