Made in Hong Kong: Ariel Project 4th One-Man Live Report
If you’re reading this, chances are you are familiar with Japanese idol culture – pop songs, cute outfits, meet-and-greet, merchandise, polaroids, the whole nine yards. But most of the time you have to venture to Japan to experience it, which is not always an option for some. Luckily, idol fans in Hong Kong have Monfore Tang, the CEO of Star Creative Production, which brings artists and groups to Hong Kong and produces local groups like Ariel Project.
The group has 4 members – Hinako, Aoi, Seina and Nanami. Yes, you read that right – they
all have Japanese names, but they are all from Hong Kong. I don’t actually know their ages as the website does not list their birth years, but I would say they are probably between the ages of 15-18.
The event that I went to on May 22, 2016 was Ariel Project’s 4th solo live. It was held on the top floor of an industrial building, inside a record company that has a small stage. In general, Hong Kong doesn’t have a very big non-mainstream music scene, so independent and underground artists often have a hard time finding venues to perform in. About 40 fans showed up (90% male, 10% female) and most of them were equipped with the group’s merchandise such as T-shirts, towels, and penlights.
The event’s format was identical to many idol lives in Japan – the show started with songs sung by the whole group, followed by a short talk segment where each member introduced themselves using a catchphrase. Then the group broke into smaller units to perform some other songs, followed by another talking segment, and the main event ended with more group songs.
After about 5 minutes of encore calls, the Ariel Project came back on stage and performed a few more group songs, the show finishing with a group photo of the girls and fans to commemorate the occasion. What was remarkable was that, about half of the time of each talk segment was in Japanese, as the girls have a basic understanding of the language and they want to come as close to the Japanese idol experience as possible.
Even though there were only about 40 people there, the energy I experienced during the show
was no different than a larger venue with more people. The girls danced and sung to the best of their abilities and the fans gave everything as well, shouting out calls during the intro, in the middle of songs, during choruses, and of course when their favorite members got a solo line or two.
Personally I felt the choreography was a bit on the compact side, but that’s possibly due to the sizes of stages available in Hong Kong. I think they would really get to dance to their hearts’ content if given a larger stage. Having been to indie idol events in the past, I sort of expected average singing at best, but I was pleasantly surprised by their voices. There is definitely some room for improvement but, they were in tune and didn’t run out of breath, which was already more than I could ask for.
The buppan (“merchandise”) part of the event was also the similar to those at events in Japan – pay X amount of money for a signed polaroid with a single member or a different amount for a signed group polaroid. Fans could also buy photo sets, towels and shirts. If you spend over a certain amount, you could win a signed polaroid (taken on the day of the concert, and there were only 1 per member) of a random member. As opposed to 48 or 46 Group Events where 2-shots are not available or come with tons of restrictions (not to mention a dining table), you could talk to the girls for about 2-3 minutes while they sign the polaroid and write something cute for you.
All in all, it was great to experience something like this without having to fly to Japan. Cute girls, decent singing, energetic performance, polaroids and a nice chat. What’s not to like?
(And just in case you wanted to know, this writer is now a Hinako fan.)
Ariel Project Official site: http://www.ariel-project.com/
Ariel Project Official Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArielProjectHK
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