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December 15 2013

16:22

Seiota vs Koebuta


One word that you see pretty often in seiyuu fan threads these days is koebuta.

Koebuta, meaning "voice pig" was originally a label assigned by seiyuu fans to distance themselves from the more "undesirable" elements of their fandoms - general assholes, guys with bad manners, dudes who cut up photos and break CDs when seiyuu announce they have boyfriends, people who say creepy stuff, etc. It's a term that has been around for a while, however in recent years it has seen a lot more usage. A lot of this can be linked to the growing enmity between new-school and old-school seiyuu fans - that itself being product of the slowly building backlash over the rise of the "idol seiyuu."

Idol seiyuu fans have been around since Hayashibara Megumi and maybe even earlier, but things really came to a head in the last decade after fandom reached large enough numbers for the inevitable market forces to overcome the old-school seiyuu types.

Seiyuu ended up being divided into two factions by fan opinions. The "jitsuryoku" camp contained seiyuu with true voice ability that get casted based on their own strength. The other camp contained seiyuu tainted with various unflattering speculation: they're just idols, failed mainstream wannabes, casted from the couch (makura eigyou = pillow trade), they have a monotone voice (bouyomi), they're only popular because of the agency's monstrous PR power (gorioshi = Gorilla Push), and so on.

Within all of this bubbling resentment, the word "koebuta" ended up getting thrown around to describe fans that entered into the fandom because of the latter group. What it implies is that they like the idol aspects of seiyuu more than the voice acting.

The ones on the receiving end of the word took it in stride, and some even began calling themselves the term with pride, considering the detractors as elitist old farts. Besides there's nothing wrong with liking seiyuu for other reasons so who cares?

So what was once seen as a universally negative term used for the worst elements of the fandom now actually just describes a rather large split between fans with differing priorities.

Traditional Seiyuu fan/seiota


  • Voice acting is the main thing that matters.

  • Personal life of the seiyuu isn't that important

  • Avoids using cute nicknames, just uses names

  • Show great disdain for koebuta as "ruining the fandom"

  • Seiyuu they like: Hayami Saori, Seto Asami, Nakahara Mai, Kugimiya Rie, and most seiyuu's who can do a good boyish voice

Koebuta


  • Physical appearance is a fair game. If she's cute, they can let other things slide

  • Personality is also important. Will praise a seiyuu for being clever, funny, cool on radio or variety programs

  • If they really like the character, they'll like the seiyuu by association regardless of how their performance was (see the seiyuu hosei effect)

  • They value the hard work that goes into the non-voice parts (dance practice, talking skill, dieting, image control)

  • They use nicknames, chan, tan, etc

  • Seiyuu they like: Ootsubo Yuka, Taketatsu Ayana, Ohashi Ayaka, Ogura Yui, 80% of Love Live cast

Which type are you? I actually used to be more of former category but have shifted to the latter in recent years so I guess I'm probably 40:60 on the sei/buta ratio. The truth is there are almost no pure seiyuu entering the business anymore, since multi-talented seiyuu are just more pragmatic for business reasons. Even "jitsuryoku" seiyuu these days have idol qualities that the traditional fans are loathe to admit.

I do get still get a kind of annoyed when some people who are almost 100% idol get pushed as seiyuu and the acting actually suffers for it (Love Live's biggest weakness is this actually) , but that's a tolerance I've built up long ago back when I was a pro-wrestling fan so I can live with them.

Tags: Seiyuu

March 03 2013

21:47

Nanamorichuu Festival


On February 24th, I attended Yuruyuri's third all-cast live concert, Nanamorichuu Festival. I went to both noon and night sessions at Pacifico Yokohama.

I arrived in Yokohama at 8AM in order to buy goods, but even then there were already about 600 people in line. There were cosplayers, crossplayers, lots of people in animal and tomato kigurumi, and even a guy in a huge unwieldy Ganbo costume. It took almost 4 hours to get through the goods, but I was able to purchase everything on my list. Only people with tickets to the event could buy things, and you could buy a max of 3 of the same item. By the time I got through the line though, black T-shirts, black parka, mirakurun penlight had all been limited down to 1 per person, and completely sold out afterwards. I'll do a closer look at goods at the end.

After grabbing lunch with a BasuP (I owe you a lunch man), I headed inside the venue to start my 7 hour trial. Inside Pacifico Kokusai lobby, a huge array of wreaths and bouquets lined the wall from 3 sides, donated from fan groups and companies. Among the most elaborate ones were full size flower arrangements constructed in the likeness of the characters.




Both events started on time. I found my seat near the center front half of the arena, with a great view. My night session's seat was slightly better than noon.

The performance area was split into 5 main sections. A door and platform at the top had two staircases which came down to each side. These branched off into left and right side stages, also with their own doors. In the center between the stairs, there was the main stage with sliding doors behind it and a large video screen above. The main stage had another wide staircase which merged with the side staircases down to the lowest level which spanned the whole width of all the other stages. On the walls to the side, two giant light fixtures on each side formed the letters YRYR that flashed in sync with the music.


From Katou Emiri's blog: http://blog.livedoor.jp/clovercafe/archives/51936848.html

The event started with a schoolbell chime, followed by an opening video of the members wearing Nanamorichuu outfits and riding a van to the venue, making duck faces with potato chips, and running across a grassy field to the arena. As Yes! Yuyuyu Yuruyuri started playing each gorakubu member made their signature entrance from the upper stage.

In comes Mikashii with her long hair wrapped up to form the biggest pair of odango I've ever seen, like two great big bowling balls attached to her head. I'm talking at least 25% bigger than what she had at Utagassen last year. Next came Tsudanyan, with a nice straight long hair with bangs parted down the middle. I was looking to check out her awesome spin jump entrance again, but it seems to have been toned down for obvious safety reasons in their location. Rumirumi and Yukachin appeared last, each wearing their character's hairstyle: Rumi with twin tails and Yuka with a large bow that formed cat ears behind her head. Their make up was similar to Utagassen this time - plain and functional with a bit of glitter spray, and even Tsuda seems to have dumped the eye shadow for a more natural look, which suits her very well.

Streamers burst in synch with start of the first verse, showering the front half of the arena with purple ribbons. And then the arena was awash with colors. We burned through Yes! with ease, and without pause, moved immediately into Lets Love de ikimashou. Deafening yells of "Y. U. R. U. Y. U. R. I. YURUYURI~" with 5000 people ensued.

For these songs, most of the fans had 4 light sticks, two in hand, and lit with each member's color. This meant for an audience of our size, we had close to 20,000 lights waving in chaotic order. Duel wielding was almost required in a way, since the next song Gorakubu, Ai to Yuuki to Kibou to Yujou no Theme called for a double handed motion during a few parts i.e. "maru" which used both glowsticks to form a circle above your head. It has fun moe rap verses, catchy chorus, and fun calls that beg for furious "Let's go" jumps at full power. This is one of my favorite songs, but I wasn't expecting it since it was a season 1 song so I was supremely glad to hear it.

After the opening set, each member did a set of call and response for the audience. When responding, fans also all switched to the appropriate color for the character. Mikashii (Red) went with the standard Akarin~ call. Yukachin (Green) made us all do Kyoko's kyupi-n. Rumirumi (Orange) had everyone say "Pink!" the first time, and "Ha-P!" for the night session, and Tsuda (Blue) had us do "Ya-T".

Once MC was over, the Gorakubu girls left to make way for Koi no double punch, a Sakurako x Himawari duet. Mimori Suzuko and Kato Emiri came onto the stage, wearing outfits directly from their PV: matching beige jackets with a sunflower and short white dresses underneath. Mimori had her hair tied into braids just like Himawari, while Emiri had hers parted down the middle, which I guess is supposed to be like Sakurako but ended up making her look a lot like a younger Itou Shizuka. The audience got divided into groups: double cyan glowsticks for Sakurako, double yellow glowsticks for Himawari, or one cyan, one yellow for each. You needed at least two though to throw up alternating fists for the "Double Punch" part of the song. The distribution was fairly even and one color didn't outnumber the other. For noon, I cheered for Mimorin and at night I cheered for Emirin.


Screenshot from Utagassen. They used the same costumes

Fujita Saki was up first representing the student council members, with her hair in a ponytail. Her straight features combined with her starched uniform and red armband really made the whole Ayano cosplay feel authentic. She also packed a bit of vocal firepower, projecting a strong and commanding voice. She may have been the 3rd strongest singer at the event that day (I'll get to #1 and 2 when I talk about them). Additionally, while in the old concerts, Saki always had to stand still behind a microphone, she was mobile this time and her repertoire of dance moves had been significantly expanded. For Nai Nai Niagara, she had incredibly complex hand moves that were nearly impossible to copy on the fly. I look forward to learning them fully once the BD comes out. She also directed the audience since it was a season 2 song. "Everyone, say nai nai naigara with me." We all tuned our penlights to purple and followed along, but the timing was tough and we messed up the key part of the Naiagara response during both sessions. You could almost hear a collective sigh from fans being disappointed in themselves.

Next was Toyosaki Aki with her S2 character song Ai no delusion. When I saw Akichan before at Sphere, I didn't think she was that tall. But when she appeared at the top of the stage alone, holy shit she did seem pretty tall after all. As an Utagassen absentee, she received a pretty warm welcome from the crowd and we all switched our glowsticks to green...er...I mean pink! Chitose's color is pink! Aki's hair this time was a messy helmet cut like Chitose's and she was also dressed in Nanamorichuu uniform and student council armband. Aki's live singing is reasonably good since she was doing the Chitose voice, and several times it crossed my mind that...hey this is as close as I'm ever going to get hearing her sing in the K-On yui voice, so enjoy it doubly. Fitting Aki's skills, her dance moves were complex and had plenty of full body movements, cute jumps, and shuffling. I'd say it was the second hardest dance of the night, after Mimorin's.

After Aki, the other three student council members reappeared for the MC corner.

In the night session, Aki remarked "Y'all change colors really fast." Suspicious, Emirin asked "How many people of you came to the noon session as well?" Nearly half the audience raised their hands.

Then it was the student council team's turn to do call and response.

Saki made us do Bakkin Buckingham~. During the noon session, she also jokingly scolded people who would use green glowsticks for her part. "Don't use that color!"

Aki, during the noon session, had us do Chitose's "Shukketsu-"->"Dai Service!", and then "Mousou ga"->"Tomarahen" at night.

Emirin did the classic Oppai~ Kinshi! call with us. We alternated yelling "Kinshi" during the noon session, and "Oppai" during the night session.

Mimorin had the same Oppai call, but had us yell "Sansei" during noon, and we yelled "Oppai" and while she yelled "Daisuki" during the night session.

Next we had another duet. This time, Rumirumi appeared first on the top left, in the incredible Tuxedo jacket and short shorts magician's outfit which has aleady been made famous in previous live events. Mikashi appeared immediately after in a matching red version on the top right, but from behind bars. As soon as Mikashi exited from behind the cage, the whole arena shifted into red and orange (surprisingly suited for this type of song) for Onna to onna no yuri game. It's another song from season 1 I'm glad to have gotten, if for nothing but to see those costumes, hear Rumirumi wail "Yururiiiii~" and see Mikashii's lifeless gaze as she threw herself on the stairs. Mikashii did her "ueeeeehhh" faces pretty well, though Rumi's "scary face" is actually just her pretty smile - no need to be afraid of that. Welcome it! At the end, Tsuda Minami came out and asked "What are you guys doing?" to a flustered Rumi. "No, senpai! This is not what it seems!"


