Aldnoah.Zero EXTRA DAY: One final day together
June 29, 2015 4 Comments
Sunday, June 21st, was the first time—and the last, so I’ve assured the friend who helped me obtain the tickets—that I’ve been to a special anime event in Japan. For those who’ve followed me on this blog or on twitter for the last seven months or so, it probably is no surprise that that event was the Aldnoah.Zero EXTRA DAY. But for me, it makes more sense to think about it from the opposite direction: it was my long-time interest in seiyuu that really got me to the event. That’s not to say that I’m not interested in the ideas behind the series, but EXTRA DAY was actually the reason I started collecting the BDs in the first place, even before the show ended. As mentioned in my previous post, a special code for preordering tickets was included in BD 6. At the time, I also knew that I would be back in Japan for work around June/July…and so, I ordered it, asked my friend a huge favour, and finally checked the box for something I’d been wanting to do ever since I developed a voice fetish about 10 years ago. And it was completely worth it.
|The pamphlet. Cover image by character designer Matsumoto Shōko|
I’d actually been hesitant to ask my friend to help me get the tickets. The cost of a single ticket was about $80, and I wanted to attend both side A and side Z. Furthermore, we also couldn’t be sure that the ID check issue that has cropped up at some major events—such as the Uta no Prince-sama lives—would not apply. But in the end, I took the chance of wasting $160, crossing my fingers that I would be able to attend at least side A — with only about 3,000 seats per show, and each BD/DVD giving codes for two tickets with projected sales of over 5,000 discs, it wasn’t guaranteed that I would get even one ticket. Well…I ended up losing a night of sleep when my friend informed me that we’d gotten both! And that’s when the real planning started.
By this time, of course, the anime had been over for a couple of weeks. Although frustration and amusement competed inside me as I observed the reactions amongst Anglo anime fans, the Japanese fans on Twitter and the Japanese blogosphere kept me pretty hyped with all their musings and reactions to the BD/DVD extras and the odd stage event. Whispers from Tokushima’s Machiasobi in May heightened the anticipation. Finally, about ten days before June 21, the list of special goods for the event finally showed up — I was stoked to find out that Key Animations 2/2 and Materials 2/2 would be available, even though it meant that I would need about 5kg of spare weight in my luggage. And until June 21st itself, I kept wondering not only what I should buy, but what time I should aim to be there… As it turns out, I was right in that people were lining up by 8am for the 10am start of sales — in fact, one of the staff told me that some of the fans had started gathering well before then!
|In the end, I got there around 10:30am, and came away with this loot. I later found out that I probably needn’t have worried anyway, as it was well into the afternoon before the most popular items started selling out.|
I’d had more than enough time to read the event pamphlet before the show itself started, and I even got to my seat early enough to hear the announcements warning against us taking photos or recording any part of the show. But since others were posting shots of the stage on twitter, I figured that it would be ok to get a ‘before’ shot:
Shortly after, it was finally time to begin. A short, spiffy countdown led to the opening act, 「&Z」 performed live by Sawano and mizuki. The sound was insane in that relatively small hall, so I was glad that I wasn’t right next to any of the speakers. The cast then entered and gave their introductions. As he promised on the radio show, Hanae wore as much orange as he could–bright orange sneakers being the most memorable item–and I have to admit that the Inaho that Matsumoto drew as part of the event’s promotional image had me laughing (see the pamphlet above). If I had to guess, it probably represents the characters as if they had the personalities of their cast! And then, Murata Taishi slipped up and introduced himself by his radio name!
Now, the main reason I wanted to attend side A in particular was because Ohara Sayaka [Yuki] was there. And she made it worthwhile right from the get-go — when Hanae asked “Ohara-san” for her thoughts on participating in an AZ event for the first time, she replied with this little lilt in her voice: “Nao-kun, call me ‘Yuki-nee’.” And he quietly obliged, as all the fans cheered. Then a little later, when Ono was relating what had happened at another event, Saaya interrupted cutely to chide him… “Don’t you have something to apologise for? I wonder who it was that arrived late today…?” Ono tried to excuse himself at first: “I couldn’t quite get hold of a ticket to Earth…” but then took the fall and blurted out his sincere apology! The rest of the show was filled with amusing interactions like this. It’s hard to tell exactly what was scripted, what came from the rehearsal held a couple of days earlier, and what was ad-libbed right there and then, well, except for what happened during the skit. But they really kept us amused.
