While the looming rain clouds above Kawaguchiko Stellar Theatre made the area darker compared to the previous day, fans were undeterred, continuing to queue for concert goods under the heat and making their way to the Yurari Onsen nearby to take advantage of the promotional tie-ups. In fact, many joked that Kenichi Suzumura’s status as the Hare Otoko (Sunny Guy) in the male seiyuu fandom would ward off the rain clouds away and perhaps it did. We will now take you into our report of the second day of Kenichi Suzumura Manten Live 2015, titled ~sol~.
As per the previous day, the hands of the gigantic clock began to move at around 4.36p.m., to the sound of classical strings but this time round, rather than electronic synths overpowering the orchestra, the riffs of guitars asserted themselves with PinPin Band’s presence. Sure enough, the opening chords for ミトコンドリア（Mitochondria) began to play, giving the second day of his Manten Live the explosive, fun-filled beginning that it deserved! Whilst many in the crowd had come the day before, they expressed no qualms about repeating the same calls and crowd participation segments throughout the day for repeated songs! The just as energetic and well-loved All Right was next on tow with the fans calling out ‘woah oh oh oh’ and screaming “All right” along with Suzumura!
He then paused for a short MC, once again welcoming everyone to the second day of Manten Live. This time round, he kept it short and sweet, telling the audience that he will move on with the live in full force without any pause. The audience cheered in response, expressing their excitement over the next three hours to come.
In a move that caught almost everyone by surprise, the electronic synths and opening guitar riffs of 光よりはやく飛ぶロケット(Hikari yori hayaku tobu roketto) took the stage. A space-themed ballad that was last sung three years ago, it has good reception from his overseas fans and is one of Suzumura’s personal favourites as well, which he admitted during AniVoice Summer 2013 in Taipei. The hall became a sea of blue and the lights moved gently to the song . Suzumura sang the song with such fragility and wanderlust in his voice that it was difficult not to feel moved! As he continued to break away from the fiery mood that marked the start of the concert, Suzumura moved on to sing messenger, another dramatic ballad about the facing the uncertainties that we encounter in our journeys. After the two ballads came a change of pace as センスオフワンダ（Sense of Wonder)’s alternative rock took centre stage. Another one of Suzumura’s older songs that was last performed five years ago at his first concert tour, many fans were elated to be able to hear this number again! With HikaRoketto and Sense of Wonder as part of the earlier offerings for the day, it was most certainly a positive sign for fans of Suzumura’s older works as a singer!
With that, he moved onto his MC segment and this time round, he asked the audience who lived in Kawaguchiko. To his surprise, there were three hands up in the air! He then asked them if they walked all the way to the concert venue and they nodded their heads. Suzumura then joked that ‘this uncle finds threading the stairs to be a pain’ which made the audience laugh as they know that he lives an active lifestyle! He then proceeded to thank his audience members for making the trip all the way to Kawaguchiko to catch his concert.
He then proceeded to sing INTENTION. As per the previous day, the walls behind the gigantic clock were pushed back to make way for a stunning view of Mount Fuji and the surrounding forests. The crowd filled in the ‘itsumo’ during the chorus and soon, the blue glow of light sticks transformed the theatre into a pink dot in Kawaguchiko Park as the opening chords to 春の日(Haru no hi) took centre stage! Another song that had never been played for a long time, the crowd went wild, screaming ‘hey’ along with the guitar riffs. As the concert itself was held in during the transition between spring and summer, the song was more than appropriate for the occasion! The roof also began to make way for natural sunlight as the song progressed!
Suzumura took note of this song choice during his MC and remarked that he was extremely happy that summer was coming and that summer at Mount Fuji was always awesome. (Fans who went for Lantis Festival in Singapore wouldn’t be too surprised as Suzumura’s love for summer is very well-known). “Summers at Mt Fuji are particularly awesome,” he said. He then asked his fans how many of them took the Manten-gou service* and a vast majority of the audience raised their hands up in enthusiasm. He then recounted his own personal experience with the special train service whereby a bunch of foreign tourists riding the train proceeded to ask him who was he and what his relationship with the special express service was. His reply was a simple “I am a Japanese voice actor and I hope you can spread the word around”!
He then proceeded to sing そりゃそうです（Sorya Sou Desu) as per the previous days but despite that, the fans still treated it as though it was the first time he was singing it for the concert, clapping along with the song. フタリジカン(Futarijikan) was the next song in the setlist and a disco ball descended from the ceiling above the main stage. The soft, gentle synths of both songs coupled with Suzumura’s tender voice definitely caught on well with the female audience members!
