Here we go again: the earthings! Fantasy Festival is back, with five stages of live performances that’s all just happening in our heads. Today, Rainy Martini returns with another Asian pop stage – but, this time, her sights are on Japan.
The Fairylights stage’s last lineup was, more or less, Korean indie. Now, I haven’t given up on the idea of having east Asian artists on my stage. We’re traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, and sushi, and dango, and the kimono. If we are on the same age bracket, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of J-pop once in your life as our local TV channels aired anime series during primetime. That was back then. But still. [SY]
Forgetting about Arashi is out of the question. And nobody said anything about asking questions. What, what question? See, I easily get mind-boggled when I think of, hee hee, Matsumoto Jun. That “hot piece of meat”. That freshly-rolled sushi. Oh please. I’m not making any sense because I am literally fangirling. Next act please.
I’ve written about Ai Otsuka before. Based on these first two acts I’ve revealed so far, you should know by now that I’m a huge fan of Hana Yori Dango. Yes, yes, the live action one. If I remember correctly, Ai Otsuka rose to prominence when her 2003 track “Sakuranbo” swept the charts. The songs she released so far range from kawaii to crey and this singer remains faithful to her vocal style despite the tempo. I want her to grace the Fairylights audience with her ballads; which are often too cute and haunting at the same time.
This is the part where I should say “nuff said.” Asian Kung-Fu Generation, aka Ajikan, was the reason why I love J-rock. Their track was used for Full Metal Alchemist‘s opening theme and I was equally thrilled when I realized that they also sang “After Dark”, one of the many opening theme songs for my all-time favorite series, Bleach. Ajikan’s musical influence is both western and local. They did release an EP full of English songs, which I have not listened to. Unfortunately. These men recorded tracks that are yes, Western-sounding in many ways, but still have that Japanese music undertone. The successf fusion is their recipe for success. That, and their wonderfully-illustrated album art.
“Malikot siya, ha,” remarked one of my friends. We were watching a live video from her 2013 concert, Circus. Nana Mizuki does move a lot on her stage performances, and the rest of her band members are usually poker-faced and unsmiling. They do smile. They do move. Well, sometimes. Although I cannot help but notice her lead guitarist, I cant find his name anywhere but he’s a long-haired skinny dude. His face remains blank – that funny kind of blank – even when he’s playing complex riffs, which I believe are no-brainers for him. He looks like a legend, for god’s sake. Does anyone know who he is? I almost picked Nana Mizuki as my headliner because she’s… just. Just! To think that she’s also one of those bigshot voice actresses that play popular anime characters (think: Hinata’s way of saying “Naruto-kun!”). I realized that Nana was the first voice actress, in many, many years, to top the Oricon charts. I fangirl every time I hear “Eternal Blaze”; I just cant imagine how I would react, both physically and emotionally, when I see her perform live.
Excuse me, but who would dare forget the Empress? Ayumi Hamasaki has long ago established herself as an artist who is free from any reins her label might put around her neck. She’s one of those strong-willed swaaag figures who fought for her own artistic freedom. Musical groups, for the most part, are manufactured. Just think of K-pop. Labels recruit trainees, usually at a very young age, and mole them into this idol people would worship. Ayumi made sure she wasn’t going to be that person. Yeah, yeah, you can argue that she is in fact an idol. With royal status. Just… just watch her live performances. I love how she has that “queen” vibe that many established J-pop singers don’t have. Just… just watch videos of her live performances and you’ll see what I mean. She’s pure magic. (Tomorrow: Allene Allanigue joins the Fantasy Festival with her five acts.)