I’m working remotely again at a very small and quaint neighborhood coffee shop near my workplace 1 and since then, not only that I’m going through my usual work duties, but I’ve also been busy doing some maintenance on my other existing sites. I know, it’s been over two weeks since the end of Crunchyroll Expo (CRX) 2019. Two weeks since I’ve met MADKID (briefly), watched them perform for the first time on stage, and even with just two songs, the locals of my hometown and avid anime con participants 2 absolutely, positively, zettai 3 loved them. And because of that, MADKID vowed that they will absolutely, positively, zettai return to San Jose and continue to expand to other cities and countries around the world. This is what I call low-key world domination.
I actually had a different title for the second part of my previous The AXCEL Side post. I would originally call it Do you know the way to your MADKID bias’ heart? More on the meaning behind this tentative title, but because it would be just too awkward, I decided to leave the original title with the #2 next to it. Even though I’ve already written about their live day on the current What’s Happening? post, this particular post will be a more detailed version— everything including the fangirling. You’ve already been warned.
Without further ado, let’s go!
[9/1/2019 – CRX Final Day]
We actually didn’t find out the full schedule of MADKID’s appearance until the day before. There was a TBA on the Shield Hero guests autograph session during the final hour of CRX and we all assumed that MADKID would be one of those guests who will be having that autograph session. However, we checked on the CRX app to check out MADKID’s profile and it turns out that their event in the late afternoon wasn’t an autograph session, but another performance at the Nightclub area of the convention center.
I was a bit saddened that there won’t be any photos taken or autographs signed, 4 but we did have a high chance of watching the guys take on the stage again on a more personal level. No hosts and no interview questions from others. Just MADKID, the Axcels, and the rest of the audience still unfamiliar with MADKID. 5 Still, we couldn’t wait to see the guys twice in one day on the final day of CRX.
Because I left early for church the day before, I did remind my friends that I will be picking them up between 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Usually my mom and I would go to Mass at 10:00 am on Sundays, but because of the distance between my actual hometown 6 and my second hometown 7, plus picking up the friends from their hotels, we’d probably have a hard time looking for parking and even line up at the Shield Hero panel. I think choosing to go to mass the day before was the best decision I made, plus my mom would have the entire Sunday to rest. 8 I arrived at Karu’s hotel at about 8:30 a.m. Then at around 8:25 a.m., I picked up our visiting Axcel friends from Japan from their hotels.
While we were driving at the downtown streets, LIN came online on IG Live. It was actually the first time that I’ve joined his IG live. My friends and I blushed a bit when we realized that he was livestreaming in the restroom with him shirtless and right in the bathtub. Weeks before, 9 I was worried about the hot weather and the jetlag that the guys would face, most especially with LIN, as summer is his least favorite season and he tends to get sick during this time. But when I saw him at the bathtub of his hotel suite, he glowed like he had a fresh awakening and looked more like a Bay Area local than a visitor from Japan. He was all smiles, looking really good, he even told his Japanese Axcel fans online to “leave him alone” because it’s about 9:00 a.m. PDT, it’s very bright and early morning, and he’s completely awake, super refreshed, and good to go for their first live events later today at CRX. When he was done getting dressed, he even showed off some of the merch he copped from the Artist Gallery and the Exhibits areas of CRX the day before. Like every eager otaku around, he shopped all night till he dropped. While he was getting ready, he was also watching the local news. Ironically, it was the same local news channel that my family would normally watch every morning and every night. 10
I was told by some Axcels living in Asia that YOU-TA also came on IG Live at around 3:00 a.m. PDT because he was having trouble falling asleep. He did mention that the other four members assimilated to the time zones and overcame the jetlag very quick and all four of them are sound asleep by the time he came on. Someone asked him if he’s going to be okay because their first live will be the next day during lunch hours. He mentioned that he and the guys are already used to staying up all the way past midnight for practice and work back in Japan, so taking on the San Jose sunshine was peanuts for them. With LIN being up, bright, and early, the guys are definitely ready to take on their overseas debut challenge.
