japanesedream_72: (mana)
Day 6 - You have read up on Days 4 & 5 first, right?

My neck had started to hurt for some unknown reason. Must have slept funny on the bus back from Mt. Fuji or something. Hypochondria kicked in - hoped it wasn’t a blood clot (from not moving around enough on the flight over) going to my brain or anything. Couldn’t really turn my head without a fair amount of pain (it’s still a little bit stiff; I’ll get my chiropractor to look at it one of these days). But I braved it without comment (there’s a first for me!) because this was the day I’d get to see another of my J-rock heroes.

[livejournal.com profile] styxonline was going to be a touch late that morning, so we planned to meet in Shinjuku. First, however, I did some shopping in Shibuya, at Tsutaya (why do I always want to refer to that store as Tatsuya?). Looked all around, got confused by the Japanese alphabetisation technique again, finally found a few of my bands but no CD’s that I needed. Got my Diru “Average Psycho” & Malice Mizer concert (“Bara ni Irodorareta...”) DVD’s there, though.

Took the train to Shinjuku, walked all around the shopping area near the station there. Nice, but a little expensive for my tastes (me, who will spend $400 on CD’s in a single night, lol). Checked out Keio (dept. store), Mosaic Street (line of shops), walked over the bridge to Odakyu (another store), took some photos. Thought I’d check out a little book shop on the side of the main street under the bridge, but it turned out to pretty much be nudie books & I didn’t want to embarrass the dudes in there, so I split pretty quick. ^_~

Met [livejournal.com profile] styxonline on the bridge, & she took me for breakfast. Got to try some cold chawan-mushi (egg custard w/other yummy things in it; it’s usually steamed), & a potato salad that beats anything they do here! Then she took me to the Government Building, with its indoor observatory that features a panoramic view of Tokyo. On a very clear day, it’s said that you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji. Couldn’t see that far on this particular day, but got a lot of good pictures all the same. You can even see the top of the Meiji Shrine, & the surrounding woods. Kind of reminded me of the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Snagged a few goodies at the souvenir shop, & then it was off to Harajuku again.

I was in desperate need of a good, strong purse - I did NOT want to lug a backpack to the Moi dix Mois show that evening. I’m very particular about the kind of purse I carry. Has to have a solid latch or zipper, something to keep it closed (as opposed to just a flap), be a decent size - not too big, not too small - & a good shape, though preferably not hard. Has to be able to accommodate all the crud I stuff into it without being too bulky. And a shoulder strap that can allow the bag to hang across my body (like the way you put your seat belt on, not just off the shoulder, where any thief can grab it) & dangle a bit so I don’t really have to think about it, I can just know it’s there.

As you can tell from those parameters, I had my work cut out for me. But first, a shot of me with the Hello Kitty statue in front of the Family Mart konbeni - it was that chain whose Ticket Pia machines yielded our baseball & concert tickets. Next, crepes! I’d been advised by many to try those - they are really popular in Tokyo, esp. in Harajuku. We got a lunch & dessert one - teriyaki chicken, & banana...custard, I think it was. It’s neat to watch them make it right there in front of you. And they’re totally scrummy! But they’re kinda big, so don’t eat too much before you have them.

Searched the Goth-loli shops high & low. Found some nifty stuff (including some bishi/J-rock/Kei-boy stuff, cool Halloween goodies [their hats have veils!], & one or two things that looked very nice on my dear friend), but time was ticking & we still had to get back to the ryokan so I could change & re-do my horrible face for the night of extreme pleasure that I knew lay ahead.

A little Loli place called Body Line proved to be my saving grace. Lots of pretty dresses & other things in there, including these fun little rabbit-shaped backpacks that were, like, black leather. But what I got - & I have to thank [livejournal.com profile] styxonline yet again for finding it for me - was, as she put it, very me, & very Mana, too.

It’s sturdy & soft, with a good strap that won’t break, & a zipper closure. Lots of room inside, but not bulky. It’s black, coffin-shaped (the old, diamond-head kind), with black lace around the outside edges & a big embroidered cross on one side. On the other side is a nice, deep pocket. In between, around the zipper & on the bottom, are little silver silhouettes of cats, bats, paw prints, & spider webs, & some phrases such as mischievous kitty’s playclothes & the kitty’s eyes were full of mischief. Inside, it’s got more little silhouettes in white, sort of 18th century people & birds with ribbons & things.

And the greatest thing was, it was on sale! Only 1,999 yen - that’s, like, $20!

Back to the ryokan, where I got to see Yoshi again. Hadn’t seen him for a couple days. Asked if I could get a photo with him, but even though he speaks English, I think my question was a bit too advanced for him. Tried it in Japanese, & he said - in English - “I’m so excited.” Squee! [livejournal.com profile] styxonline got a nice shot of us together.

