There once was a boy who was bored as he sat in a cinema watching the Aqours 2nd LoveLive! Delayed Viewing. To amuse himself, he took a great breath and sang out, "IETTAIGA!!!!!"
In case you didn't catch it, that was an excerpt from Aesop's The Boy Who Cried Wolf tale with a few words swapped out. I'm not talking about anyone in particular. I wasn't at the Delayed Viewings so I don't know what went down.
In my previous post, I explored the history of the act of tigering and shared a few insights into Japanese concerts, including a phenomenon referred to as yakkai. Today, I would like to expand on that a bit more.
What's in a name?
As mentioned in the previous post, yakkai (厄介) is a Japanese word that roughly translates to a variety of English adjectives along the lines of "trouble", "tricky", and "nuisance". However, in modern Internet English lingo, it has been adopted as a bit of a powerful yet multi-purpose word. If I were to attempt to define it...
Yakkai (厄介 [やっかい])
someone who engages in yakkai behaviour.
to engage in yakkai behaviour.
causing annoyance or irritation.
Maybe it would be something like that? Maybe even more. Don't quote me on that definition. I don't even know the IPA alphabet properly. But basically, my point is the term has a number of differing use cases. Because of this, some people have found it to be a very confusing term.
To go back to basics, yakkai in the context of Anisong concerts is usually an abbreviation for yakkai koui (厄介行為), meaning "troublesome action(s)" or yakkai na hito (厄介な人), meaning "troublesome person", which is why the English "definition" has these three meanings.
These terms are used to actions considered a nuisance, and the people that perform these actions. To better understand, let's take a look at some real world examples. It should go without saying, but please do not imitate any of the following actions.
Case Study: Animelo Summer Live
Animelo Summer Live, or Anisama for short, is the biggest Anisong related concert in Japan. It takes place over three days at the height of summer in August every year. Due to its size, a lot of people attend the concert, and amongst them, usually there are some of these so-called yakkai people.
As a result, Anisama has a reputation for having a lot of isolated yakkai incidents, and resulted in the organisers employing intimidating professional security guards for the 2017 concerts in a bid to prevent future incidents.
Damaging the venue
In 2015, someone smashed their head and punched a wall repeatedly and created a 10cm or so dent in the wall.
Physical contact with performers
In 2015, someone supposedly tried to request a high five from seiyuu Touyama Nao (東山奈央) as she passed by during her performance, except they ended up touching her breasts. The incident was ultimately an accident, but you shouldn't really be touching the performers unless they initiate it.
In 2016, when "Promise You!!" by YuiKaori (ゆいかおり) started, someone threw a container of red cockroaches (these are easily available for pet reptile feed) into the audience. The supposed reasoning for this was because that song was the ending for Vanguard G, and "G" is a commonly used abbreviation in Japan for ゴキブリ (gokiburi), or cockroach.
Running around the venue
In 2013, when Suzuki Konomi (鈴木このみ) started singing the chorus of "DAYS of DASH", some 30 or so people in the arena of the venue left their seats and started running randomly around the venue. Not only did this cause a lot of trouble for the staff, it also gave Suzuki Konomi fans a bad reputation because people automatically assumed it was her fans doing it.
In 2015, someone brought a big glass bottle of Japanese sake into the concert, and then partway through it, they decided to smash the bottle. Not only did it cause glass fragments to scatter, the alcohol reportedly caused a lot of people to feel nauseous.
Playing with food
In 2015, when Pile came on stage, a number of people opened bottles of kimchi and started eating or poured the contents over their head. This was because Pile is half-Korean. Similarly, when "Honey Come!!" by Ogura Yui (小倉唯) came on, someone poured a jar of honey over their head. Because you know, Honey Come... Finally, in 2016, when Taketatsu Ayana (竹達彩奈) started singing, someone whipped out a Gyudon and started eating, because Taketatsu is a well known fan of Yoshinoya.
竹達彩奈の出番の時に隣の全く知らないオタクが牛丼食い出して腹抱えて笑ってた(撮影許可は本人からもらってる) pic.twitter.com/MB5HLsHKFv— オタクト (@Takuto_Hiroto) August 27, 2016
Waving random items
In 2015, someone waved a whole mackerel around instead of a penlight/light stick during Satou Satomi (佐藤聡美)'s performance. Similarly, in 2016, someone stuck an Ultra Orange light stick (commonly abbreviated to UO) into a baguette, and proceeded to wave this around during "Seishun wa Tabemono desu (青春は食べ物です)" by petit milady because it was the opening theme song to the anime about bread, "Pan de Peace! (パンでPeace!)".
Case Study: Anisong Ichiban!!
Anisong Ichiban!! is a regular event run by the talent agency HoriPro, in which their anime/anisong-related talent often perform covers of popular anime songs. Historically, the crowd at HoriPro events has generally been on the loud and rowdy side, doing things like mosh pits and occasionally even getting into fist fights during the concerts. But these were within a relatively tolerable level to the organisers.
However, during Anisong Ichiban!! 2016, someone in the crowd threw a light stick at Ohashi Ayaka (大橋彩香). While the light stick supposedly did not actually hit her, it landed on the stage near her. As a direct result of this, combined with other factors, HoriPro proceeded to immediately ban penlights and light sticks completely from all future concerts by their talent members. They also banned inappropriate calls and cheering activities, including but not limited to MIX, wotagei, spinning towels around, and so on. HoriPro now probably has the strictest enforcement of rules for Anisong related concerts.