As though he was making a pun, his MC session after that touched on the design and concept behind the gigantic clock that formed part of the stage set. He centred the idea around the concept of “jikan” (time) and explained that the various elements in the clock (the sun, moon, forest and ships) were related to his latest musical works. Futarijikan itself was written to express his happiness of being with others as well and he proceeded to apologise to the audience for a lack of an encore segment the previous night, which sent many laughing and screaming ‘daijoubu!’
The heavy guitar riffs of ポジティヴマンタロウ (Positive Mantarou) sent the audience cheering as red penlights filled the theatre. Audience members shouted the lines between the verses and chorus and also did the respective calls for Suzumura, once again proving that his music’s most obvious trademark is his desire to include everyone in the enjoyment of his music! Keyboardist Takashi Uda did not stop his keyboard playing and smoothly transitioned into the next song, CHAPPY. Suzumura encouraged the audience to ‘jump’ and ‘jump’ to the upbeat piano playing! With the unique penlight movements and his infectious joy in his vocals, it is no surprise why fans do not mind hearing this song live over and over again! Then came おもちゃ箱(Omocha Hako) where PinPin Band and Suzumura descended down the steps of the stage and walked into the audience, carrying their acoustic instruments and interacting with the audience while they were at it. This reporter was extremely elated when Suzumura walked past her and even waved and smiled at her during the song! Like the previous day, they made a special stop in the middle of the upper walkway and everyone’s eyes from different directions were on him. Prior to reaching the middle though, his playful personality shone when he played with a baby seated in the special assistance row with his parents and also fluffed an oji-san’s head! He also exchanged high-fives with a man seated in a wheelchair during the performance which was particularly heartwarming. After that, Suzumura once again pretended to fall on stage and joked about lethargy only to climb back up with the screams of ‘ganbatte’. He then announced that he will continue with the next half of the concert in full force and indeed, the next number would prove so.
さあ見栄張りましょう (Saa miepparimashou) with its funky beats was slightly different from the previous day’s performance in that Suzumura improvised with his band members and also changed the lyrics to suit the context of the live for some lines! He also messed with the keyboard and did his usual band member introductions here as well. On guitars were Masaki Suzuki and Kenji Fujisawa while the bass player was Hirofumi Miyake with Masami Itagaki on drums! Without a doubt, this rendition of the song was the best that Suzumura came up with as it was evident that he had a lot more fun singing it with the improvisations and the adorable interactions with his band members! He proceeded backstage for a costume change and a remix of シンプルな未来(Simple Future) began to play. Once again, fans clapped along with the band members and soon, he emerged back on stage wearing a vest, collared shirt and black pants. Fans clapped along to Simple Future and thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
His next MC segment was without a doubt, filled with unintentional fanservice! Initially, Suzumura started off with explaining the significance of the song Simple Future and then he went to ask the audience “What do you think of my costume?” Many fangirls shouted ‘sugoi’ or ‘kakkoii’ and he was quite flustered to hear all those compliments. Shortly after, a flying insect interrupted his train of thought and he tried to flail it away using his hands, sending the entire theatre into a peal of laughter over his adorable fear of insects, with some even screaming ‘kawaii’! After his brief ordeal with the insect, Suzumura regained his composure and asked the audience if any of them have tried ‘Hōtō Fudo’ (a Yamanashi food chain that serves Houtou noodles) and many of them raised their hands. Then he asked how many of them had gone to Yurari Onsen and many waved their hands as well, including this reporter! Then things became a little personal when he told the audience that his father was supposed to come for the previous night for ~luna~ but he was hoping not to catch a cold from the cold! Fans then began to clap for his efforts and shouted ‘Papa’!
