Tickets to popular local acts here in Japan are notoriously hard to get. Even more so when it comes to popular ‘niche’ anime concerts. And while I had little insight prior to the concert regarding how popular Frontier had actually been, I was soon to be in for a rude awakening. You had to register online to go into a DRAW to win the right to buy a ticket. The ticket placing was random and couldnt be changed. There was a time limit of several days to then actually purchase the ticket you had won the right to buy. If you didnt buy it within the time limit, you lost the right to buy it.
I entered the draw – but no luck. A friend entered – no luck.
Then I got a call from a work colleague who had entered the draw as well on my behalf – he got the tickets. And whats more, they were good seats!
I’ve heard that Galaxy Tour tickets were harder to get than the Macross Anniversary concert tickets last year (I didnt manage to get into that one), since Macross Frontier is the popular thing right now. Looking at those online auctions, I didnt doubt it.
Pre-Concert – Chinatown
As a tie-in marketing event, a store in Chinatown, Yokohama, was selling Nyan Nyan Tuna Buns. These were limited to 100 per day and 300 on the day of the concert. They were unfortunately sold out when I got there. The Macross F Goods Corner was also mostly sold out, with just a few towels and mousepads left. I snuck a few pics and headed over to Pacifico Yokohama for the concert.
Pre-Concert – Pacifico Yokohama
There were already hundreds of people waiting at the Pacifico when I arrived at 4:30. The concert was due to start at 6. Everyone was watching the last episode of Macross Frontier being played on a huge screen on the back of a van. There was a lot of cheering when the final medley scene came on.
To one side was the greatest Macross F car of all time. Decals on the front and sides and even the roof (although this was hard to get a good pic of. Sigh… I need to be taller). Very cool stuff.
The goods shop had been opened earlier in the day for some reason, but was closed just before they started letting people into the lobby. I was assured by staff however that the store would be reopened once they started letting people in. Whew… was worried there for a sec. ^^;
Anyways, I headed to the end of the line and waited ….
Once I got into the lobby, the store was indeed in full swing. The basic 4000 yen pack had a Nyan Nyan paper carrybag, a reversible poster (Sherryl and Ranka on one side, Alto and the boys on the other), a concert booklet (really nice – see pics), some stickers and pamphlets. I also opted for a card calendar and some books which Ill get to later. There were also shirts, towels and traditional Japanese fans on sale.
One side of the lobby had the upcoming Mac. F Valkyrie toys and character figures under glass for fans to look at. Theres a 12 000yen VF25 coming out that looks awesome. The figures were very much in a similar vein to the Evangelion Portraits series that has been popular over the last couple of years, although the Macross ones seem to be slightly smaller.
The other end of the lobby features a cardboard cutout of the Mac. F cast, and signed artwork and greetings from staff of the show, including some nice, if small, colour sketches of Ranka and Sherryl.
Yet another part of the lobby was being used for a karaoke competition. I’m not sure what participants won, but everyone was so into it that it didnt really matter. A couple of girls did impressive Ranka impressions. One even got the ‘kira’ bit right and the crowd went nuts. One thing I have to point out is that Japanese guys singing Lion or Triangular is not a good idea. In fact, its a very bad idea ^^; Fortunately a few guys broke out some Mac. 7. Before long everyone was yelling along with Dynamite Fire and Holly Lonely Night. DYNAMITE!
There were a few random cosplayers as well. I got pics of a few (they didnt mind helping me to sneak some pics as long as security was elsewhere). I even saw one girl dressed as the flower girl from Macross 7, but she disappeared up a flight of escalotors before I could ask for a photo.
I’ve been to a few anime events in Japan and a lot of concerts and let me say that this was by far the best anime concert I’ve ever been to, bar none.
I don’t remember all the details, but I’ll go through some of the highlights.
Firstly, the whole concert was Nakajima and May’n. No Maaya Sakamoto or Kawamori unfortunately. Kanno was on piano the whole time but did not get introduced until the first encore. There was a band, but those three carried the entire show for almost 2.5 hours.
Interestingly, the girls stayed in character the whole main concert, even referring to themselves as Ranka and Sherryl. During the encores however, they used their real names and introduced the band, etc. Kanno got her first introduction at this time (2 hrs in) too, although everyon obviously knew who she was.
The concert kicked off with a duet version of Triangular, followed by the ep. 25 medley – a strange choice for a 2nd song but I wasnt complaining.
The stage had a transparent sheet over part of it – either singer could stand behind it and be seen by the audience, but images could also be projected on it too. There was also a tiny section of the stage that could be raised hydrolically 1.5-2 meters into the air. The amazing thing was how these different elements were combined. At one point, Ranka went up behind the screen singing ‘My boyfriend’s a pilot’ when these huge CG valkyrie flew in ‘around’ her thanks to the projection screen. The Gerwalks hand was exactly where the lift was, so when it raised it seemed that the Gerwalk was ‘lifting’ her in its hand as she was singing! Then, 2 other battroids danced on either side of her as she sang. Of course, then Ranka got scared – and what do you do when scared and stuck waiting for a giant robot to put you down? You sing Ninjin loves you yeah, of course!
The screen was also used to project series footage or even juxtapose footage of one of the girls over the other, which was a really nice effect.
Kanno was handling a piano and a keyboard and giving infrequent dirsctions to the band all at once. Yet often she couldnt even stay sitting down she was so energetic. At one point she got up behind Nakajima and May’n and started dancing along, much to the approval of the crowd!
Other highlights were Kanno coming out into the center of the hall (off the stage) and doing a piano solo. Theres something about over 5000 people singing along to the SMS anthem that is just terribly surreal.
The final encore was a duet of Seikan Hiko, along with a an animated clip telling the audience when to wave their arms, clap, or kira! It was originally featured on the official Macross Frontier website.
Pretty much every vocal track from the series was covered, with the more popular ones being played 2 or even 3 times (ie, a full version, medley version and final megamix version). My only real disappointment was that there was no Sherryl only version of What ’bout my star. But there were plenty of duets to make up for it.
Oh, there was a home documentary clip at one point showing Nakajima and May’n rehersing and practicing together – even Kawamori and Kanno made an appearence in it. Very cute.
While its far from common, Im hoping that a DVD/BR or album of the concert is released or that some footage of it is included as an extra in in the DVDs. It was so good that it would be crazy not to release it.
One piece of merchandise I picked up that was a pleasant surprise was 2 design sketch books – one for female characters and one for male. These are 90% character sketches with a few bits of mecha and background sketches as well. I’ve never heard of these before. The pages are only single-sided, leading me to believe they were put together in a hurry. Nevertheless, they have proper prices printed on the back (approx. 1800 yen each) , so they might go on sale through normal channels at some point. They are pretty darn awesome and I’ve included a few sample pics below (Please dont ask for scans, as I don’t support the scanning of magazines and books).
Whew, well thats about it!
It was an amazing experience. A day during which the line between fantasy and reality was blurred, ever so briefly.