Screenshot from Utagassen. They used the same costumes

We switched to blue lights and moved on to cheering Tsudanyan and her excellent rendition of E-kagen Yui-kagen. She's got a great voice and gets my pick for the second best live singer that night (though mostly because of tsuntsun ballad which I'll talk about later). By this time, I noticed that all the dances for the solo stuff have been getting fancier. Minami had also been given some upgraded choreography and wasn't constrained to a mic stand this time. She wandered from left to right and pumped the crowd. I especially loved yelling the loud "YUI-KAGE EEEENNN!" call along with everyone in the second chorus - she yelled so loudly with us too. The lighting was really crazy for this song though, and flashed colors so fast it could probably give people seizures.

Next was Otsubo Yuka. A year ago, I didn't even know she existed, and yet now I'm pretty much obsessed with her. I guess I should have seen that coming. She's one of my favorite seiyuu and definitely my favorite among the YuruYuri cast (though I love Akari the character the most). But, Yukachin is actually the weakest singer of the group, while at the same time her Kyoko character song is fast and difficult, so it wasn't an easy combination. She did the best she could though, with the cutest doyagao, and she didn't even mess up singing the "yuruyurayuruyuruyuruyureyuruyuro" part. Her dance was also hilarious. The moves included her doing the worm with her hands while shuffling forwards and backwards in some kind of pseudo-moonwalk while giving us the raised eyebrow. She adlibbed some classic "Otsubo-pro" stuff as well. During the bridge of the song, she suddenly gave us a treat to her air guitar skills. Expecting the same thing at night, she surprised us again with the even better air violin instead. Yukachin is just a pro.

Next was Taketatsu Ayana dressed up in her white and purple Mirakurun costume and showing off her legendary ZR. Though we already got some service earlier from Mikashi and Rumi's costumes, Ayachi's is on another level. She appeared from the top stage singing Yonde Mirakurun. For this song, people who managed to buy the special Mirakurun penlight used it, while others substituted white lights. Some guys put Mirakurun's star tube on top of their kingblades, but that was a bit of a problem since parts of the tube are clear and the visible parts of the flashlight bulb were blinding people.

Ayana herself started off with no wand, doing waving motions, but midway throughout the song she suddenly pulled out a new and improved Mirakurun wand. It was a thin strip with two stars on the end as counterweights and lit up with green LEDs along the entire length. She handled the thing gracefully like a pro baton twirler, doing huge spinning circles in every direction. It was way more complex than anything she did in Utagassen or Recital - this looked like it came from a marching band routine transplanted out of a Tron movie. Unfortunately, we didn't really get a closer look at her because she stayed at the top of the stairs the whole time (she didn't even come down to the closer stage for MC).

I had been really looking forward to hearing Ayana sing since I loved Jikuu Tours, but her live singing ended up somewhat underwhelming. You could barely hear her above the music and the constant "fuu~fuu~fuu~fu~" from the fans drowning her out didn't help either. It sounded kind of amateurish, which was really surprising to me because she has a very strong and clear voice when she was speaking during MCs, so I know she's got the power and yet she didn't use it?

Anyway, during the MC, she sounded really great, so I was gushing about "ZOMG ECLAIRE/AZUNYAN/SUGUHA IRL!!" For call and response, she asked the 5000 strong audience to do Ganbo's "BO-" call, individually from each floor.

Ayachi: Kyarurun~
Deep voice: "BOOOO"

During the night session, she remembered how funny it was and started cracking up before she could finish her sentence, so she had to redo the call.

After Ayachi left, Rumirumi came out fully changed back into her school uniform to do Anone. A solo singing and dancing Rumirumi is just the cutest girl in the world. Anone is also a rather difficult song, but she managed to do pretty well. She lead the all-orange audience in lots of high energy jumping, and I had tons of fun yelling the "Ikuze CHINA!" part with everyone. Too bad I missed the "CHINA NI SASAGERU I LOVE YOU" call both times. It's timed right before she says "minna, arigatou", but it's not really telegraphed, so it's easy to miss. When I missed it during noon, I said to myself, I'll have to remember for the night session, but then I missed the timing again.

Finally the star of the show, Mikami Shiori came out to perform Shiawase no Gift. This was probably the single most fun solo character song of the night, with the whole audience pumping red lights into the air and yelling "AKARIN" between every single line at full power. It was super loud and exciting. At the start of the song, two huge red balloons shaped like Akari's odango dropped onto the audience, who then batted it around to different sections of the first floor arena. I didn't get to hit it during the noon session, but it finally came to us during the night session. Since I was on the first floor though, the balloon was so distracting that I forgot to pay attention to Mikashii! ORZ. Maybe it was just as planned? Well I did watch her routine, but I just took my eyes off so many times that I feel like I didn't get the full Mikashii experience. I'll defintitely watch her more when the Bluray comes out, I promise!

Also I didn't notice in the dark, but the balloons had "Odango Bazooka" written on them which you can see below.

From Katou Emiri's blog: http://blog.livedoor.jp/clovercafe/archives/51936848.html


Then the arena went dark and the familiar opening of Pajama Ryokou started up. I seriously loved this song and watched it a million times when Utagassen came out, so I was scrambling to get my Green and Blue lights while grinning ear to ear. Tsuda came out in her panda PJs while Yukachin appeared in the Tomato ones. I memorized all the dance moves for this song too, so it took all my might to resist copying them. During the chorus, there's an interesting little sleeping hand motion they do. When I saw Yukachin and Tsudanyan do it side by side though, I realized Tsudanyan is still ahead of Yukachin when it comes to body language. Minami's motions were more fluid, while Yuka's were still slightly more awkward.

During the night session, there was a tiny mishap when Tsuda missed the first count during the sheep part which threw them off and made Yuka start the 2nd count late. Somehow, they managed to save the timing and force it back on track by the fourth count. The concert footage tends to be shot for the night session, but I wonder if the eventual release will splice in footage from the noon show to fix this. At the end, there wasn't a standing bed prop this time like Utagassen so they just went to sleep on one side of the stage and had the spotlight fade out.

From the other side of the stage, Katou Emiri came in to destroy the dignity of everyone in the arena. Emirin's singing is average, but she sure has volume, and she really projected through the venue. It was too loud sometimes, which made me conscious of the fact that I didn't bring earplugs. And then we got to that part in Kiraippai Sukiippai. Ooooohhh yeah, we read that tweet all right.

Emiri: "Let's see whose passion is stronger. Your energy for oppai or my objections? Dakara..."

Audience: OPPAI!
Emiri: KINSHI!
Audience: OPPAI!
Emiri: DAME!
Audience: OPPAI!
Emiri: KINSHI!

And this exchange just got faster and harder until in the end the whole arena was furiously yelling "OPPAIOPPAIOPPAI" and Emiri yelling back in an intense shouting match. It was awesome! Because of that, it's my second favorite solo song of the night.

It was pretty hard to come down from that, but it still wasn't break time or MC, so as soon as Emiri left, Mimorin took over and moved on to Sore ha koi dewanai desu no. Mimorin is a decent live singer now, having vastly improved from when I saw her live three years ago. But more impressive was her character's accompanying dance. Out of all the character songs performed today, this unquestionably had the hardest dance, and was probably something that only Mimorin could pull off among this group.

She did this jump step that twisted her entire body while practically pop-locking her arms and elbow and the whole thing looked really cool but elegant, and her voice never shook as she did all this. She also did her famous over the elbow finger point which was also quite deadly to our sanity. Everyone cheered with Himawari's yellow color and yelled along with the IPPAI, ZETTAI parts.


Mimorin finger poke of doom

After Mimorin's set we finally got a break and got to sit down for a drama segment. It's basically a long skit where all the cast members act a scenario from their script books while in character. Chitose and Ayano appeared first, introducing the setting of them getting a phone invitation to an after school karaoke party with Gorakubu members. Ayano reacts in a typical tsundere fashion while Chitose has her nosebleed fantasy. Next, the center stage lit up with Akari, Kyoko, Yui, and Chinatsu choosing songs. Yui's song came up first, so she came down to the lower stage to sing Tsun Tsun Ballad. It was really nice and her performance here is what earned a lot of my respect for Minami's singing voice. Of course, Kyoko in the back was ruining it by leading the girls with "HEY!" calls. Yui tried to ignore it a few times, but finally turned around and angrily yell "Oi, this is a ballad!"

Then, the big screen lit up above them to show a parody of the videos you see in actual karaoke rooms - a combination of lyrics and overly melodramatic sepia toned scenes. A girl was walking alone in the Yokohama Pacifico theme park, only to turn around and be revealed as...Tsuda Minami! During the noon session, this got a HUGE response from the surprised audience seeing it for the first time and they started cheering and laughing. So as Tsuda sang in character on stage as Yui, the parody video of Tsuda Minami above -out of character- showed her strolling across a bridge and crying on the ferris wheel before fading to black at the end of the song. In a later MC, Tsuda explained that everyone shot the karaoke videos in one day, and she was the last one to film the video that day in order to get the evening shot for the Ferris Wheel. Since it was February she was totally freezing.

The center stage then goes dark, and left stage lights up to show a small fight between Sakuraku and Himawari telling each other how much they don't want to sing with each other. Then the spotlight goes back to center stage for Chinatsu's turn.

Chinatsu: "I want to sing with you Yui-senpai"
Yui: "But I don't know this song"
Kyoko: "I'll sing with you"
Chinatsu; "No if it's Kyoko I don't need you" -> In the noon session, Otsubo Yuka had the BEST disappointed expression when Rumi says this line OMG. It was a total droopy dog face! I'm so sad she didn't do it in the night one.

Anyway, Chinatsu then comes down to the stage to sing Abashiri Bajou, and boy what a singing voice. It sounds exactly like on the CD. No, it was better! The girls behind her didn't interrupt this time, so we got full on crazy Chinatsu singing her heart out. Like before, about halfway into the song, the screen lights up and starts playing another parody karaoke video. Fans gave another cheer when the subject of the PV turned out to be stylish but somber Rumi who is walking along the Yokohama Pacifico docks in a coat and hat. She looks listlessly at the water, throws a bouqet of flowers into it before holding up and chugging a glass of brandy (actually juice). Rumi said in MC later that while the video showed her as walking alone, she actually had to do this in front of a huge and curious audience. At the end, Rumi, the one singing, delivers the awesome Yui SenpaaaAAAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaaaiiiIIIii scream and just REALLY holds it for an impressive length of time.


From Okubo Rumi's blog: http://ameblo.jp/rumiokubo/entry-11480752238.html

At some point during this drama, two mock Mirakurun commercial come on and Ayachi appears at the top of the steps to sell her fake products. I forgot what the product actually was but there was a gag about licking it, obviously a self reference to Ayachi's more kimo fans tendencies to prpr her at every opportunity. The second commercial was about continuing her campaign for 24 hours.

Then, Chinatsu and Yui declared they'd go make a run for drinks and left the center stage. Why it must be Akari's turn! "But it's finally my turn to sing. Oh well at least I've got Kyoko." Of course, this is exactly when the seitokai members appear and Kyoko leaves to go receive them. And so, left alone in the center stage, Akari began singing Santa ga yattekuru by herself.

Uwwaaaah Akariiiii why are you such an angel!?

The video hit again, with Mikami prancing around in half a santa outfit above her school uniform. We see her skipping up stairs with a big handful of presents to deliver. The video cuts to a lot of scenes with her popping out of random corners in the park near the venue and handing the viewer a present. There's one series of cuts where she pops out from a series of pillars and gives a present each time, which was so moe I died.

Mikami said in MC that she also had to do this when people were around, and managed to confuse some kids who saw her and said "Look! Even though it's close to Valentine's Day yet she is wearing a santa costume?" Even a kid can insult Mikami! Later I went to check out all the locations in all the music videos shown so far.


