Seiyuu Dake no Jazz Party in Toyako
I arrived the night before and stayed at a spacious mountain lodge called Pension Ohno at the base of Mt. Usu. Though it was a bit inconveniently far from the onsen resort town, the lodge proprietor was gracious to give me an unexpected ride. After enjoying the sightseeing boat tour of Nakajima (middle island) in the morning, I decided to check out the event on Chuo-dori (Main Street). Of course, there were many cosplay participants all around, and the main street was cleared of traffic.
There was a parade led by the cast walking in front of the cosplay participants and renowned seiyuu Kamiya Akira driving a special Porsche Boxster with anime characters on the sides. After a walk down Chuo-dori to Manseikaku Hotel, the cast posed for photos and addressed the crowd. I wished Sakurai-san well, and she playfully waved goodbye.
There were several events and vendors outside along Chuo-dori. In the Bunka Center parking lot, there was a massive cosplay reunion and many neat cars with anime themes. There were many events inside the event venues with admission gained by showing the commemorative pamphlet. Due to other sightseeing plans, I did not participate in many of them.
The Jazz Party's first performance was delayed was over a half hour, and the men in the cast could easily be heard still rehearsing with the jazz band. I met a few fans there to see Sakurai Tomo and conversed with other fans while waiting.
The first performance venue was a nightclub in the lower level of the hotel, though it was not dark yet at the start of the performance. There were about 80 in attendance, with free seating by admission number. There were only six seats per row, so I was able to get right-most second row with #12. Unfortunately, the seating was not terraced, so the audience in the back was probably not easily seeing the performance. I was near the speakers, so the sound was a bit loud at times.
The second performance was a 800-seat theater, but the stage was separated from the seats by quite a distance. There were about 120 in attendance, with free seating by admission number. With #13, I was easily able to get a front-row seat. The house sound system was much better for this performance.
There was a good balance of jazz standards and jazzy versions of anime song selections.
During the welcoming comments, the cast asked who was from Toya and Hokkaido, then proceeded to personally welcome me from the stage, for having come so far to be there.
During "Fly Me to the Moon", the performance was interrupted by Kimura Subaru in hip-hop attire, who proceeded to sing a hip-hop version and imitate the jazz band. It was very funny.
The middle was an unexpected costume change, as the cast appeared as their favorite characters. Sakurai Tomo was wearing a very short white dress in the part of Mylene Jenius of Macross 7.
The highlight of the concert for me was the very beautiful "I Will Wait for You". Sakurai Tomo wore the same short white dress with a few more accessories, carrying a clear white plastic umbrella. After the solo, Kanemaru Junichi entered with yellow raingear.
For "Dream" to the end, the cast wore formal nightwear.
The keyboardist and the band were very talented and contributed to an entertaining performance. However, there were a few funny technical difficulties. In addition to the Saturday performance's delayed start, at one point, the keyboardist had to hurriedly locate the music for the next selection. At the beginning of the Sunday performance, the keyboardist had to run and turn on the stage lights while the cast waited to start, with their backs to the audience.
There was an autograph session with the cast at the conclusion of the Sunday performance (with the exception of Sakurai Tomo (unfortunately for me). Kimura Subaru kindly signed my ticket.
In summary, the unexpected encounter with Sakurai Tomo and the very entertaining performances made this a suberb event well worth the arduous trip to be there.
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