The Air Moon, Ch. 6: Jogen no Tsuki, Part 8

This is it, the final part of Chapter 6!

Here’s the Table of Contents for earlier portions.

July 5, 2003 Yokohama Arena (First Day)

“I’ve set up many doors that lead to me, so you can get to know me. But I don’t want people looking for the exit right after stepping through.”

Appearing in commercials and on television, being an on-air personality, etc. Gackt often describes these non-music activities as “doors” that lead to him. However, as MOON CHILD demonstrates, these “doors” aren’t always unrelated to the music; Gackt pours a passion into them that goes beyond merely creating another doorway to him.

Continuing to give his best effort even for things that weren’t directly related to music, Gackt joined the voice cast of the OVA New Fist of the North Star, expanding his repertoire of new pursuits once again. The opening and ending themes for the show were “OASIS” and “Lu:na”. A CD pairing these two tracks went on sale on June 25th, one of many things that happened while the tour was going on. When Gackt puts something out, whether related to the MOON PROJECT or not, it’s sure to ride the wind to some new land, where it touches down to blossom into a flower. Artists probably derive great satisfaction from knowing their works are being praised and appreciated by new groups of people.  Surely, everything that has come about through the MOON PROJECT will also ride the wind, developing in myriad ways as it goes.

Finally, the last two days of Jōgen no Tsuki had arrived.

These two additional shows, presented as Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~, were meant to “wrap-up” the tour. Considering that these would probably be the last full-scale concerts within the MOON PROJECT, it was not surprising that Gackt looked a little nervous from the moment he entered the venue in the morning.

“Two shows left. I’ll play to the death for a Tigers championship!”1 Chachamaru spoke cheerfully. Yesterday, he had given Gackt a lamp for his birthday.

“This is a good angle,” Gackt had said as he studied the light.

The dancers YOSH and HAYASHI had gone to see a L’arc~en~ciel show after returning to Tokyo from Sapporo.

“It was incredible! Really motivating. I’m gonna give it my all today!”

Both said something along those lines with renewed determination.

“Alright, feeling pretty loose now!”

Gackt had been limbering up the whole time. Now he headed to the stage for the rehearsal, but…what’s this? His hairstyle had changed to the one with extensions he’d worn for MOON CHILD.

“I got it done four or five days ago. It took ten hours!”

No detail was overlooked in preparation for the special performance on the last day.

I sat down next to Gackt, who was watching the rehearsal for “Lu:na,” and turned my eyes to the stage as well. Surprisingly, KAZUYA’s dancing was a bit dull.

“KAZUYA! Is that all you’ve got? Think about what this rehearsal’s for!”

Then, he pushed the dancers to do their best as they practiced “Fragrance”.

“Bigger! Bigger! Alright, everyone looks good now.”

After that, it was the first rehearsal to bring in little Kanata. He himself had asked Gackt directly if he could join the Cat Dance for “Soleil”. Under YOSH’s tutelage, today would be the first day everyone would have the pleasure of seeing him as a Kitten Dancer. Kanata might seem gentle and mild, but the boy was a go-getter!

“You don’t have to look at me, so try to look out toward the back rows, okay?”

Taking Gackt’s advise, once the song started playing Kanata waved his arms around, making the biggest gestures he could. I heard expressions of surprise from all the nearby staff. My my, he truly was a prodigy!

“We don’t have time, so let’s cut ‘birdcage’,” Gackt said. I looked at my watch and saw that, indeed, it was time for rehearsals to wrap up. But there was still one thing they absolutely had to run through. Mr. Asano rushed up onstage and grabbed a microphone.

“Crew, place the cameras on the stage, please. We’re gonna rehearse ‘Orenji no Taiyō’!”

Tomorrow would be the last day. The touching gift Gackt was preparing for the audience was a performance of “Orenji no Taiyō.” Wang Leehom, Zeny Kwok, and Tarō Yamamoto would also appear together onstage in their costumes from the movie. Linking a movie to a concert this way was unprecedented. Who besides Gackt could do it? And hats off to the staff for turning that unprecedented idea into reality.

Of course, Gackt must have wanted to include this performance today as well. But everyone had packed schedules, and Leehom and Zeny would be coming from overseas. It wasn’t so easy to get everyone together. To top it off, Zeny and Mr. Yamamoto were slated to slide into the show at the very last minute tomorrow. Onstage, three staff members would line up as “mannequins” with the characters’ costumes,2 then the lights would shine down on them in time to the music. The staff was going to film this part from various angles in order to check how these few minutes would look to the audience. Once again, there would be no break in the work during tomorrow’s rehearsals. Naturally, a group of professionals such as this worked with precision.

After the rehearsal, Gackt continued discussing something with Mr. Asano up on stage. Finally, with a satisfied look on his face, he turned beaming to go to his dressing room.

