AX2017 Day 0 Recap: Anisong World Matsuri ~Japan Kawaii Live~

Here's a short recap video of our Day 0 experience, which solely consisted of the Anisong World Matsuri Kawaii Live! Hit up Patrick's write-up after the jump.

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these event reports so I’m really excited to get back into it for AX2017! It’s horrendously early in the morning of Day 1 of the con as I type this, but Day 1 is far from when the fun began at this year’s Anime Expo!

My favorite event from last year, Anisong World Matsuri decided to pop off a bit early in a huge way with an all-idol lineup of Wake Up, Girls! (henceforth WUG), Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, Walkure, and of course, Aqours. Being the crazy idol fan I am, it’s a dream line up. Idolmaster and Love Live performing under the same roof? Blasphemy! Walkure joining them? How did an idol group from an anime that can’t be legally sold here wind up with them?! WUG? They’re not dead? (I jest on that one, as you’ll see). I’m happy to report that all my expectations were matched and surpassed.

…except for how lines were handled. Just one sour caveat on the whole night, the lines were a mess. The line to get in had people who showed up at 6PM for a 7PM show not even make it inside until a little after 7. Then the line for the Aqours penlights were even worse. I had one friend get in line just before 3 and he wasn’t able to get his penlights until around 5:30, when he then had to get back in line to get into the venue. Mind you, the penlight line was supposedly pre-order only: show up, show your receipt, get your light.

Once we were seated though everything was great! I was able to get to my seat around 5 minutes before the show started, thankfully. Behind me were three young Aqours fans; to my sides were three good friends – one a complete noob to idols in general (bless you for allowing me to drag you along and share my hype), one a Momoclo fan I’d been to idol events with before, and thirdly one a big an idol fan as myself, packed to the gills with penlights and UOs; in front was a crossplaying Chika and a WUG fan from Shanghai! A pretty great group to enjoy an idol super party with for sure.

Most of the pre-show talk centered around which order the groups would go on in and which songs we would hear. It wasn’t long before the lights dropped and some hilarious dubstep played – announcing the first act of the night: Idolmaster Cinderella Girls.

I’ll have to be honest here and say I didn’t finish Cinderella Girls when it aired. It wasn’t bad but I couldn’t help constantly comparing it to the first Idolmaster anime where it fell a bit short. That having been said I still went into their set pretty hyped up – I know a lot of their songs from the rhythm game and the energy in the crowd was already electric.

The Cinderella Girls came out in darkness then lined straight up and wasted no time starting their first song: Star!! I was lucky it was one of the songs I knew all the calls for! From there they went straight into GOIN’!!!, another song starring the whole cast (despite them only being six strong at the show). Their singing was good and got the crowd hyped, but it was somehow missing some of that ~idol energy~.  It’s a nebulous concept but I think the issue might have been that they didn’t all seem to be enjoying themselves. They stood in a line for all their songs and had very simple to no choreography.

After their first two songs the Cinderella Girls entered into an emcee section called Cinderella Girls Talk. They first introduced themselves one by one, then they explained, in Japanese, that they were going to re-enact some scenes from the anime series in character. We got some fun and cute and even one serious scene about the difficulties of being an older sister before they popped right back into performing. Next up was Yumeiro Harmony, followed by Yes! Party Time!!, and then the grand finale with the OP theme of the anime: Onegai! Cinderella.

It was a fun set! They got out there, did some fan favorite songs with the girls they had, and opened the floor for what followed. If it wasn’t for how amazing the following acts were, I’d be much more glowing with my review, but it made it clear that the Cinderella Girls are voice actors first and idols second (and there’s nothing wrong with that!)

That difference couldn’t have possibly been any more striking than when WUG ran onto stage a couple short minutes later. By ran I mean they literally RAN into position and got started with a super short emcee (with a whole lot of KONBANWAGGU). Their costumes were immediately striking in white, gold, and black. They then shifted into the starting position for Tachiagare (Stand Up in English), the kind of “theme song” for the group.

Their energy was infectious. All seven girls were clearly excited as hell to be here and their excitement transferred right to the crowd where it doubled up and got sent back to them! There’s that idol magic! With nary a breath in-between, Tachiagare led into Shoujo Koukyoukoku, the ending theme for the second movie. By now the crowd is feverish with everyone kinda looking back and forth to each other going “holy shit WUG is amazing”. Especially notable was the reaction of one of the Aqours fans behind me: “Wow I was dumb to only come here for Aqours, WUG just made a new fan of me”.

From the first two songs they led into an emcee section where they each introduced themselves with the crowd yelling back their nicknames. They shared a little adlib about being in America… and eating burgers. The burger thing is almost a long-running joke at this point – pretty much every idol that plays in LA must mention the burgers at some point! It’s adorable and endearing to hear them talk about taking part in that part of our culture with so much gusto.

