Hello everyone! I realize it’s been years since I last updated my blog. I’ve actually taken a lot of figure photos since my last entry but somehow I never got around to blogging about them (you can find the photo archive on my social media)
However, yesterday I attended the Dallas screening/”Live Viewing” of the Aqours First Live concert! The entire event was such a memorable experience that I wanted to at least jot down some of my thoughts and impressions.
Prior to yesterday’s live, the only Live Viewing experience I had was when AX 2015 hosted a special screening of the μ’s Endless Parade concert from 2014. I was familiar with idol anime concerts thanks to Idolm@ster and the previous μ’s concerts being released on blu-ray… But there was something special about being in a small theater with hundreds of fans shouting calls and cheering with their glow sticks. After that experience, I definitely gained more appreciation for Lives. You could even say it was life-changing. It even prompted me to buy my own set of king blades in hope that there would be another chance for me to join in with others again.
In anticipation, I would sometimes jokingly wield my king blades while rewatching my older μ’s concert blu-rays. When μ’s announced their final live I was determined to try and make it in. I imported a copy of the movie in order to gain a special code that would let me enter the priority lottery but alas I wasn’t lucky enough to secure a ticket. I eventually bought the boxset for the Final concert but I was a little saddened I didn’t really have many friends that would watch it with me.
After the Love Live Sunshine seiyuu were starting to establish themselves, the dates for their first full-length concert was announced in fall 2016. There was an online petition going around to hopefully get screenings of the Aqours First Live in North American theaters. At the time, only Asian countries were fortunate enough to get Live Viewings of the concerts. While the petition garnered a lot of support, we didn’t receive any response from North American distributes.
However last month when they were announcing dates and locations for the live viewings one of my friends from Houston alerted me that Dallas was hosting a screening! I couldn’t believe it that I had to check the site myself. Sure enough, Dallas along with five other cities were hosting Live Viewings as well! I checked on different online communities in order to find out when tickets would be on sale and immediately reserved mine as soon as they were announced. The tickets sold out quickly that the theater opened up a second auditorium to meet the demand! I was also excited to find out some of my Twitter friends would also be attending the Dallas viewing! I think I was super hyped about it that even my boyfriend bought a ticket and marathoned the entire Sunshine anime the night before the Live Viewing.
Before the screening
The night before I was too excited for the showing that I was frantically staying up programming my king blade to match up with the girls’ official colors. I was glad to see that my official king blade bag was going to be used properly! I also tried to read though the call guide and memorize the calls (I only managed to memorize seiyuu call and response though).
I wanted to try to get to the theater at least 30 minutes before to get good seats but we accidentally missed the train and had to wait another 15 minutes. However, we managed to arrive at the theater with 20 minutes to spare and we were lucky enough to still find some seats near my friends. As we walked into the theater, a representative from our local con AnimeFEST gave us a raffle ticket for some prizes and chemical glowstick! Another group of dedicated fans actually passed out printed booklets of the call guide and printed out a large banner for people to sign as they walked in. Also Azoland Pictures, the official distributor, handed out these commemorative postcards! (pictured above). I honestly didn’t expect to see their signatures in a beautiful gold foil. Glad to see Azoland Pictures was serious about the marketing!
I sat down next to a girl and her father and we briefly talked before the showing. Apparently she traveled all the way from Louisiana just to see the screening! She originally tried to go to the Los Angeles one but it sold out immediately, but she learned that Dallas was hosting one and was glad to hear there was one closer to her state. As I looked around I was impressed to see at least 50-60% of the theater brought king blades! In anticipation, I also turned my own and set them to yellow for King/Hanamaru! The guy sitting next to my boyfriend was also a Hanamaru fan and commented on the yellow haha.
Eventually the theater lights dimmed and immediately Step Zero to One! was on the screen! No one knew which day they were showing or how much of the concert was going to be cut but it looks like Azoland Pictures didn’t cut anything, even the intermission, MCs and waiting segments. It was kind of fun to see the theater join in with the crowd in Japan as they waited in anticipation for the concert to start. I think we spent a good 5-10 minutes waving our glowsticks and chanting haha.
- Aozora Jumping Heart – I’m really glad they opened their first live with their first anime opening! It was awesome to see the full dance for this song and it was a great way to hype up the audience. This definitely was a great way to show how energic and cute the seiyuu are!
- Koi ni Naritai AQUARIUM – I didn’t think they would sing this song so early in the concert but it was still a treat because it’s probably my favorite Aqours PV! It was awesome to see everyone in my theater change their lightsticks to light blue for You/Shukashuu’s solo!
- Seiyuu Call and Response
- Aikyan – She is so pretty in person ahh. I loved how flawlessly she could switch between the Yoshiko/Yohane voice. She was full of energy and she definitely got really into the part of Yohane!
