Three Hours of the Best Anisong Hits! Report on Anisong Fantasy Live 2017 Vol. 1 in Singapore (Part 2)

This is the second article in our three-part coverage of the Anisong Fantasy Live 2017 Vol. 1 in Singapore. If you haven’t read the previous article yet, don’t forget to check it out here!

Who’s going to perform next after GARNiDELiA‘s captivating opening and ELISA‘s stunning follow-up act? Our reporters awaited the next announcement as we looked through the rest of the concert’s star-studded line-up. Two of the artistes tonight will be familiar faces from the I Love Anisong! cast from last year’s Anime Festival Asia Singapore 2016; would one of them be the next act? The announcement confirmed this guess…

“Anisong Fantasy Live! Coming up next…”

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“Alisa Takigawa!”

ELISA and Alisa – one letter apart, but a whole world of difference would distinguish their identities and music styles. A soft piano opening brought us closer to one of Japan’s finest young contemporary musicians as the spiky-haired keyboardist guided the audience into the song that made Alisa Takigawa a force to be reckoned with: Season.

The crowd was silently paying attention as Takigawa began to play her iconic acoustic guitar on stage while also confidently executing the vocals to the recognizable chorus from one of the ending themes of The Seven Deadly Sins – an anime series incidentally also well-known for having some of the best theme songs! Fans began singing along and the mega.BOX event hall turned a sea of blue once again.

Some of us may know that Alisa Takigawa is unlike your run-of-the-mill anisong artiste; during our interview with her last year, our reporters had the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the way she crafts her music as Takigawa shared her thoughts about what goes through her mind when she writes her lyrics, composes and arranges a new song, or brings her music to a live audience through performance.

The audience welcomed her with resounding cheers of support!

“Hello everyone! I am Alisa! This is my second time here, thank you very much! I’m back again!”

Alisa Takigawa‘s down-to-earth nature struck an interesting contrast to ELISA‘s higher-pitched operatic tones, and the audience listened intently to what she had to offer next.

“The previous song was Season, the second ending theme of The Seven Deadly Sins, have you guys heard of it?”

The response was clearly positive! Takigawa mentions that the next song is also from The Seven Deadly Sins! The lights above turned yellow as she proceeded to perform the first notes of 色褪せない瞳 (Iroasenai Hitomi), accompanied by a gentle strumming of the guitar, followed by a recognizable drum accompaniment.

AlisaTakigawa01

The song’s title, which means “unfading eyes“, was an appropriate description indeed; fans looked on with interest as Takigawa skillfully blends her heartfelt vocals into the playing of her guitar, making a seamless transition into the familiar chorus which once again saw some singing along to it! The stage lights became a contrast of red and blue, providing an interesting backdrop to the performance.

In fact, it was overheard some time after this song that many in the audience who had initially not heard of Takigawa before Anime Festival Asia 2016 now regarded her as an artiste who can hold her own weight alongside other heavyweights and veterans in the Japanese music industry, and this was a factor that led to many fans deciding to attend this Anisong Fantasy Live!

By now, the concert was into its first hour already. Alisa Takigawa thanked the audience again – with a twist!

“Terima kasih! Arigatou gozaimasu!”

Terima kasih means “thank you” in Malay, a language widely spoken in Singapore and Malaysia, and few Japanese artistes performing in the region have thought of using it prior! This obviously won the surprise and admiration from the audience alike – many in the audience stood up to give Takigawa a massive round of applause!

Takigawa decides to strike up a little conversation with her fans by finding a common topic that almost everyone in the audience was sure to enjoy.

“Does everyone love anime?”

Nailed it – the crowd was booming!

“Daisuki? Daisuki?”

With each subsequent “daisuki?” from Takigawa, meaning “do you love it?”, the responses from the audience grew louder and louder it would not come as a surprise to an onlooker that this was the Anisong Fantasy Live concert they were looking at. She opens up to the audience about her heartfelt wishes and – it seems – the feeling was clearly reciprocal, with many in the audience expressing that they wanted her to perform in Singapore again in the future!

“As a songwriter and singer, I wish to produce more great music to be able to share with fans outside of Japan, and really want to be able to come back again soon. Thank you very much!”

Takigawa introduces the final song for her segment, a favourite for many in the audience – fans remembered this number from the Owarimonogatari anime series, and along with the previous two songs, it managed to introduce many people to the music of Alisa Takigawa. This song was none other than さよならのゆくえ (Sayonara no Yukue), and it had a unique ambience that was much unlike that for the other artistes. She calls out to the crowd again to inject some hype!

