Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Avenger's Comic

In my continuing quest to prove that I have absolutely no life whatsoever, I drew another Avengers comic.  It's based on a one-liner from the movie, but hopefully it'll be amusing whether or not you actually get the joke.


In case you're wondering, I've named the comic "A Bag Full of Cats."  If you didn't get the joke before, hopefully now you do.

And the irony of this comic, of course, is the fact that me even thinking of/drawing this proves I have my own bag of cats.

Oh god, please don't judge me.

Oh, speaking of insane, I'm going to a new Alice in Wonderland themed cafe this weekend.  Look forward to pictures!

And now I'm off to go rock in a fetal position in the corner.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Me Watching "The Avengers" (A Comic)

Sometimes I sorta draw.  Sometimes.  Haven't doodled much of anything in about a year, and I am not very good.  But I was bored.  So I drew this.  With a pencil.  It wasted an hour.  Yaaaaaay.

So, like, The Avengers finally made it to Japan.  Finally.  And was, of course, the greatest thing since Japan invented "salad flavor."  Like, I would watch this movie fifty times in a row if I could.  But this is what MelJay had to deal with sitting next to me in the theater while we watched The Avengers together.  This pretty much really happened.  I am not a good person.

So I present...

Kita Being a Fool at The Avengers:




Ta da!  But y'know what, fuck you, half that audience was cheering for Loki too, lol.  For the record, I like the "good guys" as well, and cheered whenever The Avengers did awesome things (Hawkeye, you took me by surprise.  You are badass, sir).  But c'mooooon, Loki's faaaaaaaaace, so cuuuuuuute.

MelJay's been making fun of me for this.  Hopefully this drawing will get a laugh outta her.

Aaaaand, I'm out.

But seriously, did anyone else think Loki was like a Final Fantasy villain, except even more entertaining?  Anyone?  No?  Okay, understood.

Friday, August 17, 2012

BORN, BLACK MASSIVE ANIMAL$ Tour Final, Shibuya O-EAST


Let’s go to da BOOOOORN!


I’m back with my first concert report in awhile.  Yay!  The show is called BLACK MASSIVE ANIMAL$ (that dollar sign is very important), which is hilarious enough on its own.  And the show was on my birthday, which made it kinda awesome.  I mean, what better way to celebrate turning old than watching BORN act like a bunch of children?

Anyways, we started the day in Shibuya, cuz that’s where the venue was.  Went to La Pausa for cheap Italian food and mostly chilled out, cuz BORN shows are exhausting, so it’s best to “hibernate” ahead of time.  I think we moved from the restaurant to a café, cuz anything more than that and we’d never survive the show.  Plus, caffeine before a show can lead to interesting results.  Oh, and I wanted some damn cake to make up for turning old.  They had a melon cake that was really good.

At the café, we sat around trying to stylishly wrap the BORN “suck my dick or death” bandanas around our wrists (it’s tricky to do it so the “BORN” is facing out).  We also tried to find the best way to get the pink, leopard print towel attached to ourselves without looking stupid (I decided to opt out of the stupid leopard-print tie look I had last time I saw BORN.  I looped the towel through a belt-thing around my waist instead).  While we were goofing off in the café, other BORN fans were coming in with their own bandanas and towels.  BORN fans are hilariously easy to spot, because they’re all merch-whores.  Loud, leopard-printing merch whores.

Eventually, it was time to head over to the venue.  Today’s venue is Shibuya O-EAST.  I’ve been there a couple times in the past for bands like D’espairsRay and MERRY.  What do those band have in common?  Well, for one thing, they’re major bands.  See, Shibuya O-EAST is a fringe venue, catering to both major bands and indie bands that are doing exceptionally well.  Unlike venues like Takadanobaba AREA that hold up to 450 people, O-EAST can hold up to 1,400.  So an indies band getting to play there is a pretty big deal.  My own tickets were won by lottery.  I had to apply online through my cell phone and enter the ticket raffle, the result being that I was guaranteed A tickets.  My number wound up being kinda shitty anyways, but it’s still better than a B ticket.

So, when my friends and I showed up to the venue, the streets were packed with BORN fans.  I could tell immediately (and had already suspected) that BORN didn’t actually sell 1,400 tickets.  It was more like, maybe… 900 people.  Which is still pretty damn good, so congrats, boys.  You are no longer indie-babies.  Pretty much everyone loitering around was draped in BORN merch, like BORN t-shirts and wristbands and towels, etc.  There were more boys in the crowd than usual, and also crazy amounts of foreigners.  Lately it seems like foreigners are popping up all over the place.  There was, like… forty of them at the show, easily.  Must be the summer holidays giving people lots of vacation time.

Uuuum, went off to use a coin locker.  Before the show, I told myself I didn’t want to buy any merchandise, so I wouldn’t need to bring money into the venue.  But then I looked around at the other BORN fans and was like, “aw, crap.”  The BLACK MASSIVE ANIMAL$ shirt is awesome, with the name of the tour in the middle of a big, pink leopard print heart.  And the new bandanas are red leopard print.  Damnit BORN, you fucking bastards.  If there’s one thing I love more than pink leopard print, it’s red leopard print.  Whoever works in PSC’s marketing department needs to get throttled.  This is all his/her fault (that genius).

Number-calling was slow, especially since 450-ish people were going to get in ahead of me.  But that’s okay, because it gave me time to admire the band’s congratulatory balloons, which were by far the most impressive gift balloons I’ve ever seen at a show.  They came from the fans, I guess, who were able to pool a lot of money together for this.  The bouquet was enormous, with black balloons and flowers and wreaths, and the whole thing was wrapped in red Christmas lights that were lit and glowing.  Freakin’ crazy, man.  I was an idiot and didn’t get a picture of it, though, sorry.  I got side-tracked after the show.

