Category Archives: Music

Man With A Mission: Live at the Roxy, December 2013

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Official photo by Nobayuki Kobayashi.

In the rather plastic world of Japanese pop music, the relatively new band Man With A Mission stands out. Rather than opting for boy band flash and glitter, or the elaborate costuming of the visual kei set, the members of Man With A Mission don just one thing: wolf heads. They are more than just masks: they are a commitment, covering the whole head and leaving only holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Their mouths do not move visibly, even as they sing. (Though the bass player’s eyes did glow red at one point.) They are transformed when they take the stage. They become their act.

The fanciful backstory that they conceived for themselves–that they are the botched products of human experimentation by a super-powered Jimi Hendrix–shows that their sense of humor is matched with an appreciation for the rock masters. Amid their original numbers, which included the anime opening song for Log Horizon “database” as well as anthemic numbers like “Emotions,” was a surprisingly faithful, spirited cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” They did it their own way: with their blend of rap and the original’s hard riffs, though the chorus returned to the original version. The whole crowd headbanged along. It wasn’t exactly like being back in 1992 Seattle, but I don’t think Kurt Cobain is rolling in his grave either.

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Official photo by Nobayuki Kobayashi.

(Let’s not forget, of course, Cobain’s appreciation for Japan’s original pop punk band, Shonen Knife. The distance between American alternative rock and Japanese rock is not as far as one might think. )

Much of Man With a Mission’s music is actually reminiscent of a slightly later period of music, the electronica/DJ tinged rap rock of the late 90s and early 2000s, which is most evident in “Database” and “Get Off of My Way,” and perhaps most obviously and notably, “distance”–in which DJ Starscream (SID) from Slipknot showed up to guest DJ. (The Slipknot influence runs deep: the band’s use of costumes, the stage diving, and their sound….) But unlike Slipknot and other acts in that genre, there’s a positivity to MWaM’s music, which is infectious and helped the crowd–a diverse mix of Japanese fans, regular clubgoers, and a few otakus like myself–get into the right mood, even if the songs were not necessarily familiar to everyone. Evidently realizing that the anime crowd is perhaps giving them the most exposure now, they saved “database” for last, and this got the crowd going harder than anything else. The song is a good representation of their sound, and it also fits lyrically with the themes of the show very well. Anyone who was a fan of the show left satisfied that evening, ears ringing with the powerful vocals and guitars that ring through all of their songs.

The masks never came off, so we never got to see the “real” faces of the band. They decided, instead, to allow their music to be their identity, and it’s a fresh, interesting one.

Set List

  1. Take What U Want
  2. Bubble of Life
  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit
  4. FLY AGAIN
  5. Emotions
  6. distance with SID
  7. Get Off of My Way
  8. DON’T LOSE YOURSELF
  9. Enc.1 / MASH UP THE DJ !!
  10. Enc.2 / database feat.TAKUMA(10-FEET)
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Photo by gendomike.

 

 

Porno Graffitti, Live at Anime Expo 2013

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Prominent J-Rock band Porno Graffitti performed their many anime songs and others live at Anime Expo 2013 this year. Both Monsieur LaMoe and Shizuka were on hand to cover it, with Shizuka taking photos along the way. These are their joint impressions of the show.

LaMoe: So when the concert started–yes, that’s right, I’ve heard this song before, their debut piece, “Apollo.” That completely blew me away. I heard this song more than a decade ago, but it still sounds so vivid and fresh! It made me nostalgic, that speedy and powerful that I still remember so well. It’s amazing how Akihito projects his voice! I’d never heard him sing live until now, and it was incredible. He’s close to 40 years old, but still jumping and running around during the entire show. Such admirable stamina! Listening to the live performance is so much better than listening via iTunes with earbuds on.

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Later they played “Saudade,” which is a song that has a Latin feel to it. The word “saudade” is the fundamental feeling behind bossa nova music, the music pioneered by Antonio Carlos Jobim. But “Saudade” did not sound like bossa nova at all, but more like Santana-like Latin music with a very J-pop sound. They told us during their press conference that the word fit their song, so the mood was still recognizable.

