Chikagei 101 Part 3: Thunder Snake

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What is Thunder Snake?

Thunder snake (サンダースネ) is the core chikagei move for anikura events: when the chorus hits, unless there is a song-specific, alternative routine, the crowd will typically perform thunder snake as opposed to traditional calls or chants that you would find at a concert.

Other moves such as Muramasa (ムラマサ) or Ameterasu (アマテラス) are typically performed at the second and third chrous, respectively, but since DJs transition songs after the first chorus, you will find that thunder snake dominates the anikura scene by a considerable margin.

A very clear frontal shot of a crowd performing thunder snake is shown at 0:42 in the clip below.  At 0:54, the move known as thunder snake ends and the crowd transitions into a follow up move called romance (ロマンス).

Learning Thunder Snake (and Romance)

The moves that make up thunder snake are not particularly difficult to learn and pull off, especially so at anikura events where form is not as important and freedom reigns.   The easiest way to learn is via watching a video – there are many variations of thunder snake, but the most common variant performed at anikura events is shown below.

fly away t.p.s by Sayaka Sasaki

Mirrored version (for practice)

The hardest and most important part of thunder snake is the timing.  Around 0:15 in the clip above, thunder snake transitions into romance: the most important timing beat to hit is to match this transition point with the beginning of the second half of the chorus.  Essentially, the entirety of thunder snake should be timed such that it ends exactly at the halfway point of the chorus.

There are other timing beats to match throughout thunder snake to pull it off in the most “correct” fashion, but for those just starting out, this is the most critical timing to hit: the rest will come with practice.

To illustrate this, the romanized lyrics of the first chrous of fly away t.p.s are listed below.  Note the clean break between the two halves of the chorus.

*amagake te hashiru sengoku no  (begin thunder snake)
jikuu no hate ni aku wa kizami
yobisamasu kokonotsu mina kioku
hito wa yasashi sugi te*  (end thunder snake)

*hana no inochi wa mijikaku tomo (begin romance)
utsukushiku kagayaki chiritai
jigen no kabe o koete sakebu
kono koe ga todoku made
BREAKING TO THE SKY

There are obviously plenty of songs that do not follow this pattern, in which case, as mentioned, there may be an alternative move or string of moves for the chorus.   The only way to truly get a feel for thunder snake is to practice again and again to different songs with varying tempos and try to match the crowd.

For an extreme, illustrative example, the following is thunder snake performed to SHINY DAYS the opening of Yuru Camp, and is slowed down according to the comparatively slow tempo of the song.

SHINY DAYS by Asaka, Yuru Camp

You may have noticed that not everyone is in sync, thus illustrating the difficulty of timing thunder snake properly.  Keep in mind that, in the end, anikura is still just a crowd enjoying themselves at a club, so the level of scrutiny is low.

Misc

The version of thunder snake seen at anikura events differs from what is probably the more well-known version performed with glowsticks.  The following video is an example of what is known as a waza (技) wotagei (ヲタ芸) routine: thunder snake and romance are performed at 3:29.

No Brand Girls by μ’s, Love Live!

Comparing the two categories, there are several key differences:

  • Four 360° arm turns (waza) instead of two at the beginning of thunder snake
  • The romance swings alternate in a 2/2→3/2→3/2… pattern (waza), instead of 2/2→3/2→1/2→1/2…

References

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Chikagei 101 Part 2: Basic Calls and Moves

Previous Entry

As opposed to covering specific moves, this article serves as a guideline for the generic, general set of synchronized calls and movesets from the crowd typically heard at anikura events.  Note that anikura crowds and atmospheres vary heavily based on the venue or event.  For example, the crowd at MOGRA tends to behave more like a traditional DJ club where the audience may simply sway and bounce to the beat.  In contrast, events specifically geared towards celebrating chikagei such as  will typically take place in a large open venue such as a gymnasium or outdoor park, thus the crowds at these events are far more likely to go wild with calls and follow up with moves such as thunder snake for nearly every single song.

As with most live events in Japan, be sure to read the atmosphere of the crowd to determine if any or all of the following calls and moves are appropriate or not.  When it doubt, follow the crowd!

