This past Sunday Ai-Kon hosted a special event at the IMax – showing one of the Hatsune Miku concerts on the big screen. For those who aren’t aware, Hatsune Miku is a virtual idol – an anime-style hologram who performs songs composed within the ‘Vocaloid’ musical synthesis and voice emulation software. Now, what we saw wasn’t the actual hologram, but a recording thereof – Winnipeg doesn’t have a strong enough scene to warrant the expenses required for the ‘Real Thing’ to make an appearance here, but maybe someday. But for now, we have Ai-Kon.
The crowd was a bit more subdued than I expected, with only a few people showing up in costume for the evening. But I did grab a picture of the two cosplayers I saw to commemmorate the evening for you guys. But once things got underway, it was clear that there was a good turnout – by the time everyone had made their way into the theatre, all that could be seen were rows on rows of glowsticks. The place might not have been full to the brim, but it was certainly a good showing! And the evening kicked off with the Ai-Kon committee announcing the first wave of industry guests for this year’s convention.
Chris Sabat will be returning, and he has been giving Ai-Kon such a good word to his compatriots in the industry that this year Winnipeg will be seeing, for the first time, Funimation sending an official representative to do panels pertaining to what they’re currently working on, the state of the anime industry as a whole, and other such things. This is a sign of the growth Ai-Kon has seen, and definitely has expectations high this year. The final guest announced at this Sunday’s event was a crowd favourite that had many of the female attendees shrieking(painful on the ears I might add): J Michael Tatum, known for his roles as Sebastian in Black Butler, Komui Lee in D.Gray-man and France in Hitalia.
Now, back to the show… the concert was a truly intriguing and unique event. It was so interesting to see an animated character performing with a live band in front of a live audience… and then even moreso being displayed on the IMax for ANOTHER live audience. It really makes me think about the future of anime, technology and even performance in general. The potential is endless and fascinating. I mean, we’ve all seen cases of people in various genres of music who have utterly incredible voices but for one reason or another just don’t present the image that people want to buy… this sort of thing makes me think that maybe there’s a way around all of that.
The concert stars Hatsune Miku… but she isn’t alone. There are actually five holograms that appeared on stage, Megurine Luka, Kagamine Rin, Kagamine Len, Kaito, and of course Hatsune Miku herself. Each character has a distinct personality, a distinct voice, and a distinct style. Of course, the entire setlist was J-Pop so I couldn’t understand a word of it, but it was an incredible variety of music. From the upbeat and energetic Miku to the more mature and refined sound of Luka to the almost childish Rin… it was all fantastic to listen to, and fascinating to think it was all digitally produced from a set of sample tones. My wife and I particularly enjoyed Megurine Luka’s pieces. The unfortunate part is that there wasn’t a very good split with some of the ancilliary castmembers only performing one song. A better variety, and possibly some additional duets, would have really served to make this that much more memorable, but the lack of it doesn’t detract much.
As to the animation itself, it really is incredible to watch these holograms perform. The way they move, the way they ‘interact’ with the audience… it’s fantastic. The attention to detail in the characters is crazy, with each character having a variety of outfits(and if only wardrobe changes could be performed this swiftly in real concerts!) and even a distinct feeling to their movement.
Overall this was a fantastic way to bid farewell to the IMax which has been in that mall for so long, and it is something I hope to get more chances to see in the future.