Disclaimer: from personal perspective as remembered
February 3, 2018, was the day which Toyama Nao, a well-known voice-actress in Japan who made her singing debut on February 2017, held her 1st solo live concert in Nippon Budoukan. In the past, she also did some concerts as part of her character works and other groups she had been in. But this time it was her solo live, which mostly consists of her songs in the past year.
As early as 5 a.m. in the morning, people were already lining up to buy merchandise for the concert.
— こやぎP (@ponyagi1) February 2, 2018
Although it was announced that the merchandise selling would start at 10am, the line was moving so slow that even if one arrived at 8am, it would have taken another 4-5 hours in line to finish. If I were to guess, it would be partly because of the way they divided the line into merchandise goods and the capsule prizes. They should have separated the line for those who only wanted to buy goods vs. those who wanted to try their luck at the capsule prizes.
— 東山奈央 オフィシャル (@naobou_official) February 3, 2018
At exactly 5pm, the staff started to let people in. The seats were divided into Arena (ground floor), 1st floor, 2nd floor, and the stands. Upon entering the venue the setup of the stage was divided into the main stage, which extended on both left and right until the 1st floor audience, and a small center stage that is connected by a walkway (hanamichi). The main stage has 4 layers of floors, and at the the top rested a big screen. Looking around the venue, it really was quite intimate and even from the 2nd floor, you can still see the performer with clarity. Almost all seats were filled and you could only see a handful that had no one seated on it.
A few moments later, a video was played on the big screen; it was the dance step for one of her songs named “君と僕のシンフォニー”.
Then the venue lights dimmed, went off, and everyone in the venue stood up as the concert was about to start. A single light shone down from the center stage, and Nao in her 1st album dress and matching ponytail appeared in the middle of the main stage, and started heading towards the center stage while being followed by a spotlight to pick up the mic, and started to sing the intro for “君と僕のシンフォニー”, hyping the crowd from the start (as in the intro for the said song in her MV)
It was then followed by her 1st single’s solo debut song “True Destiny”, both of which pumped up the crowd early on.
After the two songs, she greeted the audience and formally welcomed everyone to her concert and thanked everyone for coming. After some introductory words from Nao, she mentioned that the next part of the concert will be a fun section that she termed it as “a festival of life”, which I also call the colorful part of the concert. She then started with “Bright Heart” that used an elevating stair which she used to go in front of the big screen. They used the screen to do some nice synchronizations of visual and dance choreography that I think they perfectly executed. It was then followed by a very upbeat song, “Day by Day”, which also used the screen, so that when she moves onstage, the image also moves. She also encouraged the audience to sing with her on its chorus part.
After this was another MC and water break for Nao, this time she confirms with the audience if they noticed the screen effects which the audience gladly responded with a yes. She then restarted with the very fun and light song “Goodbye Umbrella”, along with 2 dancers each holding a rainbow-colored umbrella. This was followed by another song from her 1st album “ガラクタフルワールド”. Starting with goodbye umbrella the official penlight of the live that uses the rave system was used. It lets the staff control the lights remotely. The colors automatically changed based on the song along with the beat. So, the audience did not need to do anything and just enjoy as the lights change automatically. In the instrumental part of ガラクタ she introduced her band starting from the guitars, bass, keyboard, drums until the violin.
After the song finished, Nao left the stage and soon after 6 dancers were on stage and the signal for intermission has begun where only visualizations are on the screen and the dancers keeping the crowd on their feet with some EDM-type of background music. This lasted for about 5mins(?) and then, from the large screen it split into two and Nao appeared in between. She was wearing a black shirt with white vest and black shorts with 2 blue cloth hanging from each side. She also changed her hairstyle from ponytail to a straight one. The music then smoothly transitioned to the band playing the intro of her next song, “Starlight”. I can say that everyone in that venue was both mesmerized and amazed at how she was good at dancing. The choreography is both cool and sexy showing that she can do both with perfect balance.
After the song, she briefly introduced the rainbow dancers, that formed the 7 colors of the rainbow of each was assigned a color. Nao’s color that time was blue. They then continued on to the next song, “My Way” this time they inserted an individual section for the dancers in the instrumental section giving each dancer a highlight part, which was then followed by “I will”. Honestly, I didn’t expect that the song will be in the dance section. Nonetheless it was amazing.
After a brief MC and water break, she readied the crowd by mentioning her next song and invited everyone to sing the catchphrase of the song in the final part “あいや あいや あいや いやっさっさ”. She then proceeded to sing her next song, “オトメイロ” which has a really nice balance with technopop along with traditional music. With people hyping up to the chorus jumping and the never-ending calls of the catchphrase during the latter part of the song, Nao exits the stage as the dance section ends.
A video was then played and everyone sat in their seats. Nao narrates the events that led to her 1st live starting from the announcement at last year’s Anisama. It was about her thoughts and feelings when the project was announced, feelings like pressure and anxiety and the like.
After the video, we could hear a piano instrumental and then later joined by the violin which then led to the intro of “星のシルシ”. She was wearing a glittered white one-piece that looks a bit like the white dress from her solo debut single along with her hairstyle.
Then there was an MC shortly after the song, which garnered an applause from the crowd. She mentioned how the penlights turned on looked like stars in the while she was singing. Then this is the part where she was requested to flaunt her dress by turning. She gamely responded to the requests of the audience turning from side to side showing the dress. She also mentioned that her band still has no name and that she’s looking for one like rainbow band, nao band, etc for future lives. (Which she might probably might have spoiled some plans, by adding uncertain words after). After which, she then introduced her next song which is a cover of an old song that she said has left an impression on her. The song’s title is “初恋”. It’s also a part of her 2nd single’s anime edition release. Which was then followed by a short MC that introduces her next song which is a tie-up from an anime that she has also voiced a character, that also has the same title, “月がきれい”.