From Mikami Shiori's blog: http://ameblo.jp/mikami-shiori/image-11478582516-12434729389.html

After Akari's performance, Kyoko came back with the seitokai members. They sat together, two to a seat, while Kyoko went down to perform her song. The karaoke video for this one featured Yukachin in a green overcoat and black sunglasses acting like a really shady stalker. Her's is the only one not shot in Yokohama. According to her MC, they went to Toranomon in Tokyo first thing in the morning before heading out to Yokohama. This was the most humorous of all the videos, with Yukachin hiding behind garbage cans, sneaking across the road under an oversized traffic pylon (think cardboard box from MGS), peering around corners, and making Pro faces. It was my favorite video of the four shown. By the way, since it was still technically a skit, we watched all these karaoke performances while sitting down and even though some people waved penlights, we didn't interrupt with calls or anything like that.

That concluded the karaoke corner. Tsuda and Rumi, who went to get drinks but actually left to change costumes, returned to perform the next duet Girls Power De. My jaw dropped when they came in: their were costumes straight out of Chinatsu's fairy tale drawings. Rumi had an adorable pastel-pink dress, white ankle length lace socks, and cute pink slippers. It had a very "Dorothy from Oz" feeling to it. But as nice as that outfit was, at that moment Tsuda Minami may have captured all my attention. She appeared in a slim tailored black prince outfit, tapered at the waist and highlighted with gold trim and white cravats. At the thigh, black pumpkin breeches were broken by a perfectly executed zettai ryouiki followed by white stockings and short black boots. Her hair was also changed, pulled back into a stylish pony tail that reached her midback. Tsuda truly lives up to the TKEMEN name. I mean just look at this!


From Tsuda Minami's blog: http://ameblo.jp/00dpd/entry-11479731892.html


Original for reference!

I literally could not take my eyes off of her. But both costumes were so nice, so I am going to rewatch this a zillion times when the BD comes out.

Next, Saki and Yukachin came out wearing short colorful yukatas to perform Miracle Duet. These were the same costumes as in Utagassen, but they also tied matching ribbons around the mics this time, one blue and one purple. Saki wrote on her blog that Yukachin had given her those ribbons for her birthday. I loved these costumes before so I was glad to see them in person. The song is really catchy too.


Screenshot from Utagassen. They used the same costumes

After their set, Toyosaki Aki came back out alone and apologized to everyone about how she wasn't able to come to the previous live but that she'll give it her all this time. I knew she did her solo character song already, so I was actually wondering what she was going to do here since she doesn't really have a duet partner. Then she called to the secret guest Chizuru and I about fainted.

Kuraguchi Momo is here? YES!

Ever since I watched Utagassen, I started following Momochan and even started listening to Radio Big Bang because of her. Even though she got a big break in YuruYuri, Momo's career is kind of struggling lately and her fans were a bit worried for her since she had an agency change and pretty much lost all contact with Yuruyuri staff to the point where she didn't even know when her own BDs came out. A few months ago she answered that wasn't sure she would be invited back for any YuruYuri events but that she hoped they'd reach out to her. So when she appeared, I was pretty ecstatic. But I could probably write an entire blog post just about Kuraguchi Momo entirely, so I'll save my words for a future post.

Anyway, Momochan comes down in her own school uniform with long black hair and bangs, and starts performing Uchi to watashi o shin made tsukekonde as a duet with Aki. I was under the impression that Momo was totally unknown but she got a TON of Momochan calls, so I'm feeling a lot better about her career prospects now.

They did a fantastic set together. During the song, they had matching dance moves where one person would sing while the other would do a dance, and then they'd switch and the partner would mirror the same dance. After hearing Momochan live, and I can now say with confidence that she is the best singer out of everyone who performed today. Once the song ended, Momochan came to do her own MC. She didn't have any call and response, but she talked how she was always watching seitokai members from behind and that she was really grateful to get this chance to appear again. In the noon session she actually started crying from the gratitude and you could tell that this really meant a lot to her.

At the end, Momo said she had one more request, and that was to hear the members do a medley performance of season 1 songs again. This lead into the next segment, which was an interesting mash of the season 1 character song themes. Basically, each member showed up to do 1 verse and chorus in rapid rotation and no breaks or MC in between.

First up was Fujita Saki who did Koi no Bakkin Buckingham. Unfortunately the song didn't get to my favorite part where we all yell "Non non Notredame", but we did get to yell my second favorite part "Bakkin, Fukkin, Mokkin, Tekkin, etc." which was a blast. Next was Toyosaki Aki with Anata no shiawase uchi no shiawase, another incredibly fun song to watch and participate in. Kuraguchi had substituted for Aki last time, but now we got the real thing. Then we moved through Emiri's Kirai janai mon and Mimorin's Day by day. I'm glad I got some practice with Day by day at AWA.

Next for Ayachi's turn, she sang Majokko Mirakurun. During the noon session, an accident happened and the star on top fell off. Since it was still attached by a wire, it just dangled off the wand which totally threw off the weight balance and messed with her spinning. I'm not sure how many people noticed since Ayachi was quick to react and tried to cover for the broken stick but it was pretty funny to watch it flop all over the place during certain moves when she couldn't hide it. The stick was fixed for the night session and didn't break again.

Next was Yukachin with Mirakuruyuruyuku 1 2 3, where she did the awesome henkawaii dance move that I love during the chorus. The whole crowd also yelled out loud for "kira kira nyan nyan." Rumirumi did one verse from Marugoto. Minami did Goyururi World so we got to do the insanely fun "nyanyanyanyaaa" call. Finally Mikashii performed Watashi Shuuyaku no Akaza Akari desu which was especially funny because by nature, some of the calls for the song are designed to be yelled over everything she says. So it was basically just listening to fans scream Akarin chants while Mikashii moved her mouth silently.

After the medley, everyone including secret guest Momo came back on stage to sing Yell all cast version. Even Ayachi finally came down to the lower stage for the first time since the entire show started. Yell was insanely fun yet sad at the same time since it basically signaled the beginning of the end. In the noon session, Yukachin started crying during this song. I think she was the only who cried though. All the fans went back to 4 or 8 glowsticks and cheered very hard for the "fure" parts.

Then the stage went dark and we got a short video that thanked us for coming, which got a lot of EEEEEEH's from the fans. It moved on to showing us a certain girl who has been working hard to see our smiles and cut to behind the scenes footage of Mikami in a cardigan carefully poring over sheet music, making notes, and practicing on a piano. Then the center doors opened, and Mikami got rolled on stage along with a grand piano.

Alone without any other background music, she played piano and sang Minna daisuki no uta. I could see Mikashii's form was flawless - wrists above the keyboard, great hand placement, upright sitting posture, and how she worked the pedals. After all Mikami trained piano since she was a child, and even listed piano teacher as one of her career paths before she became a seiyuu. Her singing was really sweet too and the soft vocals reminded me strongly of other pro singers like Makino Yui. In the noon session, Mikashii totally broke down during the second verse and started crying so much she couldn't even sing the words. Fans yelled "ganbare!" to cover the gaps and keep sending her their energy. At the night session, she actually made it through most of the song with just tears streaming down but not crying too much. Well, not until the surprise happened and the other three members suddenly came out to sing to her at the end of the song. Then it was bawling time again. Not just for those on stage but for the whole audience too. The guy to my right was shut down, incapacitated.


From Mikami Shiori's blog: http://ameblo.jp/mikami-shiori/image-11478582850-12437054389.html

During the MC that followed, they explained that Mikami had been working very hard for four months to prepare for this solo piano performance. Even her piano teacher was watching and had very kind words for her on twitter afterwards. The rest of the members also noticed, and they decided a few weeks ago that they'd also practice on their own to surprise her.

At the night session, there was also an extra part where Koushiki-san announced "Thanks for coming. It's the last yuruyuri event...is that what you really think? Towards the goal of season 3, there will be a Gorakubu solo event in July." The crowd went crazy. The girls on stage said they weren't told about this beforehand and were just as surprised as the rest of us, but overfilled with joy.

Then they decided to end the night with two more songs

During My Sweet Memory, the doors behind them opened up and a huge super bright spotlight created a glowing white halo around them while they sang. It was bright enough to illuminate the audience too, which meant that they could look at us too. To preserve the mood, there wasn't much dancing and no fans were jumping for this. However, we ended on a high note and moved to 100% Chuugakusei, where we picked up our glowsticks again and exerted maximum effort one more time.

Once the lights dropped, the audience moved into encore calls. The whole arena switched to red penlights and just yelled "Akarin" for about 10 minutes. It was actually a relatively short wait.

Then the lights came back and all members, Gorakubu, Seitokai, Mirakurun, Chizuru came on stage wearing the black festival T-shirt along with an oversized can badge (the ones they include with the anime series BD and DVD) and sang My Pace de Ikimashou. Each person got to sing a few lines, and they ended the song with everyone gathered together in the center in a special 10-person pose.

After that it was time for farewell MC. I don't recall too well what was from the noon and night session since it blurs together in my head but I'll try to highlight differences that I can remember. During the noon session is when they explained all the points about the karaoke videos I wrote about earlier though.

Momochan went first. She cried a lot for the noon session but was doing a little bit better for night. "My eyes are drooling." Her words were a lot about gratitude: strong gratitude to student council members who she said looked over her, gratitude to fans who asked to see her again, gratitude to Aki who had a duet with her. She talked about how she would always watch from the corners just wishing to be part of it, but was so happy that they would actually bring her back again even though she's not good at singing or good at acting (her words not mine, cause I think she's awesome). There was just a really strong sense of appreciation and happiness from someone who hasn't really had a career yet, but got thrust into this popular thing with so many fans. Her speech both times was one of the best ones and most moving ones.

Ayachi said she's glad to be doing this event even though she doesn't show up in the series much. She was watching everything from the third floor and was filled with everyone's excitement. She also said that everyone cried backstage when Mikami was doing her piano segment.

Mimorin said that she was really glad to have been a part of this. She's not the crying type, and as a child was even called a "dry kid" because of it, so this was one of the rare exceptions where she said she's trying to hold back her tears.

Emirin used the opportunity to play with the audience again, setting us up with "Oppai" -> Audience: "Kinshi!". But just for today, "Oppai" -> Audience: "Sansei!". She thanked us for going through with the ridiculous Oppai calls so many times.

Aki said she was happy to be back and doing a live event this time, and also happy that she was able to work with Kuraguchi. It looks like they'be become friends now.

Saki used her MC in the night session to announce the new Season 1 Best album to be released in June. She said if Yuruyuri continues to be popular they hope to do another live event with all the members again, including Midorikawa (Ganbo).

Rumi gave her thanks and apologized saying she's not good at doing these kinds of speeches. She said she can't imagine what it would be like for Yuruyuri to be over. She was looking forward to seeing everyone again at the next event in July.

Minami used the noon session to play with us with another Ya-T call and response. After doing all 3 floors of Ya-T, it moved on to demographics:

"Boys!" -> 70% Ya-T
"Girls!" -> 30% Ya-T "Ohhh there are girls here"
"People with glasses!" -> 50% Ya-T
"Wow there sure are a lot of people with glasses."

During the night session though Minami had this super long speech prepared that personally addressed every single person on stage and talked about her memories with them.

Yukachin also had a memorable speech. I don't remember much of the contents of the night speech, but her noon one was really good: "I'm really so happy that this is the series I debuted with and I'll have memories of it forever. Even when I become an old grandma, I still want to put on this uniform with everyone."

And of course she cried. Yukachin ALWAYS cries. She cries at every one of her own farewells, at other peoples farewells, between songs, during songs. And when Yukachin cries, it's not one of those elegant "oh I have a tears coming down my cheek, look how cute I am teehee" thing. Nope, it's ugly ass swollen red eyes, tears running down to her mouth, streams of snot coming out of both nostrils, full blown wailing-so-hard-I-can't-even-talk kind of crying. So it feels really genuine and I think she's a sensitive girl who wears her heart on her sleeve.

