Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Concert Review: Kalafina @ Anime Central 2013

This past weekend was Anime Central in Chicago, the third-largest anime convention in the United States. This year, Anime Central hosted a very special guest: Kalafina! While members of Kalafina have performed once before in the United States (Anime Expo in 2011), Anime Central 2013 marked the first time that the entire Kalafina band has performed in the U.S. I was fortunate enough to attend this wonderful performance.

Like perhaps many others, I was initially drawn to Kalafina via their lovely ED "Magia" from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Shortly thereafter, I watched Kara no Kyoukai and was further drawn in by their ending songs for the seven films. Before the concert, I decided to familiarize myself with some more of Kalafina's work, including songs from Kuroshitsuji, Fate/Zero, and the new Madoka movie. I'm really glad I did, as my familiarity with Kalafina's works really enhanced my enjoyment of the concert (compared to, say, the KOTOKO concert last year).

There are some groups who sound amazing in recordings, but rather lackluster in live performances. Kalafina is not one of these groups. I was constantly blown away by how terrific Kalafina's singing was, especially with the ridiculously long (16 songs!) setlist they went through. Kalafina's pitches were flawless, and the live performances sounded nearly identical to the recorded material; rarely was even a single note out of place. Major props to the singers and to the five talented band members (seriously though, that keyboardist was sick).

Compared to KOTOKO's performance, Kalafina's exuded a different type of energy. While the KOTOKO performance was full of vibrancy and lots of jumping up-and-down, Kalafina's performance demonstrated a much more deliberate, orchestrated style of energy. In fact, "orchestrated" is an appropriate adjective for Kalafina's performance as a whole; the entire performance was a carefully crafted piece of artwork full of poses, gestures, and sound. That brings me to my only gripe (if it can even be considered as such): that the performance was a little too perfect. For me, one of the appeals for seeing artists perform live is to see how they deviate from the source material. Kalafina's performance was faithful nearly note-for-note to the original source material, and while that's certainly a good thing, I would have enjoyed seeing Kalafina interpret the music a little more loosely.

Below is the setlist for Kalafina's Anime Central performance. (I actually took notes this time, so it's accurate!) Click the little "x" to the left of each song to check it out on Last.FM.

[x] Oblivious
[x] Consolation
[x] Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa
[x] Red Moon
[x] Magia (the crowd went wild here)
[x] Hikari no Senritsu
[x] Door
[x] Mirai (Mami's theme from Madoka)
[x] Aria
[x] Signal
[x] Obbligato
[x] Ongaku
[x] The Whole Sky
[x] To the Beginning
[x] Hikarifuru
[x] Yume no Daichi

Every three songs or so, the three singers took a break to chat with the audience. I was pleasantly surprised by how interactive they were; while they did read from an English script (not always successfully, in Keiko's case), they interacted quite a bit with the audience, gauging our familiarity with the songs, pointing out cosplayers, and asking for restaurant suggestions. Also, Keiko's English was so cute gahhhh X_x

Oh, and random tidbits from the between-performance sessions:

-Keiko's speaking voice is surprisingly high, given her low singing voice.
-Hikaru is afraid of heights.
-Wakana likes dinosaurs.
-Keiko's favorite character is Rider (Fate/Zero).
-Hikaru's favorite character is Saber (Fate/Zero).
-Wakana's favorite character is Mami! (Madoka Magica)
-The audience suggested "hot dogs" as a food of interest for Chicago. Really?

For more Kalafina and pictures from Anime Central, check out their blog here. (I'm somewhere in that picture above! :D)

I had an absolutely wonderful time at Kalafina's performance at Anime Central, and I'd recommend any fan of their music to see them perform live if they get a chance. Sadly, I wasn't able to meet them at Anime Central this time, but perhaps I'll have the opportunity to hear them perform again in the future. I'd attend again without any hesitation. :)

'Til next time,



  1. Thank you for the review. I was at the concert as well and my favorite is Keiko. I hope they will release a recording of the concert.

    1. Great to meet someone else who attended the concert! I really enjoyed seeing them perform; I'd really enjoy a recording as well. And I hate to pick favorites, but I agree that Keiko is pretty awesome :D

    2. I plan to buy their next live Bluray since it will contain clips of them at Anime Central.
      I wonder if Anime Central can land FictionJunction next year lol.