Eir Aoi has returned to The Nippon Budokan Stadium.
Since her debut in 2011, Eir Aoi had swept the animation music industry, and had since been the leading figure in the field for five years until her announced leave. The final stage before her leave, where the blue flame that is Eir Aoi burned with passion, is also the stage where she is reignited today.
The stadium had been packed full to its capacity with an eager audience before the performance started. In front of the eyes of the audience who seemed to be full of expectation rather than excitement, the glittering blue lights continued showing on the front screen of the stadium.
The glittering became stronger, until suddenly all the lights were off.except one, Then Eir Aoi came up in the center of the stage in the way as same as she used to be.
Wrapped in a pure white dress, she began singing the first song - Yakusoku (Promise). Without giving the audience a time to reminisce on her long awaited voice, she quickly changed into a blue dress and shouted out to her fans "I'm back!", and went straight into singing the second and third song called "IGNITE" and "AURORA".
To be honest, there was the worry of whether or not she would be able to sing as before after a long time of not singing in front of the audience. However, that worry was blown swiftly away by the volume of her voice and beautiful high notes. Standing there, she was most definitely the Eir Aoi we've been waiting for.
"I know all of you are giving your best in cheering me on, so let's keep going until the very last minute!!"
After hearing those encouraging words from her, the audience answered with an explosive responce in return. She continued to sing her early songs such as "Avalon Blue" from her first album and her debute song called "MEMORIA". In the song called "Akatsuki (Dawn)", she sat down and sang passionately with full of emotions.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" she as MC asked the audience and went on talking, not hiding her nervousnessby "I haven't felt this way in so long, my heart is racing right now.". "While I was away, I was able to go traveling by myself as I've always wanted, and enjoyed a relaxing time at my own pace.", she told her fans what did she do for the past 1 year 9 months that they've been wondering about.
As imagined, her fans were worried about her. However, they had been believing, rooting and waiting Eir Aoi for her coming back.
"Let me show you what I have challenged during my break time wishing I could grow in my music."
Then she took a electric guitar in her hand saying that it looked attractive on the stage lighted in blue. She happily struck the strings of the black guitar, and began playing "KASUMI". Although it would be rude to say so, yet this is the first time we took notice of how well she could play. One can obviously see in her performance that this isn't prepared last minute as part of the concert routine, but a thoroughly practised skill that can only be achieved through time and effort.
When she atarted to sing "Accentier" with dancers in waving flags, the audience sang together in a loud voice that almost blew the stadium roof off. Eir also surprised the audience showing her dance performance never seen before.
"From now on, I want you feel a various faces of Eir I have never challenged before.”From these words, her eagerness to challenge herself to different stage as well as to continue singing were felt strongly and clearly.
"Recognizing and embracing one's own weaknesses, peaple may wonder what they can do for the future." She formed words as she gazed into a little distance. I do not know what happended to her and it may be too personal to ask her. Since her debut, she has been singing, performing, taking a break for a while and finally she has just come back to the stage once again. That is the real and complete story about Eir Aoi.
In the animation music scene, it is true that more and more artists including voice actors and actresses have retired from the industry. The more the animation music is known and recognized to the public, the more problems begin to arise in the industry as well, just as the simple logic that the stronger the spotlight hits, the darker the shadow grows. Even so, such a trend makes me heart wrenching as a participant of animation industry.
It was announced that Eir Aoi stopped her activities for taking rest under difficult circumstances of the industry, which was why we felt uneasy. Many people were left wondering if it could be the last time we could hear her singing and see her smiling face.
However, what was truly admirable of Eir Aoi was that despite all the uncertainties, she was still believed in by her fans. Cheering her on with the loudest voice as possible, not hiding even the slightest emotion, showing her how happy they are to see her again, they are all to convey their belief in her to Eir Aoi from the seats of the capacity stadium. The screen on the stage captured the glow of Eir's eyes returning each time she received cheers from the audience. There was the linkage of the wish to support each other such as perpetual mobile between Eir and the audience in Budokan.
Her hit songs called “Meteor”, “Lapis Lazuli", " Wings", " Light of Cynthia" were performed one after another, and when she sang "INNOCENCE", one of her most distinguishing song, the audience sang together in laudest never been heard in all of her past concerts. And the emotional connection between her and her fans reached pinnnacle point when she sang the song of her 8th single called "Tsunagaruomoi" ("Connected Thoughts") that was written by Eir expressing the joy of being connected with people.
The fans wholeheartedly felt Eir Aoi's performance as if saying, "Welcome back, Please don't leave us again." Aoi replied, "I am back." by devoting herself into the performance. All of a sudden, this space was overwhelmed with beautiful energy.
I described Eir Aoi as a comet in the column I wrote for her one year and nine months ago.
I descirbed that she appeared dancing in the air of the night sky, depicted a beautiful contrail, then she faded after the the audience fascinated by her charm. I described as well her motivation was her fan's thought and Eir Aoi drawing an arc to the whole sky would definitely come back one day.
The wishful words realized in the present reality, I bowed to wipe my tears spontaneously. I am sure this live concert in front of my eyes is materialized because of the fans' desire and power that call her back.
"You should take the credit for this concert. I really appreciate for you waiting for me. There are lots of people I want to say thank you to. " Eir said to the audience without tears. Instead, she looked ahead and stood on the stage to express her thought what she should deliver to them.
She sang the song called "Key of Harmony" in the last of main concert. And at the begininng of encore, she introduced the band members saying that "It has been a long time but I am not worried," and introduced the dancers who composed new choreography as well. Then she sang the song called "Sirius" and the concert got pumped up explorecively. She seemed extremely happy, running back and forth between the left and right side of the stage. She sang the latest single called "HitokakeraNoYuuki" ("An Ounce of Courage") at last , and her rivaival concert performing 20 songs in all lowered its curtain.
The nalstalgic routine group cheer "Ei! Ei! Ru!" that was heard at the Budokan for the first time in a while and the thundering applause welcoming her indicated the future of Eir Aoi. Her journey is, once again, about to begin.