Article: Animagic 2012 - Anime convention German-style
AnimagiC 2012 - Kalafina - Concert and Guest Appearances Review
Kalafina - Concert and Guest Appearances Review
The roll-call of special guests was one of the main events of the entire weekend; top of the billing were Keiko Kubota, Hikaru Masai and Wakana Ootaki appearing as the three current vocalists of the music project Kalafina. The event marked their first visit to Europe, with live concerts on the Friday and Saturday evenings and other appearances at Q&A panel sessions during the course of the weekend.
Indications of the group’s popularity were encouraging: the majority of the two thousand or so seats in the main hall were occupied during the concerts and the group were met by enthusiastic crowds who created extensive queues at the signing sessions that followed.
The selection of songs performed was mostly from the various anime series and movies that Kalafina have contributed to during the last five or so years: theme tunes and insert songs for The Garden of Sinners movie series, Black Butler, Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero and Sora no Woto. Two album-only tracks that would be more familiar to dedicated fans of the group themselves also went down well.
Although the acoustics of the main hall are ideal for a wide variety of live events, including Kalafina’s own distinctive blend of catchy electro-pop and dramatic symphonic rock music, the pre-recorded backing track inevitably lacked the same liveliness of the band of musicians who accompany them during their tours of Japan. The sound quality of this was a little uneven - I found the P.A. uncomfortably loud on the first evening near the front row but more balanced when in the balcony seats in the second show - but the vocal performances and stage presence of Keiko, Hikaru and Wakana injected much-needed energy by conversing with the audience between songs, sometimes in charmingly halting German with the aid of written notes.
During the live shows and their panel appearances the three of them were in good spirits, which was impressive considering that they were in an unfamiliar place following a lengthy tour of Japan and East Asia. They were frequently seen joking among themselves or with the audience and generally seemed to be genuinely enjoying their visit. The Madoka Magica panel for instance, which also starred the producer Atsuhiro Iwakami, involved extensive discussions related to Madoka and Fate/Zero but also touched on more light-hearted questions such as their favourite characters (for the record, Homura Akemi was popular) and often went off on tangents before returning to the topic at hand.
One particularly unexpected moment occurred during their Q&A panel on the Sunday when a generous visitor gave them novelty ‘Kyubey’ hats as souvenirs... and anyone who’s seen the Madoka Magica character in question should have an idea of how bizarre that would look when three grown adults wear them for the benefit of the cameras...
It’s fair to say then that they were delightfully cheerful, charming and never hesitated to engage with their fans. Only instances of the recurring queueing issues and, more significantly, an unfortunate misjudgement on the record company’s part did anything to spoil the experience.
There were three opportunities for autograph signings - one after each of the live shows and another during the Madoka Magica panel but curiously not at their own Q&A - yet despite this many people were unable to meet them face-to-face and buy a copy of their latest record (which is, at the time of writing, only available on import from Japan). It turned out that the number of CDs brought along to the event were not enough to meet the demand so they sold out before the end of the second day. For those who missed out this was clearly disappointing, and was also a lost opportunity from a PR and commercial point of view. Quite a lot more could have been sold and more fans could have met the guests they’d waited so long to meet had things had been better organised in advance.
Despite these hiccups the three members of the group and the staff who accompanied them worked hard throughout the event by holding live shows two evenings in succession, staying up late afterwards for autographs, answering questions from fans and even holding a fun competition that involved them challenging audience members to a quiz and game of rock-paper-scissors for photo book prizes.
Few UK conventions are able to secure comparably well-known or high-profile guests, so the opportunity to meet them in person - and be one of the lucky few to walk away with autographs - made it a particularly memorable convention for me. Will they be able to visit Europe again soon, with a possible release of their back catalogue closer to home? Watch this space!
Set list (live concerts, Friday and Saturday):
- Kagayuka Sora
- Kimi Ga Hikari ni Kaete yuku
- To The Beginning
- Sprinter (Friday only)
- Hikari no Senritsu (Saturday only)