The end of their emcee section led into them talking about anime and asking if the crowd likes and watches anime (we do!), and of course, them playing the Love Tyrant opening. The song itself (Koi? De Ai? De Boukun Desu!) is crazy and frantic and their choreography matched, giving us a hell of a show. When the song ended Yoshino Aoyama (Yoppii!!) got teased a bit by her comrades for being the voice of the female lead in the show, Guri.

After that song they finished up with a three-set of Beyond the Bottom, 7 Girls War, and Gokujou Smile. With a few ‘thank you’s and ‘we hope to come again’s they departed the stage leaving everyone exhausted from all the jumping and yelling we did to keep up with their energy. I’ve always said that even though the anime is mediocre incarnate, as an idol group WUG is “pretty alright”. I’ve since decided to eat those words… WUG live was an absolute treat and I’m going to do what I can to see them again!

Following a half-hourish intermission the lights dimmed once again and the spinning Walkure logo appeared! It’s no secret that I’m a massive Macross fanboy and that this was my most anticipated moment. It was chock full of unknowns – will the crowd care about Walkure without knowledge of Delta? How will they perform with only two out of their five members? Will I need to shout the calls loud enough for the whole place to hear?

My worries were put to rest almost immediately. When the logo showed up the penlights in the crowd changed to purple and red – Mikumo and Freyja’s colors. The “Welcome to Walkure World” came from the PA and everyone cheered as the girls walked onto the stage. The PA went quiet to allow the girls to finish the Welcome to Walkure World line and segue into the rest of Koi! Halation THE WAR.

The crowd seemed to instantly recognize that these songs would be a bit different from the other acts, instead of having complex calls or big dance numbers it’s pure vocal power. And they were super into it. By time the second song, Ikenai Borderline, started, everyone was feeling the heat and edge – all the HAI shouts had some extra vigor behind them. That song just gets people going! JUNNA’s voice was as dizzyingly powerful as ever with her strong solos.

After Borderline, they leapt to an emcee segment revolving around… hamburgers! Minori Suzuki’s skills as an all-around entertainer really shined here as she led the crowd around, asking questions and having some hilarious responses. At one point an ‘In-n-Out’ chant started after she asked where the best hamburgers in LA were, something I’d never thought I’d hear at an idol concert, that’s for sure.

Their emcee session came to an end and they launched into the next two songs: Bokura no Senjou and the opening theme for the anime, Ichido dake no Koi Nara. I, personally, had a great time yelling the Deculture!, Moero! Moero!, and Gyu! Gyu! GYU! Calls loud enough that everyone else around me caught on by the second time around.

Before they went to the last track though, Minori Suzuki made sure it wasn’t just me doing the calls for their final song, Rune ga Pikatto Hikattara, the ending theme from the anime. A marked departure from the more serious tones of their other songs, Rune is largely a Freyja-solo and has an incredibly fun tone. With that is the chant that she taught the crowd – when she says “Rune ga Pikatto Hikattara”, we chant back “Wowow wo wo wo!”. She made us repeat this to her until she was satisfied, giving the crowd an A+!

The performance of that song itself was the high point of the whole night for me, it’s such a fun and lovely song and everyone was so into it that it was hard not to tear up a bit while dancing around like a doofus.

Speaking of tearing up, the next act was Aqours, and it was immediately clear that the vast majority of the audience in attendance bought their ticket for this moment. To say the place exploded with cheers and excitement would be the understatement of the year. The crowd was so nuts that by time they finished their first song, Aozora Jumping Heart (the OP) a couple of the members already looked moved to tears.

Their emcee section consisted of the normal nine intros but with a cute caveat – Rikyako (Riko’s actress) and Suwawa (Kanan’s) translating them! I unfortunately don’t have a ton to say about the rest of the performances, I was pretty awash with the emotion of it all and wasn’t super detail oriented. The fact that I finally got to see a Love Live group perform a real show, in America no less!, had me in all sorts of (crying) places. Their next few songs were the safe but good picks – KimiKoko, Aquarium, MIRAI TICKET, and the ending theme, Yume Kataru yori Yume Utaou.

The concert ended with all four groups of performers (minus JUNNA, being 16 Japanese labor laws prevented her from being on stage past 10PM) appearing for one final thank you and bow. The leaders of each group gave one last goodbye and were on their way. It’s worth noting that Minori Suzuki, from Delta, yelled IN-N-OUT IS NUMBER ONE! as part of her goodbye. This girl gets it!

In all it was an absolutely incredible experience and I can’t imagine how insane it must have been to pull off. Just like I said last year – I have no idea how they’re going to try to top it in the years ahead. Given the reception there’s no way it won’t continue.