Monday, December 21, 2015

Arashi Live Tour 2015 "Japonism" 12/17 in Fukuoka - The Concert Experience

Japonism was an album that was made with performance in mind (actually, come to think of it, what Arashi album isn't?), and this year, I had the immense fortune of hitting for amazing arena tickets that just bordered the moving stage's trajectory, so needless to say, I worked Fukuoka into my winter travel schedule, and paid my first ever visit to Yafuoku Dome.

Yafuoku! Dome, under some beautiful, forecast-defying weather on Dec. 17.
I'll skip all the pre-concert drivel, but in short, everything went by without a hitch. I went to the Dome around 3pm to avoid the early morning crowds and shop for my concert goods. It was nice and bright when I got there (see picture above), there was barely any line for the goods, plenty of the venue-limited masking tapes were still available (they hadn't even started limiting the number per person yet), and I got everything I wanted within 30 minutes.


My clumsily (but lovingly)
home-made uchiwas
I came back around 5:30 for the concert proper, and spotted lots of people inside the Dome wearing amazing costumes. There were home-made T-shirts/happi with various Arashi-themed designs, girls with ostentatious hair decorations in their favorite member's colors, and even some people dressed up in Santa dresses. Arashi fans, in general, are pretty friendly people, and the girl sitting next to my companion helped us set our penlights properly before the show started. There were two older women with a child on my other side, and they struck up a conversation with two girls in front of me, complimenting them on their home-made T-shirts (they were in Aimiya colors). The older fans had binoculars, and I saw them lending them to the younger girls when their ichibans were doing interesting things later during the concert (super nice of them!). I had my uchiwas for Arashi, Aiba, Ohno and MatsuJun, and a large green bow in my hair. I'm told that the Fukuoka Dome is a bit on the cozy side, seating just 40,000 people, but it still felt pretty big to me (I haven't been to Kokuritsu, so my frame of reference is the even cozier Hawaii Blast at Ko Olina xP). We were situated slightly right of midline, just beside where the moving stage passes by, and just behind the little rectangle that extends from the main stage. The main stage had a large banner that said "Japonism" on it hanging from the top, and was flanked by large, stately pillars on either side. Behind the banner, we could see band members getting into position.

Then the concert started just after 6. The lights dimmed, and we all screamed our excitement. All screens began showing a video of cartoon!Arashi. All five members were depicted in Skytree, looking out at modern Japan. Nino was playing his game (lol). Each member then had a vignette of a modern version of himself looking in on an "ancient" version of himself. Nino was an armored samurai duelling on a war-torn field with fluttering yellow flags. MatsuJun was dressed in purple robes with a samurai-hairstyle, and sat on a tatami mat in a purple castle. Aiba was a bamboo-cutter in a forest with a child on his back. Sho was a nobleman meditating by a koi pond with bright red maple leaves falling around him. Ohno was a blacksmith making a sword. Their voices all say something as the cartoon shows the modern version realizing that the ancient version has the same face as them. I can't remember what exactly each one said. But I think Aiba's said "What is it that you protect?" and Sho's was something like "It's beautiful, ne?" Flash forward to modern day again, and we see the text announcing the start of this tour glinting on the screens. The large "Japonism" banner fell, and five coolly posed figures stood where it had hung.

And now comes the moment that marks the beginning of my memory's deterioration that night. Now, this is not my first time seeing them live, but as soon as I saw their faces in the faint glow of their golden costumes, my mind stopped taking notes, and what follows is basically a mere representation of the concert that my boggled consciousness somehow pieced together. There are certain moments I remember more clearly than others, and perhaps the order of things is a bit messed up (I seem to always have trouble remembering what song they did such-and-such during). My Japanese is also not perfect, though I flatter myself to think that I understood most of what was said in the MC and during the ending speeches. So with these disclaimers in mind, we'll proceed.

The first song of the night was Sakura, and they did the same choreography as on M-ste. It looked hot, and every member (Jun and Aiba especially) had this intense manly look on their face throughout.

Arashi then greeted us, each person saying one line of a pretty generic welcome message. And then all five kneeled down to bow to us. The crowd loved it!

Miyabi-night was also somewhere in the beginning, and I felt my emotions beat to the edgy, yet distinctly Japanese melody. It was a beautiful song, and got the performance it deserved, with the Juniors entering the stage with traditional props, and Arashi moving with both force and elegance.

