Second Hokkaido LAST VISUALIVE

I ended up in Sapporo by myself after being unable to sell my second ticket. Considering I went to the first show with The Most Adorkable Human Being in the World this show felt lonely for me even though on a technical aspect it was probably better. The sound in the Nitori Bunka Center was superb, far better than that at the Fukuoka Sun Palace. Don’t know whether that was due to better acoustics in the building; a better sound system; immediate previous experience in the hall for the sound team with this being the second Sapporo show; something else entirely; or a combination of all of those things. This time I could feel the music pounding in my sternum; anything that doesn’t produce that sensation isn’t loud enough. I even had a little bit of ear ringing this time. (I’ve probably been killing my hearing with loud music, ahaha…)

The first thing that I noticed was different was that the text of the Oath of the Peach Garden now comes up on the screen, using the classical spelling(?) 違えど instead of 違うとも which is what I’ve been hearing GACKT say in the recorded version of “ARROW”. When I first heard the spoken part as warera umareta hi toki wa chigau to /mo warera onaji hi ni shinu koto wo negau I Googled it like that and came across the phrase spelled with chigaedo not chigau to mo, but I thought maybe GACKT was keeping things modern. Now I’m not entirely sure which one he’s saying. Also the last spoken part comes up as またきっと出逢えるさ (mata kitto dearu sa “Hey, we’re sure to meet again”).

For the Fukuoka show I forgot to mention how beautiful the little 1-minute interlude after “ZAN” that has this music box music is, but today I noticed it anew. Not just because I was hearing it again, but also because I was closer this time (13th row) so I could actually see the dry ice smoke making curlicues about GACKT in his Heian Era robes. Why is this song not on the album?! Well, I’m assuming it’s not. I had preordered the limited edition of LAST MOON from the GACKT Store Global but then they pushed back the release date so the album is waiting for me in the States while I’m here in Japan. orz But I digress.

I think I remember the order of things now. It’s:

  1. Intro video with flower, narration, and lots of people getting killed
  2. GACKT singing as Maro (the eyebrowless Sephiroth clone); the songs are ARROW, Hana mo Chiyu, Returner ~Yami no Shuuen~, RIDE OR DIE, and Akatsukizukiyo
  3. Video that takes place nine years before [the first section, I assume] of Heian Era Robes Yoshitsune walking somewhere, this one dude freaking out about it, then running on ahead to tell this other dude that Yoshitsune’s coming, and when the other dude hears it he gets this “OH SHIT” look on his face and drops his sake saucer, but then when the three meet with Yoshitsune everything seems cool, until Other Dude asks Yoshitsune “What’s behind you isn’t human, right?” and Yoshitsune answers something I don’t understand.
  4. GACKT singing as Heian Era Robes Yoshitsune; songs are Utakata no Yume, ZAN, some short song that ends with yume no naka no boku wa tada anata wo mitsumeteita (IIRC, which means “Inside the dream, I was just staring at you”), Kugutsu ga Gotoku
  5. Video from the second Moon Saga play(?) where Yoshitsune kisses Nori but then Nori dies and Yoshitsune gets sucked up into a vortex or something but then we see that it’s a video that Seito Kaicho is showing the students of Kamui Gakuen’s Ikemen Kenkyubu (Ikemen Study Club).
  6. In this video, what the boys are to learn from Yoshitsune Hiden is about one on one fighting. They invite some women sempai to participate. I assume they’re real athletes, but I didn’t recognize any of them. There’s a kickboxer, a wrestler (Rina was her name I think), and a dominatrix (They said “the SM Club” LOL). Since they might end up fighting women, the guys have to fight with their hands tied behind their backs. First, the dancer Madoka goes up against…I can’t remember, one of the guys. Was it Val maybe? One pushes the other out of the sumo ring very easily, and gets -240 points while the loser got -2,400,000 or something like that from Seito Kaicho. Next, Sato takes on Rina. She knocks him down easily enough but then when she’s trying to prep a pile driver (I assume) he grabs hold of her right leg. Eventually she pins him down for long enough, and just for show, at the end she picks him up and tosses him out of the ring. Last, Seito Kaicho is to fight…Hiro from the Sumo Club. I think he’s a real sumo wrestler. But then a message came up on screen that said “To be continued in Saitama” and the audience groans/whines.
  7. Next is the band introduction done by the unseen English speaker. I noticed that YOU signaled the audience when the “Do you want him?” question came, so everybody said Woooo this time. (Well, not that I can know for sure that YOU didn’t do this at the Fukuoka show, since I was on the Chacha side that time.)
  8. Then I think One More Kiss is next? But then when does the tossing water into the audience thing happen? Guess I can’t remember after all. LOL But some guy on the 2nd floor leaned way over and down to catch the water bottle GACKT had thrown in that direction. I thought he was gonna fall! His buddy actually had to pull him back up, that’s how far down he leaned over. Not worth risking your life for dude!
  9. The survey Yuki talked about this time was “The top 3 artists who are probably narcissists”. I didn’t recognize the name of the top one, but 2nd was Takuya KIMURA and 3rd was GACKT. Yuki said that GACKT isn’t a narcissist. He is so not a narcissist that he doesn’t even know what the word means. The reasons people thought so were…I can’t remember, but one of them was “They seem like they always have a spotlight one them,” and Yuki said, “He does! He does always have a spotlight on him! He’s always saying, ‘My future’s so bright I can’t see it’, right? That’s because of the lights shining in his face! If it weren’t for that, he’d be able to see it!” The other one may have been “They seem like they always walk around naked” because Yuki said something about the only person who should be walking around naked as often as GACKT does is Yoshiki (from X Japan). Oh, there was also something about showering too much.
  10. The call & response part in Mirror didn’t last for nearly as long as it had in Fukuoka, I think. But the Hokkaido audience was much more unified. Maybe not as loud (at first, I think I riled my section up once I got into it because I am LOUD and can sustain a scream for at least 10 seconds but probably 20 although I don’t know because I’ve never measured it and also the people who notice I’m a foreigner start feeling like their Japanese pride is at stake if they don’t keep up with me—it’s actually kinda annoying because I wish they would just scream because it’s what GACKT wants us to do) but certainly more unified.
  11. However, GACKT’s talk portion (“MC”) was really long. Really really long. He did some of the usual bits, this time mentioning that the reason he’s calling this the LAST Visualive is that he doesn’t know how long he’ll be able to keep doing this, and that it had taken 7 years between RRI & RRII (he also made fun of the fact that he had called the tour Requiem et Reminiscence as he stumbled over the pronunciation of the second word, eventually calling it just “RR Two” but then he had to clarify that he was saying “RR TWO” not “RR Tour” [in katakana English “Tour” and “two” sound nearly the same]) so therefore if he kept doing this he’d be 50 by the time of the next VISUALIVE. Someone screamed out that that was fine and he said, “No, wouldn’t it be creepy if some 50 year old went like this to you with these long nails?” and he made his little reachy clawy Maro gesture. Then he said, “But it’s not just me. I mean, look at my band.” And the other members come back out on stage and he says “Look at this nice Grandma. She’s 78 years old still playing the guitar. She hit menopause and can still play, isn’t that great?”
  12. The other interesting thing in his talk portion was about what I assume is Hokkaido dialect. So I didn’t understand all of it. Apparently in Hokkaido (among friends I assume) when making a phone call the person receiving the call picks up and says “Dousha?” (“What’s up?”) and the person who called says “Nanmo” (“Nothing”) or maybe it was “Nanbo” I couldn’t quite tell. Anyway GACKT said that’s strange because if nothing’s up then why did the person call in the first place. He said he really liked it though, and that it was a part of Hokkaido culture that should be preserved. He said that maybe many people won’t understand it, but that if they just think of it as “like that American thing” it would make sense. So he says, “Dousha?” while making a weak rapper-esque gesture, and answers himself “Nanmo” while gesturing with the other arm. He said, “See? Doesn’t it seem American?” and I couldn’t help but say “amerikappokunai wa (“no it doesn’t seem American”) but not too loud as this was the dialect part of the show which I thoroughly enjoy when I’m in Fukuoka and I didn’t want to turn it into the GACKT Please Stop Playing To Stereotypes Educational Hour. So the people started saying “Dousha?” to him while trying to mimic the gesture and he told them they were doing it wrong, and I couldn’t help but want to tell him that he’d did it wrong too.
  13. During the Tadaima/okaeri exchange he kept doing it really fast for the first floor people, so the audience started chanting “Nagai no! Nagai no!” and he said “What the hell is up with that call? You want a long one? Sapporo is weird!” to which the crowd Woo’ed so he said “I wasn’t complementing you!” So he starts the usual innuendo questions (“You want a long one? Here? Right now?”) followed by the usual feigned innocence when he points to some member of the audience and says “You’re grinning too much. That face is creepy.” Then he says “Okay, fine, I’ll give you a long one. [Mine is] pretty long after all.” So he goes OkaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAaaaaAAAAaaaaAAAeriiii! and we go TadaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAaaaaAAAaaaimaaa!
  14. For the microphone-less shouting, the audience apparently voted for Chacha. I was yelling for Sato since he’s from Hokkaido and I figured many people would want to see him do it. Well, maybe he did it for the Friday show. I couldn’t understand most of what he said, only that he ended the sentence with “chinchin” (“dick”) and GACKT said “Hey, hey, can you really have people screaming ‘dick’? How old are you?” and Chacha apologizes. So he starts yelling something else and that also ends with chinchin, and eventually it just turns into chanting, “Chinchin, chinchin, chinchin!” orz
  15. GACKT’s microphone-less yelling consisted of, “SAPPORO! Every time I come here, you’re so weird! But I love you for it!” and the crowd woo’d a lot.
  16. I think the rest of the show was as it had been in Fukuoka.