The parking garage that was within the SJSU campus area was quite empty, which is kind of surprising for me. I wondered where many of the CRX participants would park, probably at the parking garage of the convention center, but it’s fun to walk around the surrounding areas of downtown.
We had coffee at their branch of Philz Coffee 11 (the one next door to Gong Cha) and its next-door breakfast and mini-brunch spot, La Lune Sucree. Thinking it would already be crowded because of CRX, that wasn’t the case. It was quiet, mellow, very relaxing morning with that familiar cool Bay Area breeze under the very bright sunny sky. Our Japanese friends praised the San Jose weather since they landed here: a perfect summer day.
After breakfast, we decided to walk around downtown again for some more IG-worthy shots, since we have about 2 hours before 11 am. 12 At around 10:00 a.m., we decided to walk to the convention center. We got at the entrance at about 10:30. We were on foot after all.
LIVE EVENT #1: The Rising of the Shield Hero Special Stage Panel
When we got inside, we headed to the restroom first, freshened ourselves up, checked the maps to find the location where the Shield Hero panel was going to take place. We thought about exploring about CRX first, but because of the time and other factors, we decided to go ahead and line up at the Grand Ballroom on the second floor. When we got there, there were a few people already lined up, and the line was divided into eight (?) rectangular boxes. Although there weren’t that many people, we decided to line up at the third box from the door so we don’t cut in front of the others who were already there. 13
Around fifteen minutes until 12 p.m., the staff guarding the door and watching the lines began squeezing everyone together to fill in the spaces of the boxes. We were standing on the third box but because of the compression, we ended up moving to the first box. At this point, we had a chance to get up to the front so that the guys would immediately see us. Once the doors opened, everyone rushed to the front quickly without supervision. Luckily, the ladies and I managed to snag the second row from the center to the left side of the stage. Looking around the people surrounding us, I noted that the people in front of us aren’t just Shield Hero fans, but were also MADKID fans. One of the guys was watching one of the release event fancams of the guys on his phone, showing it to his female friend 14. Right at the front row, specifically in front of one of my Japanese friends, were two Axcels who also flew here from Japan. 15 One of them was a YUKI bias, the one wearing a custom-made “Shin-chan” shirt was obvious.
While waiting for the show to start, I was also going through the thoughts of how the guys would be received by the massive crowd of predominantly Shield Hero fans, considering that they are a boy band. There have been some boy bands who did cover anime opening themes and ending themes, 16 but with such a badass anime like Shield Hero, in some way, it’s a little hard to imagine that a boy band would perform both opening themes for the first season of the series. In addition, I know that they will have an interpreter to help them out with the more complicated English when needed, but I also pray that the interpreter would give the boys justice with their words being spoken through the mic. We expected a break between the two songs (interview) as well, and I did hope that the panel would give them that break interview so everyone at the audience would get to know them better.
Lastly, I also thought about how MADKID and the Japanese Axcels who flew all the way here 17 would also see us SF Bay Area locals and just the general American otaku community. This was actually one of my major concerns as Karu and I were preparing for this major event in our lives as long-time Axcels. Especially for me, who lives a lot closer to San Jose than Karu, in a way, I put the pressure on me to be a real representative of the small number of Axcels growing here in the Bay. In a way, I’m just like SHIN when it comes to home – proud to represent our hometown, him proud to be from Miyazaki, me being proud of being from the Bay.
Right when we heard MADKID being announced out loud, all of those thoughts and worries faded away when the audience roared out with cheers and excitement to see the boys on stage. All smartphones were out and began to take photos and video of the boys’ performance of “RISE.” 18 They wore their “RISE” outfits from earlier this year with the black and red, just like how they wore those same outfits from their Animelo event back in Japan just a few days ago before they flew here. I was told by Karu months ago on how Japanese fans react on live events and release events in general, 19 but because they were now on foreign soil, most especially the U.S., American audiences don’t do the “silence till prompted to get loud” on concerts. Beforehand, I also thought about how MADKID would react when the audience does get really loud during their performance.