Oh, & I’d finally been able to buy [livejournal.com profile] styxonline that coffee I’d promised her for being so darned nice to me. She made me order it, too. Learned a point or two to add to my practical Japanese, which came in handy the next time I bought her coffee for being so darned nice to me. ^_^

After the Yoshi moment, I gussied myself up in truest Gothic fashion...& gave [livejournal.com profile] styxonline a good giggle in the process (those stupid leggings!). She gave me a smidge of scented oil to wear, too - Blood Rose. (Tres appropriate for the show, & a great scent, to boot.) Unfortunately, we didn’t use my camera for pictures, but she’s got a couple that she took with her phone. (And they’re decent!) Anywho, I was as Loli as I could be in my corset & short double-layered lace skirt with stripey socks & beads & my big white ankh & chain choker. Oh, & my spider-web gloves. My make-up probably left a bit to be desired (why is it that when you really want to look nice, your face wigs out on you?), but nobody was gonna see me in the dark.

Kind of startled Terai-san with my appearance. She asked about it & I said we were going to a concert. She wanted to know who we’d be seeing, but when I tried to tell her, “rock” ended up being a more sufficient answer than trying to explain who Mana-sama is in my half-@$$ed Japanese.

Caught our train, & finally found the club. Almost got lost, I think. Had to walk a bit & ask around before we got to it, but we made it in time. There wasn’t a line. There was, however, an extra drinks charge, which [livejournal.com profile] styxonline was kind enough to pick up. They gave you a flyer/questionnaire packet when you walked in, & a little badge you could present for your drink. Since I don’t drink, I headed right for the merchandising table & got a couple things for myself & [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae. Could’ve bought it all, but again, there’s the worry about schlepping everything home. Think my choices were good ones. Got a couple freebies, too! A poster advertising the latest Moi dix Mois album, & a bag to carry it all in, with the band’s logo on it (though this version also works Mana-sama’s fan club & clothing line into the design).

[livejournal.com profile] styxonline took hold of my stuff (she’d have put it in one of the lockers they had there, but the posters wouldn’t fit) & urged me into the main concert hall, which was downstairs. So down I went (nearly freaking because I’d heard a single note from an electric guitar, but it was just a tech doing final tuning), into a sea of...well, I couldn’t really see what kind of a sea I’d walked into. The room was dark except for a couple of lights over the bar on the side, which had a monitor posted above it, & a few tables in the back. I noticed a couple chicks in black dresses, one or 2 dudes with good hair (no transvestites or anything, though), a couple of 'normal'-looking people (gasp!), & that’s about it.

I’d kinda hoped people would be jostling a little, but claims seemed to be staked as to positions, & these folks were staying put. They literally do not move. It’s a very different experience seeing a show like this in Japan, as opposed to, say, my experience seeing Diru in New York.

(Incidentally, if you haven’t yet read about the NYC show, or want to compare it to what I’ll be detailing in this post, please go here: http://japanesedream.livejournal.com/159909.html.)

This place was actually smaller than the club where I saw Diru. I stood to the right of a pillar, with a decent view of the stage but for one head (maybe 2, but I think one moved over after a bit), which I had to stand on tip-toe to look around. Unfortunately, I’m no ballerina, so I can’t stay on tip-toe very long before I start to teeter a little because it throws my balance off. Japanese Goths may not mosh, or crush you, but they will push back (oh so subtly, mind you) if you get too close.

I’ll get to the main cultural differences later, as far as the audience. The show is what’s most important, & it was FANTASTIC! I mean, utterly glorious! Moi dix Mois’ decagram logo lit up behind where the band would be standing. Soon enough, they all started to appear: first, drummer Hayato (he cut his hair - he’s even cuter now), then bassist Sugiya (who seems to be growing his hair out; he looked good, too), followed by guitarist K (yep, that’s all he goes by; his hair was longer, as well), then Mana-sama himself. Vocalist Seth was the last to come out.

I wish I could tell you what song they launched into. I can’t even give you a complete set list. I only know 3 of their songs well (as of this writing), thanks to a single I found in NYC. A couple of numbers Seth introduced, so I knew the titles that way. Mostly, though, the stuff I’ve heard from them was listened to in the midst of my secretarial functions at my previous job (oh, the joys of YouTube, which I can’t get at home ‘til I get my computer or Internet upgraded). And though I’d bought their entire CD catalogue earlier that week (thank you, Tower), I didn’t have anything on which I could listen to it. They did play my 3 songs, though. ^_^

They were all a good deal different than I’d imagined, physically. Somehow thicker - especially K. Guess it’s seeing them in 3-D flesh. K is certainly taller than I’d thought. Mana, too. Though they might’ve been wearing Frankenstein boots. I couldn’t see their feet. I could see pretty much everything else, though.