Then, a different kind of MC was delivered by Nao as she introduced her final song in the ballad section. Here she became emotional due to the experiences and the story behind the song “Rainbow”, where she composed and wrote its lyrics. It was her first time writing and composing lyrics for a song. Right as she sang the song, she was in the center-stage surrounded by a rotating cone of light which looked like threads from above. It was beautiful along with her soothing voice accompanied by the violin. You could tell that everyone in the audience were captivated and mesmerized as she sang the song with full emotions. It was a tear inducing moment that you end up appreciating that moment in time.
When she finished singing, she slightly jested and checked to see if the audience were still awake after being seated for a long time (lol). She then asked the crowd to stand up as the next section is going to be a high energy section again. With the next song being “イマココ” she warned the crowd not to mistake the title call when she asks “ima doko?(Where are we?)” It was then followed by a very high energy song yet again titled, “Chain the World” which was the tie-up song for the anime Chain Chronicle. According to her this was supposed to be the final song. But then it was changed.
For the final song, which is the one they prepared a dance step that the audience can follow. She once again, made sure that everyone got the steps right so, she along with her dancers taught us the steps again. During this time, there was a step that made Nao chuckle and said that we were cute, as she watched the crowd do the steps. The venue lights were lit so that Nao can see the crowd as the final song “君の笑顔に恋してる” was performed. Colored strips of papers with Nao’s message of “thank you for coming and let the rainbow continue” in each one was shot in the air at the start of the song, that signals the end of the performance usually.
After the song Nao did a bow and the lights dimmed. A few moments later, the encore chants begun. With people clapping along and shouting encore as it went on for a long time. After a bit of time, silhouettes of the band members can be seen going back to their instruments which made the chants speed up.
And finally, the middle floor wall opened and a silhouette of a… ribbon on her head and a fluffy pink skirt was visible. The audience, who I think majority knew her roots, quickly went into a nostalgia trip easily recognized her in the outfit. A familiar tune started to play and it was “Love Call” that was a trademark song from one of Kami Nomizu Shiru Sekai’s heroine, Nakagawa Kanon. That familiar voice, that familiar ribbon, along with the skirt I myself became emotional as I was not expecting her to perform character songs that evening. After she finished singing Love Call she bowed, then the crowd were shouting “Kanon-chan”. Now just like the anime she removes the skirt and performed “Happy Crescent”. A very idol-ish character song of Kanon that is complete with claps and calls. The whole budoukan was dyed in yellow as the song’s image color. After the two songs, it can be felt in the venue the miracle that just happened right before us. It was both magical and filled with emotions — As Kanon was the debut role of Nao, She is a very important piece of her career. She explained in the MC after the song that they went to great lengths to request to NBC which holds the rights for the songs to be performed outside the anime to let them perform it in her 1st live.
Trivia: the ending of Kanon arc where she performed in Nara hall was modeled after Budoukan.
So in a way Nao fulfilled the dream of Kanon to be a star. These 2 songs also happen to be the ONLY character song that she performed among the many chara songs that she has played. She also mentioned some of the reasons why this was the only chara song in the live despite having many others and one of these reasons is a form of returning the favor (to those characters, collectively(?)).
After the MC, she asked to remove the ribbon as she is returning to Nao mode. And it’s now time for announcements. First, she announced that the concert will be immortalized in BD form (wow). Secondly, Nao fan club will be opened that will contain special sections like a cooking corner (where Nao’s mother is completely opposed to the idea, because she couldn’t cook(?)).
Lastly 3rd single has been decided. It will contain the opening theme to a new anime that will air next season “Kakuriyo no yadomeshi”, the title of the song is “灯火のまにまに”, and she performed the first full version for us as a bonus. It is a very good and energetic song mixed with traditional Japanese-style feel (It has the same vibes of Senbonzakura). It was truly where she connected the past and the future, by embracing it and moving forward.
After saying the last MC, she performed again “君と僕のシンフォニー” as the last song walking around the stage and greeting the audience. After the final bow, the lights were turned on. The announcement that the concert has now ended marks the end of the live. And the crowd did a traditional good job clap at the end.
All in all, it was a very good live with the different sections arranged. I liked how each section highlights her different talents, specially the dancing part. I really, really loved it. The showmanship is awesome. Cute, cool, sexy, beautiful it was delivered in every section which makes it a live that you can never get tired of. Also, no song is the same as, it was subtle but there is a change in voice in every song. It showed the growth of Nao as a voice actress as well as an artist from the past to present. The 8 years that she spent working on her craft as a voice actress truly honed her in what she is now. Now that she has started another step in her career as a singer, I’m sure that she will further her horizons even more and will continue to grow. In this live, she has shown that just like the characters that have been given to her, that she can live up to the audience’s expectations. She has been working hard and the success of her 1st solo live has spoken for itself the effort that she put in. I will continue to support her as much as possible.
QC – AikyanPrimus, nekoandcoffee, mattvent, ambidere
Some flowerstands sent in by fans to extend their support:
Some flowerstands that were sent by companies and persons that Nao worked with:
— 西明日香公式ツイッター (@nishiasuka_info) February 3, 2018