On 23rd January 2018, Kalafina commemorated their 10th anniversary with an incredible concert which I had the privilege of witnessing.
I could say I’ve been a Kalafina fan for 10 years as well. I’ve been a fan of Yuki Kajiura since at least 2004. When Kajiura announced this Kalafina project for Kara no Kyoukai’s theme songs, I waited with great anticipation and pounced on the Oblivious single when it became available. But while their voices were enchanting, and their enormous potential obvious, I wasn’t completely enamoured of Kalafina from the start. For one, I found it hard to connect to a couple of nameless, faceless vocalists. And then there was the fact that Kajiura herself hadn’t made up her mind about whether Kalafina’s current lineup would be permanent — best not to get too attached. It was only after Wakana and Keiko’s identities were officially revealed — followed quickly by the addition of Hikaru
(and Maya, but we all know how that went) and the introduction of those signature three-part harmonies — that my fixation with Kalafina truly began to develop.
It still amazes, now, that Kalafina started out as this new thing Kajiura was doing with a duo of anonymous singers who weren’t meant to perform onstage. While I personally feel Kajiura remains a critical part of the Kalafina I love so much, it’s been fascinating to watch the group emerging as its own entity. From not even knowing the vocalist’s names to accumulating thousands of photos of them, and happily paying for merch plastered with their images…And we’ve learned so much about Wakana, Keiko and Hikaru through their media appearances. But, of course, what I’m most grateful for is the opportunity to experience these wonderful singers working their magic live.
For concerts I’d previously attended and wanted to report on, I’d make conscious efforts to analyse the performance and make at least one mental note for each song. But for this live, I just wanted to lose myself in the moment and not think about anything other than enjoying the experience. So, I can’t really present enough details to be able to call this a ‘live report’ — it’s more of a rambling recount of my memories of the time.
Feel free to skip to the last section. But I’d just like to start with the day before the concert…
The Fan Meetup
In that huge karaoke room, I encountered two types of Kalafina fans: those who greatly enjoy being able to sing Kalafina’s songs, and those who are much, much happier leaving the singing to other people. I stand firmly with the latter group.
So, yeah, I didn’t sing, but I did have a good time watching those who did. There were some talented singers present, and their joy at being able to sing Kalafina’s songs together was kind of infectious. I’m generally not great at meeting new people, and the loud music made it hard to hold a conversation, but I was glad to be able to talk to some of the people present. And I enjoyed being able to continue some conversations afterwards at Starbucks (I can only hope you guys enjoyed my presence half as much) . I’m sorry I couldn’t quite interact with everyone, but it was great to see so many fellow fans from all over the world. I’m glad we had the opportunity to meet. Thank you so much to putschki for organising this.
The Goods Queue
The goods sales started at 2 pm. I probably should have gone to queue earlier. But I’d been struggling to recover from a cold ever since I reached Tokyo, and unfortunately, on the day of the live, I woke up feeling worse. So I slept in, trying to get as much rest as I could, and was forced to rely on cold relief tablets. And while I expected a long queue when we got there at around 1.30 pm, the size of it was beyond what I expected. Thankfully, the sky was clear, but standing in the cold for hours while sick took its toll on me (I apologise to kuroiyuki88 for being such poor company). Maybe I should have given up, but, darn it, I really wanted that 10th Anniversary live T-shirt.
It was close to 5 pm by the time I got to the booth. Fortunately, the only item that was sold out was the shark-pillow, which I hadn’t intended to get. I didn’t buy much, but I’m happy with what I got.
I was starving by this point, so I had to make a quick trip away from the Budokan for a quick bite. By the time I got back, the doors had long been open. It was almost time.
Just Before The Live
I was consciously trying to spot Yuki Kajiura and nearly shrieked when I saw her, one floor up, smiling broadly as she chatted with her companions. Not whom I came here to see, but being able to catch a glimpse of the woman I’d been a fan of for more than a decade was definitely a huge bonus.
The arena seats I got for what is probably the most important concert of my life make me feel like I should never complain about anything ever again (but I will, because I’m human and because I’m whiny).
The 10th Anniversary Live
I was especially thrilled by the quality of Wakana’s performance. From what I seen, she’s the member most likely to struggle during live performances, but she was amazing throughout this concert. This may very well have been one of the best live performances she’s ever done. I’m very grateful to have been able to witness it. Keiko…Well, Keiko is almost always breathtakingly amazing. Not perfect, but pretty darned close. Hikaru’s perfomance though, was kind of disappointing. I can’t say exactly what was wrong…She was rather shrill on her solos, but was actually mostly fine in harmonies. There were moments were it looked like she was a little frustrated, she was trying so hard. But she maintained that onstage swagger and general fierce-ness I enjoy watching so much. And I honestly think she got better as the concert went on.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who expected a live with more, well, flair, right? The back-to-basics nature of the live caught me off-guard. But I never needed effects or dancing from Kalafina anyway, I just want to hear them sing. And I got to hear them sing a whopping 30(ish?) songs. Totally worth it.