Moving on to the first section, which was based on a survey that all of them had filled out some weeks prior. They started with a question about “Which episode left the biggest impression on you?” What made me laugh most here was when Hanae was directed (by writing that appeared on the screen) to talk about why he chose episode 3. After he reiterated what he’s said in interviews about liking how Inaho and co. won by carefully observing and planning their operation, Ono commented on how Trillram had been one amazing character. And Hanae suddenly asked: “So why did you shoot him?” An obviously unprepared Ono replied “Huh? Er…oh, well, obviously because I wanted to shoot him…” And then they moved on to discussing episode 12…where they teased Ono again about how Slaine was a little too trigger happy!
Question 2 was “Were there any memorable incidents at the recording studio?” They teased Amamiya for forgetting about her final line, “It’s a cherished memory of mine,” during the practice run for the final episode; laughed over how Murata Taishi prostrated himself when he burst into the recording studio 5 mins late one day; and recounted that Valentine’s Day episode — as further proof of how memorable it was, I’ve seen this mentioned in about three or four different places now! Hanae’s tale was also pretty funny: when he chatted with the staff over who Inaho might end up with, their answer was: “Eddelrittuo!”
The next one was “Who would you want as your superior?” Yuki and Darzana won this one, with two votes apiece…but Hanae hadn’t voted for Yuki! “Well, we’re siblings, right?” (Reaction from others: ah, good point)…it turns out, he voted for Cruhteo!
Because you want him to hit you?
Well, I mean, didn’t he turn around and apologise to Slaine once he realised the truth?
That was too late!
But unbelievably, Hanae also found a way out of this one:
Well, wouldn’t you want to have that voice giving you orders?
Ah, yeah, true that.
Question 4 was about who each thought would be a turncoat. The most surprising answer was Murata Taishi’s “Darzana”! I still have no idea why he chose her! And everyone also wanted to apologise to Harklight, who remained loyal to Slaine right to the end.
And the final question I noted down was “Is there a character that you want to say something to?” The term used is typically about voicing one’s complaints, but Hanae chose instead to tell Inko that “Personally speaking, you’re the girl I like.” Saaya wanted Inaho to listen to her more often, whilst Ono only had to say one word (“Klankain! (`A´)“) to send ripples of laughter around the venue. But Natsukawa’s turn took the cake for this one: the target of her ire was Slaine…and Ono obediently got onto his knees–without being asked–to listen as she scolded him for the horrible way in which he’d lied to and used Lemrina. It might have been at this point that she admitted that she hadn’t taken one of his chocolates on Valentine’s Day!
Section 2 involved a challenge to decide the strongest team. With Murata Taishi sitting out as the judge, we had Team Kaiduka, Team Unfortunate, and Go for ‘ittuo!! Inko (Komatsu Mikakoshi) popped up on the screen to read out all the questions. The first challenge was for the pairs to say their favourite Kats out loud, without first discussing it. The only chorus came from Ono and Natsukawa, though Hanae’s “Sleipnir!” and Saaya’s “Orange!” also got a pass. On the other hand, Amamiya and Minase couldn’t even recall the names of the Kats they’d chosen! The second question was about Nina’s line about the UFE uniform, whilst the third is something all Inaho fans on AS should be able to answer: what is his blood type? The sad thing is…Team Kaiduka got that one wrong! The next question had a similarly amusing outcome, with Go for ‘ittuo!! unable to recall the emperor’s full name. (“Did you two really host the radio show?“) Team Kaiduka got lucky with their guesses on the height order of Barouhcruz, Marylcian and Mazuurek, and then, the final question asked for drawings of Hellas, with some hilarious results. Well, at least they all give it six arms! In the end, the prize of A5 grade Japanese beef—which costs about $100 for 100g—went to Team Kaiduka (yay!)…with Team Unfortunate living up to its name, as Ono’s doodles on an earlier question lost them all of their points before they picked up 10 for the final challenge. Ono figured it out right there and then “Ah, it’s because this is Earth! It’s an away game for us!” 😄
Episode 24.5 A Rainy Interlude: The penultimate truth
This brought us to what fans had probably anticipated the most: the skit that had been hinted at during the Tokushima Machiasobi in May. This is the most widely translated part of EXTRA DAY, so I’ll just summarise what I took from it. Set about six months after the final scene in the series proper, we find Inaho still making regular visits to the hidden prison where Slaine is being kept. Although the latter is no longer suicidal, it is clear that he resents Inaho’s visits…but finding out that Inaho, too, hasn’t spoken with Asseylum since the war ended seems to clear the air a little. It was also apparent that Inaho has been trying to get him looking forward again, whether it be through philosophy (“I’m sure it’ll suit you.“) or even just exercising, playing chess, or quarrelling with him. It was depressing to think that it took so many months for Slaine to ask about and thus find out all the relevant details, though I understand why it turned out that way. Inaho just telling him about Asseylum’s request and the lack of contact between them would not have been effective, as Slaine would probably have seen that as emotional manipulation; he had to ask the questions that led to those answers, which is why it took so long. But now, finally, there is a clear sense that Slaine is willing to look for a new raison d’être, even if he never finds it.