Last was Mikami, who surprisingly held it together during both noon and night sessions. But she did most of her crying earlier anyway. Mikami's speech was good though, and she talked about how she'll never forget this time or the friendships she made as part of the series. Part of that feelings went into how she sang the piano solo. She honestly didn't know that there would be more Yuruyuri events, so she was really sad about it all ending. Koushiki-san's announcement really revitalized her again. She thanked everyone for demanding season 3 and said she would work hard for the next event.

Then, Mikami looked at us and said "It can't be the end until we have this song" and raised her hand out to us. Everyone yelled at the same time Yuruyurararayuruyuri Daijiken as hundreds of heart shaped balloons rained onto the audience. On stage, all 10 members were singing together and doing the dance. Off stage, the crowd got whipped up into a frenzy, throwing balloons all over the place, doing max height jumps, furicopy, yelling as loudly as possible, and burning any energy they had left.


Ballons made in the USA!

When the song was over, the cast took a bow and moved to all the corners of the stage to wave at everyone. Finally after another big bow, they left to huge cheers and the concert hall lights came back on. The venue announced exit procedures, but the background music still had Daijiken on loop so no one wanted to leave. Instead the whole audience stayed in. The front half of the audience turned around to face the back half and everyone just kept doing cheers and jumps to the BGM over and over until they finally cut the music.

So, when's Live #4? I'll fucking go.

Full set list, unromanized. From http://yuruyuri.com/blog/archives/2397
M1 いぇす!ゆゆゆ☆ゆるゆり♪♪ /七森中☆ごらく部
M2 レッツラブ~でいきましょう♪ /七森中☆ごらく部
M3 ごらく部、愛と勇気と希望と友情のテーマ /七森中☆ごらく部
【ごらく部MC】
M4 恋のダブルパンチ /さくひま*ひまさく
M5 ない・ない・ナイアガラ! /杉浦綾乃
M6 あいのDelusion /池田千歳
【生徒会MC】
M7 女と女のゆりゲーム /あかり&ちなつ
M8 Eかげん☆YUIかげん /船見結衣
M9 はしゃいでみたり悩んでみたり恋する乙女はゆるゆり /歳納京子
M10 よんでミラクるん!/ミラクるん
【ミラクるんMC】
M11 あのねっ!/ 吉川ちなつ
M12 しあわせギフト /赤座あかり
M13 パジャマ旅行 /京子&結衣
M14 きらいっぱい×すきいっぱい /大室櫻子
M15 それは恋ではないですの? /古谷向日葵
【ドラマ&歌 カラオケ大会】
EX1 つんつんバラード /船見結衣
EX2 網走慕情 /吉川ちなつ
EX3 サンタがやってくる /赤座あかり
EX4 地獄の底へもついていく /歳納京子
M16 ガールズパワーで  /結衣&ちなつ
M17 Miracle Duet / 京子&綾乃
【千歳MC】
M18 ウチとわたしを芯まで漬け込んで /千歳&千鶴
【千歳&千鶴MC】
M19 1期メドレー
※綾乃→千歳→櫻子→向日葵→ミラクるん→京子→ちなつ→結衣→あかり
M20 え~る♪ /ごらく部&生徒会&ミラクるん&千鶴
M21 みんなだいすきのうた(ピアノ弾き語り) /赤座あかり
【ごらく部MC】
M22 MY SWEET MEMORY /七森中☆ごらく部
M23 100%ちゅ~学生 /七森中☆ごらく部
【ENCORE】
EN1 マイペースでいきましょう /ごらく部&生徒会&ミラクるん&千鶴
【全員MC】
EN2 ゆりゆららららゆるゆり大事件 /ごらく部&生徒会&ミラクるん&千鶴

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20:51

January 29 2013

02:28

Open call for YuruYuri Live Event 3 Nanamorichuu Festival

Gonna repost the same offer I just made on twitter. So Yuruyuri Live Event #3 Nanamorichuu Festival is coming up next month.

Due to various circumstances, my various YRYR ota friends couldn't make it so I've got 1 extra ticket. And it's been surprisingly hard to get rid of that extra ticket.

I got these through legitimate means by winning the BluRay promotional lottery and bought them at retail price. In the worst case scenario, I'll just eat the cost because both tickets combined are still way cheaper than if I even bought a single ticket on auctions (which goes for close to 30k yen for a similar seat). I'll have twice the room so I don't need to worry about hitting the guy next to me.

However, I'd much rather have them used by another fan who can enjoy the live. If you are in need of a ticket, write me via comments here, twitter, or email.

Location: Pacifico Yokohama
Date: February 24th, 18:00 (doors open 17:00)
Seat: 1st floor, 19th row, center
Cost: 7605 yen (7000 ticket + 605 fees)

January 09 2013

06:59

Delicious, part 2

Happy 2013!

You may recall my previous post on this subject. In a follow up video, we see that Yukachin extracted her revenge later on a pair of Gamers employees.


Yukachin: Let's try doing some call and response spots from Recital. I'll start from saying "Rum Raisin" as Kyoko, and you say "umee"
Staff: Ok


Yukachin: Ok I'm starting. Rum Raisin...
Staff: Umee!


Yukachin: Aamu, Baumkuchen
Staff: Umee!


Yukachin: Aamu, Mimori-san
Staff: U-*silence*
Yukachin: Hey please say "Umee!" One more time...


Yukachin: Aamu, Mimori-san
Staff: (hesitantly) Umee!


Yukachin: Akari's hairbuns
Staff: Umee!


Yukachin: Shit
Staff: (both enthusiastically) UMEEEEE!
Yukachin: Thank you

December 21 2012

19:12

Tsuda Minami

Last but not least, I'll round off my Gorakubu cast coverage with Tsuda Minami.

Described as the "Mother of Gorakubu," Minami is the kind of hardworking responsible girl who was trained from childhood to be in show business. When she was only 10 years old she enrolled in a local choir group and began studying singing and acting. With experience ranging from musicals to live action to anime, a reasonably strong singing voice, and conventional good looks, she is probably the most versatile member of the group, and the one least likely of the four to be pigeonholed in the anime seiyuu industry. Tsudachan loves acting in general and one can easily picture her doing commercials, movie dubs, theater, TV dramas. Unfortunately, her mainstreamish charm is also a liability among the quirk-obsessed seiyuu fans who love their 2.5D oddities. As the most "normal" Gorakubu member, her wikipedia page is a bit lacking compared to the rather lengthy entries on the absurdly dojikko Mikashii, devilishly azatoi Rumirumi, and slightly bonkers Yukachin.

But no less than the others, Tsuda Minami has a lot of passion for her seiyuu work. Ever since she was young she knew she wanted to work in the voice industry. In YuruYuri, she plays Funami Yui so well she basically DISAPPEARS into the role. This is a person dedicated to her role enough that she cuts her hair to match the character image of whatever role she has. And while she likes to describe herself as boyish, those who have watched her live or at events know it's a humble statement and she can channel her girly side just as well.

As a child, Minami was part of her school's chorus club through every year. She functioned primarily in the role of mezzo-soprano, but there were also times when she also sang soprano and even helped sing the boy's sections when their dwindling male membership left them short of deeper voices. Her grades at the time were said to be excellent. As mentioned earlier, she also received private training and was part of a local chorus run by musical actress Itou Eri. Through her connections, they would record things like backing vocals for musicals and it was around this time Minami became pretty interested in voice work. She thought about how fun it was to do recording and thought about following in her mentor Eri's footsteps.

From the start, Minami never specifically had the role of anime seiyuu in mind but a few things did eventually nudge her in that direction. For example, at age 8 she remembers enjoying watching Sailor Moon and Pokemon and admiring the voices done there. Another fond memory as a child was when she made a deal with her older sister who originally wanted to be an animator. "When I make my anime, I want you to be the voice" she was told. Her sister eventually chose a different career path, but Minami kept working at her seiyuu ambitions. Once she turned 18, Eri introduced her to Tomizawa Michie (seiyuu for Sailor Mars) with whom she consulted about her career plans. Michie recommended that she enroll in Aoni's professional training program. She followed that advice after high school and began commuting to classes from her home in Kanagawa. The training lasted just one year, but the transition to working was smooth.

Immediately after graduation, she landed a spot in Aoni Production's junior division. Her first ever (uncredited) job was to provide stock voice notifications for cell phones. But a month after joining Aoni, she got a little PR push as a debutante at a series of Newbie Seiyuu chat events. With her previous acting training, she also landed her first musical role, playing a kunoichi "Shige" in the musical production Nintamarantarou. Minami happened to be a BIG theater fan who follows various productions and collects ticket stubs so it was especially exciting for her.

After her 20th birthday and coming of age ceremony, she continued to study and practice her craft and also started changing some habits. She started dieting to improve her image, learning how to be more photogenic (you can actually see the photo improvement on her blog over the years), and when she watched western movies, she attended dubbed showings instead to study the voice acting. The photo practice came in handy when she was called on to participate in a photoshoot for the infamous BiseiTokei smartphone app (but she also suffered some embarrassment there when her skirt flipped up in the middle of a shoot).

At 21 she finally landed her big role in Fractale, and finally followed up with another lead role in YuruYuri. At the time, she wasn't aware of just how big it was going to become. During the auditions, she said they were never even told they would be wearing offical school uniforms. Once she landed the role they suddenly told her they'd not only be voicing for the anime, but also dressing up as the characters to shoot PVs, singing the opening and endings, and doing events across the country.

Describing her YuruYuri character, she says Yui and her are very similar - almost eerily so that even her own family and friends will draw the comparisons. They are both frank with their choice of words, both give an adult-like vibe (like Mikashii, Minami also has a driver's license), both get lonely easily, and both enjoy RPG video games. In Minami's case, the game stuff is not just lip service. She has demonstrated her RPG street cred several times, and she especially enjoys Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest titles. Her taste for fantasy extends to books/movies as well, and she has described Harry Potter as among her favorite series. Despite being an indoor person like that, Minami is a little bit claustrophobic and doesn't like enclosed spaces without windows. Whenever possible, she'll always take the stairs instead of elevators (tip for stalkers, wait at the stairs!)

She takes on a somewhat mature role and functions as a kind of glue that holds the members together. For example she's the one who started the whole UNO boom among YuruYuri seiyuu which as since spread to Milky Holmes cast. Her theater experience also comes in handy as she teaches the members about body language (on the PV making-of bonuses, she can be seen trying to demonstrate proper doyagao and posing). According to Mikashii, Minami has a very strong empathy skills where she will just naturally get on the same wavelength as anyone she talks to. She is most close with Okubo Rumi though. They are the same age, coincidentally buy the same foods, and similar interests. In praise of their high synchronization, Okubo Rumi has called Minami her wife (now husband) several times. In some ways you could call her an emotional empath. Minami herself says she has somehow gotten more sensitive since highschool and even cries a lot more at movies than she used to.

Since Yui and Kyoko are often alone in scenes together, Minami also spent a lot of quality alone time with Otsubo Yuka during afureco sessions. Yukachin has described Tsuda as someone who always calms her down when she's nervious and rubs her head when she is worried. As food lovers, they've shared in some some mischief through their mutual love of snacks. There were times when they'd finish off a whole bag of food meant for the cast, then plotted to hide the empty packaging so the rest of the members wouldn't find out later that their share was eaten too.

Minami can cook a little, and supposedly makes a nice omlette rice (though she denies this and says the ketchup helps disguise her incompetence). She is not picky about foods and enjoys almost everything, including bitter or spicy things. Probably the only foods she doesn't really like are paprika and sweet bean paste. It's much harder for her to name foods she likes, because there are so many, but the two meals she eats the most are likely pasta and yakiniku (her favorite is salty beef tongue). Actually, all Gorakubu members eat a lot of yakiniku. Mikashii once noted that whenever the whole group goes out for food, they wind up at a yakiniku joint 80% of the time. One person on nico said Tsuda used to work part time at a Yakiniku restaurant, but this is unconfirmed.

