*This is a translated article by QooApp under the permission of SPICE. Reproduction in any form without permission is prohibited.
The media mix project IDOLiSH7 first began as an app game in 2015 and later expanded the stories of the idols in various genres such as live performances, anime, and drama CDs. And in celebration of the series’ 7th anniversary, a memorial event “Ainana EXPO” was held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center at Mihama-ku Ward Chiba from May 5 to 7, 2023.
In this exclusive hands-on report at SPICE, we’ll be going over the first day of the event, in which fans enjoyed various attractions and talk shows in the theme park-like setting that immersed all who attended into the world of IDOLiSH7.
▍The Dazzling World of WONDER LiGHT realized at Makuhari Messe
IDOLiSH7, which celebrated its 7th anniversary last year, has gained popularity as a story depicting the sparkling drama of male idols full of individuality. The Ainana EXPO was held at Makuhari Messe from May 5 to 7 as a celebratory event to reminisce the seven years the idols have walked together with fans.
Visitors were greeted by a dimly lit venue adorned with wire fences covered in neon signage, clearly a nod to the music video for “WONDER LiGHT,” the opening song for the 2nd cour of the IDOLiSH7 Third Beat! anime, which aired last year. Beyond the fenced gate was the expo’s dazzling amusement park-themed main area, a magnificent setting as if directly sprung forth from the music video. Character popups for the members of IDOLiSH7, TRIGGER, Re:vale, and ŹOOĻ greets all guests at the entrance in their splendid stage costumes.
The extent that the venue went to replicate the music video of WONDER LiGHT was a sight to behold, as it houses an immaculate carnival tent-shaped stage alongside large-scale props such as the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round to dot the venue. Simply walking around the premise allowed fans to immerse themselves in the world that the IDOLiSH7 members played around in the MV.
Within the tent stage found at the center of the expo, the costumes worn by the members of IDOLiSH7 in the MV were displayed. These concept arts and reference sheets go into impeccable detail, specifying fabrics, buttons, and other components of the designs that reflect each member’s body shape and personality. These pieces further advance that feeling as if we are inhabiting the same world as the idols.
The back of the tent stage has a large monitor screening a playlist of music videos from each idol group. The audience would cheer at the end of each song and the pivotal scenes in the music videos featured in IDOLiSH7, making the show just as lively as a live performance.
A wide variety of toy vendor stalls were also lined up. Stuffed plushies and other decorations were custom-made to match the mise-en-scène of the music video.
Lucky 7 Shooting, the shooting game that IDOLiSH7 has actually played in the music video was now a full-blown shooting complex in the expo. And it explained the long lineup as the visitors are waiting for their turns to take on the challenge of hitting up the targets.
The MV reproduction and exhibit, where visitors could see what it’s like to be inside each group’s music video environment, also kept the fans busy throughout the day. The RabbiTube studio area, where the idols challenged the audience with a variety of challenges in a series of YouTube videos was among the many environments recreated!
▍Gallery, Food court, Mystery Games, and More
The countless costumes used in the 2nd LIVE “REUNION” in 2019 were displayed at the venue corner. It undoubtedly makes a great exhibit for fans to take a good close look at all the dazzling costumes worn by the idols on stage.
A special screening area was also set up, which would periodically screen the “IDOLiSH7 MEMORiAL MOVIE”, which allowed fans of the series to look back on the past seven years, reminiscing the moments with the idols and the path they’ve walked.
The MEMORiAL GALLERY corner featured a large display of anniversary visuals and advertising graphics that have been used in the past. There were also rare visuals such as the ones from “VISUAL BOARD TOUR 2017”, the tour that spanned 7 cities in Japan. You can also find the idol’s illustrations in costumes that take inspiration from each location.
The SPECiAL GALLERY area also housed a variety of photoshoot areas that fans were happy to line up for. Beautifully illustrated by Arina Tanemura, the franchise’s original character designer, these brand-new visuals were drawn to celebrate the momentous occasion. Fans got to meet and take photos with their favorite idols in unique special costumes only found here!
Donuts, created based on Tamaki’s favorite King Pudding, and Kinako, the pet rabbit at Takanashi Productions, were among the few dishes offered at the Ainana EXPO. The food area, featuring original food and sweets with elaborate designs would hold long lineups for the entire day.
Cotton and Dust, which first appeared in the “Monster Parade ~Mofumofu Big Cleaning Operation~” event in the app game, also make appearance at the venue! The “Ainana EXPO Operation Mohumofu Defense” was also held, where participants were tasked with solving various riddles to protect the EXPO from chaos.
King Pudding appears! Wherever the dessert royalty paraded around, fans would quickly gather around for a photo session.
▍Learn the Secret Stories of the idols at Stage Performances and Talk Events!
At the stage area of Makuhari Messe, the members of IDOLiSH7, TRIGGER, Re:vale, and ŹOOĻ all gathered in a reimagining of “ONLY ONCE, ONLY 7TH.” the CG Live performance held last year on January at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the franchise.
Fans were hyped by the passionate performance of the idols and cheered on their favorites in unison with penlights in hand. Casts on stage would encourage the audience and tell everyone to continue enjoying the Ainana EXPO after the performance, further fanning the excitement throughout the entire day.
For the entire three days, the Ainana EXPO commenced, a special Commemorative Talk Event where some of the idol casts would appear to get together for exclusive chats revolving around the EXPO and the various attractions. Day 1 graced us with two cast members from IDOLiSH7; Yūsuke Shirai who played Yamato Nikaido, and Tsubasa Yonaga who played Mitsuki Izumi.