Anyways, eventually my friends and I got called in, and we went up the stairs, past the beckoning arms of the merch booth.  Then we joined the crowd a couple rows behind the second barrier.  There was actually plenty of room in front of the barrier, but too many people were blocking the way through, so I figured we’d just slip forward during the show when nobody was looking.  We wound up next to that cosplay group I mentioned at the last couple shows.  Amazingly enough, the blonde Ryouga cosplayer actually replicated this costume with 95% accuracy:

Warning: if you search "BORN BLASTED ANIMALS" on Google image search, you get a lot of mutant, two-headed animals for some reason.

I dunno how this girl does it.  She looked just like Ryouga, even down to the eye patch and the spiky hair.  Her friends were wearing various outfits, some of them from the new BLASTED ANIMALS look, and some a little older than that.  All of them looked amazing.

The wait for the show was another twenty-five minutes after I got in.  I felt soooo antsy.  I hate waiting around for shows to start.  My friends and I started placing bets on how late the band would be.  Big venues seem to necessitate tardiness.  As for pre-show music, the band played a lot of music you’d expect, like Marilyn Manson (shocking, I know), Rob Zombie, and Foo Fighters, but also more unusual things like Michael Jackson and 70’s disco.  Whatever floats your boat, BORN.

The stage was also set up strangely, with these huge, hexagon-shaped metal beams angled towards the stage, each one with a half-slice of disco-ball stuck in the middle.  They looked like groovy UFOs.  The back wall of the stage was also draped floor-to-ceiling with shiny, silver streamers.  I asked Peachy how much she thought it cost to cover the entire back wall with shiny-shit.  She said “$10.”  Hah, probably.

Amazingly enough, the band was not especially late.  Five minutes at most.  Good job, boys.  Now, I want to halt this report for a moment to let you know about this: the first hour and a half of the show was streamed live on NicoNico Douga for people who couldn’t make it.  That might seem irrelevant, but the video stream was also recorded.  So, if you’d like to render most of my report totally irrelevant, you can watch the first hour and a half (about 3/5) of the show over here:

LET'S GO TO DA BOOOOOOOORN 

AND AGAAAAAAAAAAAIN (Part 2) 

Sorry, I tried to embed the videos here, but I think something's wrong with their embed link (or I'm just terrible with computers).  The videos embed just fine, but it stays frozen and won't play.  Oh well.  Probably easier to have it in a separate tab anyways.

I should also add that a DVD of the show will be released, meaning my report is going to become completely obsolete.  But that’s alright, I’ll keep writing anyways.  I watched the first NicoNico video once, and I didn't watch the second one at all yet.  I’m not gonna use it as reference material for this report, because then I’ll wind up accidentally just writing what I watch, rather than writing what I remember.  And this is about my experience, not the selective camera angles of the staff.

So, as you can totally see in the video without any help from me at all, the show started with a really intense remix of THE ANTHEM (the “welcome to the 666” intro).  Big venues and big shows require big entrances.  The band members even got to come on stage one at a time, get on the crate, and milk it for all it’s worth.  The first member out was drummer TOMO, who sauntered up to the crate with an overly-serious look on his face.  The side of his head is still completely shaved, which makes me happy.  I love asymmetrical hair like that.  Anyways, TOMO jumped up onto the crate, turned away from the crowd, threw his arms out and tossed his head back.  Then water exploded out of his mouth like a fucking whale.  I totally did not see that coming, and I burst out laughing. 

The next member out was bassist KIFUMI, I think.  He got up on the crate and was his usual smiley, derpy self.  He seemed very happy, and had a smear of pink make-up across the side of his left eye.  The next member out was left guitarist Ray.  He played it “cool” as usual.  He got up on the crate, but still kinda had this “I don’t give a fuck” air about him.  Man, his hair was huge.  It’s like he got caught in a windstorm or something.  The third member out was right guitarist K, who seemed way more hyperactive than usual.  I mean, K’s very stoic, but he’s usually very active onstage nonetheless.  But at this show, he was either very excited, or wanted to show off for the cameras.  He kept throwing his fist and bein’ all “fuck yeah!” and shit.  When he got on the crate, he got a particularly loud cheer, probably cuz he was being awesome.

The last member out was, of course, our dear vocalist, Ryouga, who did a slow zombie-walk across the stage as the audience burst into cheers.  This was my first time seeing Ryouga in that new boiled-lobster outfit, and I nearly burst out laughing at the sight of him.  I’m sorry, but that outfit is ridiculous.  I mean, it’s good ridiculous; I like it.  But it’s still ridiculous.  To be honest, I think there are two versions of the costume: one used for the music video, and one for live performances.  The one Ryouga wears on stage is looser, with slits cut above the corset to allow for ventilation.  Basically, he has a second version of the costume so he doesn’t cook into tempura inside that thing.  Also, not to be a dick, but the costume makes Ryouga look suuuuper tiny.  I mean, he’s not an especially tall guy (the lower end of average in Japan, I’d say), and he’s really skinny, so the skin-tight red outfit emphasized all that and made him look like a little boy.  Also, the damn costume was wedged up his goddamn ass for most of the show.  Nice butt, buddy.  Ryouga’s hair was also much longer than the music video, and spiked like Cloud from Final Fantasy VII.  Instead of wearing the eye-patch, he had white-out contacts in both his eyes, which was honestly very creepy.  He also had SUCK written in red under his left eye because… why the fuck not, I guess.  When Ryouga got up to the front of the stage and started shouting at us to get ready, I knew it was oooooon, bitches.  He was fond of yelling, “yeah, baby!” at this show, and I was ready to go “fuck yeah!” right back at him.  So let’s get to it!

First thing’s first, about the setlist.  I think there’s one out there somewhere.  Peachy found one that was able to tell her the names of two songs we didn’t recognize.  But she didn’t pass the setlist along to me, and it’s since vanished.  I’m sure it’s still on the internet somewhere, but hell if I know where to find it.  But does it really matter?  I’ll just toss out the highlights here, and that’ll be good enough.

