CharaExpo 2018 Formal Write-up!
Hi all, if you didn't follow on twitter, I made it out to California this weekend for CharaExpo! It was an amazing event, despite all the issues a lot of people had with it. Let's start with the beginning of the event!
The event started at 7AM PST for me! I had slept a good 8 hours in preparation for 'getting up early'. Bushiroad had made an official tweet that the lines were not allowed to form until 6AM. My boyfriend and I got some breakfast at our hotel down the road and made it about 7:30AM, and by the time we got there, the line was already wrapped through the gazebo! We were kind of shocked, since this was just a Bushiroad-exclusive event. We got into line and talked with some new friends about how they were actually there for Vanguard... So we got a bit hopeful and planned out our merch-strategy. You had to spend 30 USD to get a voucher to exchange for an Autograph Signature ticket, up to 3. Since it was my boyfriend and I, we needed 4 for the 2 lives that would be occurring later that day (Poppin'Party and RAISE A SUILEN).
About 9AM, we were allowed to get wristbands, and the line snaked back around the other side of the outside of the Anaheim Convention Center. We waited an hour until everyone was allowed to rush the event. Before we had gotten to the doors (Maybe 300 people behind) we were already getting pictures of what the merchandise line looked like. When we finally walked in, we were met with the Roselia and RAISE A SUILEN stands. I was really shocked, so I stopped to take photos before proceeding to the 3-times-wrapped merchandise line. I was really, really feeling some dread about the specific merch i wanted and the Live tickets... It took maybe an hour to get through the line, and by the time we were in all BanG Dream sign-tickets were gone (as I had been updating the twitter as it happened). We assumed the Live tickets would have 300 or so seats, but that apparently was not the case as we got in line to exchange and live tickets were gone. My boyfriend got a bit salty as I had purchased 5 tickets worth of merchandise and we couldn't use them for anything... The staff member did tell us, however, we would be able to stand outside for the Poppin'Party and RAISE A SUILEN concerts, which previously Bushiroad said was not allowed.
We just took it with the grain of salt we had, and went straight over to the left-railings and got good standing spots and waited for it to begin.
Seeing the girls in person felt so surreal. Aimin is just as radiant as I imagined, she's actually really blinding. Rimirin is so sweet and full of giggles, and Sae is so... Sae. There's really no way to describe her. The girls came out in their Star beat! outfits and I already knew what we were in for. I think it's really nice they bring these outfits back out so often, even if they are a bit older. Saechi and Aimin immediately commented on the size and excitement of the crowd, as it was much larger than it was in the Summertime when they came last year for GrandFest (which, happened the same weekend as AX, mind you). The girls could hardly speak without the crowd cheering at them, which kind of made me annoyed but what can you do...
They had a quick introduction and Aimi commented on the absence of Ayasa (having her own solo live) and Hasshi (apart of the [email protected] CG Live). She reminded us of the feeling of "doki doki, kira kira" being able to make us feel less lonely and have our feelings reach them. Sae had a small moment where she talked about how it was a different experience being apart of the project as a non-seiyuu talent who became seiyuu for the job. She loves how unique it is to bring a character to life not just with her voice, but also her talent.
There was a short segment where the artistes explained how they are like their character. Rimirin of course noted the love for chocolate and being a "Shy Girl" (in English). She asked how to say Choco Coronet in English, but I don't think the crowd really understood so they just yelled it back at her (Which, is still mostly accurate). Saechi brings up her 20 Rabbits and how it "just happened", and Aimin talks about how she gets very lonely when she's not around people, and the MC reminded her of the crowd that was here with her!
The girls then dug out the GBP app and played some songs for us. Someone next to me was shocked they could play the game well, especially with the crowd chanting and yelling at them as they played. It was also impressive for me to see the girls playing the English app and still being able to change the settings correctly to what they usually play. I was ready to play with them at first, thinking they would allow multi-lives. However, that was not the case and I was severely upset at it and the live began.
Tokimeki Experience - Time Lapse - Teardrops - Star Beat!
