The discussion about regret in this part reminded me of a meme a friend shared on social media recently. To paraphrase, it asked if you would rather go back to being 10 years old but with all the knowledge you currently possess, or wake up at age 45 but with a billion dollars in the bank. Everyone chose the latter. But I gravitated heavily to the former. Then I started wondering if in an effort to change things I regret, I might change the timeline in such a way that I’d lose some of the things I don’t, and concluded that the best thing would be to go back to mid-2014 with the knowledge I have now. Sometimes I deeply yearn for this possibility.
But then I think about the fact that that would mean doing grad school all over again, and I figure I’m too lazy for that and will just have to live with my regrets. 苦笑
Anyway, the Sendai venue presented here is now known as the Kamei Arena Sendai, and here’s the obligatory link to the Table of Contents.
May 17, 2003 Sendai Civic Gymnasium (Day 1)
The Sendai Civic Gymnasium, which would host two back-to-back shows like the Nippon Budōkan, was the lowest-capacity venue of the tour. Even so, it could hold a little over 5,000 people; it was a gymnasium after all. With its depth and breadth, it felt like we had come to a one-size smaller version of Yokohama Arena.
Gackt got into the venue at 12 p.m. As per usual he walked once around the venue, then went into the massage room. He listened to MOON on full blast while getting his massage and got himself mentally focused.
Gackt went up on the stage, which was 1.8 meters wider than that of the Nippon Budōkan, and did several moves repeatedly, such as round off jumps and handsprings, in an earnest effort to loosen up. Having done three live shows, it seemed he was very much aware of how tense his muscles had become.
The established rehearsal pattern of “Speed Master” ends → Dancers come out → “Lu:na” was easy enough for Gackt to fall into, but he moved sluggishly as he went down into the seats and changed his shoes.
“I can’t shake this tiredness. It’s because doing just those two Budōkan shows really took a toll on my body. I’ve got aches and pains all over… But I’ve gotten much lighter on my feet, right?”
With that, Gackt did some cartwheels in the aisle. But it seemed he had a torn muscle at the back of his right thigh. Examining Gackt’s facial expression, I happened to notice that by this point in the tour, his cheeks were awfully hollow. I could write that that made him look more masculine, but that would make light of the situation. Powerful waves, like the aura of a warrior who has wagered his life as he goes into battle, emanated from his back. This was no exaggeration.
“Biiiigger! Do it bigger!”
Gackt yelled out advice as he watched “Fragrance” from the seats. At this point his tone was the same as always, but it gradually grew as heated as it had been during Kagen no Tsuki.
“EGA and KAZUYA, your timing before you jump out is off! Face front and count in sync…” Gackt sang, “tada itoshisa dake ga~” in time to the dancers’ count of “One, two, three, four.”
“KAZUYA! You’re still too fast! Try doing it while facing each other. You’ll see your each and every move is rushed. Count more patiently!”
This was followed by the rehearsal for the “memories” ending, during which Gackt’s advice from the seats grew even more heated.
“You! Look down more. Chacha is—Ren! Don’t change positions once you’ve sat down. What the audience sees is just your silhouette, so if you move, it’s a distraction.”
Even after returning to the dressing room, Gackt watched the video recording of the dancers’ rehearsal.
“Damn, that front flip during ‘Lu:na’ sure was a close call! But it’ll be okay during the actual show.”
Everyone was determined. “We can do this,” they said without speaking.
Once evening came around, the weather was good, but the cool winds characteristic of Sendai had started to blow around the venue. Fans started pouring into the area one after the other. The band’s huddle started 15 minutes behind schedule.
“It’s our first day in Sendai!”
“The audience has a clear view from every angle in this venue. So make sure your feelings reach all the way to the back. I think everyone’s in bad physical shape right now, but don’t think about tomorrow. Just, don’t injure yourselves, no matter what. Got it? Let’s do this!”
The show had barely started when Gackt, for the first time, landed the front flip during “Lu:na” on his butt. That seemed to set his fighting spirit on fire; he was so tense as he dashed through the rest of the show.
