Midsummer Serenade for a Typhoon: Akishibu project 5th One-Man Live Report!
Not even a typhoon could stop Akishibu project as they stood tall on the stage of Zepp Tokyo on August 22, 2016 for their 5th One-Man Live “Ore no Natsu!! Wake!!”. Despite heavy rainfall and strong winds delaying trains and flooding roads all over Tokyo, those who made it out to the island of Odaiba were witnesses to the group’s strongest performance of their career.
Despite a late start, the husky voice of Hinako Kera (aka Hinahi) excited the audience as she ran through the announcements from backstage. Assuring them that the performance would begin soon, the news was met with shouts and jumps as the fans began to prepare themselves for the show. The floor area became a 7-colored rainbow of penlights as the overture blasted out of the speakers, the members casting larger than life shadows from behind the curtain. The curtain dropped and Akishibu project together with a 5-piece live band began the live with “Manatsu no Serenade”, a wall of dazzling lights and shower of streamers fluttering down on them.
Pillars of fog erupted and beams of white light criss-crossing the stage ushered in the next song “Akishibu Way”, the members stepping quickly to the growling electronic synthesizer hook. Ami Iseki (aka Amirakuru) lead the group back down the walkway to the stage in the middle of the floor as they kicked up their feet and chopped the air to “Be yourself”. Bursting out of a line where the members struck cute poses for the fans, they ran back to the main stage to end the song with a big jump.
Leader Yue Miyatani (aka Yuechi) thanked the audience for coming all the way out to Odaiba to see them despite the typhoon causing so many train delays. Natsumi Ishikawa (aka Abu-chan) was bursting with excitement at how Akishibu project had opened the performance with a live band backing them, commenting that it was like a dream, just like standing on the stage at Zepp Tokyo was.
The band retreated backstage as the performance entered its second act and Akishibu project fanned themselves from the stifling humidity with “Summer☆Summer”, Miiro Taguchi (aka Mii-chan) and Yuuna Arakawa (aka Yuunarin) shouting for the audience to get excited.
Swinging their legs to “Eternal Blue”, Akishibu project stirred up the fans who pogoed along with them to the music. Turning up the heat with the pounding rhythms of “LOVE & PARADISE”, a festive yet trance-like state seemed to take over the venue, a particularly creative fan of Hinahi hoisting an orange paper lantern for her when she approached the edge of the stage.
Swinging their arms and strumming their air guitars to “Gachikoi Revolution”, the members scooped up baskets of signed balls and pillows which they tossed into the crowd as souvenirs for a few lucky fans during “Candid Love”. The trip through the “Royal Road of idol” (the orthodox school of idols is often referred to as the “royal road” 王道, oudou) continued with “Midarekami Fighting Girl”.
Abu-chan called for the fans to pull out their towels for the next song “Restart”, she and the rest of the members waving their new galaxxxy collaboration ones which had just gone on sale. The volume of the fans approached deafening as they shouted and jumped, readying themselves for the end of the song when the members tossed their towels into the crowd. Waving their arms like rolling ocean waves, Akishibu project floated along to “Dream in a sea”, bringing the 8-song nonstop cruise into port.
Taking their second break of the evening, Yuechi asked the fans if they were having fun and still had energy to keep going. Sharing their individual “Natsu wake” stories, Amirakuru called attention to their new outfits, which were matching but still allowed for everyone’s personality to shine through. Abu-chan shared that she had meat for breakfast in order to give herself extra power, a story which humorously backfired on her when the others commented that she was sweating a lot, speculating that it might be meat juice and not sweat. Reminding the audience that the choreography for “Summer☆Summer” was by popular Mix Channel personalities Oshima Kyoudai, the members demonstrated it once again and encouraged them to make their own videos.
With the band back on stage, the final act of the performance was underway, Akishibu project waving their folding paper fans gently to “Setsunatsuri”. Standing on the stage in the middle of the floor, each member took a turn in the spotlight delivering melancholy lines about the end of summer before walking back to the main stage in the darkness.