- King – Wahh she is so tall and pretty! She has a natural kansai accent and it’s adorable how well it translates well in Hanamaru’s voice! After the audience did the “maru!” call she added an adorable “mirai zuraaa!”
- Aiai – Aiai is super adorable and actually put her hair up in pigtails like Ruby! I died at her “ganbaruby!”Her natural voice is quite different from Ruby’s so props to her for being able to sing in Ruby’s voice!
- Rikyako – Her personality is quite similar to Riko’s! She was so polite during all of her MCs and her natural voice is really calm and soothing!
- Anchan – She really is their beautiful, fearless, bold leader! I loved how during this live you could really feel how well she fits into role of the leader.
- Shukashuu – She is naturally energetic like You herself! I love how spot-on her “yousoro!” and “kara no!” salutes are and she was definitely an audience favorite.
- Suwawa – Suwawa is super pretty and her voice really puts you at ease! During her MC she mentioned that she put her hair up in a ponytail and added some blue highlights in honor of Kanan! Her natural singing voice is very similar to Kanan’s as well. When Suwawa said “hagu shiyou!” during her call and response she turned to hug Arisha and it was cute seeing the shocked face she made.
- Arisha – She is very gorgeous and definitely has stage prescience! I love that she has a natural lisp and plays the oujo-sama role very well. Arisha looked so wonderful with curled hair!
- Ainya – I love whenever she uses her Mari voice for english phrases! Ainya’s “SHINY!” and “LOCK ON!” were so energetic and bubbly. I was a little embarrassed when I realized I programmed the wrong shade of purple on my king blade.
- Kimeta yo Hand in Hand/Daisuki Dattara Daijobu – it was nice to see the 2nd years perform their songs! During their MC they also talked a little bit about their costumes and each of them did a little turn complete with “kuru kuru kuru”sound effects to show off the details. During their MCs I was wondering why there were certain seams in the cosplay and then it all made sense in the next song…
- Yume de Yozora wo Terashitai – Anchan/Shukashuu/Rikyako did a quick change in order to perform Yume de Yozora wo Terashitai! Everyone looked really beautiful in their dresses and they matched perfectly with the anime! I also loved how the projector added floating lanterns to match the scene in the anime. I didn’t think the audience would change their lightsticks to orange ala Snow Halation but I think it’s an awesome tradition I hope they do in future concerts!
- Interludes – I’m really glad they kept all the sound drama interludes! Unfortunately there were no subtitles and my Japanese isn’t very advanced. However my favorite story was when all of the Aqours members were fighting over which food to eat: curry, ramen or shumai.
- CYARon – Next up were the unit songs! CYARon opened up with a really energetic performance of Genki Zenkai DAY!DAY!DAY! They definitely are suited for the role of Smile unit! I felt like they were jumping everywhere. Good thing they had a little break in between songs because they definitely needed it! Poor Aiai had trouble getting her waterbottle out, in perfect Ruby fashion show. During their MCs they talked a little bit about their costumes. Looks like the costume designer did a great job of translating the outfits on their singles cover. Shukashuu seemed really excited to wear a beret and Anchan pointed out how she added 3 little mikan patches onto her outfit to represent each member of CYARon (so cute and sweet). Next was Yozora wa Nandemo Shitteru no. It was such a gorgeous performance! The projectors made the screen and stage look like a galaxy and it was wonderful seeing Shukashuu’s dance solo.
- AZALEA – I’m glad they opened up with Torikoriko PLEASE! because it was such a great way to get the crowd hyped up again! All three of them were dressed in these gorgeous white dresses that made them look like princesses. Arisha has a lot of stage presence and really owned the stage and her outfit. I’m pleasantly surprised how stable King’s vocals are. I think she probably has the strongest voice out of all the Aqours members. During their MCs the members pointed out their wands and said it made them feel like magicians. Suwawa asked the audience to hide their lightsticks and then make them turn pink when she waved her wand. All three of them joined in and said “piri piri” as they waved them and it was fun watching the stadium turn pink as they ran around. They even asked the Live Viewing audiences to join in which was super cute! Next up was Tokimeki Bunruigaku! I was really impressed with the projection mapping they used during this performance. The producers kept the flower motif and I was wowed when the AZALEA members spun their arms around and an Azelea flower appeared in the background! My favorite part was when they spelled ‘A Z A L E A’ in the song. It’s definitely awesome hearing it live.