Edit: A very special thanks to Zinn for finding the setlist!  Totally amazing!  Thank you so much for finding it, Zinn!

DEMONS
more Deep 
【beauty;beast】
MY SWEET BLACK
MAD whistle
Dizzy you
Mosaic
ProudiA

White harmony
Gurou
AGITATOR

BLASTED ANIMALS
BODY
RADICAL HYSTERIA
Ranshido
Criminal Berry (new song)
DIRTY STACKER

Encore 1


THE ANTHEM
Kuroari
Karasu
Shunkouhana -SAKURA- (note: I don't fuckin' know if that's how the kanji's pronounced)
NEO SCREAM
Chemical Romance

Encore 2


RADICAL HYSTERIA

So, the show itself: super awesome.  I was a little worried because really wide stages can sometimes hurt rather than help an indie band’s performance.  I mean, it makes me really happy that BORN got to play on a big stage, but sometimes if a stage is too large, it creates distance between the band members, making the performance cold.  And it can also lead to very confused vocalists who don’t know what to do with themselves (although I wasn’t too worried about Ryouga, since he practically crashes into the walls of small venues anyways).  However, BORN totally rocked the large stage, better than almost any band I’ve ever seen.  Some of that might be due to the fact that they’re an older band with a lot of experience under their belt.  Most of the members have been in bands since 2000, so they all have at least ten years of experience.  So, as weird as this sounds, there’s an air of “wisdom” about BORN, despite their silliness.  No matter what happens at shows, the band always knows what to do, because they’re older and “wiser” performers (and they’re all in their thirties).  To be honest, I think Ryouga’s one of the most intelligent vocalists in indies, although you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t used to him.  There’s a difference between being smart about performing, and being a naturally good performer, but Ryouga’s both.  And that’s rare.  He knows how to be a good frontman because he’s a natural, but he also has a hidden cleverness that isn’t detectable right away.

Anyways, that was a long-winded way of saying: BORN did an awesome job at O-EAST.  All the members took advantage of their area without looking frazzled.  They were always up at the front, interacting with the crowd, moving around the sides of the stage, switching sides with each other, and playing around.  KIFUMI was constantly on K’s side, and even Ray would suddenly go running over whenever he felt like it.  K liked to hog the crate area a lot.  Everyone made sure to pester TOMO too, whenever they thought of it.  That “distance” problem was non-existent between the members, despite the size of the stage.  BORN somehow managed to make that massive stage feel very small, and I mean that in a good way.  BORN was able to keep the intimacy of a small stage while still entertaining the full width of the audience.  Ryouga was constantly moving back and forth across the front of the stage, yet he was so quick about it, I barely ever noticed if he was on the right side or the left or the middle, because he was just sort of everywhere at once.  Part of that was because he spent so much time standing all the way up on the (precariously tall) crate, turning this way and that like a lawn sprinkler, making sure to include everyone.  Do you see what I’m saying about him?  A smart vocalist would think to stand on the crate so the whole audience can see them.  A naturally good performer would think to run to all parts of the stage as much as possible to include the whole crowd.  But Ryouga thinks to stand on the crate and turn in every direction like a dictator giving a speech.  And that’s clever.  I’ve discussed this with my friends many times, and I’ll just say it right here: Ryouga’s a smart motherfucker.

Anyways, so that was a bit about the band, what about the crowd?  The crowd, well… they lack Ryouga’s innate intelligence, that’s for sure.  BORN fans are usually very cohesive, and that’s what makes BORN shows a lot of fun.  Everyone’s on the same page; everyone knows what to do.  But this crowd was full of people who hadn’t seen BORN before but went because it was a big weekend tour final (many people find small live house concerts to be intimidating and scary – like an exclusive club that also likes to beat you up – so many people only show up for concerts at major venues).  There were others who just hadn’t seen the band a whole lot and didn’t have a lot of experience.  The result was a generally confused audience who couldn’t get its shit together.  For example, a lot of BORN songs involve the weird forward-headbanging where the whole crowd is supposed to lurch forward in time to the beat.  It looks really cool when done right.  When done right.  We usually had half the crowd going forward as the other half was going back, or one part of the crowd was going forward while the back half had to do it backwards to avoid colliding heads with the idiot row ahead of them that got the rhythm wrong.  There’s a part in the NicoNico video I posted above where you can see the audience very clearly split half-and-half on the headbanging, and I nearly knocked myself out with the force of my palm hitting my forehead in embarrassment.  It looks so dumb when that kind of thing happens.  The problem is that a confused audience is a dangerous audience.  You wind up with a whole crowd throwing their heads forehead, and then that one moron row throws their heads back, and the next thing you know, a bunch of people have concussions.  At this show, I usually waited several counts before joining in the headbanging, to make sure the person in front of me wasn’t about to do something stupid.  Similar to the headbanging issue was the issue of the side-to-side.  Let me lay this one right here in broad, internet daylight:

The side-to-side is not based on making it all the way from one side of the venue to the other.  It’s based on the measures of the song. 

In other words, if eight counts end and you’re still not all the way to the right, stop what you’re doing and turn back around.  Some people in the audience didn’t understand that (especially since the floor was so wide), so we’d have half the crowd trying to jump one way, and the other half still jumping the other way, until everyone was just sort of flailing around in a giant boiling stew of confusion.  It got so bad, Ryouga actually stepped in to help us out towards the end of the show.  He started leading the crowd in one direction across the stage, then turning around and leading us back the other way.  He was pointing his finger in each direction, making sure we couldn’t possibly fuck it up.  Again, the problem is that it’s a hazard.  The side-to-side is a trust move, and you have to trust the people around you not to knock you ten feet across the floor.  I saw girls jumping across the floor and then suddenly getting slammed off their feet by some hyperactive moron who wasn’t paying attention.  Then the person on the floor gets trampled, and it’s no longer fun for her, or the people around her.  But Ryouga stepped in to fix it, because he’s smart like that.  He didn’t look annoyed or anything, and he acted as if he would’ve led us back and forth anyways, but it was pretty obvious he started guiding us around because the audience was so uncoordinated.  Thanks, Ryouga!  Glad you got our back!