Minami's signature greeting involves spreading her arms out in a T and exlaiming "Ya-T!" (a shortening of "Yatta, T!") Why T? This comes from a broadcast of DJ TSUDA no COUNTDOWN early in the year. During these broadcasts, Minami would write one katakana on paper at set intervals. Viewers who watched the entire broadcast could then piece together the katakana to form the secret word to redeem for a prize. However, right at the beginning of the show, Minami wrote the first character イ hastily, and it wound up looking like "T" instead. Immediately she realized her mistake and started saying "oh yeah, don't make a mistake. That's I, not T" but by this point commenters already sensed the trends and began replacing I with T in all subsequent scrolling comments while a visibly embarassed and giggling Tsudanyan watched helplessly on screen. This also is how the secret word for the broadcast "イケメン" (Ikemen) turned into "Tケメン" (Tkemen). Eventually liking the ring of it, Minami decided to embrace her I to T mistake, also earning her the "Tkemen" nickname in the process.

Speaking of nicknames, it's been a question among fans for quite some time as to which nickname is dominant. Unlike Mikashii, Yukachin, and Rumirumi, who have a "primary" nickname (though each they all have situational and program specific sub-nicknames), the jury is still out on Tsuda Minami. Aside from TKEMEN, she's been called Tsudanyan, Tsudachan, Tsudamin, Tsudacchi, DJ TSUDA, Tsudealer (because of the UNO tournament), DJ MANGOOnyan, Tsuu, and so many other variations that it's become a running joke. Most recently, the weirder names have been weeded out and we seem to be (MAYBE) arriving at Tsudanyan, Tsudachan, or DJ TSUDA consensus. Though Tkemen persists in written form as a way to refer to her online, as it is too good to discard even if doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. She personally thinks DJ TSUDA sounds the coolest, but it only fits within a certain context so it doesn't get much use.

As for future activities, Tsuda Minami hopes to act someone cheerful like Kyoko, do a dubbing role for a western action movie, and release a song album, but no matter what, she says she wants to stay in this line of work for life.

December 06 2012

07:44

Delicious~

Some guy uploaded a "Famous Otsubo Yuka Scenes" video a while back. I watched it last night, expecting my usual dose of Otsubo Pro. Which it delivered in spades. Then suddenly at 14:14 mark, we got THIS


Ok, now I'll try reading a submission from "Things Kyoko would never say but you'd want to hear."


WAIT! WAIT! EEEH? Ok I'm saying it...


UNKうめぇ! (U.N.K. is delicious~!)


Huh, what? Oh it has a different reading?


Fine, fine, I'll say it! Today I'll say it all!


*takes big bite* うんこうめぇ! (SHIT is delicious~)

By the way she was still in highschool when this video was made. How/why her manager let this happen, we'll never know. The comments are filled with "Agency, do your job!"

An outstanding Otsubo Pro moment if there ever was one.

October 25 2012

04:02

Mikami Shiori

I wasn't planning on writing mini profiles for all 4 Gorakubu members, but since I did writeups for Rumirumi and Yukachin already I figured it's only natural to write something for Mikami Shiori. She's the one who convinced me to watch YuruYuri in the first place and plays my favorite character, Akaza Akari.

Mikashii is the kind of person who's actually kind of hard to describe, yet at the same time you can see something and instantly recognize "that's something Mikashii would do." She calls herself relaxed and easygoing, always doing things at her own pace, however it's clear she has a very strong and memorable personality. This can be seen from the fact that almost every single other seiyuu who has ever worked with her has their own variation of eerily accurate Mikami Shiori impressions, and nary a day goes by where another castmate will not namedrop, imitate, or refer to Mikashii in some way. They talk about her so much that she's the central point of most shipping rumors. These rumors are fueled by the fact that Mikami LOVES touching hands (she names "hands and glasses" her own two fetishes on her blog), and doesn't hesitate to get touchy feely with everyone.

Her bubbly kindness and strong sense of responsibility naturally attracts the friendship and respect of everyone around her. But another reason she's so popular with her peers despite her relatively short career is that Mikami skillfully inserts herself into people's way and gets to know them. Both Rumirumi and Yukachin have said that early on in their careers, Mikashii who had slightly more experience, always took the initiative in teaching them and and giving out advice as a mentor and friend. I already mentioned the story about how Rumi got forced by Mikashii to call her using her nickname, but Tsuda Minami has nearly the same story about meeting her. Mikashii simply did not accept being anything less than friends with her colleagues.

In one memorable story told by Keitai Kanojo+ director Tsukikawa Sho, he says he was originally unsure about having a seiyuu act in a live action role, but by the end of filming, Mikashii had charmed the entire cast and crew. In fact, she was a little too friendly and given her role in that production, it became a running joke that her friendliness was far too unnatural and she must have been hiding a traumatic past.

Actually, since Mikashii is so easygoing and naturally becomes friendly with everyone, she's a tempting target to tease no matter where she goes. Especially at YuruYuri events. Mikashii denies being similar to Akarin (she always complains "I'm noooot fubin na ko"), but that doesn't stop the constant comparisons. The popular saying "Mikashii Owata" (Mikami is finished) in fact comes from the famous YuruTen streaming event, where cast members competed against each other to pick names for the songs on the YuruYuri season 1 soundtrack, and scored points whenever fans voted for their name. Just as you'd expect from Akarin's voice actress, Mikashii lingered in last place all the way till the final song, leading to the nico comments being filled with "Mikashii is finished" condolences. "No I'm not!" she begged the audience as she read the screen. Eventually she looked as if she had accepted her fate and even started giving a "goodbye speech" while other members reminisced like she died, but in a surprise move she actually submitted the song name "みかしいオワタ" in a desperate comeback to break her losing streak. This of course won in a landslide, and since then "Mikashii Owata" has been engraved into YRYR lore. True to their word, PonyCanyon kept the title in their soundtrack.

In another incident, Rumirumi recalled how Mikashii disappeared at an afureco session. In Japan, afureco for TV animes are done in a group, and tends to be run in order of the scenes, so even if you only have one opening and ending line in the whole episode, you still need to be there for the whole duration. This situation of course, exactly describes several episodes where "main character" Akari is practically invisible. Mikashii originally waited with everyone at her microphone, but felt so awkward just standing for long stretches in silence that she sat down behind the group to watch them instead (her earlier attempts to adlib some unscripted lines were also shot down by the directors). The 3 remaining cast members did their recordings, took feedback, chatted between takes, and laughed together for ages until Mikashii suddenly commented "You guys seem to have having fun ;_;" from afar. "It felt like she really WAS Akari" the other cast members later recalled.


Live action acting isn't a problem with Mikashii as you can see here. Her "S" is quite cute and convincing.

Examining Mikashii's past, you can see the kind of life that helped shape her. Mikashi was born and raised in Aomori and naturally speaks her native Tsugaru dialect (she coached herself to hide the accent when she moved to Tokyo). When she was 10 years old, she watched Saber Marionette J at her grandmother's house and became interested in the series. Prior to that, she didn't really watch anime. Once she started buying magazines of the series, she learned more about seiyuu and starting getting interested in voice work. By the age of 14, she had narrowed down her future career choices to either daycare worker, piano teacher, or seiyuu. Eventually deciding on seiyuu, she started buying voice magazines like Seiyuu Grandprix, but kept it a secret because she was a little embarrassed about others knowing she wanted to pursue it as a career. In highschool, she was pretty active and played in her school's tennis club. To prepare for her voice career, she also joined the school's broadcasting club and became its president. At the start of her senior year, she attended a summer camp at Tokyo Announce and made her final decision to become seiyuu. Her parents were against the idea but she clutched stubbornly to her dreams and eventually persuaded them to let her go. To Mikami "my pace" also means "my pace, and I'll do it no matter what."

Once she graduated highschool, she moved to Tokyo and enrolled in Tokyo Announce Gakuin's seiyuu school. To avoid annoying her new neighbors, she used to practice her lines and voice drills outside in a public park. She preferred nature anyway and was a bit afraid of people in the big city. It was only after an old lady cheered her on at one of her outdoor practice sessions that she realized urban Tokyo wasn't so scary after all. At the school, she went through a full performing arts curriculum that involved not just voice acting, but also theater, and even stage fighting with wooden swords.

Within a year, she had landed at a role as a member of 7th generation assistants in the weekly radio program "Big Bang" that specialized in cultivating young seiyuu prospects. Previous notable alumni from the program include Imai Asami, Fujita Saki, and Satou Satomi. That made her pretty famous on campus and by her second year, even brand new first year classmates including Ookubo Rumi already heard of her. After graduating from Tokyo Announce Gakuin in 2009, she had a successful Seiyuu Award newcomers audition and was immediately signed by Aoni Production (rumor is that several agencies actually fought over signing her). Her first appearance in an anime was for an uncredited performance in Shugo Chara, but her hard work and personality quickly earned her more roles and more contacts. In 2010, she began hosting one day of the now popular Lady Go series along with fellow graduate Rumi. She is now that troupe's leader.

As a country girl, Mikashii is an active and outdoors type. Unlike Rumi who prefers staying home, Mikashii will go out with friends, play tennis, go shopping, driving (she has a license), eat at restaurants, or sightseeing each weekend. She says she spends a lot of times in parks because she grew up in Aomori and always gets the urge to get away from the urbanness of the city and see nature. However, she doesn't swim in the ocean without a floatation device because she had a traumatic experience where she almost drowned in middle school.

For indoor stuff, she loves cats and dreams of opening up her own kitty cafe some day once she has saved enough money. When she watches movies, she says she enjoys fantasy genre, citing Narnia and Pirates of the Caribbean series as examples. On food, she says she is a huge meat eater who eats yakiniku far too often that she needs to watch her weight. She especially loves fried squid which is common in her hometown, but hard to get in Tokyo. She also likes eating desserts and prefers parfaits and chocolate in particular. She can also play piano, and hopes to get more involved in singing in her future career. Besides those interests, she is apparently officially certified as 2 kyu rank in Kanji, 1 kyu in Abacus, and 1 kyu in Mental Arithmetic.

Only 23 years old but already with a few major series under belt, and having won a "best rookie" seiyuu award, Mikashii may shape up to be among the top 3 personalities who have made it in the last 5 years. Mikashii may not be as spontaneous as Yukachin, or as sly as Rumirumi, but in what matters most, voice, her's is uniquely outstanding. The range isn't great, but it's the type suited to do a few specific roles extremely well. Combined with her sociable personality and networking acumen, she has attained a solid level of career stability that is likely to last years - fans to jokingly refer to her as "immune to scandal." As nico commenters frequently say, Mikashii is a person who "as soon as you see her, you feel from your heart that you want her to be happy and successful."

October 23 2012

05:11

Busou Shinki ~Master! Haiyaku Mite Kudasai Ne!~


Last month, I attended a Busou Shinki preview event at Japan Science Foundation in Tokyo.

They were showing a screening of the first episode, followed by a talk session with the cast members. Even though top names like Asumis and Minorin were all billed to appear, front row tickets were surprisingly easy to get. Must have been because of the Thursday evening time slot. Lots of guys who arrived looked like they came straight from work and were still in suits.

Inside JSF building, we followed the signs down to the Science Hall, which was a pretty small auditorium (maybe no more than 400 people). Just outside, there was a row of boxes with each seiyuu's name where fans could drop off presents or mail. I found my seat in the fourth row center. Since the location was a lecture hall, all of our chairs had small tables bolted to them and lots of fans used these to place Busou Shinki figures that they brought along. About 1/3rd of the audience was also wearing papercraft Shinki headsets cut from the official template - at the end of the show, staff gave presents to each person who brought their own headset.