I’m sorry I can’t say something about every song, and I may have details and the order in which stuff happened mixed up. But here’s what I got.
ring your bell
屋根の向こうに (Yane no Mukou ni)
I really didn’t expect this song, but I’m glad it made it to the setlist. Lovely performances by Wakana and Keiko. I honestly winced a little at Hikaru’s solo verse (I’m so sorry Hikaru). But overall enjoyable.
光の旋律 (Hikari no Senritsu)
Ahh…Not bad, but not amazing either. Even if Hikaru can’t sing it like she used to, I’m sure she’s done better than this. But still, I enjoyed it; it’s one of my favourite Hikaru-centric songs, and her passion made up for her lack of control. I think Hikaru wasn’t too pleased with her own performance; she stood back a bit after the song, and had what looked like a rueful expression on her face. Whatever it was, Keiko came over and gave her a quick side-hug. How sweet.
It’s sprinter. Of course it was awesome. I think Hikaru pulled it off. They didn’t move around the stage as much as I thought they would, but that was okay.
I remember counting nine songs before Kalafina stopped for a proper break. Impressive stamina on display.
君が光に変えて行く (Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku)
(incoherent screaming) So thrilled that all three songs from the oblivious single made it. Live. With Wakana in top form. And Keiko solos in Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Iku and Kizuato…Amazing. Hikaru was mostly doing upper harmony in falsetto, and she sounded…great. Better then she did on her solos. Ah, so happy.
カンタンカタン (Kantan Katan)
I heard a few fans say weren’t familiar enough with this new song to enjoy this performance, which I thought was a pity because it has some of the most nuanced singing I’ve ever heard from all three members. Well, at least in the studio version. Some of that nuance was lost in the live performance, but that performance was still achingly beautiful to me.
Oh, I really loved this. All those soaring three-part harmonies. Gorgeous.
AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. After all this years, it is still my favourite Kalafina song. I was so thrilled to be able to witness them performing this live. They were fantastic — yup, even Hikaru, whose impassioned performance made up for any other faults. Wakana and Keiko were glorious.
As much as I
adore like this song, I was honestly surprised this made it. The performance, like the song, was enjoyable but not remarkable.
to the beginning
Hahahaha what. I didn’t know so many people felt strongly enough about this song to vote for it. Well, it was fine.
Seeing Ongaku on DVD releases usually has me thinking “Ugh, not again!” But it’s really pretty clear why it’s become a requisite for Kalafina lives. Watching the three of them cut loose, the audience raising one finger at “ichijou” together with the members, the front band members’ solos…It was so much fun. Keiko, somewhat unusually, chose to sit down and just sort of chill on the prop staircase onstage while introducing the band. I didn’t quite see what Hikaru was doing on stage left, because I was distracted by how, on the other end, Wakana was very adorably jumping along the music on her own. Gah, so cute. And when Keiko ran over and caught Wakana in a hug…I think the entire hall squeed.
I don’t count it among my favourite Kalafina songs, but I liked the performance. Wakana and Hikaru sounded really good here.
into the world
It was after this song, I think? I may have gotten mixed up, I’m sorry if I’m mistaken. But I do remember a moving moment where Keiko gazed out into the crowd, and you could see tears glistening in her eyes before she hastily turned away. She spent the next minute or so with her back to the audience, fiddling with her stuff, in what I’m certain was an attempt to buy time to compose herself. (Note: I initially thought Keiko was just getting emotional about the tenth anniversary. But if Keiko really is leaving…This moment seems heartbreaking in retrospect.)
君の銀の庭 Accordion solo ver. ～ nightmare ballet (inst)
ひかりふる (Hikari Furu)
When discussing the Kalafina 10th anniversary rings, kuroiyuki88 said “It’s like we’re marrying Kalafina!”. And then Kalafina came out in those psuedo- wedding dresses, as if to prove her right. I spent about a minute just trying not to burst into giggles. Anyway, it was a fine performance, one of the better ones I’ve heard (seriously, Wakana, you made me so happy). And it was pretty obvious that the skirts were made to be removed from the costume, which was what happened after the song
百火撩乱 (Hyakka Ryouran)
Of course Alleluia had to be there. And it was amazing. Oh, Keiko ~ what a voice. A great way to end.
Was it at this point? Wakana started tearing up, and Hikaru too. I think Keiko managed not to. But oh, I wanted to cry too. Their 10 years as Kalafina, culminating in this night. I’m so glad I could witness it.
Whatever comes next, thank you, Kalafina. For that night, for your 10 years of hard work and sacrifice, for the beautiful music you’ve created together. For sharing enough of yourselves, giving us glimpses into what you three are as people, and letting us adore you. It’s been so much fun.