But I’m not dissing the crowd, by the way.  They were actually a very cheerful lot, and they were really into the show.  They were just confused, that’s all.  For the most part, the crowd was pretty amiable, and there weren’t any bad vibes coming from anyone.  Throughout my JRock travels in Japan, I would have to the say the nicest indies fandom I’ve encountered is the BORN fandom.  BORN fans are always the fans who want to have friendly chats with strangers (including foreigners), always the fans who mind their own business, always the fans who apologize if they cause a problem.  They’re not perfect but, overall, BORN fans are always very friendly.  Other fandoms have a lot of bad eggs or are just overall unpleasant (ahem, MEJIBRAY fans), but BORN fans are a very comfortable crowd to be in.  It seems like everyone’s just there to have a good time, and no one’s out to have a good time by forcing a bad time on others.

Okay, more stuff.  The setlist for the show was pretty awesome.  On Ameblo, BORN asked people to send in song requests for the show, so the setlist was kinda all over the place.  We had the usual fare, like MY SWEET BLACK and more DEEP and Ranshido, but we also had songs that don’t show up as often, like Grave Dancer Punish and mad whistle.  Aaaaaand, as I expected, the requests also meant I had to put up with some stuff I’m not fond of.  Some really slow ballads showed up, like SAKURA and ProudiA.  I reeeeally don’t care for ProudiA.  Usually, when the song shows up on my shuffle and Ryogua goes, “don’t you love me?”, I say, “yes,” and switch to the next song.  But Ryogua sang the song quite beautifully, and I’m sure it pleased the crowd.  SAKURA was a much prettier ballad, and the band seemed really into it.  Ray kept throwing his hair back and making passionate faces like the song was pleasuring him or something.  Well, I’m not much of a ballad person, but I can’t blame the band if they like it.

Two songs showed up that I'm not familiar with.  Peachy was able to uncover that one song was called BODY.  Does anyone know what BODY is?  I would’ve said it was a new song, but it felt like a lot of the crowd was familiar with it (I guess new songs might’ve been played recently, but who knows).  With BORN, there’s always the possibility of “unknown” songs popping up from BORN’s previous incarnations (they went through several “phases” before becoming BORN).  It could also be an extra from some recent release that I never got a hold of.  Well, if anyone knows what BODY is, let me know.  The other song is new, it seems.  I don’t think it has a title yet (edit: according to Zinn, the title is Criminal Berry.  For fuck's sake, BORN, we've got rotten cherries and criminal berries.  What's wrong with you?!).  It has really silly furi, which Ryouga was more than happy to do with us.  It’s like… raise your left arm out diagonally and point at the far corner, then your right arm too, so you’re making a big Y.  Then cross them back in, then back out.  Then the left arm comes back in, then the right, and then a big “yay!” or something like that.  I don’t fucking remember.  It’s silly.  The song is very dance-ish but more hardcore than the recent BLASTED ANIMALS.  The best part, however, was Ryouga’s demonstration of the furi.  Ryouga… often seems like he’s on the verge of a volcanic eruption, and this was no different.  Although the furi’s meant to be done in as graceful a manner as possible, Ryouga’s whole body was seizuring as he did the moves, and his arms were shaking out of control as he did the movements.

Which brings me to the next thing I wanna talk about: the band’s hyperactivity.  Maybe it’s because tour finals are exciting, maybe it’s because the stage was so big, maybe it’s because they were being filmed… I don’t know.  All I know is, the band was on hyperdrive.  BORN's already an overly-energetic band to being with, but this just got crazy.  I mean, Ryouga is always insane, but this was even more than usual.  He was running this way and that, flailing suddenly and without warning, dancing in strange ways that were not exactly flattering…  His random flails were my favorite.  In the middle of a verse, he would just suddenly be like, “aaaaaaagh!” and start shaking his body like was he was being electrocuted.  This happened… a lot.  The NicoNico video catches some of it, but sometimes it only catches the scream while viewing another band member.  But I assure you, most screams also involved seizures. 

Of course, Ryouga’s not the only hyperactive member.  KIFUMI usually takes the #2 spot for hyperactivity, and his high-kicks were not absent from this show.  And when you combine him and Ryouga, the results are intense.  At one point, Ryouga ran up to KIFUMI and started hopping up and down as high as possible, trying to get KIFUMI to bounce with him.  I’ve seen them do this before, but not with this kind of air.  NicoNico only caught about half of the jumping, but it was pretty impressive.  KIFUMI could only jump so high because of his bass, but Ryouga was soaring higher and higher, until I started to wonder if he was a kangaroo in a past life.  K was also in a hyperactive mood, and spent a lot of time spinning in circles (he tends to do that), or jumping up on the crate and taking a flying leap off of it.  Ryouga did some huge leaps too – ones that looked like they should’ve hurt upon landing.

Ryouga was so out of control that, at one point (I think the NicoNico video caught this), Ryouga intentionally threw himself off his feet and landed flat on his back for no apparent reason.  At other times, he laid himself out on the crate, only to leap back up a second later.  And sometimes he would start dancing in a jerky, robotic fashion, which was honestly hilarious in that shiny, red outfit.

