Well, I said I’d post the next chunk in late December and here we are on the last day of the month. The New Year has already reached some parts of the globe, but as the eastern United States is still six hours away from joining the party, I’ve kept my word. ^o^
Speaking of which, before getting on with the show, I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by Warped Frost in this, its first year, and wish you all a happy new year, feliz año nuevo, feliz ano novo, с новым годом, selamat tahun baru, gelukkig nieuwjaar, manigong bagong taon, un an nou fericit, bonne année, and every other possible way to say “Happy New Year.” (I just picked the languages of the countries the handy-dandy WordPress dashboard tells me have visited this blog in the past couple of days. ^o^) GACKT’s fandom is worldwide and it’s a pleasure to be in it with all of you. 良いお年を！
October 17, 2012 Ōmiya Sonic City
Everything was still bustling when the curtains fell on the first day of Gackt’s third hall tour. As with past tours, the second day brought with it many new experiments to address the various problems that had arisen on Day 1. In that sense, I always feel like Day 2 is actually the real first day of a tour. As I hurried to Ōmiya Sonic City, my expectations for the show soared even higher than they had on the first day.
The weather was mostly clear, and the uncharacteristically hot mid-October day had me sweating as I rushed along.
“Shall we stretch?” Gackt called out to the dancers before rehearsals started. They moved out into a relatively wide hallway. Gackt sat down, opened his legs wide, and slowly started twisting his body side to side. I joined the stretch circle and started speaking with him.
“What did you do yesterday?”
“Since I had to do a radio show, I stayed hyped-up and then I couldn’t sleep……when I got back home, I watched movies and footage of the show in Toda one after another. Then I remembered there was something that I had to do, so I went to check the English version of ‘Jūnigatsu no Love Song’ on MD. …….Man, I’m really, really sore though. I don’t think it’s because of the sleep deprivation, but lately my muscle strength has definitely gone down, and I’m really stiff.”
So he said, yet Gackt’s flexibility was beyond that of any ordinary person. It seemed like if he stretched just a little more, his legs would be at 180 degrees.
“A hundred eighty degrees? I think I could go even further than that with about 30 minutes’ more stretching. ……Since my knees are especially stiff today.”
For a while, Gackt continued relaxing and stretching, then he headed to the stage to begin rehearsals. His expression gradually grew tenser and tenser, and he seemed to be giving many issues a great deal of thought.
First, they decided their positions for “Speed Master.”
“We have to be aware of the fact that this stage is higher than the one in Toda. Usually, You’s always the one who’s off.”
Carrying a microphone, Gackt gave his instructions from the audience’s seats. While repeatedly running through the performance, Ren and Chachamaru changed their movements for the interlude to something new.
Next, they decided, by a long process of trial and error, their positions on the steps during “ANOTHER WORLD”; the movements after the break in “Mirror”; the way the dancers should fall during “memories”; and so many other things that I would run out of ink if I tried to write them all down. A great tension hung over the rehearsal. It was like pins and needles filled the air.
This is something I think each time I watch these earnest rehearsals: it would never occur to Gackt to let the smallest details slide. What Gackt is after, along with perfect staging, is a solidarity born of the members and staff having the same awareness; in other words, a sense of unity. It’s not enough to perform well. Gackt can tell when there isn’t a single mistake, the moment when unity has finally been achieved onstage. Neither is Gackt plagued by perfectionism, because for him, trying to make something perfect is just his totally ordinary way of doing things.
Oblivious to the flow of time, all present continued to crave perfection. When someone finally looked at a clock, it was already one hour past opening time. Even so, the people waiting to see the show remained orderly.
“We’re behind schedule, huh? Well, this is that same bedeviled Ōmiya from the first tour where we were an hour and forty-five minutes behind schedule, so I’d say we’ve come pretty far. Ahaha…I don’t think the curtain will get stuck today. I’m afraid of what’ll happen if we mess up this show.”1
It seemed the memory of the mishap at this same venue two years ago on the first day of the MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ tour was still fresh in Gackt’s mind. After talking about that right before the show, they had their huddle.
When the show opens, a video is projected onto the stage with “Noah” as background music, but for today’s show, the translucent screen was deliberately left in place. Also, the performance using the dragon figure was also cut on purpose. They were truly trying to figure out which style was best through trial and error.
The movements during “Doomsday” had also changed dramatically since Toda, and at the beginning of “Lu:na,” Gackt yelled out “Try and show me!” for the first time.2
During the interlude’s problematic wire work, Gackt missed the landing on his revolving vertical leap. Unfortunately, neither was he able to complete the second stunt, an angled sideways jump. This turn of events seemed to pile on the pressure, and Gackt’s expression was even more pained than it had been at Toda, and he even staggered a few times. His giving off a vibe that made the audience tense also made it seem like he was still spinning his wheels a little.
After “Mirror” comes the talk portion, but Gackt had gone into the wings and wouldn’t come back out. Around the time the audience was starting to worry, he finally returned to the stage. Between gasps for breath, he said somewhat comically:
“As the chosen representative, allow me to say…sorry we were late.”
A wave of cheering sprung up from the crowd, but there was a man with a particularly loud voice who managed to yell his encouragement out over all of that. His words seemed to flip Gackt’s switch to “ON,” and from that point he was dashing headlong for the finish line. The curtains closed with everyone in the venue on an incredible high.
As the audience hurried out on their way home, from all over the emptying seats there arose voices addressing the empty stage:
“Thank you, Gackt!”