Note that this article assumes basic familiarity with calls and cheers typically heard at idol concerts or anisong concerts known broadly as wotagei (ヲタ芸 ).  If not, please feel free to brush up on the fundamentals with example tutorials such as the following:

1. Clapping (aka OAD)

Clapping along with the beat of the song during the A-melody.

At anikura events, clapping occurs almost 100% of the time during the A-melody, aka the first verse after the intro instrumental section.  3D idol fans may also know this move as OAD or Over Action Dolphin, but this simplified variant lacks most of the super-exaggerated movement of OAD: people may still alternate side-to-side for each clap, however.  If there is a slower or faster portion of the intro, the crowd may clap at a faster rate, accordingly: see the beginning of the Q&A Recital! clip listed below.

Fans of 2.5D idol (e.g. Love Live!, iDOLM@STER, Wake Up, Girls!) or major anisong artists typically know this portion of the song as the part where you simply move your penlights up and down to the beat of the song.

 

 

 

 

Trancing Pulse by Triad Primus THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls

 

 

 

Q&A Recital! (Q&A リサイタル!) by Haruka Tomatsu – Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

2. PPPH

The unique chant typically heard during the B-melody leading up to the chorus.

Most people introduced to idol calls from the 3D, 2.5D, anisong worlds will know this move as either three claps (comprising the PPP part of PPPH) or as “oooooo hai”, but PPPH at anikura events tends to follow the underground (chika) idol scene, which is “oooooo → clapx2”.  See the clip below at around 0:08.

sister’s noise by fripSide – A Certain Scientific Railgun S

3. Sakiclap 

Slowly clapping in a manner such that you expose your palms outwards as you complete the clapping motion, like a blooming flower (hence where its name is derived from: 咲く (saku), meaning to bloom).

The sakiclap replaces what most concert fans know as kecha, which involves extending your arms towards the performer during the slow parts of songs.  The timing is exactly the same as kecha, the clap is simply added at the end of the motion.  Anikura crowds may sakiclap towards the DJ, similar to the way concert crowds kecha in the direction of the performer on stage.

Unlike concerts, it’s rare for a songs at anikura events to reach the C-melody of a song, so you tend to only see sakiclapping if there is a slow intro or A-melody.  An example is shown below around 0:20.

 

 

Future Strike by Yui Ogura – ViVid Strike!

4. IETTAIGA

The iettaiga (also stylized as yeah tiger, イェッタイガー, 家虎) call has recently become something of a sticky and highly polarizing subject with regard to decorum and proper behavior at concerts, but the call itself is far more common and accepted at most anikura events.  It will be typically shouted in the silence immediately before the chorus, if there is one.  If the silence is particularly long, you may hear iettaiga faibo waipa or ie-ie-iettaiga in its place.

You can hear this in the sister’s noise video above at around 0:20 or in Sparkling Daydream below around 0:10.  ie-ie-iettaiga can be heard in the Astrogation video below.

Sparkling Daydream by ZAQ – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

 

Astrogation by Nana Mizuki

5. MIX

Yet another controversial call that is accepted at most 3D idol concerts, but is polarizing when it comes to decorum at 2.5D or anisong concerts, MIX is also much more accepted at anikura events; however, it is not quite as common as the moves and calls outlined above.  Since anikura events typically only play up until the end of the first chorus, it is rare to hear anything more than the Standard MIX, which is as follows:

TAIGA FAIYA SAIBA FAIBA DAIBA BAIBA JYA JYA

You can hear the Standard MIX immediately at the beginning of the clip below.

未来の僕らは知ってるよ (Mirai no Bokura wa Shitteru yo) by Aqours, Love Live! Sunshine!!

Misc Moves and Calls

Those accustomed to calls at idol or anisong concerts will have doubtlessly noticed the omission of several key calls such as the Fuwa combo or the ‘Hai’ chant, but these calls are rarely heard at most anikura events since there is significantly more emphasis on freehanded clapping moves in the early part of a song and thunder snake during the chorus.

