This is it! The last two shows on the Kagen no Tsuki tour, which brings us to the end of Chapter 4. Whew!
To read earlier portions, please go to the Table of Contents.
December 20, 2002, Osaka Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan (Third Day)
“This is the last day the four of us will dance.”
The dancer HAYASHI muttered as if not to be heard as he ran up the stairs inside the Osaka Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan to head to acrobatics practice in the lobby.
“There will be ten of us dancing at Yokohama Arena, so this is the last time for the group of four. Today we’ll show everyone the fruit of our labors! I’m already pumped up, so today, I’m gonna put my heart and soul into it and explode!”
The dancer was already highly excited. With the last performance as a four-man group coming up, he headed to the stage with a thousand emotions filling his heart. It seemed as if he was trying to keep them from spilling out of his chest as he repeatedly practiced forward flips on the mattress.
Everyone had become wonderfully powerful. The old “We’re the dancers who got hired to do this…” mentality had already disappeared; the energy they radiated was that of fellow band members working to put the show together. Not only that, now their words and actions were sometimes directed at the tired Gackt and the other members with the aim of pushing them forward. A tour truly is a living thing. Having observed the course of their huge psychological evolution along with, of course, their technical one, all I could do was immerse myself in this indescribable emotion.
As tomorrow’s show in Yokohama Arena was an added performance, today’s Osaka show was actually the last day of Kagen no Tsuki. Each member had a certain emotional aura about them, so I walked around asking them what they were feeling today.
“I was in good shape yesterday, so I could sleep really well. I’m gonna bust out today! I’ll show you what I’m made of in the second half!” (Ren)
“I’m gonna keep burning…until I turn to ash.” (You)
“I’m gonna beat the drums until they turn to dust. I’ll be twirling my drumsticks more than usual, so please watch me. Ahaha!” (Ryu)
“It’s already the last day, eh? Personally I do better when I’m a bit physically worn out, so today’s gonna turn into somethin’ awesome.” (Chachamaru)
Gackt wasn’t the only one dealing with an injury. All these guys had come this far having suffered many small injuries.
Everyone put the insights they’d gained in the previous 20 performances into the rehearsal, getting through it with single-minded intent. Then, it was time for the pre-show huddle. Once again, as Gackt strung his words together, his voice quavered as if he were one second away from crying. I must confess that I myself cried in sympathy. That’s how convincing Gackt’s words were.
“During the tour, I got so worked up I beat you guys mercilessly, and said some really harsh things, but…I’m glad I get to have such a wonderful family…… This is finally the last of the regional shows. All of you hurt yourselves one way or another, but you did good to come this far……thank you. I think today’s Osaka show will turn out like both a hall show and a live house show. We’ve only got two performances left now, but……let’s do this!”
The whole group responded to Gackt’s message in voices so loud it was as if they were trying to shake off the mixed feelings that must surely be descending upon them. While letting their rising emotions come completely to the surface, they exchanged handshakes in a promise that today, they would safely return from the battlefield known as the stage.
Of course, there were some band members, dancers, and staff members with tears in their eyes. It was a truly beautiful scene.
The show started 15 minutes behind schedule.
You fist pumped as if something had come over him. Chachamaru’s fast, spirited playing was as electrifying as a lightning bolt. During “Speed Master,” Gackt kept spreading his legs, riling the audience up with his erotic moves… While giving off their energy like crazy, they devoted all their power to the first part of the performance.
Beautiful. The aura of beauty about them tonight was practically divine.
Gackt’s singing during “rain” was so soulful it would have been fitting if he lost his voice afterward. For “ANOTHER WORLD,” the four dancers were in sync down to their breaths as they not only fell all at once, but fell forwards sticking out from the stage. The audience, overwhelmed by this power, let out a series of passionate cheers. During “Mirror,” Gackt and Ren hugged each other.
The plentiful fighting spirit of the members pushing Gackt forward was more than plain to see. Clearly, what was before my very eyes was a performance that had shed yet another layer to reach a higher state of being.
Gackt began his talk portion slowly, as if to cool down his burning body.
“How many years has it been since I came to this venue during this season? Mm, I came five years ago, when I was in Malice Mizer. It was a battlefield backstage. Back then, I lost it and punched a hole in a wall.1 I tried looking for it today, but I couldn’t find it. Ahaha…”
Even as he drew laughs from the crowd, as Gackt recollected the events with deep emotion, his expression showed that he was truly happy to be spending this Christmastime surrounded by his wonderful band members and beloved “Dears.” Of course, he also broke into a warm member introduction.