And then there were the recognizable anime songs, especially from Great Teacher Onizuka and Bleach, that made the crowd go wild. Yes, when I first heard “Hitori no Yoru” (the GTO opening song), instead of “Lonely, lonely,” I heard, “loli, loli.” So, I thought it was about a lolicon song, just like The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” Yup, Mr. Onizuka is a lolicon! “Loli loli, I want to see you~♪” Darn! But turned out that was only my soramimi (“mishearing” literally “empty ears (空耳)”). But seeing the crowd dancing to a lolicon song would’ve been so hilarious.

And that Fullmetal Alchemist opening, “Melissa,” oh, such nostalgia. Yup, this anime was from a decade ago! Reminds me… Ah, so good. Yeah, listening to the anime songs live felt so great after all.

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Shizuka: Porno Graffitti delivered an incredible performance for their fans, keeping the energy high within the crowd, as they got the audience to sing along in “Century Lovers” and swing towels (which had been thrown into to the crowd) like cowboys swinging lassos during “Mugen.” But I wasn’t just impressed by Porno Graffitti’s ability to keep the crowd excited – I was equally impressed by their dedication to the music, as the lead singer of Porno Graffitti took out and played a real harmonica during “Winding Road!”

And then, “Melissa” played. My (and probably most fans’) most anticipated song, it was so much better performed live that all I could do was bask in the music. The audience’s response to this song after it was over was so strong that Porno Graffitti played this as their last song in an unexpected triple encore!

It was a give and take relationship between Porno Graffitti and the audience. With Porno Graffitti giving such an energizing performance, the audience gave an incredible show of support through their towel-swinging, “porno-porno” cheering, and frenzied hand-waving back to Porno Graffitti. I’m sure they weren’t ready for rabid American fans, as Porno Graffitti had to tell the audience to quiet down so their voices could be heard at the end of the concert… so they could announce that they would be back!

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LaMoe: Between the encores everyone was screaming, “Porno, porno, porno!” That sounded really weird, but refreshing. It’s something just lost in translation in Japanese. The word porneia (πορνεία) originally meant “fornication” or “sexual immorality” in Greek. Yes, as a rock band, that’s the name it should be. The term”rock’n roll” also meant “fornication.” So, it’s a music for fornication. They provide the kind of music that gets everyone horny. Yes, sexual burst, an outlet for the daily repression of capitalism!

Set List

  1. Apollo (Debut song)
  2. Koyoi, Tsuki ga Miezutomo (Bleach 3rd movie ending song)
  3. Matataku Hoshi no Shita de (Magi 2nd opening song)
  4. Hitori no Yoru (Great Teacher Onizuka 2nd opening song)
  5. Anima Rossa (Bleach 11th opening song)
  6. Saudade
  7. Winding Road (Ayakashi Ayashi ending song)
  8. Ai ga Yobu Hou e
  9. Century Lovers
  10. Mugen
  11. Melissa (Fullmetal Alchemist opening song)
  12. Haneuma Rider
  13. Music Hour

Encore:

  1. Agehachou
  2. Dilemma
  3. Melissa

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Porno Graffitti at AX 2013: Photo Gallery

Anime Diet was privileged to attend and take photos of J-rock band Porno Graffitti at this year’s Anime Expo! Pornograffitti is best known for anime OPs and EDs for Great Teacher OnizukaFullmetal AlchemistBleach, and most recently Magi. They named themselves after the album by Extreme (see their remarks in our liveblog of their press conference about that and more), and currently consists of Akihito Okano on vocals and guitar, and Haruichi Shindo on background vocal and guitar.

Here we present to you our best photos of the concert, taken by Shizuka. Our full review of the concert, as well as a full translated transcript of the press conference, is coming very soon as well! Stay tuned.

Porno Graffitti: AX 2013 Press Conference Transcript

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L: Haruichi Shindo (guitar), R: Akihito Okano (lead vocal)

This is a full, translated transcript of the band Porno Graffitti’s press conference at Anime Expo 2013. Porno Graffitti, best known for doing songs for BleachFullmetal Alchemist, and recently Magi, consists of two members: Akihito Okano (lead vocals), and Haruichi Shindo (guitar). They both answered questions.

Are your anime songs written before being associated with that show, or are they written specifically to complement the anime?