Speaking of which… the new songs.  The BLASTED ANIMALS single has three songs: BLASTED ANIMALS, AGITATOR, and Dizzy You.  Dizzy You… is pretty meh, in my opinion (just thought you guys could rehash those riffs from DOGMA and no one would notice?), and seeing it live didn’t change my opinion a whole lot.  BLASTED ANIMALS was, as you would expect, a lot of fun.  The song’s even more dance-y live, and Ryouga was jumping up and down right along with the crowd (seriously, is Ryouga just plugged into an electrical socket at all times, or what?).  I think AGITATOR has to win the prize in the “fun” department, though (which isn’t really that surprising, is it?).  First of all, for the audience, there’s a lot of jumping, but every time the string section yells, “hey!” we jump extra high, so it’s like boing-boing-boing-HEY!!!  The band did the jumping along with us too, because the string section seems to like jumping just as much as Ryouga does (even Ray does it).  Also, Ryouga took up The Robot for this song.  Especially during the part that’s like, “I will dance until death”, Ryouga did a full-blown Robot dance on the crate, which was really funny.  He's... not so great at doing The Robot, but he doesn't have to be.  And with that red outfit, he looked like something plucked right out of a stereotypical 80's movie.  Fucking NicoNico barely showed this part at all, and it was one of the highlights of the show.  Overall, I give AGITATOR a big thumbs up.

Other stuff, other stuff…  There were several MCs, but the one worth mentioning is the really long-winded thank you one (I don't think this one made it into the NicoNico videos).  Basically, Ryouga did a five minute MC, and for once he was actually being serious (and standing perfectly still, which I didn't know he could do).  He was talking about how far the band had come, and how he remembered the first show BORN ever played, and the tiny little stage, and how few fans they had, and how much he admired and respected bands that played at places like O-EAST.  He said, at the time, getting to a place like O-EAST seemed almost impossible.  And then he talked about how, at the time, the band felt like it was slowly getting more fans, but very slowly, and that all of the fans were in Tokyo.  But then he said they started to notice they had other fans, from all over Japan, and then they realized they even had fans from around the world.  Then he said he feels extremely grateful to all those fans, and how BORN couldn’t have done it without them.  Of course, it made me happy that Ryouga actually acknowledged and thanked his foreign fans.  I feel like that’s unusual, not because JRock bands necessarily do or don’t appreciate their foreign fans (because really, who the hell knows), but because most bands know it’s a touchy subject and don’t want to mention it, because it’s awkward.  They prefer to just ignore the topic.  But Ryouga went out of his way to mention and thank BORN's international fans, and I thought that was really nice of him.  And the BORN fans, being awesome as usual, didn’t bristle in the slightest.  Anyways, the more Ryouga talked, the more sniffly he seemed to get.  I kinda didn’t expect that.  I couldn’t tell if he was sniffling because he just had the sniffles, or if it was because he was getting upset, but his band mates were looking at everything except him, which made me think he was getting choked up.  After he was done going on and on about how far BORN’s come and how amazing it felt to be at O-EAST, he finally passed the MC along to TOMO.  TOMO was immediately like, “wow, it seemed like Ryouga was gonna cry, didn’t it?  I haven’t seen him cry in at least a year.” Of course, that made me wonder what the hell happened a year ago.  Did a Marilyn Manson show sell out on him?

Well, anyways, TOMO’s MC was much shorter, but just as thankful.  Then Ryouga passed the MC along to Cool Beauty.  In case you’re wondering, Cool Beauty is Ray.  WTF?!!  I guess that’s Ryouga’s nickname for him.  Well, Ray does come off as really “chill”, and he has pretty-boy hair, so… I guess it works.  Anyways, Cool Beauty’s MC was, as expected, short and to the point.  Thankful, yes, but very abrupt, even though he’s the band leader.  A girl behind me was like, “wow, he’s soooo cool” (in Japanese, “cool” has a connotation of being aloof and unconcerned with anything, but in a good way.  Like, “cool” is considered sexy, because the guy is too hot to give a shit).  To be honest, Ray’s “coolness” has always seemed like shyness to me, but who am I to judge.  Next up, Ryouga passed the MC along to “that guy who managed to get his hair blonder than mine.”  Obviously that’s K.  K’s MC was similar to TOMO’s.  Last up was KIFUMI, who tried to make light of the situation by being all like, “hi, I’m KIFUMI!” and stuff.  His MC was also thankful but short, and very smiley.  During the MC, the lights were up, so I could see the balcony behind us.  Man… there were about forty people up there, and all of them looked like they play in visual-kei bands (and they probably do).  So many weird layer-cuts and strange hair colors.  Some hot chicks up there too, hahaha.  Sisters?  Hmm?  No?

Anyhoo, I’ve been rambling way too long.  This isn’t a very good live report… it’s all over the place.  Um, let’s see…  Well, BORN did the RADICAL HYSTERIA straight into Ranshido combo again.  Jackasses.  That’s the most exhausting thing ever.  You guys tryin' to kill us?!  There was other exhausting stuff, like Mosaic.  Grave Dancer Punish was a lot of fun, with the band swaying side to side along with the audience.  When the band came back for encore, they went back to the original THE ANTHEM intro as if the show was starting over again.  When they returned, Ryouga had already struggled out of his boiled lobster suit and was wearing a black one-piece janitor outfit with a weird hood that looked like a rotten fruit.  Seriously, this hood was fuckin’ weird and misshapen.  Anyways, I turned to Peachy and was like, “what the hell kinda outfit is that?!”  In response, Peachy said, “can I clean yer pipes, ma’am?”  Haaaaaaaah.  The others had all changed into similar outfits, but without ugly hoods, and they weren't wearing one-pieces.  I can't believe the whole band has two sets of matching costumes for BLASTED ANIMALS.

In total, we got two encores, and then the show “ended” with a large screen on the side of the venue blaring several big announcements.

Announcement #1: The concert is becoming a DVD, which will be released in November!

Announcement #2: A new single will be released in January!  No name yet, but I’m sure that new song is involved.

