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[personal profile] summerqueen
So, before diving into my whirlwind trip to Japan in February, I need to do some 'splaining as to WHY I felt it necessary to fly halfway around the world for 4 days in Tokyo (and why I'll be back in Tokyo and Osaka in June/July)....

This has been a month in the writing, thanks to work business, and, really, truly, unless you want to see me babble like someone a quarter my age, you might just want to skip. Consider yourself forewarned. ^_^ (it's also long as heck)



What does one do when blindsided by a sudden, mind-blowing, unexpected obsession with something or someone? Well, if you're me, that tends to mean spending all my money on CDs & DVDs & magazines & posters and traveling to Japan as often as I can. Not to mention spazzing like a teenage girl (which I haven't been for a long, long … looooong time).

Case in point: I spent 2001 to late 2011 obsessing over seiyuu Okiayu Ryoutarou. Big time. My anime viewing selection was dictated in large part by his roles and my CD/DVD/magazine collection was driven by the need to own everything with him in it that I could get my hands on. And, starting in 2004, I actually started planning my trips to Japan with the express intent of seeing him on stage (Marginal Prince, TeniPuri, MaiMelo, Neoroma, Haruka, etc.). And I was thrilled as heck when he came to Y-Con, since I got to spend some time with him as a handler (though not nearly as much as I would have liked), even though he'd been warned up front I was an insane fangirl and was probably terrified of me. He felt pretty sure I'd be disappointed in the real thing, since they go through hair and makeup before going on stage, but far from it. I was obsessed as ever afterwards, in fact more so, really (Yes, I did steal a hug when I dropped him off at airport security. No way he was getting away with a handshake. And yes, my friends bought me his hoodie at the bishie auction. I call it my “trophy hoodie.”)

But now? Obsession gone. Disappeared. Poof. Like it was never there, save for the fond memories. Why? Nothing he did (even if I wish he could've been talked into dinner during said whirlwind trip, instead of radio silence when asked), and it's not like I'm tired of his voice; I still think he's amazing, and I still get a thrill seeing him on stage, listening to him sing, or exchanging the occasional tweet. It's just that someone else -- who I've been a big fan of for years -- kind of walked up, tapped me on the shoulder and knocked me out cold when I turned around. Suckerpunched me. Totally took me by surprise, tied me up and drug me off. And this new obsession? Worse, by far. More intense. More demanding. More all-consuming. I guess I'd forgotten what it was like to be newly obsessed with something/someone. It's kind of overwhelming at times, and rough on the wallet! And, no doubt, exasperatingly boring for anyone within tweeting/email/conversational range of me.

I find myself wondering what the last 8 years of being a fangirl might have been like if I had opted to go to the Neoromance 2004 summer live and heard him sing in person for the first time, rather than chosing a TeniPuri event, hoping Okiayu would be there (he was, and that's what kicked that obsession into overdrive; so things go). Seeing said performance on my wee computer monitor a few months later bowled me over as it was. I can only imagine if I'd been in the audience, soaking in his amazing voice (and admiring those tight, tight purple velvet pants.…), all my trips for the last few years would've been to hear him sing. Not a bad thing at all, but I can't go back and change the past, much as I wish I could (sorry, Okiayu-san). As it is, in a relatively short amount of time -- 3.5 years -- I've managed to see him on stage 12 times and meet him once, which should be enough to make any fangirl of his die happy. But I'm greedy, and I want more, especially the opportunity to meet him again, since he was gorgeous, funny and sweet and had soft, warm hands and a wonderful laugh…. But I digress.

If you follow me on Tumblr, yeah, you can guess who the heck I mean, since 99.9% of my posts there are about him. But if you don't (lucky!), and you're not around me in person (also lucky!), since I compulsively natter away about him ad nauseum, this current obsession is, yes, another seiyuu: Taniyama Kishou. I've been a big fan ever since I first heard him sing the Sukisho closing song back in 2005, adored his band Granrodeo from their first single, and have apparently been babbling about him to close friends for over 5 years, but never became single-minded about him in my fangirling. Until, for reasons unknown, when I got home from Japan in October, after finally seeing a full blown Granrodeo concert for the first time, "fangirl" turned into "obsessed lass" without warning. Dunno why. Delayed reaction to the concert, maybe (note: it didn't kick in while I was still *in* Japan)? I'm not complaining, mind you (though everyone around me may, before too long; heh. Even my mom knows who Granrodeo is now, if not necessarily Taniyama by name), I'm just still dizzy from the onset.