Akihito: Yes, usually, we get the offer to do an anime theme song first…so we often write songs with the feel and taste of that anime in mind. For example, when we were making a theme song for Bleach, which has a lot of very samurai-like characters in it, those characters make us think of the Japanese concept of wa (harmony). So we wrote a melody that sounded Japanese. And when writing lyrics, that’s a different process, so Haruichi [can explain]…

Haruichi: To pick a recent example, Magi, I come in with a general understanding of the show’s basic worldview and then write the lyrics. Then once we receive the opening sequence of the anime, I watch it and make adjustments to the lyrics to make it even closer to the anime’s worldview. It’s like a back and forth process, and that is what’s special about collaborating with the production team to work on an anime together.

(Us): You did a song called “Saudade,” a concept borrowed from Brazil and associated with bossa nova music. Are you influenced at all by bossa nova or Brazilian music?

Haruichi: I also like bossa nova, so I listen to it a lot and then I caught the word “saudade” in the lyrics without understanding its meaning. So I got interested and looked it up in the dictionary, and then thought, “Oh, that’s what it means,” and I thought this concept would fit that song, so I used it.

What does your popularity overseas say not just about your music but the spread of anime/manga/Japanese pop culture overall?

Akihito: Well, we’re proud of the fact that our music is breaking through to so many cultures overseas, to America, because Japan is hugely influenced by America and we all admire America. That’s what’s our background is, so I’m happy that our culture is in a way going back to America. Well, I could go on, but if the historical ties between Japan and the US could become deep, where Japanese and Americans get along, or people around the world can get along…if we can play a part in that, I think that will make us happy.

What do you want to do next?

Haruichi: Since we debuted as major artists 15 years ago, even in Japan we are starting to be seen as more like an adult/mature group. How we can play rock music as a more “grown-up” band will be the next big challenge for us. So, if we can do more “mature music,” that will be great.

Any influence from foreign artists or Japanese artists? 

Akihito: Well, yes, if you going back to our roots, rather than being influenced by one artist or another, we are influenced by all kinds and types…after all, North America has a myriad of different styles of musicians. Different aspects of different artists have influenced us, so we can choose from a lot of sounds. For next time, we want to continue to explore many more types of sounds.

Was there a particular anime that you enjoyed working on the most?

Akihito: As I mentioned before, when we wrote a song for the theatrical version of Bleach, Tite Kubo really liked our song, and he even wrote a comment that praises our song. So we have a lot of good memories working with that anime, and it leaves a good impression when you get positive feedback, and when the collaboration between author and musicians really works.

What kind of anime did you watch growing up?

Haruichi: I could probably bring up an endless number of titles, and I could go on and on… Yes, we are probably the first “Gundam generation,” and Weekly Shonen Jump was very big, so we were all reading that, and we saw the anime that was made from those manga, like Kinniku-man, Dragonball, Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star). I could go on and maybe many people at AX could say they’ve seen similar titles. And there were also the programs that aired during weekday nights, like Tom and Jerry, Road Runner; we were watching both Japanese anime and American cartoons.

Akihito: Probably, all kids all over the world are like that. And probably, you watch an anime and try to remember its song and sing it with full energy…that might have been the starting point for me to become a singer. Like when I was a child, I tried hard to remember the theme songs of Gundam, Saint Seiya. Actually if you make me sing the Seiya theme song, I can still sing it really well. Pegasus Fantasy!

What do you say to your fans in Latin America? Will you consider touring there one day?

Akihito: Yes, as we mentioned before, we’ve been influenced by Latin music so we use its sounds sometimes. It is true that Japan and Latin America are far apart geographically, but from now on, we will be more aware of fans in Latin America as we make our music. Having met you here in LA, I’d be happy to reach out to you where you are, and if we ever have another chance, we want to visit Latin America too. So please invite us.

Did y0u ever watch an anime where you felt, “we have to do the song for that!”?

Haruichi: Before we became a professional band, we never had the idea of specifically writing anime songs, in coordination with the anime’s production team. But after our professional debut, then we had an opportunity to do just that, and that gave us the ability to expand our audience beyond our usual rock one. It’s even helped us break some generational barriers. And now, if we can work on a good anime, we will when the time is right.

Are there any specific songs or artists that have inspired you as musicians?

Akihito: One of our first influences was Guns and Roses, who are right here from LA, and after seeing them on TV, we wanted to be a cool band like them. That’s how we started, and there’s been others who’ve influenced us. Haruichi for instance is a guitarist, so he was influenced by Eric Clapton in particular.