The only other thing that happened that I thought was kinda funny was that the woman next to me, after the first long GAKUTOOOOOO! yell that I let out, turned to me and said, “Batchiri!” (“Spot on!”) and made the OK finger gesture. I just laughed, but I thought it was funny because from the way she had been reacting to everything it was clear she hadn’t seen the VISUALIVE yet and I suspected she had never been to a GACKT show period because she reacted with anticipation and surprise even to the bits he’s been doing for years. GACKT actually said in his talk portion something about “I think a lot of people got dragged out to see this so it’s their first time seeing me” and she woo’ed and said she was a first timer so then I really thought it was funny that she’d basically said “Good job!” to me (in a slightly condescending way) when this is my…10th GACKT concert I think? Counting YFC & Gakuensai shows. If not the 10th then the 9th. I can’t remember if I saw YFC once or twice their first year but I definitely saw them twice their second year.

Another thing was slightly before the show. I’d been walking up and down this street in search of the ramen restaurant the hotel clerk had recommended when I said I wanted to eat Hokkaido’s famous miso ramen, but I couldn’t find it. So I just went into this tiny ramen shop, and all the customers at the counter (all men) turned to look at me and gasped. The owner told me, kinda standoffishly in English, to buy a ticket from the machine. I say “hai” and buy one for miso ramen. The men next to me restart their conversation, and they’re talking about sex, and something about how much women do or don’t want it, and I couldn’t help but think they were assuming I couldn’t understand Japanese because they were making no effort to keep their voices down. When the owner hands me my ramen he asks me, “Do you speak Japanese?” I said “Yes.” and he says “Why?” So I switch over to Japanese to tell him that I studied it in college and lived in Fukuoka for four years, that this year I came to see a concert, GACKT specifically, he tells me he likes GACKT too, that he’s a good singer. During this conversation the three or four male customers had piped down some, and then they all left. Maybe they felt awkward upon realizing I’d understood their conversation. Once I finished my ramen and was leaving he told me again to enjoy the show, and he seemed completely genuine. So at the show, when at the beginning I wasn’t really into it because I was sad about not having the one I wanted to see this show with with me, I thought of the ramen-ya-san and told myself to try to enjoy it. Ahaha…

Alright, I have three Mount Everests and a Mount Fuji of work piled up because I’ve been playing while I was supposed to be working (I’m not really on vacation, it’s more like I just happen to be in Japan but I still have work to do) so after this one mission to the KitKat Chocolatory I have to get to it! I’m not even gonna proofread this concert report! POST!



Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to the first VISUALIVE in Fukuoka. (The next one won’t be until June.) So here’s a brief report with spoilers, spoilers, and did I mention:




Okay, I figure everyone who doesn’t want spoilers is gone by now. Anywho…

I was in the 22nd row on the first floor which gave me a good view of the stage. I couldn’t see much detail to people’s faces but my eyes aren’t that great even with glasses on, maybe. Before the show starts we’re warned of the possibility of there being an earthquake during the show, and that should that happen, we’re to be careful and follow instructions.

The show started only about five minutes late, which I’ll say counts as on time. The wall at  the front of the stage is divided into two parts with semicircular openings in the center so that when closed they form a circle, inside of which is projected a red moon. When the show starts the doors separate, revealing a screen divided into long vertical sections. When the narration is projected onto it, it looks like a letter (the vertical writing in the vertical spaces).

The opening scene of people getting stabbed and shot with arrows and Yoshitsune twitching felt too long. I was like JUST START PLAYING THE MUSIC ALREADY I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR HEIKE FANFIC. When it finally does start I’m so surprised by the music switch that “ARROW” hits me like a cannonball. Once the video ended people with light sticks turned them to “white pink” as we’d been instructed to do for the first part of the show. GACKT is in his Maro/Sephiroth clone outfit and throughout the songs does a lot of posing and moving his hands around above his face as if he had spiderwebs caught in them and was trying to look at them and remove them very slowly. The band seemed rooted to their individual spots on stage. It felt a bit too static but I liked the music.

There was another video, so we turned off the light sticks. This one showed Yoshitsune in the outfit from “Sakura, Chiru” going to visit some dude. There’s some dramatic looks exchanged and Yoshitsune gets up and walks past him right as he decides to kneel before him(?). We see Yoshitsune walking away in profile with jump cuts. Thus begins the second part of the show. The light sticks say to turn them to green but everyone turns them red so I follow suit. Here we have “ZAN” (it was funny seeing GACKT trying to headbang in that outfit, especially because of the eboshi [the tall black hat]; he couldn’t go down all the way [I suppose because of the hat] so it looked more like upper body twitching than head banging) and the awesome “Kugutsu ga Gotoku”.

After this point my memory’s a bit iffy as far as what came when. I think it was at this point that Yuki Kimisawa appeared onstage in blue jeans and a jacket with no shirt underneath. He introduces himself and jokes that he could tell he wasn’t the one we wanted to see, but that that’s okay because he could tell how much love we have for his big brother. He goes on to talk about how GACKT had been ranked #1 in a survey of “Artists who seem like they’re fictional characters but are actually real.” Then he listed the top three reasons why he seems that way according to the survey. The first one was “He seems like he would live in a castle.” Yuki read it and immediately followed with “But he DOES! He’s got this crazy house with waterfalls and stuff!” The second one was “He seems like he would go around riding a white horse”, and Yuki energetically says “But he DOES ride a white horse! He owns a horse even though it’s not necessary to ride a horse!!” The third one was “He doesn’t seem human,” and Yuki shouts, “He’s not! He’s not human! He doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t poop! He’s a robot! 100% robot!”

After this part he gives us instructions for the choreography for…I think it’s “Koi no Friday”. He says “Women who have light sticks, take one in each hand and do these motions. For those women who don’t have them, you can just use your hands. Men who have light sticks can use them, and men who don’t can just use their own stick.” Which gets a laugh out of the audience.  He then tells us that when GACKT says some particular thing that we’re gonna repeat a word three times. The first one is “Koi,” which we’re to say by making a “come here” gesture with the light stick so I’m thinking it’s just the imperative form of “to come.” The second word is “yoi,” said with a gesture like drinking from a cup so I assume it’s the “yoi” for “drunk”. The third one is “pai”, said while thrusting the light sticks away from one’s chest, so I figure it’s from “oppai” which means “boobs.” Then he tells us that we won’t need to use this until (the third song from now?)…I didn’t catch it. He tells us to set our sticks to rainbow mode for the third part (it says the third part is meant to be blue on the sticks…oh, it just now occurs to me that maybe they changed it after they had the light sticks made) and walks offstage.

I think next was the part with the dancers in just their jeans and jackets, and GACKT shirtless. I was concentrating so hard on the drum game during “WooHa Baby!” that I forgot to ogle the dancers properly. I couldn’t keep up with the game anyway so gave up for the last verse.