Along the same line, there is a greater chance of hearing 3D idol variations of calls such as oshi/member calls (listen around 0:20 of the Mirai Boku clip above to hear the ORE NO~ oshi call) than to hear their 2.5D idol/anisong counterpart calls.  See Member Calls in this article for more information.  It is worth noting that these calls are still uncommon for anikura events.

With the exception of particularly iconic dances such as in Aozora no Rhapsody, furicopy (the act of mirroring a performer’s hand, body, or dance movements) is notably rare at anikura events, simply because there is no performer to follow along with.  In contrast, wiper (mirroring the performer’s back-and-forth hand waving motion) is still fairly common as the DJ can easily fill in for the role of the performer in this case.

General Guidelines

As for general atmosphere and behavior, expect a far looser and laidback crowd; after all, you’re at a club event and not a concert where you’re confined to a tiny square of a seat, shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbors.  Anikura crowds generally tend to feature a lot more exuberant shouting, jumping, pointing at the DJ (similar to oshi pointing), hand/arm waving, and general swaying and swinging around (again, space-permitting) for any and all of the motions and maneuvers outlined above.  Penlights and UOs, which are a core staple of concerts, are notably not as popular at anikura events, which again, aids in the ability to perform freehanded maneuvers.

In our next article, we will cover the final piece of the chikagei basics: the core move that defines contemporary anikura crowds: thunder snake!

Chikagei 101 Part 1: Intro to Chikagei

Welcome to the first entry in a series called Chikagei 101: where we break down the most common song-specific audience interaction moves you are likely to encounter at anikura events.

What is Chikagei?

Chikagei (地下芸) is a colloquial portmanteau of the words chika (地下) meaning ‘underground’ and wotagei* (ヲタ芸), referring to the synchronized chants, cheers, and movements of fans of idol culture.   Thus, chikagei refers to underground or alternative variations of coordinated audience cheers and movements that would be seen at a typical idol concert, and form the foundation of crowd interaction at anikura events.  Often times, these moves require much more space than you would be given at a concert and are generally far more energetic and rowdy, making them much more appropriate for a club setting.

Obviously, depending on the size of the venue, some chikagei moves may not be appropriate.  That being said, larger venues are secured occasionally for the explicit purpose of enabling and encouraging wild and crazy chikagei moves that take up a ton of space.  A good rule of thumb is to read and follow the crowd: after all, a lot of these moves only work when the majority of the room is willing and ready to participate!

As an example, one of the most popular and well-known chikagei moves is shown below: the move is called Namaste Snake (ナマステスネーク) and is performed prinicpally at the chrous of the song Rising Hope by LiSA: the first OP of The Irregular at Magic High School.

As a disclaimer, chikagei moves are extremely ephemeral and evolve over time quickly.  Thus, we will try to provide updates to existing moves as necessary.

The following is a short list of songs and their respective chikagei maneuvers to kick off Chikagei 101!

Song: DAYS of DASH

Artist: Konomi Suzuki (鈴木このみ)

Anime: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (さくら荘のペットな彼女)

Chikagei: Running

One of the oldest, simplest, and most intuitive examples of a staple chikagei move that nonetheless never fails to be hype: all you really need to do is start running at the top of the chorus with the lyric “Days of DASH” drops and don’t let up until the end of the chorus.

The most common variation is to have people line up as if competing in a relay – others will occasionally set up a piece of string or similar material to act as a finish line ribbon to dash towards.  In venues where there is limited space, people may dash the length of the room, then turn around and dash back and repeat until the end of the chorus.  In rare cases when there is even more limited space, people may simply jog in place.

Song: Maware! Setsugetsuka (回レ!雪月)

Artist: Hitomi Harada (原田 ひとみ), Ai Kayano (茅野 愛衣), and Yui Ogura (小倉 唯 )

Anime: Unbreakable Machine-Doll (機巧少女〈マシンドール〉は傷つかない)

Chikagei: Maware (Form a giant circle with linked arms and spin the circle)

Another classic, intuitive staple, at least once you know that maware (回れ)  can translate to “go around”.  Simply put, link arms with everyone, forming a gigantic circle with the crowd in the lead up to the chorus and and soon as the chorus hits, start spinning the circle by sidestepping along with the crowd.  Some people also like to sprint around the inner rim of the circle, while others prefer rolling along the ground like a log.