Announcement #3: Another one-man tour!  It’s called Devilish of the PUNK.  What?  Fucking hell, BORN.  Also, the tour final in Tokyo is at Shibuya Club Quattro (another big venue) and it’s on a Saturday.  Yes!!!  I am so there.  Also, each time they announced a new date on the tour, people from that area would scream.  It was like “Saitama!” “SCREAM!” “Fukuoka!” “SCREAM!” “Osaka!” “HUGE MOTHERFUCKING SCREAM!” etc.  Also, the first show is at Urawa Narciss.  Seriously?  Narciss?  I’ve been to Narciss… back in the shit-show days.  It holds less than 200 people, I’m serious.

Anyways, after those announcements, you’d think the show would be over, but the insistent little bastards in the audience kept screaming for encore.  Sigh.  I was pretty sure the band couldn’t come back, but they actually did, because they were impressed by our stubborness.  Of course, they had no encore planned, so the band ran us through RADICAL HYSTERIA again.  Omigaaaaawd, Ryouga, I already said I’d suck your dick over death, you don’t need to keep saying it.  Also, according to the online info, the last RADICAL HYSTERIA won't be on the DVD (since it was unplanned).  So... my blog is the proof of its existence!  Hah, my post isn't completely obsolete!

After the show, I bought merch.  The awesome red leopard print bandana:

Guuuuuh, I love red leopard print.  Also, BORN was smart and made the BORN really small, so it's easy to make it fit and face out if you wrap the bandana around your wrist (which everyone does).
 And the awesome t-shirt:

Weird how the shirt doesn't say BORN anywhere on it.  Duuuuuuuur.
And since that cost me at least 5,000 yen, I got a free DVD with it that included a live performance and small interviews.

After the show, my friends and I also wound up chatting with a Japanese high school girl who was conversing with MelJay in the audience.  We all wound up exchanging numbers with her and stuff.  The girl’s English was pretty good.  From what I can gather, she’s a rampaging GazettE fan.  Big surprise.  Unfortunately, due to our conversation with her, I forgot to go back and get a picture of the pretty balloons with the Christmas lights.  Sorry.  I don't handle distractions very well.

So… um… I guess that’s the show.  Sorry, that sucked.  Me and my shitty one-man live reports.  The DVD will do a better job of bringing the show to you.

Oh, but one more thing.  I have a comedy bonus for you all.  Okay, so my mom has a twisted sense of humor (which is one of the best things about her), and she knew I was very sad about the end of UnsraW, and she also knew it was my birthday (um... duh?).  Since she couldn’t very well send me a Yuuki in a box (damnit!),  instead she used her random connections to get a political cartoonist baker (yes, that exists) to make Yuuki cookies.  Yeah.  I'm serious.  I guess the baker combined a bunch of pictures my mom gave him into something resembling Yuuki, and this was the result:

Truly terrifying.
And this is me eating Yuuki, pleased... horrified... both...

What... what is this...?!
Do...... do I eat him.......?
OH GOD, I'M SO SORRY I ATE YOUR MOUTH.
Haha, lol, no I'm not.
Oh, also, this happened:


See y’all next time!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kiryu Yagibushi Festival 2012


Time to talk about Kiryu's Yagibushi Festival!  I had a brief post about last year's festival, with pictures, but I decided to go balls-to-the-wall with this one and take as many pictures (and videos) as I could to try and really bring the festival to my readers!

So the Yagibushi Festival happens once a year in Gunma Prefecture's Kiryu City.  It always happens in August, when it's hot and gross and most people are miserable (Japanese summers are disgusting).  I think the festival's supposed to cheer us up.  It's a lot of fun, with food and dancing and fashion.  This is my second time going to the Yagibushi Festival but, unlike last year's festival, I managed to drag Peachy and MelJay out of their distant homes and all the way out to bum-fuck-nowhere-Gunma.  I lured them over with the promise of tons of food and Kiryu residents dancing drunkenly in the streets.  And access to all my popcorn.  In the end, they were glad they came, cuz the Yagibushi Festival is awesome.

Several days before the festival even started, I traveled to Kiryu for a staff party, and saw - to my delight- that the festival decorations were already being put up:
 

When Friday night arrived, Peachy and MelJay finally managed to make it to my quaint little town near Kiryu.  Their arrival was heralded by a creepy full moon, which seemed appropriate:


We went to the local grocery store to pick up ridiculous amounts of food for our three-and-a-half-day camp-out in my apartment.  We bought chicken and broccoli, and I made us all a lemon-pepper stir fry.  I'm not much of a cook, but sometimes I can pull off a decent meal:


There was also a fellow English teacher in my area who decided to go home instead of re-contracting for another year in Kiryu.  I received some of the food she never got around to, including a bag of strawberry granola.  Granola's uncommon in Japan and is usually replaced by boring cornflakes when you order dessert at a restaurant.  So MelJay and Peachy and I also bought peaches, blueberries, and vanilla yogurt (rare in Japan) in order to make Western-style parfaits (even rarer in Japan).  I think they came out amazing:
 

Then we spent the night watching The Dark Knight and eating too much popcorn (I make it with kernels, not that microwave stuff).  We saw The Dark Knight Rises in theaters the previous weekend, and of course it was amazing, so we wanted to be nostalgic and go back and watch the previous one.  But eeeeeeew, Two-Face, eeeeeeeeeeeeew.  Good thing I was drunk.

Anyways, Saturday afternoon, we finally woke up and started getting ready for the festival.  The Yagibushi Festival is one of the few times the people of Kiryu can dress up and do whatever the hell they want.  Almost everyone wears a yukata (a Japanese summer kimono), and those who don't will often just wear stupid shit for the hell of it (like Hello Kitty pajamas).  MelJay and I had (weird) yukata prepared, and Peachy was just gonna go gawth.  We spent many hours preparing, but the results were totally worth it.