Then, some more familiar, rowdier tunes resounded in the Dome as we were served with a double course of Wild at Heart and Troublemaker. Some people in the audience were doing the choreos to these songs. I was impressed. Our penlights were synced and it made for a fabulous view as we all did the "sweet sweet" parts in Troublemaker. For these two songs, Arashi moved to the back end of the arena, so I was turned around and could see the stands. Believe me when I say that the view was amazing! The unity in our movements was perfect; just imagine 40,000 pastel blue penlights twirling to the rhythm, rising and falling to Sho's orchestrations, and occasional patches of audience breaking the trend to wave in a crazed frenzy as one of the members got close. (side note: I was at the Digitalian concert last year, and I am immensely, IMMENSELY, happy that MatsuJun decided to ditch the cumbersome fanlight for a more traditional and equally synchronizable penlight. I mean, I know everyone loved the fanlight and it looked great on DVD and all, but as a concertgoer, that thing was just too big. It was the size of a jumbo uchiwa, and it made it impossible for us to do a lot of the familiar choreography to songs like Hadashi no Mirai, Troublemaker etc. Hell, we could barely even wave the iconic "Arashi Arashi for dream" move with that awkward fanlight.) The entire audience seemed to anticipate the usual skinship in Troublemaker, and all eyes were on Yama when it came to the time to do the heart. MatsuJun was right behind the heart, and he turned around after it with a bright smile. My Jun-the-Super-Idol feels were strong.

The opening aisatsu's  were pretty much their customary ones. Aiba's voice broke, as usual, because his larynx just can't keep up with his fever-pitched excitement, and he had us screaming louder and louder. Ohno's "hi~!" drew some giggles, and sounded just as cute as ever. I don't think he said "Fukuoka matsuri dei" this time, though. It was some other word instead of "matsuri" (maybe "utage"?). Sho-kun had us yelling "Arashi" with fervor. He had the men in the audience yell (very half-hearted cheer from the men, since there were so few of them, lol!) and then he called out for all the ladies to yell (this got a much more fervent response ^.^). He pointed at the stands, at the arena, and then waved to the whole Dome. We screamed and cheered like a bunch of mad people, and the penlights twirled in the air in complete controlled, Japanese chaos.

During Make a wish, the members dispersed to various areas of the arena. Sakuraiba fooled around with each other; Sho messed up a dance move he was supposed to do with Aiba, and Aiba laughed at him. There was some skinship (can't remember if Aiba hooked an arm around Sho's shoulder or if they just leaned their heads close to each other), and the crowd squealed. The Aimiya girls in front of me were in a state of hyperventilation, one of them muttering "yabai, yabai, yabai!" to the big screen that showed the close-up of SA's grinning faces. At the end of the song, all members minus Nino went back to the main stage, and everything went black to usher us into Nino's solo.

A spotlight flashed on the middle of the extended stage. Nino is illuminated, dressed all in white, with a funny light-stick in his hands. He plays around with it like it's a cane, a sword, or a martial arts stick, but before he does too much-stick action, he taps his feet like a tap-dancer. But instead of a sharp metallic click that a normal tap-dancer makes, his shoes produce a cutesy, video game-like sound effect. Nino smirks at the audience, as if to say, "Betcha weren't expecting that!" and holds his stick at a different angle (he uses both hands with grasp it, and the stick glows a different color as he changes its positioning). Then, he starts tap-dancing again, and the screens are filled with close-ups of his nimble footwork. This time, though, the sound effects are a slightly different kind of video game noise. Nino looks at us again with the same smirk, and readjusts his stick over and over again, each time he does so, the tap-dance sound changes until at the end, he's basically tapping out a whole melody just by changing the lightstick position and tap dancing. I am unsure if he is actually using the same technology as the "Hope in the Darkness" muscle-movement detection here, but I would not be surprised if it was something similar. The audience is enraptured. Then, Nino stops, smirks again to our giggles of amusement, and the familiar intro to "MUSIC" starts. He tap dances throughout the song, providing some of his own accompaniment, and the stage he's on begins to slowly rise. We can see on the screens how the floor of the stage has a bunch of blocks he can step on to gain points as if he's in a video game. And the main screen has all these game effects added on it, with "+points" and "GREAT" and other such words popping up every time he makes a particularly fine move. Nino's face is all concentration as he dances now, and his flailey movements are super adorable!

