Posted in Music, Review

Are You Happy? Start!

💜 Are you ready?
💚 Are you having fun?
💙 Are you hungry?
❤ Are you Arashians?
💛 Are you happy?

My answer was a resounding “Yes!” to all of the above. Yes, including ‘hungry’ too, since i prefer to watch concert DVDs/Blu-rays in the evening, so by the time these questions were asked after the first three songs, my stomach could take in some late-night snacks. Haha.

Anyways, JapoAri is actually the ‘bonus’ feature of Are You Happy? Live Tour DVD/Blu-ray although it was essentially the extension of Japonism Dome Tour. Honestly, i didn’t expect them to be bundled together in a single release because they were two different tours with two different themes and concepts. But how could i complain when we ended up getting a rare double header?

The only downside is that we gotta get the Regular Edition for the documentary (as well as a folded poster). If BLAST in Hawaii‘s documentary and Suppin Digitalian are any indication, then Ayuhapi is bound to be enlightening and epic. Nope. It offers yet another kind and focus. If Hawaii‘s gives us individual interviews, group chats, concert footage from the second day, as well as behind-the-scenes clips while Suppin Digi pampers us with loads of backstage and greenroom happenings, Ayuhapi invites us to peek into the meetings and rehearsals the members had leading up to the first day of tour. Hence the “Making” subtitle. There’s also snippets of the dry run and concert itself, but it’s crammed into the last 10 minutes of the feature. Furthermore, it ends on the scene that appears to be the beginning of second-half footage, when it really is the end of the disk. It left me hanging and wanting. However, it also shows us yet another side of pre-concert’s Arashi, a face we might’ve never seen before — beyond the unstyled hair, bare face, and unshaven stubbles.

Ayuhapi is in fact the full 74-minute version of the 5.5-minute opening video. If i didn’t see the attendees’ heads and penlights, i’d think i had loaded the wrong disk by mistake. It’s probably quite rare to have such compilation for the concert opener and it’s definitely gives a different feel, although i don’t think i was that excited to watch them perform after watching the rigorous preparation and the side comment about how not fun it was… I mean, i know they rehearsed hard to bring us the best concert experience, but still…

Luckily, it took me only four songs to get into the groove. Cuz how can Oh yeah! NOT buoy you up? Before i knew it, i was already doing the hand choreo and singing along to the tune. The rest was history. The album and tour title may be in question form, answerable with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but i bet there’s no chance for the latter to pop up. The setlist, for instance, consists of rousing concert staples like Oh yeah!, Fight song, Gori muchuu, and Energy song. And these four aren’t even part of the ‘Happy Medley’ section, which houses jolly numbers like Happiness, Troublemaker, and Wild at heart.

It’s thus a no-brainer to label AYH? as a thoroughly fun and happy concert, although the overall production isn’t as fancy and memorable as the last two album tours. BUT! Lots of combi moments are captured by the camera, most notably Matsumiya escapade and some Ohmiya toward the end. I didn’t expect to have this many Matsumiya moments, but the youngest pair were really into it: from the hand-holding caper to the frisky high-fives to the double confessions. The brat didn’t really reciprocate the leader’s approaches, though. After continuing their sword fight from JapoAri, Nino kept leading Ohno on: extending his hand to offer a handshake only to bail out in the last millisecond. He had the balls to do it several times that Ohno didn’t miss the chance to knuckle his in retribution. Kids, please 😂

That’s why Ohno looked so satisfied upon holding Jun’s hand, as if it’s a consolation for Nino’s. Not to mention the fishing antics they did together.There’s also a bit of Sakumiya, Sakuraiba, Yama, Ninoai, Tennen, even ShoJun here and there so whatever ship you’re on, i’m sure you’ll be pleased. The number of goofy moments suggests that the dorks were having fun. (Which is also made possible since the concert wasn’t choreo-heavy, except for the album tracks.) Well, at least it looks like it, cuz after those meetings and rehearsals, the last thing i wanted to know is them not enjoying performing on stage.

While it’s quite rare to hear my fellow Arashians complaining about any of the past concerts, the most prevalent one surrounding AYH? was on Nino’s solo. Many were angry about the terrible editing that i was expecting awkward or messy transitions, but what’s to blame actually is the camera angle. It was filmed with a still camera located at a great distance Nino and the Jrs were only a couple centimeters tall. I was waiting for the camera to zoom in throughout the performance but we’re only getting like a few close-ups it ended up more like a dance version shot with a very wide-angle lens. Sure, the choreo was great, and i would grumble less if we’re shown more shots from the closer camera, but really there were moments — the quieter ones, for instance — where they could zoom in for a second or two, yet they chose to focus on the hanging light tubes or whatever those are called over the performer(s). I can’t understand the logic.