Here's what I emailed my friends after my very first Taniyama event (Guren Lagaan, on 8/10/2008, the day before his birthday):

And Taniyama ... besides being a sexy beast, it was his 33rd birthday and they wheeled him out a cake. He nearly cried, then blew out the candles ... got fed fingerfuls of icing from Konishi and Onosaka (which caused me to think very, VERY wrong things) ... and then, by request of the other seiyuu ... went face-first into the cake. *love*


Someone helpfully put up a clip of the cake diving; the fun starts around the 5:30 mark. He was also adorable throughout the rest of the show…. Alas, they left out the guys feeding him frosting.. I keep this clip on my laptop for occasional viewing.

To judge by all my other Taniyama-related babbling in which these two words feature in some fashion, "sexy beast" must be his middle name. Heh. He's no pretty boy, but sexy? Oh heck yeah. In spades. Particularly on stage, all sweaty from a show…. Ngh.

Here's what I had to say after meeting him at Comiket (at a Yojimbo-related handshake event) a little over a week after the Guren Lagaan event….

So with Taniyama, everyone was getting about 60 seconds to shake his hand and talk. He was holding court in the booth, wearing a loose shirt and a shiny tank top under it and looking absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. He's the only one of the three [ed note: the other two were Itou Kentarou & Takahashi Hiroki, who were also at that summer Comiket doing fan events] to do a double-take, and quite a double-take at that. ^__^  So after we exchanged hellos, I managed to get out that I'd been at the Gurren Lagaan event last week and enjoyed it a lot (why is it so hard to say something so simple?!? sigh), to which he said thank you. As they tried to shoo me away, I brought up the birthday cake he'd done a dive into and gave him a thumbs up. At which point he cracked up (go me!) and waved after me until I cleared the line, leaving me with a cheerful "Mata ne!" (I should be so lucky, heh).


That meeting would go oh so differently now, though I would probably be equally as nervous. Not that my Japanese is a whole heck of a lot better, but I would have something more coherent rehearsed. And they would have to drag me away (and I probably would've been wearing something in leopard print; funny how much of that has snuck into my wardrobe over the past few months). Heh. I really wanted to snap a picture, as I had with Itou, but with him waving enthusiastically at me, and the attention of the entire line and staff focused on me, I couldn't. They might have beat me up for my camera. ^_~

Then, the following year, after 4 Neoroma shows in Osaka, I wrote this:

Taniyama ... oh Taniyama. Words fail me. Almost. As I turned to Michi at one point after "Destination" on day 2, it's the difference between watching performers (no matter how amazing or talented) and watching a star. Taniyama walks onto a stage and *owns* it. Not only does his singing blow everyone away, he prowls, slinks, struts and dances around the stage like he's been there all his life. Admittedly, he's a singer first, seiyuu second, but damn, he's just a pleasure to watch. Also figured out part of the appeal: whereas the other seiyuu provide a safe, watered-down sexuality on stage (though that's largely debatable for Hayami at times), appropriate for their nominal fan base, Taniyama can't help but exude animal attraction when he's singing. He just does, raw and powerful and oh-so-appealing.


And … at Rocket Punch 4 in 2010, my infatuation continued:

And then ... my Valentine's present to myself: GranRodeo. OMFG, Taniyama. Too. damned. hawt. for. words. He's shaved some of the hair on one side, and it looks freakin' awesome on him. And, well, had I been second row, I might've been tempted to crawl forward and lick the fake tattoo (a pair of lips) off his neck. and his voice ... *puddles*. He's such an amazing singer. And he played the audience so well -- someday, I swear I'll get to a full GranRodeo concert. Their five songs were just not enough.

The guys all discussed chocolate during the "encore." Wish I knew what Nao-kun said that made everyone just completely crack up. I do know he made me think of Bunta when he was going "mmmm." Heh. Didn't land any of the towels that got tossed into the audience, and, well, the girl who got the shirt Taniyama stripped out of ... lucky bitch! ^_^ (and mmmmm, Morimori playing touchy-feely with both Nishioka and Taniyama -- must get mind out of gutter).


So, uh, yeah, this obsession was a long-time coming, I guess (I left out various other events where he was equally as amazing). Heh.