After the fun and games from Nino, the lights dim again, and the mood becomes decidedly more sensual as the lone silver spotlight beams down on a handsomely lazy looking MatsuJun lying on a vintage red couch with his face to the ceiling. He's situated higher up on the main stage, closer to where the screens are, and as he rises, we all squeal at the way his very eyes drip kakkoii-ness. He's dressed in some suit. The details escape me, but it looked elegant. And he felt... dangerous. Jun's "Don't you love me?" was pretty much an episode of "This is MJ" in stage format. That, or it was Jun's self-made tribute to his stunts coach. It was entirely, from head to toe, action-packed, handsome, urgent, elegant, and above all, full of unabashed, MJ-style S.W.A.G. He hops down to the main stage, all unconcerned-like, singing his song, and saunters across. But then! A wicked junior appears, and we sense that he's after Jun. The junior chases our superstar up a set of large metal box-pieces (conveniently forcing Jun to show off some of his tight climbing skills), and then chases him down another set of boxes (again, conveniently forcing him to show off some pretty high leaps; I can tell why Jun said he ached all over rehearsing his solo). Jun runs up the railings of the main stage, where he gets cornered by more juniors, until he has no choice but to swing off the railings to a lower level. At the end of the song, he times it perfectly so that he flops back down on the couch he started on, with a perfect flip of his hair. Kakkoii to the max!
(afternote: After reading the concert pamphlet, I realize that MatsuJun had based his solo moves on something called "parkour," which I honestly have not heard of until now. It's basically like a sport/stunt where people try to navigate through an environment full of obstacles using just their bodies in as fast and efficient a way as possible. Read: every action sequence in a superhero/assassin movie in recent cinema).

The spotlight dims on Jun, but two (or maybe three) spotlights come up on different sections of the main stage structure, illuminating two other members (Nino and Aiba? Nino and Ohno? I forget who was where). They start singing In the Room, which of course, was just like MJ's kakkoii spirit x5! The spotlight leaves the two members and comes up on another two. I remember Sho sitting at the very bottom center of the main stage in a big red chair, but the other members were basically just in these little coves carved into the main stage structure (they all had a red chair or couch to sit on!). Finally, all five spotlights shine on the stage to reveal all five members, each in their own little cove, and they were all playing it so, so coolly (especially Aiba, who somehow manages to look both incredibly hot and cute when he tries to pull off the kakkoii look! xP). When we got to the Sakurap, all lights faded away and there were special effects around the main stage as Sho was highlighted in the middle, rapping away with a super intense look on his face. I felt shivers of pleasure run down my spine as he rolled over every syllable in the word "uncontrollable." That's just the thing about Sho. Most of the time, he's content to be responsible, mature, a good sport for his bandmate's jokes, but when he decides to turn that sex appeal on, it is on, ladies and gentlemen. And no matter how embarrassing he finds it later on, he always looks perfectly comfortable and in his element when the show is still going.

"Masquerade" went by in a blur of flashy Broadway bulbs as the mood swiftly changed from sinful red seduction to sweeping, jaunty romance. The boys all wore hats, and danced with mic stands in front of them as the bulbs lit up the main stage. The choreo for this was jazzy, smooth and sweeping at the same time. I really enjoyed their formations, and the boys were clearly having fun doing this. I must say, I was rather captivated by MatsuJun here. That man just has a body built for fedoras and Broadway splendour! The crowd squealed when all five threw off their hats (yes, Ohno choreographed this!), and I gasped in shock as they produced hip flasks at the end, took a swig, and then spat out the water (which I guess was supposed to represent liquor). It was a nice effect, seeing that puff of mist ejected from their mouths. Very cool, devil-may-care attitude from Leader in this choreo! Loved it!

Another set of concert staples followed (Hadashi no Mirai, Happiness, and GUTS!), which had us all happily doing the choreo with them. During GUTS! Juntoshi were on the same float, and they did this thing where they danced as one person, so Jun did the moves with his right hand and Ohno with his left. It actually went very smoothly, and was hilarious, because for the part where they mime pitching the ball, Ohno actually pretended to follow it with his eyes with an exaggerated, open-mouthed look of awe. We all laughed at that.

All five members then gathered in the middle of the extended stage to pull their Cupid's bows for Ai wo Sakebe. The crowd seemed especially excited for this song, and many of them were dancing along (the Aimiya girls even did the air guitar parts!). Kaze's smiling/crying face and Yama's big heart drew the appreciative noises as usual.

The MC came next, and it was both easy to understand (for my level of Japanese) and full of hilarious intermember-teasing. I can't remember the exact order they said things in, so I'll present everything in bullet points:

- Regarding the Ai wo Sakebe choreo: For the move where they point their fingers to the sky in succession during one of the "Ai ai ai ai ai shiatte"s, Sho was remarking to Nino how it was incredible that some fans would follow the choreography of their favorite member, and actually count the beats until it was that member's turn to point up. They then act out the move, and Nino says that Aiba-san's fans must have it hardest, since Aiba's the last one. But Aiba then answers, no, my position is the easiest because it's the last one! He seemed super happy to be mentioned by Nino in this manner (*shipper heart, don't mind!). Then Sho says something that I didn't quite catch. It was like, "if all the people around you are fans of the same member, than it'll be easier" or something. He also mentions something about how little space we have in the audience to do the dance moves, and when he acted it out with Nino they played around a bit.

-Aiba complains that Sho messed up the "Make a wish" choreo and gets tsukkomi'ed by Sho for not remembering the name of the song. They demonstrate the "ideal" version of the move, and then their "failed" version of the move. The other members laugh at the fail.

