Last week, on March 1st, through two miraculous strokes of lottery luck, I and fellow HPT’er Omo were lucky enough to attend THE IDOLM@STER STATION!! ~Zenzen aitakatta~ public recording at Kawasaki Club CITTA.
This event marked the first time the Aisute radio series (including past incarnations) has held a public recording event, and the 2nd time for an Aisute live event (see the amazing HEART AND SOUL event in 2012).
Since I neglected to write-up C3HK in any formal way, I figured I should at least do one here. Everything described below is pretty much dumped from my memory, so apologies in advance if there are any mistakes.
At the start of the day, we lined up early in the rain to pick up a set of the limited live goods.
Top: Event t-shirt, Nylon bag, Towel, wristbands and pins badges
Bottom: Closer look at wristband and pin badges (click to enlarge)
At 2PM, Producers began filing into the event hall by order of ticket number. Immediately inside the entrance lobby, a modest arrangement of flower displays decorated the walls.
Standing proudly amongst them was one of HPT’s own stands, funded by several of our Producer members from across the world including Omo and myself. As of the time of this report, photos have made it onto Harami and Nunu’s blogs.
The theme, NFC “Nippon Fruits Cash” is a reference to Hara Yumi’s ill-fated attempt at adlibbing the meaning of NFC (Near Field Communication) during the inaugural session of Harami’s IT Police series back in November.
After walking past the flower displays and onto the main floor, we gradually pushed forward into the small standing-room-only space. I was lucky enough to squeeze into a middle spot, but at the 1300-person capacity Citta, even a position in the back of the room is quite close. A mashup-mix of Aisute songs played in the background as we waited for showtime.
A few minutes past three, Nu, Harami, and Azumin filed in to begin the talk corner. Unlike most other recording events I’ve attended, this entire session was handled by the three hosts, who introduced themselves and set the pace without requiring a separate MC to keep things moving.
“Producers, we’ve always wanted to meet you!”
With each name spoken, cheers erupted from all corners of the room. After almost 3 long years, this dream combination was together again.
Azumin: “Seeing our names exhibited up at the entrance. We are really feel like big shots now.”
After a brief reminiscing of the time passed, they promptly moved on to the proper radio corners, with Azumin on the left, Harami in center, and Nu on right.
“Ok let’s take our positions. Can those of you all the way in the back still see us if we sit down?”
Voices in the back enthusiastically yelled, “NO!!!!”
I had to give them a hand for their cheerfulness at least. I’ve stated this before during my Chaos Party live report too, but Citta’s biggest problem is their incredibly low-set stage that almost certainly screws short people out of a view.
Even I did have to do some head straining at certain points, and I know the guy next to me had no choice but to watch the overhead screen.
The first corner was general listener mail. All the writers who had their letters selected were present in the audience, and were waved to as they got their mail read.
In the course of reading, Harami got tongue tied several times. By the end, we had gotten a lot of great “Nyarami” moments.
“Don’t worry, we’ll cut this out in editing.”
The first mail asked if they have any memories of when time seemed to pass really quickly?
Harami talked about how she loses track of time in the mornings while getting ready and putting on her makeup. Azumin talked about how her birthday seems to have passed quickly, and Nu mentioned how even today’s rehearsal seemed to pass quickly, leading Azumin to recall how she felt rushed to eat her lunch immediately before opening since she had gotten so distracted.
And of course the winner:
“With IM@S in its 10th anniversary, and this being 7 years for us already, the time passed in just a flash.” ;_;
The second question asked about what places they might hold more Aisute events.
For starters, just out of the Tokyo area would already be good enough! Notably, for overseas Ps, Harami did name-drop Canada as one of the places she went to already (so it seems Harami deeply associates ANorth with IM@S, even though she was here on her own).
After general mail, Nu left to prepare for the next segment. In her absence, Harami and Azumin showed one of Nu’s drawings, Lover Land: a crude scribble of a couple in a theme park.
Azumin explained that this came from Nu’s mispronunciation of “Rubber Band.”
Shortly after, the mysterious play-boy Nugoro (Nu Gigolo), clad in a stylish black coat, hat, and sunglasses, entered the stage to huge fanfare and kick off a corner called “Nugoro’s Love Proverbs.”
Nugoro’s Love Proverbs
It’s hard to accurately describe Nugoro, a deeply narcissist Casablanca-type rip-off who speaks coolly in a masculine tone, but it’s basically YUMIX Hara P’s “Manaou” cranked up to ridiculous levels.
Nugoro: “By the way, I can’t see anything in these glasses.”
