tipToe.'s one-man (the wasei-eigo term for "performance featuring a single act") concert "My Long Prologue" on 2023-05-29 was a great time, and I wanted to talk a bit about it in English—partially because English is my main language, and partially because I just want to show that English-speaking fans exist...
I attended in person, but this event was also streamed on ZAIKO, and the archive is available through 2023-06-28 (you'll need to pay a bit extra to extend the archive length): https://sova-llc.zaiko.io/item/356703
ZAIKO takes non-Japanese credit cards and PayPal, so it's fairly easy even for overseas watchers to pay. The camerawork and audio quality are good enough that I can recommend watching.
What is tipToe.?
This is based on the profile on the official website.
tipToe. is a life-sized sentimental idol group based on the concept "let's experience youth together". Members can stay at most 3 years. In that timeframe, the members each race forward, giving it their all. The group name comes from "standing on tiptoe", with the meaning of "stretching yourself a bit to reach further than you can right now".
The group was formed in December 2016. About 3 years later, many of the first six members reached the limit of their stay, leading to the 1st Season ending with a concert in January 2020. The 2nd Season started in September 2020.
The current members of the 2nd Season:
- Minami Airi (Pastel Blue): began activities 2020-09-27
- Yuzuki Rin (Pastel Purple): began activities 2021-05-22
- Aida Aran (Pastel Yellow): began activities 2021-05-22
- Koyoi Memi (Pastel Pink): began activities 2022-03-19
- Fukami Mikoto (Pastel White): began activities 2022-03-19
- Miyazono Yuka (Pastel Red): began activities 2020-09-27, withdrew 2021-09-05, and returned 2022-03-19
A bit more about tipToe.
So those are the basics. There's a bit more to it (though you can feel free to skip this section entirely).
There is a fictional setting and story for the music of tipToe., which is focused on the exploits of girls attending high school in a suburban city, far from the metropolis. Each song has its own protagonist(s) and its own place in the timeline of this story.
But the songs are not all just about the fictional characters, and the characters are not entirely fictional. The 3-year limit is connected to this idea of high school, and there are connections to the development and stories of the real-life members. Some songs, like "The Curtain Rises", were basically written based on their trajectory.
This storytelling element and the involvement of the real-life members are part of the appeal of tipToe. to me—it's nice to have an overarching story behind the music and behind what the members try to express with their performance.
The music, of course, is core to what keeps me coming back. The main composer for tipToe. songs is Sena Wataru, who also has produced Vocaloid songs as well as songs for other artists (including tipToe.'s sister group airattic, DIALOGUE+, and Toyama Nao). Hayashi Naohiro and Kanata Aoi also have contributed a few songs each—along with Sena, they're all managed by SOVA, the company that manages tipToe.
(Also, the name is "tipToe.", not "tip Toe.", "tiptoe.", "tipToe", or any another variant. Not that anyone really cares too much but it's funny watching the (jocular) "tipToe. police" point out technically wrong spellings.)
The context of this concert
If you did some counting after reading the member list, you may have realized that 4 of the 6 current members are in their 3rd year—they have less than 1 year left before they must graduate from the group. Furthermore, this current formation has been around for only about 1 year.
So in one sense, they're just getting started (hence this marking the end of the "prologue"), but in another, there isn't so much time left for most of the members (hence the prologue being "long"). The implication: if you want to see this set of 6 members, now is the time to do so.
The venue was LIQUIDROOM in Tokyo, the largest venue yet for their one-man concerts—it can fit an audience of about 1000 people. The members expressed some doubt that they could fill the venue, but the turnout was quite good.
Going down the setlist
That's enough explaining. I have a bit (or more) to say about each song, so here we go.
If you'd like to follow along in the stream, Aran posted the setlist with timestamps on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aran_tiptoe/status/1663527056809013248
01. SE (My Long Prologue)
Like with all tipToe. concerts, they start off with an instrumental track (usually called "SE" in Japanese, for "sound effects"). This was a new one based on the song "My Long Prologue", which was first revealed at the end of the main part of this concert. Yet, it felt somewhat familiar to me—there were definitely musical motifs familar from other tipToe. songs.