- Sho turns our attention to Juntoshi's synchronized GUTS! choreo. He asks them if they had planned to do that beforehand. Ohno says no. Apparently, during the last Osaka concert, MatsuJun just came beside him and told him to do it, so he went along with the moves, and surprisingly, it turned out smoothly. So today, they did it again. Sho then makes them repeat the move during the MC, and they do it perfectly, with both of their faces even more exaggerated during the pitching and batting parts (LOL esp at Ohno's face). The other members were all like, 'Eh?! You didn't plan it beforehand?" Then Aiba grabs Nino and says, "It can't be too hard then; let's try it." And he makes Nino do the synchronized choreo with him. He says "se~no~!" but Nino didn't seem to be expecting that, so he had already starting singing the GUTS! chorus, which of course prompted Aiba to tug on him. Nino's all cute and wide-eyed, like "Oh, you want to go with a 'se~no~?'" and Aiba nods, laughing "yes!" They were absolutely adorable, both giggling, Nino looking kind of embarrassed but secretly pleased (you know that look he gets when Aiba makes him do stuff like this?). They were not as coordinated as Juntoshi at first, and their hands were all over the place, which made us all laugh at them. They were both super goofy and smiley themselves, but they got better as the choreo progressed. At some point, Aiba gave Nino's chest a couple of thuds with his fist, and Nino yelped out "Itai~itai~!" much to our delight (we could all see him still secretly smiling and looking at Aiba from beneath his little lashes!).

-Jun (or maybe it was Sho?) remarks that there were a lot of people dressed as Santa in the audience, and he wonders if they had come from home dressed like that or if they changed into that costume when they got here. He seemed surprised to learn that people actually leave home in that costume (LOL). Nino says something about going to some other artist's concert and seeing loads of people in Santa costumes too.

-Sho thanks everyone for coming out to see the concert even though it was a Thursday, and that people must have rushed over here straight from work.

- The five members janken to decide who will go backstage to change into their next costumes first. It turned out to be Yama. So of course, Nino makes the "it's ojiisan-team vs the oniisan team" comment again. Ohno and Sho laugh, and Sho turns to the camera and makes a face, saying something along the lines of "Even though it'd be nice to be called oniisan, I'm getting older, so go ahead, call me ojiisan!" He looked really cute making that pouty defiant face. And Ohno adds a swift little "I'm 35!" just for good measure. God, Yama are great together.

- With just Kaze onstage, they start talking about Nino's projects. Aiba volunteers to do a monomane of Nino's character in Haha to Kuraseba (which he did in Osaka, too, apparently). Nino and Jun both looked amused. Aiba's all like "Well, for those who've already seen it, you guys will get it, for sure! You guys will get it!" Aiba then kneels down, and says a line "Machiko ga ne." I haven't seen the movie yet, so I didn't really get the joke, but it was cute just to see Aiba kneeling with that wide-eyed look on his face :) Both Nino and Jun burst out laughing. Jun pushes Nino forward with a "Show them the real version!" So Nino then takes Aiba's place in kneeling down. Before doing the line, he snarkily tells us, "Hey, you guys are all lucky; this would normally cost you 1800 yen to see, you know!" We LOL'ed so hard at that. He says the line, and then gets up again. MatsuJun chastises him for not doing the line properly, accusing him of mimicking Aiba's version on purpose. Nino then says something about how when someone asked him about a memorable line he had to say in Nagasaki-dialect at a stage greeting, he somehow couldn't think of any line but this one. Yamada the director asked him why he had to choose that line, of all lines, and Nino says he just fudged the answer. Aiba then acts all nervous, and tells Nino, "Don't you dare mention even the "A" of my name to Yamada-san!" (note: he's acting like he's afraid Yamada-san will find out he's been doing monomane's of Nino's character). To which Nino laughs and says, "Well I already told him!" Aiba lets out this huge "EHHHH?" while Jun snickers behind Nino. Then Jun and Nino talk about Sayuyu-san and how she called Nino a genius, which was apparently reported in the newspapers. Nino looks all smug at that, like "Yep, that's right, I am a genius." Then, I don't know why, but Nino does an imitation of Sayuyu-san, which we all giggle at. As our giggles die down, MatsuJun seems to break out of holding himself back and lets out a exclamation of "kawaii!" which of course  just renews our cheers some more.

- Yama come back on stage, all changed, and Kaze looks at the costumes they just changed into, as if about to make fun of them. Nino's all like, "wow such flashy clothes!" and Sho just plays it all cool, like "This is what we wear in private. We just came from home." We laugh at the joke, then Kaze exit.

