The Sunday morning before last, still ouchy after a recent traffic accident and sure to be more sore after the hours of standing that would be involved, I actually found myself debating whether or not to go to that afternoon's Anime Japan Fes concert.
The debate lasted some 33 seconds. ;^) Two factors decided it quick: My ticket's number, 298, was low enough to have a shot at entering the venue in time to get a position with a rail to lean against (which is thankfully what happened; wound up in the fifth row, parked on the rail that separates the front left and center sections)...and this concert's lineup of stars made it one I really did not want to miss!
Safely survived the concert, and headed with relief out to the lobby, looking forward to checking out the tables of CDs and DVDs for sale there...and then trouble struck. Who knew a simple CD would stir up an atypically aggressive mob that almost shoved over its sales table, crunching a few folks enroute? ...But I'm getting ahead of the story...
ANIME JAPAN FES 2009 "Fuyu no Jin"
January 11, 2009 at Shibuya O-East, Shibuya, Tokyo
Featuring Ichirou Mizuki, Mitsuko Horie, Ken Narita, Hironobu Kageyama, NoB, Yougo Kouno, Yoshiki Fukuyama, Masaaki Endou, Hiroshi Kitadani, Shuuhei Kita, and MAKE-UP (Nobuo Yamada, Yougo Kouno, and Hiroaki Matsuzawa), with The Kinds, Apple Pie, Super Rescue Band, and emcee Shocker OH!NO!
1. O-!! Dai Tetsujin 17 (Dai Tetsujin 17 op): Ichirou Mizuki
[The first concert of the New Year got off to a memorable start as, from atop the stairs at the back of the darkened stage, Aniki entered with a slow acapella "Whoa...whoa...whoa..." that led into the first half of this song's four-line chorus, then extended a hand in invitation and the crowd joined in, still acapella, with the last two lines of the chorus. Beautiful! Then the band rolled into gear to help serve up all three verses of this rarely performed classic.]
2. Furimukeba Danger! (Captain Power op): Mitsuko Horie
[Last year was Aniki's turn; now it's Micchi's 40th anniversary in the biz--and she started the celebration in powerful style with this seldom-heard but still dynamic song!]
3. HUSTLE MUSCLE (Kinnikuman Nisei op): Yougo Kouno
[The spectacle of anison strength continued with Kouno-san, possessor of a voice 87 times his size, belting out this driving tune!]
4. Bakutou Sengen Daigander (Daigander op): Masaaki Endou
["Etchi" made it look effortless!]
5. We Are! (One Piece op): Hiroshi Kitadani
[The place became an absolute ocean of song, with every voice joining in loud and proud!]
6. Makkana Chikai (Busou Renkin op): Yoshiki Fukuyama
[Super-genki and going huge with his guitar, "Fuku-chan" showed his guts late along, turning his head a few times between lines for what I could see from my angle were quick coughs. The last was immediately before the big final line; "He's not going to hit it," I thought--but thought wrong!]
7. Kishin Douji ZENKI (Zenki op): Hironobu Kageyama
[...And talk about guts--"Kage-chan" had just flown in that day from performing in Thailand! After Shocker explained that, I figured this would be Kageyama-san's only song this go-round; he poured everything into it!]
8. Breakin' Through (Persona -Trinity Soul- op): Shuuhei Kita
[The first winner of the Animax Anime Song Grand Prix, Kita-san is a fan favorite, having been one of us not so long ago!]
9. Issei no Sei (Natsume Yuujinchou op): Shuuhei Kita
[Beautiful new song! He'd also performed it at last September's second Animax Anime Song Grand Prix, and this time was even better.]
10. Hikari Naki Yoru o Yuke (Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon op): Yoshiki Fukuyama
[Wow. Again a few inconspicuous coughs, and again, no problem with delivering a fantastic song!]
11. Ta ga Tame Ni (Cyborg 009 op): Ken Narita
[2009--the year of 009! This was very moving with everyone joining in, many singing harmony...mannn, these days are truly an ii jidai...!]