Upon coming out on stage, the members were in newly revealed uniforms. The shorter sleeves signify the beginning of summer, and the red-and-black color scheme evoke the 3rd year outfits from the 1st Season.
02. Haru no Fuusoku, Tobari ga Yurete (The Curtain Fluttered in the Spring Breeze)
This is the first 2nd Season song, an appropriate beginning to this reflection on their long prologue. It's pretty common for tipToe. sets to begin with this (it is a song about beginnings, after all), and it was a pretty clear choice here too. The lyrics about proving your existence tie into a later song in the setlist, "Raison d'être".
03. Natsu Matsuri no Machiawase (Summer Promise)
Another defining feature of tipToe. concerts is there often being special transitions between songs that you don't hear in the studio versions. The transition here was pretty great.
The "promise" of the English title「また来年も、ここに来ようね。」("Let's come here again next year.") is poignant considering that most of these members won't be in the group a year later...
04. Clockwork Sparkle
A song about a party celebrating the graduation of one of the (fictional) members, it maintains an upbeat veneer while having sentimental moments. The member closest to graduation, Airi, starts us off with a "cheers!".
At the end of the song, the choreography evokes the motion of clock hands ticking down by having the members' arms sweep in a circular motion.
05. Kuusou Wandering
This is a relatively new song, unveiled at Memi's birthday event on 2023-03-11, and it doesn't have an official release yet. Bright and catchy, this continues the upbeat tone and showcases the members' cute side, focusing on Rin and Aran.
06. Syrup Time
A jazzy number about a girl going to a coffee shop to try being a little more grown-up, this starts with Memi giving a very cute rendition of the opening lines (that reinforces the protagonist being not quite grown-up).
I think there's some connection between the "first star of the night" at the end and the starry night envisioned by "Kuusou Wandering".
"Akane" starts a shift in the setlist to more "serious" songs, starring a protagonist longing for a love that they may not have much time left to be with. The line "how many times left are there for me to see you?" exemplifies how the lyrics can hit hard if you're conscious about the members' time limit.
They sold a CD with the "unplugged" (with an acoustic instrumental) version of "Akane" at the venue, and it's also available to order online (if you have a Japanese address to ship to).
Here, the members took a break to talk for a bit and get some water. They introduced themselves and the new outfits.
08. Cider Aquarium (Soda Pop Aquarium)
The keyboard and synthesizer star in this song about someone lost in the city—maybe even drowning, hence the "aquarium" of the title—that eventually decides to swim their own way through.
09. marine blue
I think of "marine blue" as the spiritual successor to "Cider Aquarium", both musically and lyrically. The protagonist drowns in a sea of emotions—their heart—and at the end of both songs, a white flower appears.
These songs pair very nicely, and I especially enjoyed the transition between them here (which makes you feel very underwater).
10. Raison d'être
This was newly revealed at this concert. As the first 2nd Season song composed by Suzuki Takayuki, who also composed the 1st Season songs "Bokutachi wa Iki o Suru" and "The Curtain Rises", this song brings a fast-paced rock flavor to this part of the setlist. The choreography (by Rin!) accentuates the frentic lyrics about living your own way despite everything. It was fun being part of the crowd coming up with calls to this completely new song.
This starts off the segment of the "rain arc" (the name given to the songs of fifthRuler., which form their own substory). In the midst of a downpour, the protagonist meets someone on the rooftop who can't cry despite feeling the need to—then they disappear.
Memi's lines at the climax weren't what she envisioned at the last one-man in April (due to throat problems), but this time she reached those high notes quite well.
12. Shizuka no Umi (Lunar mare)
This song feels connected to "Cider Aquarium" and "marine blue", with the protagonist burying themselves in bed and wanting to swim in a sea on the moon (the English title's lunar mare).
It has some fun (though that word might be a little bright for this song) rap parts with cool lyrics that the members execute wonderfully.
13. Hello, World
The end of the rain arc, the protagonist frantically searches for and reunites with their companion, telling them what was before left unsaid. The rain lets up, and tsuyu—the rainy season in Japan—takes its leave.
The singing and choreography emphasize the directness and, at the end, the relief in this song. All throughout these songs, the members have a somber atmosphere, but at the end, Yuka smiles after her last line, and the members have some flowy moves.
