Overall impression: Great show. Way more polished than NHK live in Shibuya, and probably the third best set list for a live Yukarin event I've attended in person to date. Could have used a puppet song, and mero~n though. No complaints about MC.
This post for 田村ゆかり has been modified for last.fm from my Yukarin events blog
The venue this time was Nagoya Congress Center. It was a mid-sized hall seating about 3000 people located about 30 minutes by train from JR Nagoya station.
My seat at the event was in the fifth row center so I got a good look at the set design. The stage was pretty standard Yukarin fare: light pink and purplish colors and lots of flower motifs, all surrounded by heavy theater drapes. A large central staircase connected two levels of the stage. At the top, there was large main deck, with raised platforms that extended to both edges and a movable wall sat behind with a curtained door-shaped entrance with Yukarin's flowery concert crest projected onto it.
A second larger projector screen above provided visuals. At the bottom, the stairs melded into an ornate concave wall that tapered into substages for Momoiro Danshaku's drummer and keyboardist. Further downstage was flat open space free for the rest of Momoiro Danshaku, Yukarin, and 4 dancers. This setup allowed three ways to enter the stage - through the curtained door, from behind the first floor wall, or rise out of the second floor.
Once the lights dimmed, the whole arena lit up with pink penlights. I think we actually achieved 100% pink, as I didn't notice any UO or ultra greens like last year's show. Yukari's royal entrance theme this time was pretty enchanting orchestra tune that employed lots of strings and drums as opposed to the usual upbeat brass trumpets. The sound for Congress Center was handled well, with nice clear volume and no major issues that I could notice. Yukarin probably has some of the more competent sound crews out there among her seiyuu peers, and she's one of the few artists for whose concert I know I won't need to bring earplugs.
Once the music swelled, Yukarin stepped through the curtained door in a two piece gold dress and started the first song.
Oh nice, it's a brand new song...wait no...Honey Moon? Holy shit! THE Honey Moon? This was one of my all-time favorite songs by Yukarin and one of the staples at older concerts, but ever since 2006 its appearance at lives had gotten increasingly rare, last being performed almost three years ago during Princess a la mode. The song for the fall tour had been rearranged so at first I didn't recognize it, but as soon as the first verse hit I was flipping out at finally getting to experience the legendary track in person.
Sadly, one casualty of the song's age is that the crowd had lost some of consensus in calls.A valiant effort was made to resurrect the old school chants and moves, but even at the second live in Nagoya some fans were out of practice, and maybe newer people in the audience didn't know the song at all. I would have liked the old energy levels, but really just getting the song at all was enough for me.
Before I even recovered, the familiar "Happy Happy" opening of チェルシーガール signaled another round of hard jumping. There was no "Momoiro brass band" like at Mary Rose, but it was good to hear the original mix once in a while. You could actually feel the floor rumble, and I couldn't resist turning around several times during the PPPH parts to watch gigantic pulsating human wave behind me move in perfect synchronization. Before the final chorus, everyone did the special chant. It has been around since about 08 but it always seems to get louder every year.
Third song was おしえて A to Z. Ah...Yukarin picked this song again huh? I watched her perform it with May'n at Anisama this year too, but of course Yukarin's solo version is the best. The clapping pattern actually changed a bit this time, with the double-clap being being used more frequently outside the chorus parts. Yukarin led us by example by clapping for the changed parts.
Once the song ended, Yukarin stood in the center stage and looked out to the audience as everyone showered her with cheers and "Yukarin" calls, and prepared for MC corner 1. Surprisingly, nobody here yelled for her to spin around. So times have changed.
MC Corner 1
"This place is pretty big! I kicked off this year's spring live in Nagoya. It was nice, historic, and profitable! But that stage was really small compared to this one."
"Actually Yukari has a lot of attachment to this place. Back in the 90s when Yukari was in highschool...well I'm 17 years old now, but I'm in a time warp"
"Back when I was in highschool, I came here often to see artists I liked. I want to be where Hiro-kun was. Actually at Rainbow Hall. That has about 10,000 people?"
