So I signed in several weeks ago thinking I’d bust out this one stop right quick, when I happened to see on my WordPress dashboard that one of the search engine terms that led someone here was “air moon gackt english pdf.” That was a bit troubling.
As is written in the “Request” in the sidebar to the right there, I want this translation to stay exclusively on Warped Frost. I can’t stop anyone from copy-pasting everything and compiling a PDF for personal use, but if they ever make that document available to others for download, then there’s a problem. Eventually someone else might even start selling it, and I don’t want that. I’m not making money off of this, and neither should someone who didn’t even put all the hours into it. At the moment I’m considering adding a plug-in that would disable copy-pasting, or password protecting Air Moon posts. Then again, if I’m gonna do all that, why post this publicly at all?
So let’s all be good little children so that whatever supernatural figure we do or don’t believe in will give us presents around this time of year, eh?
Anyway, back to the tour.
This time, we find ourselves in Utsunomiya, the capital of Tochigi Prefecture in sort of the middle of Japan (not too far from Tokyo). This also brings us to the 50% mark of both The Air Moon and this chapter!
Lastly, Happy Emperor’s Birthday, Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, and in case I don’t update again before the New Year, 良いお年を！
November 13, 2002 Utsunomiya City Cultural Hall
After the show in Sapporo, we returned to Tokyo. One day, a few days before the show in Utsunomiya, I did an interview with Gackt for the magazine uv. The tour hadn’t reached the midpoint yet, but since I was able to get an “interim report” (so to speak), I’d like to take an excerpt from that interview. In particular, I’d like to focus attention on Gackt’s thoughts on how much mental distance to put between oneself and the Kagen no Tsuki tour. At this point, I think he can look back on the different ways he kept his mental distance for each tour.
—So what does the audience’s power feel like to you on this tour?
It’s incredible! The only thing is…I think the people watching can control their mental distance more than I thought they would. Though the first song on this tour’s set list has a really good vibe to it, the audience is keeping such a great mental distance that a lot of them end up with their mouths hanging open, unable to move. But I can make them tense up even more.
—I see… So will you make them tense?
I want to.
—That’s the opposite of your way of thinking during the Requiem et Réminiscence ~Chinkon to Saisei~ tour, isn’t it?
That’s right. I think there are completely different ways you can watch a concert. A friend asked me, “Do you want them to go along with you, or do you want them to stiffen up? Which is it?” Personally, I want them to tense up. It’s like, if you can keep up, then come along.
—There are many more audience members who cry at the end of the show this time around, aren’t there?
It’s because mental distance repeatedly increases and decreases in the course of people’s everyday lives. When the distance is small, they feel warm. When the distance is great, they get lonely the moment they feel that distance. If, in the approximately 2-hour space of a concert, you rapidly changed the amount of mental distance with each successive song, then that would be painful. For example, if we say that there are five years between the time that people meet and the time that they part ways, then we’re making the audience go through five years’ worth of lived experience in under two hours. Remembering brilliant memories, the times you cried, the times you laughed together…there are a whole bunch of memories, right? A separation after five years, that leaves a gaping hole. It makes you cry, it hurts. But you know, sometimes people also say to me, “Gackt, you may disappear beyond the other side of the stage, but I get the feeling you leave behind the promise that we can meet again, and that helps me get through it.” I was like, “Oh, I get it.” I think that if it weren’t for that, no one would be able to leave the venue after a show.
[End of excerpt]
As we had after the show at the Gunma Music Center, everyone met up in Tokyo to board a big bus headed for the Utsunomiya City Cultural Hall. The party got there at 3 p.m., but Gackt immediately changed into workout clothes, gave the venue a once-over, then accompanied the dancers in starting the acrobatic practice. Gackt’s expression showed he’d just been itching to do it. He must get such a kick out of feeling himself improve that he can barely contain himself; that much was quite clear even to me.
The pleasant sound of bodies leaping through the air echoed in the second floor lobby, where there were mattresses spread out. They were performing mid-air somersaults, taking a longer running start than before. Before I knew it, there were even dancers who could go from a round off into a back flip or backwards somersault.1 In particular, there was TAKA, who joined the dancers for this tour, who was as high-level as would be expected from someone who’d been on the gymnastics team in high school. I couldn’t help but sigh every time he danced through the air, but today, I noticed that he jumped up with all his might, but I never expected him to actually kick the ceiling! As if spurred on by TAKA’s performance, Gackt started trying to do not only forward somersaults, but also round offs, back flips, and everything in between. He was already managing to do them pretty well. At this rate, he’d be able to stick the landings in no time.