-Sho asks Ohno to tell the audience what Nino's new drama SP is called. Ohno mispronounces "Bocchan" and instead says something like "Botsun" or something. Sho laughs, and during the conversation, Ohno mispronounces it once more on purpose. Sho then asks Ohno what the story's about. Ohno totally trolls us. His face is all serious, with his eyebrows scrunched up like he's thinking about it, and then he says, "Well, it's a story about a bunch of bocchans (young masters). It's a mystery drama! The goal is figure out who the real Bocchan is!" We giggle at that, because Ohno totally does not break character for even a bit. He points at a shocked-looking Sho, and says accusingly, "You're the real Bocchan, aren't you!" Sho starts backing away, and denies it ("chigaimasu!"), but Ohno advances, shouting "Omae ka! Omae ka!" Sho bows and apologizes and denies it, so Ohno advances even more and orders him to sit properly! Sho drops to his knees obediently in a seiza  position, with that wide-eyed look still on his face (it was absolutely hilarious! Everyone bends to Leader's will!). And then Ohno, still stern, orders him to lift his head up. Sho does so, and finally admits it is him. The whole skit was just hilarious. Poor Sho!

-Yama then talk about the multitude of shows they have had to record at this time of year. I didn't catch all the details of what they said, but they talk about how tiring it was and at one point, Ohno's like, "It was super yabai for me!" Sho then asks everyone to please stay tuned for a "Yabai Ohno-kun"

- Kaze come back onstage, and Sho asks Nino if he heard Ohno's talk about Bocchan just now. Nino says he did, and goes on to say that what Ohno said was a bunch of rubbish (lol). He then does a proper intro of Bocchan's plot, and asks everyone to please watch it.

-Aiba talks about how he came across Uekusa-san of Shonentai and how senpai congratulated him on Arashi's cover of their song, and how senpai called him "Ohba" instead of "Aiba." He even grabs Jun to act it out with him (Jun being Aiba and Aiba playing Uekusa-san's part). Everyone laughs. And either Jun or Nino asks if Aiba corrected him, but Aiba shakes his head no, "I just bowed and said arigatou gozaimasu!" Later on, in the ending speeches, Aiba says that his goal for 2016 is to not be known as Ohba-kun any longer (LOL).

They then perform Yoitoko, and Ohmiya did the back flips without incident.

Kimi e no Omoi was one of my favorite songs, and I'm so glad it was performed! As my overwhelmed brain would have it though, I somehow managed to forget just what exactly they did during this song. OTL. Looking at the setlist that someone else posted, I would venture a guess that this was around the time when the screens all lit up with collages of Arashi throughout the years. I remember feeling very moved when I saw the collage, and how it had this running date on it, and when it got to the day that each member joined Johnny's, their photo faded in, and when it got to Arashi's debut date, all five photos merged into a group photo of their debut. I remember the collage clearly, but for some reason, I just can't recall the song it played to! Something tells me it's Bokura ga Tsunaideiku, but I seem to recall it being shown earlier in the concert than that. Anyways, the collage would have gone well with either song, I think. And seeing the dates roll by just made it even more nostalgic. I felt another wave of regret that I didn't come to follow Arashi earlier, but at the same time, I felt proud to stand with them here in their 16th year. It was actually kind of nice, I thought, to "go back to their roots with them" as a fan who wasn't there with them in the beginning. This collage was probably the one moment during the concert where I actually thought I might let a few tears drop. Most of the audience was silent and still too. Even the Aimiya girls stopped waving their penlights.

Sho's solo began with him on banging on a big drum, all intense-looking. He did some tricks twirling his drumsticks, throwing them and then catching them. It was some pretty elaborate handiwork, and the whole time, he was drumming out a pretty consistent beat, too! He fumbled a catch slightly, and it was really obvious because it was shown on the big screens up close, but he picked up the stick and managed to continue without too much disruption. A few people laughed, but that died out quickly because the entire atmosphere of the Dome was just so... intense, masculine and full of this warrior beat of the drum. The solo started, and Sho began singing. Juniors entered the stage in a neat line, each bearing a drum, and the entire song had an insistent beat of drums throughout, which I personally found to be a little inconsistent with the powerful but slightly melancholic tone of the original song. I could see why Sho would want to do a drum performance though, given the Japonism theme and Arashi's penchant for always trying to challenge something new and technically difficult. And to be fair, the drumming was pretty cool. There was a part where Sho had to beat on his own drums, and then twirl his sticks up to beat on this other row of cymbals and drums behind him. There were some neat formation changes with the juniors, too! But I thought that this show of power would have perhaps worked better in a song like Kokoro no Sora.