"That's something I can't even think about. If I tried to perform at 10,000 hall, we would definitely lose money. Here's about 3000 people right? How about you all pay 3X it could work. Ah it's impossible. I had to stretch even to make it here. And in Tokyo it's hard for me to pull it off. I'm not on the same level as Hikaru Genji."
Audience: If it's Yukarin we'll pay any price!
Yukari changed topics when she noticed a piece of glitter came off her microphone. She took it off and gave it to a girl sitting in the center front row. When the audience started cheering she started picking off more pieces and handing them out to girls in the front row on the left and right section too.
Then some fan yelled out "your bangs are cute!"
This was a reference to a bunch of emails she sent to fanclub members the night before saying how she didn't want to bother the makeup artist and was tried to cut her hair herself, and you BETTER NOT LAUGH when you see it.
"Yukarin didn't mess up!" she says as she grins sheepishly. "Don't you guys do it? Who cuts their own hair?"
"Awww, not that many huh, and almost no girls. Let me guess. Who's hair here looks like they cut it themselves..."
Yukarin runs up right up to a guy near the front and points at him.
"YOU! YOU CUT YOUR OWN HAIR RIGHT? EHH NO? Ok who else...has a hairstyle that looks like they cut it themselves?"
Fans started trying to wave down the bald guys in the audience, but as Yukarin scanned the room, she realized she was about to insult the haircut of whoever she picked and escaped the situation with a generic "Wow you all have some pretty complex hairstyles" instead of singling more audience members. Instead, she turned to her favorite victim when she needs to insult someone.
"Masanyan, you look like you cut your own hair."
During the next song Rainy Rainy Sunday she tried to hide her hair out of embarassment (it looked absolutely fine though). Once the music started, Yukarin and all her dancers circled on stage with umbrellas. Although it has only been performed live once before at a fanclub-only event, the moves were polished and cute, and I loved the lyrics. Fans knew the melody well from Yukarin's radio show.
バンビーノ・バンビーナ also got a lot of cheers. I listened to this song many times since it has a gorgeous PV, but I only saw it live once before at Animelo 2008.
咲かせて乙女 is an interesting song with pretty difficult vocal parts, a really fun "ai~ya" chorus, and some big "HEY" jumps. It was also one of the few songs that featured a special video in the background with big text that showed you the timed calls, instead of standard flowing hearts and stars that usually fill the projection screen. Given that it just came out with Yukarin's new single, and 太田雅友's heavy use of erhu, I think Yukarin intended to perform it at Anisama Shanghai. It probably would have gotten a great reception from Chinese Yukari fans if those plans hadn't been cancelled due to recent events. It's a great song to hear live and Yukari's singing for the verses is especially impressive.
Video Corner 1
Then it was time for a prerecorded skit while the stage changed for acoustic corner. It was a sparsely animated video of dating sim-like scenarios taking place in the "Private Momoiro Academy" narrated by Yukarin that introduced the band members and dancers as classmates/teachers. Of course, instead of meeting dashing ikemen, each of Yukarin's scripted encounter with the Momoiro Danshaku always depicted the band member with an intentionally bad photo of his face pasted on top of an SD body in student uniform.
The worst/funniest one was Masanyan's giant frowning oldman face floating on screen accompanied by cheesy game music and Yukarin's sweet words. There were also various easter eggs in the background to pay attention to. In the scene with JACK (guitar), I saw the blackboard had Yukarin's name written under an umbrella with something else (maybe JACK's name) but didn't have enough time to read it before the shot panned away. In the scenario with GOD (sax) however, I could clearly read "Princess Yukari is the loveliest in the world" written across the blackboard in English. Hmm, so that's how they'll translate 世界一かわいいよ huh?
During a phone conversation when Yukarin calls up Eagle (drums) with her cutest voice:
*whine* "Come ooon...it's me! me!"