K is a bit scary, but quite cool. He does a lot of support vocals, as well as guitar. He had a black knit short overlay on, atop a white outfit. They were all dressed in combinations of black & white...& had really great hair! I mean, really great. Seth was in a white long jumpsuit jacket thing, which he wore over a black outfit. And, of course, the eye patch - I think it said “Dix” on it. Sugiya had on an all-or-mostly black outfit, Hayato a white top, a little like one of those poet shirts as I recall, only not so frilly, & I think black pants.

Mana-sama looked absolutely astounding. I mean, this guy is so beautiful, it’s unreal. He was a pale, darkly made-up vision, dressed all in white, a ruffly dress with a fabulous corset w/black laces, & black lace gloves. Truly stunning - even the prettiest photos or videos of him do him no justice whatsoever. I could well see those piercing eyes, boring into every being from across the room. There is a strength to his face that is indescribable. Stoic, silent, graceful, all his motions are made with a flourish - including his bows when he left the stage. Even when he threw out guitar picks for lucky audience members to catch & cherish (Japanese bands do a lot of that, throwing picks into the crowd), there was a dramatic air to it. It’s majestic, poetic, a quiet power. I watched him a great deal, even during the moments between songs. I fondly recall him adjusting his gloves or the ruff around his neck, or brushing his bangs away from his eyes. But don’t let that beauty fool you, this guy is hard rock to the core - he plays one heck of a mean guitar!

Speaking of guitars, the Japanese are into funky shapes when it comes to their guitars. K’s was black, but I can’t find a picture of it, suffice to say it, too was funkily-shaped. Mana’s was a white guitar much like this one (he designs his own), combined a little bit with the look of this blue one, ‘cuz it had the cross on it, though not the circular MDM logo on the bottom. The cross lit up! It pulsed or flashed red during certain songs. During a couple others, it had something blue on it, but I’m not sure exactly what the symbol was.

I really did have a nice vantage point, on the whole. I could see all the band members, except when Seth stood directly in front of Hayato. Plus, K & Mana switch places every so often, so if you’re on the other side of the stage, you get to see them. They also broadcast a shot of the stage on that screen above the bar, so if you were back there getting a drink you could still watch the show. Nice of them, ne? The lighting was set up really well, a combination of groovy colours, a teeny bit of mist, & quite a bit of mood. Sometimes, it would be bright or strobe-lit, other times, the band would be back-lit & you’d get these cool silhouettes. The decagram changed colour, too.

The sound was awesome, though it’s a good thing I’d brought along my earplugs, ‘cuz I had to use them. (Read the account of the Diru concert & you’ll know why.) They did a nice mix of the hard, fast stuff, & slower songs. It was so cute to see Seth, Mana, & K head-banging in time with each other! I also liked the “teaming up” moments, like Mana & K playing side by side, or Seth letting K sing out of his mic.

One thing these guys did that Diru was unable to do when I saw them in the States - they talked! A lot. [livejournal.com profile] styxonline was kind enough to translate. Seth thanked us for coming, said they will keep our thoughts for them in their hearts & will take them along whilst on the European tour. He wished us success, as well, & asked that we fill out the questionnaires, ‘cuz Mana reads them. (We never did fill ours out, though [livejournal.com profile] styxonline translated that for me, too, later that evening.) He then brought out a clipboard, with a message from Mana (who, in case you don’t know, never speaks in public), & read off an announcement about a secret live show in November, a Moi-meme-Moitie party (that’s Mana’s clothing line), & a DVD they’ll be putting together of the European tour.

One by one, each band member was introduced, & got to speak. They asked us to, essentially, give them power so they could do well in Europe. Hayato said the crowd was a bad one (you’ll understand why when I get to the cultural differences, though it’s saying something when even the Japanese notice it), but we all yelled out his name repeatedly (at Seth’s prompting), & then Hayato said he felt better. We did this for each of them, though the highlight was Mana-sama. He, of course, did not speak, but pretended to, affecting some lovely, subtly dramatic mannerisms. At first, just for a second, I thought perhaps he had begun to speak publicly, & that the silent thing was only from the Malice Mizer days, but I quickly realised his mouth wasn’t moving! (He’d have gotten away with it if he’d been lip-synching.) It was actually Seth who spoke for Mana; if you looked, you could see he was trying to hide it. Very cute! Not to mention a little Kabuki - Iwanga in AKOYA never speaks, either, but is spoken for by the narrators.

More songs, including a few where we had to shout along. I’d have done a better job if I knew the responses. I managed to get in a little support, however. The shout-backs on “Forbidden” I knew (that’s one of my 3 songs - I think it was the last song in the main set), & there was another tune to which [livejournal.com profile] styxonline & I finally figured out the response was “Dix Mois”, which I’d kind of assumed & had been shouting at the appropriate times (though I felt better when she confirmed I was actually shouting the right words).

