Live Report: Morning Musume ’16 At Anime Matsuri

Morning Musume Anime Matsuri Badge 2016

Few people get to see their favorite idols in person due to distance. Trips to Japan usually involve a ton of money on tickets, lodging, as well as the all too common language barrier.

Thankfully anime conventions provide fans and groups alike a golden opportunity to come together. They’re usually small, but the impact it makes on us outside of Japan is big.

Morning Musume ’16 have been performing regularly overseas for quite some time. New York, Los Angeles, as well as Europe and other parts of Asia. All have been in different areas of the world, but now it’s Houston’s time to shine.

Having been a fan since 2006 I have always seen others post their photos and stories of meeting their idols, and finally I got a chance to do the same.

Granted, I didn’t get a chance to go to any autograph sessions due to time and schedule confusion and I didn’t get to buy any goods (I forgot to do so until Sunday after the last shirt they had was sold), but by far this was an unforgettable experience.


Convention


I’m big on being positive, but it just has to be said: Anime Matsuri itself was not good.

Since I first arrived until the concert ended, there was nothing short of problem upon problem. Most notably pre-concert: A ticket system was established at first, then taken away to make it easier for everyone, then established again by a confused staff member, then taken away once more shortly after.

That coupled with the late concert start, confusion, random lines being made on a whim by staff made up of volunteers who were not aware of what to do, miscommunication between everyone, etc.

It can best be summed up by the answer from a person in the crowd after the concert in response to the owner of the convention. After they said “We can always bring them back next year” you could hear a soft voice say “Yes, not here though”.

Not that big into the actual anime convention.

Thankfully the fans made up for it.

Morning Musume 2016 Houston Line

Standing in line with people from all across the world, with different nationalities, ages, and personalities with who you share a passion with is nothing short of a treat everyone should experience.

Talking about our favorite songs, blasting Momusu music from the 1st single to their latest releases while we all enjoyed each note, as well as doing Wotagei with glow sticks while Japanese fans shared their stories.

By far this experience alone showed me the passion we each have for this unique group and it helped solidify the amazing concert that would follow.


Concert


Back when I started Hello! SayuNii, I would regularly stay up late to make sure the concert setlists would get published when they were released at the start of a tour. Many times I would think to myself “I wish I had been there, I love that song!” or “Everyone looks so excited waving their glow sticks”.

I finally I got a chance to do just that and it was an experience that has reignited my love for Momusu tenfold.

Simply stepping into the darkened hall with a brightly lit stage and joining the many other brightly clad fans with their glow sticks was enough to get you excited.

Morning Musume 2016 Houston Start

MVs for ANGERME, Juice=Juice, and Morning Musume played on the screen while we waited. No one was on stage but everyone still waved and sang along to the songs as they slowly warmed up for the performance that would follow.

Member colored balloons floated across the crowd as excited fans jumped up to hit it with their glowsticks.

Each gap between the MVs was full of anticipation.

The wait was long, but after a brief introduction from the organizers of the event we got an intro video showing off pictures of all of the members, introducing them each by name until we finally got to see them all run on stage waving excitedly to the crowd.

Seeing them smile as they ran out was by far the highlight of my life as a fan. Mizuki, Kanon, Ayumi, as well as newer members such as Nonaka Miki all waving at us from a few meters away was enough to get me pumped as the stage darkened and they started the concert off with a bang.

Morning Musume 2016 Houston Concert

The newer generation of Morning Musume has an EDM heavy sound, and while it might sound epic through some good headphones, nothing can compare to having speakers actually make you feel every note.

Of course, I’m a big fan of Mizuki so the bulk of my time was spent enjoying as she smiled at all of us and held a presence as the leader that can’t be described. Still, every member caught my eye more than once with their personality and voice giving them each a chance to shine.

Even Nonaka Miki, who had to sit on a chair due to a fracture she got some weeks before the concert, managed to dance along with the members while sitting. Her dedication and personality made her one of my favorite members of the group immediately (after Mizuki of course).

The songs were all on point, but the highlights are the MC segments where Mitsui asked fan questions to the members of the group as they responded and joked alongside with her as she translated for us (the “Who’s your favorite Senpai?” section was adorable to say the least).

That combined with the full English introductions from each one of the members, including Suzuki’s infamous “No no no” segment and Masaki’s “I can do it”, were all the cherry on top of the idol cake.

Each song was packed full of energy, excluding of course a ballad in the middle that gave us a nice way to relax before plunging into more electronic goodness. The energy was just overwhelming with everyone waving their glow sticks to the beat.

That combined with the members singing passionately and moving their bodies to the beat was enough to make for an epic concert. Of course, Ayumi stole the show in terms of dancing, notably with her receiving the solo dance number from Tsumetai Kaze to Katamoi.

I might not be the person who jumps the most at concerts, but the energy from fans and the members got me pumping my hands alongside everyone and by the end of the concert I was getting into every beat while singing along (excluding some parts where I was just so happy I couldn’t help but stare and smile).

Morning Musume 2016 Houston Medley Costumes

The highlight of the live would definitely have to be them changing their costumes mid-medley to reveal white dresses with US flags and “I love Houston” patches on them. It happened out of nowhere as the songs switched, and each member twirled as the outfits transformed.

Magical idol powers in full effect (or a talented costume designer).

I could go on and on, but many other fans have shared their stories on forums, Twitter, Facebook, and we all agree: the concert, while shorter than their New York performance, was still amazing.

From the moment they stepped on stage with big smiles to the end of the performance when Mizuki stood on stage alone at the end after everyone left and gave us one final bow as we waved goodbye, it was epic.

Setlist

  1. One and Only
  2. Oh my wish!
    MC
  3. ENDLESS SKY
  4. Renai Hunter
  5. Sukkato My Heart
  6. Love & Peace! Hero ga Yattekita
    MC with Aika – Mizuki, Harunan, Kudo, Oda, Ogata
    costume change, out comes Eripon, Kanon, Ayumi, Maachan, Maria, Akane
  7. Medley (Souda We’re Alive, Love Machine, Renai Revolution 21)
    MC – photo session
  8. Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi
  9. The Matenrou Show
  10. Ai no Gundan
  11. Wagamama Kinomama Ai no Joke
  12. What is LOVE?Encore call (Zukki call)
  13. HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN?
    MC
  14. One Two Three

Conclusion


The ability to share an experience of this magnitude with people like yourself is a treat everyone should enjoy, especially from one of the most well known idol groups: Morning Musume.

They were the group that started my journey into J-pop, and seeing the group that started it all a few meters away from me for the first time was by itself something that blew my mind (a tad emotional I will admit).

Sure, you can get a Blu-ray and see any concert tour you choose whenever you want, but singing along to the songs while the members smile and cheer with you as they dance around the stage completes the concert in a way few people can explain.

The fact that so many people attended their concert and that the line itself stretched across the entirety of the center is a testament to their history and how loved they are by fans overseas.

This was an unforgettable experience, and one I will continue to relive through their music each day.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the experience amazing. To those fans who shared glow sticks with everyone in line, to those who shared the songs while we waited, as well as the others who shared their stories, experiences, and love for Momusu with everyone.

It’s hard to find fans who are as welcoming as the people I encountered, but the fact that just being in line and being able to talk to the person next to you as if you were life long friends is a testament to why I’m happy to be a fan.

Come back soon Morning Musume ’16!

Morning Musume 2016 Houston Anime Matsuri

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