12. Acoustic Guitar Corner: Midori no Hidamari (Yamanezumi Rocky Chuck op): Micchi to Garakutaazu 2009 (Mitsuko Horie, Ichirou Mizuki, Ken Narita, Masaaki Endou, Hiroshi Kitadani, Shuuhei Kita)
[Micchi continued to enjoy the spotlight, leading the rest in the gathering. (Trivia: Aniki mentioned to Kita-san that 2008 Animax Anime Song Grand Prix winner Catherine St. Onge of Canada has already finished recording her song.)]
13. Acoustic Guitar Corner: Itsu no Hi ka (Cyborg 009 end): Micchi to Garakutaazu 2009 (Mitsuko Horie, Ichirou Mizuki, Ken Narita, Masaaki Endou, Hiroshi Kitadani, Shuuhei Kita)
[Ohhh, this was lovely, with each taking a line, and then joining for six-part harmony in the chorus! In closing, Ken Narita appropriately soloed on the final "Kaeritai, itsu no hi..." and then all joined in for a soaring "ka"--wow!]
14. Pegasus Fantasy (Saint Seiya op1): MAKE-UP
[The previous winter Anime Japan Fes had featured an unforgettable nine-song Saint Seiya corner (so great that it even managed to be memorable after Kage-chan's spectacular "Jetman" spill off the stage earlier in the show! ;^) )...but this year's concert found a way to top it: the reunion of MAKE-UP! Getting the group back together on the 25th anniversary of its inception, main vocalist Nobuo Yamada, Yougo Kouno on keyboards, and guitarist Hiroaki Matsuzawa had the crowd in a frenzy! In the guitar bridge, I couldn't look away from Matsuzawa-san--such a thrill to see the source of the sound then right there playing it now!]
15. Eien Blue (Saint Seiya end1): MAKE-UP
[Both "Pegasus Fantasy" and "Eien Blue" had arrangements that were slightly different from the originals, and Yamada-san announced to cheers that MAKE-UP had just recorded a CD of them that would be available for sale here in the lobby after the show and at the next week's AJF concert in Osaka.]
16. Megami no Komoriuta -Lullaby- (Saint Seiya ins): Mitsuko Horie
[Another striking star turn for Micchi!]
17. 2036 no Sentaku -Time- (Saint Seiya ins): Mitsuko Horie, Hironobu Kageyama
[Kage-chan's return was a nice surprise--as was this heartfelt duet!]
18. Saint Shinwa -Soldier Dream- (Saint Seiya op2): Hironobu Kageyama
[After the duet, Kage-chan's speaking voice was scarily rough. In a half-croak, he spoke a little about singing in Thailand, reminisced about Saint Seiya, remembered his "Jetman" plunge off this very stage--and then launched into this second Saint Seiya opening theme with his singing voice sounding as great as ever!]
19. Yume Tabibito -Blue Dream- (Saint Seiya end2): Hironobu Kageyama
[Three songs in a row for the globetrotter--"Yabai, yabai!" he panted with a laugh. After catching his breath, though, he delivered this beautifully. We gave him a huge send-off; after all, from here he had to be done for the night, right?]
20. Aa Denshi Sentai Denjiman (Denjiman op): Ken Narita
[Shocker announced to a roar that this concert had not only anime songs and tokusatsu songs, but also a "Petite Super Sentai Spirits"! "Ken-san" launched the corner, and man, he just gets better and better! The crowd backed him up full blast, and as at Super Sentai Spirits III, Shocker powered through the Denjiman team's poses between verses.]
21. Dengeki Sentai Changeman (Changeman op): Hironobu Kageyama
[...And after a whopping one-song span to recharge in, here came Kage-chan hot-footing it onstage once again, all but turning himself inside-out on this high-energy tune for us!]
22. Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger (Abaranger op): Masaaki Endou
[Perpetual motion machine Etchi kept the energy going with this song, always a highlight!]