Song: Rage on

Artist: OLDCODEX

Anime: Free!

Chikagei: Swimming

Another fairly intuitive entry: simply lay on the floor during the lead up to the chorus and start dragging your body across the floor once the chorus hits.  Requires plenty of room and may be painful if done incorrectly (e.g. on carpeted floors), though mimicking a backstroke instead of a front crawl may help mitigate the pain.

Song: HAPPY PARTY TRAIN

Artist: Aqours

Anime: Love Live! Sunshine!!

Chikagei: Human train

During the chorus, simply line up in a human train formation and start running: once again, simple and intuitive.  One occasionally seen variation is to perform the human train in the lead up to the chorus, then stop and simply thunder snake during the chorus.

Song: Aozora no Rhapsody (青空のラプソディ)

Artist: Fhána

Anime: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (小林さんちのメイドラゴン)

Chikagei: MV dance

More complicated than the previous examples, but no less intuitive, conceptually: simply perform Towana’s iconic dance moves seen during the chorus of the song’s official music video below.    The dance itself is not terribly difficult to learn and is a lot of fun.

Note that the dance during the final chorus is slightly modified, but it’s rare to hear more than the first chorus of any given song during an anikura event.

Song: Tottoko no Uta (ハム太郎とっとこうた) 

Artist: Hamuchanzu

Anime: Tottoko Hamtarou  (とっとこハム太郎)

Chikagei: Hamtaro Circle Pit

Similar to the maware chikagei above, since the dominant motif in the Hamtaro opening is going round-and-round in a hamster wheel, the crowd will form up into a circular train formation and simply run around for the duration of the song.  The calls that accompany the circle pit may be found  in a call guide below and are derived from calls traditionally used at idol lives*.

Tottoko no Uta (ハム太郎とっとこうた)

Call guide (romanized lyrics, calls in parentheses)

Tottoko hashiru yo hamutaro
sumikko hashiru yo hamutaro
daisuki na no wa (HAI SE NO)
himawari no tane (ORE MO)
yappari hashiru yo hamutaro (TAIGA FAIYA SAIBA FAIBA DAIBA BAIBA JYA JYA)
Tottoko mawaru yo hamutaro
kassha wo mawaru yo hamutaro
daisuki na no wa (HAI SE NO)
himawari no tane (ORE MO)
mawaru to ureshii hamutaro  (TORA HI JINZO SENI AMA SHINDO KA-SEN)
Tottoko nemuru yo hamutaro
dokodemo nemuru yo hamutaro
daisuki na no wa (HAI SE NO)
himawari no tane (ORE MO)
yappari nemuru yo hamutaro (CHAPE APE KARA KINA RARA TUSUKE MYOHONTUSUKE)

*For more information on wotagei and idol calls, see:

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Anikura 101

What is Anikura?

Anikura (アニクラ) is a portmanteau of the words anisong (アニソン) and club (クラブ) where anisong is itself a portmanteau of anime and song, referring to tracks used as openings, endings, and inserts to various anime series. Thus, anikura refers to the genre of anisong-centric DJ music events that take place at nightclubs, live music houses, and an array of pop-up rented venues such as gymnasiums, public parks, and rec-centers all across Japan. Anikura music is broader than just anisong, however, as it encompasses the entire Akiba-kei subculture of music, including video game and visual novel soundtracks; fan-created works such as Vocaloid, Touhou, and general Internet phenomena popularized on sites such as Nico Nico Douga; and a smattering of more mainstream tunes from J-Pop artists and idols.  Simply put, anything that has even the slightest otaku slant is considered part of Akiba-kei.