Though I can’t believe Inaho was so blunt about that! Slaine’s right, he really needs to do something about the way he interacts with others! And this is after everyone in the S2 guidebook (even Ono!) praised him for improving in the second cour! As for the rest of the skit, I absolutely loved how they incorporated the beach visit from extra episode 2 into Inaho and Yuki’s exchange at the end: Yuki teared up when she realised that Nao-kun had indeed kept that special memory in his heart all these years!
The title of the skit is another point of interest for me. The Japanese title, 「雨の断章」 literally means “A literary fragment of rain,” whilst the English subtitle refers to a 1964 novel by Philip K. Dick. I’m not sure if they wanted to imply a connection with any of the themes/events in the novel (from the brief plot summary on wikipedia, I personally don’t see one), or simply with the meaning of the title. But what does “the penultimate truth” actually mean? The furthest I’ve been able to trace it back is to Ananda K. Coomaraswarmy’s 1943 tome on Hinduism and Buddhism, where he defines ‘myth’ as ‘the penultimate truth’, because that is as close as words can brings us to ‘the ultimate truth’. My guess is that this is the symbolism that the writers were aiming for: the ultimate truth of that raison d’être may never be found, but the penultimate truth is that people will keep searching for it. And that’s what makes us human.
Or something like that. ^^;
There is one more thing to relate, however, and this was probably the most memorable part of side A. About 2 minutes into the skit, the sound actually cut out…right when Inaho and Slaine had just started talking, as if even the gods of the equipment recognised just how poorly they got along! When they finally realised that something had happened, Ono’s immediate reaction was “Yes! I actually tripped up back there, but now I can redo it!” So they were stuck unscripted for a few minutes as the staff worked to restore things, and Saaya reliably came to the rescue by turning their minds to a bit more backstage free-talk. The highlight came when she related her favourite line of Yuki’s. To the best of my memory:
“That shithead that shot my little brother, huh?” I loved that line.
That language really doesn’t suit you, Yuki-nee.
I totally love Yuki-nee, so it was a bit of a shock!
But you know, I was kinda happy about it too!
Masochist. LOL. For those who are interested, here’s Ono’s tweet about that episode…
Hanae’s ad-libs after they restarted the skit were also fantastic, as he worked the sound system’s problem into the dialogue between Inaho and Calm. That might just have been a factor in Murata messing up his lines a few seconds later, but Hanae managed to work that into the skit too, though he himself slipped up briefly in the process. And so Murata ended that opening act with a “Man, I completely messed up there!“
That pretty much wraps up all the things I can relate about Side A. To finish off, we were treated to live performances for BRE@TH//LESS, No differences, Keep on keeping on and aLIEz, before the cast came on stage for their final greetings. It was really sad to have to part ways with Yuki-nee…though she did show her love for Nao-kun again just a few days later.
On the way out from the afternoon session, I also checked out the flowers in the hall — I was especially impressed by the blue roses, the deep colours of these two offerings in particular (as far as I could tell, they were real; not entirely sure how the colour is obtained though!). Going by what some people posted on twitter later, most of these bouquets are from groups of fans — I wonder where and how they arrange these collaborations, especially considering how Japan remains one of the bastions of paper-based money, even though this is slowly changing!
|The one on the left is for Amamiya, and the one of the right for ‘Slaine and Asseylum’.|
I wasn’t able to take as many pictures as I would have liked. In fact, I wasn’t really able to stop and look at Tharsis or Sleipnir either…but tonnes of photos and reports abound, courtesy of this very thorough Japanese fan, for example. In fact, he spent the entire 2 hours of each show taking notes so that he could share the experience! In any case, I left the venue to find myself some dinner, before returning for side Z.