“Singapore!!”

Our reporters recalled again that Takigawa had singled out this song to explain the way she arranges her music to create an experience for listeners to feel, and she mentions that this track is set in a school and conjures images of the winner of a competition arriving. Once again, the crowd managed to witness her sense of total musicianship through the other elements complementing her already-impressive singing, as the melody and instrumentals brought her vocals full circle and made our experience of her performance a complete one.

The cheers from the floor were unanimous as Takigawa thanked the audience once again for their support.

“Terima kasih! Arigatou gozaimasu!”

Setlist for Alisa Takigawa
1) Seasonsecond ending theme to The Seven Deadly Sins
2) 色褪せない瞳 (Iroasenai Hitomi)ending theme to The Seven Deadly Sins: -Signs of Holy War-
3) さよならのゆくえ (Sayonara no Yukue)ending theme to Owarimonogatari

With the three outstanding performers we witnessed earlier, who would be next? It didn’t take very long for us to find out, as the chattering of the fans anticipating the following act made way for the announcement that many of them have been waiting for!

“Coming up next…”

“Luna Haruna!”

With a gentle piano opening, the crowd gave the green light with their lightsticks for Luna to commence her segment as they began singing along to her first song for the night, and one that many in the hall would recognize from the highly popular Sword Art Online anime franchise. Fans were undeniably enthusiastic – with the instrumentals following her opening vocals, the audience started chanting “hey! hey! hey!” along to the beat again!

On stage, Luna Haruna‘s presence reflected her dual background as an anisong singer and fashion model – her outfit comprised of a white dress with gold and black linings was a sight to behold, and her green pendant matched her artistic theme colour as she proceeded to sing the memorable chorus. Her vocals were certainly something to reckon with – the long note following the “kitto, kitto” (“surely, surely”) line lasted a good six seconds! The interesting instrumental accompaniment to Overfly helped further in lending synergy to her vocals.

As the song began to fade out, the crowd could still be heard singing along! Luna waved to her fans off-stage and greeted them enthusiastically in English!

“Hello everyone! I’m Luna Haruna!”

She proceeded to greet the audience – this time in a mix of Japanese and … Chinese!

“Singapore no minna-san, 大家好! Haruna Luna desu!”

Luna reverts to speaking in Japanese and asks her fans how they were feeling.

“Is everyone having fun here at Anisong Fantasy Live? Amazing. I see a lot of you cheering with green light sticks. Thank you very much!”

“Terima kasih!”

It seemed that Alisa Takigawa managed to set a trend indeed – now Luna Haruna was also greeting her fans with “terima kasih”, bringing her total to a record of four languages! The cameras shifted towards the audience, with the crowd now visible on the screens again as Luna prepares them for the next song.

“The song you just listened to was the ending for Sword Art Online, Overfly. Thank you very much! I hope to have fun with everyone until the very last moment tonight. Is everyone ready?”

This time, she tries to whip up the crowds in English again.

“Are you ready! Are you ready! Let’s go! Ai wo Utae!”

Luna made sure her next song would pack a punch – she punched her right fist into the air repeatedly while opening the lines to アイヲウタエ (Ai wo Utae), roughly translated as “sing your love“, and the audience responded to the call by singing along to the track and chanting “hey! hey! hey!” to show their love and support!

Her cute expressions and animated gestures helped to bring her fans on-board her performance as she engaged the audience throughout the song, pointing towards them occasionally while singing the chorus and even reaching her microphone out to the audience! Even the band members on-stage managed to share her infectious energy, for the audience could see that they were visibly enjoying themselves throughout this segment too.

As the drums signaled the end of the song, the ever-energetic Luna Haruna moved on immediately to the following track, this time from Sword Art Online II, the second season to the virtual-reality-MMORPG-themed anime series that saw her perform other theme songs in the series as well. The opening notes to Startear were noticeably slower and more melancholic, as Luna turned her gaze upwards and downwards while singing, her eyes occasionally turning to face members in the audience. Somewhere during the middle of the song, she pulled off another stunning six-second note, wowing many in the hall!

Luna Haruna appeared visibly touched as fans cheered in support at the end of the song.

“Terima kasih!”

“You just listened to Ai wo Utae, followed by Startear. Thank you! The last time I performed here in Singapore was in summer 2016, and I’m really happy to be able to meet you guys once again! Thank you! Terima kasih!”

The crowd was just as happy to meet her once again, for their cheers managed to put a wide grin on her already cheerful face!