After that, “Soleil” and “Wasurenai Kara” moved things along at full speed, but as could only be expected, the fatigue started to show through. Even so, supported by the passionate excitement so unique to Osaka, as well as by the explosive cheers, they were able to make it all the way to the end. I’d like to make special note of the fact that the encouraging cheers for Gackt after he disappeared backstage at the end of “memories” were more impassioned than those at any other live show.
Bodyguards carried the passed out Gackt to his dressing room. Somehow, his leg seemed to be cramping even as he was unconscious; unformed words escaped his lips in a groan. The staff was panicked as they looked after him…
In the members’ dressing room, one by one, those who had momentarily collapsed started coming to. They hugged, thanking each other for their troubles up until this point. HAYASHI was crying outright. As the one with the fewest years on tour, the pressure on him all this time must have been quite extraordinary.
When I was having a cigarette in the smoking area in the hallway, TAKA came along.
“Actually, for the sideways swinging during ‘Lu:na,’ all this time Gackt’s been telling me, ‘Use movements so big your mask will disappear.’2 I was finally able to just go for it and do it today. It’s gonna be incredible at Yokohama Arena, since we’ll go up to 10 dancers!”
This is how excited the quietest of the dancers was. A sense of accomplishment floated around backstage, where everyone was looking back on the show with the same exhilaration, and the air was full of incredible cheerfulness.
Gackt emerged from his dressing room after a while, and went to greet those involved with covering the show and others. He too was apparently filled with a sense of accomplishment, as he agreed to a female representative’s request to give everyone a hug, although he did so with a wry smile on his face. (*Laughs*)
It goes without saying that there was a lively party afterwards. Sitting at a table full of Chinese food, Gackt was eating when suddenly he muttered:
“We somehow rode it out… Really, we did good to keep it up this long…”
The heavy thoughts behind those words left everyone floored, unable to reply.
“Anyway, it’s kinda sad to think about the tour ending, isn’t it? It hurts… During the huddle, I had tears in my eyes like I was about to cry…”
This was, in actuality, what he really felt. However, there was still one mountain left to conquer. Everyone focused their thoughts while vowing to each other to meet again in four days at Yokohama Arena.
December 24, 2002 Yokohama Arena
“Wow, love how it says Dancers’ Room on the dressing room. Though it feels a little lonely not being together with everyone else. Ahaha…”
At noon, the first one to arrive at the venue was the dancer EGA, who noted the specially labelled room with some bemusement as he walked around examining all the dressing rooms. Only the large venues could have so many.
Finally, Christmas Eve, the last day—no, the “last chapter” of Kagen no Tsuki, had arrived. One after another, the strong began to gather, all with radiant expressions. We’ll prepare as much as we can, but having come this far, no matter what happens next we’ll be able to handle it. We’re gonna make tonight a great night… That was the look on all of their faces, but one must not misread it as something so simple. This was an expression they could bear now, for the first time, having made it to this point after many twists and turns. The beings who had reached a high state after having attained a certain kind of salvation were lined up backstage; they were of utmost magnificence. The tension was palpable.
“These three months went by in a flash. It’s been just the four of us up there all this time, but I always wanted to express this with the ten dancer version. Because this dance is a work of art, right? We’re the dancers who wager their lives, three minutes at a time. Make sure you write that down, okay? *Laughs*”
So spoke YOSH, who seemed to have had a shadow lurking beneath his usual cheer during Kagen no Tsuki, and whose rank as dance leader had not allowed him to ever relax. Today he would have the important role of bringing together ten dancers, but his expression was very cheery. Come to think of it, this man, in charge of coming up with the choreography, had said “I always wanted to express this with the ten dancer version,” then for Jōgen no Tsuki, actually doing the tour with ten dancers became a reality. Gackt and YOSH were steadily achieving their ambitions.
Well then, let’s walk around asking everyone about the enthusiasm they’ll be going into the last day with.
“It’s finally happening. How much will I be able to express in this large venue? I’ll do whatever it takes, even if it uses up all my strength. After the concert…maybe I’ll be taking a trip. *Laughs*” (Ren)
“I’m about to meditate to prepare for the show. I’m gonna make this the best Christmas of their lives…” (You)
“You want just one comment? Aim for perfect combustion!” (Igao)
“This is my second time in Yokohama Arena, but it’s the first time I’ll be performing for the whole show. Plus, since this is Kagen no Tsuki ~The Last Chapter~, I’m gonna tackle it like I don’t care if it kills me. I feel dead serious today.”3 (Ryu)
“Let’s have fun! A comment for the fans? Merry Christmas!” (Chachamaru)
Everyone kept the stinging tension they felt to themselves; You in particular looked as if he would collapse from all the energy he was bottling up inside. But, as expected of Chachamaru-aniki, he wrapped things up with style.
