Hi VocaSphere readers! This is Marumain, and I’m going to be trying something completely different from the norm. Rather than write and report objectively on voice synth news, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and impressions on an event that I recently had the pleasure of attending: ~Fleur rouge~! Celebrating MEIKO’s recent 15th anniversary, I knew that I couldn’t miss this event during my stay in Tokyo.
Our initial coverage revealed how the voice providers for MEIKO, KAITO, and Megurine Luka would all be there in the flesh, so I knew that it would be quite a different beast compared to previous VOCALOID events that I attended. That being said, I came away from the event with a greater appreciation for VOCALOID voice providers, a greater love for MEIKO, and an all around a greater sense of closeness and understanding of this hobby that I’ve devoted so much of my life to. Read on to see what I experienced there!
Arriving at ~Fleur rouge~
Before leaving for the event, I made sure to dress appropriately in the wares that I bought at the MEIKO 15th Anniversary store event held at the Shinjuku Marui Annex.
Following directions that I was given after coming out of Kamiyacho Station, I walked up a tall hill leading up to Star Rise Tower where ~Fleur rouge~ would be held, which happened to be situated right across from the famed Tokyo Tower. I used the iconic tower that I’ve seen so much of in dramas, anime, and movies as a landmark.
For a while, I wasn’t sure if I got the right place, but then my doubts were cleared when I got to the very top of the hill and saw this sight for sore eyes at the building entrance.
Since I arrived pretty early for the 7:00 PM performance, I actually entertained the idea of killing time in the Tokyo Tower. But knowing my tendency to lose track of time and be late for events, I resisted that urge, remembering that I was there for one purpose and one purpose only: to celebrate MEIKO with fellow fans.
About an hour before the doors opened, attendees from the afternoon session starting pouring out of the building, all with smiles a mile wide on their faces. I caught glimpses of the merchandise that they bought and were clutching, including the exclusive CD making its debut at this event. Seeing and hearing them recap what they just experienced caused my own excitement to almost reach a breaking point!
Once attendees for the evening event were finally allowed to line up in the building, an attendant walked by to pass out glowstick sleeves. I accepted one and immediately fell in love with the beautiful Grateful Ruby MEIKO illustration by 間久ざむち. I reached for my MIKU EXPO 2019 glowstick and replaced the sleeve right away!
Inside the Performance Room
After handing in my ticket and entering the stage room where ~Fleur rouge~ would be held, I was immediately given a small white box, and I knew right away what the contents were!
With great excitement, I opened the box up and took pictures of the breath-taking glass cup inside. Seeing pictures of it online did no justice to how lovely it looks up close! I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I found my new favorite drinking utensil!
Just as I took my last picture, the merch table was set up and people could start lining up to purchase the exclusive event goods. I got in line right away to make sure I could get what I want before anything sells out. After waiting in line for a few minutes, I suddenly heard a lot of shouting and cheering from across the room, and I recall the person behind me saying “メイコのモンスターだ！(It’s the MEIKO MONSTER!).” I turned around and saw none other than MEIKOdayo enter the room!
I really wanted to snap photos of her right away, but I didn’t want to loose my place in line. So as soon as I purchased my merchandise, I made a beeline to the corner of the room where she was posing for pictures!
I could have sat there and taken pictures and videos of MEIKOdayo all night long, but then everyone was told to take their seats as the show was about to begin!
Please note that photography was strictly forbidden once the talk portion began, so I took no pictures of the moments described below. Furthermore, I’m recapping the experience completely from memory (for the next event, I’ll remember to bring a notebook with me!), so please forgive me for not being able to provide a comprehensive step-by-step of what went on at ~Fleur rouge~. But what I am able to do is share is a general overview, and the thoughts and impressions that I hold from the experience.
It all began when the lights dimmed and we could hear Yuu Asakawa‘s voice firing us up! That’s when she, Naoto Fuuga, and the lady of the hour herself, Meiko Haigou all took to the stage at once! Asakawa served as the MC for much of this segment, introducing Haigou, Fuuga, and finally herself, and we the audience would change our glowsticks from red, to blue, and to pink in that order with each introduction. Asakawa even remarked how it felt odd to not see any green glowsticks at this show, causing us all to have a good laugh!
Asakawa then called in the other esteemed guests, and in came Hiroyuki Itoh, Wataru Sasaki, and Hideki Kenmochi from a room that was behind the audience. It was then that I was really glad I got a seat on the edge of the row that they were walking through, because they actually walked right by me as they went to the stage!