Haruichi: Do you know Rodrigo y Gabriela? I love them.

We will tell them.

Thank you!

What ties do you have to Los Angeles? Why did you choose here as your overseas debut?

Haruichi: Well, when we were in middle school or high school, there was the “L.A. metal boom.” That was our first exposure to Western music, and so our image of Western music was a long blond haired guy rocking wildly with tight pants playing metal music. Our image of Los Angeles/the West Coast is like that.

Akihito: We’ve been more influenced by Los Angeles than we ever were consciously aware of. Like with the movie Terminator 2, when we landed at LAX, the scenery from that movie was implanted in my memory already and so I said, “oh, this is the place they used in that scene!” Then I realized that so many aspects of how we felt about America–of course, there’s also New York, other big metropolitan cities too–were mostly or entirely influenced by Los Angeles.

This is July 4th weekend for Americans. What do you think of all the festivities?

Haruichi: Well, coming back from a video/photo shoot in Santa Monica, we got stuck in a traffic jam. That was a pretty good sign of the festivities going on!

(Us) Can you confirm that you named yourself after the album by Extreme? Also, tell us a bit about your beginnings as a band, and whether you expected to get as far as you did.

Haruichi: Just like you said, we borrowed our name “Porno Graffitti” from Extreme’s second album. When we were an amateur band, we wanted a very memorable name and one that would leave a strong impression, so we borrowed it from that album, which we’d been listening to in high school. We didn’t take it seriously back then, but then we got a major label debut under that name. And that was when we found out that adults, unexpectedly, didn’t really like the word “porno.” And by the time that the Japanese got used to the name “Porno Graffitti,” we end up coming to Los Angeles and found out that English speaking people are even more surprised and offended by the word “porno.” So we do feel a little bit of regret…if we had known we’d play overseas one day, or be on national TV in Japan, we would have chosen a different name.

Porno Graffitti AX Press Conference Liveblog

Actual pictures of the band pending management approval.
Actual pictures of the band pending management approval.

We were one of the lucky few pre-approved press outlets to be able to attend the Porno Graffitti[sic] press conference at Anime Expo 2013! Here is a live tweet record of it. There are gaps and other issues due to an unreliable Internet connection, but a complete, translated transcript is forthcoming—so here’s a small taste. Enjoy!


Watching Documentary of AKB48: to be continued

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I can’t say that I am a hardcore AKB48 fan, but I do enjoy hearing them and seeing a couple of faces such as Mariko Shinoda, or Minami Takahashi.

The first time I heard about this documentary was when I saw a preview of it at Baby Stars Shine Bright last year when I was in San Francisco. I always thought that it was going to be hard for me to watch this documentary without forking over $20+, but it is a video available at CrunchyRoll on the drama side.

Idols are very much a part of Asia media and AKB48 shows off a unique aspect in the fact that this is an ongoing reality popularity contest on a scale not seen much in American entertainment, unless you count shows like American Idol, The Voice, or America’s Got Talent. It is in the record books as being the largest group with well over 300+ members, regular or trainee. Members are evaluated and voted on an ongoing performance basics, as Japanese girls join groups such as this to embark on an entertainment career.

In terms of anime similarities Idol Master, Love Life School Idol Project shows off a side to what AKB48 members are experiencing in reality. This is a documentary for fans of this group. Also as a sociology interest, it concentrates on documenting thoughts, footage and life of a celebrity group in Japan.

I hear positive and negative opinions about AKB48, and they can be thought of as a talent-less group, but there are people who like or are aware of this group. So the question they pose is something people would wonder in the career of a celebrity for a now and then feature.

Monkey Majik/Yoshida Brothers NYC Concert

I know it has been a couple of weeks after this event, but better late than never? If I had an unlimited budget, I would want to chase after this band. Mentally I can think about this concert as though it occurred yesterday, and yes…. I was very happy that I was able to experience Monkey Majik for their first time in the United States. It has been like an early Christmas holiday for me this year!

Monkey Majik for those who are not familiar with them is bilingual band with two of the four members being non-Japanese: Maynard (voc/guitar), Blaise (voc/guitar), Tax (drummers), Dick (bass). They have one anime credit, singing the opening themes to Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. This was their first North American tour, touring with the Yoshida Brothers, an act Anime Diet had interviewed and covered before. New York was their only stop.

