The Hasunosora Jogakuin School Idol Club held their opening live event on 2023-06-04, and after attending both sessions, I left more convinced that they'll be interesting to follow. So I decided to write a bit about the event!
You can purchase the stream footage for both the day and night sessions through 2023-06-11—see the event information page for details on doing so.
I'll first introduce Hasunosora, since they debuted just a few months ago, and then talk about (most of) the setlist.
What's the deal with Hasunosora?
This branch of Love Live! is often described as VTubers, which is partially accurate, but doesn't capture the entirety of their activities. Like most of the other Love Live! branches, the content is split into:
- 2D: Centered on the Link! Like! Love Live! app (which I'll abbreviate as LLLL), where the story is presented in basically a visual novel format, and where the characters do frequent streams (hence "VTuber").
- 3D: The cast's activities in real life, including concerts (like the subject of this post) and the SeHasu YouTube series.
Despite this being called their "opening live event", this was their second time performing in front of an audience, after the 2023-04-21 release event for the Dream Believers mini-album. (You can still watch that one in its entirety for free on YouTube!)
On the setting: Hasunosora Jogakuin (Girls' High School) is a high school in the mountains of Kanazawa, a city a few hours northwest of Tokyo. The members are divided into pairs:
- Hinoshita Kaho, voiced by Mirei Nozomi (yellow-orange)
- Otomune Kozue, voiced by Hanamiya Nina (green)
- Murano Sayaka, voiced by Nonaka Cocona (blue)
- Yugiri Tsuzuri, voiced by Sasaki Kotoko (red)
- Osawa Rurino, voiced by Kan Kanna (pink)
- Fujishima Megumi, voiced by Tsukine Kona (white)
What's the deal with Mira-Cra Park!? (spoilers for LLLL story)
If you've looked at the Hasunosora discography (or this event's setlist), you'll notice that Cerise Bouquet and DOLLCHESTRA have a lot more songs.
The canon reason is just that Rurino and Megumi aren't part of the club yet... though it's not clear (yet?) what the reason is for writing the story this way.
I've been to Pacifico Yokohama's National Convention Hall a few times before, so I was already familiar with it. Some thoughts on it:
- Location: Yokohama is a bit far from Tokyo, but at least it's well connected. The venue itself feels like a bit of a hike from the nearest station, Minatomirai, because the station is deep underground, and you have to walk through most of a mall (Queen's Square), then a long walkway, before you get to the venue. But at least the mall and other surroundings are well equipped with restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines, etc. You can run to the mall and back to get a quick snack within 15 minutes (which I did between sessions).
- Capacity: This venue seats 5000, which is a step up from the ~1300 seats at their 2023-04-21 event in Toyosu Pit. For major Love Live! events, this is a bit small (compared to the usual venues of 8000+ capacity), but understandably so since Hasunosora is just getting started.
- Stage and seating: Visibility is quite good from the middle to the back of the first floor because of the elevation difference. This is in contrast to venues set up more for sports (Musashino Forest Sport Plaza) or conventions (Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Halls). If you're up in the front, it can actually be not that great depending on who (or what) is in front of you, since the elevation difference is less pronounced in the front-most blocks. (I was in the front row for the day session, but had a good chunk of the stage blocked by the camera most of the time...)
- Audio: The audio was honestly not great—from the middle-back of the first floor, it felt dulled, sounding a bit like there was a low-pass filter. Maybe the second floor above was blocking some of the sound.
I put links to the full version of each song on Spotify/YouTube where available. Staff really put effort into making footage (from both physical and virtual performances) available.
Hasunosora Jogakuin School Idol Club - Dream Believers (game version)
I was surprised that they started with the short version, but I guess they didn't want to start with the talk segment straight away, and this was probably the best way to get people hyped. At least we got to see it in the matching outfits.
For this section, the members introduced themselves, then talked about the topics they had recruited messages about:
- Day: Name for Hasunosora fans
- Night: Unit catchphrases
They were entertaining enough, but to be honest, this dragged on a bit, because they read a ton of letters on basically the same topic the entire time. But it did help that some of the suggestions were... interesting. ("Bloomer"...?)
This was a 2D intermission featuring the characters in virtual space. (Maybe someday they'll get to exist in a place that isn't a void...) The 1st years and 2nd years each did a little skit, showcasing each of the characters' personalities.
It was a bit unfortunate that this (and the encore intermission) were the same for both the day and night sessions, but they must have had a lot of work over the last few months.
Cerise Bouquet - Suisai Sekai
This was the first time they showed off the "Suisai Sekai" outfits. While these were never used as CD art, they're shown off in the lyric video, shown in the background during the performance.