As a behind-the-scenes story related to IDOLiSH7, the two confessedly talked about an episode during the performance of the 2nd LIVE “REUNION” that fans certainly weren’t aware of.
They also decided to draw a Kinako face on the Kinako (roasted soybean flour) bread using chocolate pens when they were handed over from the food court. During all this, Yonaga even told Shirai, “What are we doing in front of all these fans?”. While saying much, he would also impersonate Kinako while drawing on the bread, impersonating the tiny rabbit himself. Shirai would put his spin on his bread, drawing in glasses and other details. Yonaga was quick to point him out saying, “You’re just trying to draw yourself aren’t you?”.
A Q&A session followed soon after, with the two voice actors reading out and answering some of the questions solicited from the fans in advance. One such question asked was: “Who do you think is the big brother in the entire cast?” The two mentioned were Shinnosuke Tachibana who plays Yukito Orikasa and Takashi Kondo who plays Torao Midou. Yonaga and Shirai mentioned that Tachibana in particular, seems to always be looking out for others.
The next question was directed at Shirai, who has previously mentioned that he has a collection of glasses, much like Yamato, who he plays. The question was, “How many glasses do you have in your collection, and which ones are your favorites?” He answered that he has 6 to 7 pairs of glasses and that his favorite pair are the ones with a white frame.
In the same vein, Yonaga showed off the nail art he had done in commemoration of the event. His manicure was done in the seven colors of IDOLiSH7 and sported Koinobori (carp-shaped windsock) designs, in reference to the date being May 5, which was Children’s Day. Yonaga elaborated on the design choice by mentioning that “just as a carp becomes a dragon and rises to the heavens, IDOLiSH7 as a series will aim for even greater heights.”
When asked, “Which character would you like to go to an event with?” the two participants had several answers such as: “Momo would yank you over to different attractions all-day,” “Iori would make sure to check the schedule and contents in advance,” and “Tamaki would liven things up, but I think he’d stop dead in his tracks in front of the king pudding.” The two of them would impersonate each of the characters while throwing out answers. One moment, in particular, was notable when Shirai, upon seeing Yonaga impersonate Touma said, “That’s not Touma, you’re just acting like Kimura Subaru!”
The last part of the event had Shirai & Yonaga asking questions directly to the fans in the hall. The first question the two asked was “If there would be an event in the future involving Mitsuki and Yamato, which would you like to see: a trip to a hot spring or a physical contest?” The fans responded with orange and green concert lights and applause, and the results ended with “a trip to a hot spring” by a narrow margin.
Then Shirai called out to the audience and asked, “Would you like to see the whole group together again?” to which the fans responded this time with a louder applause and concert light waving. During intermission, the “IDOLiSH7 Visiblive Tour ‘Good 4 You” 3DCG live concert tour and new in-game event LINK RING WIND were plugged as the duo MCs got ready for the finale.
They closed out the Talk Event by expressing their joy at being able to talk amidst the glow of the green and orange concert lights, which are their characters’ image colors. They also mentioned that the enthusiasm of the fans showed them once again how IDOLiSH7 has grown in scale. Shirai and Yonaga closed out the show by saying, “IDOLiSH7 will continue to move forward, so please continue to support us!”.
At the end of the day, the Ainana EXPO felt like a holistic experience that truly encapsulated the series’ now seven-year-long history. From the talk shows to the numerous amusement park-themed attractions that are filled with love for the series, there was always something around the corner that would please all in attendance.
Fans of all aspects couldn’t help but wonder what kind of spectacle these idols will bring now that the series is eight years deep, leaving fans excited for what’s to come beyond.
▍IDOLiSH7 Ainana EXPO Details
Event Period: May 5, 2023, ~ March 7, 2023
Business Hours: 10:00 ~ 18:00 (Last Admission: 17:00)
Venue: Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall 7-8, (Nakase, Maihama-ku, Chiba city, 261-0023)
Venue Official Website: https://www.m-messe.co.jp/en/
Exhibition Official Website: https://www.idolish7-expo.com/index.html
Exhibition Official Twitter: @iD7_expo
IDOLiSH7 Official Website: https://idolish7.com/
IDOLiSH7 Official Twitter: @iD7Mng_Ogami
Contacts: Event Office 03-3556-6562 (11:00 ~ 17:00 Mon to Fri)
Original Story: IDOLiSH7
Event Organization: BANDAI NAMCO Online
■ Riku Nanase – CV: Kenshō Ono
■ Iori Izumi – CV: Toshiki Masuda
■ Yamato Nikaido – CV: Yūsuke Shirai
■ Mitsuki Izumi – CV: Tsubasa Yonaga
■ Tamaki Yotsuba – CV: KENN
■ Sogo Osaka – CV: Atsushi Abe
■ Nagi Rokuya – CV: Takuya Eguchi
■ Gaku Yaotome – CV: Wataru Hatano
■ Tenn Kujo – CV: Sōma Saitō
■ Ryunosuke Tsunashi – CV: Takuya Sato
■ Momose Sunihara – CV: Sōichirō Hoshi
■ Yukito Orikasa – CV: Shinnosuke Tachibana
■ Haruka Isumi – CV: Yūya Hirose
■ Touma Inumaru – CV: Subaru Kimura
■ Minami Natsume – CV: Kotaro Nishiyama
■ Torao Mido – CV: Takashi Kondō
The original article was written by Naoki Saitou (斉藤直樹) and published by SPICE.
Find the original article here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/318574