- Guilty Kiss – Finally it was time for Guilty Kiss to perform and they did not disappoint! When all three of them said “READY?” at the beginning Strawberry Trapper it sent chills down my spine. Their performance was super hyped and equipped with the standing retro microphones. Many times during this performance they were rocking out and using them like air guitars. When it was time for their MC the camera zoomed on Rikyako who was hiding behind her mic. Ainya and Aikyan asked what she was doing, she answered in Riko fashion that she was embarrassed at how short her skit was. It seems that the members really loved how their outfits turned out! They definitely fit the “fallen angel” vibe that Yohane would go for. Aikyan mentioned that she added some touches she thought Yohane would approve of and showed off some cute purple bat wings she added onto her boots. And then it was time for Guilty Kiss Guilty Night which is probably my favorite unit song so far. It was super cute to see Ainya blow a kiss to the audience along with the sound effect in the song. There wasn’t much dancing but you could tell they were still tired after the Strawberry Trapper performance, but they still managed to get the crowd hyped up! Everyone in my theater was chanting “GUILTY KISS GUILTY NIGHT” along with the concert audience.
- Mijuku DREAMER – After another interlude all of the members changed into the Mijuku DREAMER outfits! Mijuku DREAMER is one of my favorite songs and seeing it live definitely did not disappoint. I was able to catch glimpses of just how detailed the outfits were and they were definitely my favorite of the night! During their MCs all the seiyuus seemed to really compliment this outfit set! Each of them showed off the back and I was impressed just how much detail went into the concert versions. Each of them had a unique bow and up close you could tell the material was very high quality.
- Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare – When the grand piano appeared there was a collective gasp of excitement. By now most of the audience was aware about what happened to Rikyako during the 2nd day performance and no one was sure which concert day was being screened. However, it was amazing to still see people in my theater change their light sticks to sakura pink and chant “Rikako!” during her entire performance. It looks like they ended up airing the day one performance but that still didn’t take away how amazing and flawless Rikyako performed. It was nice that there was a camera next to the keys so you could see that Rikyako was really playing! For someone who had just learned piano she did an amazing job! During their MC Rikyako talked about how nervous she was but now she understood how Riko must’ve felt before her piano performance. She also pointed out of that everyone was wearing matching scrunchies on their wrists to symbolize their unity just like in the anime!
- Mirai TICKET – Another costume change! The Mirai TICKET outfits were probably the most beautiful ones out of this entire concert. I just remembered how detailed the fabric and trimmings were… also Shukashuu had a really gorgeous tailcoat train. The seiyuus surprisingly re-enacted the skit from episode 13. It caught everyone in the audience off-guard and I admit it was a little humorous, but I’m impressed that Anchan did a great job acting out her scenes in real life! A few people in my theater also cracked their UOs during this performance.
- Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru Kai – I was wondering if they would perform this song and I’m glad they saved it near the end because it’s such a classic! I’m impressed that Aikyan and Shukashuu actually did their vaults in this performance! Also I definitely need to work harder on learning the calls for this song. At least I got the “Oh yes doki doki sunshine!” haha.
- ENCORE – In live concert fashion we got an encore performance! The encore interlude animation was really cute though especially because Hanamaru was busy snacking up until they had to go on stage. First up they did Pops Heart de Odorun Damon! almost as a callback to their first mini live. Shukashuu in You fashion started running towards the center stage while all of the Aqours members lagged behind. I’m so impressed she still had so much energy to run around. Next they all got into trains and performed Yume Kataru yori Yume Utaou! It was cute because each of them held pom poms with their image color similar to the ending sequence! The concert audience and my theater sang along during the chorus. Finally they ended the concert with STEP! Zero to One! I couldn’t have asked for a better finale song as a tribute to the namesake of the first live concert!
Prior to the concert people online were mentioning how the seiyuus for Aqours were still quite young and did not have as much experience. While you could tell they still had room to grow, I can safely say they exceeded my expectations in this live! This concert was definitely very memorable and I think the Aqours seiyuus showed that they could hold their own and make a name for themselves in the Love Live franchise. I really hope they continue to gain popularity after this concert!
One of aspects that blew me away about this live was the production quality! First off, Yokohama Arena holds about 10,000 people! If I remember correct the venue for μ’s first live only had a capacity of 1700 (?) I already mentioned it above but I was really impressed by the the use of projection mapping during this concert. The special effects definitely added to the performance. Finally the costumes! I’m really glad that they made room in the budget to produce really high-quality costumes for the girls. Love Live has some really cute outfit designs and it was nice to be able to see them brought to life! (also cosplay references eyy)
Finally, I hope the success of these North American screenings opens doors for other cities to have them too! I was worried that the Dallas screening wouldn’t fill up but it was encouraging when I heard they had to open up a second theater! The Sunshine fans here were great and I hope I get to be able to experience another live when them again in the future! Maybe by then I’ll have some merchandise to wear!
Did any of you get an opportunity to attend a Live Viewing or see the concert yourself? How was your experience?