Here's Peachy making a stupid pose: 

Whaddya think of my pimped out living room?

And here's MelJay in her hilarious zebra-print yukata, standing on my hilarious zebra-print futon:

I've taken to calling my living room "The Party Room."

And their combined stupidity:


Oh crap, here's me.  Yeah, leave it to me to find a red yukata with black roses.  Most Japanese people probably don't even think such a thing exists, but it does.  It most definitely does.  And it makes me look eeeeeeeevil:


For some reason, jazz-hands:


I love this next picture.  We decided to do a sarcastic JRock photoshoot pose.  I think it turned out perfect, lol.  And yes, that's my D fan.  Isn't it a perfect match?!

"My deeeeeeear rose, oh you are aaaaaall of meeeeeee."

And now the festival!!!  When we arrived, the sun hadn't completely set yet, so it wasn't as crowded as it was gonna be, but there were already plenty of people out buying festival food and admiring the decorations:


For some reason, there was a man standing in the street with a trained monkey, demonstrating tricks for a crowd of observers (I think one of the signs said he was a trainer from a zoo in Tokyo).  I didn't stay too long (cuz then I'd be obligated to throw money in the bucket), but I managed to snag a few pictures:


The trainer seems more fascinated by the basketball than the monkey...........
Throughout the festival,  there were these large constructions adorned with lanterns.  Standing on the balconies are musicians playing the Yagibushi song.  I have some videos later where you can hear it:


A lot of people were gathering around the big lantern-things.  But it was still a little early for people to seriously start dancing:


The musicians:


In some areas, people were already leading/participating in the Yagibushi dance, so I took a video.  It's a small group, and these people weren't drunk yet, so they're doing the dance right.  But here's what the dance looks like when done correctly (and sorry, the lighting kinda comes and goes):



Some little girls from a dance class were performing a more complicated version of the Yagibushi.  They didn't really know the moves at all, so it was kinda hilarious:





I should add that I was bombarded by my students all night (and the following night too).  Every half hour or so, I'd hear the voices of children squealing my name, only to see look up and see my monsters rushing towards me, waving their hands in the air.  Most of them were strangely not surprised to see my extreme appearance and insisted I looked "cute."  Unfortunately, some of my worst female students from my worst class showed up and started yelling "sexy!" at me, and asked for my picture.  I grudgingly allowed it.  Let's just hope they don't tell my coworkers I went around looking like something from a B-level horror film.  Either way, I'm sure everyone in the school under the age of sixteen knew about my "look" within twenty-four hours.  My friends and I also had random people stop and ask for our picture a few times, which was kinda funny.  These two really goth chicks stopped and asked us in really crass, casual speech (literally "shasshin torou ka?), which made me laugh.  Darkness seeks darkness, I guess.

And theeeeeen the food started happening.  Here's MelJay with a, um...... spiral weiner:
 

I bought grilled scallops, spiced with pepper.  Sooooo delicious, and they were grilled right there:


Peachy bought a twister fry, which is basically a potato sliced into a spiral and deep-fried.  Why the fuck is all the food shaped like a spiral?!


Peachy also bought some fried chicken, and did a dramatic JRock pose with it.  Ten bucks to the first band to do a serious photoshoot with fried chicken in their mouths:


It started to get a lot more crowded as the sun went down:


There were some weird stands, like this one selling plastic masks.  All night, I kept seeing people walking around with these creepy masks strapped to the sides of their heads.  I find the Thomas the Tank Engine ones to be the most disturbing:

Meanwhile, in Japan........

There was also a do-it-yourself kakigouri stand.  Kakigouri means "shaved ice" in Japanese  Peachy decided to do it, and made a peach and cola mix:


I made a peach and lemon one later in the day.

Then Peachy and I bought giant cucumbers.  Sexy:

"Too much teeth!" screams every man reading this post.
People were finally starting to dance around the big lantern things.  Some people were already getting pretty drunk about it:



These guys (and girls) were like dance circle "leaders" who stood on boxes in the center of the circles trying to rile up the crowds:



You may think it's strange that someone in this next picture is throwing the horns, but these dance circles started to take on a "concert"-like feel, with people jumping up and down like crazy and cheering instead of dancing correctly:


Moving on to more food...... there was a Persian kebab stand run by a Persian family, so I went and got myself one of their spicy ones:


MelJay bought a pink..... chocolate-covered............... banana..............................

The food at this festival appears to have a theme.

Some musicians performing down another street:


They were performing on this big, fancy thingie:


Then this other big, fancy thingie started coming down the road:


It was pulled strictly by man (and child)-power alone:


Then the two thingies met on the street.  My friends and I kept saying, "oh, battle!  Battle!"

If only they had cannons..... :-(

As 10:00 (and the end of Saturday night's festival) approached, everyone gathered around the main lantern-thingie to finish up the Yagibushi dance for the night.  Except it was more like jumping up and down and drunkenly cheering.  Everyone even called for encore to get a few more rounds of the song, just like a concert: 


Here's some video of Saturday night's giant dance circle.  If this looks crazy and fun to you, trust me, it is.  I just took this video from the sidelines, though:

  

But I took this video from inside the circle.  After doing a few rounds of the dance, I just had to get some footage of it from right inside the action.  Lol, my friends are stupid:


After Saturday night's festivities were over, we stopped in the Mega Don Quijote to take advantage of the air conditioning before taking the train (which wouldn't arrive for another half an hour).  I got a watermelon popscicle.  The seeds are chocolate chips!

And my yukata's open just enough to tell the whole world I'm a slut, apparently.  Oops.  I tied it better the second night.

On the train back home, there was a group of teenagers riding the train with their bikes.  Bikes are allowed on this particular train line, but what made me laugh was the boy on the right, sitting 100% on his bike on a moving train like it ain't no thang:

If you're wondering how I snuck this picture without the boys noticing, well... I pretended I was taking a picture of MelJay beside me, lol.

