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Anime NYC 2018 News Roundup
Report: Anisong World Matsuri at Anime NYC

by Kyle Carine & Rai Kelly,

Friday, November 16

By Kyle Cardine

Down the road from the Javits Center at the Hammerstein Ballroom, fans lined up early for the first day of the Anisong World Matsuri at Anime NYC. The night would be filled with a broad mix of artists, with nano, TRUE, Konomi Suzuki and Luna Haruna all heading the night.

As the lights dimmed and fans lit up their glowsticks, all four artists came out and started with a quartet of “Genesis of Aquarion,” which was a great opener to highlight each of their individual styles.

Nano was the first to take solo responsibility of the stage, which was fitting as the native New Yorker was coming back for the first time as a performer. The set started with “No pain, No game,” the first opening from Btooom!, and kept the energy up with “Nevereverland” from Ark IX. After taking a breather with “Freedom is Yours,” nano welcomed Konomi Suzuki to the stage. Nano told the crowd that back in the day Suzuki actually sang a cover of nano's “Born to Be” from Magical Warfare and since both were coming to New York, it was a perfect opportuity to perform a live duet together. The chance to sing together clearly meant a lot to both of them and their enthusiasm definitely showed through the performance.

Konomi Suzuki was the physical manifestation of a ball of energy on stage, running back and forth as she opened with “Ao no Kanata” from Between the Sky and Sea. She followed up with a song about her mom titled “Weak and Brave,” and finished up her set with “Redo” from the 2016 hit Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-. TRUE then came out to join Suzuki and covered ZAQ's “Sparkling Daydream” from Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!

TRUE, wearing what could be described as giant red rose dress, started with the opening from Violet Evergarden, “Sincerely,” which was a nice cooldown from the high energy opening sets. She then followed up with “STEEL-Tekketsu no Kizuna-,” the third ending from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. TRUE was able to finish her solo set with an ending song from a currently airing anime, “Another Colony” from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, which the audience really enjoyed. TRUE then invited Luna Haruna onto the stage where they performed “Don't Say Lazy” from K-ON! together.

Luna Haruna lived up to her cute, poppy aesthetic starting with “Momoiro Typhoon” from Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs. She then sang “Startear” from Sword Art Online II and finished off with “Kimiiro Signal” from Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend. In a true collaboration of styles, Haruna invited Nano to the stage. The difference in styles was not lost on nano, pointing out the clash as “so cute… and then so black!” I really had no idea what the two were going to sing until I heard the opening chimes, followed by the building shaking bass, of T.M. Revolution's “Invoke” from Gundam: SEED, in what I think was he best duet of the night.

It was then time for each of the artists to have one last solo performance, each highlighting one of their biggest and most energizing songs. Nano sang the hybrid rock and traditional Japanese instrumental song “Utsushiyo no Yume” from Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits. Suzuki came out with an absolutely powerful rendition of “This game” from No Game, No Life, while TRUE performed the peppy “DREAM SOLISTER” from Sound Euphonium—even coordinating jumps with the crowd during the chorus. Haruna ended with “Overfly” from the first Sword Art Online season and once she was done invited nano, Suzuki, and TRUE back on stage.

All four thanked the fans for coming to the inaugural New York Anisong World Matsuri, emphasizing how exciting it was to perform not only their top songs but cover some of their favorite openings and endings together. After their thanks, the opening guitar solo from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya's “God Knows…” started to play, with the crowd really going at it for one last time. It was an excellent note to end on, as both the opening and ending performances perfectly mixed all the talent on stage.

I originally had no idea the Anisong World Matsuri featured the artists covering popular anisongs together, but it was a real joy to see how each of them collaborated on their duets. The Friday concert had a great flow between each of the individual genres, but what really carried the show were the duet covers you probably won't be able to see or hear anywhere else.

Saturday, November 17

By Rai Kelly

Day 1 of Anisong Matsuri at AnimeNYC seems like a tough act to follow, considering it had performances by Luna Haruna, TRUE, Konomi Suzuki, and nano. However, Anisong managed to deliver another exhilarating show on Saturday night. Day 2 consisted of four different power acts, including Hironobu Kageyama, Hiroshi Kitadani, Shoko Nakagawa, and Morning Musume '18. Throughout their careers, these artists have sung some of the most iconic anisongs, like, ever.

As soon as the house lights turned on, Kitadani and Kageyama came running out onstage. The reaction was instant – the crowd erupted with multicolored glow sticks and shouts as the two artists began singing “GO!!!” from the fourth season of Naruto. Kitadani and Kageyama, who are both members of JAM Project, were naturally in sync as they belted out the lyrics.