Not a problem. They felt it, they let themselves get into the vibe. The boys succeeded in performing “RISE” then. Sadly, the host asked us to turn off our phones as videos and photos from the panel weren’t allowed. The footage that my friends and I took from their “RISE” panel performance will have to wait till probably— in October. Watch the YouTube channel for it.
And just as I prayed, MADKID did get that break interview with the host. All of the questions asked them were about “RISE,” “FAITH,” and Shield Hero in general. All of their answers were very inspiring, as the group completely related to the plot, where they all started from nothing and are gradually rising up to fame. During this brief interview (I think it was about 10-15 minutes interview), I was keeping my eyes on all five of them and not just my bias. However, even my friends have been noticing this, my bias 20 have been keeping his eyes right in our direction. One of our Japanese friends sitting next to me even pointed that he wasn’t just staring at our direction, he was specifically staring right at me. I got nervous immediately, just as how I got nervous once he called my name out the day before at SJSU, but when I gazed right at him, we both had eye contact with each other and he smiled brightly, the same exact smile that he gave me when he called me out the day before. At that time, I felt like I got myself lost somewhere and I was in that different dimension when there was no one else around me except me and him with some random thoughts of “OMG SHIN OMG!!” and “SHIN, DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT PLEASE!!” 21 Kind of like those trance scenes in shoujo manga/anime, huh? 😂 I ended up returning the smile at him, and he smiled even more. 22 Still, I distributed my gazes at every member, but all this time, I was told that he had my eyes on me throughout the entire interview.
After that break interview, the boys performed “FAITH,” to conclude their segment of the panel. The performance was equally hyped as their “RISE” performance and the very packed audience were completely into them. It was completely surreal, a major eye-opener. After they were finished, my inner conscious wanted to see more of them. Luckily, they had another live performance in the late afternoon at the Nightclub. The rest of the panel was more interviews and talk about their experiences behind the scenes with the anime.
Just moments before the end of the panel, the announcements came about of a Season 2 and Season 3 of the anime currently in production. It’s what the majority of the Shield Hero fans wanted. I also (secretly) wanted that also, as I’ve been more or less keeping up with the series without watching the anime as much. 23 Naofumi’s, Raphtalia’s, and Filo’s stories are far from over, and they deserve to have more of their adventures known through animated visuals. In the end, they called MADKID back to the stage for a group photo.
According to YOU-TA’s tweet later that afternoon, there were about 2000 people who showed up at the panel, meaning there were 2000 people who saw them perform. In turn, 2000 people showed their hype and excitement during their performance. He hinted that this short panel with only the guys performing two songs had a much larger audience than the venues of their past one-man lives and live tours. Overall, their first live event of the day turned out very successful.
Their next overseas test – the Nightclub.
LIVE EVENT #2: Nightclub
The Shield Hero panel ended at around 1:30 p.m., so we had late lunch. Karu and one of our Japanese Axcel friends scouted around the nightclub area while our Shin-biased Japanese Axcel friend and myself stayed at the dining area having a quick lunch of hotdogs and bottled water. We got to know each other more and she taught me how it’s like to be an Axcel in Japan. She also shared me some tidbits about SHIN and his behavior and reactions towards his own fangirls during release events, one-man live events, and joint events such as the seasonal SWISH concerts. She said to me that she also noticed how he kept his eyes throughout the entire 10-15 min. interview towards me and her reaction to that was that I really deserved to be noticed by him, starting from the day before and even today. She said she already had these moments with him where he would also give long-time glances at her while he was on stage from the past, and because this was the first time I saw him and MADKID on stage and in real life, she advised me to think about this particular day as the “SHIN & Adrianne Day.” I’ll spare all the other details and move on forward.
