No sooner had we announced that beloved anison duo ClariS was set to perform overseas for the first time, this bombshell materializes — Clara and Karen took off their masks during their final song at a recent performance in Yokohama, “ClariS 2nd HALL CONCERT.” Ever since they started appearing live, the girls have employed various strategies to keep their true identities hidden, ranging from performing behind sheer curtains and wearing ornamental masks. To fans at this event, you can imagine just how big of a deal this must have been. And for those of us who couldn’t be in attendance, this is still huge!
Despite how much you may search — high and low over social media for that elusive glimpse, you’re not going to find it.
Concerts in Japan are a bit of a different experience than what you may be used to in any other country. While filming the experience and uploading pictures to any of many social media services may be a key part of letting friends and family in on just a bit of the fun, the act of recording any sort of media at a concert in Japan is expressly forbidden. If your favorite stars are managed by any sort of huge agency, you can bet that you’ll see signs forbidding the use of cameras and cell phones plastered around the event space. Of course, media companies, and especially the artists, have a lot to gain when fans are required to purchase their way into the live experience, but all in all, Japanese concert-goers don’t seem to mind too much. After all, the experience for you, in that moment, is uninhibited by hundreds, or even thousands of people holding cell phones with bright screens above their heads, blocking the views you paid good money to see.
I would argue though, that there is a palpable, worthwhile, and way less-cynical reason that the practice remains a huge part of the Japanese concert-going experience — intimacy. Intimacy between the artist and their fans. An experience shared exclusively between the entities — one that relies so much on the continued emotional and financial support tendered, and another that likely has some deep-seated love for the artistry they’ve decided to consume.
I’ve recently experienced this firsthand. At a Nagoya stop during a tour for another anison artist, I found myself a little puzzled at the selection of venue and its limited capacity. When Konomi Suzuki appeared on stage and began speaking to the crowd after the first act, she mentioned how happy she was to see the smiling faces of all the fans present with her in the room, including a few traveling with her on every stop of the tour. The smaller venue choices were very much intentional on the part of herself and her staff — she wanted to be more involved in the experience, and allow her fans to become a bit closer to herself. You can bet I was smiling right back at her, as I felt just how spirited she was in performing on that stage.
So in perhaps this same way, we can be happy knowing that huge artists like the girls of ClariS want to share a bit of themselves — their most carefully hidden and personal features — with the people who love and adore them most. It just makes that concert-going experience that much more special, doesn’t it?
In Japan, it’s rare I walk away from an event feeling it was anything less than a life-changing experience.
Pictures and information courtesy: animate Times