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櫻井孝昌(Takamasa Sakurai) J POP CULTURE見聞録

#53 Buono! Live in Paris – Report #2

This week is a continuation of the report on the three member girl group, “Buono!” and their live performance in Paris. Last week’s report was on the importance of such concerts and the European fans who had been longing for their visit.
K-POPs international success and the growing prosperity of Korean enterprises and products are closely related. So how about Japan? Even if both sides acknowledge the importance of the international market, they still seem to regard themselves as separate entities of each other. Japanese enterprise doesn’t seem to consider the overseas success of Japanese idols as something that is in any way connected to them.

Many people say that one of the biggest factors leading to the success of "Girls’ Generation" and such K-POP groups is the extensive training that they receive. The three members of Buono! may still be in their late teens but they are also key members of Hello!Project that includes a super-group, Morning Musume, and have all performed in their fair share of concerts over the years. I think that Buono!s solo venture in Paris will have an important impact on the Japanese economy.
Tickets to the Buono! concert were 41 Euros. If you compare this to the average price of tickets to see domestic artists in Paris it’s more on the expensive side. Regardless of which, the 900 tickets sold out in a week. And apparently 500 of those went within an hour of the tickets going on sale. It just goes to show how long-awaited this concert was to the fans. Not just French fans either: I know of people who came from Italy, Sweden and Russia to see the event. I’m sure there were many more fans hailing from different countries there as well though.
The concert was held at the “La Machine du Moulin Rouge,” which is adjacent to the famous cabaret show, Moulin Rouge.

I booked a room at a hotel nearby the concert hall and even though the doors didn't open until 4:30 that afternoon, when I passed by at around 9am on the day of the concert there was already a whole group of people lining up out the front. They were the ones who wanted to get as close to the stage as possible. One of those already in line was Ryuku who I introduced last week. She was wearing a full-body “kappa” suit just like her idol Airi Suzuki wore for a TV program one time. Some other fans from Sicily were also dressed as kappa. It was kind of cute to see all those kappa in a Montmartre setting. The fans at the front of the line had apparently been lining up since 4 that morning. And just so you know, at this time of year in Paris the temperature is below freezing even in the day time.
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Buono! From left: Airi Suzuki, Momoko Tsugunaga, Miyabi Natsuyaki.

Lined up in below freezing temperatures in the early morning.

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“My first impression of Paris after arriving was - it’s freezing! But it makes me really happy to know that some people were willing to line up outside in that climate for us for 12 hours.”
In my interview with the three girls from Buono! before rehearsals, group leader Momoko Tsugunaga spoke to me about the feelings of the group.
“The audience reaction is different here compared to Japan, so it’s impossible to know just how it’s all going to go. But it’s also that unpredictability that makes this experience so enjoyable.”
It was the first time for all three girls to visit Paris and Airi Suzuki’s first time performing outside of Japan.
“It’s a beautiful city – just like a postcard. When we arrived there were a bunch of fans waiting for us at the airport. We were so happy."

"Our Paris concert is going to be a bit different from the set we usually perform in Japan. It will be more like a “best of” set. We want to do some old stuff but also show them the performers we are right now too. If fans come to feel a little closer to Japan through our live performance then that would be ideal.” Said Miyabi Natsuyaki who has experienced international concerts before, performing in America and Thailand with Berryz Kobo.
“We even got to visit the Louvre. Everything in Paris looks like a work of art. Everything we did was a first for me. I had heard about the passion of overseas fans from the members of Berryz Kobo and Morning Musume who had already experienced it for themselves. There were fans in tears at the autograph session we held yesterday. It was totally just unexpected.”
That’s what Airi Suzuki had to say on her first visit to Paris but I’ll be doing a follow up article with her next week on her thoughts after returning to Japan.
“Most of our fans in Europe will only ever have seen us perform on screen. I want them to see us in the flesh and hopefully come to like us even more. We’re going to give them an unforgettable performance.” She insisted enthusiastically.

Autograph session. An important bonding session between fan and artist.

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The Concert. The unity between the artists and audience was a highlight.

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横断幕.jpgWriting on a banner. They said to me, "We want to surprise Buono! so don't say anything to them."
About 30 minutes before the show various video clips of Hello!Project idols were played throughout the hall, getting the audience fired up. Just looking at the audience you’d think the show had already started.

The unity that I witnessed between the Buono! members after they appeared on stage and the audience is something that I wish I could show to everybody in Japan. I’m sure the Buono! girls were moved by what they saw too, but in the meantime I just sat back and enjoyed what was a spectacular performance.

“I was blown away! The fans were far more enthusiastic than what I was expecting. I want to come back to Paris to perform again.”

Next article I’ll be following up with Airi Suzuki after returning to Japan.
Out Every Wednesday!
Next time: Buono! Live in Paris – Report 3! Interview with Airi Suzuki: her thoughts on performing overseas and her perspective on the international potential of Japanese idols!
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Columnist: Sakurai Takamasa

櫻井孝昌.jpgContents Media Producer, author, journalist, managing director of Contents Street Inc. Chief Editor of iPhone magazine “Tokyo Kawaii Magazine” (ASCII Media Works), World Cosplay Summit Executive Advisor, Chief Researcher at Kodansha/Kodansha BC China Management Laboratory.
Cultural diplomat producing events in over 100 cities in 23 countries (as of July 1st, 2012). Books include “Galapagos-ka no susume” (Kodansha), “’Suteru’ de shigoto wa umakuiku” (Diamond-sha), “Nihon wa anime de saiko suru ” (ASCII Shinsho), “Sekai no kawaii kakumei ” (PHP Shinsho), and “Anime bunka gaiko ” (Chikuma Shinsho). Writes regular columns in the weekly magazine “ASCII” and Yomiuri Shimbun.

●twitter http://twitter.com/sakuraitakamasa/
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