Anime Expo 2011
Kalafina Panel

by Carlo Santos,

With Opening Ceremonies running late and a big crowd throwing the line into confusion, Kalafina's focus panel on Day 1 got off to a 45-minute late start, but attendees were still excited just to be there.

The panel began with a video clip featuring singles such as "Lacrimosa," "Hikari no Senritsu," "Magia" and "fairytale," showcasing the group's richly orchestrated style penned by composer Yuki Kajiura. After that, the trio came onstage accompanied by a deafening round of applause.

Left to right: Hikaru Masai, Keiko Kubota, Wakana Otaki

Although this is the group's second visit to America, this marks their first time on the West Coast, and the members all look forward to performing at the Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. Naturally, they are also hoping to visit vacation spots like Santa Monica's beaches and Disneyland.

The group also spoke briefly about how their elaborate costumes are part of Kalafina's appeal. While each song has a particular theme like "gothic" or "allure," the costumes are not tied to a specific fashion brand; instead it is that theme that guides their visual aesthetics.

The panel was then opened up to audience questions. Fans learned that Kalafina's members leave all musical duties, from composition to lyrics to arranging, to producer Yuki Kajiura. Their job, then, is to take Kajiura's creative inspiration and bring it to life.

After that, things got quickly more philosophical with the question: "Which song describes the way you feel about the world?" Everyone admitted that this was a hard question, since they find each of Kajiura's songs special in their own way. Still, Keiko admitted that "Magia," with its power vocals, has a distinctive appeal. Another attendee asked specifically about the songs in the Kara no Kyoukai franchise, to which Hikaru answered that "ARIA" stands out in particular because of her lead vocal part in that song.

With Yuki Kajiura's wide-ranging musical style, it's hard to pin down which element of her songwriting Kalafina likes best. Wakana admitted that she likes classical music personally, but with each member having different vocal style, it is in Kajiura's ability to adapt to those differences that is most impressive.

Also on the subject of music, the members were asked which musical instruments are their favorite and if they play any. Keiko revealed herself as a true rocker who likes the sound of the guitar, while Wakana likes the way Kajiura writes melodies for flute. Sometimes she also "touches" (as opposed to "plays") the piano. For Hikaru, it's the violin that appeals to her, and she dabbles a bit in piano and drums.

On the visual side, the group was asked which of their music videos was their favorite. The all-white look of their first video, "Oblivious," appeals to Wakana, while Keiko likes "Magia" with its "hard" and "strong" image, and Hikaru most enjoyed the long dresses featured in their 2nd single, "Sprinter."

On a more specific subject, they were asked about the costume inspiration for "Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa." In this case it was Yuki Kajiura's own concept that led to the design of the costume, although sometimes it is an anime tie-in such as Black Butler's "Lacrimosa" that guides the visual design of the music video.

The group was also asked about their goals for the future, to which Keiko quickly answered "No goal" (which got a laugh from the audience). But Wakana did say that she would like to travel around the world and continue putting on concerts for an international audience.

After the question-and-answer session, the panel ended with a quiz, with fans vying to win a prize that could be redeemed at the autograph session. The members also each made a closing comment thanking their fans and looking forward to the Saturday afternoon concert.

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