When all six speakers were seated, the representatives from Crypton Future Media talked first. As the company president, Itoh spoke about his job and all the different projects that they had underway recently. Then Sasaki spoke about his own job, which is making sure that said projects get done. Some specific tasks mentioned include helping with video game development and preparing kigurumi for various events (it was then that I noticed that MEIKOdayo was nowhere to be seen, and wondered when she snuck out). Sasaki was even asked if the workload ever got difficult and if he ever got scolded by his boss before, a question that I thought awkward considering how Itoh was sitting right next to him!
After them, Haigou was front and center of the talk. She spoke in length about what the past 15 years have meant for her to be MEIKO’s voice provider. Back then, she could never have imagined how loved MEIKO would become or how much VOCALOID would grow, sentiments that Fuuga and Asakawa could share. She expressed her amazement at the VOCALOID music community and the passion that creators and fans feel for their favorites characters, which at times extends to how they get characterized. Haigou mentioned not being much of a drinker, but knows that MEIKO is characterized by her fans as a sake lover despite that, which goes to show how much life each of the VOCALOID characters themselves hold.
Towards the end of the talk, the speakers expressed how special it is that they, the voice providers of famous Crypton Future Media VOCALOID characters, could be the ones to gather like this, celebrate together, and even perform together. These kinds of events are truly a rarity, and they stated how they hope that there will be more chances for them during future anniversaries, a statement that got the audience cheering in wholehearted agreement.
Then came the main attraction of the night: the live concert performances of the voice providers! It was a remarkable experience listening to the voice providers – and not the VOCALOIDs – sing for us. It was my first time listening to any of them perform, and doing so caused my appreciation and admiration of them to grow a hundredfold.
Asakawa was first up. Once all the band members took to the stage and were introduced, she remained after the other five speakers took their leave. Her first performance was her own rendition of a Luka song, 星屑ユートピア / Hoshikuzu Utopia (Stardust Utopia) by otetsu! Asakawa’s singing voice sounds quite different from Luka’s, and hearing her perform this familiar song live made it feel fresh and new again.
Next came another Luka song, Blackjack by ゆちゃP / YuchaP. One way that Asakawa does a great job of firing up the audience is fist pumping while shouting “Hey!” during the instrumental parts and getting the audience doing the same with their fists and glowsticks, which were naturally all pink during these first two songs.
Before the next song, Asakawa announced that this would be the last piece for her portion, which caused us all to go “Eh!?” at once! But our sadness dissipated immediately when Asakawa mentioned that she wouldn’t be alone, that she would have “MEIKO” up on stage performing too! So on the count of three, she had us all in the audience call “MEIKO-SAN!” and Haigou (the “MEIKO” whom she mentioned) came out from backstage! Once again, she used the row that I was sitting on the edge of, and let me tell you, I don’t think I ever cheered or waved my glowstick harder at someone than the moment when Haigou walked right next to me! That’s how excited I was to hear MEIKO’s voice provider perform live for the first time.
And what a performance it was! Haigou and Asakawa sang a duet of *Luna‘s マニック / Manic together, a spectacle that I swear can compete with even the most thrilling Miku concert performances! We in the audience also respectfully changed our glowstick colors to a mix of pink and red; some audience members even had the forethought to bring two glowsticks and displayed both colors!
As Asakawa said, this was the final performance of her portion, but she again helped usher in the next performer by having us all call “KAITO-SAN!” on the count of three. Once we did, in came Fuuga, now wearing what could almost be described as a stylish and cozy-looking serape cloak.
In stark contrast to Asakawa, Fuuga was really funny and adorable on stage, intentionally (?) fumbling around with and dropping his sheet music all over the place. Of course, when it came time to sing, he got serious and began his rendition of 空想ホリデイ / Kuusou Holiday (Fancy Holiday) by ごーぶす / GoBS.
What I found striking and also very appealing about Fuuga’s voice is how he sounds just like KAITO! Whether he’s talking or singing, he’s unmistakably the voice provider for everyone’s favorite blue Cryptonloid. Given his age, Fuuga’s songs of the night were naturally much slower paced compared to Asakawa and Haigou’s songs, but hearing his voice sing them got me just as excited and enjoying myself.
Fuuga’s next song was あなたを救う花こそあれ / Anata wo Sukuu Hana Koso Are (Though This Flower Will Save You) by 傘村トータ / Kasamura Touta. Kind of like how Asakawa can pump her fists to get the audience doing the same, Fuuga likes to slowly wave his arms in the air back and forth to the melody of the song, and the audience would follow with their arms and glowsticks.
Before the next song, Fuuga announced that it would be the final one for his portion, then paused to listen to our reaction, which was noticeably quiet. He remarked how loudly every said “Eh!?” in unison when Asakawa announced her last song. So he said one more time that this is his final song, and that’s when we all exclaimed “EH!?” as loudly as we could, greatly pleasing Fuuga! He then performed one of Haigou’s own songs called ヒカリ / Hikari (Light) for us.