"No, it's NOT an atashi atashi scam!"
When the screen retracted, all the instruments were moved down to the lower stage in a semicircle around a padded stool. Yukari came in from the side, wearing a silky knee-length blue dress and jeweled necklace to start acoustic corner.
The first song was ひとひらの恋, which was traditional slow ballad. Second track was Sensitive Venus which was more upbeat so she was swaying and dancing from her seat. As I was listening to these, I thought Century Hall acoustics were pretty good! Yukari has one of my favorite singing voices out of anyone (not just seiyuu) so I'm glad they were able to put it on exhibition properly. I also had a great view without all the jumping distractions. Unlike Hocchan who seems to have a magical Fountain of Youth worth starting WWIII over stashed away in her house somewhere, when looking from close range Yukarin actually does look a little older every year. But at the same time each year she somehow becomes even more charming.
MC Corner 2
"That was acoustic corner! It was really dark. You didn't fall asleep did you?"
"Yukari loves documentary. I always watch them when I'm doing makeup in the morning. Actually I just watched one about Roswell from the Discovery Channel. It was subtitled, but since I was doing makeup I was only able to read some parts of it."
"They offered all this evidence, but at the end they said 'oh if it were real you couldn't keep that secret for 10 seconds, let alone 50 years. So it probably never happened. What the heck!? When I saw that I even rewinded it. They built up my expectations then crushed it."
"Do you know about details of the Roswell Incident? Anyone know except Ishioka?"
*audience yells back "YUUFO"*
"How many of you believe in UFO?"
*Few hands in crowd.*
"How many of you believe in aliens?"
*More hands in crowd*
"Well if you believe in UFO, I guess you also believe in aliens. What about all the people who said they believe in alien and not UFO?"
"Oh maybe because they never came to earth, but the universe has them some place?"
*audience claps to confirm*
"You see alien invasion in movies all the time but in reality I guess they'd never come to Earth huh? There's nothing of value here."
Audience: Yukarin is here!
"Yukari is just an insect"
Jack: *plays failure sound effect on guitar*
"Hey let me try that!"
And Yukarin proceeded to play with the guitar pedal till the end of MC.
Still in the same dress, Yukarin sang the latest Nanoha A's movie ending theme 微笑みのプルマージュ. The sound was REALLY good for this one and I could hear everything so clearly. The Nanoha A's movie may have been a disappointment compared to the first one, but the song itself is a worthy successor to My wish My love."
Then Yukarin went backstage for costume change while the screen came down for a video segment.
Video Corner 2
As soon as "The Ranking Ten" title showed up everyone cheered. It seems they did a direct continuation of the silver age idol TV show parodies started in the Spring "I Love Rabbit" tour. The announcer (played by Yukarin's cousin again) introduced Tamura Yukari, a recently debuted up and coming idol to the audience. Even though it was just a video, the audience cheered for "Hatsukoi" just like it was a real event, with Yukarin PPPH calls and all (except while sitting down). During the interview segment, they referenced back to an old joke from the last tour's video
Kouji: "Yukari-chan, last time you came wearing a dress your mother made out of her curtains. You're not wearing curtains this time are you?"
Yukari: "That's right. This time my grandmother made my dress out of the tablecloth." (bwahahaha)
Kouji: "Well Yukari how has your life changed since you became an idol?"
Yukari: "I got new curtains and tablecloth"
These lines may sound snarky as hell but Yukarin actually played the rookie amateur idol role totally straight, saying everything in a gentle cute voice and acting all shy and nervous.
After the video, Yukari came back in a red dress and performed the hip shaking Love Sick. I never actually did remember the rap part to Love Sick. Following that were エトランゼand Beautiful Amulet which were nice nostalgic call backs.
After that, Yukari left again to change while the band stayed on and played some instrumental tunes.