Azumin was unable to hold her composure and quickly succumbed to hysterical fits of laughter throughout the entire segment. The first corner involved Nugoro ad-libbing “complete-the-blank” challenges using listener suggestions pulled out of a box.
Topic 1: “Love is _____”A: “Club CITTA”
Although initially stumped, Nugoro quickly recovered to deliver a beautifully cheesy speech about how this event perfectly represents love, as felt by all the producers in the room.
“Clearly you have all traveled from far and wide to this location, Citta, just to see me. What can be a better expression of love than that?”
Well said, Nugoro!
(I felt a burning sense of shame just then, for certain reasons only I’ll know! …And maybe some members in HPT)
Topic 2: “Meetings are _____”A: “Hinamatsuri”
Hinamatsuri? Nugoro this time launched into a tirade against her “rival” for womens’ affections, Jupiter idol Amagase Touma, whose birthday is on the same day, and forced the audience to choose:
“Who do you like more, me or Touma?”
The audience mostly yelled Nugoro, though there was one amusingly loud voice yelling “Touma!” too.
Nugoro further expanded “meeting” takes a strawpoll asking the audience if anyone was experiencing their first time meeting seiyuu? There was almost no response.
“Now, who is having their first experience meeting Nugoro?”
Everyone raised their hands. In this way, Nugoro tied the entire talk together, and concluded the corner in a wonderful summary:
“Meetings -> Hinamatsuri -> Nugoro, who you’ve now met, out of LOVE, back in Club CITTA.”
A stunned Azumin remarks that Nugoro is even more amazing than usual. Nugoro’s ad-libs were so good that Azumin had to assure the audience that this wasn’t staged and the slips were truly drawn at random.
After the triumphant Nugoro walked off stage, Nu returned, wondering why she smelled the remnants of a powerful aura.
Azumin: “Sorry, you missed Nugoro? He was just here!”
Nu: “Eeeeeehhhhh??? I wanted to meet him” OTL
Azumin offered to go help “Chase Nugoro down” and quickly rushed off the stage. Nu and Harami moved on to the next drawing exhibit, naturally now showing Azumin’s work on the overhead screen.
The Yukiho-inspired work illustrated delicious foods that could be enjoyed by a dog and used to win their friendship.
This food chat lead into the next corner.
Lovely Apron Azumin’s Darling Cheering Recipe
And then Lovely Apron Sensei walked on stage. Oh…my…God. On stage was just this unrecognizable frilly apron wearing, twin-tail having, ladle spinning, cooking instructor with the world’s cutest smile, delivering the most unbelievably sugary lines in existence as she wonders aloud how to make something for “Darling”
If there was ever any race for who in IM@S was most “azutoi”, Azumin just turned into Usain Bolt and sprinted away. AZUTOI LEVEL MAX! This is like the kind of footage Nu and Harami can use to blackmail Azumin backstage simply by threatening to play it back to her face.
As Apron-sensei strutted back and forth nonchalantly spinning her ladle like a baton, the staff hauled in a table of real food ingredients, kitchen utensils, and a mini-hot plate for the demonstration. Sensei’s mission was to come up with a mixed sushi creation that could take away Harami’s worries.
Nu got assigned assistant duty, and began examining and suggesting 3 required ingredients for sensei’s dish. Though Hibiki is famous for her high-level cooking ability, Nunu doesn’t quite have the same sense, handicapping the whole thing by choosing an impossible combination of spam and dried mixed fruits.
Tasting blood in the water, the audience started yelling things to mix in, so Apron let a girl in the crowd suggest the final ingredient. She chose “natto,” causing her to give a long stare, and then she let out an evil smile.
Apron-sensei: “You know that, when you do this, Harami is the one who is eating it, right?”
Nunu supported that as her third ingredient, and then the two cooks began work.
Apron-sensei dumped all the contents from a metal bowl into a plastic cup and layering each ingredient on like some nightmarish parfait. Officially, she explained it would be easier for everyone to see the cooking process through a clear cup, but given this unholy mixture, it seemed more like disaster voyeurism.
From SSA, we knew that Azumin was in fact a great cook who can make fantastic bento that both looks and tastes delicious. But today, it seemed, that Azumin we knew was nowhere to be found, buried underneath Apron-sensei’s strong desire to inflict pain and suffering on her innocent victim.
By the time Nu was mixing up a batch of natto and sensei directing her to put in chili powder and wasabi, we knew the situation was hopeless. By the way, Nu mixing natto is…well it’s something.
The legendary Hara Yumi who can eat more than anyone else in 765, hesitantly took one bite and was reduced to tears. She refused to eat more, declaring this as so bad she’ll never forget it.
