Aqours First Love Live! ~Step! ZERO to ONE~ (Review/Thoughts)

In honor of Aqours’ fourth major concert, Aqours 4th LoveLive! ~Sailing to the Sunshine~, happening right when this post is published, the Love Live staff graciously livestreamed the first live that took place back in February 2017 on YouTube and the Bandai Channel website about a week ago.

Now given that I can pretty much call myself an avid Love Live fan, you’d think I’m just rewatching this concert for the nostalgia, right? Well… you’d be surprised 😛

I actually have never seen a Love Live concert in full-length before last week’s broadcast. It’s not like I didn’t want to, I’ve actually been dying to watch one; it’s mainly because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to view an LL concert. Various factors like me not having enough money to buy the Blu-Rays, time to go to delayed viewings, and while I could pirate it online (fully subbed in English actually, thanks to Team ONIBE)… it doesn’t feel right to do so lol (also I’m too impatient with the long download times anyway). That being said, being able to finally watch a Love Live concert for free and in the comfort of my own home, I just couldn’t turn down that opportunity.

After waking up at 2 am and staying up until around 5:30 watching the live last Sunday, I had some time to indulge in it fully so now, I’d love to share my overall thoughts on Aqours’ first major concert.


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Man, where do I start? I actually have never seen or reviewed a concert before, so hopefully this write-up will make sense. 😛

Well I think one thing that stood out to me personally is the song selection itself. If I can recall correctly, I was listening to Love Live music non-stop around the time when I finished the first season of Sunshine!!. Now that I’ve, for the most part, branched out to more general J-music, hearing the songs I haven’t heard in a while such as “Mijuku DREAMER” and “MIRAI TICKET”, was just great nostalgia. But interestingly enough, this live also did help me enjoy songs that I never really listened to that much. Basically, I don’t consider myself an expert on the Aqours discography and I’ve even done a terrible job keeping up with 95% of the recent released stuff. Everything from character solos, some of the subunit songs, even the highly-praised and supposedly Aqours’ “Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari”-esque songs “Thank you, FRIENDS!!” and “No.10″… yeah it’s bad lol.

But I will say that after watching the first live, I definitely think watching the other four will help me catch up with every other Love Live fan regarding the music of this franchise. I say that because I just fell in love with some of the featured songs that I barely listened to in the past such as Guilty Kiss’ “Strawberry Trapper” (THAT SONG WAS HYPE MY GOODNESS). I’ve been a Guilty Kiss fan for a while now (from listening to incredible songs like “Shadow gate to love”) but god DAMN, that song and “Guilty Night, Guilty Kiss!” make this group an amazing one (not saying the other subunits are bad lol).

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The performances in general were super impressive to watch, mainly because the seiyuu did such, such, such a great job even though it was their first time being in a major event. I was mostly impressed with the live vocal performances from all the ladies, the more notable ones being Inami Anju (voice of Takami Chika) and Kobayashi Aika (voice of Tsushima Yoshiko). I’ve heard these girls perform live before, some of the ones I’ve watched had some iffy vocal performances like, and it hurts to say this, Saito Shuka’s (voice of Watanabe You). But honestly, as I said, everyone sounded beautiful and every single song performance was done in a great fashion. Some of my favorites were “Koi ni Naritai AQUARIUM” (Shuka KILLED it and looked gorgeous :P) and definitely “Yume de Yozora o Terashita”, everyone from Aikyan to Kinchan sang unbelievably good in that song.

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One performance that I’d like to note was the one for “Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare”, the song that was featured in episode 11 of the first season. I bring this one up because it’s… I guess, infamous for an incident that happened on the second day of the live. If you have seen the anime (and spoiler alert btw), you’d know that the character of Sakurauchi Riko had to perform at a piano recital while the rest of Aqours performed at the Love Live preliminaries without her. The song, “Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare” has a piano solo done by Riko and in order to be identical to the anime scene, they asked Aida Rikako (the voice of Riko) to actually play the solo live during the concert. The problem was, Rikyako did not have ANY prior piano experience. So that being said, she learned how to play the piano in only three months and managed to learn the piece in time. Day 1 comes along, she does a great job with the piano solo. However, Day 2 had a different story as Rikyako messed up at the beginning, started to tear up and actually had a panic attack. Some of the seiyuu quickly rushed up to comfort her and help her calm down, and after a few minutes, she recovered a little bit and managed to finish the piece without further mistakes.