Around 3:00 p.m., we decided to head to the nightclub directly and just wait for 30 minutes there, resting, chilling, until MADKID steps up on stage again. The stage was much smaller than the one at the panel, and that even though there were tables and seats at the sides of the stage, the central area was an open floor. We planned that we would stand there, front and center so that we have the full view. When we arrived, there was another event going on – an anime/J-Pop karaoke event. There weren’t that many people around and we started to get a bit worried that the Nightclub event may not be as big or crowded as the one at the panel.
About 10 minutes before the show began, a huge mob of people started moving forward towards the stage. Because we were already waiting at the left side of the stage, we decided to remain where we were standing. Unlike the panel, where we weren’t allowed to take photos and video, we’re able to do so here at the Nightclub. Before the show began, we all observed that the nightclub was massively another full house.
Since I’ve already uploaded their entire performance from that same day, here it is again.
Singing along with MADKID, if you’re familiar with the song(s), is normal. You would sing along too. Besides, YOU-TA (as you can see in the video) called out for us to sing along, so sing along, we did. Everyone also screamed, so I screamed also. Much to my surprise, our Japanese Axcel friends joined in the screaming like no one really cares. After all, no one really cares, not even the guys themselves care. 😏
During their break talk, many of us noticed that MADKID really didn’t need an interpreter, for the most part. As you can see in the video, it sounded like the interpreter sounded more nervous than the guys themselves. YOU-TA really studied hard with the English as he mentioned in his blogs months ago, and as the group’s leader, he really has to truly lead and carry the group while on stage. He and YUKI have done really well, I even had a feeling that YOU-TA was going to pick on KAZUKI again for the English 24 but luckily, he and YUKI already knew enough English to translate for him. SHIN’s killer smile was more than enough to drive everyone crazy, and LIN’s coolness gave us that “homeboy vibe” that we can just “spiritually” relate to. Overall, the boys did very well with just that one day with only two songs and a full-house venue.
The whole “SHIN is staring and smiling at me” scene sorta happened again in the video. Though he did better this time by actually looking and smiling at everyone else, a few of the comments left on my fancam did notice that SHIN looked at my direction again, this time with only a few glances. I think the reason why he decided to be more “open” to his observation to everyone else because the audience is right next to the stage, versus the panel earlier, where the audience is quite far from the edge of the stage. I watched the fancam a few times and yes, I did catch SHIN making glances at me and towards my phone camera again. Deep inside, I was in glee. Who wouldn’t when your bias member suddenly notices you just like that from out of the blue?
The show ended with “FAITH,” and we sang along and we screamed along and YOU-TA even began doing his mini-fan service to the audience while he was performing on stage by shaking hands with a number of people near the stage. I was told that in Japan, they never do that, but the U.S. is an exception. Who knows, maybe next time they arrive here (not specifically San Jose but anywhere in the U.S.), they might do that same fan service as well. As they stepped down the stage, I got lucky to shake hands with YOU-TA, YUKI, and KAZUKI. I was hoping I’d get handshakes from SHIN and LIN also, but they were already off the stage. Still, 3 out of 5 members shaking my hand is more than enough.
All five of them noticing my friends and me when we ran into them at SJSU the day before was definitely more than enough. In some ways that day, I felt a bit embarrassed. Because SHIN called out my name out loud, the entire group now knows how I look like. And who knows, I’ll probably be “under their radar” on social media and on this site too, so I need to do my best to be a good representative of the global Axcel Fam in general, not just San Jose or the entire SF Bay Area.
We left CRX and made our final photo taking outside the convention center. It was also the last day of CRX and they close early at 5:30 p.m. It was also the last day that the ladies and I would be hanging out together. The next day (Labor Day holiday), our friends would be flying back to Japan. Not just that, MADKID will also be flying back to Japan. 25
We all had so much fun, the best times ever, but at the same time, we parted our own ways and making our transition back to our real everyday lives was filled with tears. The tears that I shed wasn’t just for MADKID, but also for the lovely ladies who joined us these past four days. We dropped them off at their hotel and I brought Karu to the Union City BART station so that she can go back home to her hometown, San Francisco.
