Misono & Aya Kamiki – Naka Kon 2019 / 2020

Misono (神田美苑)
Naka Kon Anime Convention – March 13th & March 14th, 2020 – Canceled Appearance
Live Report by Matt Clark
Video links courtesy of Misono’s YouTube channel

Aya Kamiki (上木彩矢)
Naka Kon Anime Convention – March 15th & March 16th, 2019
Live Report by Matt Clark
Photos by Matt Clark with exception to Day 1 setlist
Day 1 set list from Aya Kamiki’s Twitter
Videos links courtesy of Misono’s YouTube channel

You may be wondering, “Why is Matt doing a live report on something that happened in 2019?” Partly because in order to talk about Misono’s Naka Kon appearance for 2020, we have to go back to her guest appearance for Naka Kon 2019. On March 13th, Misono was scheduled to appear at Naka-Kon 2020, however as a safety precaution due to the COVID-19 she had to cancel.  Unfortunately, a last minute notice from the local government to limit large gatherings effectively canceled Naka Kon 2020. As a way to make it up to her fans both in Kansas, as well as in Japan, Misono put out an initial video both apologizing and explaining why she was not able to appear.

For those unfamiliar with Misono, she is a popular J-Pop/Rock singer / songwriter. She is the little sister of popular J-Pop/R&B singer Koda Kumi. Misono was a member of the J-Pop band Day After Tomorrow. She has been a frequent music contributor to the Tales series of video games as well as for several anime. She is also a variety show talent, and has appeared in at least one Broadway show (まほろばかなた) alongside best friends Aya Kamiki and Moeco Matsushita. Misono’s singing is bright and cheery with high tone, she delivers a charismatic performance. Misono’s music is uplifting and energetic, with a little bit of mischief in the mix. Misono currently works with charities for kids, teaches singing, and runs a Youtube channel with content ranging from variety program and talk, to music and singing.

As seen in the video above made as a follow up to her Naka Kon appearance cancellation, Misono expresses her heartfelt apology but also her firm hope that both staff and fans alike were still able to enjoy Naka-Kon 2020; the initial apology was aired prior to the official confirmation of the convention being canceled for 2020. Misono was scheduled at the convention for March 13th and March 14th and would have appeared with the following line up:

Vocalist – Misono
Drummer – Nosuke
Guitar – Leda
Bass – Kenbow

Misono intended to deliver an eclectic line up including a couple of covers of Western songs as well as a couple of her own songs.

Naka Kon 2020 (March 13th & March 14th, 2020)
Overland Park Convention Center
USA, Kansas City, Missouri
1: “Tomorrow” from the movie Annie
2: Day After Tomorrow’s “Starry Heavens” the theme song to the video game Tales of Symphonia
3: A cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”
4: “Itazurana Kiss” an opening theme to the anime Inuyasha
5: A cover “Ari no Mama no” from the Disney hit, Frozen (this is the Japanese title for Let It Go)

I have a funny side story about that last song too. Misono happened to attend O.C. Japan Fair in Orange County, California in October of 2019. As I had become a fan of hers since Naka-Kon 2019, I came to attend and cheer Misono on and let her know this. She happened to spot me in the middle of her performance and as she seems to do, she invited me on stage and explained who I was and how we met, and then she suddenly started singing “Ari no Mama no” with me on stage. Though I was somewhat embarrassed, I sang along with her on the song a little and had a good time. Thankfully for myself and everyone present I wasn’t mic’d up!

As of this morning (or last night Japan time) Misono uploaded some footage from her surprise 2019 appearance at Naka-Kon with her best friend and my all around favorite artist, singer / songwriter Aya Kamiki. With Aya Kamiki’s support band, Misono and Aya sang Day After Tomorrow’s song “Starry Heavens”, and a song from Bass player Taizo Nakamura’s band CUNE called “Samurai Drive”. “Samurai Drive” had me fired up because of seeing Aya Kamiki sing it in a video from 2004. The fact that Aya was working with a respected artist from her teenage years was an awesome realization! Below is a link to Misono’s YouTube video about this appearance and some clips from their performance together.

Naka-Kon 2019 gave us Aya Kamiki’s first USA live appearance, a 2 day show that was simply incredible; as a long time Aya Kamiki fan it was definitely a dream come true for me. When I arrived at Naka-Kon I busied myself wandering the floor of the convention, visiting vendor booths and taking in the sights. I discovered the artist’s booth and bought somewhere around $250 USD in Aya Kamiki merchandise that was difficult to get outside of Japan, like towels and T-Shirts. One unparalleled find was the pamphlet for Aya’s 2012 self release “V/S” which has only been available by venue release and digitally for the single, while the pamphlet includes 3 songs not released digitally. All pamphlets were signed and double as fabulous photo books. It’s also worth noting that this live appearance took place on March 15th, 2019 and was the anniversary of her 13th year in the music industry as Aya Kamiki.

Aya’s live stage was simply brilliant. Her songs range from emotional pop rock, to face paced high intensity hard rock bordering on Metal. Aya’s stage presence is unparalleled owing to her rich background in live performances her 14 year singing career and secondary career in stage performances. Her familiarity with modeling gives her a tantalizing charisma with effortless control of the crowd and a confidence that cameras follow at her beck and call.