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This event, nicknamed “The Rikyako Incident”; I knew about it before experiencing the live but I never actually watched it since I thought I couldn’t handle seeing this supposedly really bad mess-up Rikyako did. When I finally watched it unfold, it was definitely tense and heart-breaking to watch; obviously you don’t want to mess up in front of thousands of fans and seeing some of the other ladies tear up while Rikyako calmed down like Aikyan, it was almost going to make ME cry (lol). But while this can definitely be perceived as bad, it also was a beautiful moment to watch… not regarding Rikyako messing up specifically. The fact that Anchan and others quickly ran up to comfort her and also her performing the rest of the piece flawlessly, it was just heart-warming to see the friendship between everyone and how inspiring Rikyako is as a performer and person.

Alright, moving on. A notable thing that I happened to me while watching the various performances was that I noticed the small things that I never really paid much attention to in the past. I’m mainly talking about the dance sequences and the outfits respective to their specific songs. Like, I didn’t pay much attention to those even though they were shown in the anime and character images. However since it’s live and the performances aren’t mixed in with scenes from the anime, you definitely noticed more regarding the two things mentioned. For example, realizing CYaRon’s outfit actually looks gorgeous or seeing the devil symbol on Aikyan’s left boot for Guilty Kiss’s (mainly because she actually pointed it out), it was nice to see the small touches and overall the deep thought that was put into outfit design.

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Suwa Nanaka (voice of Matsuura Kanan) and Takatsuki Kanako (voice of Kunikida Hanamaru) in the AZALEA subunit outfits

Between songs in the setlist, there were “breaks” or what the actual term is, “MCs”. “MC” stands for “master of ceremony” or “mic controller”, essentially meaning the idols have some fun talking to the audience for a bit. However, I couldn’t understand what they were saying since I can’t understand Japanese and it wasn’t subbed in English. But despite the language barrier and a tiiiiny bit of context from watching videos and such in the past, I still could tell they were having fun goofing around on stage. I mean, I smile just seeing them in general so I’m fine not understanding a lick of what they’re saying. But anyways, the MC usually had the ladies talk to the audience, start chants with them, and even orchestrating penlight waves. Other than them having a good amount of power over their fans, the fan interaction was definitely fun to see. Alongside the MCs, there were a few intermissions that pretty much recapped the first season of the anime, featuring various clips from the episodes. It was a nice reminder of the story side of Aqours since I haven’t seen the anime in a while, nothing too special.

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source: Reddit

Going back to the topic of fans, I bet the atmosphere in that audience was incredible to be a part of. Japanese idol fans, as some of you may know, can be really passionate about their idols and have a strong desire to support them. The Love Live fanbase is probably a perfect example since most are hardcore fans who buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, have eleven penlights in their hands, know all the chants and penlight gestures during song performances, lose their voices cheering for the girls, etc., etc. So being surrounded by fellow fans and having the same amount of love and passion for our idols… I bet it was an unforgettable experience for most.

And lastly, the stage visuals. I could tell the crew behind all the lives work really hard to make the stage look great for the performers, and while the First Live’s visuals aren’t as intricate as the other ones like the Third Live’s, it was still a great-looking setting. The rainbow backdrop, the runway, the center circle with various graphics projected onto it; the stage was definitely used well by the ladies and looked amazing. The crew absolutely did a nice job with the behind the scenes duties.

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Well, I think that’s pretty much all I gotta say. Finally watching a Love Live concert in full-length, while a bit frustrating since I could only watch it at 2 in the morning, was an amazing experience for myself. Everything from the songs, the performances, the outfits, to the overall presentation of the live; I could tell a lot of work and love was put into this from both the Aqours seiyuu and the crew. For their very first major event, they did such a great job and I can’t imagine how much better they’ve done since, in the following four lives.

Also I think it’s obvious but this live definitely made me want to watch the others, even the μ’s ones (it’s guaranteed I’ll cry while watching the μ’s Final Live); I’m dying to see the live performances of some songs like “HAPPY PARTY TRAIN” and “My MAI Tonight”. Thankfully delayed viewings exist for overseas fans and after seeing the First Live (and reading a blog post a while ago from fellow idol/Love Live enthusiasts Leap and Carriage regarding DVs), I’d LOVE to go to one.

Last thing, the Aqours 4th Live is going on right as I’m writing this sentence (12:00 am PST/5:00 pm Japan Time) and I just hope the ladies are killing it right now. I also hope there will be a 4th live delayed viewing for us foreign fans 🙂

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Thanks for reading!! 😀

-al

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