“It’s gonna be great! I think everyone’s gonna be surprised by ‘Orenji no Taiyō’.”

Of course they would be! Even I was still on pins and needles wondering how it would turn out tomorrow, and I already knew it was coming.

Due to the unusually protracted rehearsals, the show unfortunately started 50 minutes late. I spotted Wang Leehom sitting in the audience; he had already arrived but hadn’t had time to meet up with Gackt.

The vibe in the audience was calm, as if they wanted to let the experience of this precious Jōgen no Tsuki seep into their bones, burning it into their memories. They remained that way through the second chapter. From “Missing” on, they did a 180. Everyone started getting really into it, and for “Mirror,” they became the most passionate audience ever.

All the band members jumped down from the stage and riled the fans up through the fencing with their usual call-and-response. They drew this part out for an unusually long time. Gackt, perhaps too fired up, apparently couldn’t bring himself to go back up onstage. But he knew he had to start the talk portion. Breathless, he picked up a mic.

“I’m baaaack…”

He’d barely gotten the words out when the crowd started singing “Happy Birthday” in unison. Gackt was so surprised his knees buckled and he got tears in his eyes, but somehow, he continued on with the talk portion, sharing memorable moments that could only have come about on this day.

“For the first time ever, my Grandma from Okinawa is here… Our family’s elder broke out from the hospital to come see me!”

Before this tour started, Gackt had said, “I don’t know how long I can keep doing this, so I want to make sure my family gets to see me onstage now…” Remembering those words, I was overpowered by emotion.

Next, Gackt said that his big sister was there too, and pointing out into the audience said, “She used to be a little thug!” (Maybe he shouldn’t have said that?! LOL) I’ve met his sister, and she seemed more like a very generous, kindhearted person. Actually, when I saw her in Gackt’s dressing room the next day, she told me, “This morning, when I gave him a massage, I told him ‘Don’t go saying stuff like that!'”

Finally, Gackt said, “I won’t forget meeting you all as long as I live!” With that, the show continued on to “ANOTHER WORLD”, followed by “Soleil”.

Halfway through, our noteworthy new dancer, little Kanata, seemed to have hurt his leg. My heart skipped a beat, but with one word from Gackt, Kanata popped right back up. He waved his arms around in wide sweeping gestures, setting the crowd’s hearts afire. He was so energetic it seemed like he’d fly right up into the air any second.

When I asked Kanata about his mishap later, he told me he had just pretended to be hurt. I was completely fooled by his acting skills! What’s more, his interactions with Gackt were perfect.

From that point on, the show proceeded with a heavy dose of fighting spirit. But to be honest, it felt like maybe they were trying a little too hard in the second half. In my opinion, they were not able to maintain the near-perfect level of performance they had achieved in the shows immediately before this one. The sound onstage probably wasn’t good, either. The members seemed dissatisfied, and Ryu was quite depressed. Well, a concert is a living thing, after all… They would have to pull themselves together for tomorrow, their last chance to make things right!

Meanwhile, Gackt remained passed out in his dressing room for over an hour…

July 6, 2003 Yokohama Arena (Second Day)

Ignoring their fatigue, the members and dancers started arriving at the venue at noon. Having made it to the last day, there was a sense of relief in the air, but you could also sense how much everyone had riding on this show. They treated every show as if it were the last, but this time, the atmosphere backstage felt wonderful.

Thinking I should go greet everyone, I peaked into the band members’ dressing room. The members and sound engineers were gathered around, with Chachamaru in the middle, having a contentious meeting. Seeing them talking over each other heatedly about the sound problems yesterday, I figured now was not the best time to say hello and backed away. The passion of these men as they put everything on the line today was fiery hot.

On to the dancers’ dressing room.

“This is it!” EGA spoke while running through some steps. “I want to participate in Gackt’s next tour, too. I want him to become the face of Asia!”

I heard this conversation going on behind him:

Yosh: Kanata! Were you nervous yesterday?

Kanata: Yeah.

Yosh: That’s totally natural. You were in front of 15,000 people.

Kanata: But, it’s already about to end… It’s sad.

Kanata’s mother took a photo of him with the dancers. Seeing her son growing up into such a fine young man must have filled her with deep emotion. This would also be the last day she’d get to see him dashing around a venue on his roller shoes.

Next, I went to Gackt’s dressing room to greet him. I knocked, opened the door, and peeked in. He was eating with some staff members, so he didn’t notice my presence. I wanted to surprise him a little, so I burst all the way into the room.

“Whoa, you startled me there! I thought maybe I was having the rest of a dream I had yesterday. I got back home around two, slept, then when I woke up, I had a rope around my neck. I was sure someone was trying to strangle me, so I screamed, and that woke me up for real. I saw a trail of socks, clothing, and underwear scattered on the floor leading up to the bed. Talk about exhausted…”

Gackt let it all out at once. It seemed like he was somehow wired from being tired. He did some stretching exercises to make his body relax, then went to rehearse.