Once everyone was settled in, we watched the first episode. I originally thought it was just going to be some generic Angelic Layer clone but instead it turned out to be a pretty amusing "small people doing things" everyday life comedy in the vein of Bottle Fairy, so I follow the series on the air now. There weren't any opening and ending animations as those were not yet completed.

After the screening, there was a bit of silence and then we heard Asumin's glorious voice off stage.

Asumin: "Wow there are so many masters here today."
Asumin: "Master, wake up. We can't keep them waiting."
Daichuu: "Nnmmmm, Asumi Kana in a swimsuit"
Asumin: "My master shouldn't say those kind of things!"

With that, Mizushima Takahiro aka Daichuu came on stage. One by one he called the rest of the cast. Asumin and Minorin came out with ZR while Mizuhasu and Mamegu went with longer dresses. Mizuhasu was probably the most dressed up, with ankle length black skirt, frilly top, hat, scarf, etc, but I liked Asumin's simple look with the white blouse, pearls, and ZR too (omg dat futomomos). Actually I was staring at Asumi most of the time during the event since I didn't get to see her close enough at Anisama. Each person took a turn to describe their own character.

Asumi Kana as Ann: Spent the longest time with master. An honor student and fundamentally a good character, but sometimes scatterbrained.
Minori Chihara as Hina: Cool, quiet, and combat oriented. Kind of a loner.
Mizuhashi Kaori as Ines: A "boku" type. Her outfit is a bit risky, so you can see she's an exhibitionist. You can see the screw holes and the joint cavities between her legs! These are her moe points (sasuga mizuhasu)
Nakajima Megumi as Lene: A clusmy airhead and total boke type, but a good easygoing person.

After intros, they did a quick free talk while Takahiro served as MC. Since everyone already worked together on the games and knew the characters well, Asumin and Minorin talked about how the afureco was pretty easy and they all had a good time. Mizuhasu also showed us some photos she took of shinki figures at home. Apparently Mizuhasu is quite a big figures collector and experienced hobbyist, and everyone commented on how good her pictures were at making them seem lifelike. Megumi seemed like she had a hard time getting a word in though, so at the end Takahiro called on Mamegu.

Daichuu: "Nakajima-san"
Mamegu: "Oh you can call me Mamegu."
Daichuu: "What? Mame..mamegu?"
Mamegu: "Yes"
Daichuu: "How about I call you Megu-chan?"

Mamegu talked about how she got totally psyched out for the event and mimed out her shock pose that caused the audience and seiyuu to laugh. That pretty much set the whole tone for her and Mamegu got relegated to boke role along with Minorin among the group. But, while Minorin is a natural airhead, Megumi is more like the local weirdo who is in her own world.

Then staff brought out two tables and Takahiro relinquished the stage to the Shinki cast for a first ever test session of the radio series "Busou Shinki: Master no tame no radio desu."

As the hosts, Asumin and Minorin sat at the left table. Mamegu and Mizuhasu played the role of the audience/masters on the right.

Asumin: "I wonder if it is OK if both of us boke sit together."
Asumin: "Don't worry, if it's like this, I'll do the tsukkomi"
Minorin: "I wanted to do tsukkomi, but I'm afraid I'm not a person who can pull it off."
Minorin: "Because I can't tell when somebody says boke thing" lol

The first corner was "Master no tame ni" where listeners can send in their hobbies and interests, and then Asumin and Minorin will try to think of how Shinki could please them. For example, if your hobby is soccer, maybe they'll blow vuvuzela. Apparently, Mizuhasu's hobby is "collecting pictures of Fukuzawa Yukichi" (guy on 10000 yen note) and Mamegu's is doing a duck face when she's alone. With this weird answers they couldn't even respond?

Next corner was "Chiisa na nayami" where listeners can send in small things that are troubling them.

Mamegu: "Small prob-"
Asumin: "You don't have to also say it in a small voice."
Minorin: "Mamegu, you are a very interesting person"
Mamegu: "Someone telling that to me is troubling"
Mizuhasu: "Being surrounded only by boke in this room is troubling."

Asumin: Everyone, do you think I'm boke type? Or more tsukkomi type.
Audience Definitely boke
Asumin: Heeeeh?

Third and longest corner was "kasou ga 15 cm." Since Shinki were 15cm, the goal was to imagine if other things were also 15cm. Staff brought out sketchpads and the task was divided up between Mamegu and Mizuhasu. While they were discussing, Asumin stopped abruptly.

Asumin: "Mamegu what are you doing."
Mamegu: Oh I was just showing this microphone is about 15cm right?"
Asumin: "Ah I thought you were moving kind of strangely"
Minorin: "By the way what blood type are you?"
Mamegu: "I'm A"
Everyone: "Are you really?"
Mamegu: "What? I'm hurt. I don't seem like A to you?"

Hacchi's had to name things which would become scary at 15cm. She produced: "G (gokiburi)", "Eye", "WC (toilet)"

Minorin: "Yeah 15cm roach would be scary, but it would be easier to catch!"
Mamegu: "It's like a mouse"
Asumin: "NO. Even a mouse would be more cute."

Minorin: Certainly an eye would be somewhat disgusting at that size.
Asumin: But to Shinki it's that scale isn't it

Minorin: "A 15cm toilet would definitely overflow"
Mamegu: "Now what could it be overflowing with?"

Asumi suddenly jumps up eyes bulging and starts frantically waving her hands at the audience.
"STOP! STOP! You don't need to talk about that! Everyone, erase that from your minds! Erase it!"

I think it took 5 minutes for everyone in the theater to actually stop rolling on the floor laughing. Minorin and Mamegu...DEFINITELY boke.

After that "abunai" detour, now it was Mamegu's turn to name things which would be convenient at 15cm. She wrote down...a washing machine.

Everyone: What?
Asumin: Why a washing machine?
Mamegu: I just moved recently, but I couldn't fit my old washing machine into the new place so I had to buy another one. If only it were smaller!
Asumin: You're getting away from the original purpose of a washing machine.

Mizuhasu: I think you two should also participate. Your topic is "would be cute at 15cm?"

And the two started writing in their pads.

Minorin: Me
Minorin: Everyone would be cute at 15cm, so I thought I'd pick myself.

Asumin: Mamegu-chan
Asumin, mimicking the shock pose Mamegu did earlier, "I want a 15cm Mamegu that I can pose."
Mamegu: If it's Asumi-senpai asking, I'll pose in any way you want right now.
Asumin: I think your agency will get mad at me.
Mamegu: It's OK they're a pretty forgiving agency.
Asumin: I think it's a bad idea. Let's stop here.

That concluded the radio segment. Next, Asumi said it was time to announce the ending song for Busou Shinki. To my surprise azusa came out on stage to join the cast members. Even though I only saw azusa just a few weeks ago at her DVD release event, she seemed a lot different again with her new look and hairstyle. She introduced herself as the singer/writer for the ending song "Taiyo no sign" and described it as a very kind and warm song that she hoped would fit the nature of the series. She also said she was the writer for the opening song. After quick introductions, the cast members left the stage for azusa to perform.

As expected, azusa's singing was so good, and the sound quality was also much nicer and richer than the DVD event at LAOX. I liked the song right away. When all cast members came back, I thought they were going to perform the opening too but no such luck. Oh well, I think one song from azusa is worth more than all 4 cast members singing the OP together. Then, it was time for a secret guest.

Resuming his MC role, Daichuu reappeared on stage and called in Oda Tetsurou who composed the BGM for the series. Oh, another guy I met last month at Anisama! The audience really respected this guy and gave him a lot of cheers, but the one fanboying the hardest of all was Takahiro on stage. Daichuu said that he almost idolized this guy back when he was young and thought his work was amazing and that he was almost speechless. He could barely talk straight to Oda. Mamegu was similarly speechless. After the other seiyuu talked a bit with him, they noticed she was speechless and urged her. "Go on, say something to Mr. Oda" but Mamegu said she was much too starstruck, so Asumin took over the conversation again.

Asumin: "Ne, ne, Oda-san who's your favorite busou shiki?"
Asumin came right under him and started flirting HARD, batting her lashes and making doe eyes at him. Obviously talking about Ann, she continued

Asumin: "Do you think of any character and she makes you feel like..oh she's a good girl. Do ya? Do ya?"
Oda: Well they're all nice, but if I had to pick...I think Hina
Asumin: Hina huh, so you like those kind of girls.
Oda: I guess I like girls that are kind of stoic/mysterious
Asumin: Ann could be like that too!

After Oda left stage, Daichuu was still nervous so Asumin told him "I'll support your love. I'm cheering for you"
Daichuu: "Hey, don't misunderstand this"

Finally, everyone took a bow and said their final message to fans. Asumi told us to watch out for their twitter, as they'd be announcing official Busou Shinki itasha appearances soon at various locations, and once again reminded us of the TV airing dates and single releases. Staff waited at the exit to distribute special stickers to those wearing headgear, so I took the opportunity to get ahead of the crowd and get out early.

Final impressions: For 3000 yen, that was 2 hours very well spent. Megumi has matured into a fine and quirky seiyuu since the last time I saw her at AX, and of course I was happy to see Asumin, Minorin, and Mizuhasu for the second time in the same trip. As for radio, I'm looking forward to the twin-boke combination of Asumis and Minorin in episodes to come.

October 09 2012

06:47

Ookubo Rumi

I started getting into A&G Lady Go recently, but just like Hashihime who had the epiphany before me, Ookubo Rumi, has very quickly jumped several tiers into my must-follow list in just a few short months. Hashihime provides some great introductory info in this post and hits on most of the points, including her voice acting, general cuteness, and decent singing ability.

IMO she is probably the strongest singer among the 4 Gorakubu seiyuu at least. She also rivals Yukachin with her quick wits, but combined with a sense of maturity. After personally seeing her charm offensive when I attended the Yuruyuri 39fes event last month, I decided at some point I should also contribute to the Rumirumi bandwagon, as she surely is worth the effort just as Yukachin was.

To start with some history, Rumirumi (who just turned 23 two weeks ago by the way) actually never had plans to become a seiyuu until her second year in highschool. Although she liked anime and voice actors, she originally didn't decide what to study and was just planning to go to a normal college to figure it out later, until suddenly one day she had the desire to be a voice actor. She discussed this with her parents who gave their blessing surprisingly easily, and then she enrolled in the seiyuu program at TOKYO ANNOUNCE GAKUIN Performing Arts College. As she had more classes in the vocational school, she gradually became more determined. In her second year, at age 19, she participated in the 3rd annual audition held by 81 Produce where she won an award. During the audition, she sang Shoko-tan's "Snow Tears." It was also at this audition where she made a strong impression on the young Ootsubo Yuka who also happened to be there, although they wouldn't work together until much later.

Since then, her career has been on a fairly smooth trajectory. When she had her first debut role in Sasameki Koto, she was guided by her senpai Katou Emiri from the same agency and she has held immense respect for her ever since.

In late 2010, she began hosting Thursday (now Wednesday) night episodes of A&G NEXT GENERATION Lady Go!! web series along with Mikami Shiori, Komatsu Mikako, Teramoto Yukika, and Takamori Natsumi (Sumipe didn't replace Yukika until 2011). Mikami was one year ahead of Rumi at the same seiyuu school, so when they met at Lady Go, Rumi originally started out calling her Mikami-senpai and only switched after Mikami insisted on using her nickname Mikashii. Later when Rumi used "Mikami-senpai" again at the start of YuruYuri S1, she got scolded by a very scary Mikashii ("Rumirumi-chan, I thought I told you to call me Mikashii from now on" *death stare*)

You may notice that fans and Rumi will sometimes greet each other on nico broadcasts and radio using "Happy!" But what they're really saying is "Ha-P!", an abbreviated term for 腹黒ピンク (Haraguro Pink) which a neologism referring to certain pink haired characters with a heart of darkness. Of course if asked, Rumi will strongly deny her particular character is evil - rather she's a pure angel who's simply honest with herself. A "Harashiro Pink" character if you will.