Yakkai is within the eye of the beholder
Now that we're all experts in yakkai behaviour, let's go back to the term yakkai.
The actions typically described by yakkai can typically be separated into two categories. The first category covers actions like the ones listed above. These actions are intentionally disruptive, potentially even illegal, and it's typically obvious that they cause direct harm to another party. The other category is more subjective, and usually consists of cheering actions that can be considered disruptive or annoying.
As recent events in the West have lead to this term being thrown around a lot more, but perhaps it's worth examining what lead up to this point.
Over the past few years, seiyuu have become more and more idol-like. A lot of seiyuu now do jobs that idols would originally do, and get marketed in a fashion that idols do. A lot of seiyuu have also made solo debuts and begun a singing career, effectively making them akin to idols. There are also franchises with fictional idol characters which the seiyuu perform as in concerts.
Meanwhile, a number of idols have been making strides towards becoming seiyuu themselves. Some of them have left the idol industry in pursuit of a career as a seiyuu, but there are also groups forming now that are specifically marketed as seiyuu-idol groups, such as =LOVE, a group produced by HKT48 member Sashihara Rino (指原莉乃).
Given how these two originally separate industries have been evolving and actually getting more alike each other, it makes little sense to consider the two as separate things. A good way to think it is a spectrum. On one end, we have traditional idols, and on the other end we have traditional seiyuu. We could theoretically plot points on this spectrum marking where individuals and groups lie. For example, i☆Ris would lie somewhere near the middle, whereas units like Aqours would lean more to the seiyuu side. Something like this, maybe.
As the two industries continue to evolve, we see fans from both ends of the spectrum following along. As a result, we now get a bit of overlap, with idol fans appearing at seiyuu events, and vice versa. Effectively, we have people with different expectations going to the same events.
All that irks is not "yakkai"
The way we enjoy concerts will differ from person to person. I have witnessed people who go to concerts, and just go completely wild. But on the other hand, I've also seen people who just stand and listen.
For the person going wild, the person that is standing still is in the way. The fact that this person is not actively cheering might look as though they're not enjoying the concert, and thus the person going wild might feel off-put by that. Similarly, the person going wild could be affecting the person standing still's experience of the concert by blocking their vision, causing a ruckus, or whatnot.
As I mentioned in the previous article, the standard fare at idol concerts is not the same as it is at regular anisong concerts. As a result, when fans encounter something they are not used to, it automatically gets labelled as yakkai. These actions could be completely normal in a different fandom, but because they are not common at that fanbase, they are dismissed as disruptive.
However, just because they are normal at another fandom, does not mean you should be doing them at every concert you ever attend. The expected behaviour is different for every artist.
To be, or not to be
When attending a concert, it is considered bad manners to disrupt another attendee's experience. Mogami Moga (最上もが), a former member of Denpagumi.inc (でんぱ組.inc), tweeted in 2015 about the bad behaviours of their fans at Magurock Festival 2015. She said that while people are free to enjoy the concert in their own ways, people that cause trouble to other people are the worst.
One may argue that doing calls at all can negatively affect another person's experience, but it's better to think of it on an individual level. When the entire audience is doing calls, whether you do calls or not has very little impact. However, when nothing else is happening, a single shout from you can negatively affect many people. The people affected the most by your actions as an individual are usually the people in your immediate surroundings, and it's important not to forget that there are people next to you.
MaeQ, a writer in the anime industry, recently tweeted about an increasing number of atmosphere-ruining and attention-seeking calls at Anisong concerts, and said that these kinds of actions aren't good.
T'is neither here nor there
I have seen a number of arguments in recent days saying that as long as it's not banned by the rules, it is allowed. This is a bit of a ridiculous argument. The rules don't say you can't kill someone, so does this mean you should kill someone?
When BABY RAIDS JAPAN performed at the @JAM×NATALIE EXPO 2016 festival, it was announced via public address ahead of time that fans should not throw their glow sticks. However, despite this, fans still threw them. As a result, the members of the group told off their fans while on stage in tears.
Similarly, at a CD release event earlier this year, Mimori Suzuko got fed up enough at her fans that she actually told them to stop doing a specific call in "Univer Page" (ユニバーページ).
As a fan, does it not feel embarrassing to be told off by the very person you are supporting? Do you really feel the need to act until the performers, the staff, the management have no choice but to explicitly ban things?
It should not be up to an artist to tell their fans how to behave, they should already be behaving with common sense. Actions like this hurt both the collective reputation of the fans, and the reputation of the artist. I'm sure it also hurts the feelings of the artist.
What's done is done
A few days ago I spoke to Tsuchimarokun (つちまろくん), otherwise known as the creator of a set of joke calls for Koi ni Naritai Aquarium (恋になりたいAQUARIUM) which no one does at Aqours performances in Japan, by the way. I told him about what happened in America, and he responded with surprise, and then told me to teach the people in America about self-responsibility.
アメリカに知らない人がいたら、Self-responsibilityを教えてあげてください！— つちまろくん (@mkmkdottocom) October 19, 2017
Please think about your actions before you do them.
PS. Just because you can hear something on TV, doesn't mean it is "official" or even accepted.
PPS. Violence is bad.