During the piano solo, which was like a little break, the audience would get excited at every tiny sigh that escaped from Gackt. On the one hand, he could concentrate well precisely because he was tense, but on the other, this made any slip of the fingers stand out. This was one of the things that made live shows in particular scary. Especially when it came to the piano.
“The piano’s scary because your true self comes out,” Gackt had been saying since long ago. Just how deep into Gackt’s soul were we seeing…?
Still, the band was in top form today. They seemed to be channeling all their energy toward Gackt, pushing him forward; Gackt introduced them for the first time this tour. In the second half of the show, Gackt’s voice projected well. The background music from MOON CHILD, the last to play, of course made the audience get misty eyed, and left a lingering solemnity.
“Gackt is feverish, completely soaked in sweat,” the bodyguard muttered as he carried an unconscious Gackt to his dressing room.
Despite that, looking back on past tours, Gackt was out for a relatively short time. Assured by this spare bit of energy, we headed out to downtown Sendai.
Today, thanks to the staff’s good offices, I was able to ride in the same car as Gackt. Though the ride would be brief, I decided to take the opportunity to ask him some questions.
“It seemed like you were really struggling during today’s show. Why was that?”
“During the first half, the sound started going out in my monitors, until I could barely hear anything.”
So that’s why he had that troubled look on his face…
“By ‘rain’ I couldn’t hear anything at all. I think Asano and I were yelling at each other during the costume change. Then I got my in-ear monitors switched out, so I should’ve sounded better during the second half…”
“Oh, definitely. By the way, about that instrumental piano track…when did you write it, and what’s it titled?”
“It’s from ten years ago, the first musical piece I wrote. I had a girlfriend I really liked, but I ended up doing something bad… Back then I titled it ‘regret.’ Meaning 後悔 [koukai, regret].”
This track was eventually formally titled “Solitude ~regret~”.1
Next, when I asked about the link with the movie MOON CHILD, I got an invaluable reply that went right to the heart of the matter.
“Ultimately, MOON CHILD exists as a part of the concert Jōgen no Tsuki.2 The reason the waxing-waning order is reversed, with Kagen no Tsuki coming first,3 is because I think the tale of Jōgen no Tsuki is one of ‘Fate and Regret’. Everyone would like to go back in time to the point when they did something they regret, right? Once there, how do you atone for what you did? I think that’s the theme. But that isn’t the theme of MOON. The theme in MOON is…I guess I’d put it as ‘The fate of being unable to live nor die.’ Exactly like Kei and Luka, right?”
I see! At the end of Jōgen no Tsuki, after “birdcage,” time really does go backwards and the background music from MOON CHILD plays. “Tsuki no Uta” is also a song where you meet yourself, so you can really see that flow of going back in time and making amends.4 At the same time, why that piano piece was also in there, is…
Now I could see Jōgen no Tsuki clearly. As I processed this new understanding, Gackt spoke.
“Oh, we’re already in downtown Sendai… Man, I’m tired!”
Gackt had continued having meetings with the higher-ups throughout dinner, then he returned directly to the hotel. I went back via taxi with the dancers.
“Unfortunately, the somersaults didn’t go well today…”
They seemed to be pretty down. But, considering that their masks had mesh over the eyes which narrowed their field of vision, on top of the fact that they were doing those flips in boots, it would be strange if they could pull them off easily!
“But we can’t just wallow in regret.”
The dancers strengthened their inner resolve.
May 18, 2003 Sendai Civic Gymnasium (Day 2)
Since the rehearsal started, Gackt and the dancers practiced forward somersaults who knows how many times. Since he’d flubbed the landing during “Lu:na” yesterday, Gackt paid extra attention to his movements. This time, instead of ending up on his butt he managed to stick the landing beautifully, but he tore a hole through the stage floorboards and ended up with a sprain for his achievement! The pitiful sight of Gackt giving out instructions from the audience seats with an ice pack on his leg the whole time was almost too much to bear. I’d seen Gackt in such a sad state before countless times on previous tours, but…had the time for that come to Jōgen no Tsuki already…?
