Oct 22

purpleSKY – Archive Only

Thanks to all our contributors and readers for a great 5 years with purple SKY magazine.  Purple SKY will remain an archival site, but we will no longer be publishing new material.  Here are some links to current projects by some of our great contributors.

Boo Stewart – http://utau-inu.com/

Kathy Chee – http://purplepenguinllc.com/

Dave Cirone - http://jrock247.com/

Sarah Dworken – http://twitter.com/Sarah_at_pSKY

Victoria Goldenberg – http://rosetegamimedia.com/

Lee Miller – http://www.aristocratphotography.com/

Jen Wang – http://hibarisensei.wordpress.com/

Sep 19

[live report] The Return of Harajuku Dance Rock

With tensions mounting against Japan in recent weeks, one glimmer of hope shines amongst the chaos and disarray: Harajuku Dance Rock is back. And by that, I mean An Cafe. Nearly three years after announcing their hiatus, the bouncier-than-a-bouncy-castle band resumed activities with their two September live performances ANCAFESTA ’12 SUMMER DIVE. Rumors circulating amongst the foreign press say that An Cafe might be the ones to solve all the world’s problems. And I mean all of them.

OK, maybe An Cafe wasn’t there during the September 9 show I saw to make any big political, social, or otherwise deep statements about the wrongs in the world. They were there, however, to dust off those old Harajuku Dance Rock shoes for a show that was all about that legendary, ancient, but not forgotten custom of NYAPPY.

What is NYAPPY? Frankly, I’m still a little unsure on the concept, but from a layman’s prospective, it’s exactly what one would see at an An Cafe show. To open the show, the band marched around the Yoyogi National Gymnasium Second Building, a circular venue that normally hosts basketball games and probably gladiator fights. Their costumes resembled pastel versions of 1930′s hobo clowns, complete with oversized pants, jackets, and knick-knacks. Dinky circus music played in the background as fans reached out for a piece of the An Cafe action. One male fan earnestly shook vocalist Miku’shand. It was truly a touching moment scored with an almost-cover of “Baby Elephant Walk.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 01

[photo] Mikako Joho, Aya Hirano, and VIXX @ Otakon 2012

Photos of Mikako Joho, Aya Hirano, and VIXX at Otakon 2012.

Mikako Joho website – http://mikakojoho.com/

Aya Hirano website – http://www.ayahirano.jp/

VIXX website – http://www.realvixx.com/

To see more VIXX photos and read about their first North American appearance, go to KOME - http://www.kome-world.com/us/articles-13942-vixx-at-otakon.html

[svgallery name="otakon_2012"]

Jul 02

[live report] L’Arc-en-Ciel – Fulfilling a Teenage Dream

Someone’s been reading my diary. More accurately, someone’s been reading my diary from high school.

As an awkward,emo 16-year-old, there were three things I looked at with great longing to participate: L’Arc-en-Ciel concerts, The Matrix, and marching band. The latter’s easy to explain: I was an orchestra geek, and the violin wasn’t exactly the best instrument to traipse around football fields with. The Matrix was, well, the best movie ever made, but unfortunately not real. (Or is it?)

L’Arc-en-Ciel is a different story. I’ve rehashed this confession of my utter fangirlish glee over a few articles before. But had you asked my high school self if I would ever be able to see one of their shows live, I probably would have broken down in tears and bemoaned my fate of being stuck thousands of miles from Japan. At that time, I know I wasn’t the only naïve resident of L’Arcdom who thought the band would never in a million years perform in their home country.

Oh how wrong we were.

L’Arc-en-Ciel spent the bulk of the last 12 months touring Japan and the world, playing stadiums that only exist in most rockstars’ wet dreams. And if there’s any band that can get away with booking New York’s Madison Square Garden or Hong Kong’s Asia World Expo Arena, it’s this one.

But let’s get back to me (it’s always about me). I was lucky enough to go to their May 26 show, one of the last two dates on their 20thL’Anniversary World Tour 2012. Tokyo National Olympic Stadium – probably the most enormous venue in terms of actual square footage I’ve ever been to -was filled with eager, screaming, rainbow-colored fans. As the sun set over the Tokyo skyline, it was almost easy to forget we were about to see a rock concert.

It also didn’t help that the show opened with a fake news announcement warning the world of a UFO brandishing cartoon faces of L’Arc-en-Ciel’s four band members. This was followed by a helicopter swooping overhead, but believe it or not, that didn’t get the biggest reaction from the crowd. Within moments, a color guard bearing flags of various rainbow colors marched in. The beats of a drum line came instrong behind them right before the brass section started playing “Niji”. The actual members of L’Arc-en-Cieltrucked in on a parade float, stopped dead center in front of the stadium seats, and practically said, “Tada!”