That night, when my friends and I got back to my apartment, we stripped off all the fancy clothing and make-up, made some more popcorn, then watched Iron Man.  Are you noticing a trend...?  Also, more alcohol.

The next morning, we woke up and got ready for the Yagibushi Festival's final day (it goes from Friday night through Sunday night, but we only went Saturday and Sunday).  We had to go through all the effort to make ourselves up again, but I think it was worth it:


THE THING IN THE UPPER LEFT-HAND CORNER, AAAAAGH!!!


What...... is this pose.......?

GOTH FUSION!!!

A failed attempt at a heart-hand chain:


 Back in our yukata:

I felt like such a pimp using that fan at the festival.  Or like a demon-possessed courtesan.

Fierce white tiger and leopard:


Just me being classy and drinking alcohol outside a convenience store in my yukata while a group of teenage thugs sit on the curb watching from behind.  Stayin' classy, y'all:


And now back to the festival!

Within minutes of arriving at the festival, we encountered this.  A large group of people came barging down the street with a huge, movable shrine on their shoulders.  Barreling people over with shrines is a proud Japanese tradition:


They look so happy about being crushed under a giant log of wood.

Sunday night was even busier than Saturday:


Some of the decorations were really pretty!



 
 

Eventually, we ran into an English teacher who's a really good friend of mine.  Let's call her H.  H has slowly been corrupted by my evil this past year, so get ready to see her on the blog again.  Why?  Because she's coming with me to a PSC-hosted event show and a DEZERT one-man all in one weekend in September.  Aaaaaaaaw yeah.  H is all the way on the right in the blue yukata.

Wow... serious duck lips, Peachy.

We also found heart-shaped lollipops and decided to do stupid Sailor Moon princess poses with them.  Turned out more like magic wands, though:


Over near the park, there was a dance competition going on called Dance Dance Yagibushi.  I made it just in time to see several of my friends perform in one of the hip-hop routines.  Very sexy, you guys!  Glad I didn't miss it!


H managed to get her hands on some Turkish ice cream.  If you've never hand Turkish ice cream before, it's very thick and creamy, and it can stick to things because of it.  The vendors like to play tricks on people because of the ice cream's unusual properties.  The person in line ahead of H was being handed a cone when the Turkish vendor "accidentally" flipped the cone upside down.  The ice cream didn't fall out at all, to the customer's surprise and relief.  H got pranked too, but nonetheless, here she is enjoying her ice cream:


And now, back at the main lantern-thingie, the final half hour of the Yagibushi dance was going on.  It got super crowded and super drunk, meaning super awesome:


More videos!  I took this one from the sidelines during the last few rounds of the final dance.  As you can see, the crowd's even bigger than Saturday, and even more excited.  They're singing the song more than the singer!


And this last video is my special treat to you.  As everyone began to form a giant, jumping frenzy pit of happiness, I went into the middle of it all and took some (jumpy) footage.  Enjoy:


It got pretty crazy in that pit.  People were throwing beer and water everywhere, and some punky kids started moshing.  One boy kept throwing his girlfriend violently into the crowd (perhaps a little too harshly) and then slamming himself into people as well.  I think they may have had a few more chemicals in their system than just alcohol.  Everyone was so drunk, though, I don't think anyone even cared when they nearly got thrown off their feet.

When the dance was over, everyone jumped up and down calling for encore.  The musicians pretended to climb down out of the lantern-thingie, but they were just playing.  We got our encore, and another ten minutes of dancing ensued.  When it was over, most people were swaying around or cheering and jumping up and down despite the lack of music.  Damn guys, the party's over!  After the lantern-thingie was pushed away, a group of priest-type people came over to the spot where it had been, made a circle of lanterns on the street, and did some praying.  Um, yeah, I think purifying that area is a damn good idea.  Seriously.

That night, my friends and I returned to my apartment, exhausted but very pleased.  The festival was just way too much fun, and we were super happy.  Then we lazed around watching Thor (why break the super hero streak?) and enjoyed the pikachu-shaped castella cakes we bought:

Pikachu stares into your soul with his pancake-batter eyes.

The next day, we had quite a bit of time before my friends had to leave (and I took the day off of work), so we hung around Kiryu.  The city was already stripped and clean with almost no sign that a festival had ever occurred there.  Except for the piece of fried chicken we found sitting in a gutter.  Hehe, eeeeeeeew.

Speaking of fried chicken, we had lunch at Kiryu City's KFC, and they had light fixtures made out of KFC buckets.  How weird is that?


 Then we spent the day in the Mega Don Quijote (or just Mega Donki, for short).  Those of you who have traveled to big cities like Tokyo have probably been to one of the Donkis, and there are small cities that have them too.  The one in Kiryu is more like a mall than a regular Donki (which is why it's called Mega Donki).  There's a small food court with ice cream and crepes, a massive grocery store in the basement, and several floors of wall-to-wall stuff, so large that you can spend a whole day among it (which we did).  We admired leopard print pillows, purchased lacy socks, pawed through silly action figures and stuffed animals, abused the massage chairs for about ten minutes, and ate delicious, fruity crepes.  They were also selling little axolotls.  Aren't they cute?!

DO YOU LIKE MUDKIPS?!!
Overall, it was a perfect weekend, and I wouldn't change a thing.  And I can't wait to do it all again next year!!!  Food, fashion, friends, shopping... all the best things in life.  Plus I made it into a three-day weekend!

Speaking of three-day weekends... I took off this coming Monday too.  Why?  Cuz Sunday is the BORN one-man at Shibuya O-EAST!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw yeeeeeeeeeeeah.  Look forward to it!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the post!  All the pictures and videos must've been a nice break from my usual endless rambling.  But I'll be back with more useless rambling after the BORN show!  GET READY FOR DA BLACK MUZIC, BITCHES.