Unlike JAM Project, I didn’t lose my voice for this group. But for the couple of days after the concert, I was still visibly energized and moved by this concert.

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Not the main entrance, but still Webster Hall

Monkey Majik and Yoshida Brothers performed at Webster Hall, where AKB48, Puffy Ami Yumi and other performers have performed. Doors were suppose to be opened at 7-ish, but opened later. This was a standing room only concert, so when the doors opened and people bum rushed in, I found myself behind the first row of people, stage right. Directly in view of Maynard and Ryoichiro.

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Ryoichiro Yoshida

Yoshida Brothers who I know is good enough to headline their own shows as featured performers, opened the act for their good friends. I seriously wish I can tell you what their set list definitely was but beyond my own untrained ears, I can only say that Shamisen music is best heard live. There was one song that people sung/hummed along with, I speculate it might be Sukiyaki.

NYC turned out to be a sold out show. This concert also occurred soon after Sandy, when NYC is still affected by the super storm. Up until the weekend before I was worried about Webster Hall getting power back, since for a time post-storm everything under 34th lost power.

I follow Blaise and Maynard on Twitter, so they have snippets of what they did in NY, which they stayed for a couple of days until their next show at Toronto.

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Maynard Plant

In between songs of their set, Blaise and Maynard spoke with the audience. As a fan it moves me to see how much love there is for this group. It also was gratifying to see the band themselves enjoy this concert as well. I was in a state of euphoria to know that at least I connected by voice to the two vocalists. It also heartens me to see that Blaise had earlier RT a comment I made to him.

The walls were vibrating with music from the other bands playing at Webster that night. Tax was definitely confused keeping apace of the musical beats, that Blaise and Maynard mentioned it. There were fans I heard from Japan, Canada, Pennsylvania, and of course New York. Blaise made a comment about Frank Sinatra, and I cracked up, since his “New York New York” song is a very cliche song, and Sinatra’s a Hoboken guy.

The stage was also pretty small, and with the amount of times Blaise and Maynard switched guitars, the floor was strewn with wires. This had some potential for tripping. But the performers and crew were good about keeping balanced, moving around the stage.

This was a highly enjoyable concert. I would sincerely love it, if Monkey Majik comes back again! At the end of the show, Dick came and threw out guitar picks, I was able to get one. That was a nice souvenir, though the Japanese lady next to me got Maynard’s towel. (The fangirl in me sighs enviously.)

Monkey Majik’s pick. Can I fangirl some more?

I tried to compile a set list of this concert, it seems as though Jiyuuhonpou has a complete set list that she listed on her tumblr.

Fast Forward
Around the World
UFO
Go with U
Wonderland
5.30
fly
Hero
虹色の魚
goin’ places
Bicycle
空はまるで
魔法の言葉
HALO
Together
Headlight
Encore: Change

For this venue, I didn’t take as much photos as I had hoped. I know May has way more better photos than I have taken up over on her flickr.

Unofficial Set List for Monkey Majik/Yoshida Brothers NYC concert

Okay this is a place marker, and an intention to post up somewhere my precious fan memories of this concert.. I am unsure of if there is going to be a public confirmation of the New York setlist, and I wasn’t at this venue as official press, but I am still marching on forth with recapping for people not there.

For the Yoshida Brothers, I am very very sure my ears picked up this:

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Ibuki

Though I can safely say I heard about six to seven songs were played, before Monkey Majik came on.

Now for the Monkey Majik part, my ears picked out these songs. Comments and criticism welcome for if my ears are deceiving me.

This list is seriously not in order:

Halo
Hero
魔法の言葉
虹色の魚
空はまるで
Together
Fly
Around the World
Wonderland

Encore: Change

Otakon Music Festival 2012: JAM Project FTW!

I actually went to this event as a JAM Project fan, since I and like sooo many other fans attended this event. I heard of fans coming in from California, Canada and Ohio to see this. From my personal experiences, to love this group is to listen to songs that the group performed countless times, and then going at it in karaoke, or in the presence of your own family who looks on as you rock to the music. Then at performances like this, shout, scream, jump back to the performer. So when performers like Hironobu Kageyama, Masaaki Endoh, Hiroshi Kitadani, Masami Okui, Yoshiki Fukuyama merged as the group of Japan Animationsong Makers, dare I say… JUST HOW EPIC CAN THIS GET!!!

