There's something to be said about being a fan. Loving something so much that you dedicate a significant portion of your life to it. For most of us here I'd wager that something is video games. For others that's anime. For others music.
For Blair Baker it's all three. But Ms. Baker didn't stop at just being a fan. She decided to take her love of video games, anime, and music and combine them all into a project unlike anything ever done before. And thus the groundbreaking theatrical concert Hideo was born; bringing the worlds of musical performance, live theatre, anime, and video games together in a fresh exciting new way.
But the most remarkable thing about Hideo? It is truly a project by fans for fans.
The show's concept is simple but brilliant: A concert showcasing music from such anime and video game titles as Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Noir, and Cowboy Bebop, to name a few, while using theatrical interludes to weave them into a fantastical narrative about adventure, romance, and justice.
From the official website:
Hideo is a story expressed through both musical and dramatic performance. Over a dozen pieces of music have been selected from venerable Japanese animated series and video games. Weaved into a cohesive whole, this music has now inspired a new story. A diverse group of student and professional musicians and actors from all over California, brought together by their passion for anime and video games, will use their art to drive the narrative. This is the tale of the zealous young hero, Hideo, the weary traveler who tells Hideo's story, and the deep sadness that haunts them both.
I was lucky enough to be cast in one of the show's major roles, and got to see first hand what crafting such a special production was like.
The debut performance, a one night event back in October at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, garnered quite a bit of publicity and was even featured on NPR. In the NPR feature Ms. Baker delves into why she decided to pursue this project and ultimately pouring more than $60,000 of personal savings into bringing the show to life. Now I consider myself quite the hardcore fanboy but for Blair Baker talk about putting your money where your mouth is.
But why go to all this work?
To paraphrase how Blair puts it: Other video game concerts were always a bit lacking, truly just concerts lacking the soul of the music's source material, and this production was an opportunity to show what could be done. A theatrical storyline embracing and even alluding to the source material, production values to make it all look snazzy, and original animated sequences to play alongside the music. Give the audience a real show.
But the real trick to making this concert more than just a concert? The musicians, actors, and crew all having a love for the subject matter. Not the easiest group of people to bring together and yet somehow Blair and the gang managed to find people in every corner the greater Bay Area and beyond to form an ensemble lacking anything but soul, working everything from the ground up, from arranging pieces to performing them at Borders Bookstores
RIP and conventions to build hype. It's this unique nature of the show, being 100% by fans for fans, that is easily Hideo's number one selling point.
Before this gig I had never been asked at an audition what my favorite piece of video game music was. Most auditions don't involve much in the way of asking the actor anything at all beyond their availability. Here I was chatting it up with people who I not only wanted to work with but wanted to hang out with, to just kick back with and talk about our favorite battle themes. What's more I wanted to be a part of this show's creation, not because I wanted another acting gig and not because it was something to keep me busy but because I simply wanted to. It was and still is a project that I believe in.
But enough about all that. Let's get to the reason we're all here. The music!
As mentioned, Hideo features the music of popular anime and video games. The full list of series featured includes: Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VI, Noir, Megaman, Fullmetal Alchemist, ICO, Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Chrono Cross, and Cowboy Bebop. In addition bonus performances have included numbers from Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, and Read or Die.
And Team Hideo has been taking feedback from fans about, amongst other things, what songs they'd like to see possibly featured one day.
One of the show's highlights, featured in just about every Hideo performance thus far has been the truly epic Megaman Medley.
Here's that very performance from last weekend's Hideo: Overture, a shortened taste of the full show, at Fanime anime convention in San Jose:
Another highlight, Noir's Canta Per Me with a stunning violin solo performed by Team Hideo member Xander Abbe:
Team Hideo is still hard at work. As Hideo: Overture tours the convention circuit preparations are being made for Hideo's next full production this November in San Luis Obispo. And most recently, this last week in fact, Team Hideo released its first album: Hideo: Songs From the Shiny Mug. The reccomended purchase method is via CDBaby, wherein you purchase tracks 1-3 and get 4 as a bonus. But iTunes and Amazon are also options for purchase if you're so inclined.
Featuring three songs from the show, including Canta Per Me, as well as a bonus track that delves into the story, this album is a must have for fans.
And isn't this what this is whole project is about?
So if you're a fan
see that transition there? be sure to check out Hideo's official website that not only features production updates, but info about the show, behind the scenes looks at the show's creation, and original blog entries from the whole team covering everything from music legalities to musings on Portal 2.
Team Hideo aren't the only ones who love hearing from you, I do too! If you've got any gaming-themed musical recommendations you'd like to see featured here on Audio File Friday be sure to send them my way or even just mention them in the comments section.
So go pick up your copy of Hideo: Songs From the Shiny Mug, give it a listen, and get ready for the next performance in November! I'll see you there. Literally.
Well you'll be seeing me but w/e.