Then came the segment that everyone was waiting for: Haigou’s solo performances! In addition to singing, she would even bust out her guitar for some songs and play it! Her first song was ココノコエ / Koko no Koe (Newly Born Voice) by 斜め上P / NanameueP, followed by ラムネイドブルーの憧憬 / Ramnade Blue no Shoukei (Ramnade Blue Longing), giving an electrifying performance both times.
But before her third song called 引力 / Inryoku (Gravity), Haigou told us a story of someone whom she once loved but moved away, and how she still thinks about them, setting the tone for this more solemn song. While she was singing, we in the audience were sitting down instead of standing, and raised our glowsticks in a slow loop pattern instead of shaking them in the air.
After this beautiful change of pace, Haigou says that she’ll be singing with “otousan (dad)” for the next piece, causing us to again go “Eh?” but this time in wonderment. So on the count of three, we all called “OTOUSAN!” and then the mystery was solved when Fuuga returned to the stage. After everyone turned their glowsticks into a mix of blue and red much to Fuuga’s delight, he and Haigou sang on the rocks by OSTER Project together. Haigou prompted the audience to clap from the beginning which we gladly did, even when Fuuga would start waving his arms, possibly causing some of us to feel torn about what to do with our hands!
After that came the final, final song of the night, and our final “EH!?” reaction. All good things must come to an end after all, but they can always end on a bang, which this night certainly did! After being prompted to call in “LUKA-SAN!” and getting Asakawa to return to the stage, all three performers busted out light wands of their own corresponding to their respective VOCALOID’s color! And that’s when they all performed ハッピーアワー / Happy Hour, an original song by OSTER Project and Haigou! This jazz-like ballad is very characteristic of the producer’s work, and is the perfect song for Haigou and Asakawa to be able to sing with Fuuga. The mix of red, blue, and pink lights all over the room was also a sight rarely seen elsewhere in other concerts. Everyone, performers and audience alike, got super into the performance, and after only a minute in, I knew that this song would be one that I would listen to a ton on the CD that I got at the event!
By the way, if anyone is wondering how I could recall all this from memory… well, I didn’t. KARENT very kindly published the setlist of the night, which helped jog my memory of the night tremendously!
After one last talk among the performing voice providers, and the promise that they’ll all meet again someday to put on another show like this – possibly at MEIKO’s 20th anniversary – the performers, guests, and musicians all declared the event concluded.
Leaving ~Fleur rouge~
On the way out, I stopped by the table where flower bouquets were left for the performers after the afternoon show, snapping the best pictures that I could to remember this moment.
Once back at home, I even took out the merch that I purchased – a clear file folder set, a giant can badge, and the ハッピーアワー / Happy Hour CD – in order to just admire them. I’ll truly treasure them forever, and will always remember this night whenever I use them!.
While I love VOCALOID concerts as much as the next fan and can get drawn in to the illusion that they are physically there on stage and actually singing non-prerecorded music, reality is always sitting there at the back of my mind somewhere, even though I won’t let it spoil my enjoyment of the show. But that was something that did not have to make effort to suppress when attending this show. These were real people in the flesh who could hold an entire talk session, share personal anecdotes, speak to us between performances, and even react to us accordingly if we don’t respond in the manner that they hope for.
And yet, it was still different from the everyday non-VOCALOID concert. This was still very much an event celebrating VOCALOID fandom, but without any actual VOCALOIDs present. We were instead celebrating voice providers and what they have done and continue to do for the fans. For me personally, it was a reminder that behind the voice synths whom we all known and love, there are very real people who were a big part of their creation, people who have worked hard to bring us so much joy and deserve to be celebrated as well.
Getting to hear Haigou, Fuuga, and Asakawa sing VOCALOID songs for us was like them reminding us that they should not be upstaged by their virtual counterparts. Indeed, one has to appreciate the effort that Crypton Future Media must have taken to make this event possible; after all, it’s a lot easier to get a projector machine to display three different VOCALOIDs than it is to get three different voice providers under one roof for the same performance.
It is my sincere hope that they really will be able to hold more events like this. I wholeheartedly believe that they are necessary to serve as reminders for VOCALOID fans about how much we should appreciate and celebrate the hard work and talents of the voice providers. This is especially true for the “veteran” VOCALOID characters like MEIKO and KAITO, making me all the more glad that I got to experience this event.
Thanks for reading my report on ~Fleur rouge~! I hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to the report on my next VOCALOID adventure in Tokyo!