The members and dancers gathered on stage while hyping themselves up. You could tell they were already united from the fact that they got “Lu:na” right on the first try despite usually needing multiple run-throughs.

Next it was time to practice “birdcage”. Gackt, who had been staring exclusively at the tremendous lights, muttered, “This lighting’s really pretty, isn’t it? Wish I could see my own concert as a member of the audience even just once.”

I totally got why he felt that way, yet I didn’t know what to say in reply… As I sat there dumbfounded, someone announced it was time to rehearse “Orenji no Taiyō”, so Gackt stood up.

“This is gonna surprise everyone!”

“Yeah, but there’ll probably be some people who go home first…” I muttered.

“We can’t do anything about that. It’s like the movies; it’s not over till the end credits roll and the lights come back on. If someone doesn’t stay for the whole thing, that’s on them.”

He was 110% right. The show goes on till the lights come up and the announcer says its over.

“So,” I asked Gackt as he headed for the stage, “You’re not gonna drop any hints about ‘Orenji no Taiyō’ during the show?”

“Nope. This is what I’m giving them in return for singing ‘Happy Birthday’ for me yesterday. They’re gonna be so surprised—Ouch! Ohh, it hurts…”

While complaining of physical pain, Gackt focused his mental strength. He ascended the stairs to the stage, and exchanged a firm handshake with Wang Leehom. The encore today would be a surprise party for 15,000 people.

After rehearsals, the members were rushing about getting ready, seeing as how they were already nearly an hour behind schedule.

“We’ll get our revenge today!” (Ryu)

“My body’s already broken, but I’m gonna keep going till my soul gives out too.” (You)

Of course everyone had passionate words for the occasion. The excitement just kept building and building. The dancer YOSH also took a moment to look back on the tour.

“Dancing in a normal costume is a cakewalk, but with a mask on? Your field of vision is narrowed, and it’s hard to breathe. Even worse, with the dry ice during ‘Fragrance’, you’re practically suffocating. If you move too much, you’ll pass out. But…I’ve gotten addicted to that now, so… *Laughs*”

When I asked Ren how we was feeling, a conflicted expression came over his face. But I’d rather explain why that was a little later on…

Anyway, just how should I express the atmosphere backstage, with all these guys wearing the faces of warriors before a battle? Even though they always “looked like warriors before a battle,” what with today being Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~, they were spending a tremendous amount of mental energy keeping their overwhelming emotions in check, holding it all inside. It was like a dam on the brink of bursting just barely keeping its integrity. Though I was in awe of this gathering of strained faces before me, I had a flashback of everything leading up to this point.

“Further than anyone…”3

The first piece of the MOON story that Gackt, himself led by the moon, offered up, “ANOTHER WORLD”, echoed in my mind. This was their starting point, and they truly had been able to go far. Days full of struggle during the live house tour, Gackt’s each and every move as he fought against his ailing body, how he slept like the dead after every show, the beautiful moon we saw from the tour bus that one time, the fun acrobatics practice during Kagen no Tsuki, “Jūni-gatsu no Love Song”, for which the word “moving” sounded trite… In an instant this all flashed before my eyes.

It’s said that when people are trying to accomplish something big, when they feel like they’ve reached a certain level, they have a tendency to look back on their former selves. So too must the past have been replaying itself out in these warriors’ minds as they headed out to their last battle. I walked in step with them as they hurried backstage, imagining what they must be seeing in their minds’ eye.

It was time for the last Jōgen no Tsuki huddle before going out onstage.

“We made it, somehow. I know I probably said a lot of harsh things, but…let’s put on a show these folks won’t forget for the rest of their lives. It’s the last show, so do everything you can. But this isn’t the end. This is a beginning, so…let’s do this!”

I was in the aisles waiting for “Noah” to come on, but…something was wrong. There was some problem with the lighting rig delaying the start of the show. I worried it would have a negative impact on the band. But when the four of them burst out onto the four corners of the stage as if shot from a cannon, I realized there was no need to worry. Indeed, the performance was so full of confidence and conviction it set the crowd on fire despite their earlier annoyance at having been kept waiting. It was a performance only people aiming to transcend themselves could achieve. Their past selves, having carried the MOON PROJECT this far, were surely pushing them forward, saying “You can still do MORE!” The energy from the audience only added to the power they had gained.

Anyway, I can’t help but think of “Tsuki no Uta” as an example of “confronting your former self.” Only people who have reached a high level are capable of such a sublime act. Having already come to a high level mentally, Gackt has given expression to such acts in many ways throughout his career. I think he had already gone “further than anyone” at the point of “ANOTHER WORLD”. And now, all the members and dancers were also trying to reach that high level.

