I had company this time, after hooking up with friend Finder J in the animal section at Comiket that afternoon (circle Capybara Engine--all capybaras, all the time!--is always a must-see for me ;^) ). We were lucky enough to have tickets numbered in the mid-200s for the concert, so could enter fairly early...and as we hustled through the lobby to scoot down the hallway along the left wall of the hall, hoping to land a left-side spot as close as possible once inside, I noticed a three-person film unit at rest along the wall.
"Are there plans for this to come out on DVD?" I asked them, hoping for a news scoop for Anison Central. Finder J hesitated, and then disappeared on down the hallway, knowing something I didn't. One of the film crew explained that this would be for TV broadcast and then, before I could ask what station, she asked who I'd be cheering for. My mind raced--there was some crossover in performers between yesterday's Super Hero Spirits and today's Super Anison Spirits, and I sure didn't want to name someone who wouldn't be there. "Kushida-san...and Sasaki-san...and Mizuki-sa-" She almost leaped at the name--"You've come to see Mizuki-san?!" "Of course! Aniki is great!"
"Would you mind if we interviewed you?" "Hah?! My Japanese is really bad...!" But up swung the camera and mike, and the interview was underway!
She asked again who I'd be cheering for, and I bumbled out something like "Aniki o ooenshiteruZET'!" with "Z" gesture, trying to imitate his recent favorite replacement for a sentence-ending -ze. Then she asked what I like about Aniki (best I could come up with in that instant was that he's a great fusion of moeru and mellow), and which of his songs I hoped to hear today (my favorites are his robot songs, but today would be other genres' anime songs, so, "Savannah o Koete" from the new Jungle Taitei, and "Ryuu ga Yuku" from Genshi Shounen Ryuu...which just goes to show how badly rattled I was; "Captain Harlock" easily trumps those...).
Then she asked if I could sing any of his songs. "I do at karaoke, but the lyrics are there to read. I'd sing wrong words without them." "Please try!" So I did a short snatch of the chorus of "Savannah o Koete"--"Tabidate, Leo, savanna koete..."--but was embarrassed and figured I'd better stop right there. They thanked me, and I scrambled on down the hallway, entered the hall fairly far down...and found the place packed, arrggh!
Fortunately, Finder J had been watching for me, and I saw her waving from near the front. She'd saved me a spot, and I joined her in the fifth row at far left. The waiting time flew, with all the coulda-shoulda-wouldas from the interview swarming my sorry noggin. It took a little longer than that to shake them off--but if anything could do it, this concert was it!
ANIME JAPAN FES 2008 SUPER ANISON SPIRITS "NATSU NO JIN"
August 17, 2008 at Zepp Tokyo, Aomi, Tokyo
Featuring Ichirou Mizuki, Akira Kushida, Takayuki Miyauchi, Ken Narita, Miho Morikawa, Hironobu Kageyama, Yuri Shimazaki, Yougo Kouno, Akira Asakura, Shuuhei Kita, and special guest Isao Sasaki, with The Kinds, Apple Pie, Super Rescue Band, and emcee Shocker OH!NO!
1. Roller Hero Muteking (Muteking op): Ichirou Mizuki
[Last summer's AJF Super Anison Spirits concert had launched with six great songs, end on end on end--a tsunami of a start that was so atypical and so outstanding, I pegged it at Number 4 on my list of last year's Anison Concert Top Ten Most Memorable Moments. This year's edition did its darndest to make that caliber of super-start a new tradition, with a fantastic five-song opening charge! (...And I was kicking myself for not having thought to mention "Roller Hero Muteking" in the interview...)]
2. Nagareboshi Gin (Ginga op): Takayuki Miyauchi
[Always a thrill to hear!]
3. Ta ga Tame ni (Cyborg 009 op): Ken Narita
[My all-time favorite anime song! And with Narita-san in top form, and with the crowd singing in harmony...this is what it's all about! *blissful sigh*]
4. Shippuu Xabungle (Xabungle op): Akira Kushida
[...and hot on its heels, here came my second-favorite anime song! Qu-cy dropped part of a first-verse line into verse 2; he caught back quick, but the TV camera was rolling...so when our eyes happened to meet in verse 3, I did something I've never, ever done before. Usually if a performer looks at me, I try to get across a "this is so great!" look while still doing whatever the rest of the crowd is doing; have never tried waving (although have seen a few folks do that). But this time, I suddenly found myself flashing two thumbs up at him--and he rewarded me with a big grin! I was so tickled! So if "Xabungle" makes the TV broadcast, and you see him grin when he sings "inochi hagukumu," that's why. :^D ]
5. WE GOTTA POWER (Dragon Ball Z op): Hironobu Kageyama
[You'd never know he was coming off an all-night concert! His energy was amazing, and the crowd was practically crackling with it, too!]
6. Samurai Giants (Samurai Giants op): Ichirou Mizuki
7. Kokoro ni Ase o (Shin Kyoujin No Hoshi II op): Ichirou Mizuki
[Never expected to hear this one live! Aniki was superb! Now, if only he'd done "Kita no Ookami, Minami no Tora" from Yakyuu Kyou no Uta to complete the baseball trifecta...darn!]
8. Breakin' Through (Persona -Trinity Soul- op): Shuuhei Kita
[Kita-san was the winner of last year's inaugural Animax Anime Song Grand Prix, landing a recording contract. This song was his debut, and we cheered our fellow fan long and loud!]