Labor Day is a national holiday in the U.S. On that day, MADKID and (some of) the Japanese Axcels would be flying back to Japan. I kept an eye out on Twitter knowing that the boys may be updating something before they take off. SHIN uploaded his usual Monday blog on LINE BLOG, not even realizing that it was already Tuesday in Japan. 26 He only realized that until they landed at Narita later that night (PDT).
KAZUKI, MADKID’s “resident YouTuber,” uploaded his newest vlog about their time exploring around Downtown San Jose. I think the video itself illustrated to us Bay Area locals that they definitely cherished their (short) time here. He took footage of some of downtown San Jose’s best spots, and the highlight of it all is the Bird scooters that they rode around the streets for 3 hrs that cost them $40 bucks. 27
SHIN posted himself at CRX:
… and a very a memorable spot on his Instagram:
YUKI also gave us the same justice:
SHIN and YOU-TA wrote about San Jose on their blogs twice in a row, one after they arrived back in Japan and the week right after. I don’t have the entire translation, but to give a brief summary, the only one thing that SHIN regretted was that he couldn’t speak (enough) English for him to say something during their interviews, though he did say a few words during the interviews. YOU-TA somehow hinted that he was challenging the Japanese Axcels to give the same vibe of hype as we did the next time they are in a major live event again. But at the same time, he also noted that he was convinced that there were more overseas Axcels and new fans than he thought, that he even began to ponder about upcoming future events overseas including here in the Bay Area.
LIN also came on IG Live the morning before they flew back to Japan. He noticed how much he loved the summer weather here in the Bay. Sure, it’s hot, but it’s summer, it’s supposed to be hot, but he loved how it cools down in the afternoon and even moreso at night. The weather and the people were perfect, he said. He also hinted that the night before, he and the guys were already talking about a future one-man live or a live tour outside Japan, at least, starting here in the Bay Area. It only made sense because they got more familiar with San Jose easily and felt like they were already at home at their short stay. They already proved it when they got over their jetlag really quick and even got used to the California time zone really quick.
On this same day, I also started getting tweets and IG DMs from fellow local (?) fans who attended the MADKID live events at CRX, introducing themselves and some even found AXCEL STYLE during their online research about MADKID. 28 Along with that, there were also some Japanese Axcels who have been “hiding in the Twitter shadows” for awhile now, coming out in public, some can even speak English, also started following me and even reaching out to me. This was what I wanted in the aftermath of MADKID’s debut outside Japan – unity among all fans, new Axcels, from Japan to outside. This was what I really expected.
Three weeks later, here I am, finally finishing this “fan concert report.” It took me two weeks to “get over” my post-concert withdrawal and the more I saw the boys posting about San Jose at that time, the more they made me cry. I dreaded going back to work after Labor Day and real-life was really catching up to me. Finally, I now have the time and inspiration to write this fan experience once and for all.
“Do you know the way to San Jose?”
As a local, I’ve always known the way there since childhood.
Karu, as a local from across the Bay, has also found her way.
Our newly-made Japanese Axcel friends definitely found their way to San Jose, from Alviso to Santana Row to Downtown.
Lastly, MADKID definitely found their way to San Jose. Eventually, they’ll find their ways to other places around the world, but San Jose will be an iconic place for them and for us global Axcels, being the very first spot where they made their live debut outside Japan. They have set their foot here at an “old world” technology capital city of the U.S.
Most people outside America has never really heard of San Jose except for those who have actually been here. When a non-American thinks about America, the first two places they would think about are New York City and Los Angeles. As of today, MADKID and the Japanese Axcels who flew down here will be adding San Jose in their minds.
Finally concluding this post, the only thing that we could do is wait. MADKID presumed their usual activities in Japan and I’m still keeping an eye on their Twitter accounts for any of these events. With Shield Hero season 2 and season 3 already in production, now we’re also hoping that MADKID would also be chosen to compose and perform the opening (or ending?) themes to these seasons.
Anything for MADKID to come back here and even perform at other parts of the country and around the world.
Till next time, Axcels!