Some were speculating it was due to his lip-syncing, or lack thereof, but that still doesn’t justify the choice. (Case in point: i think Bad boy wasn’t entirely live either, and Ohno was a lot more visible than Nino.) Because equally bad camera angle occurred in the song preceding Mata kyou to onaji asu ga kuru which also utilized the same props, WONDER-LOVE. I’ll even go one step further and say AYH? is poorly filmed. I couldn’t capture many pretty stills and the copious wide angles were oftentimes unflattering. I wonder if they were hiring new editors, placing the cameras at the wrong spots, or running out of time to edit the footage, but the final result is far from satisfactory.

Back to Bad boy. I totally didn’t expect a topless scene from Ohno, let alone a shower one, but he’s probably channeling his inner bad boy here, including the diva side for the accompanying video, though what’s dominant was the dopey side, a total opposite to his cool presence on stage. The dance wasn’t as complex as his previous solos, but judging from how he’s sweating bullets in the docu and after the first chorus, it might be an intense routine after all.

Sunshine was as sunny and heartwarming as the melody. Baby blue is Jun’s plainest solo, especially coming after the uber-creative DJxMJ/VJxMJ. Barely choreographed, Jun sang his solo walking from one end to the center stage, a collection of his private photos was scrolling up in the background. As usual, Aiba’s solo is the most high-spirited, and Amore was a joy to watch. The performance was filled with playful maneuvers from bicycling, surfing, head spin, emergency stretcher, not to mention the abs-flashing. *wink*

My favorite sequence is Sunshine-To my homies-Drive. Finishing his solo, Sho pulled out a phone and made a call, summoning his homies one by one. The members’ chibi photos were on display as they’re speak-singing their lines, which changes to a scene where the fivesome were playing a game, toasting, and laughing during the song’s extended outro… then they narrated how fast time flies and they’ve become adults now, though they didn’t change that much. They then agreed to continue going like this, smoothly segueing into Drive. Inside a Chevrolet whose plate read “1999 ARS 0915”, they’re driving around the dome, the penlights forming the cityscape along the way. Sooo beautiful.

My other favorite is Seishun boogie, the cheeky intro in particular — it was penned by Aiba himself! The performance was so Japonism. If anything, it affirms how good Arashi look in skirty coordination. I’d likely scoff if a male group wears skirts, but this group rocks it. And of course Miles away — a heaven for the ears. If you still cannot discern who’s singing what, then the performance shall clarify it for you.

Oh! Two to tango too. The choreography was done by Ohno, which was a miss for me. I anticipated TRAP level of greatness, but the moves were too simple for the beat. I did love the bridge though, if only for the fact that Sho was delivering his rap with utmost badassery replete with rapid pelvic thrusts while his bandmates were crawling toward him all smiley and off-mode. Ha ha!

AYH? might start on a lowkey note and took some time to build into the mood, but it is also an enjoyable concert through and through. MC was interesting, thank-you speeches were rather random and more lighthearted than usual, even the final bye-byes ended on a hilarious note due to Ohno scolding concert-goers for being too fixated on the streamers over Arashi who were about to disappear from the stage. LMAO

That doesn’t mean there was no other feeling than ‘happy’. Parts of the MC where they covered Aiba’s Kouhaku hosting felt bittersweet because they discussed their expectations of it and we all knew how it turned out. The what-could-have-been was strong. Lastly, the part where Aiba introduced the last song in formal Kouhaku style and they all bowed 90 degrees gave me goosebumps and nearly made me teary. Thankfully, Ohno saved the day by his offhanded remark, cuz the last bit we saw of the members was their cracked-up expressions.

Ahh, i’m happy ^^

“Kono mama ikou yo.”
“Kono mama ikou.”

 

_
ARASHI Live Tour 2016-2017 Are You Happy? — Tokyo Dome
© Johnny & Associates, J Storm
ARASHI: Aiba Masaki, Matsumoto Jun, Ninomiya Kazunari, Ohno Satoshi, Sakurai Sho

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Author:

I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

4 thoughts on “Are You Happy? Start!

  1. Enjoyed reading your blogs. There are a lot of Arashi-dedicated blogs and yours is one of the two I always look forward reading. Thanks for this :-d

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