Next up was 夢色ラビリンス, a brand new song in her upcoming album. Yukarin reappeared in a short skirt, fabric vest, cat ears, and fur leg coverings creating an ensemble outfit that was somewhat similar to the rabbit costume she wore for the 2008 Love Live Chelsea Girl tour. She was joined by her dancers with top hats and canes. It seems Yukarin has been studying up on magic ever since her disappearing act at Budokan, because near the beginning of the song, she magicked up her own cane by pulling it from a silk handkerchief. Next was アンジュ・パッセ, which was also nice to hear again after its long absence from concerts.
This was followed up by 君とLOVE which is a c/w song on the new Nanoha single. Typically with new songs, it takes listening to them a few times before it grows on me. And that would have been true for this song too...I heard it on the single and liked it, but didn't pay much notice. Sometimes, I really like a song months after I hear it live, then regret not appreciating it more at the time.
Luckily, something clicked when I heard this on the big stage. When Yukarin was leading the whole crowd with wiper, I just became so in love with this song at the very moment it was playing. While it's got some lazy BGM, it hits all the right points - fun furicopy, catchy repetitive chorus, idealistic lyrics, and lovely vocals that rivaled acoustic corner. I knew right then I was having a special experience and I breathed it in fully. It definitely puts the Fall in Love bluray release on my instant-buy list.
Video Corner 3
Next was a video log of Yukarin playing billiards. Those who listen to her radio or have seen the series of bowling videos from Sweet Milky Way know Yukarin is pretty much a shut-in who never plays or even watches any sports and sucks at all of them (or at least pretends to suck). So Yukarin being bad at this game was expected - at one point she managed to jump shot the ball over her target. While documenting this head-smacking lack of skill, the cameraman also seemed to put in a few blatant "service" angle shots too where it lingered excessively on her lower body as she leaned over.
However, in billiards, Yukarin actually met her match in suckitude, because her publicity manager Ishioka was just as bad. Both of them sucked so badly that it took an hour to play a single 1v1 game of Nineball due to all the misses and fouls. The majority of the video had to be sped up to 300x speed in order to show the audience the full match, but eventually Yukarin won the game.
When Yukarin returned, she was pumped the crowd up with Endless Story before starting her third MC to talk about the video.
MC Corner 3
"How many of you played billiards before?"
*Entire crowd raises hands*
WHAT? So many? Ok and how many of you played Nineball?
*entire crowd raises hands*
"EEEEH? REALLY? I had no idea it was that common. I only played it once before a long time ago."
(Man, Yukarin is 36 years old in a 1st world country and she only played pool once? She really IS sheltered)
"Even the band members ;_; wait P-tan never played! (jumps for joy). We played nineball because the staff at the poolhall said it was the simplest game and only took a few minutes."
"Instead we took 60 minutes. We actually played so long my fingers hurt. "I was despairing as Ishioka was making shots, but in the end I got the final shot! HAH!"
"Yukarin also played table tennis. I knew I wasn't good so I teamed up with a "skilled" person for 2 on 2. Well that was skill a lie. We lost in only 2 minutes! I totally had a dead look on me."
"Like when you go to a concert by yourself, yet all the other people went hanging out with friends as a group. Your DS suddenly shuts off during streetpass and your iPhone only has 2% left. That kind of face."
Gee that's awfully specific lol. Especially painful when Yukarin's hobby is literally charging batteries, according to what she told Mamiko on Twin Angel radio ^^
"But let's forget that negative stuff and look forward. Yukari Kingdom goes on. Everyone let's sing the next song together."
With that, we jumped straight into パーティーは終わらない. You may recall an official PV that Yukarin put out a few weeks ago. Like the "LOVE ME NOW" video, the パーティーは終わらない PV was actually made by fans who answered a casting call posted on Yukarin's FC blog. During the NHK live, when Yukarin asked who in the audience also participated in the video, a huge number raised their hands. By Nagoya, the whole audience had memorized the moves and chants, thanks to that PV and because of the call books distributed at the venue. But Yukarin told us, "even if you don't know the chants, you can just yell random stuff." In the middle of the song as everyone was yelling, concert streamers shot out and scattered into the audience.