This whole spectacle was ripped right from the depths of my teenage mind. Brass band, helicopters, and L’Arc-en-Ciel: every teenage girl’s dream! And without a rain cloud in sight! (See my article on the downpour we experienced during May 2011’s L’Anniversary shows.)

Now what about the actual music? There’s a problem with performing in a sports stadium of that size. Olympic Stadium is probably the largest oval in existence (citation needed), and when something is designed to be long and wide with the actual stadium seats rather low to the ground, the sound essentially has nowhere to go but out. As a result, the music felt distant. This was no fault of the band, but it did rob some precious nuances out of the songs, especially in terms of hyde’s voice. It also caused a slight sound delay as the majority of the audience had an extreme sharpshooter’s view of the band.

I have no doubt in my mind the team that designed this show had that in mind because the grandiosity of the concert was entertainment in and of itself. Along with the marching band making occasional reappearances for songs, there was a cheerleading team and commercials for fake, L’Arc-en-Ciel inspired products between a few sets. The best one might have been of an elderly woman squeezing two marshmallows as she reminisced about her deceased husband. (Yeah, don’t ask.)

Sound problems aside, it all comes down to the level of fun. L’Arc-en-Ciel isn’t the deepest, most serious band in existence, and that was probably why I loved them as a teenager. I thought they were all poetic and existential and totally got me then (much like my feelings toward The Matrix), but in actuality, they’re entertainment with gleams of intensity that are there to make L’Arc-en-Ciel more than just teen-pandering pop culture fluff. And that’s why, along with the hundreds of thousands of fans around the world, I still enjoy them today.

L’arc~en~Ciel Official Website – http://www.larc-en-ciel.com/en/index2.html

Jun 19

[live report] LiSA – Not Just a Fictitious Anime Band Voice

J-pop gets a bad rap. Overpopulated with cutesy girls and herbivorous young men, the pop world in this country has the reputation of being sickeningly innocent and entirely inoffensive (unless you want to get into the whole “sexy children” discussion, which I’ll save that for another day). LiSA might fall into the Jpop category, but at her core, she’s more than just a nasal voice and a frilly skirt.

LiSA began her career in the music universe on the indie circuit, writing her own songs and doing her own promotion. She has since been picked up as the singing voice of Yui in the popular anime Angel Beats! I know what you’re thinking, and yes, her audience at Hibiya Yagai Ongakudou on April 30 did consist mostly of high school to college age, slightly geeky and gawky boys. After all, any artist whose claim to fame is based in otakudom has to expect a certain boys’ dorm atmosphere (and odor) to their shows.

But the music thankfully contained much more than the overly synthesized, squeaky-voices we’ve come to expect from anime songs. LiSA emerged draped in a black Merlin cloak with a fur hood over her head. Her voice initially came out sweet and bashful, like she was surprised so many people showed up for little ol’ her. But once the guitars revved up for“Rock Mode,” something magical happened. Perhaps it was the star wands her fans wielded or maybe that demure thing at the beginning was just an act, but within moments, she became an energetic rocker in a tutu, prancing and bouncing with all the quirk of a young Cindi Lauper.

That’s also when I started to notice the stage set up and props. On either side, there were red platforms with bizarre, typically adorable animals in cartoon form. A bunny with a melted face and a blue cyclops cat gawked out at the audience like a trip to Kiddy Land mixed with a trip on acid. There was also something a little voyeuristic about the way she brought out an oversized, pink camera. She pointed the camera at the crowd, smiling mischievously as if she planned on using those shots to blackmail some of her fans on Facebook.
It’s these visual touches that helped separate LiSA from the conventional female pop-rock chick. Songs like “Escape Game” and “Oath Sign” were more or less the standard in her genre, but the way she bopped about, instructing the audience when to applaud, was cute and flirtatiously coy. She may have the youthfully high register of a Hilary Duff via Disney, but in songs like “Namida Ryuuseigun,” LiSA knows how to belt like an old soul. For “Mushoku Toumei,” her backup band got quiet as she dropped the mic and screamed out the last chorus. Considering Hibiya Yagai Ongakudou is outside, that was a bold move that indeed paid off as her voice reverberated off the trees.

LiSA breaks not only j-pop molds, but also anime music stereotypes with a wink and an acapella note or two. It’ll be interesting to hear how this 24-year-old will mature and morph in the next few years, hopefully dropping the hesitation at the beginning and sticking with the naughty little rocker we all know she really is.

LiSA Official website – http://www.lxixsxa.com/
Buy LiSA albums @ Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/lisa/e/B004O3SBZU/ref=ntt_mp3_rdr_glnc?_encoding=UTF8&sn=d
Buy LiSA albums @ iTunes – http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lover-s-mile/id519947937****

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