Standing in front of Suzumura after that was a standing microphone. Usually when this occurs during a Suzumura concert, it means two things: Suzumura will be playing the guitar or unleashing his bad boy side. It turned out to be the latter as the hardcore riffs of 青(Ao) took centre stage. Compared to his usual feel-good songs, Ao is the closest of his songs that come close to the hard rock genre and it shows as he delivers an image that is almost 180 degrees away from his playful and sunny aura. He sang this song with extreme power and passion in his voice, sending chills down the audience’s spines and even experimented with pseudo-metal vocals as the song picked up more power. The last note was especially chilling. Having finished such a difficult song to sing, one would think that his vocal chords would be exhausted by now but he proved otherwise, immediately going into シロイカラス(Shiroi Karasu) after that. Another rock number that is also rather difficult to sing, Suzumura executed this song perfectly, sounding exactly like the recorded incarnation but with more power to his live vocals! This time round, he played with the microphone stand and rocked it out. With two very difficult songs being played back to back and flawlessly at that, the audience gave a thunderous applause to Suzumura who dived into a rather philosophical MC segment – maybe to complement the two songs that he sung just now about universal love and the struggle of an individual in society respectively.
He went to talk about the importance of the sun in the context of the universe and what the sun symbolises to society as a whole, with one interpretation as a source of positive energy. He then noted that since the sun was setting, then was the perfect time for him to sing 太陽のうた(Taiyou no Uta). Another song that is challenging to sing with its long notes and general necessity for vocal stamina, Suzumura sang it with so much tender strength that one could not help but feel uplifted. The theatre itself was ablaze with orange and red lights to match the song’s theme. For a first live performance of the song, he definitely made an impact on the audience! His next MC session saw him talking about the difference between the moon and the sun and their relationships with humanity. He also discussed the importance of freedom to humanity as well and then explained the visual concepts that could be found in the concert pamphlet. After the philosophical MC, he invited everyone to take a seat as he introduced one of his most well-loved concert features: the acoustic corner.
模型飛行機(Mokeihikouki) was the first song to kick off the acoustic corner, startling many fans as the song was last played five years ago. The improvements in his vocals compared to five years ago was evident but this could also be because of the minimalist arrangements as well. With the dusk sky above the Stellar Theatre and Suzumura’s gentle voice serenading the audience’s ears, it was a poignant performance. Before proceeding to the next song, he remarked that the sky was cool and that he had always wanted to explore it, though he sometimes questioned the possibility of being lost in its vastness. With the theme of being ‘lost’ in mind, it was no surprise that the next song would be ロスト(Lost). Never before has his voice ever been so fragile and vulnerable-sounding as his tender high notes echoed throughout the venue. It was definitely a performance to remember and it also served as a reminder of why people love his acoustic segments so much: to hear Suzumura’s voice for what it is.
With the next song, he would only give his fans even more opportunities for him to showcase his gentle yet intense voice with １２月の空(Juunigatsu no Sora) . With only Uda’s occasional keyboard playing and Suzumura’s haunting vocals, it was almost as though he was singing acapella. Like Tsuki to Stove the night before, some were driven to tears, also partially because of the lyrics which talk about the cruelty of time and fading memories. Nonetheless, the emotional performance saw many of the penlights staying still until the full instrumentals backed the song up. Suzumura even altered the lyrics a bit to fit the context of the concert. The last ‘lalalala’, sung without any instrumentals at all was spine-tingling. Definitely a fitting end to the well-loved acoustic segment of Suzumura’s live concerts.
The hands of the gigantic clock began to move, indicating that one part of the concert was over. He then announced that the concert would be ending in one hour, which lead to mixed reactions as some were disappointed that the night flew by so quickly while others were happy that he was lending more time with the audience compared to the previous day. The concert then took on a much different mood compared to the previous thirty minutes, starting the last segment with in my space!
Another electrifying and galactic number, Suzumura’s energetic performance pumped the crowd up after the emotionally intense acoustic corner, with many drumming their white penlights against the air. When the opening beats of あいうえおんがく（AIUE Ongaku) started playing, the audience went wild and started clapping. While this reporter is not overly fond of the song, she understands why his Japanese audience thoroughly enjoy it. With the mixture of clapping, penlight waving and arm waving, it is no wonder why fans love this song so much as it integrates nearly every possible way to get the crowd moving! Suzumura seemed to be moving into full force as he dived straight into SHIPS and the crowd participation for that live incarnation of the song was taken up to eleven! While the audience members did the calls and ‘woah-ohs’, he dedicated the part before the final chorus just for the audience to sing their hearts out. He kept on screaming ‘motto motto’ into the microphone and with each call, the audience’s response got louder and louder.
Then came the final MC segment. Suzumura remarked that Kawaguchiko was a lovely place and that he would love to visit it again soon. He also noted that his music career has brought him to many places from as far north as Hokkaido to foreign countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Upon asking where he would go to next, many fans screamed their home prefectures, ranging from Nara to Kyoto. Alas, the clock started ticking. The night will have to come to an end soon. “I’ll take on new challenges from now on,” said Suzumura as he prepared himself for his last two songs for the night.
