As we’ve pointed out in this blog many times before, a large part of enjoying an idolm@ster live is participating with the rest of the audience in what we refer to as “calls.” If you’ve watched the Idolm@ster or the Cinderella Girls anime, you’ve seen the audience do these during the live portions. It’s usually entirely fan-made and really energizes the crowd during the show. Here we’ll lay down the basics of the calls, where to get resources to learn them, and how to read those resources.
This participatory element of lives is also called “wotagei”, or “MIX” in the case of 3D idol calls. Unlike MIX however, the calls in IM@S songs are generally much less involved and much simpler, which makes it in turn much easier to learn. As a reminder, you don’t need to do calls, so don’t force yourself if you really don’t want to do it. Also, don’t stress over it too much if you forget things, just follow along with the people around you; they’ll likely know what they’re doing.
The first thing you’re gonna need for calls, although not completely essential, is a penlight. The most common one (and probably best) of those is Ruifan’s color-changing King Blade. Unfortunately, for safety reasons (the things are pretty heavy and having one flung at your head at high speed is asking for injuries), IM@S lives outright ban AAA battery-powered lights. Fortunately there exist single color and color-changing alternatives powered by button batteries. IM@S lives will also sell single-color lights for every idol present, but don’t rely too much on getting these as they usually sell out really fast unless you’ve bought them off prior to the event at Lalabit or you’re there way in advance at the pre-live goods line.
Now that you’ve got your penlights, what do you do with them? You use the right color! You usually use the image color of whoever’s singing (or whomever you prefer within the ones signing, if you’re only using one light). A few songs have particular colors associated with them and, in some cases (like the song Rebellion for example), will require you to change from one color to another at instances. That, however, is extremely rare and as long as you remember the image colors for the characters and follow the lead of the crowd you should be fine.
One last point about lights: Ultra Oranges, also known as UOs or cyalumes. These high-intensity, 5 minute glowsticks are commonly used during specific songs (Jibun Rest@rt, M@sterpiece, Acceleration, etc) or by individuals during songs they really love. Sold for about 100 yen a piece in specialty shops, you don’t need to dig in your wallet to buy some of those, but they are a thing you might want to look into. Although you can usually get by with just normal orange-colored lights, there’s something special about cracking a UO and waving some really bright orange light while doing calls. For this year’s 10th Anniversary Live in particular, however, there has been concerns regarding the use of UOs at Seibu Dome due to the chemicals used in them. The official word is still pending on whether these will be allowed or not, so don’t go about spending your money right away for those if you’re going to 10th. We’ll keep you posted as far as UOs go if there are any updates on that.
Now that you know what color to use, let’s cover the basics of calls. Going to an IM@S live, you’re likely to get handed a call book. These are small leaflets made by devoted fans which explain calls for a limited selection of songs likely to appear in the live. Here are some terms you’ll need to learn before anything else to understand these call books:
クラップ (clap): dictates the rhythm of your hand waves and the basic shouts during a song. In Idolm@ster callbooks, the clap in each part of a song is usually denoted by symbols next to every line, with a legend at the top of the page showing what the symbols mean. Here is the usual pattern for those symbols;
- ★ : wave once every 2 beats
- ■ : wave once every beat
- ● : wave and shout (your choice of HAI! or OI! or HEY!) once every 2 beat
- ♠ : PPPH (description below)
- ※ : special clap, refer to the special commentary box on the song’s page
- ♥ : no clap, although kecha (description below) is often used in these parts
PPPH: call used very commonly in songs. The name describes the move itself: Pan PaPan Hyuu! (clap cla-clap HAI!). With real idols it’s common to clap for this call, but in IM@S lives it is usually replaced with Oooooooh HAI! Often preceded by a seeno HAI! HAI! HaiHaiHaiHai! as sort of a warning call. Warning calls are also used before calls other than PPPH, paying attention to those is a good way to know what’s coming next. PPPHs usually come in sets of four and are very frequently followed by the ● clap.
ケチャ (kecha): a slow rising movement, the rhythm of this is generally about once every 4 beats, but can vary in lengths depending on the lyrics and specific parts of a song. Some people like to do really intricate flourishes during kecha. Slow songs tend to use kecha almost exclusively with very little calls to speak of, but very energetic songs also have instances of kecha during bridges and other specific bits.
Other frequent calls:
- Fuwa x 4 : twirling motion accompanied with a Fuwa! Fuwa! Fuwa! Fuwa! shout. Preceded by a seeno warning call.
- Fufuu! : shout, accompanied with two waves.
- Hey!! x (number) : series of shouts (your choice of HAI! or OI! or HEY!). Generally follows a rhythm of once per 4 beats.
All other specific calls will be indicated accordingly in the call books. A lot of calls are written down in plain English so they’re rather easy to follow, but quite a bit of it is written in Japanese. Not to fear though, most of it is just repeating a part of the lyrics, so a glance at romanized lyrics on the internet will often make it easy to understand what’s written if you can’t read Japanese.
The website to go for call references is this one. If you scroll down a bit you can see the different lives and clicking the blue buttons will give you a series of guides for songs. Other than those you’ll just have to learn them by watching lives since most references are Japanese sources.
Our dear Exciel has also uploaded a 2 hours stream of him explaining and showing calls on youtube. It’s as good a place as any to learn the basics.
Before after pic.twitter.com/wG46z4tmGu
— 【平均的】ニンビンP (@famous_investor) May 23, 2015
Now all that’s left to do is practice! Get some lights, get some lives, get some friends and practice your heart out! Everywhere is good. In your shower, in your car, in public. Practice until you can’t not do it when listening to IM@S songs. During the Anime North 2015 weekend we constantly did calls while waiting in line to hype ourselves up. It’s a great way to propagate a sense of what we in the producer community call danketsu (unity). Now go out and enjoy the lives, people!