Back in 2008, the concept of The IDOLM@STER for me existed only as a category on Nico Nico Douga. And it was out of curiosity that I started the iM@S anime. That turned me into someone who you could say enjoyed iM@S. I liked the characters and I liked the songs, so yes, I did fall into the anime idol trap and I do enjoy me some IDOLM@STER now. Of course, a lot of iM@S was out of reach for me at this point and so I never really got deep into it.
For a few years now, it’s been a running joke of mine to occasionally jump in with “What about IDOLM@STER but with boys?” It took Scamco a while, but they did it (after a months-long delay to get servers that wouldn’t immediately explode). Now, being new to the whole mobage
scam scene, my initial foray into The IDOLM@STER SideM was short-lived. I immediately figured out that Kyosuke and Yusuke, the twin former soccer players, were my favourites and I just tapped through the first event to claim my SR Idol Debut Kyosuke and R Yusuke. The mobage isn’t really big on gameplay (literally tapping) so I was content to leave it at that until the next W event (this ended up being about eight months).
What I wasn’t prepared for was Scamco’s next move, adding voices and releasing CDs, which they announced in March. And then I wasn’t prepared for the announcement of the 1st live. And then I wasn’t prepared for pouring money into lotteries and losing. And then I wasn’t prepared for my relatively unpopular unit to get voices and perform at 1st. And then I wasn’t prepared to be destroyed by ippan. And then I wasn’t prepared for actually sealing the deal and booking the flight long before I knew whether I’d have tickets.
In the end, I flew to Japan to watch a liveviewing in Shinjuku, which was not quite what I had hoped for, but I really couldn’t be picky after going through the lotteries and ippan and seeing everyone else get crushed by Scamco too. Of course, there was still one more battle left and I told myself that I wouldn’t go unprepared.
Since this was my first buppan, I had no idea what to expect, except that I’d be taking the first train. Luckily, I received some helpful advice and made sure that the train I was taking would actually be the first one and to watch out for where the line actually starts (at the station, not the venue). Going from Ueno to Tokyo, I didn’t really see anyone obviously heading for Maihama until about halfway when a girl with a huge bag covered in Pierre buttons stepped in the car.
The transfer at Tokyo station from the Yamanote line platforms to whatever train gets to Maihama was a couple hundred metres and I was worried I’d get lost, but everything turned out fine since there was already a convoy of people covered in SideM goods heading in the right direction. Once we got on the train and arrived at Maihama, I was told to prepare for everyone rushing the stairs. That didn’t quite happen until a bunch of dudes set everyone off. Luckily, my car was right by the stairs and it was a short jog to the start of the line.
The venue, Maihama Amphitheatre, is actually about a ten minute walk from the JR Maihama station, so what happens is that the line starts at the station and staff leads a parade of people to the venue. This is actually great because I was worried about finding my way from the station to the venue. Once we got to the venue, I’d estimate that there were about thirty to forty people ahead of me and there were about two hundred in total. Over the next hour, that’d grow to about 800.
The gender ratio was quite interesting to observe. As might have guessed, the iM@S fanbase is pretty male-heavy and you’d expect the SideM fanbase to be the opposite. Since this was the first SideM buppan, we weren’t really sure if it was necessary to take the first train (it was). I think the estimate was 8:2 female-to-male in the buppan line. For comparison, this was way more guys proportionally than the ratio I’d encountered at the cinema watching High Speed the day before.
But I also noticed a lot of dudes with SideM goods too, and not just stuff that you can pick up at Animate or something (not that there was a lot you could pick up at the time). Some guys had custom shirts made and quite a few of them had the unit muffler towels from the CD release events. Of course, it made sense that the people who’d trek out on the first train would be the most hardcore. And obviously quite a few of them had regular old 765 or CG stuff, but I think it was a good sign of how SideM was being received by guys.
This is also another one of those instances where I wished I could at least Chaikaspeak some Japanese because, I mean, you’re stuck with a bunch of people who love the same things you do for five hours and there were some interesting-looking conversations going around. I did manage to chat a bit with a P just in front of me and we traded cards. Anyhow, according to reports, the line was at about 2000 people by 8:00. The goods went on sale at 10 but they ended up letting us in at 9:30. I was out in about 15 minutes, which was a bit longer than it would’ve taken if I didn’t have troubles with my credit card.
So, about the live itself. Live viewing is actually not a bad experience if it weren’t for the fact that it meant you weren’t actually at the live. The camera-work was a lot more dynamic than I was expecting; it was like watching a BD in real-time. The theatre we were in was pretty large and the crowd knew what to do with calls and lights, so it was still fun. Again, the gender ratio was pretty decent for what’d be considered a female-focused franchise. There were probably more guys in the LVs than at the actual venue because of the lower commitment required. I didn’t get my SideM penlights in time so I picked up a plain old colour-changing penlight, which worked well enough.
They started with Drive A Live and ended with it too, which I guess is the only real choice they had. Everyone was wearing the outfits from the CD release events and I recognized some of the performance from the snippets that were shown on the niconamas, although the stage must’ve been a lot bigger than for the CD release events.
High×Joker was really high energy and fun and they were just jumping around all over the place, and also Naganyan doing the cat pose in Joker Almighty at 「校舎裏 にはネコさん♪」. Dramatic Stars were really cool, especially in Dramatic Nonfiction when Yuuma throws away the glasses that he’d been wearing. I actually don’t remember much specifically for Beit or Jupiter because they didn’t do anything super-crazy except that they were really good. SEM killed it with their crazy dance and I’m very glad I could finally see it. W were very cute and I liked their dance that started with pulling each other in Victory Believer at 「つかめVictory!」 but the part that was new to me (since I didn’t see it in the niconama) was in Pleasure Forever when they were sitting back-to-back with the platform rising.
I don’t really have much to say about the talk parts, being unable to comprehend their language and all. For the one in the middle, I remember TakaP being incredibly nervous; you could see his hand shaking while he was reading his part. In the last talk segment, there was crying. For Jupiter, it was finally their time to shine. For most of the others, SideM gave them their first big role and 1st was their first time being on such a big stage. Oh, there was Hirohiro hugging Naganyan, that was very kyaaaaaaa.
After it all ended, everything felt unreal. SideM is real and a SideM live just happened and I flew to Japan to watch it. The thing with SideM is for a long time, no one was quite sure how long it’d last until the first voices and CDs got announced. Even then, it was kind of its own thing and I don’t think it was until after 1st that it finally felt like it fit in with the rest of iM@S. Seeing the Project iM@S and other logos come up at the start of the live was kind of exciting in that respect.
Even though it was just a live viewing, I’m glad that I was there for it. There’s a lot more that I wish I could remember because there was just so much stuff going on. I really need the BD to come out soon so I can take it all in again. And of course, I feel like doing this live thing all over again, but odds are against me going to 2nd (even though it’ll have nyansu live). Who knows, though? Now that I’ve done it once, going to 2nd or 3rd or whatever eventually doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.