Last year on the first Anime NYC, Anisong World Matsuri held the first ever event of Anime Diva Night, starring Yoko Ishida, Chihiro Yonekura, and TRUE. An event that gathers famous Japanese artists that are renowned in their works in anime and sing an array of songs that are popular in the world of anime.
Anisong World Matsuri makes its return to Anime NYC this year, but with even more star power making this event the first and biggest Japanese concert in New York to date.
For the second Anisong World Matsuri at Anime NYC, they brought out the star power. TRUE returns to Anisong for a second time for the first day concert. With her, we have Konomi Suzuki. I have personally been a fan of her since the debut single “CHOIR JAIL” , which is the OP for Tasogare no Otome x Amnesia (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia). Some others that you may know her by is her OP for No Game No Life “This Game” , Watamote’s OP “Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui“, or recently Re:Zero’s OP “Redo“.
Next up is Luna Haruna. Recently known for her work on the OP for Yuragi Sou (Yunna and the Haunted Hot Springs) ” Momoiro Typhoon“. Or the OP for Saekano :How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Flat “Stella Breeze“.
Lastly, is the New York city born Japanese nano. She is mostly known for her rock style and the only one here to speak and sing fluent English. Known for her work for the OP of Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi ” Utushiyo No Yume” (Dream of Netherworld)” , which she states is one of her favorites due to the fusion of classic Japanese instruments with modern rock. Recently released this season, she did the OP for the anime Conception “Star light, Star bright.”
To begin things, the opening song together is “Sousei no Aquarion” by Akino. There is always something unique in every Anisong World Matsuri event. You always here the original song on Youtube, CDs and your music devices. To hear other renowned artists singing it gives a new feeling and life to it like they have their own version and expressions to the song.
nano started the lineup and her songs began with the theme of choice and freedom, like the song of “Nevereverland” . When hearing the song, the emotions that I felt is hope, motivation, and acceptance. In such a time of hate and general darkness that surrounds society, songs like this always give that light and thoughts that “Everything is going to be okay”.
Course she also has her rock songs with her as well and I want to focus on her song of ” Utushiyo No Yume”. If there is any close comparison, it would be reminiscent of Wagaki Band songs. nano said on stage that the fusion of both Japanese traditional instruments with modern English rock represents well her mixed heritage and how she loves both cultures. Though she is living in Japan, she always remembers her hometown and the famed pizza New York is known for.
Transitioning next is Konomi Suzuki. Her debut single of “CHOIR JAIL” resonated with me during my college days. When I heard the news she was coming to New York, there was no way I was missing this. Her songs for the night was no different as she performed “Sora to Umi no Aida” from Ao no Kanata (Four Rhythm Across the Blue). This was the first time hearing it, and from what I felt from that song is also that sense of upbeat and unconditional positivity. Naturally, she performed “This game” in the second half of the concert which she involved the audience to sing the chorus of saying the words “No Game, No Life.”
Next up is TRUE. Aside from some of the songs she did last year, she added here new single to the list. This current anime season, she did the ED for the show That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime “Another Colony“. Given the tone of the show, this song follows up in the idea of making a colony that serves all races. Many would consider this series as the opposite of Overlord. While Ains rules with power and calculative mentality, Rimuru generally wants to create a society that runs on peace and equality for all races. TRUE did this song justice and really emphasize the theme of peace and unity. Another great song that she did is the OP for the first season of Love, Chunibyo and other Delusions “Sparking Daydream“ by ZAQ.
Following up with Luna Haruna. If there is one thing you can take from her, is that she loves the color Pink. During her transition, she first did a collab song with TRUE with K-ON! ‘s “Don’t Say Lazy“. Needless to say the song light up the audience and everyone was rocking out. She then transitioned into “Momoiro Typhoon“. If you need a song that is very Japanese and so bubbly that you can’t stay sad, this is the song for you. The use of strings in the intro with Luna is a great hook to lead you into the song. She also sang the second ED for Sword Art Online “Overfly” . This was the first time for me listening to the song. For me, it invoked the feeling of wonder and just looking up at the sky of what will come next in your life. It shows just how varied and diverse the talent that each artist has to sing different styles of songs and range.
Wrapping it all up, they all performed one of the most famous songs in the industry: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya “God Knows…” Just seeing them all together for the final song and being in sync is just so mesmerizing. To hear the song that you know and love come to life right before your eyes is just indescribable. All this wonder and amazing performances, and we’re just only on the first day.
The second day of Anisong Matsuri many would say is arguably the most popular of the two. From what I managed to observed there is one major reason for the expectation: Morning Musume ’18. You may have heard of AKB48 and other multi-member girl groups in Japan. This group here is no exception. I’ve seen on Saturday morning people already lined up, camping, to just to get in to see them. They are that famous and sought out.
Not to be outdone, there are also three more artists that are just as electrifying. Hiroshi Kitadani , part of JAM Project who is renowned for many OP for One Piece including the original 1st season “We Are!” and later “We Go!“
Shoko Nakagawa, who did some ED’s for the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann series “Sorairo Days” (Sky Blue Days) and “Namida no Tane, Egao no Hana” (Seed of Tears, Flower of Smile). She also has done many songs for the Pokemon series.
Lastly, Hironbu Kageyama, leader of JAM Project and known for the classic Dragon Ball OP’s, “CHA-LA, HEAD CHA-LA” and “We Got Power“. Of course, since he is JAM Project’s leader, he also did the OP for the fan favorite One Punch Man “One Punch Man“.