This sequence of "Unite" following the rain arc mirrors the setlist of tipToe.'s 2nd concept one-man (held in November 2022), where the rain arc was revealed, so this was a familiar follow-up for many people. It's no accident, since it's set around the same timeframe—the first few lines talk about the spring rain receding.
In the stream, there are several very visible orange lights for the line about the protagonist's friend being bathed in orange light. I'm always glad to see that, since it's appropriate not just to the lyrics but as a homage to the graduated Hino Ami (whose color was orange), the 1st Season member who stayed on to complete her time in the 2nd Season. Reading the lyrics, one can think of her as a guiding light to the newer members.
This put a cap on the block of "serious" songs. They discussed "Raison d'être" and how Rin choreographed it, as well as mentioning another song that Yuka did the choreography for ("Unite").
This is a classic, and one of the very first tipToe. songs. Like the title ("dreamy weather") suggests, the lyrics invite you to pursue a dream together with them. The audience calls each member's name aplenty, and the members reciprocate by egging the audience on. Very fun times, and you get to see a lot of the members being cute on stage.
16. White Piece
Another nice transition! (Yuka does a funny little "yeah!".) Like Yumebiyori, this is an invitation—to put together the pieces of the puzzle that is the future by making memories together. The dance is fun to join in on, and the members continue making cute appeals here.
17. Shutter Chance
Memi makes a (partially) a capella intro in this rendition, with a exuberant piano follow-up before the usual instrumental begins. That extended introduction worked pretty well for getting the audience hyped up for this song about enjoying a burning-hot summer together.
While very upbeat, parts of the lyrics, like wanting time to stop and taking photos together while you can (hence the title), highlight the awareness of the passage of time.
18. Hoshi Furu Yoru, Kimi to Dance o (Dancing on a Starry Night)
Another song about having a blast together, this starts off with Aran giving a great forceful introduction before the opening instrumental. Lyrics about a never-ending night and a performance that was so much fun that I didn't want it to end either...
19. My Long Prologue
This was newly revealed at this concert (as you might expect from the title). It's an accumulation of the 2nd Season's journey so far, with allusions to "Yumebiyori", "Fuusoku", "Sakurasou", the rain arc, and more.
The protagonist reminisces about the ups and downs they've faced together with you, pledges to keep moving forward, and invites you to sing along with them. Lines like 「来年の今頃、私、何を思っているのかなぁ」("What will I be thinking around this time next year?") really make you conscious of the future.
The members got bouquets from the fans, and took a group photo with the audience. Each member gave a bit of a speech, mostly thanking everyone for attending—after all, they didn't expect to fill the venue—and inviting the audience to follow them.
Encore. Sakurasou no Saku Koro ni (When Primroses Bloom)
This is often thought of as the 2nd Season's "theme song", and it's the most popular one among fans (myself included). Being ourselves, despite all our insecurities and struggles, and writing our own story together is the theme of this song.
This performance felt relatively relaxed (it is the encore, after all), and the audience had a surprise for the climax: everyone had a light stick with a random member's color (handed out before the concert by fans that were organizing the project). Though the colors were disparate, the concept is that of unity—supporting all the members no matter who your favorite was.
I've only been following tipToe. for about 9 months, but in that time I've gotten attached to the members and music. Among the several performances I've had the privilege of attending, this concert was overall the 2nd Season's strongest one yet.
The overall flow of the setlist (upbeat to serious to upbeat) meant the members got to display both their cute and cool sides. While there was a nice breather in the middle, people didn't stay static for too long. They put in plenty of crowd pleasers as well as less-performed songs, making for a good variety.
The new songs they unveiled in addition to the unreleased "Kuusou Wandering"—"Raison d'être" and "My Long Prologue"—were quite fun, and I'm looking forward to listening to studio versions of them. My guess is that these will go into an album in the near future—if you add a couple more songs along with the fifthRuler. ones, that should be enough material for an album.
There are only a few months left to see the current tipToe. formation perform, so I hope you'll take the chance to watch them—virtually or in person—soon! (If you're reading this in the less-near future, I hope everyone's doing well.)