9. Blue Water (Nadia op): Miho Morikawa
[Amazing but true, she's even better now than when she first recorded it!]
10. Yes! I will... (Nadia end): Miho Morikawa
11. DREAMS (Gundam X op): Akira Asakura
[This was the AJF debut for Asakura-san (not sure how active she's been in the years since Romantic Mode folded). I've loved this song for, yow, more than a decade now, so it was especially a thrill to hear it live!]
12. Yahhou! (Shijou Saikyou No Deshi Ken'ichi op): DIVAxDIVA (Miho Morikawa & Akira Asakura)
[Wow! I need to get this CD! (Later in the show, Shocker said he'd watched this performance from the wings with an impressed Isao Sasaki, who had intoned, "Those girls out there--they're really good!")]
13. Kinnikuman Go Fight! (Kinnikuman op): Akira Kushida
[This is the 29th anniversary of "Kinnikuman"--2-9, ni-ku, get it? And this month the 29th falls on a Friday, or kin'youbi, making Friday the 29th kin-ni-ku...so AJF celebrated a little early, with a "Kinnikuman" songfest!]
14. Akuma no Mougyuu (Buffaloman no Theme) (Kinnikuman ins): Takayuki Miyauchi
15. HUSTLE MUSCLE (Kinnikuman Nisei op): Yougo Kouno
[Kouno-san not only sings, he's a super-charged guitarist, too!]
16. Honoo No Kinnikuman (Kinnikuman op): Akira Kushida
17. Accoustic Guitar Corner: Hyouga Senshi Guyslugger (Guyslugger op): Anison Chimi Mouryou Kiki Kaikai Rakudan (Ichirou Mizuki, Akira Kushida, Takayuki Miyauchi, Miho Morikawa, Akira Asakura, and Yougo Kouno, with Takayoshi Tanimoto)
[Tanimoto (...Taniyama? Tanimura? Taniguchi? ;^) ) was making a special appearance, invited by Aniki during the previous day's Super Hero Spirits to come play the pianika.]
18. Accoustic Guitar Corner: Kyou mo Dokokade Devilman (Devilman end): Anison Chimi Mouryou Kiki Kaikai Rakudan (Ichirou Mizuki, Akira Kushida, Takayuki Miyauchi, Miho Morikawa, Akira Asakura, Yougo Kouno, with Takayoshi Tanimoto)
19. Hakushon Daimaou no Uta (Hakushon Daimaou op): Yuri Shimazaki
20. Minashigo Hatchi (Minashigo Hatchi op): Yuri Shimazaki
[She's even Aniki's senpai, but man oh mannn, super-genki Shimazaki-san is absolutely evergreen...and she's got lungs all the way to her toes! So much fun to hear and see in action! I felt like I'd witnessed something truly special.]
21. Tatakae! Polimar (Hurricane Polimar op): Isao Sasaki
[...and that feeling continued as Sasaki-san took the stage to perform this song for the first time in more than 30 years! This was one of the all-time great anison live experiences, he and a following 4,000 voices strong ripping the air with "Haaaaa...riiiiiiii...keeeeehhhhhhhhhnnn.
22. The Ultraman (The Ultraman op): Isao Sasaki
[Another song not performed for some 30 years! He even finished with a big "Shuwachi!"]
23. Ginga Tetsudou 999 (Ginga Tetsudou 999 op): Isao Sasaki
[Superb performance, with beautiful harmony from the crowd...couldn't keep my eyes from brimming over.]
24. Aa Denshi Sentai Denjiman (Denjiman op): Ken Narita
25. Cosmos Dream -Uchuu O Kakeru Yume- Columbia Version (Queen of 1000 Years op): Ken Narita
[Not sure why "Cosmos Dream" wasn't before "Denjiman," to have the Reiji Matsumoto songs together and then the tokusatsu songs together...but, anyway! I'd cried when he sang this at the Anison Carnival in Ueno last year. Managed to stay dry-eyed this time, but some juicy *snurk*s could be heard all around at song's end.]
26. Kamen Rider BLACK RX (Kamen Rider Black RX op): Takayuki Miyauchi
[Surprise! So that's why it hadn't been sung at the previous day's Super Hero Spirits...!]
27. Jiraiya (Jiraiya op): Akira Kushida
[Qu-cy had this razor-sharp for the Anime Friends event in Brazil last month, and it was every bit as fan-freakin'-tastic here!]
28. Saint Shinwa -Soldier Dream- (Saint Seiya op): Hironobu Kageyama
[On the stage above, Kage-chan going like a force of nature...on the floor below, people singing, people leaping, people roaring...(the guy next to me was playing air guitar, even! ;^) )...it was an unforgettable snapshot of the kind of energy an anison concert can generate.]
29. Kibou no Honoo yo Moeagare!! (Dragon Ball game): Hironobu Kageyama
[First time I'd heard this, but really liked it.]
30. Harlock no Ballad (Mugen Kidou SSX end): Ichirou Mizuki
[Tremendously moving...maybe even more so than "Captain Harlock"--and before this, I wouldn't have thought that possible. Wow.]
31. Babel II (Babel II op): Ichirou Mizuki
32. Encore: Uchuu Senkan Yamato (Yamato op): All Cast
[With Isao Sasaki at the fore, the stars all gathered to belt out this epic song, and the crowd let loose too. There's something good for the soul in singing "Yamato" full-out--and the resulting ocean of sound made for a thrilling finish for the greatest AJF yet.]