Aiba's "Mr. Funk" followed, and he appeared on a long white fabric hanging from a balloon. He was dressed in a golden vest, under which he was shirtless (my inner heart was overjoyed!), and for the first verse of the song, he was mostly floating around on the fabric, singing. Staff members guided the balloon to the center of the extended stage, and he slipped off the fabric. Juniors dressed like a ragtag bunch came on and started dancing behind him. He had a lot of really hilarious dance moves, some of which would have fit right into a Disco Star routine. There was this one move where he had his arms up on either side of his head, and he would flap or bend them in a hilarious fashion. I know I'll be rewatching that on the DVD! In the middle of the song, the juniors start massaging his limbs and patting him with white powder (I think it's the kind gymnasts use to improve grip?). Aiba stands up to the crowd and and Juniors start the audience in a chant of "Mr. Funk! Mr. Funk! Mr. Funk!" We were all getting very worked up. The chants soften after a while, and Aiba gestures to us, indicating that he wanted us to keep telling us what his name was. Finally, he turns back to the fabric, and jumps right on it, shimmying his way up (my companion was impressed with his muscle work) and wrapping the fabric around his legs and waist. When the song finally ended, he let go with his hands and plummeted straight down until his fall was caught by where the fabric was wrapped around his legs. It was incredible to watch, and I think many fans had their hearts in their mouths just waiting (and knowing) what was going to happen at the end.

The FUNKY dance party followed, with most of the Dome following along with the dance moves just fine (I regret to say that there were moments when I myself was a little lost XP), but I think all in all everyone had fun, which was what counted! Arashi was peppered around the arena, guiding fans here and there.

Bolero! was not my favorite song on the album, but in performance it was a riot! The boys were dancing and twirling all over the place, freestyling it and just having fun in general. I think this was a pretty fanservice heavy number, too, and we got to see a lot of waves and peace signs.

It was difficult enough to pick a favorite solo from the album, and it's even more difficult to pick a favorite solo at the concert, because each one was so strong this time, but Ohno's stands out. He's not Leader for nothing, and if it's one thing I like about Arashi, it's their knowledge of how their differences make them strong. In the concert pamphlet's crosstalk, they mentioned that the "magic" performed in Ohno's solo was something that "only Ohno Satoshi could do," so of course, they let him do it. He appeared in a long green kimono with a traditional umbrella. He then proceeded to conjure umbrellas, fans, silks, all seemingly out of his sleeves or from thin air. He also put on a mask at the beginning and kept changing masks throughout the performance, whisking one off another so that it appeared as though magical. And it must have been with the use of some doubles, but there were other "Ohno's" dressed in the same outfit and masked that appeared at other parts of the stage seemingly instantaneously after one "Ohno" disappeared. Leader was so elegant, quick, smooth, and above all, artistic, that everyone again fell still, mesmerized by his magic. Right before his song started, he pulled off his kimono, up came the juniors, and he started singing and dancing in a black/red suit. I think for a lot of the solo, I was still busy trying to figure out how the hell he did all the conjuring tricks that I really can't comment much on the choreo, which I am kicking myself for now (I mean, what Arashi fan goes to a concert and then fails to concentrate during an Ohno solo, of all things? Heck, that solo alone is usually worth the 8500 yen admissions!). All I remember is that he had some very fluid, almost feminine moves in some parts, and that the synchronization between him and the juniors was spot on perfect, from the slide of their shoulders to the jut of their waists. Per-fec-tion. This is something I must relive on DVD.

The following two songs, Japonesque and Kokoro no Sora, pretty much cemented this sequence as one of the top in this concert. I mean, to have Akatsuki, followed by a groovy Japonesque and then bringing in the big gun with Kokoro no Sora? Those are three superb numbers, and I'm so happy they were put in succession because it'll make for a fantastic sequence to loop when the DVD comes out!

There was an interlude of traditional Japanese elements right after Ohno's solo, where juniors ran on stage to perform martial arts moves. A row of shamisen players was unveiled on the right side of the stage, and a row of taiko durmmers were revealed on the left. The lights would go up on one side, and that side would play furiously, until their lights dimmed and the other side's lights came on, during which the other side would play. There was some point during the concert where a bunch of juniors came out bearing dragons (like for a festival), and I want to say that it was during this part, but my memory is hazy in placing this. I liked the dragon. It was green, and the juniors were dressed in black, waving it aloft and having loads of fun.

For Japonesque, all five members appeared on an upper ledge of the main stage structure. They were dressed in long, billowing kimonos, each a different color (but not necessarily their member color). I think I could probably spend an entire paragraph describing their costumes alone. These were definitely the most luxurious, colorful costumes of the concert, and the way they swished their bodies to the "lajaja lajaja"s of Japonesque only accentuated how flowy and grand the material was! They also had umbrellas and fans at various points during the song (they would do a windy move with the fans for the "yurari yurare yurete" part and it was very seductive to watch!). They eventually came down to the main stage proper for the end of the song. They peeled off the kimonos to reveal a different costume for the next song.