Footage from Club MOGRA in Akihabara, Tokyo

Anikura Culture

Like most cultural phenomena in Japan, the culture around Anikura is highly ephemeral and constantly changing and evolving. DJs will primarily play the untouched, original version of the song, though remixes (particularly dance-themed remixes) are also common, depending on the style of specific DJ and event. DJs are traditionally accompanied by a video DJ (VDJ or VJ) whose job it is to play corresponding video clips displayed on a projector to match the current song: the most straightforward example is to play a clip of the associated anime opening and transition in sync with the DJ into the next opening. DJs typically play only the shortened version of the song, known to fans as the ‘TV size’ version, to maintain momentum throughout the event.

A prominent fixture in anikura crowds is the presence of fans who practice coordinated cheering and dancing known broadly as wotagei (ヲタ芸 ) and originates from the recognizably unique movements that define fans of idol culture. Anikura audiences tend to be practitioners of a variant of wotagei known as chikagei, which is much looser, freeform, and does not use glowsticks, making it more appropriate in a club environment.

The most common move seen at anikura events is called thunder snake: performed during the chorus of the majority of anime openings and insert songs.  It can be seen in the first video below at the 30-second mark.

Only my Railgun by fripSide (A Certain Scientific Railgun)

Tottoko no Uta by Hamuchanzu (Hamtaro)

Rising Hope by LiSA (The Irregular at Magic High School)

For more information on anikura moves and chikagei, see our chikagei primer here:

History of Anikura

Anikura has its roots in Cosplay Dance or Cospa Dance, which dates back to the 1990s. Cosplay dance originated from doujinshi music release events where fans would gather at the conclusion of the sales to sing, dance, and cheer to their freshly purchased soundtracks. Before long, the meetups grew into full-blown cosplay dance parties in clubs and live houses.  Cosplay dance comprised three main genres: anisong, eurobeat, and techno.

By the 2000s, cosplay dance parties had grown to the point where the biggest and most mainstream events became noticed and eventually officially sanctioned by corporations. Simultaneously, circa 2000, Para Para was becoming hugely popular in the dance club scene and unleashed a torrent of high-octane eurobeat, hypertechno, and  EDM-style J-Pop remixes within the Akiba-kei scene.

Around 2008, anisong began to gain traction in the Para Para scene with a surge in dance routines to eurobeat remixes of popular anisong tracks, known as Ani Para.

From the early 2010s to the present, Para Para and Ani Para dwindled in popularity while Anikura emerged as a dominant trend in the Akiba-kei club scene. The key difference between preceding trends such as Para Para is that Anikura shifted the focus away from the choreography and dance moves of the audience and towards the handiwork of the DJ and VDJ on stage. The immense surge in popularity of idol culture starting in the early-to-mid 2000s also helped pave the way for the proliferation of wotagei culture, which, as noted in the previous section, is a key fixture of audience participation seen in almost all anikura events.

Resources

MOGRA (http://club-mogra.jp/)

Club MOGRA in Akihabara is the most well known anikura venue to audiences outside of Japan as it has Twitch partnership to stream its club events. MOGRA hosts weekly Friday night (Japan time) anikura events as well as periodic weekend events such as Anisong Matrix (remix oriented), Anisong Index, and Xi-lium (bring your glowsticks).

AniCrush (http://anicrush.com/)

An English anikura news website aimed at spreading anikura culture outside Japan.

AniEvez (http://anievez.com/)

An anikura event aggregator: very useful in planning Japan trips for figuring out when and where events are taking place during your stay.   Events can be organized by geographical region:
関東 (Kanto: e.g. Tokyo and surrounding areas such as Yokohama)
関西 (Kansai: e.g. areas in Western Japan such as Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka)
中部/甲信越: (Chubu/Koushin’etsu: e.g. central Japan, Nagano, Shizuoka)
北海道/東北: (Hokkaido/Tohoku: e.g. areas north of Kanto)
九州/沖縄: (Kyuushuu/Onikawa)
海外: (Overseas)

Additionally, events may be displayed in calendar format, by selecting the イベントカレンダーtab.

Twipla (http://twipla.jp/)

Primary platform for users to RSVP for events, including anikura. Twipla is not solely dedicated to anikura, however, navigating to the search function and entering アニクラ will populate a list of anikura events manually. Not as clean or organized of a display as AniEvez, but will result in a much more comprehensive listing of events.