I think that next “Mirror” started. There’s the usual call & response section of “yeeow!” and the “tadaima/okaeri” game (during which he scolded the people on the second floor for not mirroring his direction, I guess; we on the first floor “nailed it” mwahaha) before going into his talk portion (“MC”)…

Okay, wait, I really don’t know what order things happened in at this point. So let me just make bullet points of everything. This is NOT a chronological list.

  • There was a video from Yoshitsune Hiden where GACKT and (the woman playing a male character???) kiss, but then a bright green “PAUSE” comes onscreen and we see that it’s Seito Kaicho showing the Camui Gakuen students a video. He says a bunch of stuff I don’t remember, and it turns into them “training” to be ikemen by going on this obstacle course thingy. GACKT takes two tries to do the thing and in the end gives himself 24,000,000 points for his efforts (in contrast Val ended up with -2600).
  • GACKT came out to throw water into the audience. He threw the last pair of bottles super far (the one on the right side—the Chacha side—he threw up to second floor balcony but they couldn’t catch it and it  fell to a woman on the first floor, I couldn’t tell where the one on the left side went. There was also someone in the front row that was apparently trying to get too close when begging for one of GACKT’s straws so he playfully stepped away and quickly handed them the straw instead of letting them take it from his mouth.
  • He made the usual joke about being too old to do this stuff. He said, “I’m not good at acting cool,” to which some people responded with a sarcastically surprised “Ehhhh?” and GACKT pretended to beat them up with his microphone. He went on to say, “No, really. Like, just now I had wind blowing on me, right? That doesn’t usually happen. There isn’t wind going around making me look cool.” Then he says the same line about “I’m really, really not good at acting cool,” the audience responds the same way, GACKT air-flogs them again. So he says, “No, really. Like, I was standing around posing like *does Maro’s pose, a leg up bent at the knee, arms out bent at the elbows* with those crazy long nails, and I’m thinking, ‘If your nails get that long CUT THEM!'”
  • He also made fun of how he used to have to flick his head to get his hair out of his eyes, and that now he’ll sometimes try to get this hair out of his eyes smoothly with one finger even though he keeps it short.
  • GACKT apologized for coming out onstage without his cat ears. So he looks offstage and asks for someone to bring them to him. A while passes…and GACKT says to the audience, “It’s taking so long because they’re back there fighting over who has to come out here, like ‘No, I don’t wanna!'” Finally someone from the crew comes and gives him some cat ears. GACKT makes the same gag about being too old to wear cat ears, the audience starts yelling that he’s cute. He says, “No, imagine a 43 year old man walking into a convenience store and saying ‘I’d like to buy these [cat ears]’, what would you think? Seriously?”
  • Somehow at some point of this talk portion…I don’t know what happened, maybe someone in the audience said something? GACKT said, “No, no, I’m not wearing any underwear so I can’t take my pants off.” The audience start egging him on, so he says, “Okay, fine. If all of you take your bottoms off, I’ll do it too. You have to get completely naked on the bottom. Leave your tops on because we’re filming this though.” Then he makes the same joke about “waving [his] own stick” that Yuki had made earlier. And he keeps talking about waving his dick around then suddenly stops himself. He apologizes. “I am so sorry. I got carried away. Everyone who came here with children, please forgive me.” (I happened to see at least 4 children in attendance.)
  • GACKT said he had something serious to talk about. He started talking about the earthquakes in Kumamoto. He mentioned that the venue they were supposed to use there for the VISUALIVE had been damaged, and that it would take a year to repair it. So he reached out to his Kyushu people to find another venue, and found one, and are going to do a show in Kagoshima on the 21st (of May?), and that the information would go up on the website that night after the show. (Something to this effect has gone out in the G&LOVERS newsletter.)