Once he returned to his dressing room, he got his leg taped up in preparation for the show. The Acrobatic Team of dancers was also in questionable physical shape by this point. In general, the stage floorboards provided a very stiff surface that was hard on the joints, but as Gackt’s putting a hole in the stage demonstrated, they were soft in spots. This was very dangerous.
Of course, Gackt, having announced that he would be fine for the show, had his usual expression as he went about getting ready.
Having come to the fifth day of the tour, things backstage also seemed to be running smoothly. The Member Attendant Mr. Takeuchi, who was always running back and forth, spoke up with his usual cheery expression.
“We couldn’t do all the songs during the dress rehearsal at Makuhari, right? Because of that, the costume changes ended up taking forever during the actual show. So we pulled an all-nigher practicing the costume changes, but there wasn’t anyone who could fit Chacha’s clothes. Not even the women on staff could get into them. (Ahaha…) Well, thanks to our efforts, yesterday we were able to get even those tricky zippers shut on the first go. Pretty good, huh? Please write in your book, ‘Takeuchi’s satisfied.’ (LOL)”
The busiest men find the most leisure. His cheerfulness seemed to bring a pleasant breeze through the backstage area. Before we knew it, it was time for the show.
“I’m the strongest man in the world once it’s showtime. Remember that.”
Gackt’s words were truly powerful, so as to blow away the concerns over his sprained leg that surely everyone was feeling. He also spoke with an exceptionally loud voice during the huddle, then headed for the stage.
The front somersaults in “Lu:na” continued to plague the members; EGA fell forward completely, while Gackt had to touch his hands to the floor a little. Well, a live show is a living thing, and you never know what it’s going to do. You just have to keep running forward without worrying about it.
Thanks to getting better sound quality today, Gackt’s voice sounded good from start to finish, giving a convincing performance throughout. He didn’t make any mistakes during the piano solo either; his playing was filled with great emotion. I bet there weren’t any shouting matches with Mr. Asano during the costume change this time around. Everything proceeded smoothly after that as well. I was so happy to see Gackt so energetic it was like he had never sprained his leg.
The audience over these past two days seemed milder than those at the metropolitan area venues, Makuhari Messe and the Nippon Budōkan. Maybe there were many fans who were coming to see a live show for the first time. Despite their mild reactions, the viewers whose expressions were transformed over the course of the show surely returned home with many new thoughts & memories in their hearts.
However, Gackt was having a hard time recovering. He remained passed out in his dressing room. I was slated to take the last bullet train back to Tokyo and waited until the very last minute in hopes of seeing him, but ultimately couldn’t.
I boarded the bullet train looking forward to meeting Gackt again one week later in Fukuoka.
1. Not to be confused with the song “Solitary” on Crescent. “Solitude ~regret~” was not released on CD until the audio compilation of Gackt’s concerts nine*nine came out in 2008. ⤴
2. Not sure I’m getting this sentence 100% right. The original Japanese said 「あくまでコンサートの一部として『MOON CHILD』が存在するのが “上弦の月”。」I’m also a little confused because at the end of this answer, Gackt gives an example of MOON‘s theme by using characters from MOON CHILD, so…it’s not really the case that MOON CHILD exists solely within Jōgen no Tsuki? Maybe I’m overthinking it… ⤴
3. This is perhaps a little more obvious in Japanese, where the word for “waxing moon” is 上弦の月 (jōgen no tsuki) and “waning moon” is 下弦の月 (kagen no tsuki); these words include the kanji for “up-down” 上下. What Gackt said, to translate literally, was “the up-down order is reversed”. ⤴
4. Hirose definitely wrote this as if for someone who saw the performance recently, as what he wrote is confusing when taken literally without knowing exactly what he’s referencing. At the climax of “birdcage,” the circular lighting rig which had been above the stage starts coming down. At the end of the song the lights go black. When they come back on, there are only 12 lights lit on the circular rig, which is now slanted about 45 degrees to the stage. A bell tolls and with each toll one light goes out, going counter-clockwise. As for “Tsuki no Uta,” Sho/Gackt literally meets himself as Young Sho/Kanata is onstage with him, sometimes mouthing the words to the song. Of course, the lyrics also reference going back in time and reliving certain moments. ⤴