I stood in a 3-hour line to go see Yoko Kanno at the Sunday concert of Otakon 2013, and I could feel the weight of stress upon my shoulders. Here I sat, waiting for the concert of a lifetime, and all I could think about was how I felt about anime and about people. I used to write a blog about anime, a blog amongst a history of other blogs in which I wrote about things that meant the most to me for whatever reason. I was attending something that pertained mostly to this one side of me, through which I have placed so much stress on myself. I associated myself with a specific subset of anime fans, taking wholly for granted that these were simply a subset; anime fans exist everywhere, and the medium and the emotional connection of its art varies between all of them, and I never thought to myself to reach out to them.
The people I met were many, even though I had spent most of my time standing in a single spot. One woman standing close to me, who I presumed to be a little bit younger than myself, said that she had dreamt of this moment, to see a live concert of Yoko Kanno, since she was 12 years old. She was medium height and of a build that her demeanour did not feel comfort for. She was too large for a medium, but too small for a large, but her optimistic, dreamy tone in her voice whenever she mentioned Yoko’s name dissolved away every single worry she had while waiting in line. While we conversed, another fan walked up to us and asked for a picture of her and her shirt; he was a man in his thirties, and from the way he pointed at pre-written english phrases on the tablet that he flashed at us, he had a very little grasp at English. I still remember the words on display:
“Hello! I flew all the way to America from Japan to see the Yoko concert! I want to take a picture of everyone wearing the Piano Me T-Shirt because it will give me wonderful memories of Yoko!”
Or something like that. I took a few grammatical liberties in transcribing his message, but the weight of his action, flying all the way out here into a place where he cannot communicate, rested on his shoulders. The stress of being unable to talk with others naturally was worth seeing a piano performance. I made a few friends in line, despite attending the concert alone, and when they were gracious enough to reserve my spot when I went off to the washroom, I met yet another fan of Yoko’s. He flew in from the middle east, and told me as we both washed our hands in adjacent sinks that he flew all the way here just to see Yoko. Like the Japanese visitor, he was also quite awed by the foreign subtleties of the west, namely the novelty of a Dyson hand dryer. He pensively lowered his hands into it, grinning at me when he finally realized how the machine worked. I never saw him again, but I knew he was in for quite the experience.
I wouldn’t know the weight of my own experience of Yoko’s concert until she performed Gravity, the ending theme from Wolf’s Rain. When those chords rang out, I recalled all of the faces of the people I had met and interacted, and even the people who I simply observed while waiting in line and waiting in my own seat, six rows from the front and just a slight nudge to the left of centre. A girl sitting in front of me blocked the lower left part of my view with her wild red afro, and someone to my periphery fidgeted with tented fingers as he waited for Yoko to come on stage. Everyone was tense, but when Gravity came on, it all went away.
The weight of everyone’s worries, everyone who had gone through their own heavy experiences at the con and leading up to this moment that they’ve waited their whole lives for, vanished with a simple melody and song from Yoko. It wasn’t because of her own performance in particular, but rather the connection that she as an artist made with the crowd. The vocals came in from everywhere. The entire audience sang in perfect unison with Kanno’s lyrics, ringing true to the whole experience of the concert itself, before and after. The concert hall was somber and the audience-choir was mellow. Their tone cleansed my heart of everything horrible that I had felt about myself, about anime, about writing about anime, about writing, about a lot of things. Everyone was brought into Yoko’s World, and her music touched and healed every single person, just as she did with me.
Looking back upon this experience, I wonder how much of it is still true in detail. I tried to keep a record of it in a moleskine that I had with me throughout the entirety of that concert. I wrote about details that stuck out to me, and I scribbled them furiously as to not miss a single note coming from the piano on-stage. The room was dark, and reading back on my notes, the scribbles are hardly legible, much like my memory of them. Maybe when I read them again tomorrow, I’ll see something else or remember a different detail, and the image will be completely different.
But as long as there’s someone calling out, maybe not with their voice, but with their heart and their desire to read something that means something to them, I will want to provide them solace. I want to make them sing out to the moon like Yoko had done for me that wonderful August Sunday. Her concert was like floating in zero gravity, reaching out to me in art, and pulling me up from the weight of this earth and its worries. I want to write stories that do the same for people who read them. I want to pull them as I have been pulled. I want to tell people to keep going down that road to wherever.
Something is pulling me to write. I am not sure what exactly it is, and it is for that reason I will continue to write. It might be about anime. It might be about video games. It might be about a character that I thought of in my head, whose story may mean something to someone. I want to remind people of the gravity that keeps them down, and be the person who pulls them right back up. And I hope this blog, and all other writing I do going forward, accomplishes that.
Welcome to my blog. The words you’ll read here are my own, and I hope you stick around to read more of them.