To start us off, we have Hiroshi Kitadani singing the classics tunes of One Piece. The series has existed since the late 90’s and the hear the man himself sing the classic opening of “We Are!” just really takes me back in time. If there was a theme or phrase I can say that can describes his songs that night, it would be “Move forward into the unknown, and greet it with a smile.” While singing, he just channels the audience and really gets them into the song and encourages participation. You know you are in a Japanese concert once you have a Wotagei group in your audience. Seeing the waves of glow/light sticks in the audience is just a sight to behold.
Transitioning, we have Shoko Nakagawa who collaborated with Kitadani to sing one of the OP of Saint Seiya.
Along with her songs for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, she also performed her newest single that will release on November 28 called “Blue Moon“. Naturally, she called for the audience to change their light sticks to blue. This is the second ED for Zoids Wild. While listening to this song, it just gives me the emotion of relaxation and chill. The lyrics reflect the theme of friendship and unending times. Though we may be in different places or apart, know that I will be there in spirit. Admittedly, it almost made me tear up a little when I heard it for the first time. Naturally, since she sings songs about giant mechas, she also sang the classic opening of Neon Genesis Evangelion “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”
Now we hit the major highlight: Morning Musume ’18.
They began with one of their top hits “Because It’s a Free Country“. This was my first time witnessing them and after that night, I can see why they have earned their reputation. The dancing and choreography is spot on and in sync. The energy that they gave off on stage was almost overwhelming and the audience just ate it up. The head bopping beat and rhythm really gets you in the mood. Another song that they performed was “Casually Walking About Ginza“. The song itself explains the feeling of walking into a new city and the new cultures and people you meet with it. Very logical given that most of the members were here in New York City for the first time. Overall, Morning Musume 18 blew me away with their performance and if you ever get a chance, check them out.
Now for the man himself, Hironobu Kageyama. While collaborating with Morning Musume, he admits that he cannot dance. Regardless, he and Morning Musume performed well and the audience accepted it all.
When Kageyama is on stage, there’s a certain air about him. An aura that says he is a man of experience and that he has performed enough for you to know he means business. The songs of Saint Seiya and Dragon Ball is a treat for nostalgic fans. These songs of the ’90s is just a sweet spot for fans as that is the generation where many fans began. “CHA-LA, HEAD CHA-LA” is that song that started the fans of Dragon Ball. The original song that you hear in other shows like Lucky Star goes to show how a true classic can withstand the test of time. For me, that also goes with his song “We Got Power“. I still recall having the old VHS tapes of Dragon Ball Cantonese dub and hearing this particular song play when I watch it. Needless to say, he is a treat for any fans of nostalgic anime.
A major surprise is when he brought out his acoustic guitar. He shared that when he was starting out in the industry, he performed covers of other songs. One great one is Cowboy Bebop “The Real Folk Blues” by Mai Yamane but as an acoustic cover. Let it be known, his acoustic cover is silky smooth. When singing, his voice matches the exact mood of the show. Somber, melancholic, but motivated. All that was needed was a nice beverage to drink with it. This part was a nice break from the pop and high energy songs. Either way, you are going to carry that weight.
To wrap up the night, all performers came to that stage and performed the rocking hero song of “One Punch Man“. A perfect song to end with a bang. The audience was enraptured by the rock and soul of everyone singing you can’t help but rock out. It was amazing to already hear two members, leader included, of JAM Project signing this song. I can only imagine how it would be if the entire group was present that night. But nonetheless, Shoko Nakagawa and Morning Musume 18 were no slouches either. They also know how to rock and channel that inner Saitama and belt it out. Overall, it is a performance that no one will forget anytime soon.
If there is anything to take from Anisong Word Matsuri, it will be this: If you love Anime songs, the artists that perform them, or want to hear some nostalgic tunes live, then, by all means, try to snag a pair of tickets when they come to an area near you. Note that if you are willing to spend $165 on the VIP tickets, be prepared to stand for two hours straight and be caught in the mosh pit. But once the event is over, you will get an handshake/high five event with all the singers that night and an autographed poster. To meet them in person and just give thanks, I believe is money well spent. If you can afford it, that is.
If there is any criticism, it would be that even though I was a member of the Press, I was not allowed to take any photos. All photos here were taken via Anisong World Matsuti’s official Twitter account. Not a loss but it would’ve been amazing to share what it was like to be in the crowd in front of the stage or in the balcony seats of the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Nevertheless, Anisong World Matsuri is an event that is just a unique experience that you have to experience at least once. What sets this apart from other concert events is that this is specifically meant for anime otakus. Whether it be for the Anisongs, the artists performing, or just want to go to a live concert hall full of otakus, there is a sense of community that is present. Everyone present is an otaku and proud of it. It wasn’t that long ago that the hobby of being an anime otaku was shunned, and to some extent still is today. But as the years go on, anime otakus are growing more present and not ashamed anymore. We are at a point that Goku from Dragon Ball is an official float for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and made the cover of the New York Times. At least here in New York, it’s become more accepted. It is evident that this fandom and branch of pop culture of Japan is here to stay.
Like Luna Haruna said in her performance “We are otaku!”. Be proud that you are an otaku. Anisong World Matsuri being held in New York is the result of that. Anime NYC was held because we otaku wanted a place for anime here in New York. Let’s make the next one even better.
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