After the opening song, Kageyama greeted the audience by saying “New York, what's up!” and welcomed the crowd to the concert. Next, Kageyama exited the stage, but Kitadani was completely fine by himself. He had incredible stage presence and was very charismatic - and not to mention funny, frequently interacting with the crowd in English. First, with the strobes blaring, he broke into his song “Revolution.” From there, he went into “We Can!” from One Piece's 18th season. The crowd, which was sprinkled with One Piece cosplayers, got even more One Piece when Kitadani performed “We Go!” and “We Are!” His set also included “Divine Love” from Saint Beast, a spinoff of Angel Tales. While performing, Kitadani used his whole body. He used a lot of hand gestures and threw himself around stage, his scarf flailing around with his movements.

When his set was done, things took a turn: Shoko Nakagawa ran out onstage and the glow sticks all turned to pink. But Nakagawa wasn't alone – she was accompanied by two backup dancers. With her own pink glow stick and dance moves, Nakawa put on a very high-energy performance. During her first song, “Dori Dori” from Pokemon XY, and throughout her entire set, Nakagawa asked the audience questions like “Do you like anime?” She also loved to yell “Yay!” which fired up the crowd even more. She never stopped being energetic as she moved onto “happily ever after” from Gurren Lagann and her own song “pretty please chocolate on top.” Things did calm down a little during “blue moon” - the relaxing closing of Zoids Wild. But it picked up right again when Nakagawa performed the iconic songs “A Cruel Angel's Thesis” from Neon Genesis Evangelion and “Sorairo Days” from Gurren Lagann.

However, neither Nakagawa nor Kitadani were done. Kitadani came back onstage and the two performed “Pegasus Gensou” from Saint Seiya Omega. Although the two singers are vastly different, they both managed to match each other's singing styles and put on great collab.

The next set wasn't quite like another other seen at Anisong on Day 1 or Day 2. It was Morning Musume '18, the legendary idol group. They opened with “Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara” and “Are You Happy?” Their legendary status became apparent right away. Despite their appearance, Morning Musume '18 doesn't resemble the idols you see in anime as much as you might think– many of their songs and choreography are much more intense. It was the choreography that stuck out to me the most. There were some pretty complex moments, but the group still managed to stay in sync and had enough stamina to keep singing.

After the first two songs, the members of the idol group – all twelve of them – introduced themselves and said their favorite anime, which included everything from Gundam to (no surprise) Idolmaster. Next, they performed a combination of songs from the group's long and ever-evolving history. Some more recent songs included “Furari Ginza,” “What is LOVE?” and “One and Only.” There were also songs that harkened back from when the group was just known as Morning Musume, including “Renai Revolution” and “One•Two•Three.” But no matter the age of the songs, the current Morning Musume '18 performed them all spectacularly.

But things were about to get even more legendary. Finally, Kageyama reappeared – and did a dream collaboration with Morning Musume '18. With two illustrious acts in front of them, the crowd went wild. Together, they sang a medley of Morning Musume's “Love Machine” and “CHA-LA HEAD CHA-LA” from the Japanese version of Dragon Ball Z. However, probably the most memorable part of the collab was when Kageyama said, “I can't dance!” And it was true. As the idols did some choreography, Kageyama's cheesy dance moves were nothing less than adorable.

Morning Musume '18 then left the stage to Kageyama, who made up for his silly dancing with his powerful singing. His voice instantly conjures up images of the 80s and 90s, bits and pieces of classic anime openings flashing through your memory. First, Kageyama sang more Dragon Ball Z songs, including “WE GOTTA POWER” and “Bokutachi wa Tenshidatta.”

Not all of his songs were fast-paced or related to DBZ, though. Next, Kageyama brought out an acoustic guitar and collaborated with Shoko Nakagawa; they sang “Yume Kounen” from Uchuusen Sagittarius. After Nakagawa exited, Kageyama still gently strummed his guitar as he sang “The Real Folk Blues” from Cowboy Bebop. After this much-needed break, the crowd snapped right back into jumping around and waving their glow sticks when Kageyama sang “HEATS” from Getter Robo Armageddon and “Saint Shinwa ~Soldier Dream~” from Saint Seiya.

When his set was done, Kageyama thanked the audience and said they were the best crowd ever. But the Hammerstein Ballroom and the crowd were about to get even crazier. Kitadani, Nakagawa, and all the members of Morning Musume。'18 joined Kagayama on stage for a final song – one that was very fitting. The entire concert hall, performers and audience alike, shout-sang JAM Project's “THE HERO!! ~Ikareru Ken ni Honō o Tsukeru~ which just happens to be the opening of One Punch Man.

All in all, the songs performed at Anisong Matsuri Day 2 had a very classic shonen feel - especially compared to Day 1, which had a broader range of newer anime from different genres. However, each artist brought something different to the table, which made it enjoyable for almost every kind of anime fan (even a cutesy idol enthusiast like me). It's amazing how two forms of art – anime and music – can bring so many people together for a glow stick-laden great time.

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