Of special note for day one, Aya performed a lot of her great single hits from ピエロ (Piero) and Revolver to Are You Happy Now? As well as songs from her side projects like Edo Maboroshi (江戸まぼろし) from Pachinko game Hissatsu Shigotonin V (必殺仕事人V), and Uroboros’ – Black Swallowtail which served as the opening theme to the anime Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (六花の勇者).

Perhaps my favorites of day one were Sekai wa sore demo kawari wa shinai (世界はそれでも変わりはしない) from the video game 428: Shibuya Scramble, and a song that blew me away live – 248 Mile. Aya’s rich vocals suffuse 248 Mile gorgeously; over time her voice has taken on a wonderfully deep tone. While she is still able to hit high notes exceptionally her lower and mid tones are simply amazing.

Aya Kamiki appeared with the following band members:
Vocal – Aya Kamiki
Guitar – Leda
Drummer – Mabo
Bass – Taizo Nakamura
Special guest vocalist for day 2: Misono

Aya Kamiki
Naka Kon Day 1 (March 15th, 2019)
Overland Park Convention Center
USA, Kansas City, Missouri
1: SE1
2: ピエロ (Piero)
3: 江戸まぼろし (Edo Maboroshi)
4: Revolver
5: MC
6: Aria
7: Crossover
8: ミセカケの I Love You (Misekake no I Love You)
9: Leda Guitar Solo
10: 248 Mile
11: 夏のある日 (Natsu no Aru Hi)
12: 星の降る夜には (Hoshi no Furu Yoru ni wa)
13: Youthful Diary
13: SE2
14: Black Swallowtail
15: 愛は暗闇の中で (Ai wa Kurayami no Naka de)
16: Secret Night
17: I wish in your dreams
18: Lost in the world
19: MC
20: Satisfaction
21: W-B-X – W Boiled Extreme
22: 世界はそれでも変わりはしない – (Sekai wa sore demo kawari wa shinai)
23: Are you happy now?
24: Secret Code
25: END SE

If you have any familiarity with Aya Kamiki, by now you’re probably thinking that set list in itself was incredible and there’s no way this could have gotten any better? That’s where you’re wrong! There was a second day of the Naka Kon appearance and much like the first day, Aya Kamiki delivered, in a big way! As you know by now, Misono had been invited by Aya Kamiki to join her at Naka Kon, but Misono wasn’t really booked to sing, at least to her knowledge. Aya somehow managed to sweet talk Misono into performing with her to the great surprise of many… including Misono! I happened to hang around after the signing day one and got an opportunity to chat with Aya, but also met Misono for the first time! As I’ve explained to both Aya and Misono after the fact, I didn’t exactly know Misono was a famous J-pop singer as well. I knew from Aya’s Instagram that Misono was her best friend though, so I had welcomed her with open arms and a loud “MISONO!” So imagine my surprise when she got called to the stage on the second day!

Day two had half as many songs as the first day, a lot of them similar to the first day but they were mainly focused on Aya Kamiki’s hit songs. Revolver, the song I discovered Aya Kamiki from was once again played so I was a seriously happy guy! A great addition to this set was her 3rd single もう君だけを離したりはしない. Special highlights for the day were the songs mentioned in Misono’s videos above where Misono was the guest singer for the day. Day After Tomorrow’s – Starry Heavens, and CUNE’s – Samurai Drive! I personally had recorded a couple of videos of the live, but I didn’t record Samurai Drive as I had been recording a lot of songs and I seriously wanted to give my all for Samurai Drive with respect to Taizo!

Misono’s Starry Heavens definitely made me a fan of hers, as performed live at Naka Kon Misono’s voice had a soulful rich tone at times and at others her bright and cheerful tone. Misono’s stage presence was fun and charismatic and paired with Aya it was a brilliant stage! Taizo’s – Samurai Drive put the spotlight on Taizo, bringing him more forward toward the audience to represent for CUNE and to just have a damn good time.

Wrapping up day two Aya sang two of her most popular songs, Piero which you simply can’t do without at a Kamiki concert, and Are you happy now? one of her personal favorites! The refreshingly upbeat end to her set left me completely satisfied and in good spirits. The full set list for day two is as follows below.

Aya Kamiki
Naka Kon Day 2 (March 16th, 2019)
Overland Park Convention Center
USA, Kansas City, Missouri
1: SE
2: 江戸まぼろし (Edo Maboroshi)
3: Revolver
4: Lost in the world
5: Satisfaction
6: W-B-X – W Boiled Extreme
7: Leda Guitar Solo
8: Black Swallowtail
9: もう君だけを離したりはしない (Mou Kimi Dake wo Hanashitari wa shinai)
10: Starry Heavens
11: Samurai Drive
12: ピエロ (Piero)
13: Are you happy now?

Misono’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/misonochannel
Misono’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misono_koda_official/
Misono’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Fxep-K3gJF41rqFKE9Nw
Aya Kamiki’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/AyaKamiki_tweet
Aya Kamiki’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kamikiaya30/
Aya Kamiki’s Website: http://www.box-corporation.com/aya_kamiki

Like what you heard from Misono & Aya Kamiki? Check out their music on CD Japan!
Misono – https://www.cdjapan.co.jp/person/700422421
Aya Kamiki – https://www.cdjapan.co.jp/person/700012362