ひとつ(Hitotsu)’s opening began to play and he soon made his way to a raised platform on the upper terraces, allowing everyone to face him from different directions no matter where they were standing at. While Hitotsu is a very short song, it always catches on well with the audience, especially with the catchy ‘utaou utaou utaou soshite waraou‘ line and the minimalist usage of instruments, giving the song a warm, family-like feeling. As the song concluded, the audience followed Suzumura in raising their index finger to indicate ‘one’ in unison. However, he was not going to end the night with such a short song. He wanted to get everyone together. The theatre was soon illuminated with pink penlights.
ハナサカ(Hanasaka), one of his fans’ most favourite songs took centre stage. Instead of the unplugged version that was played the day before, he offered his fans with the original pop version! With the mixture of penlight waving and audience calls, this is another crowd number and Suzumura brought it to brand new levels once more. Before the concluding chorus for the night, he paused his singing and let the audience sing ‘la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la’ to the tune of the chorus. This time round, he called audience members up by their genders and what they were wearing. “Boys! Girls! Wearing the cap! Wearing glasses!” Whenever these categories were called up, those who belonged to the groups sang along, each never trying to outcompete each other. Definitely a collective show of fan support and love! After the audience participation segment, fireworks exploded in the night sky, befitting for a song like Hanasaka. Then, as if they were making references to his earlier songs, a spark of light cut through the sky, like a rocket flying faster than light. Unfortunately, it was the last song for the night. The piano-only version of Taiyou no Uta playing in the background as Suzumura and the PinPin Band lined-up for a final bow indicated that as per the previous day, there would be no encore. After the band members left the stage, Suzumura stayed behind to give his audience a final thank you. With his winning smile, he told the audience that he would one day see them at Kawaguchiko again!
Even after Suzumura has left the stage, when the recorded version of SHIPS started playing as audience members left the theatre, fans continued to do the respective audience participation segments and calls. In a sense, Suzumura’s magic spell still had its effect over his fans. Even as people were walking out of the theatre, they were still singing along and talking about how fun the concert was or even joining in the fans who stayed behind to relive the previous three hours! For this reporter, she would gladly come back for another solo concert of his if time permits.
Overall, “Manten” Live 2015 was -in one word- magical. It was a combination of Suzumura’s own magnetic charm, strong vocals and his fans’ collective love and devotion for him that made it such a magical experience! While ~luna~ seems to focus more on his newer songs and love songs, ~sol~’s setlist would be an absolute delight for fans of his older works. What this reporter also noticed is that the quality of performance that he gave for his overseas Anisong World Tour Lantis Festival stops is equal to what he offers in his native soil, giving his all to everyone regardless of who he’s performing for. His interactions with the special needs row also added a heartwarming element to the concert!
Fans who want to catch a glimpse of the concert will be happy to know that behind-the-scenes footage and concert footage from both days will be aired on MUSIC-ON! TV on 26 July 2015! So far, there has been no news for a live DVD/BD release but in the mean time, fans will be keeping their fingers crossed. Those dying for more of Suzumura’s live performances can catch him at the annual Original Entertainment Paradise in December this year and at Uta no Prince-Sama LOVELIVE 5th Stage in January. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our report on the concert! ’till the next one comes!
*The Manten-Gou service refers to a specially themed train that rides on the Fujikyu line in celebration of the live concert. Suzumura’s songs were played in the train and it was lined with posters of the live and the blue/yellow colour scheme as well.
Featured image courtesy of Lantis’ Official Twitter Page. All other photographs were screencapped from M-On TV’s coverage of the concert
REPORT ON THE FIRST DAY: https://jnetworkonline.com/2015/06/18/kenichi-suzumuras-manten-live-luna/#more-1324
MANTEN LIVE ~sol~ SETLIST:
2. All right
3. Hikari Yori Hayaku Tobu Roketto
5. Sense of Wonder
7. Haru no hi
8. Sorya Sou Desu
10. Positive Mantarou
12. Omocha Hako
13. Saa meipparimashou
14. Simple Future
16. Shiroi Karasu
17. Taiyou no Uta
20. Juunigatsu no sora
ACOUSTIC CORNER END
21. in my space
22. AEOU Ongaku