The rehearsal started at 4:15 p.m. Gackt went down into the audience seats, watching the band members’ performance and the dancers’ movements, but his expression suddenly hardened when he saw the dance for “death wish.” He looked so scary it was like he was a completely different person from the one who had been having fun with the acrobatics practice mere moments ago. But even I could tell what caused this change, given that I was looking up at the stage from about the same position as Gackt. Clearly, the dancing lacked sharpness, and the dancers were so out of sync with each other that it stood out. With 10 days since the Sapporo performance, their intuition must have gotten dull.
Gackt’s tone as he raised his voice clearly said, “I’m gonna lose it if you don’t do it right!” He stopped the performance, picked up a mike, and started counting out the time, “One, two, three, four!” But the movements didn’t quite meet his expectations, leaving an irritated expression on his face.
“Dancers! Do you guys even feel like doing this?! If you’re just gonna drag yourselves around then quit! You do understand why we’re having rehearsals, right? We set aside time to rehearse your part! YOSH, take responsibility and fix this!”
It was the first time Gackt seriously lost his temper like this.
The dancers replied with loud voices, but they were obviously nervous.
They went through “death wish” over and over, but Gackt just kept yelling at them, “Faster! Faster!”2 Everyone in the venue felt overwhelmed by the way he checked even the smallest details relentlessly.
Come to think of it, after Madagascar, Gackt did announce that he would be “removing the brakes” from himself, and it certainly had become easier for him to lose it. Of course, that was in reference to creative endeavors, but it was a rare sight to see him losing his self-control to this extent. It was so bad it even felt like there would be punching and kicking in a minute if things didn’t go the way Gackt wanted them to.
“You’re all rushing through your solos. Line up and try doing the last part…”
Gackt’s tone seemed to have regained some degree of composure, but during the rehearsal for “ANOTHER WORLD” that followed, his strong, emboldened voice continued yelling out instructions as he carefully checked the dancers’ moves. At this point, this was only a rehearsal, but Gackt injected it with a healthy dose of fighting spirit. Today, the tension and excitement were palpable.
With Gackt having gone through make-up in a flash, the show started practically on time. Needless to say, he kept the energy up at the level he’d shown during rehearsals.
Ryu seemed to be in good spirits having replaced the in-ear monitors that gave him trouble in Sapporo with a fresh pair of earphones. Overall, the band and dancers seemed to be moving in a swinging rhythm.
Although the performance simultaneously packed a punch and felt light as a feather, it felt as if each person onstage was thinking about and working off the pacing of all the previous shows. They were probably doing it subconsciously; they weren’t performing frantically, rather they seemed to have gotten to the point where they were calmly controlling themselves and the audience, without going beyond that to the point where they would seem to be resting their laurels. Gackt didn’t lose it either. He seemed to be controlling the venue while keeping a close eye on himself. There was a hint of restraint in his voice, but his footwork was truly light.
This performance did feel more controlled than the headlong dashes in Sendai and Sapporo, but it’s also important to strive for a performance that can end right before it crosses the line into insanity. In that sense, it could be said this show was a compact version of previous concerts. Shows where the performers go berserk, shows where the performers maintain their composure…they each give off their own unique charm. It’s up to the audience to decide which they think is better.
After ending the show in an unusual state of calm, Gackt seemed to be on the verge of blacking out only for a second before he immediately went to change clothes and came back to the green room. The band members were filled with post-show exhilaration, and the cheerful conversation with them soon became quite lively. The subject at hand was the acrobatics practice they’d done before the show.
“If everyone practiced just that much each time, everyone would get really good at it!”
In response to YOSH’s declaration, Gackt said, half-joking, “Well then, shall we make an action movie?”
On second thought, he probably wasn’t joking at all, but either way, his response got the dancers bubbling with excitement. Next Gackt turned to speak to me.
“Mr. Hirose, you have to practice acrobatics too.”
“If I learn how to pull off a back flip, will you let me be in your movie?”
“Of course! If you could do back flips with that body of yours, you’d be better than Sammo Hung! Ahaha!”
An explosion of laughter filled the green room. It was rare for the atmosphere backstage to be like this after a show. I wondered if this lightness was proof that each person thought they’d been able to put on a show they could look back on objectively and be convinced by.
