I remember the very first j-karaoke session with Kara and Cyds: I was fifteen years old, with some vague idea of Japanese popular music being franchised with the anime and manga I followed. I somehow found myself in a karaoke room at Music21 Jupiter Street with Kara and Cyds. I just remember old L’arc~en~ciel songs being sung, and Luna Sea’s ‘I For You’. After karaoke, Cyds saw me off with a VHS copy of L’arc~en~ciel’s ‘Chronicles’.
I couldn’t stop playing it. ‘Honey’ became part of the morning soundtrack.
I moved to Indonesia shortly after that. While in Jakarta, my arrival from school was just in time for MTV Taiwan’s Japanese Music countdown. At this time, ‘Honey’ was number one on the charts as L’arc~en~ciel had released a special compilation album. In the wake of the Utada Hikaru and Hamasaki Ayumi phase, the jrock started trickling in for mainstream Indonesian consumption. On a whim, I got Luna Sea’s ‘Period’ album on cassette tape. ‘I For You’, ‘Shine’, and ‘Love Song’ were the songs of choice from home to school every day for months. I also remember my Japanese classmate insisting on playing ‘Tonight’ at a school assembly. You don’t have to know Japanese to appreciate it: it brought the house down.
When I got back to Manila for college, I became friends with Kalen by way of Jrock. Just when I thought my jrock wave had ebbed, she got a copy of L’arc~en~ciel’s SMILE bundled with a live performance dvd. I remember her playing it, and from the first riff of ‘Ready Steady Go’ to Hyde strutting out to sing his part, I found myself running to the TV. I dropped to my knees and stared: I was smitten all over again.
I borrowed a copy of a double disc Luna Sea CD from her too, and in addition to the staples I discovered ‘Sweetest Coma Again’. It is still one of the sexiest songs I’ve ever heard.
I admit that I’m not as thorough with their discography as I should be, but of all the songs I’ve heard, it’s their songs that mark the more poignant moments of high school and college. I got into L’arc~en~ciel before I moved to Indonesia, Luna Sea played through 11th and 12th grade, and it was back to L’arc~en~ciel and Luna Sea during college, now peppered by Miyavi and whatever else Kalen had on her radio.
I caught L’arc~en~ciel live after I graduated college. When Luna Sea confirmed plans for a world tour, I caved in and made arrangements to see them, at great personal expense (note: mine, not any of Mom’s money), after Mom passed on.
So, how about that Luna Sea concert? I have worked with performing arts, hung out with musicians, and I’ve had my share of concerts, but I have never seen anything like that before. It was like Luna Sea had never taken a break! They were upbeat the whole time, and Ryuichi’s fingers seemed to tremble with every note sung. Has it really been twenty years since the band first got together? They were acting as if it were their first major live. I was torn between letting the music wash over me, or watching the trance-like state they were in. They were not just performing FOR us, the audience, it was like they were letting the music go through them to us.
To think, while they took minute breaks between songs, they did not break for a full intermission. Still, the band did not look one bit tired.
I knew they would play ‘Storm’, and ‘Tonight’, but hearing them live sent a delicious shiver through me. I was exhausted, sleep-deprived, and had deadlines on hold to go to this concert, but all that was forgotten in the roar of the crowd, with fists pumping in beat to the music. Somehow the music stirred up the teenage fangirl in me again, with the giddiness of someone hopped up on pixie sticks. “KISS ME IN THE STORMY!” I shrieked the second voice to the Engrish lyrics to ‘Storm’, then “KIMI WA DAKE NO MELODY!” to Tonight.
And yes, it was worth every penny spent, and so much more.
No doubt, that will be the last fanciful whim I’ll have for a long time. I allowed the girl to come out in Hong Kong, but I’ve returned to Manila to take on adulthood.
However limited my Japanese, I owe it to the jrock, especialy L’arc~en~ciel and Luna Sea for easing the difficult transitions of my lifetime.