We knew it was the home stretch and there would be nothing but high energy songs for here on out and powered through MERRY MERRY MERRY MENU・・・ね！ and candy smile. I have to say, I felt SO LUCKY to get both of these songs. The big circle step she does in candy smile is just SO CUTE it never gets old. Without a break, everyone pulled out pompoms for チアガール in my heart, the hugely popular 恋のタイムマシン (major cheers for this one), and the finale fancy baby doll. Damn, I couldn't have asked for a better closing set of songs. During FBD there was no need for the air cannon since the venue was small, so Yukarin personally kissed and threw each doll.
Speaking of those dolls, you know, I sometimes see comments from people that Yukarin fans have a kind of controlled chaos. That it's interesting the fans somehow keep order via some unwritten rule of politeness whenever one of those little rabbit dolls goes flying into the crowd.
Nope, none of that is true. Maybe it just looks that way from far away. But one of those dolls actually went directly to our section and caught by the guy sitting directly behind me (we traded highfives afterward). And let me tell you, when that thing came in...our section became a mosh pit and whoever was closest to catching it became Blake Griffin. The guy next to me got his glasses knocked off, I got elbowed, people were diving across seats, etc. But what was true is that as soon as one guy got a firm grip, everyone suddenly went calm, congratulated the winner, and then went back to their seats. And dudes who trampled each other were totally cool with each other again, acting like nothing even happened. No harm no foul. I guess it's an understood thing.
After thunderous encore chants, Yukarin, her dancers, and band members came back wearing concert T-shirts and kicked off another two big songs: アンドロメダまで1hour, an upbeat tune that fit the live format pretty well and might become a staple in the future, and Super Special Smiling Shy girl, for which we repeatedly yelled the ending verse an exhausting number of times.
Then it was the final MC.
MC Corner 4
"Thank you for your encore call. Today, Yukari noticed some obvious empty seats for the first few songs. I wonder if they had something important come up. If you can't make it, you don't have to force yourself. But thank you those who came since the start, I love you. I had a really good time in Nagoya today. It may just be a pipe dream, but I want to perform in Rainbow Hall some day. I'd love to come back to Nagoya again."
"Oh the clock isn't lit up (digital clock on the side of the halls), what time is it? Nakamura-ya!"
A few audience yell out it's still early.
"I think it's about time for us to finish."
"Yukari is EEEEH too. I don't want to go home"
Audience: "We don't want to go home either!"
Audience: "Let's go for all-night event!"
"Oh it seems like not many people get the Nakamura-ya reference. I guess you have to be a bit old to understand it. If you look it up now I think you get the curry house. Look for Nakamura-ya flash video." (seems to be some kind of comedy routine where a guy is giving a speech and audience keeps yelling stuff trying to interrupt and finish his sentences)
"Anyway let's do the final song. I'd be happy if we can all sing together."
And then the whole audience put in their max effort for the last song You & Me. By amazing fortune, we got this song at Animelo this year with motsu, but this song is just as powerful at a Yukari only event. As she put it, "When motsu isn't here, everyone is motsu."
Finally, everyone on stage joined hands to take a bow. Yukari stayed behind to prepare her farewells. As is her custom at concerts, she spent a long time waving and smiling to each individual section of the concert hall, slowly working her way from left to right, top to bottom and each section of the hall responded in kind with a single loud coordinated "Yukarin" chant. It's a really cool moment of fan/singer bonding that I rarely see for other artists. Once she finished, she stepped back to the center of the stage and gave her closing lines.
"I truly want to thank you for today. You know, Yukari is not young anymore. Well I may be 17 though...I know I'm not young anymore. But while I worked my hardest today, I want to dream even bigger. It might be foolish, but I want to aim for grander events. I'd be happy if you'd keep supporting me. See you again"
Once she exited, the whole audience broke out high fives to eachother and shaking hands, but some girls even started crying. Then fans concluded the day with 三本締め claps.