And so in a way, Apron-sensei succeeded in her goal of making Harami forget her worries, by replacing them with even worse ones.
Feeling some small amount of guilt, Nu offered to eat a bit herself as penance for choosing the ingredients. She fared no better, blanking out in a Nu Screen Of Death (NSOD), but recovered fast enough to force out some clearly insincere praise.
Nu: “It was ok. Very natto flavored.”
Apron-sensei of course was smart enough not to try any, instead passing the unenviable task to the poor staff who were probably trembling backstage.
Apron-sensei: Don’t worry we will
forceask the staff to eat it later so there won’t be any food wasted.
Instead of touching any of her own creation, Azumin parodied Harami’s food stealing habits, and mostly picked off pieces of shrimp from the separate ingredients bowl instead.
Apron-Sensei: Well it seems we’re out of time for this corner. Awww, don’t you guys want some more food?
Apron-Sensei: YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SAY YES.
With that, sensei and her ingredients got whisked off stage, and an oblivious Azumin marched back in.
Nu: Oh you’re back, you just missed Apron-sensei? Azumin: Really? Thank goodness!
Next, it was Harami’s turn to go backstage.
Since Harami had the most extensive costume change, Azumin and Nu had time to exhibit two drawings, one by Harami in the theme of YUBIKITASU (a hilarious depiction of a hand spontaneously producing several fingers, resulting from IT Police Harami’s misunderstanding of ユビキタス, meaning “Ubiquitous Computing”) and also one more drawing of a large fish by fellow Apron-sensei class chef, Nakamura Eriko.
IT Police Harami’s Bang Bang Troubleshooting
The third corner started off with a PSA reading from Harami, warning that filming this stage would be subject to fines and arrest from the IT Police, parodying the well-known Anti-Movie Piracy campaign videos that play in theaters throughout Japan. With that, a siren blared announcing the arrival of IT Police Harami, who rushed on stage in full police uniform with cap, hair tied back, and packing heat.
I had seen IT Police Harami from low-res photos in Aisute nico broadcasts and omake, but to see the real one in person was quite simply amazing. Although Apron-sensei was wonderful, the detail and completeness of the police outfit was another level beyond that. I’ll happily commit a digital crime if Harami was the one putting me away.
Whereas in the US it would be in bad taste for someone on stage to point even a brightly colored plastic toy at the audience, the same taboo is clearly absent in Japan, as Harami proceeded to “shoot” everyone in the crowd, who subsequently fell under her spell. The gun made a crackling noise signaling the completion of our arrests.
Moving along, Harami was tasked with trying to explain “Bare Metal” while the real answer was displayed on screen behind her back for everyone to see.
Real definition: Bare-metal machine before imaging/adding OS/etc.
Harami’s answer: Bear Metal. Robotic bears placed next to machines.
Wait…what? After looking back to the real answer, Harami quickly brushed it off.
Finally, it was time for the live part. Harami, Nu, and Azumin thanked everyone for attending and went backstage to prepare. A making-of feature for their new song, “in wonderradio” played on-screen as staff set up the next stage.
Each scene featured their thoughts on recording the song, and footage of them recording, both individually and then together. During the group recording, Harami even brought her gun to the studio and waved it around like a maniac, although in a later talk session she mentioned how it almost scared staff who initially hadn’t expected it.
After the video, the curtain rose again and we saw the recording tables had been cleared and replaced with flashing panels of multi-colored lights to create a live stage atmosphere.
All 3 hosts returned, having stripped off their sweaters and cardigans to reveal different but complementary white dresses. Each wore glistening accessories and Nu had her usual flashy necklace. Each girl twirled to show off their costumes.
Zenzen Aitai – Nu, Harami, Azumin.
This was a perfect opener for the trio that fit the theme of the radio event. I could hardly get over the shock that I was seeing these three right in front of me.
The crowd was fired up, but at the same time, they kept quite good etiquette, moving nicely in sync but not jumping or waving too violently. Certainly it was one of the more polite Citta shows I’ve attended.
SUPERSTAR – Azumin
This is an excellent song, with Azumin showing her rocking side, and her subjects using Ultra Orange instead of her typical white colors. It was very high energy and plenty of fun, due to a SUPERSTAR call at several parts of the song. In the middle, Azumin even turned the microphone over to the audience to sing several extended bars. I think we did better this time than Heart & Soul.
It was so great, I wasn’t even pissed off at the guy yelling “SUPERSTAR” in my ear the whole damn time (Okay, well maybe a little).