  • After the talk about the earthquakes, GACKT starts talking about something else, but he suddenly gets caught off by “Miserable.” He turns to look offstage. He seems surprised but I wasn’t sure if he really was. Then the back screen comes on with a message that says “GACKT 17th Anniversary” and something about “always together,” “thank you”. GACKT whipped around to look at it, then the dancers come out with a huge bouquet, and wheel a cake unto the stage. GACKT said he had forgotten about his anniversary, and that he had been confused when the song came on and nobody was playing. He took the bouquet, blew out the candles on the cake, and said something else. Then the dancers were about to leave and he calls after them to take the flowers back. Once they do, GACKT takes a minute before starting to speak again. He said, “Oh, tears came out. But I’m NOT crying!!!” He was clearly moved. He asked, “How many of you have been walking with me from the beginning? For 17 years?” A surprising (to me) number of people raised their light sticks. I think GACKT said in response to that that that was an entire lifetime. [Three that’s in a row, isn’t my writing grand? ^o^ Also please excuse my rampant tense switching. I’m in a hurry.]
  • The band members are announced by someone speaking entirely in English. Each member gets a little hyped up intro, but when it’s GACKT’s turn, the announcer asked, “Do you want him?!” I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to answer, but…the announcer paused. For a few seconds. As if waiting for a response, but not a single person in the audience said anything. So he asked the question again and I yelled “YEEEES!” in hopes the others would get it, but they didn’t. orz Japan English Education FAIL
  • The audience chose YOU to do the microphone-less yelling into the audience bit, but then GACKT did it too (but he keeps the mike in his hand, he just holds it far away).
  • Finally when it’s time for “Koi no Friday” I realize that there are some homophone jokes in play with the three word things. “Koi koi koi” comes up on the screen, but each “koi” is a different word/character. First is 来い (“Come!”), 恋 (love), and I can’t remember what the last one was but maybe it was 鯉 (koi fish; carp). “Yoi yoi yoi” turns out to be…can’t remember the first one (maybe 良い meaning good?) but the second two were 酔い (drunk) and 宵 (night). “Pai pai pai” turns out to be パイ (boobs), 敗 (lose), π (3.1415). Yes, boobs, puns, and math all in one. But the second (third?) time this refrain is repeated, for “Pai pai pai” instead of パイ 敗 π there are pictures of boobs with Gakucchi heads covering the nipples.
  • There was a video clip consisting of scenes from Moon Child, followed by scenes from the Diabolos tour, and then the “ARROW” music video. Moon Saga in reverse chronological order, basically.
  • The very last bit of show begins with a video clip of Yoshitsune sitting by this stone admiring the beautiful moon. There are some flower petals fluttering by but I think they’re supposed to be peach blossoms given that one by one, the cast of the MOON SAGA plays show up and say stuff to him, and end with them all reciting the Oath of the Peach Garden (also heard in the spoken part of ARROW which I think says “warera umareta hi toki wa chigau to mo warera onaji hi ni shinu koto o negau” meaning “Even though we were born at different times we will wish to die on the same day”), with some variation such as “If we couldn’t have been born on the same day, then we’ll at least die on the same day.” Yoshitsune starts falling asleep, and they start calling his name. But then the scene changes and we see that that whole exchange was a dream(?) of the dying Yoshitsune, who’s last words as he sits by the stone with arrows sticking out of his body are “Kireina tsuki da na…” (“What a beautiful moon…”). At this point the screen parts, the intro to “Setsugekka” plays, and we see Yoshitsune sitting in a chair with arrows in him singing. The band members are wearing the Heian Era robes and some sort of masks, I couldn’t tell what of but from my vantage point it looked kinda creepy. They had on long white wigs too.
  • After that, the credits roll.

That’s pretty much it. This whole thing came in at just under four hours. It was a pretty good show. It felt a bit slower paced given all the breaks, but…if that’s what GACKT needs to do to put on the show then okay.

Because LotR was truly about preventing forest fires

 So I’ve been going to a Buddhist temple for a few weeks now as part of a service learning project for one of my classes. The very first time I went, there was this serious discussion about Engaged Buddhism. Near the end the dharma student giving the lecture picks up this book and he starts reading this passage about Smokey Bear being a bodhisattva and I was confused as eff and figured I was just hallucinating everything because the table lamps flanking the altar were the same Japanese-style shoji lamp I’d bought at Target like 15 years ago and the dharma student turned out to be the owner of the place I had my bicycle tuned at and there’s no way a serious discussion could suddenly turn into Smokey Bear is a bodhisattva, right?

In a similar vein when I Googled “Smokey Bear” to see if the correct spelling was “Smokey” or “Smoky” Google told me that “People also search for: Boromir.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.47.51 PM

I guess Boromir and Smokey Bear kinda sound similar?