Anime Expo 2018 hosted three major anisong concerts. The final two would be all-star concerts, with a mix of top artists and groups in the anisong industry. The first, though, was dedicated to supergroup Aqours of Love Live! Sunshine!! fame (with appearances by their three subgroups). Aqours was quite happy to be coming to Anime Expo for their July 4th show. It was a major Day-Zero concert, and a sign that the con is clearly looking to find ways to grow in length, as it is somewhat constrained on size.

Judging by the fact the group welcomed a near-capacity crowd at Microsoft Theater at LA Live, I’d say Anime Expo is moving in the right direction.

Image Credit: Anisong World Matsuri

The room-filling crowd exploded in a light-stick frenzy when Aqours took the stage. The group opened up with the Love Live! Sunshine!! season two OP Mirai no Bokura wa Shitteru yo. They followed up with the OP’s B-side, Kimi no Hitomi o Meguru Bouken. Personally, it’s my favorite song from the full Aqours lineup.

Afterwards, Aqours took a few moments to talk to the crowd. They spoke both about their music and about their experiences coming to Los Angeles. It was nice to see them share their thoughts and feelings with their fans. Each of the members emphasized how special it was for them to be playing their first solo show in America.

Image Credit: Anisong World Matsuri

After that interlude they played their first single, Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiterukai? It was a nostalgic moment for the pumped-up crowd. Next up was their single Mirai Ticket (from the season finale of Love Live! Sunshine!!’s first cour).

At this point there was a brief pause, as Aqours left the stage to break down into their subgroups. They played a cute animated short of the Love Live! crew giving fans a look into their dressing room. I can’t do the video justice, but we don’t actually get to see their dressing room. Instead, fans were treated to a trip to the Japanese prairie. With lions. (Editor’s note: It was their Saitama video.)

Image Credit: Anisong World Matsuri

After the video finished, CYaRon! took the stage (Chika Takami, You Watanabe, and Ruby Kurosawa). CYaRon! opened up with their first single, Genki Zenkai Day! Day! Day! After the song finished, they took a break to teach the crowd the dance moves for Kaigandoori de Matteru Yo (off of their second single). Once the crowd established they were ready to perform their role, off we went. This was one of the high points of the show. (Editor’s note: The graphic design of the CYaRon! logo is among the best I’ve ever seen.)

CYaRon! cleared the stage, and we had a very brief break before AZALEA (Kanan Matsuura, Dia Kurosawa, and Hanamaru Kunikida) came out in their Torikoriko Please!! outfits. The didn’t disappoint the crowd, as they jumped straight into their first single. The group followed Torikoriko Please!! with LONELY TUNING (off of the season one Blu-ray bonus CD).

Image Credit: Anisong World Matsuri

It was now time for the third Aqours subgroup to come out and rock the house. Guilty Kiss (Riko Sakurauchi, Yoshiko “Yohane” Tsushima, and Mari Ohara) opened up with their first single, Strawberry Trapper. They followed it up with the second song off of their first single, Guilty Night, Guilty Kiss!

I was hoping we’d get a live performance of Shadow Gate to Love, but the concert had to keep moving forward and it was time for the Aqours to unite. We were treated to another anime short , this time from Osaka, which followed a similar format to the Saitama video. After that finished up, Aqours came out in full force with Taiyou o Oikakero! (off of the bonus single from the seventh Blu-ray).

The crowd had been patiently waiting and were rewarded with the Love Live! Sunshine!! season two OP Yuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni! Here we would have the crowning moment of the night:

As befitting a Summer festival, Aqours closed with Sunshine Pikkapika Ondo. Anju Inami on taiko was a nice touch.

Image Credit: Anisong World Matsuri

It was an amazing opening to Anime Expo and I’d expect them to shoot just as big in 2019. Some additional things I’d like to note:

Aqours lyricist Aki Hata has done tremendous work both within and outside of Aqours. Her most recent single, Kobore Sekai Oware, was the closing theme for Big Order. I’m also a fan of Aisuru Hitoyo Shinjitsuwa Chikawazuni Iyou.

Aqours released a 27 minute preview video for their recent Blu-rayAqours 2nd LoveLive! HAPPY PARTY TRAIN TOUR.

The six-disc collected box set is as complete as one could hope for. There are also two-disc sets for day one and day two.

You can find Love Live! Sunshine!! online at:

Anisong World Matsuri can be found online at:

Image Credit: Anisong World Matsuri

SET LIST
1. Mirai no Bokura wa Shitteru yo
2. Kimi no Hitomi o Meguru Bouken
3. Kimino Kokorowa Kagayaiterukai?
4. Mirai Ticket
5. Genki Zenkai Day! Day! Day! (CYaRon!)
6. Kaigandoori de Matteru Yo (CyaRon!)
7. Torikoriko Please!! (AZALEA)
8. LONELY TUNING (AZALEA)
9. Strawberry Trapper (Guilty Kiss)
10. Guilty Night, Guilty Kiss! (Guilty Kiss)
11. Taiyou o Oikakero!
12. Yuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni!
13. Sunshine Pikkapika Ondo