“The next song will be my last for tonight. Thank you very much and lets have fun together, all right? Please listen to my final piece.”

Once again, Luna decides to introduce the final song for her segment in English.

“Next song is from TV anime, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata: Kimi iro Signal!”

The audience couldn’t contain their excitement – this was a definite crowd favourite! Some fans began to jump while others ran forward to get a closer view of the stage as Luna Haruna commenced with the final song of her segment. 君色シグナル (Kimiiro Signal) had a very clear crowd participation element to it, and even before the concert many fans had commented that this was one of the highlights they had come for. At various points, Luna pointed towards the audience with a quizzical look as she sang, and more and more fans began to jump along to this particularly uplifting number. This performance cemented Luna Haruna‘s reputation as a singer who could connect with her fans effectively, and by the time the song came to an end, it was already 8.30pm.

More loud cheers could be heard as an excited Luna waved to the audience to thank them!

Setlist for Luna Haruna:
1) Overflysecond ending theme to Sword Art Online
2) アイヲウタエ (Ai wo Utae)ending theme to Monogatari Series Second Season
3) Startearfirst ending theme to Sword Art Online II
4) 君色シグナル (Kimiiro Signal)opening theme to Saekano

There was a lot of speculation about who – or, more accurately, what – would come next. The two remaining acts in the Anisong Fantasy Live line-up were massive names not just in anisong, but in the Japanese music industry, and whoever was performing next was sure to elicit some of the loudest cheers from the audience.

Instead, we were treated to an even bigger surprise!

“Coming up next…”

“Special collaboration stage!”

The lights came back on, and… the duo with the similar-sounding names came on stage! The crowd came alive as they cheered again to welcome ELISA and Alisa Takigawa!

Alisa: (EN) “Hello! We’re back!” (JP) “It’s hot in here, isn’t it?”

ELISA: (JP) “Is everyone having fun?”

Alisa: (JP) “Because today’s concert will also be screened in Japan, we’d really like to let them hear your voices as well!”

ELISA: (EN) “Can you speak Japanese?”

The crowd gave a resounding response, and ELISA decided to rally the crowd to participate in a little exercise with the duo!

ELISA: (EN) “Wow! Do you like sushi?”

More cheers!

ELISA: (EN) “Can everyone say ‘nihon ga daisuki‘?”

The crowd echoed aloud till the whole hall could hear their reply!

Alisa: (JP) “That’s right, on the count of three, can we all say ‘nihon ga daisuki’? Let’s try it! ‘NIHON GA DAISUKI!’ Well done!”

ELISA: (JP) “Now’s the real one. Let’s shout louder than before! ‘NIHON GA DAISUKI’!”

“NIHON GA DAISUKI!”

Alisa: (JP) “That was wonderful! Thank you! I’m sure the Japanese will be delighted to hear your cheers, but for now, we’re proceeding to the collaboration stage!”

ELISA: (JP) “Up until now, I believe you’re all hyped up with the songs and are cheering with vigor, but Alisa and I would like to try something more mellow and smooth, and we hope that you’ll like it. The next song is from EGOIST: Departures ~Anata ni okuru ai no uta~.”

The loud cheers that filled the hall following the introduction gave way to ELISA singing the opening notes to a gentle ballad number that many in the audience would also know as the ending theme to the Guilty Crown anime series. Alisa Takigawa‘s follow-up vocals proved that the one-letter difference in their names and their distinct styles did not prevent their voices from blending very well with each other, creating an unexpected synergy!

But it was perhaps precisely their difference strengths that went a lot further in bringing their collaboration to a whole new level, one that managed to showcase both their collective and individual talents alike. ELISA‘s high operatic tones served as a wonderful complement to Takigawa‘s more natural and approachable feel, and this allowed them to put a twist on a classic EGOIST track that won the admiration of many in the audience.

It was 8.40pm by the time ELISA and Alisa Takigawa brought the song to a finish.

ELISA and Alisa: (JP) “Thank you very much!”

Alisa: (JP) “Proceeding on, let’s welcome GARNiDELiA up on stage! Hello!”

More cheers could be heard as GARNiDELiA‘s vocalist MARiA came onto stage, thanking the audience for their warm welcome! Dressed in her signature black, she struck a contrast with Luna Haruna‘s white outfit as the two of them gathered to make an important announcement.

MARiA: (JP) “Thank you for inviting me back! And also…”

Luna: (JP) “Haruna Luna here!”