The live began with everyone in the seated area actually jumping out of their seats and coming up to the railing. Aimi asked everyone to go back to the seats, where only a few people obliged (she asked in Japanese). She realised they wouldn't be moving soon, so she just told them to be careful as the concert began. They had a wonderful set, I was extremely happy Time Lapse was played since its one of my favorite songs from the group. Aimi, Sae and Rimi all threw their picks at the audience to grab as souvenirs.
The live ended and a small encore-shout ensued but was quickly diminished when they realised there would not be one. The crowd dispersed and since it was already 1:30, I finally took the time to creep around the venue and take extra photos of everything, including Cosplay!
I took a bit of a rest to charge my phone and get lunch at a near-by Carl's Jr. since it had crept up to 3 PM by the time I was finished searching the venue. I got back about 4 PM and found some decent standing seats for my most-awaited event: RAISE A SUILEN.
The girls were nothing more than powerful at their performance. There really is little I can say about the performance in words that could possibly hope to capture the feelings, the performance, and the sheer stage-presence of RAISE A SUILEN. However, the staff were prepared this time for the crowd. They forced barriers onto the seating to herd everyone to stay into their row. Before it began, the staff reminded everyone of the policies and that they needed to stay right where they were for this concert as the Poppin'Party one had a few ... incidents.
R.I.O.T - That is How I Roll!
Orchestra of Smiles (Reo) - Shuwarin Drea~min (Reo)
Hey-Day Capriccio - Goka? Gokai?! Phantom Thief - Scarlet Sky - Mouichidou Luminous - UNSTOPPABLE
Starting and ending the show with their original songs is the smartest choice, they're easily the most powerful songs on their set. The wubs of the DJ stand and powerful guitar riffs are not easily ignored. During the introduction segment, Raychell prompted us, "Say My Name". Hearing Reo sing the cuter-sounding songs were definitely a treat. There were several instances where RAS were trying to direct the light-sticks for Orchestra and Shuwa, but I think most people ignored them. When the girls announced they would be playing Mouichidou, most of the crowd lost it. This is the first time it has been played live, since the single itself just came out in September. Risa told us the song would be more Mature since Raychell was singing it, and boy, was it full of bass!
Risa Tsumugi (DJ) spoke pretty fluent English and translated most of the other member's comments, including on the crowd's energy through-out the live. When UNSTOPPABLE finally ended, they were still on stage with lights off, instruments in hand. I took this moment to start the encore, as the crowd seemed to be in amazement of the set. I figured if they were still on stage with their instruments, then possibly.. we could really get an Encore! The first wave I started went on for about a minute, until a second string started after they had walked off finally. We asked for 5 minutes to get an encore from RAS. One of the staff members had to come on stage and tell us the event was over, there would be no encore, and to go home and get ready for Day 2. We all felt pretty defeated, but had a good laugh about it. I figured the girls were probably back-stage in shock we were going this hard.
I had to go to another event in Alhambra, so I got back to my hotel pretty late. My first day of trying to ticket didn't go well, so I didn't really want to try to get tickets again. I already bought the merchandise I wanted, anyway. I got up right before 10 AM and checked out of my hotel and got in about 12 PM.
Aimi's signkai sold out in just 20 minutes! Quickly following was Saecchi and Rimirin. This all happened before I even got in the door. My friend Wendy was messaging me saying she would try and see if a friend would grab me a Saecchi ticket, but it was not to be. I asked if there were any RAISE A SUILEN left, I would take it. I sat down for the Vanguard talk show for Aimin and to try and get a good seat for Revue, but Wendy messaged me to come pick up my Natsume ticket!!! I got up as quickly and discreetly as possible, as I didn't wanna be rude to the guests but I had to GO. GET. THAT SIGN... I met up with them, and headed back to camp in line for an hour. I was the 4th person in line. I was also told the Natsume ticket I had was the very, last, one. I wanted to cry. I asked for some help composing a small message in Japanese for Natsume, and while I waited I talked to the Franchise discord and they convinced me to let Natsume know I had organized the Flowerstand for them. So I added some additional lines to my greeting and tried practicing. I was just so nervous though. When it was my turn, I started out pretty well. I told her I loved the passion from their show, and was excited to meet her, get her sign. Quickly, my brain turned to mush, I stumbled over the rest of my japanese so bad the Translator next to me was confused, and Natsume was confused, so I just said, "I wanted to tell her I organised the Flasta..." Natsume went "AH!!" and recognised I drew Risa from the pen name I provided for my signboard. I was so nervous all i could say was like, "yes!" over and over, and "arigatou"... Natsume kept saying things back to me in English.