Since fans identify her most strongly with her Chinatsu role, she ended up getting a reputation for being evil and crafty. A running joke was that fans would intentionally spin her words and actions as ominous and try to look at the hidden meanings even if she said something completely nice and innocent. At one point in time it was so widespread even her own staff heckled her about it. The "evil" jokes have mostly been played out and gone away, but she still gets called "azatoi" (sly/cunning) all the time, a label she seems to have accepted (or at least doesn't complain when she reads it in the mails anymore). Fans call her "azatokawaii" as praise for her unfair ability to act sickeningly cute. She is a lot like Yukarin with regards to this aspect.

The "azatoi" moniker is well deserved. Rumi can be mischeviously cute (although she's still not good at giving winks) and is a rather fast thinker who can adlib humor quite well. Corners like るWみH really highlight this, as she is required to act out ridiculous roles based on completely nonsensical who/what/when/where/how combinations. In one episode she was throwing handseals around while playing a "ninja ordering gyudon in an izakaya."

When asked to compare her qualities with Chinatsu, she responded she's similar in that she gets very excited about things she likes. However, at the same time she is totally ignorant and incurious of topics that don't interest her, and thus has a rather myopic knowledge of the world. But she doesn't like to admit when she doesn't know something and will often try and bluff her way through. The Lady Go corner "Rumirumi Bijutsukan he youkoso" is actually based entirely around her well practiced ability to do this, and her unscripted commentary while trying to draw obscure/foreign objects is often hilarious. Her bluffing and boasting skills are also frequently seen in other areas, where she loves to say "oh yeah, I'm good at this" whenever she's challenged to anything. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not.

As a child, she was pretty mature for her age, as she tried hard to imitate her older sister, whom she admired her ability to fit in naturally with adults. Even now she's mostly an easygoing and casual person. In fact, she says her friends might even call her boyish. Tsuda Minami went so far as to call Rumirumi an "oyaji" in one interview. She does indeed have a remarkably strong ability to act out on caricatures like that. To this day, her legendary "ikemen" act still persists by popular request. It's funny that in older interviews, Mikashii originally thought Rumirumi was the most feminine out of all 4 Gorakubu cast members.

When Rumi was in the cheerleading squad in highschool, her favorite part was dancing and she practiced it a lot, although she was a bit afraid too since her small stature meant she would be the top half for any aerial routines. The experience proved valuable when she was at dance practice for Yuruyuri events. The physical skill gap vs her castmates was so large at their first practice session that a staff member immediately singled her out and asked if she danced before.

Her favorite food is karaage with soy sauce. However, her friends think she's weird for adding soy sauce when karaage is already salty.

Rumi is a big Digimon fan, and has a tradition of rewatching the series at the start of every new year. In last week's Lady Go, she announced she had actually landed a part in the upcoming Digimon Adventures game slated for release in 2013. Apparently her staff knew she loved the series a lot, so they hooked her up with a role.

Rumi says because she's so short and Yukachin was so tall, she was flustered when they met, but now thinks of Yukachin as the adorable little sister she wish she had. Meanwhile, Tsuda is a person she really gets along with, as they are the same age and also usually on the same wavelength (though everyone says this about Tsuda-chan). If Yukachin is her little sister, then Tsuda is her wife.

She's not really much of an outdoors person, and in her spare time off she'd rather stay at home and read novels than go anywhere. Often, she'll buy entire box-sets in one go at the bookstore and spend a day reading them all. Manga is fine too, but if a series has both novel and manga, she'd rather read the novel.

Even though she has been playing a lot of cute girls, she said she would enjoy doing big variations in characters, such as playing a serious adult, or a totally evil role (like straight up hitler-evil), or an Akari-like angelic role, probably to avoid being typecast.

October 05 2012

08:41

Tamura Yukari LOVE LIVE 2012 Autumn *Fall in Love*

Since I went to way too many events on my last trip, I doubt my procrastinating self will find the time or will to write about them all, so I'll just pick and choose out of order based on my feelings.

First up, the second leg of Tamura Yukari's 2012 fall tour on 9/22. This marks my...8th time seeing Yukarin live? I actually went to Yukarin's NHK live hall on 9/17 as well, but Nagoya was bigger and better so I'll just cover this primarily, and maybe bundle a few comments about NHK whenever relevant. Note, if you don't want to spoil the setlist or videos just skip to the parts labeled "MC Corner"

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. Getting there wasn't so convenient, but a few extra train rides weren't going to bother me when I'm coming in same-day from Tokyo.

The event grounds were pretty nice, and the merchandise booths, fanclub table, and concert were all in one place unlike NHK Hall in Shibuya where you had to walk between two far away buildings. Plus, at Nagoya they parked Yukarin's tour trailer right outside.



Merchandise was in much more demand today, with long lines even half an hour before showtime. Despite the lines, not much was sold out except the limited Nagoya-only T-shirts. Even the puppet, which usually sells out at past events, was still in stock. Then again, Koiseyo Onnanoko hasn't appeared with the same frequency lately.

Gachagacha was still disappointing - maybe they're saving the good stuff for Yokohama. Another table was also selling the newly released Yukarissimo photo/score book and including a bonus poster with every purchase. I'll post all the various goods I picked up at the end, but I'll describe the live event first.

My seat was in the fifth row, center so the view was excellent. 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. Behind sat a curtained door-shaped entrance glowing with Yukarin's flowery concert crest.

A second larger projector screen further above provided visuals. At the bottom, the stairs melded into an ornate concave wall that tapered into substages for 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 and to a lesser extent NHK hall were both 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, last being performed almost three years ago during Princess a la mode. The song had been rearranged so I initially 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 Chelsea Girl 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 08 but it always seems to get louder every year.

Third song was Oshiete 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 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. Surprisingly, nobody 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"

Audience: *cheers*

"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 awarded 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 different sections.

Then some fan yelled out "your bangs are cute!"

This was a reference to some emails she sent to fanclub members the night before abut how she didn't want to bother the makeup artist and tried to cut her hair herself, with supposedly disastrous results.

"Don't laugh! 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? 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 basically about to insult the haircut of whoever she singled out and escaped the situation with a generic "Wow you all have some pretty complex hairstyles". Instead, she turned to her favorite victim.

"Masanyan, you look like you cut your own hair."

But Masanyan answered negative, and Yukarin was alone in her shame. 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. It has only been performed live once before at a fanclub-only event, but the moves were polished and cute, and I loved the "do be do be happy~" lyrics. Fans knew the melody well from Yukarin's ItazuraKurousagi radio show.

Bambino Bambina 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. I had just graduated from university back then and was still so inexperienced with concerts (ahhh so young), so I was happy to experience it again now as my grizzled kimo-ota self who has 10x increased arm waving endurance and a giant penlight collection. No more fumbling and nervousness this time as I joined the entire row in copying all of Yukari's hand movements.

Sakasete Otome 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 with big text that showed you the timed calls, instead of the standard flowing hearts and stars that usually occupied the projection screen. Given that it just came out with Yukarin's new single, and OtaP'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 to introduce the band members while the stage changed for acoustic corner. At NHK Hall, they played an audio-only version of it, but for Nagoya, we got video. It was a sparsely animated set of dating sim-like scenarios narrated by Yukarin taking place in the "Private Momoiro Academy." Of course, instead of meeting dashing ikemen, each 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.

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), the blackboard had Yukarin's name written under an umbrella with something else (maybe JACK's name, I didn't read fast enough). 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:

"Guess who?"
...
"Me!"
...
*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 Hitohira no koi, which was a traditional slow ballad. The second song, Sensitive Venus 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, and might have been almost at TERRSA's level. 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, 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. But it was subtitled, so I was only able to read some parts of it since I was doing makeup."

"They showed 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 was so shocked 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 (from KING)"
*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 suppose you also believe in aliens. But what about all the people who said they believe in aliens and not UFO?"
"Oh maybe you think 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 have a reason to come to Earth right? Because there's nothing of value here."
Audience: No, Yukarin is here!

"Yukari is just an insect to them"
Jack: *plays bwa bwa bwaaaaa~ sound effect on guitar*

"Hey let me try that!"
And Yukarin proceeded to play with the guitar pedal till the end of MC.

Still wearing the same dress, Yukarin sang the latest Nanoha A's movie ending theme Hohoemi no Plumage. 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:


Yukari's "debut" from last Spring's "Let's go Youngster no Hoshi" segment

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 Etranger and Beautiful Amulet which were nice nostalgic call backs. Beautiful Amulet replaced Tomorrow from NHK Hall.

After that, Yukari left again to change while the band stayed on and played some instrumental tunes.

Next up was Yumeiro Labyrinth, 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 Ange Passe, which was also nice to hear again after its long absence from concerts.

This was followed up by Kimo to 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. Sometimes, I really like a song several months after I hear it live, then regret not appreciating it more at the time (even just recently, I got hooked on Flag Tateyou Yo by nao and wished I could see it live. ONLY...WAIT, I ALREADY DID SEE IT? NOOOOOOO!!!!)

Luckily, something clicked when I heard Kimi to LOVE on the big stage. When Yukarin was leading the whole crowd with wiper, I just became so in love with the 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

In the NHK video, Yukarin tried her hand at golfing. This time at Nagoya, we watched Yukari play 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 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 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 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 Party ha owaranai. You may recall an official PV that Yukarin put out a few weeks ago. Like the "LOVE ME NOW" video, the Party ha owaranai 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.


Call books which assisted significantly with chants for the new song

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 NE! and candy smile. I have to say, I felt SO LUCKY to get both of these songs (and Wakusei no rendezvous in NHK). 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 Cheer Girl in my Heart, the hugely popular Koi no time machine (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 saying Yukarin fans have a kind of controlled chaos. Or say 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 to our section and was caught by the guy sitting directly behind me (we traded high-fives 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: Andromeda made 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."
Audience: "EEEEEEH"

"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 and 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.

Closing message

"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"

Audience: UOOOOOOO!!!!!

What an ending speech! Once she exited, the whole audience started clapping and shaking hands, but some girls even started crying. Then fans concluded the day with sanbonjime claps.

But things weren't over for me yet. Instead of hanging around at the live hall, re-browsing the goods booth, and crowd-watching like I usually do, I hightailed it back to Nagoya station. I didn't get a hotel in Nagoya, so I needed to catch the Shinkansen and reach Tokyo in time before the last train.

When I got back to JR, I was originally planning on taking the 9:50 train but I messed up my order at the machine (trying to incorrectly buy the limited express instead of regular ticket) and didn't get it in time. Which meant I had to take the more expensive Nozomi train at 10:15PM, as well as cutting very close to my deadline of reaching Tokyo before the last subway train at midnight. I was totally ready to grumble about wasted time when I got to my platform, which was crowded and noisy with a lot of people. Wait, there's something about that group...is that...Yukarin? She standing in the middle of a circle surrounded by her staffs and band members. OH SHIT IT IS YUKARI! I couldn't believe my luck that I ran into Yukarin at the train station - this is something I joked about with some friends but to think it actually happened.

"Well it was a nice treat to see Yukari one last time," I thought, "but now that the train arrived I should get to my car." Except, they moved first into the exact same line, and I ended up directly behind one of the dancers (I believe it was Yukie). Oh fuck we're not only in the same train, we're in the same car. Welp.