The cheers got louder as Luna Haruna proceeded to inform the audience about what was to come in both Japanese and English!

Luna: (JP) “The following song will be the designated piece for the Canon photo party! For this one song, please take lots of pictures. Do you understand? (EN) Okay, the next song is for the Canon photo party. For one song only, please take photos of us. (JP) Take nice pictures, please!”

Luna then informs the excited crowd that MARiA and her will be performing the next song, Innocence, another number from the Sword Art Online anime series originally released by Eir Aoi. This was a clear crowd favourite – the song took the hall by storm as the audience joined in to participate, creating a sea of coloured lightsticks to accompany their performance.

Once again, Luna and MARiA‘s distinct styles did not prevent them from enjoying a surprisingly good level of synergy through this instantly recognizable hit, and fans continued to keep the excitement up as they began to chant “hey! hey! hey!” amidst the rising instrumentals. The contrast between their fashion styles proved to be an interesting parallel to their vocal styles, with MARiA having a characteristically edgy feel to complement Luna‘s more light-hearted vibes.

MARiA and Luna: (JP) “Thank you all!”

Luna: (JP) “Thank you very much! The song you just listened to was Innocence!”

The audience’s response to their thanks was equally enthusiastic!

Luna: (JP) “Is everyone enjoying Anisong Fantasy Live? We still have more songs to go! Should we invite two more people up to the stage?”

Murmurs could be heard in the hall as more loud cheers began to fill the space! Were we going to witness the epic collaboration between all four artistes after all? Luna Haruna reveals the answer!

Luna: (JP) Alisa-chan and ELISA-chan!”

Collaboration01

ELISA: (JP) “We’re back!”
MARiA: (JP) “Welcome back! The next song will be performed by the ladies only, so let us invite toku-san off the stage. Thank you!”

With GARNiDELiA‘s composer toku headed to the backstage, the four of them began to introduce the band members who would be performing together with them for their next song!

MARiA: (JP) “It looks like it’ll just be us girls now, and before we sing the next song, let’s put our hands together for our performing musicians for the night!”

They took turns to welcome each of them, and as each band member was introduced to the audience, their corresponding instrumental sample played in the background to supportive cheers from the floor!

Takigawa began by introducing the keyboardist and drummer, following which Luna Haruna proceeded to introduce the percussionist, with ELISA introducing the guitarist as well. Finally, all four of them then introduced the bassist, with MARiA expressing their intention to perform their collaboration piece with the band members!

MARiA: (JP) “We’d like to perform a song together with the band members. I’m sure you guys are familiar with this song, so do sing along together! Let’s go!”

This final song was 空色デイズ (Sorairo Days), and the opening guitar riffs created a hard-hitting, fast-moving sensation that paved the way for MARiA to sing the first notes to the track. Takigawa joined in soon after, with ELISA and subsequently Luna bringing the collaboration full circle with an epic blend of voices and colours alike!

This once-in-a-lifetime live performance between these four acts was definitely a spectacle to behold, and it gave all fans something to enjoy regardless of their favourite act! With many fans in fact coming for all six artistes, the level of enthusiasm was even higher and the audience appeared to be clearly enthralled as the epic guitar riffs revved up the energy levels in the crowd. There was a brief on-stage moment shared between ELISA and Luna Haruna that caught the attention of fans, and as the nine of them brought their masterpiece to a conclusion, the loudest cheers in the past two hours could be heard!

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The four performers thanked the audience for their unparalleled support as the lights darkened and fans started to eagerly anticipate when the next act would come! Would it be Aimer or Kalafina first? Which songs would they perform and can we expect another collaboration?

Setlist for Special Collaboration Stage
1) Departures ~あなたにおくるアイの歌~ (Departures ~Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta~)
– Original artist: EGOIST
– Performed by ELISA and Alisa Takigawa
– First ending theme to Guilty Crown

2) INNOCENCE
– Original artist: Eir Aoi
– Performed by GARNiDELiA and Luna Haruna
– Second opening theme to Sword Art Online

3) 空色デイズ (Sorairo Days)
– Original artist: Shoko Nakagawa
– Performed by GARNiDELiA, ELISA, Alisa Takigawa and Luna Haruna
– Opening theme to Gurren Lagann

Looking forward to the grand finale? Stay tuned for our third and final installation in this three-part coverage of Anisong Fantasy Live 2017 Vol. 1 in Singapore!

Acknowledgements
Article written by grayingmantis with help from translations provided by Yong Jie.
Official photographs from SOZO.

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