Always a pleasure to hear this song. While Cerise Bouquet's singing is quite strong, they had some shaky parts in their initial rendition at the Apr 21 event (linked above) that now sound consistently decent.
Cerise Bouquet - Fortune Movie
It's interesting how the meaning of the dialogue in the middle changes depending on whether you're listening to the studio version or seeing this live version.
In the studio version, it's very much just the two of them, so when Kozue says that Kaho's "destined one" is right in front of her, it feels like that refers to Kozue.
But in the live version, she instead points out the audience (upon which everyone waves and cheers loudly), inviting you to instead self-insert.
Another thing: I found it weird that people go "fufu!" instead of "kyuntto". They literally have lyrics, why do you need to replace it with something else? (In fact, it's the same thing in the last chorus of "Waku-Waku Week!"...) My hypothesis is that it's just easier, but then why do people sing along with the lyrics in songs like "Do! Do! Do!"...?
Anyway, after they performed this, Cerise Bouquet left the stage with a "thank you" to the audience, which made it seem like they were done. (But they weren't?)
DOLLCHESTRA - AWOKE
As with Cerise Bouquet, DOLLCHESTRA debuted their "AWOKE" outfits here. They're very nice and probably my favorite Hasunosora outfits at this point.
I found it funny that everyone settled on saying "fufufu!" in between the "hai" calls in the instrumental. At the Apr 21 release event, I remember some people doing three claps instead, which was also amusing.
DOLLCHESTRA - Tsukimakase
Like with the previous unit songs, this has the lyric video playing in the background. Considering that this and "Fortune Movie" are B-sides for the Sparkly Spot and Reflection in the mirror singles, I wonder why they made the choice to do videos for these but not the title songs.
And like with Cerise Bouquet, DOLLCHESTRA left the stage with a "thank you". I'm not sure what this sense of closure was for. Maybe the concept of this section was to give each of the units 2 songs for a "complete" set.
Mira-Cra Park! - Do! Do! Do!
Mira-Cra Park! showed off their new "Do! Do! Do!" outfits here. I was ready for people to go kinda nuts for this song (which they did), and I tried a bit to remember the lyrics that people use for the calls, but didn't get very far. (My memory is not very good.) Half of it is English (well, "English"), too! One day...
Mira-Cra Park! - Hakuchuu à la mode
Debuting a completely new song was somewhat unexpected, but not entirely, since MiraPa only had one song for themselves compared to the... several songs that each of the other two units had.
In the first session, I had no idea what the song was called or what people were saying, because I didn't want to take my eyes off the seiyuu to look at the screen... That being said, it was fun to see (well, mostly just hear) how people reacted to a completely new song, and the song itself is fast-paced fun.
DOLLCHESTRA - Kibouteki Prism
DOLLCHESTRA (and then Cerise Bouquet) getting more songs after the last section was a bit of an unexpected turn (at least the first time around), since there was that sense of closure after they left the stage, and since I wasn't expecting the event to be quite this long.
In any case, they got a big welcome back to the stage (everyone was hungry for more...). I especially appreciated the emotion that Nasu-chan (Cocona's nickname) put into her line in the bridge:「どこにも自分の居場所無いと嘆いていた」("I lamented that nowhere was there a place for me").
DOLLCHESTRA - Scapegoat (Day)/Tragic Drops (Night)
Some parts about the production I noticed: The effects on their vocals at the start of "Scapegoat" were a pretty nice touch, and the camera zooming in on Kocchan's (Kotoko's nickname) shoes when her line mentioned shoes in "Tragic Drops" was pretty apt.
For the evening session, we were wondering where the setlist would change, and this turned out to be the first change. This signified that both sessions combined would cover all the (original) songs revealed so far—pretty satisfying.
DOLLCHESTRA - Sparkly Spot
In the afternoon session, you could hear the crowd's confusion and laughter right before this song. I think many of us were thinking "a third song!?". Indeed it was, and a welcome one—I enjoyed "Sparkly Spot" more than I thought I would, since while I thought it was a good song but not an amazing one, the crowd's excitement really added to the experience. Venue buff!
As a Sayaka fan, I'm inherently biased, but I really like her line at the climax:「決めるのは自分だ。」("I'll be the one to decide.") While I'm at it, Nasu-chan's dancing and expressions are a joy to watch—I hope they'll continue making good use of those skills in upcoming songs.
Cerise Bouquet - Holiday∞Holiday (Day)/Ouka Ranman (Night)
I was really looking forward to seeing Holiday∞Holiday in person because of how much I enjoyed it during the Fes×LIVE (the virtual performance in the Link! Like! Love Live! app) where they revealed it, and it did not disappoint. It's probably my favorite Cerise Bouquet song right now, with the perfect combination of a catchy melody, a cute dance, and audience involvement. The high notes are a bit of a stretch even for Cerise Bouquet's singing skills, so I'm looking forward to hearing an even better rendition one day.