Anyhow, obsessions lead us to do insane things, and mine was deciding I needed to be at the Tokyo Zepp Happy Rodeo Life lives that were announced at the G6 Budokan show. Had to -- absolutely HAD to -- be there. My friend [livejournal.com profile] gokumew2, who had been lucky getting my floor seat to the G6 concert, tried to get me tickets in the lottery, but didn't have the same luck. So I turned to Yahoo Japan auctions, and picked up a ticket to each show that way (oh how I wish I had gotten over my annoyance at a particular scalper and paid for a ticket with a really low number; I won't skimp next time). I then secured the time off and my flight. I couldn't take much time off, so this meant flying out on 2/1, getting there 2/2, having one free day, the weekend of concerts, another free day and flying home (and going directly to work!). Totally insane, but I wouldn't have it any other way. ^_^

My first night in, I got to revel in all the Granrodeo and Taniyama things I'd ordered from amazon.jp and had sent to Mew's. Three photo books and some voice CDs, including the latest Mr. Tambourine Man DJCD (boo hiss that Amazon didn't provide the signed photo that should've come with that, 'cause it's cute). There may have been many delightful sounds made as I flipped through the books, yes. Day one was spent with [livejournal.com profile] sho_sunaga in Ikebukuro, first devouring a metric ton of sushi (and being fangirl happy that Okiayu tweeted what amounts to "bon appetit" to us), then hitting Seibu's "Chocolate Paradise" and then coffee (mmm, marron latte). We then parted ways, and I bought as much GR/Taniyama merchandise as I could fit into my hot pink leopard print shopping tote. It was a substantial amount of DVDs, CDs and magazines. I now own all the Mr. Tambourine Man CDs, one of which came with a mini-photo book, plus a very random voice CD that I still need to listen to. I resisted dropping 1200 yen on a UtaPri card of Natsuki signed by Taniyama … as Natsuki. They did have his actual autograph for sale, but because it came with about 7 other autographs (the Full Score cast), it was around 15000 yen, which I wasn't about to pay. Met up with Mew for dinner, since I wouldn't be seeing much of her over the next couple of days.

Day 1, up bright and early for the 90 minute train ride(s) to Odaiba. Goods went on sale at 1, so I figured getting in line by 12:30 might mean only an hour or so in line. Ha! Three hours later … three hours of standing in high heel boots, ow. Did catch part of the sound check through the Zepp doors, but none of us could tell what they were playing. There was an adorably cute Rodeo Boy in line in front of me, wearing a jaunty fedora and with his little GR chibis dangling from his messenger bag. Note: if I ever meet Taniyama again, I must thank him profusely for leading cute guys to dress in leopard print (this guy didn't, but there were others, including the one with leopard print leggings and a kilt -- *swoon*). It's much appreciated, and I did a lot of ogling while stuck in line, particularly the guy with an uncanny resemblence to Nakamura Yuuichi.

I did eventually get to the goods around 3:30 and snagged my pamphlet, calendar poster and hoodie (yay! I'd been lusting for the hoodie since they posted the tour goods on the Web site); then hit the DVD/CD table and bought the G5 DVD, claiming my bonus stickers and bromide in the process. Then dropped by the charity table and dropped some coins in to pick up my Happy Rodeo Life wrist bands. Took a few minutes to scrawl something fangirly on a questionnaire (What makes you happy?) at the Happy Rodeo Life feedback table and then dashed for the nearby First Kitchen so I could wolf down a bacon egg burger and not keel over.

Killed some time in Venus Fort, where I stashed my stuff in a locker (they were playing Enya in the mall, which cracked me up), then headed to wait in line to get in (Zepp tickets are lettered and numbered, and you enter by number -- I was in the A1510-A1520 range, so about halfway through the main floor numbers.). Once inside, dashed for the bathroom and to get a bottle of tea, then headed to the front … and quickly realized there was no way I was getting within 10 rows of the stage or anywhere near the center (see, should've paid the money for that one ticket). Ugh. Not that it stopped me from trying. I just didn't have much success. Not even with the Rodeo Boys. >_< Glanced up to the second floor to where the seiyuu in attendance would be seated, but couldn't pick anyone out.