It was something that hardly happened in previous tours, especially not during the live house tour. This was proof that the show had created a new world which resonated in the audience’s hearts.
Be that as it may, it couldn’t be said that all the changes had been made for the better. There were probably also changes which backfired. Once again, the members and staff had a lot of homework to take with them, and it was crucial they apply the lessons learned to the next concert.
In any case, Gackt’s condition was worrisome, considering he frequently lost consciousness after a live show. During the live house tour, he was able to quickly regain his composure because the set list was short and there was a little break after the performance before moving on to the Talk Corner. But his expression now was the same as it had been during previous hall tours. I imagined him passed out, in critical condition.
However, Gackt unexpectedly emerged from his dressing room relatively soon. Of course, he had to walk hanging from staff members’ shoulders, but his condition didn’t seem as perilous as it usually was at the final stage of a hall tour.3 Slowly, he headed to the venue for the post-show party. Watching him walk away like that stirred many emotions deep in my heart.
The soul Gackt was putting into moving the MOON PROJECT forward—with its story set to span several years and containing many different thoughts and feelings—as well as the fighting spirit with which he was tackling Kagen no Tsuki, changed Gackt’s appearance after a show to that of a warrior after a battle. It seemed like he was trying to deny his exhaustion by focusing on the tour ahead and accomplishing everything the MOON PROJECT comprised.
In a private room at the yakiniku restaurant, Gackt looked at the faces of the members gathered there and was relieved to see the warriors safe and sound. Everyone raised their glass when Gackt called out, “Cheers!” But there was no cheer in his voice.
Gackt sat down on the tatami and let out a long-held breath. The fatigue suddenly came flowing over him.
“My lower back hurts……all the pressure from the wires concentrates right there……and my memories of today are all fragmented. When I try to remember what happened, it’s like, ‘I think that’s what I did?'”
Unfortunately, Gackt was making slow progress on his yakiniku, despite it being one of this favorite foods. He immediately set down his chopsticks, and turned on his laptop. He appeared to be engrossed in checking his email, but then, all of a sudden, he turned to me and said with a strong tone of voice and a sharp look in his eyes:
“There’s still something missing. But……I can’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t know how to put it in words. The fans get hyped up during ‘ANOTHER WORLD’ or ‘Mirror’ or whatever, but what’s the point if they’re just getting hype for the sake of getting hype? Do you think my thoughts are getting through to them?”
Hit with the forceful, unexpected question, I found myself at a loss for words.
“No, your thoughts aren’t getting through just yet. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that they can’t get through……it’ll be no good to leave things as they are. When you sing ‘Mirror’ now, you don’t have the same things in mind that you had two years ago.”4
I was trying to raise my own morale by putting it that way.
“We’re doing ‘dears’ this time, right? So, why do you think ‘dears’ is such a moving song? What’s good about it?”
Maybe it was because he was trying to fight the fatigue, but Gackt’s tone of voice was so forceful it was scary. The question’s punch bowled me over, but I somehow managed to say something in reply.
“I think many people, in all walks of life, can easily relate to the song. When I’m listening to that song, all sorts of memories come floating up before my–”
Right as I was answering him, Gackt crashed down on the floor, unable to withstand the exhaustion any longer. He fell asleep with his arms and legs wide open, his computer still sitting in his lap. As if to say “Let him rest for a while,” the agency staff silently placed a jacket over him. For a while, no one could say anything. After sitting in silence for a bit, we continued the gathering without Gackt.5
I’d like to add this quote from an interview that took place a few days after that.
“I sang ‘dears’ at the fan club event in Hawaii this past spring, right? Everyone on the staff was moved by the song, and they all said ‘You HAVE to do “dears” during the summer live house tour!’ But I told them, ‘Don’t say that so lightly.’ I decided to sing that song in that time and place after taking many things into consideration, so there was meaning behind its performance. It’s not a song you can sing lightly just because it’s a good song. All my songs are important, and they each have a concept behind them.”
This Gackt, who had decided to sing “dears” for Kagen no Tsuki, was filled with profoundly endless thoughts and emotions. I think that finding the answer to Gackt’s question became a personal quest for me on this tour.
The Ōmiya night wore on, well past 1 a.m., with Gackt still splayed out in a shallow sleep.
[Continued in Chapter 4, Part 3]
1. I couldn’t find any information regarding this “mishap” in Sonic City back in 2000. I assume that when Gackt said 「今日は幕は引っ掛からないと思う」he meant it literally as “I don’t think the curtain will get stuck today.” ⤴
2. In Japanese, he said 「見せてみろ！」(“misete miro!”). ⤴
3. The author wrote 「ホール・ツアー終盤」meaning “the final stage of a hall tour,” but I wonder if he meant the final stage of a single stop. Ōmiya was merely the second stop of Kagen no Tsuki, so it doesn’t make much sense to expect Gackt’s condition at that point to be as bad as it is at the end of a whole tour. Unless he meant simply, “Gackt’s condition was bad, but not as bad as it could get.” ⤴
5. What I’ve translated as “gathering” was 「反省会」 in Japanese. Hanseikai literally means “reflection meeting” and can be translated more gracefully to “evaluation meeting.” However, in my experience in Japan, when these “hanseikai” take place in restaurants, there isn’t really much evaluation going on in the sense of “this was good, that was bad, here are the solutions to fix it.” Those types of things do come up in conversation, but I would never imagine what these restaurant hanseikai are really like from the English words “evaluation meeting” or even “informal evaluation”; plus, the same event was earlier described as 打ち上げ (uchiage, “celebration party”), so I went with “gathering.” ⤴