Photos Courtesy of OTAQUEST
On July 3rd, some of Japan’s most talented artists all gathered at the Novo in Downtown L.A. to deliver one of the most memorable performances I’ve seen in recent history. However, not only was it fun to be a part of, it was also, in its own way, historic.
For OTAQUEST LIVE, the line-up was impressive to say the least. The artists known as CrazyBoy, HIROOMI TOSAKA, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, CAPSULE and m-flo all graced the stage to deliver an amazing performance. For many fans, this was their first time seeing the internationally renowned artists. (Considering that a fair number of the musicians have yet to officially perform on American soil that night, the likelihood of this for MOST audience members is fairly high.)
It’s also worth mentioning that the second event, OTAQUEST Kick Off, was equally as enjoyable and ground-breaking. I can’t attest to what a real Tokyo club is like, but OTAQUEST Kick Off was brought to the Novo later that night with the intentions of letting us Americans come as close to a real nightclub as possible. The U.S. DJ Chuck None opened the night, with Taku Takahashi, Yasutaka Nakata, and Teddyloid all performing their sets.
These events were cool, hip and modern. Without a doubt. Even the most casual fan would agree to those praises, but why were OTAQUEST LIVE and OTAQUEST Kick Off SO groundbreaking? This event was not linked to any major anime convention, for one. I’ll tell you why that matters.
OTAQUEST has had a history of collaborating with some of the greatest anime conventions of all time. They can boast appearances and events at cons like Anime Expo and Acen. However, this specific event was a stand alone. Despite the overwhelming popularity of anime in the U.S. during the past 5-10 years, many die-hard Japanese music fans will tell you it’s (sometimes) fairly difficult to find a way to watch their favorite artist outside of an anime convention. When they do, it’s a big deal.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu for instance, has traveled the globe on more than one occasion. She has even performed that the very same venue, the Downtown L.A. Novo, several years prior. She achieved worldwide viral fame around 2011-2012 after his unique music video for PONPONPON delighted fans all over the globe. However she may be a bit of an outlier on this list. Taku Takahashi and Teddyloid can also boast traveling internationally for shows at anime conventions. Both having worked on the soundtrack for the anime Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, many fans have been listening to their works for at least a decade.
However, both artists, for the first part, neglected to lead with their anime related works. Taku Takahashi did pay homage to some of the greatest anime music in his set. A memorable song he played was the Neon Genesis Evangelion opening. When it started playing he stood there with a stare in the crowd that (seemed to say) said, “Yes. I’m aware how absolutely insane you guys go over this song.” Teddyloid also played his own recent remix of Me!Me!Me!, as well as other music he’s created, but played mostly original tracks off his latest albums. (Including one new m-flo track he apparently just finished while he was staying in Los Angeles.)
So what’s the big deal about this event? Simple. It showed that these amazing artists can pull a massive audience with or without an anime convention behind it. No matter which musician has frequently traveled to perform, and which ones were first timers, the sheer quality and quantity of the show goers showed the world that there’s an expanding market for Japanese music shows right here in the US.
Another big reason this event was so important, is because it showed the U.S. fans what a collaboration concert between some of the most popular acts in Japan, together, could be like. Performers like CrazyBoy and HIROOMI TOSAKA are big in Japan. It was important to be able to bring them to U.S. soil to show Americans exactly how cool of musicians they are.
Another great example is Yasutaka Nakata. The DJ has been a major contributor to musical acts like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and PERFUME. Both being massively popular in the U.S. (Kyary Pamyu Pamyu having toured here several times, and PERFUME being the first ever J-Pop group to perform at Coachella.) Many people may not realize that without Yasutaka Nakata’s musical contribution, our favorite J-Pop songs would not exist as they are today.
Yasutaka Nakata was in both Otaquest LIVE and Otaquest Kick Off. During LIVE he performed with the spectacular Toshiko Koshijima, as CAPSULE. He was advertised as just himself performing during Kick Off, but brought out BOTH Toshiko Koshijima and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to perform alongside him as surprise guests. The amazing m-flo also made history that night by opening explaining on stage they wanted to play new, unreleased music. After performing some of their best hits, the crowd was treated to being able to witness brand new content being played live for the first time ever.
The accumulation of these guests all together, from their respective areas of the Japanese music industry, was nothing short of groundbreaking. For both OTAQUEST (created in part by Taku Takahashi himself) and the entire world. During the shows, Taku Takahashi explained his desires and plans for OTAQUEST to be successful. He expressed his wish for OTAQUEST to be able to come back.
It was fantastic to be able to witness first hand such a monumental event. I sincerely hope that Taku Takahashi’s efforts come true and the world will be able to experience different OTAQUESTs again and again. For those who missed out, please hope alongside me for the next OTAQUEST event. If these shows were any indication of what may come, there’s nothing but good things in it’s future.