So we ended up getting on the same train, I helped move some staff's luggage, and then sat about 8 rows away from Yukari. At this point I was debating whether I should go talk to her or not. If this happened in the US, it wouldn't even need to be a question, but I wasn't sure I want to go all gaijin KY on her in Japan when there were other Japanese fans around who clearly knew she was there yet pretended like she didn't even exist. All that stuff about respecting personal space and all. But I also knew Yukarin loves getting her ego stroked and she probably totally wouldn't mind if a foreigner dude just went up to her (funny enough, I actually have another foreign friend who did just that), so if I did it I should definitely go at it from a "big dumb foreigner" angle. So at the last last stop, when I knew if I passed up this chance I would never ever get it again, I threw all caution to the wind, pretended not to understand a word of Japanese, and put on my best AMURRICAN accent.

"Hey exyooze me, are ya Yukary Tamera?"
"Hi, I am Yukari"

Full setlist:
01. Honey Moon
02. Chelsea Girl
03. Oshiete A to Z
04. Rainy Rainy Sunday
05. Bambino Bambina
06. Sakasete Otome
07. Hitohira no Koi
08. Sensitive Venus
09. Hohoemi no plumage
10. Love Sick
11. Etranger
12. Beautiful Amulet
13. Yumeiro Labyrinth
14. Ange Passe
15. Kimi to LOVE
16. Endless Story
17. Party ha owaranai
18. MERRY MERRY MERRY MENU NE!
19. candy smile
20. Cheer Girl in my heart
21. Koi no Time Machine
22. fancy baby doll

Overall impression: Great show. Way more polished than NHK, 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.

Final Goods:


July 19 2012

00:19

Otsubo Yuka

I actually started watching YuruYuri for two reasons. One because I was a refugee from Shining Tears who could not get enough of Mikashi's voice, and two because I figured I should actually know more about a group I'm going to see live next month (I foolishly passed up a chance to see them last year). So I kind of became a Otsubo Yuka fan by accident.

As it turns out, YuruYuri turned out to be so good I ended up watching the lives. And once I watched Yukachin perform the most excellent Miracle Yurukuru 1-2-3, I was just so impressed that this nobody I had never heard of was doing such a earnest if somewhat awkward job. And she was really witty during talks as well. What can I say? She's a natural. I decided to do more research on her, sourcing from various wiki, radio, interviews, and her own blog (highly recommended btw as it is full of newbie enthusiasm and "first time doing X " posts).

I guess I will post more about her (and Mikashi) in the future.

Some basic info points below:

Described as a "Golden Rookie," this Chiba prefecture native has only just freshly graduated from the "seiyuu curriculum" at the CLARK Memorial International Highschool. She signed on with the Early Wing agency in April but has already played leading role in YuruYuri for two seasons, and a support role with OP performance for the recently aired Nyaruko anime, as well as a handful of game voices.

The origin story goes: as a child Yuka sometimes watched mainstream anime with her older brother, but wasn't really into it that much. However, some time in 5th grade she became sick. She took drowsy medicine, slept through the whole day, and woke up at night, leading her to watch late night anime programming which she found to be wildly different from the prime time stuff. After being awestruck by the performance in "Lucky Seven" she began aspiring to become a voice actress. After that, she started watching late night anime more regularly and basically started on the path to her seiyuu career.

When YuruYuri was broadcasting, she was still a senior in high school so she had to miss school. There weren't any make-up classes, so she had to rely on friends taking notes, teacher help, and all-night cramming sessions for tests to get by. Because she attended a high school with a seiyuu program, she was a bit worried about the competition and rivalry with classmates, but those concerns were lessened when everyone was supportive and threw her a YuruYuri celebration party with her favorite baumkuchen cakes.

Asked about her obsession with baumkuchen, she explained it accidentally came about from her love for chiffon cakes. When she saw baumkuchen she thought it resembled the spongy base of chiffon cake and tried one. It was so eye openingly delicious that she converted. Later during her 2nd year of middle school, she did 2 weeks summer homestay in Germany. It was meant to be a third year trip, but she crammed English classes on the side in order to go early. Probably because she was itching to have some of that German cake in its native country.

One of her nicknames "JK Baum" was made up by her YuruYuri castmate Tsuda Minami during a live broadcast and comes from "Joshi Kousei Baumkuchen" - highschool girl [who likes] baumkuchen. After her highschool graduation, this was updated to "JD Baum" (JoshiDaisei for college girl). Nico commenters often just drop the prefix entirely and call her Baum. Her other nicknames are Yukachin - which seems to be the prevalent normal nickname, Bon - acquired when Matsuki Miyu called her this during the DIVE II Summit Nyaruko corner (derived from Baum), and Tsuboyuka - which she uses on her own blog. A final nickname, "Dobechin," is usually used by fans but only when she has a FAIL moment or comes in last place during an on-air competition.

Aside from eating baumkuchen, her other interest is watching soccer and her self-stated special skill is coloring with highlighter pens. Another one of her skills is her ability to do a DFE (dead fish eye) stare, though she likes to deny that one sometimes. It has become somewhat of a trademark gag now and fans love to point out DFE any time she stares at anyone/anything.

When she did her first live appearance last year, she was nervous about how people would respond to her. She knew Mikashi would get a nickname call from fans because she was already established, but she didn't expect it for herself who had never appeared at any event before. She got really surprised by "Yukachi~n" calls and felt validated as a seiyuu.

In elementary school, Yuka participated in track club and basketball club. In middle school, there was no track club so she followed in her brother's footsteps and joined the student council, becoming vice president. She said it was pretty laid back and ate baumkuchen in the council room. In high school she participated in the dance club.

Asked to describe what she watched in elementary and middle school, Yuka flexed her nerdy chops and named "Yoshinaga-san Chi no Gargoyle", "Black Lagoon", "Kage kara Mamoru!", and even "Magikano." Her favorite voice actor and inspiration at the time was the great Nakahara Mai (an excellent choice who did some of her best comedy work ever in Magikano IMO). Later on she watched "Haruhi", "Lucky Star", "Inazuma Eleven", "Macross F" and even worked a booth selling goods at Comiket. Her favorite manga is ARIA and she has a soft spot for pink haired characters.

Speaking of ARIA and pink haired characters, you can find her Akari cosplay pictures in this month's Megami Magazine. Yuka specifically requested ARIA when her agency asked what kind of cosplay she wanted to do.

During her highschool graduation, she received her high school's special achievement award from the principal Miura Yuichiro (this guy).

Her voice for Toshino Kyoko was originally higher pitched and more energetic than what you hear on TV, but the director told her to tone it down closer to her natural voice.

Due to her fantastic ability to adlib, you'll often see comments from niconama viewers like "さすがプロ" (as expected from a pro) or "やっぱりプロは違う" (pros are just on another level). Yukachin has even earned her own term "Otsubo Pro" from her endless outbursts of unscripted brilliance but apparently she takes her work very seriously even if she seems like she's just messing around. According to Rumirumi, during afureco sessions, Yuka is one of the most diligent workers she has ever seen, who takes an enormous mountain of notes to carefully incorporate feedback and criticism from the director and senpais with a smile. Every other cast member corroborates, saying she perfectly fits every trait of the sweet and hardworking little sister stereotype (they all very specifically use the imouto-chara term to describe her)

April 10 2012

23:37

Legs, spreads, and maturities

Discussing seiyuu as financial instruments was some stupid fun between some friends on twitter, but after reading this from Akirascuro I ended up thinking too hard about it and my reply morphed into this post.

What kind of considerations would be needed to set up a seiyuu backed security?

Seiyuu careers unfortunately have few similarities with trading vanilla stocks or bonds. You don't really own seiyuu as equity, nor do you enter into the fandom with a large purchase you intend to cash out at a later time. Rather seiyuu career trajectory is much like a series of cashflows without a principal payment at the end. If she reaches maturity date (retire) it's not like you get your money back. Similarly if her career tanks you will not be first in line during the liquidation to receive payout (though this has happened in a certain sense for those in other idol fields).

Instead you pay for her slowly over the years, and you enjoy a seiyuu's work season after season. You could think of them like a dividend paying stock, self issued, but purchased by their agencies who sink the initial cost in training and bringing them up. As they establish their fame in the industry, they may pay out increasing dividend. Fans aren't the agencies so they'll never be able to see the payment, but through the magic of derivatives they CAN still take a position on that dividend. To take account of the complexities of seiyuu career modeling, some sort of security similar to a dividend swap or TR swap on the OTC market would be my choice.

How to design it? The pay leg would probably be some floating rate linked to an index on Seiyuu Income per Season plus or minus some spread. This could be adjusted based on the seiyuu's drawing power, as well as some risk adjustment for the likely direction of her future. Naturally, a seiyuu with lots of fans and very few antis would allow anti-side to demand a huge premium over the index rate. Conversely, seiyuu who are widely expected to fail or have a scandal that kills her career will have no shortage of counterparties willing to discount that rate.

On the other side the receive leg can be some quarterly payment linked to the money she makes per season. This can be derived from episodes acted, media appearances, Oricon sales charts, and other factors in income. Since it's all hypothetical anyway you could even link to some intangible like personal enjoyment out of the roles. Or something dumb like skirt length.

As for maturity, it's hard to say because with individual seiyuu, the cashflows could end at any time and career length varies wildly. Sure you can link the underlying asset to some basket of seiyuu from an agency, or large group with varying ages and an annual rebalance policy, but that takes the fun out of it. After all why be a seiyuu fan if you can't play favorites? We could deal with the uncertainty via short maturity and roll or set it up like a constant maturity swap, but for the TRUE FAN (tm) who's willing to bet some serious money they can do long maturity with a call provision to exit the position. It could be based on time periods or base it around some defined events like career-derailing scandal, tragic illness, a Hirano Aya-type lateral move that changes classification of the underlying security, a systemic Arts Vision style incident, or other unforseen risks. But truly hardcore fans won't even want a call provision so they can lock in their opinions and prove their loyalty.

Designed like this, there is still big money to be made. Assuming you're locked in with a far off maturity date, there are plenty of good trades you could have made.

Loyal fan trade:

For a period of time after K-ON, Toyosaki Aki was overvalued. However, when the boyfriend scandal hit, the market overreacted and spreads went the other way. The loyal fan said "fuck the haters, this scandal is stupid" and bought into an Aki-swap with a massive discount. Now her career is better than ever.

When Nazuka Kaori announced her marriage, the cautious investors remembered what happened to Kaida Yuko and tried to net out their position. More loyal fans who remain unfazed and considered the type of actress she was snapped her up on the cheap. Though there was indeed a brief hiatus, Kaori came back and went on to do several more beloved roles.

Eyes for the rookie trade:

For those with a bit more appetite for risk and bragging rights to say "I liked her before she was cool", you can always take a position on a promising newcomer. People who did this in 2001 for Mizuki Nana hit the jackpot. People who did this for Sakai Kanako in 2006 (including myself) sadly got wiped out. Harukas investors probably broke even since her career mostly matched expectaions. Personally, I would go long on Uesaka Sumire right now for the nice obscurity discount.

Of course there will also be challenges. For example, seiyuu merchandise sales are illiquid enough that an investor with deep pockets could potentially manipulate the underlying asset via large CD/BD purchases that lead to the seiyuu getting a big push from the agency. Another point is that these are obviously uncollateralized, so "seiyuu-backed" is not even remotely true: Ain't nobody gonna gift-wrap Kobayashi Yuu and deliver her to my doorstep (except maybe in my dreams). And we are well familiar with the risks of undercollateralization. But I'm already overthinking this thing so I'll stop here.

I'd love to hear other ideas for instruments and strategies.

Tags: Stuff Seiyuu
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