|Exactly the same row as last time, but from the opposite end of it.|
The addition of Hirakawa Daisuke [Harklight] for the evening section had a similar effect to Saaya’s presence in A. Ono was super pleased to have his loyal subordinate there supporting him, and Hirarin promptly went down on one knee, drawing cheers and screams from the girls in the audience. Hirarin also brought more fun and games to the MC-ing, which the cast actually took turns doing according to directions given on the screen. The day session went pretty normally, except for Ono joking around by reading out “CV Ono Kenshō” as well when delivering the instructions as directed. Hirarin, however, decided that loony voices were a must, and he managed to get Ono, Hanae and Murata to follow his lead! Sadly–or perhaps, wisely–the ladies refrained ^^;
Whilst the survey and competition sections were repeated, the questions and teams were changed, so those of us who attended both were well entertained. This time, the survey section began with the most memorable scenes involving their own characters. Ono’s was–surprise, surprise–the torture scene in episode 8…and since Hanae had himself been tortured in another series around the same time (NB: I haven’t seen that series, but Ono noted that he had!), they actually found another point of camaraderie through that! Another funny bit was when Amamiya picked out the episode 9 scene where Asseylum cried and apologised so sincerely to the girl who’d just tried to kill her; Hanae piped up with “and who was it that saved you?” (Ono: “Hey!” etc) And it was also here that Hirarin and Ono first obliged us with their favourite exchange: the moment Slaine dropped all honourifics with Harklight at the end of episode 15. “Let’s begin, Harklight.” “Yes, my lord!“
The next question was even better though. “Team Inaho? Or Team Slaine?” As I mentioned previously, the winner was Slaine, with four out of the seven votes, though Ono sheepishly admitted that he’d voted for his own character too. And Hanae noted “Well, we can pretty much guess the others then — the radio show pair, right?” and of course, Hirarin. But then the screen interjected:
Let’s look at the other answers that were given:
The hall literally exploded at that point.
Inko came from Hanae, obviously. Murata chose Yuki, and Natsukawa Harklight, prompting Hirarin to suggest that he might change his allegiance! And the backstage staff chided them all for taking too much leeway with the question! The seiyuu then decided to take a vote from the audience…and, as I mentioned last week, Harklight came out on top!
The next question was about “Who would you want as your friend?” With three votes, Nina was the winner. Murata chose Yutaro (I’ll leave you all to guess why), and Ono chose Harklight, for a nice, peaceful friendship. Amamiya chose…Inaho! Because he knows everything, and because he really cherishes his friends. And sure enough, the rivalry surfaced again, as Hanae turned to Ono, who was sandwiched between him and Amamiya:
Did you hear that, Kenshō-san?
(To Amamiya, IIRC) So why don’t we just switch seats then?
The next question was about whether there was a character whom they thought would die from their first appearance. Minase answered that her own character was the one she’d been concerned about, because she’d probably take a bullet for the princess or something. Then, when Hanae started talking about his answer, the backstage staff signalled that it was time to move on to the final question!
“Is there anything you want to say to the staff?” Amamiya was the only one who had answered “No,” and Hanae and Ono spent a good couple of minutes teasing her for not even wanting to thank Aoki and co.! As for the others:
I really can’t forgive what happened with Klancain!
Like, give me back those 24 episodes!
There was this scene that I put a lot into…and you cut it!
(Murata — NB: see the BD/DVD version of ep.13)
And the backstage staff replied via the screen:
“Well…there are reasons for that…” (いろいろあるんです)
What happened to Lemrina? Like, not knowing whether she’s alive, dead, happy, sad – that’s the worst possible ending! (Natsukawa; and Hirarin had a similar complaint)
“Well…there are reasons for that…”
And then Hanae, just like his character, went off on his own vector again:
I really like the Nilokeras…any chance for a model of it? Or better, for all of them?
Ono and Hanae then started fanboying over how cool the Tharsis model is, and where they’re going to display it… “In the toilet, because it’s white!” LOL And IIRC, the staff indicated that something might be in the works…!
