AniManGaki 2019 wound down with a flourish. One of Malaysia’s biggest Anime, Cosplay and Games events finally came to a close on Sunday, September 1 after two days packed with fun-filled activities. However even as the stage wrapped up their activities and exhibitors began packing up their booths, a group of stalwart fans remained eager outside the doors to the exhibition hall which had been closed in preparation for the final event of the day: A 90-minute Touhou concert featuring Yuuhei Satellite themselves.
Fans from all over
For many fans, this was an event not to be missed. The attendees we spoke to who had formed lines outside of the Touhou NightSKY concert space chattered excitedly, taking guesses for the night’s lineup and exchanging favourites among themselves. Some of them had traveled long distances to be here, busing up from Singapore and flying in from Indonesia just for a chance to listen to Yuuhei Satellite live in concert.
“I went (from Singapore) with four other people,” Ian Teng told us. Fondly known by his friends as Enzo, he had organised a group of fans to travel from The Mines this weekend to participate in AniManGaki (AMG), as well as the concert itself.
“I would’ve liked for the group to be bigger, but many fans couldn’t make it due to the concert happening on Sunday.” Soon after, the doors were opened and the fans lined up to enter the stage area.
From derivative to mainstream
When the lights dimmed and the artists themselves took to the stage, the scene was spectacular. Though modest in number, the energetic performances from vocalists Yuzurisa, Toa and guitarist Ikuo tore through the evening, livening up the crowd who had come armed with light sticks, their colours changing with the music. The group opened up with their most popular number, ‘Iro wa Nioedo’, ‘Chirinuru wo’, a duet between Yuzurisa and Toa that got the fans cheering and singing along to the lyrics. Just like the opening, many of the songs that debuted that night were familiar favourites from The Memories of Phantasm, a separate fan effort towards animating the stories featured throughout the Touhou Project series of games. Those there the ones that resonated closest with those who attended that night. Enzo admits that he first learned of the group through the series.
“Back then, I assumed Touhou was an anime.”
The sentiment wasn’t an uncommon one. Debuting as a difficult curtain-fire shooter game that used to only be distributed among indie circles in Japan at large events such as Comiket and later sold in specialty stores, the series itself has always remained under the radar, gaining a reputation only among a select crowd of gamers who thrived on the challenge. With an intellectual property uniquely positioned towards fan derivatives, it wasn’t until music circles like Yuuhei Satellite had popularised the songs through their medium before people started taking notice. By then, it had taken a life of its own.
“I think my first Yuuhei song was Tsuki ni Murakumo,” said Wei Xiong. Wei Xiong had participated in AniManGaki as a doujin artist and was attending the concert together with his boothmates. “I knew them from rhythm games like Taiko no Tatsujin,” referring to the popular game where players beat a drum in time with the music. The game, and many others like it, feature playable tracks from Yuuhei Satellite.
Fans like the rest of us
With approximately 300 in attendance, the crowd was a modest one. However, where they lacked in numbers, they made up with heart. The cheers from the fans were loud and passionate, with little pockets of activity occurring here and there. Standing at the front of the crowd, you could have easily mistaken some of the fans for club regulars as they shook their heads with alarming intensity to the beat. Lightsticks changed in hue to the songs, prompted both by the vocalists on stage as well as the characters that appeared on the screen, characters from the Touhou series sporting their own primary colour schemes that spread through the throng like a virus. Lyrics were screamed out at outraised mics as the artists interacted with the crowd, drawing them into the performance.
“(Their interactions) felt genuine and down to earth,” offered Wei Xiong.
“They don’t present themselves as ‘distant’ stars but just want to have fun like the rest of us.”
Earlier in the day, we attended the panel session where Yuuhei Satellite shared their inspirations with AMG attendees. They too were fans of the Touhou Project franchise and were colouring it with their own brand of uniqueness.
“The first Touhou game I ever played was Embodiment of Scarlet Devil during middle school,” Yuzurisa quipped during the panel session. “I’m not very good at them. I really respect those fans who can play the games well.”
At the end of the concert, the group held last-minute sales right next to the stage for fans looking to score some merchandise and get them signed. Wei Xiong was in line.
“During the signing session, I gave my (arcade) card to Toa and she asked me if I played IIDX!”
A good experience all around
The concert ended on a high note. The final track of the night was greeted with calls for an encore which the group obliged, closing it off with the very same song they started off with. The fans were pleased. It was a rousing success.
“The first-timers were really surprised by how fun it was,” said Enzo. “I used to think live (concerts) were a waste of money, like paying 90 bucks for a ticket was insane… It’s really something you have to experience first-hand.”
Wei Xiong also offered his insight as a casual fan to the series.
“I guess the concert experience gave me a better appreciation of their songs and how passionate the fanbase here is.”
“Now when I play Yuuhei songs (in the arcade) I’ll be thinking of them hahaha!”
But what about Yuuhei Satellite themselves? What did they think of their Malaysian fans who they had traveled so far to sing for?
“The crowd’s passion really took us off-guard,” said Yuzurisa, when asked about the concert sometime later. “I really didn’t expect them to be calling for an encore so soon after we had just finished our last song!”
“I think they might be more hyped than even some of our local Japanese crowds!”
We asked them before they left if they would like to come back to perform again.
“Definitely! Please do invite us once more!”
We’re looking forward to seeing these guys back again!