Gackt got into the venue a little bit before 1 p.m. As he shook the staff’s hands, he recounted this story with a huge smile:
“Yesterday I got drunk at a TV end of year party, so I was pretty weak for All Night Nippon afterward. Since I was nervous before the Yokohama show, I loosened up with alcohol. Ahaha!”4
While smiling at everyone around, he walked to every corner of the venue as usual, checking out the view from the audience’s seats.
“So this place is as big as two [Tokyo] International Forums, right? But you can see the dancers’ white faces well even from far away, and every single move within the venue changes how you see things. Also, since today’s show will be broadcast live, you should think of it like the actual show starts the moment you set foot outside your dressing room.”
Gackt gave advice to the members and dancers walking around the venue with him in a calm but sometimes powerful tone of voice.
“We’ve got this now, huh?”
After that, once the acrobatics practice started up, Gackt stuck all his landings perfectly. Today would be the last day to see this sight, which had become a special feature before the shows. Everyone was filled with myriad emotions as they cut through the air.
At 2:45 p.m., they began rehearsing “Jūni-gatsu no Love Song” within the hall. For this song, which was added to the set list only for today, Gackt would be strung up on a wire and lowered to his mark on the center stage. On the first try, there was some concern about how the wire was turning slowly with Gackt on it.
“But spinning around on the descent is totally usable as part of the performance. It’s fine like this, isn’t it?”
“You might get dizzy, you know. *Laughs*”
Paying no mind to Mr. Asano’s comment, Gackt directed the dancers to line up onstage quickly. He yelled out critiques while watching the dance for “Lu:na” from various points within the audience’s seats.
“YOSH! You need to think about the seats in the back more!”
He gave out instructions from here and there, striving to create a dance that felt balanced no matter what angle it was viewed from.
“Everyone’s doing something different with their head movements. We don’t have time. Instead of thinking about not messing up, focus more on making your movements big. The four of you who’ve been dancing all this time, pull the others along!”
Even though there wasn’t much time, they rehearsed “Lu:na” a total of five times. After that, everyone gathered in a circle onstage, with Gackt at its center, to continue a meeting. It was true: today they would have to wager their lives, three minutes at a time. It felt as if the courage to do just that was filling up the venue.
“Let’s do it!”
This would also be the last time for the phrase that signaled the end of rehearsals. As they yelled out in their best voices, they filled their response with a vow to put up a good fight.
In an instant, it was showtime. The staff’s call for everyone to gather around echoed backstage.
“We’ve made it to Yokohama Arena. Everyone, thank you so much, really. There were some awfully hard times, but let’s put everything we believe in out there today… Let’s do this!”
Compared to the huddle in Osaka that had everyone on the verge of tears, this time Gackt’s tone was completely philosophical. When everyone replied “YEAH!” after his comments, it reverberated so loudly it probably reached the moon.
I hurried to the venue floor, searching for an appropriate position from which to watch the twenty-second incarnation of Kagen no Tsuki.
“There’s no such thing as a live show that gives you the same impression no matter how many times you see it, right?”
That’s something Gackt would often say, and he was 100% correct. This was true of the previous tour, this tour, and probably would be true on any given tour. I’ve written the words “A tour is a living thing” countless times now, but as long as I’m talking about living beings, their taking the stage is a battle. Today’s victory would be over the monster known as a tour, huh? Of course…
“Noah” played, signaling the opening. The moment some staff members came out carrying the dragon figure, I was simultaneously surprised and assured of today’s victory. The dancers weren’t the ones doing this performance with the dragon, it was done by the team in charge of transporting the equipment. Up until now, they had taken Gackt’s advice as they moved through trial and error, but today they put their thoughts and feelings for the final performance into it, earnestly brandishing that dragon for all their worth. They had incredible fighting spirit.
“If I say that to Gackt, I’m sure he’ll be pleased.”
My eyes were sucked into the stage before I knew it, and everything they saw was filled with nothing but spirit.
Let’s put everything we believe in out there. So this is what that meant. The dancers’ huge moves during “death wish” were based on their convictions. The band members responded to all the cheering with overpowering, big moves themselves. Not only did the ten dancers absolutely nail “Lu:na,” the wire work was pulled off with ideal balance. Well, Gackt was always strong for the really big shows!
“Tattaka tattaka taaaaa!”
These mysterious words born of the call & response portion in Osaka also served only to increase the somewhat insane (but in a good way) atmosphere of the show. During the talk portion, Gackt summoned the instrument tech, “Yatchin,” who had registered his marriage today, to give him his blessing. There were also other things that created a warm, Christmas Eve feeling. After the member introduction, during “Soleil,” besides the usual swans there were staff members who came out wearing reindeer costumes and Santa suits. Gackt was dumbfounded; nobody had told him about this bit.
