The annual Funan Anime Matsuri convention at the electronic-and-hobby lifestyle shopping centre, Funan Digital Life Mall in Singapore, saw the debut performance of the Kawamitsu siblings bless4 in Singapore after previous Lives in her latitudinal neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia. The born-in-America, matured-in-Japan vocal quartet had a performing strength of three – lead vocalist Akino and her dancers, elder brother Akashi and sister Kanasa. Aiki was in the States at the time of the convention.
Two sets were performed, one on each weekend evening, 13 and 14th June 2015 attracting a large crowd of existing anisong listeners and shoppers, filling an the entire half of the atrium nearer to the Main Stage and the corridors of the first four storeys of the mall.
bless4 kicked off their Saturday set-list with Paradoxical Zoo, the second OP to the mecha anime Aquarion Evol, which main vocalist Akino belted out to the backdrop of her dancers in hysterical punches and swings, decorated by a scatter of blue and orange lightsticks swung by the more enthusiastic fans who came prepared for the trio. Indeed, the series about prehistoric giant robots has become somewhat synonymous with the group after they contributed several themes to it.
After the opener came the member introductions, and Akino surveying the audience which language – Japanese or English, they find to be easier, a pertinent to bi- and multi- linguals among the mostly-Singaporean audience, before commenting on her new-found love for the local sambal chicken during their short trip to Singapore.
Akino then proceeded to her solo, Extra Magic Hour, the OP to last year’s Amagi Brilliant Park, to a synchronized cheer with lightsticks. But this item did not come before a tease from the lead singer with imagery for the sea and ships – you’ve guessed it, that foreshadowed Miiro (lit. Color of the Sea), the OP to the anime adaptation of the unit-collecting browser game Kantai Collection (KanColle). The powerful chants during the instrumental bridges evidence the audience familiarity with the song that sets the mood for personified ship battles. And of course, a song that is literally titled after the color blue naturally commanded a unison of ascending blue-lit lightstick flails from the versed audience.
After Miiro, Akino frowned over some “disapointing news she had to announce”, stunning the audience in an elongated “Eeeeh?”. The anticipated disapointment turned out to be the converse, a relatively older upbeat electronic party song, Let’s Have a Party , that sees Kanasa and Akashi dancing in mirror image to each other in some sections. bless4 taught the audience its dance, inviting their brother, Aiki, along – through a prerecorded video of him dancing to a mirror-image kaleidoscope.
After the performance was the announcement of their Let’s Have a Party Contest*, in which contestants record their dance of its chorus with the remaining verses choreographed themselves, with a prize of 300 000 yen in wait of the winner. For familiarity’s sake, Akino and Kanasa repeated the chorus for the audience to mirror, while Akashi whipped out a camcorder to record the audience dancing with a promise of a subsequent upload onto YouTube. The quartet did so on their official YouTube channel on 16th June as splice-betweens interspersed with shots of themselves dancing to the song in their hotel room and at various malls in Singapore.
The performance proper resumed with the upbeat Let’s Fly, a single released this year. Flying was interpreted quite literally when Kanasa imitated a pre-takeoff flight announcement on an aircraft as the song’s intro.
Finale for the night was Sousei no Aquarion, a song many fans among the audience predicted out of the quartet’s popularity that beds on the the Aquarion series. Compared to the more downright-upbeat songs before it, this titular theme piece had a more soothing and soulful start before a stronger chorus. The hype for the evening was brought to a climatic closure when the audience was mic-cued to sing the pre-final-chorus bridge before Akino‘s completion of the song.
Before the start of the 7.45pm show, a crowd has already crammed themselves in front of the main stage eagerly staring at its screen as it played trailers of upcoming anisong concerts in Singapore, such as those of LiSA and Eir Aoi, as well as some forthcoming anime theatrical releases, with much cheering when their favourite scenes came on. The hype were transferred onto the trio when they went on stage, with the passionate fans yelling out affectionately to their self-proclaimed “onee-chan” and “onee-san” as they did.
The set commenced with Akino’s second single, Go Tight, which served as the second OP to Genesis of Aquarion. It began as a jazzy number that morphed into rock towards the latter sections, with much headbanging by Akino’s sibling dancers. They performed Extra Magic Hour before introducing themselves over a water break, with Akashi cueing the audience to call out to absent Aiki.
Kanasa decided to poke fun at our Singaporean creole Singlish (local slang referring to English mixed with overused words from other languages and dialects), asking the audience to act nonchalant by echoing “Ok lor, ok lah!” after they chant “Bless 4 is Cool!”.
The third song was Miiro from the day before, and then Jet Coaster Ride, a more postive song compared to the more powerful previous three.
Akashi resolved that the quartet “would definitely want to come back again this year”, prompting the fans to chat “A-F-A! A-F-A!” profusely. AFA stands for the Anime Festival Asia large-scale annual anime convention series in the country, whose I Love Anisong concert is a very likely candidate for their potential performance in group concert with other anisong and electronic acts.
Leaving the audience in anticipation, they proceeded to the same routine for Let’s Have a Party and then Let’s Fly. For the latter, they suggested the audience to swing their towels (or lightsticks, if they didn’t bring any) during the titular “Let’s fly!” line in the chorus. The finale was, again, Sousei no Aquarion, this time muting the music during the “Aishiteru” line during the final chorus for the audience to sing along.
Encore and Autograph session
Right after the second set’s finale, the mother of the Kawamitsus, Yoshi, was invited on stage to take a mass photo with her children and the audience. The siblings reminded the audience that this year marks the tenth anniversary of Akino’s solo career and cued the audience to praise, “Omedetto!” in laud of this milestone followed by their singing of a somewhat-impromptu cheer song.
Attendees who purchased bless4 merchandise on-site from the AFA Shop were entitled to have them signed after the encore.
Here are a few sample signatures bless4 gave out, photographed by our reporter Mikeru.
*Readers can read more information on the Let’s Have a Party contest, in Japanese at this link. The contest is open worldwide.
Special thanks to convention staff Jonathan for assisting the reporter regarding the set-list on-site