Written by Erin & Jaylee
Kind thanks to Imran Ismail from Cosplay Victoria for the photos used in this article.
As short instrumental selections introduced both of the artists performing at Sakura-Con on the concert hall’s main screen, cheers gave way to shouts of excitement when Haruna Luna and Eir Aoi took the stage together. A stillness came over the crowd as both artists stood in position while the introduction to the Madoka Magica opening theme, “Connect,” played. It only took a few short syllables sung in unison before the crowd burst into applause. The two artists worked great together, foreshadowing their performance styles: Eir with her magnetic personality and Haruna with her refined and nuanced movement.
After Eir Aoi left the stage, Haruna made her way front and center. Her set was punctuated with segments addressing the audience in English. These moments were endearing and sweet for Haruna and were constantly cut into by supportive rounds of applause from the audience, both surprised by her English and touched by the effort she put in to communicate with them. But none of the applause through her messages could compare to the round Haruna received when the familiar first chords of her debut single “Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau” started her portion of the concert. The fan favorite was a big hit with audiences as they sang along and gently waved their light sticks in rhythmic motion.
“Sora” was followed up by her far more fast-paced pre-debut track, “Binetsu no Tsuki.” Haruna was able to break out of her shell with this song, letting the powerful side of her personality surface as she sang out the chorus. A brief interlude followed as she took another opportunity to speak with the audience, during which Haruna introduced the next song as one of particular significance to her, the Gundam SEED song “Mizu no Akashi.” Though she remained stationary, Haruna gave a heartfelt rendition and relied on slow, dramatic arm movements to express herself. The cover was followed by “Tokoshie Rondo,” the coupling track to her upcoming May single.
Haruna’s last song was voted on by the fans attending Sakura-Con. It was no surprise that her hit “Overfly,” ending song for the anime Sword Art Online, would be chosen to end the setlist. It was easily the most impressive and energetic performance as she moved to the far ends of the stage to sing for the fans on the outskirts of the audience. It was as if a kinetic energy shot through the crowd when she moved from section to section, with fans reaching higher and swaying stronger than they had previously. Haruna’s setlist was short and sweet, the perfect introduction to her style and range as an artist. We were all sad to see her leave the stage, but it seemed unlikely this would be the last we’d see of her for the night.
As Luna walked off the stage, waving goodbye, Eir burst on with a flood of energy, waving hello. She shyly asked if we’d heard of Kidou Senshi Gundam AGE, and after receiving an enthusiastic reply to the affirmative, she dove right into her setlist, opening up with the infectious and unstoppably energetic “Aurora,” the Gundam AGE fourth season opening. Where Luna worked to give an impression of elegance, Eir flung her arms about violently and buried her face in the mic, channeling her passion directly into us.
After only a small break to address the audience in her sweetly broken English, she jumped into the harder rock sound of “Avalon Blue,” the promotional track for her debut album. The audience cheered each time she belted out the long “hoshizora no shitaaaaaaaa,” swept into ecstasy. She anchored herself on stage left, remaining there for much of the performance, but she still made it clear that she had no intention of leaving the audience in the lurch - she continued to connect with the crowd through evocative body language and her seeming determination to make eye contact with every single person in the concert hall.
As “Lament” started up, it seemed for a moment that we’d hit the inevitable ballad, but instead Eir continued to rock our tabi off. Sadly, about halfway through she began to show signs of a sore throat, wincing and touching her throat from time to time. She continued to battle with it throughout the performance, but although it seemed her voice should crack at any moment, she turned out a spectacular performance, hitting each note valiantly with little wavering.
The only ballad appeared as the fourth song, “Yume no Owari,” and was perfectly placed to give Eir a well-deserved break from the vocal acrobatics and the audience a well-deserved break from the screaming and fist-pumping. Rather than coast down from there, though, she kicked the concert back up to it’s rock beginnings with “Innocence” and relentlessly drove us to the end of her set with “Memoria.”
With two artists performing together, it’s only natural that they should each have a short setlist to make room for the other. It was disappointing to descend from the heights that Eir had brought us to, but when Luna walked back on stage and asked everyone to stand for the final song, the crowd broke into mad cheers. Eir and Luna launched into a cover of Tomatsu Haruka’s “Yumesekai.” A perfect ending song, it was softer and sweeter than Eir’s hard-rocking fervor, with the nostalgia and sweetness you want from a goodbye. But rather than leaving the stage, Eir and Luna treated us to one more song! Not content to wind the concert down, the girls finished the performance as they began it, with a high-energy cover of LiSA’s “Crossing Field,” an opening Sword Art Online track to counter ending track “Yumesekai.” The song ramped the us back up and got our blood pumping again just in time for them to wave goodbye for the night.
As the lights came back up and the crowd blinked in the brilliance, the whole concert seemed like a dream world of its own. As other audience members trickled out of the concert hall for the signing next door, we both caught our breath. Although we’d walked in knowing little about Eir and Luna, they’d turned out a spectacular, breathtaking performance. It was an unforgettable night that proved to every single audience member that these up and coming talents are here to stay.