I’ll have to thank HPT for predicting this song, as I re-watched the original performance quite a few times on my flight and went in fully prepared to follow along.
Strawberry Pain – Nu
There are few things in the IM@S discography better than Nu ballads. Though I was hoping for AVALON, I was very happy with this too. I pretty much just melted on the spot.
You might think as a HibikiP and Nu oshi, I must have went full retard for this. In fact, the opposite happens for Nu ballads. I completely shut down all side-activities such as penlight waving and go into 100% focus just to listen and admire. This is simply because Nu’s slow songs are so perfect, there is nothing I can do as a audience to add to it.
Nu’s actions, hand movements, her expressions, and way she handles her voice were all things I paid close attention to.
Continue – Harami
Awesome! Harami was so cool on stage! Even though I have seen her so many times at IM@S lives, this was when I really felt a sense of seeing her for herself rather than through the lens of Takane.
Kitto – Azumin
At this point, I honestly had no idea what to expect, since I wasn’t sure how they organized the set list, but was pleasantly surprised when Azumin returned for a second solo.
WOW KITTO. When I first flew over, I was feeling a little nervous because I was behind on learning to “Monday Night Fever” and “Winter Carnival” but considering they now knocked off 3 songs from the Amazing grace album, 2 of which were in the original HEART AND SOUL event , it was like 100% wish fulfillment for me.
If Nu’s slow songs are perfection, Azumin’s are probably close behind. I absolutely loved “First Step” at 9th, and this song fell in the same domain.
AVALON – Nu
OMG WHAT!?!??? As soon as the opening notes played, before Nu even walked on stage, I knew I was finished.
And then like the Goddess of the Lake in mythology, she floated onto the stage in flowing white robes, with her bare feet barely making a sound against the floor…R.I.P prnd. Bury me in a grave.
AVALON was the song I fell in love with after watching the Heart and Soul BD and the ENTIRE reason I flew from the US to Japan for a ridiculous weekender, for the off chance that she would sing this song once again.
There is no way to describe this performance properly with just words. But I can say that this is a song I have listened to a thousand times, so I know what each part was supposed to sound like and how she sings each line. Hearing it again here, I could tell that Nu leveled up massively from her Heart and Soul days.
I had thought that since Nu did Strawberry Pain, she wouldn’t do this due to the overlap. But as Nu later explained, the compatibility between the two was, in fact, EXACTLY what she was going for.
One Step – Harami
Normally I would simply have nothing to say after a performance like AVALON, so it’s a huge credit to Harami that she snapped me out of my Nu stupor to appreciate her own incredible One Step.
This is one of my favorite Harami songs from the Aisute series, and also one of the songs that shows off Harami’s other little known charm – her dancing!
We already know Harami is a vocal power house from stuff like Koi hana, but she has got quite cute moves too, and she shows them off during One Step, swaying and gesturing and drawing us into her pace even as she still sings with such precision.
When I first heard Harami pulled off Nu’s “Next life” at 9th last year I was skeptical, but now I can believe it.
During the MC about the song, Harami also explained that she herself has special attachment to this song. She had wanted to sing it for a LONG time, even planning for it during 8th live, but the opportunity just kept getting deferred. There were times where she missed the song so much, she’d go into karaoke just to sing this, so she was especially glad she could finally perform it in front of an audience.
in wonderradio – Nu, Harami, Azumin
After solo songs, all 3 girls reunited for the last song. Staying true to the making-of video, Harami even brought back her IT police gun on stage as a prop.
This is the only song I wasn’t too familiar with going into the live, but their video gave us enough of a primer to be able to follow decently.
Of course I totally missed the part with the owl hooting, and now reflecting back, I still don’t fully get where that part was supposed to be. Many in the audience had a similar miss, but in the coming weeks with more exposure I’m sure it’ll become clearer.
After 8 songs, they said farewell greetings and thanked us for coming again, especially in this landmark year of 10th anniversary live and hoped to see us again in the summer (DAMMIT DON’T DO THIS TO ME)!
There was also some hints dropped that they might do another official Aisute “2nd Live” too, not far in the future.
Finally, they asked all the Producers to take a photo with them:
— アイステ公式 (@imas_station) March 1, 2015
By 6PM we had exited the venue, and I was pretty much destroyed. I didn’t even bother with dinner, and just went back to my hotel and collapsed.
Going into this, I didn’t have any expectations other than to hear AVALON, but the combination of talk and live far exceeded my expectations. For a while, it was a running joke that “weekenders” were a terrible idea that gained acceptance in HPT, but if this is what you get in return, maybe it’s not so dumb after all.
Look forward to more live reports in the future.