The show proceeded at an excellent tempo. Finally, it was time for the encore, which was set to be the big highlight today. In order to check on Gackt, who would be moving to the second floor, I rushed backstage before “memories” finished, but the surprise that awaited nearly bowled me over.
Even though Gackt was clearly out of it when he returned from the stage, suddenly, he changed outfits with incredible speed, then made a mad dash through half of the arena so quickly that none of the staff members could keep up with him. He was at the elevator in a flash. I was left stupefied by what had happened in such a short time. He must’ve had a feeling inside overwhelming all others saying, “You just have to hurry!”
As far as the moving things which transpired after that, rather than me writing them down, it would probably be better for you to see them yourselves on the DVD. The audience’s unified singing of “Silent Night”5 washed over Gackt as he gracefully descended to the center stage amidst dancing snow. His performance of “Jūni-gatsu no Love Song” turned into an extraordinarily lovely present. He then moved to the main stage for “Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto,” his passionate singing leaving the venue in a vortex of feels. Overpowered by the great number of people in the audience who started crying, all I could do was stand frozen in place.
After the show ended, as could only be expected, Gackt didn’t recover until nearly a whole hour had passed. Yet he still went to make the rounds greeting people once he came to. Then, he gathered up all the band members and dancers to have them thank the staff together. The calls of “Thank you for your hard work!” rang out far more refreshingly than ever before.
Having gone once around the wide venue, Gackt took everyone outside. Without a word, he crouched down in the shadow of one of the trucks, and everyone sat down following his lead. Gackt, who had abstained from smoking for the whole tour, lit a cigarette and took a long pull.
“That hits the spot…”
With moonbeams lighting the seated circle, Gackt put his thoughts and feelings into words as he opened his mouth to speak.
“Everyone, thank you… Sorry about the harsh things I said. I’m absolutely sure everyone’s playing and dancing reached the people in the venue and the ones watching on TV… I hope I can stand on stage with you all again… I’m looking forward to the next tour.”
They were enveloped in relief and Gackt’s kindness.
“We’ll do it again!” YOSH yelled out in an excited tone.
“If we can, that is. Ahaha…”
The words from the battle-scarred Gackt made everyone laugh. This impromptu gathering felt like it was, in the truest sense, the celebratory party for the tour.
Watching them as they continued their pleasant talk in the moonlit night, they looked like they could actually be Sho, Kei, Toshi, and Son from MOON CHILD. But I hadn’t seen the movie yet…
Kagen no Tsuki Set List
Kimi ga Matteiru Kara
Final Chapter *(This was a special encore for the December 24th show only)
12 Gatsu no Love Song
Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto
[End of Chapter 4] [Book continues in Chapter 5: Moon Child, Part 1]
1. The Japanese literally says “I lost it and opened a hole in the wall,” so it’s possible that Gackt created the hole with a kick rather than a punch, or with an object. I went with the most likely option as “open a hole in the wall” doesn’t really convey violent anger in English. ⤴
2. I’m not entirely sure about this. First, “sideways swings” was a literal translation of 横振り, a word I saw used only in reference to golf swings. Also, I’m not sure what it is Gackt wanted TAKA to shake. His mask? His head? His arms? Were there dancers with swords at this point, or was that only for the final? The original text of Gackt’s advice was 「お面が見えなくなるまで大きく振れ」. ⤴
3. I’m not sure about what I translated as “performing for the whole show,” thanks to two English loan words. The Japanese said 「フルにステージする」(furu ni suteeji suru) which, translated directly, means “full stage do.” “Stage” is often used in Japanese to mean “performance” or “show,” however, hence why I concluded Ryu must have meant that it would be his first time being onstage for the whole (full) show. The other thing about his comment is that Kagen no Tsuki ~Saishūshō~ (“The Last Chapter”) is written as if it were an official title. I’m not sure if it was. The Kagen no Tsuki DVD, which is of the show in Yokohama Arena, is subtitled not “saishūshō” but ~Seiya no Shirabe~ meaning something like “Melody of the Holy Night.” Of course, it’s possible the final show was called one thing and the DVD of that same show another. ⤴
4. I’m not sure if he meant he loosened up with alcohol, that his personality changed completely because of the alcohol, or that he literally tripped in front of Yokohama Arena because he was drunk. He said 「少しの酒でコロっといっちゃった」. ⤴
5. To be more precise, the audience sang the Japanese version of Silent Night, “Kiyoshi Kono Yoru.” Here’s a video with the Sailor Moon version with lyrics & translation in the video description, if you’re curious and/or it’s not too early for you to start listening to Christmas music. ⤴