Kokoro no Sora was performed with just as much force and vigor as in their music video. Sho sounded nice and fierce in his rap, and their solo dance parts in the interlude went by without a hitch. I particularly enjoyed watching Sho's little display of footwork there ^.^

We had another string of older songs, (Sunrise Nippon, Oh Yeah, and Believe), during which Arashi was again dispersed around the arena, fanservicing us all over. Leader remains the King of Fanservice in my book, and he was waving, peacing, fishing and pointing at people nonstop as he rode on the carts or the moving stage. I was not fortunate enough to make eye contact or interact with any member during this concert (MatsuJun was facing our side and was just two or three meters away on the moving stage at one time, but he happened to have his eyes closed in an intense moment of singing as he passed us; and Sho came very close twice, too, waving and nodding at people, but we were just three or four rows too far back for him to really notice us. Nino came close a few times, too on the moving stage and when he walked the extended stage, but he was waving up to the stands. Perhaps it is my perpetual bad luck to never get to see Aiba up close, because every time he passed by, he was facing the other side OTL; ah, well, what can a fangirl do? Though, to tell the truth, it is enough just to be able to watch his back and to see that brilliant smile of his on the big screen). But back to my point. Leader is indisputably the most generous with fanservice. And he has this way of smiling with his eyes as he points at you that makes my voice go all high even when it's not directed at me. The guy loves his fans. It's simple. It's written all over his face. I've seen him live three times now, and I'm more convinced than ever that this stuff just can't be faked.

During Oh Yeah, Leader and Nino were on different carts, but Leader was pointing at Nino with his hand cocked like a gun, and Nino at first didn't notice. Leader kept "shooting" Nino until he realized it and briefly acted as though he had been shot. They then laughed together. And during one of the songs here, Sho pretended to punch Nino with a force field, and Nino pretended to reel from the impact. Haha, the Neen is getting loads of "attacks" from his fellow members!

After Believe, all five gathered on the moving stage at the back of the arena. They were facing the stands. Four would stand in the unlit portion of the stage while one would step down to a part where the spotlight shone down on him as they did their ending speeches.

Sho went first. He said that this year's theme was to "go back to our roots" but that it was for the sake of moving forward that they are looking back. Then he said there was one thing he wanted to apologize to us for, and that was his mistake in dropping the drum stick during his solo. We all chuckled, and he apologized some more: "I'm sorry to all those who were looking forward to seeing it." We chuckled some more, and he said he felt embarrassed about his mistake and some other things, which the audience giggled through. He acknowledged that some of the audience did react to his mistake, and he said he knew we all understand, but he's just concerned because there are kids present, and it'd be serious business if the kids saw him being made fun of. We tittered a bit here, too. Then he gets into his "idol mode" and says something about wanting the kids to grow up properly and not laugh at other people's mistakes and hard work. (I <3 idol mode Sho.)

(Honestly, I did not get the feeling that he was upset here at all. He was pretty mellow, with maybe just a bit of "zannen" and "hazukashi" at making that mistake during his solo, but nothing too remarkable. In fact, I had left the concert feeling like this was one of the most perfect nights of my life; the boys were happy, enjoying themselves, and in their element, and the fans were enthusiastic, friendly and helpful towards each other.  The atmosphere was completely warm and benign, and even as we were leaving, all I heard was people talking about Haha To Kuraseba and the solos (I overheard two who loved Nino's!). It was only a couple hours later, when a fellow fan texted me asking about Sho and his "incident" that I was aware of how disproporionately this thing had exploded on the Internet.)

Ohno went next, and his speech seemed a little less organized than Sho's (lol, well, that's usually the case, I guess). He starts off by remarking that it had been two weeks since their last concert, and also had been a while since they've been in Fukuoka. He talks about doing the back flip for Yoitoko, and that he didn't rehearse it this time, but was still able to pull it off with Nino. He sounded a bit smug here, so we laughed. And he's all happy, like, "Wow, so my body is still able to move, after all!" He assures us that he'll do his best to keep his body in shape so he can continue to perform these things in the future. Then he pauses and admits that there's something that "if I don't say it, probably no one will notice, but I feel like I should say it anyways." Apparently, during the intro to his solo, he accidentally took off two masks in one go (he was supposed to take them off separately lol!). We all giggled at that, because really... nobody noticed that, Leader! So honest ^.^ He apologized some more for that, and promised us he'd do it properly the next day.

Aiba's aisatsu was short, but he seemed really high tension and smiley throughout. He starts with "I had fun!" He also remarked that it had been two weeks since he had to do his solo, and he was really nervous climbing up that fabric, thinking, well, what if he screws it up and just falls straight to the floor? He felt like his muscles were all stiff this time, but it was great that Mr Funk worked out well in the end. He thanks his senpais and kouhais, and then tells us his goal for 2016: not to be called Ohba anymore! We all laughed hard at that (poor Aiba!).