At some point, the conversation morphed into an impromptu computer class for Ren, who was bad at using computers. Ren and the string of Lovable Idiot exclamations that flowed from his mouth became the center of attention in the green room.
Gackt took out a dog-eared book that was missing its dust jacket and engrossed himself in reading. Its title: Chinese Grammar.
“Gaku’s so passionate ’bout studyin’, ain’t he?” Chachamaru ribbed Gackt.
“It’s fun, increasing your knowledge. Since you can re-read books any number of times, their content just slams into your head. I don’t watch TV, but that’s a big difference between books and TV.”
Gackt’s casual demeanor as he spoke was completely different from how he had looked onstage tonight. He now had an intellectual air about him, but…huh? There was a bandage wrapped around his left hand. When I asked him exactly what happened, he replied:
“Oh, this was when I landed during ‘Lu:na’. I put my hand down to catch myself and cut it. My hand was all slippery so I stopped to look at it and was like, ‘The hell’s up with this?! (said like Yūsaku Matsuda)’. I didn’t realize it because I was super excited, but my blood was gushing out. But, since I was so worked up, I knew that a bunch of lymph fluid would come out right away. The bleeding stopped almost immediately.”
I see. Once that accident put him in an objective frame of mind, that objectivity probably made today’s concert come to have that calm feeling to it. But in any case, wire work sure is dangerous!
Gackt continued, Chinese Grammar still in one hand.
“Oh, that’s right. Just now the staff members were saying ‘The dancers’ moves are on point’ and that such and such part looked nice. I finally got to hear those words for the first time!”
The strict rehearsal had gotten results.
“Really?! I wanted to watch from down in the audience too,” YOSH said happily.
“Alright then, at the next show in Tokyo, you go watch from the audience seats.”
Everyone erupted into laughter once again at Gackt’s comment.
Then, it was time for the bus heading back to depart. A faintly visible moon floated in the night sky, under which we headed straight for Tokyo. There were tables inside the bus spread with one of Gackt’s favorites and Utsunomiya’s famous specialty, gyoza. The gyoza that had been put in the green room as a gift had gotten cold, as had these. Gackt seemed a little disappointed, nevertheless his chopsticks picked up each piece with gusto. But then, after he finished eating, what he unexpectedly muttered was so heartbreaking that I fell silent.
“I’ll only be able to eat x more meals, so I wanna enjoy them more…”
What?! What in the world did that mean?!
I forgot the precise number Gackt said, but it was something in the thousands. Was he measuring his own remaining lifespan, calculating when he would burn out?
The mood had been strangely cheerful before that comment, but afterward, the way back home was tinged with sadness.
[Continued in Chapter 4, Part 7]
1. I know nothing of acrobatics and I think last time these moves were mentioned バック宙 and バック転 weren’t in the same sentence, but here they are as if they’re two different things. According to my Japanese dictionary, a バック宙 is when you make your body rotate backwards from an upright position without dropping your hips, and a バック転 is when you make your body rotate backwards from an upright position. Therefore I’ve chosen to interpret the former as “back flip,” imagining a rotation where the body stays relatively straight, and the latter as “backwards somersault,” imagining a rotation where the body ends up curled in a ball. I could be way off on this. I used my Google Fu to the best of my abilities and couldn’t figure out what these things would be called in English. Also, I couldn’t find the word I translated as “cartwheel” (ロンダード) in any dictionary, but videos on YouTube with that in the title show it to be a cartwheel. Perhaps it’s specifically one in which you end up facing the opposite direction relative to your starting position, rather than ending up with your body sideways. EDIT (July 30, 2016): After finding this helpful video that notes the difference between a ロンダード (the video says rondaato but by default my computer’s IME prefers rondaado as Hirose writes it) and a 側転, I have realized that the rondaado which I had previously translated as “cartwheel” is actually a “round off.” The difference between the two is that in a cartwheel you keep your arms straight and land one foot at a time, but in a round off you twist your arms and land on both feet. The round off is apparently used to go immediately into other moves, especially backwards ones. I have fixed the translation above to accurately reflect rondaado as round off. ⤴
2. I assume what Gackt meant was “Faster!” since he’d described the dancers as dragging before, but what’s written in the book is the adjective “fast” (速い) not the adverb 速く so I can’t be 100% sure that he wasn’t telling them they were doing it too fast instead of telling them to speed it up. ⤴