I heard about this festival with the closing of this year’s Otakon, and waited until I can buy tickets to pounce on them. Since I have seen them in 2008 when they were first in the U.S, I can honestly say I didn’t want my experience seeing them as I did five years ago. I wanted to be able to rock as hard as I possibly can. Ram’s Head charges $8 for coat ($3) and bag ($5) check in.

I arrived at Ram’s Head with Mori. There were already a good amount of people there, so we queue up, and waited until the doors opened. People were streaming into Baltimore throughout the afternoon  so I was able to keep track of some activity from concert going friends via social media. For the concert I stood with Mori and Paper, stage right.

Unluckily many of JAM Project official con goods sold out even before the show began. I am not as familiar with Faylan, and Natsuko Aso, outside of Baka and Test’s opening. They began the show, and sang about five songs each. I waited until JAM Project came on after a ten minute break. Of all the members of the band, Kagayama spoke the most in  English, though all JAM Project spoke English to greetings, and short conversations.

Kagayama asked (Baltimore audience) if we were ok with the cyclone. He then corrected himself and said Hurricane.  He was concerned about fans who shouted that they were from New York. (I am also from New York). He mentioned remembering Otakon and said that us fans were “especially nice to us” (JAM Project). He asks audience to call him A-chan, and said the best part of Baltimore was buying a Carl Ripken t-shirt. On another note, many fans at the concert were also wearing 08’s No Boarder concert shirt, Kageyama was clearly happy, but teased that the concert and tshirt was already an old thing.

Kitadani “absolutely loves seafood” and shouted emphatically that he can “eat [it] everyday.” He also loves crabcake and jokingly asks audience members if anyone had any at the moment.

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Okui was greatly impressed by all the cosplay at Otakon. She also mentioned that since “some of us (fans) are really hardcore” that she gets inspirations for her next cosplay.

Endoh introduces himself last, and mentions how Baltimore and Otakon was a “special memory” for him.  Then he points to the other performers on the stage, and says “We’re JAM Project from Japan” and invites fans to sing along if we knew the lyrics.

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During the performance, the concert, there was a Skype chat with Fukuyama who as a regular member of JAM Project was unfortunately unable to be present at the concert due to health reasons. There were hiccups due to technical lag that was entertaining, it certainly cracked up the rest of the JAM Project band members on stage. It was 9 am in Tokyo, so he mentions that his neighbors should be angry (if they were around.) In front of the web cam, Fukuyama  picked up his guitar and performed two songs on the spot.

Throughout the show, JAM Project members were always in motion, and switching places throughout the stage. The stage can be seen as narrow, and with their full band behind them, and the precise movements showed off the rich experience of a seasoned power group.

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During their Transformer Evo song, JAM Project tossed their band towel’s into the audience.

Before the encore, Kitadani brought out a crab plushie, that symbolized Baltimore’s mascot. He called it Crabby-chan and had a bit of fun with it, before the audience. Even Okui wore a bib in fun.

Encore happens, and between the two encores, Faylan, and Natsuko Aso came out as JAM Project sang Skill. After Skill, Kageyama thanked audience for supporting last year’s Japanese earthquake, with memories about US’s Operation Tomodaichi. There’s a “bond between people, but” (what’s) “stronger”  (is) “love between people”

The show ends with Kageyama introducing the band, and then every performer held hands and did a couple of bows.

Setlist
Crest of “Z’’s
Break Out
鋼のレジスタンス [Hagane no Resistance]
TRANSFORMERS EVO
レスキューファイアー [Rescue Fire]
牙狼~SAVIOR IN THE DARK~ [Garo ~ SAVIOR IN THE DARK~]
輪舞-revolution [Ribun Revolution] (Okui solo)
ウィーアー! [We Are!] (Kitadani solo)
勇者王誕生! [Yuusha-oh Tanjou!] (Endoh solo)
CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA (Kageyama solo)
キングゲイナー・オーバー [King Gainer Over] (Fukuyama solo via Skype)
DYNAMITE EXPLOSION (Fukuyama solo via Skype)
VICTORY
GONG
ROCKS
vanguard
KI・ZU・NA (encore 1)
SKILL (encore 2)

Since the concert at Baltimore, fans have been able to see JAM Project member’s individual blogs mention Baltimore, and Otakon. Though these pages are in Japanese only, it is great to see what JAM Project personally though of their experience, and what happens afterwards or behind the scene. KageyamaOkui, Endoh, Fukuyama

Omo, and Kurotsuki also have their own fan reports up. Take a look at Anime Diet’s Flickr for more other photos taken by Paper, and soon to be updated with Mori’s concert photos. Paper has his report up, now waiting for a write up from Mori.