23. Gougou Sentai Boukenger (Boukenger op): NoB
[Maybe to make up for having done so little of it at last November's Super Sentai Spirits III, Yamada-san--er, NoB--spun that mike stand like crazy here!]
24. Tao (Gekiranger end): Ichirou Mizuki
[Evergreen Aniki provided a powerful exclamation point to complete the "Petite Super Sentai Spirits" corner.]
25. Mu He Tobe (White Whale of Mu op): Ichirou Mizuki
[Aniki noted that this is a difficult song to sing, but that he loves it.]
Hey, kids--If your bangs have the Cyborg 009 thing going on, it might be best to avoid TV cameras. Thank you.
26. Nanno Koreshiki Furoshikiman (Minna no Uta): Ichirou Mizuki
[Just before performing this recent hit from NHK's "Minna no Uta," Aniki told Shocker that a few songs from that long-running show have been selected to have English versions recorded, including "Furoshikiman"! Walking down the stage as he explained, he casually stopped in front of my area...and then shocked the tar out of me when he looked me in the eye and said, "I want my English pronunciation to be as good as your Japanese pronunciation when you were on NHK and said, "OuenshiteiruZET'!" I almost fell down!!]
27. Bokura no Genki (The Doraemons Dokidoki Kikanshadai Bakusou! movie): Mitsuko Horie
[From the spring of 2000, this was another bygone gem brought back out to shine.]
28. Tatakae Ninja Captor (Ninja Captor op): Ichirou Mizuki, Mitsuko Horie
[The three-hour event was nearing its close, but Aniki and Micchi delivered a performance so energetic, they could have been opening the show!]
ENCORE 29. Dear Friend: Ichirou Mizuki, Mitsuko Horie
[With lyrics by Aniki and Micchi themselves, this song about what keeps them singing always makes for an extra-meaningful conclusion.]
30. Babel II (Babel II op): Ichirou Mizuki and all cast
[The grand finale saw the stage packed with all the performers, many extending their mikes to the audience for us all to belt out this classic together.]
After any Anime Japan Fes concert the sales area is a crunch of eager anison consumers--but this time, the excitement over MAKE-UP's available-only-at-AJF CD, available only at one end of the sales area, churned the crowd into an unusually pushy mob.
Maybe it was because so many people were buying the 1,000-yen CDs 10 at a time, worrying those behind them that stock would run out. Or maybe it was because this end of the sales area was right next to the doors people were leaving the concert from, making it look at first glance like they'd have to hop into the throng to buy anything in the sales area, not just the MAKE-UP CD. Whatever the reason, big guys in back began to shove, and the folks in front got pushed into the table, sending it on a screechy scootch a good foot backwards and spilling stacks of the coveted discs.
With a wall blocking movement to the right, some of the front folks staggered hard to the left, into the crowd for the rest of the sales area; I was on the end of that pack's front row, just finishing a purchase (Aniki's "Road" box set, woo-hoo!), and got run into pretty hard. Behind the tables, the startled staff began shouting for people to stop pushing because there were girls about to get hurt (thought that was interesting, appealing to the guys' better nature--and it was true; there were several younger gals not faring well); the shoves stopped, but the pressure from behind was constant.
Although I was at the juncture of the MAKE-UP table and the rest of the sales area, the mob for MAKE-UP had expanded in the back to overlap that area now, and I couldn't move. Unable to back out, and wanting the MAKE-UP CD anyway, I took a chance and with a pleading look raised one finger to the nearest MAKE-UP table staffer--and was so grateful when she accepted my order! (Thank goodness I still had the change in my hand from the "Road" purchase to pay with; space was too tight to even get a hand down into a pocket.) Transaction done, I managed bit by bit to sidle to the left, returning to the first not-MAKE-UP sales table, and then squeezed out through that area's slightly-less-cram-packed crowd. Was ouchier than ever afterwards--but hey, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger...and/or stranger, especially when followed by the 24-Hour-Endurance Anison 1,000-Song Medley! ;^)
Coming up next: the 24-Hour-Endurance Anison 1,000-Song Medley event report!