I posted my signboard up and realised she had wrote "Thank you for the flowers" on it! I was so flustered & shaky that I literally didn't realise it until maybe 30 minutes later event when my friend had asked how she knew about it because she wrote that on the board... I felt like such a mess. I had lunch to calm down before we went back to the venue to get my phone charged before Roselia's live.
At this point, we had been confirmed that the Roselia seating would be taken one step further from the RAISE A SUILEN concert yesterday. Upon entry, you would be getting a seat assignment. Last minute chuusen? Basically a given with Bushiroad, I guess. They also were telling multiple people not to stay for the show, there would not be standing seats. However, I decided we would really find out when the event started.
I finally got to meet fellow Staff member, LatidoReMe! We caught up on all the happenings and tried to find a good view of the stage since people here don't believe in proper concert etiquette. By the time they had re-set up the standing area, we were on the outside of it and moved straight up. However, we couldn't see where the keyboard would be normally set up. Figured it would be fine, and I was right. When the show began, the girls on either side made sure to give us on the left-standing area plenty of love. I think Yukki, Aiai, and Kudoharu sent us tons of kisses. The girls came out in the Blue Rose outfits.
The concert started pretty normally, and the talk sessions were quite short. Meguchii was very talkative as Ako for this live, and Yukki tried to keep quiet as her English was, "not good". They have such a good friend-like chemistry on stage.
Nesshouku Starmine - R - NeoAspect - ONENESS - Re:birthday - Tamashii no Refrain (w/ Nonchan) - BLACK SHOUT (w/ Nonchan) - LOUDER (w/ Nonchan)
After Re:birthday ended, the girls were talking about themselves and how it was weird to preform with four. The crowd began to wail a little bit, and a keyboard appeared from the dark by staff members (I was told, I couldn't see this area). The girls were talking in Japanese, but I felt my throat close up, and Aiai shouted, "SHIN MEMBER". With my 2 year-old Japanese vocab, I knew she had just said new member. My head got light, and my throat closed up. My eyes were rolling, tears were starting to well up. I asked everyone beside me, "Did she just say 'Shin Member'? Did they really, did they really bring her? Rinko? Kanon?" I think everyone else was in just as much shock because I got no reply, and she entered the stage.
I can only liken the feeling I got at that moment to a severe panic attack. I was having a really hard time breathing, I had to fan myself. Everyone was telling me it was okay, and they were right. It was so much more than okay. I need to preface this with, I don't even stan Roselia. I had a hard time distinguishing songs other than R and ONENESS for the set list because they blur together for me. I switched my light to white and sent a single tweet so everyone else who was absent could feel the moment, KANON SHIZAKI! I managed to bring myself back to reality as Tamashii no Refrain started, and I kept my blade white for the duration of their concert after that. I have no real words for the moment Nonchan joined us as Rinko. The rest of the live was a fight, the crowd got louder and more passionate.
The ending comments were sweet, and the guitars were taken away before they left the stage (probably to dissuade "encore" chants from happening again). The girls had to physically shush the crowd so they could do their silent bow at the end, and they had us all put our pinky to the air and devote ourselves to Roselia. Others said it looked like Nonchan was crying. She was soft spoken, had little to say except for welcoming her to the stage.
After the girls left, the small wave of encore tried to stir up again, but I think even if we could have gotten one, we should have ended the concert there.