A thick blanket of fog rolled across the stage and shards of light reflected off of the mirror ball as the floor area was overtaken by the glow of white cyalumes as the members harmonized their voices for “White”, the farewell song for Emiri Otani, who graduated from the group on April 18th. Although some fans reported to have spotted her in the balcony, what her reaction to such a moving performance of the song is unknown. Shortly after the mist had cleared at the end of the song, the band members were introduced and met with a loud ovation as they each took a solo on their instruments.
Shifting back into high rear with the smoldering guitar-heavy rock of “Creation”, Akishibu project began ramping up towards the end of their historic 5th one-man live.
A shockwave of energy swept through Zepp Tokyo as soon as Yuechi sang the opening words of “Answer”, all voices calling out and all hands waving steadily as red beams of light sliced through the air. With excitement spilling over, a small mosh pit broke out and several fans attempted to lift themselves up to show their support for the members as they were singing.
Closing out with longtime fan favorite “New World”, Akishibu project were surrounded by kechas as they gave back several times over as they swung their fists and pointed out at as many of their fans as they could while singing their hearts out. Yuechi called for everyone to join them in a jump at the end. Giving thanks and bowing, they left the stage.
A fan with a blue afro wig began the encore call after reading off a speech recapping the group’s history. After a few minutes or encore calls, Akishibu project came running back out with their new galaxxy collaboration shirts, getting the encore started immediately with “RIVAL”.
Thanking the audience for the encore, the members took turns sharing their anxiety about whether or not the live would be a success, especially with the typhoon, commenting that they were nervous up until the curtain fell. Hinahi added that even though there were probably people who couldn’t be there due to the weather or work, she acknowledged that it was thanks to everyone that Akishibu project was able to stand on the stage of Zepp Tokyo.
Sadness tinted the talk as they mentioned that it was possibly their last time to have a big solo concert as 7 members because Amirakuru had announced her graduation from the group during their regular live at Twin Box Akihabara on August 17th (with further explanation provided on her blog August 19th). Although she initially wrote that she will graduate at the end of 2016 but the actual date may actually be sooner.
Yuechi reassured the fans that Akishibu project would keep reaching higher and that in order to do that, they would be holding auditions for new members, a step necessary for them to change and evolve.
A new song, “Sing a song” was performed for the first time, the members encouraging everyone to come together and sing with them. With serious expressions on their faces, Akishibu project made their way to the stage in the middle of the floor again, surrounded by fans waving their arms to the downtempo ballad. Amirakuru knelt down at the corner of the stage while singing to one of her fans who was unable to stop crying or even look at her as he stood at the edge of the barrier.
Attempting to shake off the heavy emotions of the previous song, Amirakuru shouted out, “This is the last song!” as she and the other members bounced into “Kagayaki License”. Another explosion of streamers shot out as the members skipped around on the stage. Taking a commemorative picture with the fans, Akishibu project took their final bows and thanked everyone for coming to see them.
Despite the graduation of Emiro Otani and impending graduation of Ami Iseki, Akishibu project has continued to grow stronger throughout 2016 as shown by their 5th One-Man Live “Ore no Natsu!! Wake!!” at Zepp Tokyo, a venue that is firmly on the border between live houses and music halls. With constant change as an unavoidable characteristic of the idol scene in Japan, it is with mixed feelings of excitement and sadness that we will continue to watch groups like Akishibu project as they continue their journey into the “New World”.
Photos by Nathan Gey
01 Manatsu no Serenade
02 Akishibu Way
03 Be yourself
05 Eternal Blue ~Kimi to Boku to Sora to Umi~
06 LOVE & PARADISE
07 Gachikoi Revolution
08 Candid Love
09 Midarekami Fighting Girl
11 Dream in a sea
16 New World
E2 Sing a song
E3 Kagayaki License
Akishibu project Official site : http://akishibup.net/
Akishibu project Official blog: http://lineblog.me/akishibuproject/
Akishibu project Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/AkishibuProject
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