12 D@ys V: We can go anywhere

Hello, here is the story of the time I went to Sapporo to see a SideM mini-live.

Back in January, there was a niconama just a few weeks before the release of the new group song Beyond The Dream and 2nd live. Here, they decided to announce that just two months after 2nd, they were going to be doing a tour! What the heck.

So a good friend was like yo, let’s go. Now, it turns out that my boys W were going to be in Sapporo and I’d always wanted to go to Sapporo but when would I ever find an excuse? Wow, hey, what luck, but of course, tickets still needed to be won, so I’d put off my decision until then. Turns out my entries lost, but his won. As it happened, it seemed that a lot of overseas people had pretty decent luck for Hokkaido compared to other venues (probably because it was comparatively far, which doesn’t really matter much to ballin’ foreigners who are coming to the country to event anyway).

So it was time for a decision. In the end, everything went according to plan: I was lecturing from January to the beginning of April, which would give me about two months to prepare and submit my thesis and fly off to Japan for some well-earned vacation before hitting up my conferences and returning to prepare my defence. Just about the only thing that didn’t go according to plan was my pal sadly couldn’t end up making it.

So everything goes well and I end up in Sapporo and after futzing around and realizing I have to get the Seven Eleven tickets from the cashier, I get the tickets and wait for the day. Sapporo, by the way, might be my favourite Japanese city for the sole reason that it’s not deathly hot in the summer. It has all the great urban features that I love about Asian cities combined with the inhabitable climate that Canadians all love as well as fantastic food. A+, highly recommended.

I hadn’t originally planned to go for goods, but unlike for 1st, the goods line didn’t start until 11 am, and since it wasn’t unreasonable and was a short walk down from my hostel, I decided to check it out. I got to the venue about ten minutes early. I knew this because as I was walking towards the venue, I saw a bunch of people with W and FRAME and Altessimo gear hanging around a small parkette about a block away, since we weren’t supposed to be forming any lines before the start time. When it was about a minute or two before 11, everyone started heading towards the line area.

The line experience is always neat, even though I can’t really speak any Japanese. It’s a chance to talk to people who are really into the same thing as you and I’ve found that imas Ps are super friendly. More than anything, being able to interact with other fans at these sorts of events is a huge motivator to get better in this language.

So, up ahead in the line, someone is asking around for something, but I don’t know any Japanese, I tell the people just in front of me who were relaying the message. This is enough for them to get interested and attempt to strike up a conversation. They were from Hakodate and came up to Sapporo since it’s extremely rare for there to be an imas event all the way up in Hokkaido. They were also obviously intrigued by a dude who would come from Canada for SideM. Luckily, it turns out that the little Japanese that I knew and the little English that they knew combined with the power of Google Translate was enough for us to talk about what we loved about imas for the rest of the time. Once the line started moving, we said bye and were scattered amongst the goods tables.

Time passes and I meet up with friends a long the way and get them their tickets and we end up in line at the venue again. We get into the venue and there’s still like an hour to go before the live starts, which is kind of a drag since it’s a standing venue. But, a few magical things happen.

Obviously, since there are no seats at a standing live, there are no seat assignments. Instead, your ticket is assigned a number and you enter essentially in that order, so if your number is lower, you have a chance to end up closer to the stage. By chance, it so happened that my Japanese line buddies from earlier that day ended up just a few metres to the right of me. It was nice to see them again if only just to be like hey, cool.

Then, we were all waiting around until we hear a commotion coming from behind and above. I lied earlier, it wasn’t just a standing venue, since there was a smaller balcony section that was seated. Anyway, people are cheering and people cracking UOs, because it turned out that someone noticed GamiP taking a look around the balcony section.

So, one more note about the pre-show waiting period is that they played songs by the three units over the speakers. At some point, people were bored and started doing the calls for the song. And then some people started singing along. And then everyone decided to join in and sing along. We went through a few songs and there’d be some chuckling after the end of each one until ending off with Beyond The Dream and kicking things off for real. It was one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of. If you’re skilled enough, you can even find me in the video in the tweet above!

As for the live itself, my main impression is that there really isn’t a substitute for being there in person. Up until then, I’d watched lives on blu-ray and I’d even ended up in live viewings in Japan, but as much as we try very hard to recreate the atmosphere, there’s a certain weight that you feel from being present in that particular space that gets filtered out through the screen. Even in a relatively small venue, the feeling is overwhelming when compared to live viewing in a large theatre.

On the setlist itself, it was basically everything I really wanted to see. Beyond The Dream is a fantastic hype song, although the red/blue/yellow part is always a bit funny with imbalanced casts like this one. Since FRAME didn’t perform Mission is PEACEFUL! at Nico Nico Chokaigi, it was really nice to finally see (and in retrospect, also because they performed it in carts at 2nd). Altessimo did an extremely unfair segment, going from Echoes My Note to Sanctuary World to Never end 「Opus」. And W performed the two things I wanted to see the most from them, LEADING YOUR DREAM and a non-cursed performance of Pleasure forever…. If I ever see LEADING YOUR DREAM at a live where I don’t have to stand and hold all my lights, I’ll do the UO balrog thing.

The skits and talk portions were nice, although hampered a bit by my lack of Japanese ability. I’ve found that in these situations, skits seem easier to follow. In the talk section, one part I clearly remember was Yamayan getting asked which country he’d like to go to and I felt like yelling Canada, but I also didn’t want to be That Guy, so I didn’t. In the end, he chose some lame non-Canadian European country because of football.

One of the most important things that happened here was that Yamayan was the leader for this stop of the tour. This meant that he did a lot of the type of things that you’d expect Shugon to do for these kinds of events, which was extremely good and well worth traveling for. But the part that I have etched forever into my heart was his 「監督!アイマスですよ!アイマス!」.

Standing for two hours is pretty tiring, so afterwards, I went with a pal to scrounge up dinner before crashing. We ended up at this place near Susukino with the most amazing chicken ramen I’ve ever had and I really regret not making a note of wtf that place was called.