LOVELIVE! SUNSHINE!! Aqours World Love Live! in LA ~Beyond the Pacific~ at Anime Expo 2018

live report - 07.19.2018 20:01

Aqours' first US headlining show brings all the sparkle and delight of their animated counterparts into reality.

On July 4th, 2018 the fireworks weren’t the only hot attraction in town. By the hundreds, fans of anime and other Japanese media flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the highly anticipated Anime Expo. Meanwhile, a group of nine girls, sharing their dreams of joy, love and fun, captivated a diverse and adoring packed house at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Aqours' first US headlining show, LOVELIVE! SUNSHINE!! Aqours World Love Live! in LA ~Beyond the Pacific~, brought all the sparkle and delight of their animated counterparts into reality.

The concert kicked off as the first of three nights of Anisong World Matsuri at Anime Expo. The auditorium was bustling with fans, young and old, and of all genders; many admired the cosplay and casual wear dedicated to their favorite Aqours members. The dark stage did nothing to hide the bright pink, white and lavender balloon hearts, running the length of a banner full of yellow sun rays and sky-blue bubbles.

As the house lights dimmed, multi-colored pen lights waved ecstatically in anticipation. An epic musical intro, paired with the individual silhouettes of the Aqours characters, prompted delighted cheers from the crowd. The intro verse to the season two opening theme song Mirai no Bokura wa Shitteru yo brought the entire audience to its feet. A rainbow ocean of Aqours lightsticks dashed into the air, each light moving in perfect time with the swells of electric guitar and piano flourishes. While the girls mirrored the bold sweeping gestures of their on-screen anime personas; the audience perfectly orchestrated a lightstick choreography.

© Anisong World Matsuri

After performing two songs, each Aqours member introduced herself and her character. “Are you having fun?” one member asks the audience. The raucous cheers are the perfect answer as the nine members smile brightly at the adoring crowd. “Amazing! Thank you!” As the members went down the line, each character intro illustrated their unique personality traits, while their representative colors accentuated their qualities.

Launching back into their set, their debut song Kimino Kokorowa Kagayaiterukai? encapsulated the story of their unified dream and unwavering pursuit to make it a reality. With mirror-like precision, the Aqours girls and their on-screen counterparts circled up, one-by-one extending a hand to the center in a rally of unity. The oneness of the group was emphasized by the clean dance lines and formations, matched with harmonic uniformity of their vocals. The fourth song Mirai Ticket stood out as an inspiring number. As scenes from the anime displayed a stadium of fans gazing admiringly at the performers, the reality of the live 3D Aqours performing for Anime Expo proved a moving and surreal parallel.

The individual charms of the Aqours girls shone the brightest during their unit stages. Bold, bright and irresistibly kawaii, the visuals of sub-unit CYaRon! matched their lively upbeat tracks Genki Zenkai Day! Day! Day! and Kaigandori de Matteru Yo. Fluttering across the stage, every twirl and cute expression enhanced their bright and bubbly personas, the corresponding sea of yellow and orange lights waving feverishly in appreciation of the charming fanservice.

The next sub-unit AZALEA, embodied the chic elegance of their floral namesake. Donning lacy white dresses with a variety of designer touches in the decorative lace, their songs Torikoriko Please!! and LONELY TUNING were equally sleek and alluring.

The final sub-unit, Guilty Kiss, channeled dark and sultry vibes with a goth-pop-rock aesthetic. Black and white lolita styled dresses were accentuated with corset styled purple ribboning and bat-winged detailing on the boots. Chants of “Guilty Kiss! Guilty Kiss!” echoed throughout the auditorium as a sea of purple lights waved proudly. The response from the audience as Guilty Kiss performed their singles Strawberry Trapper and Guilty Night, Guilty Kiss! undoubtedly proved this unit a fan favorite.

Adorable animated skits, peppered in between unit stages, elicited laughter and a variety of interactive responses from the audience. From the off-beat backstage interviews, to the absurd Japanese Savannah, and to their comical spin on the cold-city melodramas, the beloved animated characters encouraged audible reactions reminiscent of variety show laugh tracks. By the end of the final skit, cheers were reverberating off the walls and a renewed energy filled the air. The girls took to the stage in their signature grey school uniform skirts with the "Love Live! Sunshine!!" tour shirts. The defining lines between the anime and the real world blurred once more as emotions welled into tears during their season two ending theme Yuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni!. Recalling the struggles of following one’s dreams, the theme song’s earnest lyrics brought tears to the eyes of the group members as well as the audience.

© Anisong World Matsuri

Nearing the close of the show, the Aqours girls gave heartfelt and tearful thanks to their fans for their love and support. It had been two years since their last appearance at Anime Expo, and this time they came as headliner to an almost sold-out show. For their final performance Sunshine Pikkapika Ondo, the girls wore special blue happi robes, accompanied by a taiko drum performance by one of the members as the other girls danced around the drum in celebration. Final farewells were long and lingering, as it seemed the audience and Aquors members weren’t ready for goodbyes. Even after the house lights came on, still riding the remaining waves of happiness, many fans lingered on.

The LOVELIVE! SUNSHINE!! Aqours World Love Live! in LA ~Beyond the Pacific~ show was an experience unlike the usual concert in the US. From costuming to choreography, and down to the skillful embodiment of each anime persona, every moment of the show was crafted to sweep the audience into a world of beauty, youth and camaraderie. It is remarkably rare to see an audience enthusiastically and completely focused on participating in a live show, and it is perhaps this quality that set this audience apart from the rest. The passion and dedication of the Aqours fanbase is visceral, and their enthusiasm equally infectious. Every hand held a lightstick instead of a smartphone, the chants and cheers were perfectly timed, and the audience collectively performed as if they were a tenth member of Aqours. Much like the anime, the concert held true to the purity of following dreams and finding community, and for that special night, life imitated art in the finest way.

Set list

01. Mirai no Bokura wa Shitteru yo
02. Kimi no Hitomi o Meguru Bouken
03. Kimino Kokorowa Kagayaiterukai?
04. Mirai Ticket
05. Genki Zenkai Day! Day! Day! (CYaRon!)
06. Kaigandori de Matteru Yo (CYaRon!)
07. Torikoriko Please!! (AZALEA)
09. Strawberry Trapper (Guilty Kiss)
10. Guilty Night, Guilty Kiss! (Guilty Kiss)
11. Taiyou o Oikakero!
12. Yuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni!
13. Sunshine Pikkapika Ondo

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