I walked around the commercial booths, I had pasta and coffee at the Moe Moe Kyun meido cafe, I attended the Chiwa Saito and AnoHana panels and, of course, the I Love Anisong concerts. Let’s start with quick impressions of the latter. All the concerts were well attended by paying ticketholders – unlike last year when a large amount of unsold tickets were given out at the last minute to fill the venue space (this is based on hearsay but I heard it from two unrelated parties and I regard both as reliable).
MikuPa had the best turnout, the Main Stage (Suntec Exhibition Hall 402) was full and even invited AFA guests and artistes who had not bought tickets had to stand on the far left side of the hall which had seats A-Z and 1-45 (1,170 total). Assuming half of the “VIP” tickets (reserved seating) concert-goers bought only MikuPa (I Love Anisong Day One Only) tickets at SGD 148 and the other half bought Three Day packages which would cost SGD 125 for the first day, then a guesstimate of revenue generated by Vocaloid fans would amount to SGD 159,705. Assuming an equal number of standing tickets at SGD 48 each (sub-total of SGD 56,160), Miku, Rin & Len and Ruka, as well as their live band raked in SGD 215,865 (USD 167,068). Not bad for 100 minutes’ work. And also quite respectable when compared to how the concert revenues of nine acts SeaA, Aniki, LiSA, FLOW, Kanako Ito + Chiyomaru Shikura, Milky Holmes, angela, Kalafina, and May’N, (using similar assumptions except seating was reduced from A-S) amounted to SGD 35,055 per act. The equal weight assigned to all nine acts is grossly unfair as it was clear that some acts pulled in way more tickets than others but this calculation usefully dramatizes the pulling power of Hatsune Miku and her brethen.
In terms of personal marginal utility (i.e. enjoyment imho), my ranking of the I Love Anisong acts would be:
1. Hatsune Miku: superb holographic projection and audio, a setlist which included a good mix of old favourites and newer Project Diva2 numbers (I’ve fallen hard for Rollin’ Girl and Uta ni katachi wa nai keredo, both by doriko), an excellent live band who seemed genuinely gratified by the audience response, I’ve never cared much for the Kagamine twins but this live party has made feel positive about both of them, yes, even Len.
2. angela: atsuko-sensei’s voice and katsu-oniichan’s guitar playing sounded as good as their studio-produced albums, their charisma and experience performing live then further enhanced the former, I wanted to hear more songs e.g. YOU GET TO BURNING
3. LiSA: the only other act backed by a full live band, shouted myself during the singing the chorus of a surprise rendition of CROW SONG, nice mix of songs from her own album and anisong (including Fate/Zero’s Oath Sign)
4. Kalafina: superb vocals, sang all their biggest hits, Hikaru-san surprisingly conversant in English
5. Ichiro Mizuki: I grew up listening to his songs but I honestly could not remember most of them beyond some faint stirrings during the opening strains and the chorus, unveiling of the Katte ni Kaizo anime OP marred by audio lag while the OP animation played but Aniki was unfazed and carried on like a HERO, some fans who didn’t know him seemed amused but also remained respectful due to the presence of passionate fans of his in the rest of the audience
6. Kanako Ito + Chiyomaru Shikura: Kanako-san’s singing did not sound as good as her studio album and Shikura-shachou’s prancing around with his guitar compared poorly against katsu-oniichan’s effortlessly flamboyant flair but it’s hard to feel badly towards Kanako-san as she was very friendly and chatty when I got her autograph and Prez Shikura is 5pb.’s President Boss Guy so I feel grateful to him for giving us Steins;Gate. All four songs (Universe Engineer, Another Heaven, Skyclad Observer and Hacking to the Gate) generously catered to the Steins;Gate fan in me but concert goers who haven’t seen the anime would have been left cold.
7. May’n: I appreciate that she’s supported AFA/I Love Anisong, coming faithfully every year, but LiSA having a live band (probably due to Sony Music’s support) spoilt the market a bit particularly as I didn’t care much for the four backup dancers in her act, I understand that, like LiSA, she wants to establish her own identity through her own songs but I couldn’t help but feel I wanted more Sheryl Nome at this nonetheless very hardworking and competent performance.
8. Milky Holmes: I didn’t know either of their two songs and one of the four were not present, they were certainly cute and played their roles unabashedly so I can see how they appeal to certain demographics.
9. SeaA: The first song was ok – being somewhat familiar due to being on heavy rotation as the AFA official theme certainly helped but the rest of the unfamiliar songs, the garish outfits and still-needs-work dancing actually made me feel bad for them. When they introduced Deli-Delidelicious as their last song for the evening, a little girl in my row shouted: YAY! which nearly made me OTL physically; so cringe-inducing as it was spectacularly rude and yet reaffirmed that old adage of true words out of the mouths of babes.
FLOW: Not rated as I left after LiSA’s performance. Sorry guys but in the immortal words of Utamaru: who cares about guys?
The most important daytime Main Stage event in my book was Chiwa Saito’s live dub and Q&A. I (and I’d wager many in the audience) hoped that her final afureco would be of the scene when Homura’s leg got trapped (and probably crushed) under the collapsed well and she started to fill with DESPAIR and then Madoka showed up to finally make her wish. But I guess they didn’t want to spoil us, part of this whole charade of see no fansub, hear no fansub and speak no fansub thus assuming that we haven’t seen the show yet orz
The presence of producer Iwakami-san was an added bonus and it was great to hear from him that she was directly recruited for her roles as Hitagi Senjougahara and Homura Akemi without needing to audition. This really needs to happen more often if our favourite senior seiyuu are going to make a decent living and go on entertaining us. I was also LOL at how Iwakami-san almost had to stop himself from bowing whenever he mentioned, in reverentially hushed tones, Shinbo-kantoku. I still rank Shizuka Itou’s live appearance at STGCC 2011 over Chiwa Saito’s due to the marathon 10 min afureco of the former and the five line requests. We were all grateful to the person who made the line request for the Embarrassing Words Are Forbidden line from ARIA’s Gatchapen and the question about which character you’re most like in RL – apparently Keroro Gunso’s Natsumi, causing her to bellow the character’s trademark WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!? line.
I didn’t plan to attend the Ano Hana panel but it was memorable for the enthusiastic response of the audience to the Q&A wrt Yukiatsu’s crossdressing as MANma (which then became a running joke for the rest of the panel). I was also LOL when Danny Choo had a spot of trouble trying to think of how to translate osananajimi and members of the audience had to help him out, shouting: “Childhood friend!!” I suppose Danny doesn’t watch much harem/moe anime and that this concept isn’t going to appear in his Mirai Millennium anime (though he definitely knows what tsundere is).
Concluding this post with a note on commercial matters (all completely based on hearsay, anecdotes and quick personal impressions): the number of companies taking up booths have thinned out. I think this is a positive thing as the surviving players are committed to bringing genuine merchandise to Singapore fans for the long term. The goods of the usual shounen shows did very well as did Gundam merchandise (via Sheng Tai Toys which is also involved in the Gunpla Expo Singapore 2011 at Compass Point from 15 to 27 Nov). Shana limited edition goods sold out pretty quickly but it seems that sales of Madoka merchandise slowed down on Sunday while there was moderate interest in Ano Hana goods and not very much interest at all in Hanasaku Iroha stuff. I was somewhat suprised that Madoka goods did not sell out but, other than that, it sounds about right.