And then, when the lights went out, there was this SURGE of humanity and I found myself a good 5 rows closer to the front on Takita's side. And squished between a whole lot of taller, younger people (and in a heck of a lot of pain because of the 4+ hours on my feet in heels at this point). They opened with Ai no Warrior, which is an awesome way to start a set, I have to say. It definitely gets the blood and feet moving! I really wish I could've seen the stage well for Beat It, Love!, since they had some large flags they were using (didn't see on day two, either, alas). Unfortunately, by the 7th song, silent DESIRE, I couldn't take the press of humanity any longer and picked my way back out of the crowd to a less populated spot about 1/3rd back on the floor … where I could actually SEE Kishow for once. I slipped my shoes off and enjoyed the rest of the show in relative comfort, and with a great line of sight to the stage and Kishow's lovely array of costumes (so sad I missed the plaid kilt one – but I did catch the grey leopard print track suit, which I absolutely adore). Kishow and e-zuka were in constant motion. The former has to lose several pounds in water weight per show, I bet.

The show followed the usual format of long set followed by short acoustic set by another long set and multiple encores and ran nearly three hours. Happy Life was … as beautiful live as I had expected and hoped, and was worth the price of admission alone. ^_^ And the other hard-rocking songs kicked serious ass. GR really were meant to be heard live, and for moving around to (can't call what was being done dancing, since in the mob, it was pretty much involuntary … but no less exhilerating!).

Managed to catch one of the hearts they released in lieu of streamers during the encore, but did not get Kishow's wristband, which the girl in front of me caught. >_< (good arm that he got it that far out!)

After the show, I reluctantly put boots back on and grabbed a frappucino and scone for the road … er, train and headed back to Kawagoe. In pain, but so very, very happy.

Second day, I was smarter and wore flats, and was prepared to do battle with the young'uns and get as close to the stage as I could. That proved to be about 2-3 rows back on e-zuka's side, so not too bad, although I had TALL people in front of me and I could only occasionally see Kishow. (I comforted myself that I could *always* hear him, even if he was out of sight!). Rodeo boys and girls are immovable objects, I discovered, though I tried like heck to get to the front row. I stuck out the whole show in that spot, which meant being pretty squished … and made me glad everyone behind me was a rodeo girl, since there was NO space between us. I did end up having to cling to the rodeo boy in front of me for a while when we were all bopping about at the beginning of the show. His t-shirt was probably a wee bit wrinkled from my desparate grip. Heh. Though given we were all as sweaty as the band by the end, he probably didn't notice.

Set list was largely the same, with a few different songs swapped in (Decadence, darlin'). e-zuka's solo was a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," which he also sang, in English. I sang along with him (and was probably one of the few folks there to know what the heck he was playing). ^_^ And at the beginning of the acoustic set, they did the Granrodeo theme song, which cracked everyone up! Kishow apparently left out a verse or two, because e-zuka chided him about it. Heh. I was too busy being amused to notice if he did. The audience also *insisted* later that Kishow had to sing at least some of the new single ("Can Do"). He finally obliged and sang a line or two a capella -- sounded awesome (and yes, it *is* awesome, now that I've heard a snippet of the recorded version).

When the band came back out for the encore, Kishow had a bottle of water with him … which he proceeded to take mouthfuls of water out of and spray it across those of us in the front. So yes, while not close enough to touch anyone, or even e-zuka's guitar when he held it out to us, I *was* close enough to get spit on by Kiiyan. Heh

At the very end, after the encore, I was very surprised when Kishow came over to my side of the stage and abruptly sat down … turns out he was hopping into the space between the stage and the barrier holding us back. He and e-zuka went along and touched as many hands as they could across the entire front of the stage. I was too short, alas. :( But it was incredibly sweet … and the smile on his face as he came to us was one of those ear-to-ear beautiful ones that lights his face up completely. If only he smiled like that more often…. I love the affection they obviously feel for their rodeo boys and girls. And for each other -- as, yes, the obligatory Kishow & e-zuka hug happened after both shows. ^_^

After the show, I ran out to check the goods table for towels, since I really, REALLY needed one, but they were sold out, so I just headed back into the Zepp to claim my drink -- cassis and vodka this time. Yum. I noted that everyone took their drinks outside … and into Venus Fort. No open container laws, it would seem. Hung out after that in the Venus Fort Starbucks for a while for coffee, a snack and some free wi-fi to babble on Twitter about the show.