For "Ouka Ranman", some audience members switched their penlight color to pink (for cherry blossoms)—I followed along, since I felt like it was a nice touch. This song did give the flow of the setlist a different feel from the day session, since it's a calmer vibe than "Holiday∞Holiday". But even so, the next song perked everyone right up...
Cerise Bouquet - Reflection in the mirror
Like Sparkly Spot, I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to. Definitely more fun with the crowd to cheer along with. I don't really have much more to say—their performance was solid. Ui-chan's (Nina's nickname) consistent singing continues to impress me.
Cerise Bouquet - Mix shake!!
This song is a lot more exciting to experience at the venue, with all the call-and-response built in. And it's a towel song! Kind of? I felt it was strange to bring out the towels only for the last like 30 seconds of the song (where the other club members also went out on stage). A lot of the motions were definitely towel-able, so I was like "should I just be using my penlight...?". At least it made me glad I bought a towel from the merch booth.
Hasunosora Jogakuin School Idol Club - Eien no Euphoria
This song strikes an interesting balance between being mid-tempo (I think?) and still being rather upbeat with getting the audience involved. The "yes!" being in different places between the first verses and second verses is funny, since people get baited into saying it where it isn't.
Here, the characters talked about there being a long tradition of Hasunosora school idols, and feeling not quite up to the task of following in their footsteps. I thought this was quite poignant, as it also reflects Hasunosora's status as a new Love Live! group within a larger series.
The cast mentioned before that they weren't sure, even anxious, about how well the ideas behind Hasunosora would be received, given how much of it is new for the Love Live! series. This was initially true for me—I never really got into VTubers, despite there being good music, and I didn't think I would get into Hasunosora as a result. But I gave them a chance (because I'm forever a LLer, apparently), and they won over not just me, but evidently plenty of people; it was nice to hear—and join in on—the roaring approval of the crowd affirming them in response.
Hasunosora Jogakuin School Idol Club - On your mark
A great choice to get the blood flowing. The cast actually went out on stage during the last few seconds of the encore intermission, so they were ready to go (on your mark, get set...) right as Rurino finished her line.
I got so used to the Apr 21 live version on YouTube that it felt slightly weird hearing the first line without mic feedback... Also, people started adding "hai!" calls after "yume hirari (etc)". It's always interesting to see how songs evolve as they get performed more.
Hasunosora Jogakuin School Idol Club - Dream Believers
I felt like this should really go after the ending MC... but on the other hand, I can see the reasoning for leaving the MC to the end. People mainly go to concerts for the live performances, and so if people have to leave early, it'd be unfortunate if this were the only song they couldn't catch. (This event was a bit longer than expected, especially the evening session, so I'm sure some people really needed to catch the train home for work or school on Monday morning.)
For the song itself, they had simplified choreography during the first chorus—maybe to reduce the burden on their stamina or to allow more flexibility to interact with the audience. In any case, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the song, so all's well that ends well.
At the end of the evening session, they announced some new information. Most relevantly:
- their 1st Album will be out 2023-09-20, with 2 songs per unit ("Hakuchuu à la mode" included) and 4 full-group songs
- their 1st Live Tour will be in October and November 2023
With venue capacities of 8000 and 10000 (compared to this event's 5000-seat venue), the 1st Live Tour shows how much staff is anticipating Hasunosora's fan base will grow. Venues of this size often require booking a year or more in advance, so these are significant gambles for a completely new group. (Then again, it's Love Live!, so there's some group of people they'll always be able to hook.)
Like with Nijigasaki, the "1st Live Tour" name is different from how the "mainline" groups' concerts are named (e.g. Liella!'s "First LoveLive! Tour"). So in a sense, the Hasunosora project is considered "experimental" within the Love Live! series.
After seeing both sessions of this event, I left with my impressions of Hasunosora affirmed (and convinced I'll never be able to leave Love Live!). The music and concert atmosphere fit my sensibilities well, and the members each have their own charm.
While there are certainly strong parts of their performances, there's also a lot of potential for the members to improve. I'm looking forward to what we'll get to see once they're more experienced.
A challenge that'll face them is getting people to get into the 2D content. I know there are a decent number of people skeptical of VTubers, and even for those who are receptive, it's easy to feel behind when there have already been so many streams.
But on the bright side, stream archives are all uploaded on YouTube the same day, and chapters 1-6 of the story are on YouTube as well, so there's no need to get the app to get familiar with the characters. Hopefully staff will continue with the plentiful content and prompt uploads, because they'll need to grow the fan base in time for the autumn tour.
In the meantime, I'll be watching Hasunosora's progress closely. I hope they'll keep delighting us for a long time!