However, Gackt was always ahead of them. In general, it is the mission of those who lead to give others a figure to follow. How would he inspire them to greater heights today?

Fully aware that today was the last day, and that they had to redeem themselves for yesterday, they went to face the battlefield called a stage. They put on a performance with the greatest fighting spirit and sense of unity, all while pushing each other forward. It goes without saying that this was the greatest concert they had ever put on. This time, the protracted call-and-response bit with the audience during “Mirror” didn’t have the masochistic “I don’t care if this kills me” vibe from yesterday. Instead, it was full of confidence, as if to say, “We can make this fly high as the sky!”

“That’s right, keep it up, send them higher!” Riding the waves of Gackt and the audience’s enthusiastic shouted dialogue, I couldn’t help but utter such overwhelmingly positive words.

I took in “memories” filled with the bittersweet knowledge that Jōgen no Tsuki would soon be over; a thousand emotions welled up inside me as “birdcage” moved my body to its rhythm; yet, at the same time, I thought fondly of the surprise awaiting the audience. Of course, I mean the final song of the night, “Orenji no Taiyō”.

Up till now, after “birdcage” in Chapter 4, a bell rings as we travel back in time, then the background music from MOON CHILD plays,4 forcing us to go back and forth between the worlds of MOON and MOON CHILD. But today, we truly returned to the world of MOON CHILD. When Son (Wang Leehom), Yi-Che (Zeny Kwok), Toshi (Tarō Yamamoto), and Shō (Gackt) appeared on stage in time to their dialogue from the movie, the audience didn’t quite understand what was going on. Not knowing how to react, they stood there speechless. Of course, they couldn’t be blamed. This was the sort of thing no one could have imagined.

While Gackt and Leehom sang “Orenji on Taiyō”, scenes from the movie were projected on a screen behind them. The venue was engulfed in a whirlpool of deep emotion. The amazement and sighs of 15,000 people washed over me like waves, giving me goosebumps. I trembled with excitement.

Next to Gackt onstage, a spotlight was directed where Kei (HYDE) would have been. Gackt reached out towards it. It was completely as if they were singing a duet. At the sight, the audience’s astonishment changed to a heart-wrenching emotion, and tears rolled down many a cheek.

“I think the concert will make you think of scenes from the movie. I hope everyone sees the movie before coming to the show.”

Gackt had repeated these words many times before the tour, and that really was how it played out as the curtains fell on Jōgen no Tsuki ~Final Chapter~. With an unending thunder of applause behind me, I thought of Gackt, a man who does what he says he’ll do, and once again was overcome by excited tremors. I had flashbacks of the whole Jōgen no Tsuki tour, which had stirred up such intense feelings in audiences across the country.

Gackt had been fighting a “lonely battle” since he started his solo career. The family he gained on that battlefield consisted of more than the band members and dancers. Without a doubt, they were also to be found within the world of MOON CHILD. Supported by his family, Gackt fused a movie with a concert, completing a sublime performance worthy of being an example for those who follow his lead. The fans who took it all in, deeply moved…

This venue had birthed this wonderful atmosphere, and I wanted to stay in it forever…

Jōgen no Tsuki Setlist

Chapter 1
Speed Master

Chapter 2
Solitude ~regret~
Kimi ga Matteiru Kara
Tsuki no Uta

Chapter 3
Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume

Chapter 4

Final Chapter ~Those Guided by the Moon~
Orenji no Taiyō

*The Final Chapter was a special addition for the July 6th show only

[End of Chapter 6. Continue to Final Chapter, Part 1]

1. This refers to the Hanshin Tigers, a baseball team from the Osaka area. Until 2003, they had been unable to even reach the Japan Series for 18 years, much less win it. Supposedly this was because Colonel Sanders had placed a curse on the team after its fans vandalized a statue of him.

2. Not sure I understood this phrase correctly. The Japanese says 「ステージには3人のダミーとなるスタッフが衣装を持って並び、」which literally would be “Onstage, 3 staff people will be dummies holding the costumes lined up.” The verb here is “to hold/have” rather than “to wear,” so I’m not exactly sure in what sense the staff members are “dummies” if they’re not really standing in for Leehom & co. According to what was recorded in the concert DVD, the three actors and Gackt/Shō come out together after the countdown following “birdcage”, so maybe they were able to make it in time after all and didn’t need to do this bit with the “dummy” staff.

3. This is a lyric from “ANOTHER WORLD”: 誰よりも遠くへ (dare  yori mo tooku he) begins the chorus.

4. Specifically, the part of the opening theme that gets repeated a few times throughout the movie, heard at approximately from 2:30 to 4:00 in this video.

One thought on “The Air Moon, Ch. 6: Jogen no Tsuki, Part 8

  1. Pingback: The Air Moon Ch. 6: Jogen no Tsuki, Part 7 | Warped Frost

Let's talk!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.