At this point, I am back in New York, and recovering still from losing my voice, but as far as I am concerned. This experience with JAM Project has been an excellent one that I would remember for a long time. Kageyama hints that JAM Project would be back next year with Fukuyama, so this fan is in anticipation for this epic super group coming back to America again!

Hirano Aya Concert: Review

See the full set of concert pictures taken by Shizuka here.

Aya Hirano’s concert, held on the last day of Otakon 2012, was an excellent way for many to spend the last few hours of the convention. Aya Hirano is best known for her role as the singer of the opening and ending songs for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, as well as voice acting anime characters such as Haruhi and Konata from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star, respectively.

Scheduled from 12:30pm – 1:30pm (conveniently after most area hotels’ checkout time), the line for Aya Hirano’s concert extended from the entrance of the concert hall and continued outside the east side of the Baltimore Convention Center, an effort to minimize the line’s impact to traffic inside the convention that was mostly successful. Thanks to excellent line control by Otakon’s staff, the concert hall quickly and efficiently filled with Otakon attendees, nearly hitting the three-thousand person capacity of the concert hall.

The lights dimmed, the band strolled onto the stage, and…

Aya Hirano stood before thousands of her American fans, singing “Riot Girl” from her debut album of the same name. Her second song, “Kiss Me,” was from her second album Speed☆Star. These songs were from 2008-2009, near the beginning of her career.

After singing the first two songs, Aya Hirano finally greeted her American fans to excited cheering and vigorous waving of glowsticks. The next set of songs were the only parts of the concert that press could photograph. So as Aya Hirano started performing these songs, I was madly taking pictures of Aya Hirano’s performance.

“DIFFUSION (To the Other Side)” – from Aya Hirano’s May 2012 FRAGMENTS album
Unnamed World – from Aya Hirano’s 2009 Speed☆Star album. Also the ending theme for Nijū Mensō no Musume.
BRIGHT SCORE- from FRAGMENTS as well

At this point, most fans of Aya Hirano who had only heard of her anime songs might not have recognized any of the songs just performed. Of course, she had just saved her most well known songs for last: “God Knows…,” “Lost My Music,” and “Super Driver.” These songs were used as insert songs for the first season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and the opening to the show’s second season.

As Aya Hirano finished “Super Driver,” the stage went dark, the band departed, and the concert ended. Or did it? Aya Hirano’s fans at Otakon cheered for an encore for almost five minutes before Aya Hirano and her band obliged, singing “Bouken Desho Desho?”, the opening theme to the first season of Haruhi Suzumiya. This wasn’t just an ordinary performance of “Bouken Desho Desho?”, as Aya Hirano called out to the audience, holding out her microphone for the audience to sing along with the harmony. The last song of the concert, “MonStAR,” was a piece from her early album Riot Girl.

The concert was immediately followed by an autograph session. A line that stretched the entire way around the perimeter of the room rapidly formed. While I didn’t have time to stay for Aya Hirano’s autograph session, I heard that she stayed for more than two hours after the end of her concert to make sure that everyone who made it into the line got an autograph. Bravo, Otakon and Aya Hirano, for making many Hirano fans’ dreams come true: a live concert, an autograph, and a memory that will last a lifetime.


The full set list follows (Source: Japanator)

Intro Medley
Riot Girl
Kiss Me

MC01

Diffusion (To the Other Side)
Unnamed World
Bright Score

MC02

God Knows…
Lost My Music
Super Driver

Encore
Bouken Desho Desho?

MC03

MonStAR

MC04 and End of Concert

Yuki Kajiura/FictionJunction live at AX 2012

The waiting line was as long as an anaconda, like waiting for a soup kitchen during the Great Depression. Yes, we otakus are desperate for the beyond-reality music to obliviate our plight in 3D. So, people were desperately wanting to see them perform.

Continue reading Yuki Kajiura/FictionJunction live at AX 2012