Maaya Sakamoto, the greatest singer/seiyuu in the history of the universe, held a live tour at the start of this year (2009) called “We Are Kazeyomi!” This was her first proper concert in the five years since she released her album Shounen Alice and her third since her debut as Hitomi in Visions of Escaflowne.
This is a story of what may be the greatest regret of my life. And oh yeah, the official concert DVD is out too.
I am a terrible fanboy. Terrible in the sense that if companies depended on fans like me to survive, they would probably be worse off than General Motors. I just can’t keep my attention focused on something long enough… Ooh Shiny.
It is therefore rather amazing that I have been a Maaya fanboy for the past six years, ever since I first listened to her performance in RahXephon. It’s probably not too far-fetched to say that during my rise from adolescence, my love for Maaya is the only constant in my life. Watching Maaya perform live is a dream that has always been at the back of my mind.
Although I’ve been to Japan numerous times, I never had the opportunity to attend her many performances. (Kazeyomi is technically her third live tour, but she does a lot of smaller promotional concerts and also voices Eponine in the Japanese production of Les Misérables.) This was because concert seasons tended to fall in the middle of my school terms. I accepted, rationally if not emotionally, the fact that in all likelihood I would never see my wish come true. Will I find the time to realize my dream, or will she retire from performing before that? I was not hopeful.
Kazeyomi gave me hope. At the end of 2008, I had just graduated from Singapore’s equivalent of high school and was planning a year-end trip to Japan with my classmates. Kazeyomi was to be held in late January. I applied for a ticket through the official Maaya fan club (I am probably its only Singaporean member?) and won the draw for the Nagoya stop. I had to pay upfront to secure my booking, but because I was then uncertain about my schedule in January, I decided to give it up. I thought I could purchase a ticket (preferably for Tokyo instead) later during the regular ticketing period, after I had confirmed my availability.
Long story slightly shortened, I ended up with nothing. By the time I realized that my schedule did in fact allow me to attend the concert, it was too late to get a ticket.
Looking back, it would’ve taken me a good amount of money and trouble (including staying in Tokyo for an additional two weeks) to make it all work, so the outcome was probably for the best, all things considered. But deep down in my heart, I knew that I would live to regret not giving in to my impulsive desires for that one time.
Of course, I preordered the official concert DVD which is in my hands now. (Can you expect anything less from a guy who owns every album and single released under Maaya’s name?) The DVD is great and all — in fact it is awesome and brings tears to my eyes — but it also serves as a sad reminder of what could have been.
During the concert, Maaya performed both her new works and old favourites, including Triangler, Ame ga Furu, Kiseki no Umi, Praline, Platina, tune the rainbow, and a rather awesome rendition of Poketto wo Kara ni Shite. Including the rather long encore, it was a total of two and a half hours of awesomeness.
There was plenty of concert theatrics, some of which I’m sure were pre-planned. (See: the encore.) Maaya’s performance was not perfect either — she even forgot one line of lyrics during Yubiwa! But no matter how I try to play it cynical cool, I know that this flawed and deeply human performance is exactly what I would like to have watched live. (And maybe it’s just the fanboy speaking, but I find that she performed much better for her older songs.)
Maaya’s emotional displays might very well have been staged, but ultimately it didn’t matter. The transient relation between a performer and her audience remains a fleeting illusion as it has always been. The audience’s reaction is the only meaningful outcome. I just wish I were part of it. (Also, the fanboy bias in me tells me that Maaya’s words were sincere. I want to believe!)
I still hope desperately to watch Maaya perform live at least once before either one of us dies. It is a tiny wish that rests in an inconspicuous corner of my mind, waiting for its moment to come — one which may never arrive. Then again, now that Obama is president, anything is possible.
Unfortunately, the signs are not looking favourable. TBS recently cancelled her weekly late-night radio talkshow Chizu to Tegami to Koi no Uta (which I miss terribly) and the official fan club stopped its online merchandise sales. Is Maaya getting ready to retire (or fade into talent management like many older seiyuu)? I hope I’m just being over-sensitive…
Why indeed… orz
P.S. Does worrying about my favourite singer retiring mean that I am getting old? :( I hope I don’t start to chase young whippersnappers off my imaginary lawn soon.