Monday, 28 November 2011
Hatsune Miku Live Party 2011: Sapporo (screening)
Screened tonight on a high-quality projector in one of London’s West End Odeon cinemas, with horribly inflated ticket prices, was the Sapporo part of the 2011 Mikupa, which was the rather shorter of the two concerts on the Blu-ray, with a much quirkier set-list. I would have rather watched the Tokyo set, being longer and having more of my favourite songs (‘Trick and Treat’, ‘Kokoro’ and ‘Meltdown’, for starters – and one companion’s beloved ‘Double Lariat’), but hey – it’s bizarre enough as it is that one of the big chains put on a night for such a niche audience, and it’s not as though I can’t have a private screening of the Tokyo one for friends with one of my projectors (probably during a con) so I’m certainly not complaining. It was quite the novelty to be able to watch something like this in a cinema.
And the novelty had made people make an effort – the cinema was full of girls in cosplay, guys trying to imitate that awful Japanese habit of doing nothing for the whole concert but pulsing their glowsticks into the air, and anime fans.
Kicking off with ‘Kocchi Miute Baby’ put us in a giggly mood, because we always associate it with the infamous Project Diva videos of Kaito swapped in for Miku and doing some very disturbing moves. We then sobered up for a series of rather less well-known songs like ‘Albino’ (always fun to watch the changes between 3/4 and 4/4 confuse people with glowsticks – but Miku got some pretty wings for a few seconds!) and a great rendition of Hachi-P’s ‘Musunde, Hiraite, Rasetsu to Mukuro’, which I never thought I’d see in one of these concerts. The twins became the focus for a while, with a Rin song I didn’t know (‘Iroha song’ – I’d have preferred ‘Gekokujou’) and then the Daughter/Servant of Evil pair, which I’ve always disliked – shrill, annoying songs with horrible stop-start dynamics. Luckily, there was the treat of the night to follow, in my eyes, at least – Len singing ‘Fire Flower’, one of my very favourites of his. Miku returned for a few songs, most notably the crowning evil of Project Diva ‘The Singing Passion of Hatsune Miku’, and then it was Ruka’s turn. Thankfully, the choices were good – ‘RIP=RELEASE’, my favourite of her songs, and ‘Ruka Ruka Night Fever’, which I like despite preferring ‘Rin Len Romantic Night’. Then it was Miku again until the end – a nice segue from ‘PoPiPo’ into ‘Hello Planet’, two fun tunes, and fan favourites like ‘Melt’ and ‘Yellow’. The highlight for her was a beautiful version of ‘Though the Song has No Form’. Rin returned for a duet with ‘Colorful X Melody’ and it all ended surprisingly on a (lovely) song I didn’t know, ‘Starduster’.
This was not a set of crowdpleasers, which was a bit of a surprise. I expected more Ryo, and certainly more Livetune. At least a bit of Travolta-P and some OSTER. ‘Melt’, ‘PoPiPo’ and the Evil songs were really the only ones I expected everyone there to know, with most knowing ‘Kocchi Miute Baby’ and ‘Yellow’. But no ‘World Is Mine’, ‘Butterfly on my Right Shoulder’ or ‘Love is War’, no ‘Kokoro’ or ‘Packaged’. I was quite happy, and very pleased to discover some great new tracks – but I could tell a lot of the audience weren’t getting what they hoped for, a fair few of them probably hoping to more or less hear the Project Diva soundtrack or even the Supercell album. I was pleased they tried different things and went for pleasing the more hardcore fan, but I can’t help but think the atmosphere would have been better had they put in a few more obvious choices. I’d even have loved to have seen a ‘Matryoska’, though ‘Musunde, Hiraite’ was damn good.
Beyond the choices for the concert itself, though, it was fairly weird just seeing the concert footage. Essentially, the cameras treated the big screens as though a real Miku were there, with shots and direction to match. A better idea would have been to actually get the original footage and interpolate it where the director wanted close-ups, because as anyone who’s tried to film a TV knows results aren’t always good. Up close, there were obvious problems with angled edges (though more anti-aliasing would only be a bad idea), the image wasn’t very clear and there was even some tear at the start.
It was good having live band, and these clearly were interpretations by musicians playing live, which was great. Shame the drummer didn’t make the most of the little swing part in ‘Kocchi Miute Baby’ and of course the beat from ‘Rolling Girl’ was never going to survive intact, but it was a shame there was as much overdubbing as there was, and more than once a cymbal was hit with no sound, which made me wonder just how live things really were. That said, it’s much better having musicians to look at than just the screen, and they were a fun, cheery bunch.
To sum up, this was an odd experience – watching a distant concert up on a big screen in a cinema – and I wouldn’t repeat it (though I’d definitely go to a live, something I very much doubt we’ll get in the UK despite a petition). The song choices were strange, which was good for me, but probably could have been better for a lot of others. And the Tokyo version was clearly superior. But this was a novel way to spend an evening, and I very much enjoyed it.
Cheer up, Len! It was pretty good overall!