See below for the set lists for each show. Good balance between CDs, and included songs they didn't play at the G6 show (which was heavy on Supernova songs, unsurprisingly). Was thrilled as heck to get to hear 21st Century Lovers again (they'd played it at Rocket Punch 4 in 2010) and to finally get to hear Soul crazy (love, love, LOVE this song), アウトサイダー (ditto!), ケンゼンな本能 and Not for Sale. And hearing Happy Life made me all sorts of warm and fuzzy (can I hope they do this one acoustic at the summer lives?).

I'm sitting here watching the documentary that came with the G6 DVD (ah, Gambit! One I haven't heard live, I don't think; ditto 欲望∞) and I'm reminded yet again how freakin' amazing these guys are live. Takita and Val are a seriously solid rhythm section, e-zuka is an amazing guitar player (and composer … and arranger and … yeah, he's just awesome!), and Kishow never fails to blow me away with his voice and the sheer magnificence of his stage presence. I've seen good singers (though probably no one better) and charismatic front men in concert before, but he's a whole other, higher level. So many seiyuu live events I adore, and then when I get the DVD, it's like “Uh, I guess I was caught up in the moment, 'cause everyone sounds … uh, not their best.” Not Kishow. Never. Even when it's just him and e-zuka goofing around on stage, being silly and laughing, he's impossible not to watch … or listen to. His vocals are spot on … and when he's just *vocalizing*, like in Decadence, nnnnngh. And I love the extra vocalizing he does for live versions of 21st Century Lovers, *swoon*. Do have to say that Beat It, Love! sounds much better minus the autotuning.... And I can't imagine the stage he couldn't make his own – the Zepp's no exception. (btw, if you've ever seen Gravitation, Zepp Tokyo is where Yuki goes to watch Shuichi play – that is pretty much what it looks like inside, though bigger).

Other random tidbits: e-zuka's new, sparkly guitar. I think it's the one he plays in the Can Do! video. The joking about UtaPri (the UtaPri bouquet in the lobby was cute), including a shout-out during the Go For It! fan call and response bit (the day before, it was “rodeo virgins,” heh.). The high pitched squeal when they asked if there were any UtaPri fans there tells me they've probably picked up some fans who have discovered GR through UtaPri. I think they mentioned the AFES show....

So, in short: worth the effort and every penny. Thank you to everyone who enabled me yet again! I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant two shows as awesome as these two.

Thanks to Mew, I'm now a member in the Team Rodeo Fan Club, so am holding my breath (figuratively) for the lotteries for the 4 summer shows. The applications are in for all four shows, including the FC-only one, which I really hope I snag a ticket for, since they'll be checking IDs, making it kinda hard impossible to buy one off someone; I guess I'll know in 2 weeks. Eep. I'll make tickets happen for the others, if we're not lucky, though, no matter the cost. And this time, I'll have company! [livejournal.com profile] nneko will come fangirl with me, which will make it perfect, since I'll have someone to babble at who'll understand perfectly. ^___^ I have plenty of time to think of gifts for the band, so I need to come up with something good…. (maybe I should get Kishow the black and electric pink Sakura Matsuri t-shirt that nneko and I found at the DC Visitors' Center, or the grey leopard print and electric pink DC hoodie -- hee!)

2/4/2012 Set List:

●OP
 愛のWarrior
 tRANCE
 アウトサイダー
21st Century Lovers
オセロ
 Beat it, Love!
 silent DESIRE

 Go For It!
 シャニムニ
 Soul crazy
 シルエット

 ここにあるぬくもり(アコースティック)

 ROSE HIP-BULLET
 SEED BLASTER
 チキン・ヒーロー
 modern strange cowboy
 HAPPY LIFE

●アンコール
 デタラメな残像
mistake
 ケンゼンな本能

●Wアンコール
 NOT for SALE

2/5/2012 Set List:

●OP
 愛のWarrior
 tRANCE
 アウトサイダー
 Darlin'
 DECADANCE
 Beat it, Love!
 silent DESIRE

 ドラム、ベース、ギターソロ
 e-ZUKAカバー(曲名不明)

 Go For It!
 シャニムニ
 Soul crazy
 シルエット

 ガッツに勝るドラッグはなし
 僕と君の間(アコースティック)

 ROSE HIP-BULLET
 SEED BLASTER
 チキン・ヒーロー
 modern strange cowboy
 HAPPY LIFE

●アンコール
 デタラメな残像
 未完成のGUILTY
 ケンゼンな本能

●Wアンコール
 NOT for SALE
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