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  The Con Suite

A Fan's Perspective Special Review --
The Anime Expo Concerts: Iijima Mari and Kanno Yoko

by David Andrews

Anime Expo treated attendees to a rare experience indeed this year in presenting two of the largest names in the anime music industry, Iijima Mari and Kanno Yoko, as featured guests of honor. Both guests performed closed concerts this year, thrilling attendees of all ages

Iijima Mari:

What a dream come true for so many Macross fans and followers of J-pop to witness one of the most well known voices in the Anime world perform a concert at the largest anime convention in the U.S., Anime Expo.

Mrs. Iijima Mari, best known as the voice of Lynn Minmay in Super Dimension Fortress Macross, performed a live concert for nearly 850 fans at Anime Expo this year, bringing together old and new anime fans alike. Mrs. Iijima was well received by all, and with her soft mannerisms and gentle voice, she managed to impress everyone she met.

Mrs. Iijima performed for Anime Expo fans on Friday evening for a full house of anime fans of all ages. Performing many songs from her new album "No Limit", she captivated the audience and was rewarded with a standing ovation as well as an encore; for which she delivered an enchanting acoustic rendition of "Ai, Oboete imasu ka". At the end of her concert, Mrs. Iijima announced that immediately afterward, she would sign every single CD purchased from her booth aside the stage. Thrilling the fans with this announcement, quite a large crowd gathered at her booth after the concert, occupying Mrs. Iijima for several hours.

Personal Opinions:

I am a long time Macross fan and it was a dream come true for me to be able to see one of my favorite voices brought to life in person at last. I had feared that short of traveling to Japan to hear her perform, I might never have heard Mari Iijima. It was a real treat to hear her not only perform the music from Macross, but from her albums as well. One thing that I appreciate as a fan of seiyuu is the opportunity to hear some of their other music, aside from the anime they perform in, and hearing Mrs. Iijima perform both genres was truly a treat for me.

Kanno Yoko:

For those of you familiar with Macross Plus, Escaflowne, and Cowboy Bebop, it would be impossible to imagine such dramatic works without the remarkably well-composed and moving soundtracks behind the animation. Behind the soundtracks lies a small, shy, yet energetic young woman named Kanno Yoko.

Kanno Yoko, also well received by Anime Expo attendees, gave an eagerly awaited piano recital directly after her focus panel. Playing a number of original jazz compositions, she incorporated works from Escaflowne, Macross Plus, and Cowboy Bebop into a haunting and captivating medley which left the crowd with no better way to show its gratitude than to offer her a standing ovation and several encores.

Personal Opinions:

From the moment I first heard Macross Plus, I was blown away by the intensity of the music, and how well it combined with the visuals to form a very tightly integrated work. I immediately took out my keyboard and started to try to pound out the music by ear. I soon realized that while the music was actually very simple, there was a layer of complexity to it that left me spellbound and mildly frustrated in trying to learn it. I immediately wanted to meet the composer who brought these amazing works to life. Hearing her perform was truly a treat, and I would not have missed it for the world.

Photos from Iijima Mari's CD "No Limit"
©1999 Mari Iijima. All rights reserved.

Anime Expo is a Servicemark of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation.
©1999 Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation.
All rights reserved.

Overall Opinions

As a long time anime fan, it is a genuine treat to be able to attend an event that brings together two generations of anime and its fans. Fans who remember Macross from their generation of anime fandom were brought together with today's generation of anime fans that are more familiar with music from Yoko Kanno as the identifying sound of their generation. Seeing that kind of environment made the experience a thoroughly pleasing and enjoyable one for me.



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