Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Yui Makino Concert at the New York Anime Festival 2009
As we all know, Yui Makino is the voice of our beloved Princess Sakura in the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles anime. Thus, when I heard she was going to be at the New York Anime Festival, I had to go just to see her. She held an hour-long concert on Saturday 26 and also did a Q&A session on Sunday, along with an autograph session.
Yui Makino's debut role as a seiyuu was Princess Sakura from Tsubasa, though she had done several anime songs before, namely Omna Magni from Sousei no Aquarion by Yoko Kanno. She said there were at least 200 people auditioning for the role of Sakura-hime. The first impression I got of her voice was perhaps childlike, pure and very pretty. I think they did a good job casting the seiyuu for Tsubasa and loved Irino Miyu as (older) Syaoran(s).
(Sakura poster signed for girl (cosplaying Vocaloid Miku) standing in front of me. Yui even drew her a picture! Cute!)
After seeing Yui Makino perform live, however, my respect for her totally skyrocketed to a different level. Whoever said that she is not strong live was completely mistaken. Yui Makino was amazing during the one-hour concert. I was thrilled with that Yui Makino played the keyboard while singing her first song, "Yunagi Loop," the ending theme of Tsubasa. She also played a couple songs from her new single, which has not been released in Japan, but we were able to purchase at the NYAF. I got my copy autographed by her (see picture above).
The best song of the day was the piano version of "Amrita." I was hoping that she would play it and it was by far her strongest performance and also my own favorite Yui Makino song. Her voice was strong, sweet and emotional, as she self-accompanied herself on the keyboard. Yui Makino has been trained on the piano since age 5 and you can tell that she has a very strong classical music background. When asked what her favorite music was, she replied "Debussey and Chopin" rather than contemporary artists. I was actually able to ask her during her Q&A session what her favorite song out of her own albums was and she say "Amrita" as well. I was happy. ^_^ She mentioned her favorite American singers were the Beatles and Vanessa Carlton. (I knew she had good taste in music.)
I was a little disappointed that she didn't perform "Synchonicity" but other than that, I was left impressed by Yui Makino's concert and began looking at her more of a "musician" than a "seiyuu," someone who I think really has a bright future ahead of her. Unfortunately, I think half the audience didn't really know her songs too well. The theme song from Aria is one of her more famous songs, and I don't think people even knew that one. Either way, Yui's strongest performances were the ones where she was accompanying herself on the keyboard. But she did such a cute dance move to one of her new songs. She has a serious side and an adorable side, so I see her appealing to the popular "idol" image and also appealing to more classical music scene and continuing to collaborate with famous composers (having worked with Yuki Kajiura and Yoko Kanno is already an impressive resume).
Yui Makino is very pretty in person (prettier than photos, in my opinion) and more petite than you can imagine. She mentioned that the animal she would most be like is a cat (just like Sakura-chan in Tsubasa)! The sense I got from her is that she is quite introverted (her favorite activity is sleeping), and also that she is a serious musician rather than an "idol." She said that in the future, she would love to perform in Suntory Hall which is a concert hall in Japan that holds over 2000 seats and it is considered one of the pinnacles of a musicians career to perform there.
My favorite part about the Q&A session is when Yui Makino was asked if she enjoyed karaoke, and she replied that the CLAMP-sensei-tachi took her to karaoke and made her sing her own songs. It was very cute. And she mentioned that the kimono she wore the the Paris Anime Expo was borrowed from Mokona-sensei (famous for her large collection of beautiful kimono.) It made me sort of fangirl squeal thinking how wonderful it would be to be so close with CLAMP (and how like them to make Yui Makino sing her own songs as karaoke). She also went to watch the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. This made me sort of nostalgic for the "New York Arc" of the New Trials of Card Captor Sakura.
Over all, I felt that seeing Yuki Makino was almost like seeing Sakura-hime in person. Or at least hearing her voice a whole lot, anyhow. (Her real voice is not as high and childish but once in a while she would say cute phrases which made her sound a bit like Sakura). I would say the New York Comic Con is a stronger convention on the whole, but my first time at New York Anime Fest was a good experience (because of Yui Makino being the guest of honor); the crowd was younger in general, a bit more rambunctious, and I was impressed by the high quality of the cosplayers. I even saw a Sakura and Syaoran (Card Captor Sakura version). I had several people ask to take pictures of/with me as well. FYI, I wasn't dressed up like any character but was going for a schoolgirl look my first day and a sort of dark Misa-Misa inspired version of that look the second day. There were less Bleach and Naruto cosplays than I expected (not saying there weren't a lot anyway), and lots of Vocaloids, namely Miku and the Kagamine twins. Lots of Yoko cosplays from Guuren Lagen, L from Death Note and many many maids and lolitas everywhere. I was impressed how in character some people were. Oh, and I even met for the first time a CCS fanfiction reader who's heard of my penname. Lol.
Picture I sketched on the spot of Sakura on a thank you note to Yui Makino that I gave to her for the CD signing:
Check out Yui Makino's new single (my autographed copy pictured above!) Check out outtakes from her interview that I recorded for your viewing pleasure so that we can share more of her quirky cuteness with everyone!