They did TWO encores!

Prior to one song, “Dispell Bound”, Seth directed us to follow him with hand motions. His line was, “D - I - X - Dix”. On “D” we had to do the devil horns across our forehead. For “I”, we raised the horns above our head. “X” required 2 horn signs, crossed at the wrists, which we lowered in front of us on “Dix”.

[livejournal.com profile] styxonline was so cool, she kept hoisting me up so I could see over the crowd! I’d slip down after 10 or 15 seconds, but it was seriously awesome of her to do that. Think the band noticed? Ha ha. They might have - I was the only one howling. More on that later.

Seth is a great showman. Really knows how to work a crowd. He’s got a great voice, too. And he can be pretty sexy. I just keep wondering if he really only has one eye or if that’s just for show.

Mana-sama held his guitar up high at the end, before doing his quiet power thing, where he exudes himself over the audience (all he has to do is hold out his hands & this sea of little creatures is swooning in awe & admiration), then taking his bow (with a flourish, of course) & leaving. He was the last to exit.

Seth had said, at one point, that they would try to break the language barrier while in Europe. I would be more concerned, however (though Mana-sama may be used to it, either from the Malice days, or I think MDM might possibly have done Europe before, though I don’t know that for certain, so don’t quote me on it) about the difference in audience. Even Diru, on the Family Values DVD, said we in the US are “freer” when it comes to enjoying concerts. I now understand just what they meant. We let loose! Hey, if a band goes all out the way MDM did - & they were playing their hearts out - they deserve equal feedback. I just didn’t think the audience members were doing enough. Me? I howled my little tail off. (Hope I didn’t come off as obnoxious!) The rest of the crowd did better by the end, but they had to work up to it, almost to be given permission*. They were certainly encouraged, particularly by Seth.

Bring this band to NYC & you’ll really see something.

Yes, there were a few devil horns that went up, more after a while (though we didn’t do it nearly as much as at the Diru show). The Loli-jin are more content with waving one hand about with the music, almost as if they’re conducting it, but I think the limb is actually meant to just be swaying along. They don’t really scream or howl (except for cheese-balls like me) or even clap...except for calling out band members’ names on occasion. Primarily, though, what you’ll hear at an MDM show is -

“Mana-sama!!”

A lot of it.

It’s cute for a minute. Then it gets a bit grating. Not sure why. It’s just a bunch of girls in pretty dresses yelling out in squealy voices, showing their love. I think it’s something to do with that cultural difference I talked about earlier. I think I was geared up for a fight I didn’t get, which was almost (almost, mind you) disappointing (see what Diru did to me?). Wasn’t a sweaty, look-what-the-cat-dragged-in mess after the show, which I guess I expected to be - though I was happy to have had a good view, even though I was in the back a bit. But to my foreign eyes, the initial impression I got of the fans was one of pretentiousness. It was only after [livejournal.com profile] styxonline talked to me about it, & I’d had a chance to think about it for a day or so, that it went back to being cute again.

I suppose when you look on it in a cultural context, it makes sense. Kids in school wear uniforms, there’s no individual expression. And they’re largely a shy or private people in general, the Japanese. They just don’t do outright emotions all the time, the way we’re used to. So the little Loli gals screaming Mana’s name aren’t trying to be pretentious. It’s just that this kind of dressing up & yelling out is about as free as they get.

Seriously, though, all differences aside, that show kicked butt!!

Afterwards, my head was literally in the clouds. We went for gyoza & ramen. Awesome, but filling. (Honestly, I’m not sure whether I gained weight from all the amazing food, or lost it from all the walking!) Had a discussion about the economic, social, & political problems Japan has been having or is in store for, which is sad & alarming & yet somehow didn’t bring down my fantastically good mood or discourage me from wanting to return to the country or even (if it can ever possibly be swung) living there.

Maybe someday.

Next time: Day 7 - Kyoto!!


EDIT: Here's a photo of what MDM looked like that night (actually, they looked even better than the photo, but they're in the same outfits, so you'll get the idea):

http://www.amus-ent.com/japan/pics/picbig/444.jpg

FURTHER EDIT: For a taste of what the show was like, try this YouTube clip!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSAyzH_oPKs

This clip is from the aforementioned European tour DVD (showcasing the final concert, in Paris), but I am certain they played this song when I saw them; however, when I listened to the album after getting back to the States, I recognised the awesome & distinctive guitar riff.


*After a good deal of thought, I realise there may be a different mindset, as far as the Japanese audience; perhaps they consider it rude to scream or sing over/with the band, as if it takes away from the performance somehow. They might feel it's more respectful to listen to the music, take in what the band is doing, rather than make their own noise or commotion...except when, as mentioned, encouraged by the artists themselves.

December 2013

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