We then moved on to the competition for the best team again. With Minase judging this time, we had an Earth team, a Vers Knights team and the Princess team. Once again, the game was played for the luxurious prize that cannot be found on Mars: a ticket for a meat buffet…because Minase really wanted it too, she made a deal with the Princess team to share their winnings if they won. Hirarin again set the fangirls off by making sure Ono was seated properly before taking his own seat! And to everyone’s great joy, Cruhteo was resurrected to pose the questions in Hayami Shō’s dulcet tones.
I found this one more difficult than the afternoon one, personally, as some of the questions were much trickier. It started off with memorable quotes, and not surprisingly, Hanae and Murata were the only ones who couldn’t agree (they tried to sweet talk Minase about this to no avail…heh). The next was to identify the missing bird, and the third to remember which episode the following script cover was from.
The teams were then asked Eddelrittuo’s height and Klancain’s radio nickname. The Princess team bulls-eyed the former (134cm), prompting calls of potential cheating! But then, they missed out on the latter by one katakana character! (オウサカイン vs. オオサカイン), which, of course, had Hanae teasing Amamiya again about whether she had actually hosted the radio show! And finally, they were asked to draw Serenum (Mazuurek’s Kat)… The sad thing was, because Minase agreed to raise the points for this final challenge, the Earth team won again! Though Hanae somehow got Murata to give up his prize for Minase!
Episode 24.5 Redux
The evening version of the skit differed slightly because of the cast member changes–Slaine’s first flashback was with Harklight as opposed to Lemrina, and Calm came to pick up Inaho at the end, before they headed off to the Amifumi family’s diner. I found this Harklight flashback more depressing, though, because it showed how callous Slaine had become with regards to life. I could really hear the sorrow in Hirarin’s voice at the end of that scene, as he quietly accepted Slaine’s order to procure some birds for the castle. There’s such a strong connection to Slaine’s observation in the final episode that he had lost sight of what was most important — really stabbed me in the heart again (I thought this was over!). But it’s precisely because of such depressing moments that I’m relieved that Slaine didn’t just die in episode 24. I honestly want him to start to treasure life again, and the only way he can do that is if he lives on, no matter how much harder that might be. And I personally felt that this little skit gave us a glimpse of that, of Slaine finally moving forward again.
And finally, once again, the show wrapped up with performances by Sawano and co.: this time, it was BRE@TH//LESS, No differences, aLIEz and A/Z. It was fantastic to hear aLIEz and &Z performed twice, and A/Z once, and I dare say that I would love to attend a Sawano concert one day!
And wrapping it all up…
In the end, going to this event proved to be a little more expensive that I’d originally anticipated, way back when I first decided to try for it. But it was worth every yen. The presence of Saaya and Hirarin for side A and side Z respectively really made you feel the value of having a veteran around. I’d also add Hanae to this group, admittedly: the way he and Saaya handled the interruption in the afternoon made it completely worthwhile, and the weird voices that Hirarin sparked amongst the male cast in the evening were just brilliant! And of course, the best part was seeing the Hanaho vs. ToroKen rivalry live, as they took every opportunity they could to play it up for us!
I’ve seen quite a few events that were released on DVD/BD now, but this is the first I’ve attended live, and I’m really not surprised that they’re relatively common for successful anime series in Japan even though the medium remains a niche market. Unfortunately, Saaya noted that there were no plans to release this on BD or DVD – I suppose we can always hope…but I personally didn’t see any cameras in the venue except for those that were being used for the closeups. Aoki or Kurosaki apparently said at Machiasobi in May that ‘if there’s enough of a reaction to (something), we might just animate it’…but at this point, I think I’m just going to have to cherish this experience.
When the cast came out for their final farewell, it really felt like the past year or so had flown by way too quickly. Even though we’re still waiting for the final BD next month, we were all left with the sense that something has ended. But at the same time, there is also a feeling that there is a future for these characters that Aldnoah.Zero fans have come to love so deeply. Ono summed it up really well in his closing remarks, where he observed that he finally feels that Slaine has started looking and moving forward once again.
And I’m sure everyone has already heard about it, but as they walked off, Hanae tapped on Ono’s shoulder to shake his hand, only to be pulled into a warm hug…
|…one that set off the fangirls again, of course! (Source)
And so ends my report of Aldnoah.Zero EXTRA DAY. This report was based mostly on notes I took on the 21st, with some specific quotes by the cast filled in or checked against a number of Japanese reports I’ve skimmed. I honestly can’t believe the Japanese fans that do this for each and every event — if there’s another reason I’m not going to attend one of these again, it’s this…they take forever to write up!!