I don't remember all that much from Nino's aisatsu, because I think I was still in Aibaland, but I do remember him pointing out a pimple on his cheek (which became super obvious after he pointed it out) and going "itai yo ne!" He repeated that, "it really hurts, you know!" to our chuckles, and then he thanks us for coming.

Jun's aisatsu, I'll also admit, I zoned out for, because well... I'm a bad Jun fan, and I tend to forget his aisatsu at every concert! Maybe because he's the last one, and also the one who usually is the most "majime" and says the most flowery things? All I remember from this night's was him asking us to please continue to stay with them from now on, too. Of course, Jun, we'll stay with Arashi!

That led right into the last song, which was Bokura ga Tsunaideiku. It was a beautiful ending, and Jun especially looked really into it emotionally as he sang. The screens showed that picture of the five of them on the road (I think! This might have been a part of the earlier collage instead.). The screens also showed, at some point during this song, the anime versions of Arashi that played at the beginning of the concert. The anime versions all flash by quickly until everything faded to white and we ended with just a clock stating the current time and place, Fukuoka.

A chant of "arashi!" soon started, as we wanted an encore, but to be honest, our chanting was pretty weak. Perhaps people just assumed that we would get an encore because the streamers hadn't fallen yet (they fell during the last song of the encore). Anyways, after a very long few minutes, Arashi came back out on floats with their concert T shirts on to perform Yume ni Kakeru, Love So Sweet, and the time-honored A.Ra.Shi. There was a lot of audience dancing for the latter two! It was super fun! I've always loved Ohno's little solo part in Yume ni Kakeru, and it sounded just as good live! He had my heart during this con <33. During LSS, Ohno and Jun were on the same float, and there was a camera at the corner of it, which they would take turns to go up really close to it and make funny faces. Sakumiya were also fooling around on the other cart, doing the "airplane" move. During Sho's rap in A.Ra.Shi, Nino did some breakdance moves around him, and they high fived at the end.

At the end, Jun introduced the Junior units and the band again. Sakumiya were on the left side, right in front of the taiko drummers, and I noticed they were both in a seiza position, facing the drummers properly while the other three (on the shamisen side) were not (LOL). The traditional band played a shamisen version of A.Ra.Shi's chorus as they were introduced. Arashi then say their final thank you's and sink down the main stage. The camera lingered on a shot of someone's hand holding up a peace sign as they went down.

And that marked the last bit of Arashi we saw that night. It was a beautiful experience. I personally thought it trumped Digitalian by a mile in terms of aesthetic and atmosphere, but that's probably what I'll keep on saying every year: "This year's concert trumped last year's." Somehow, I think that's the kind of thing Arashi would want me to say every year, too. They try so hard, those five, they really do! And it shows, in the technicality of their moves, the elaborate sets, and the whole performance, which you can just tell takes a ton of time to put together and rehearse.

So, until next time, Arashi-san!


  1. "kneeled down to bow to us" as in dogeza? o.o

    haha I remember you complaining about the fanlight XD

    DAWWW video game sound effect. That sounds super cool though. And A LOT like Dance Dance Revolution hahahaha

    Sasuga Matsujun XD

    Ugh Juntoshi does things to my heart <3

    "The other members laugh at the fail" laughed*? Sorry XD

    From what I could tell on twitter, Jun was the one who talked about the costumes. Sho comments on something, but I don't really remember what he said..

    1800 yen? That's pretty expensive for a movie ticket XD

    LOL oh if only the plot of Bocchan was really like that...

    I remember Sho talking about being called Ohba-kun on Music Lovers a long time ago XD

    Ohno's solo sounds heavenly, as usual :D

    It's probably wrong, but the first thing I thought of was

    "too on the moving stage"?

    1. Yup, like a dogeza ^.^ They were being very formal, and it was very attractive :)

      I can't be the only one who thought the fanlight was cumbersome! But within my circle of fangirls, I think I was the only one who complained. And it was only to you lol.

      Yup 1800 yen. I actually saw a picture on Twitter of a fan who had the movie ticket. That is indeed the price (of course, you could also see the "machiko ga ne" bit for free in the trailer they played on that ep of Shiyagare with Yoshinaga-san)

      ORZ. Typos.

      I love when Ohno trolls. Especially when he trolls Sho or Jun. LOL.

      O's solo was, in my mind, the most beautiful. But Nino's was the most fun ^.^ I just love them all ^.^

      Actually, the dragon did kind of look like those Chinese New Year ones, but the juniors holding it up where all dressed in black.

  2. i really hope one day i can attend their concert..i'm a big fan of matsujun bytheway

    1. I hope your dream comes true! It's quite a moving experience :)