The 5th Konami Arcade Championship (KAC) was held at Makuhari Messe on January 30th, 2016. This is the official championship for the Bemani rhythm games and top players gather here for an ultimate showdown to earn the title of champion.
This event is usually only held once a year. This year due to the increase in number of contested game titles, KAC is split into two parts. The first part, held on January 30th, was held as part of the event known as Tokaigi The second part, to be held on February 20th, will be a part of the Japan Amusement Expo (JAEPO).
Tokaigi is an event organized by Niconico and sponsored mainly by Nintendo and several other big name game companies. The name Tokaigi means “battle meeting”, so this is an event with plenty of game tournaments. Nintendo held Splatoon, Super Smash Brothers Wii U and Super Mario Maker tournaments. Sega and Bandai Namco held special stages for their respective rhythm games and featured famous commentators. There were also Fallout 4, Unison League, Puzzle and Dragons and Monster Watch events, just to name a few of the more popular games. I came here for KAC, which lasted from Tokaigi’s opening till closing, so I was unable to visit any other booths. How I WISH I could.
KAC always had live stream on Youtube. But for the first time, it is also streamed on Niconico. This is due to Tokaigi being a Niconico event.
Eight titles in total, with five Bemani titles in it, were contested in KAC Tokaigi. In chronological order they were; Monster Strike Multi-burst, Disney Tsum Tsum, Quiz Magic Academy, Reflec Beat, Pop’n Music, Jubeat, Museca and Sound Voltex.
Konami started the day with an introduction by the amazing freelance MC Mori Icchou, and another freelance MC Araki Misuzu. Konami is known for screwing up, be it in their games or during events. In the fandom, we say “Konmai quality” or sometimes just “KONMAI” every time they mess something up. It’s so well-known that probably every Bemani player out there knows the phrase. Today, Konami screwed up five times, and as usual Mori Icchou kept the audience entertained while Konami made amends.
This was followed by the championship of Monster Strike, Tsum Tsum and Quiz Magic Academy. I shall skip these and focus on the rhythm games only.
At noon, Konami had a one hour slot at the Tokaigi game music stage for their Bemani Special Live. There would always be the live before all KACs, and today was no exception. I expected there to only be one live and all Bemani artists to be showcased today, but I was wrong. Only songs from the five games contested today were played during the live show. This also means that there will be another ones for KAC JAEPO next month for the songs of the other six games contested that day.
<Bemani Special Live Highlights>
The live show kicked off with an unexpected cover of “Hanamaru Pippi wa Yoiko Dake” by PoN, a sound director of Pop’n Music. This song is the opening theme of the anime Osomatsu-san, sang by AOP. AOP themselves performed at Bemani Special Live at JAEPO last year, but they did not show up this year. PoN forgot the lyrics half-way through the song and passed it off with “such things happen in a live”.
After this there was another surprise. Ueda Atsumi showed up for her very first Bemani Special Live performance. She sang “Harmonia” and “Anelis”, the opening and ending song of Pop’n Music Lapistoria respectively.
Des-row brought his band here for two songs, “Daikenkai” and “Cobalt”. These were very old Pop’n songs, and they struck the nostalgia chords of long time players.
Matsushita, the famous Niconico Utaite singer, performed her IIDX Copula song “Motto! Motto! Tokimeki”. Wac, the other sound director of Pop’n Music, and also one of the two composers of this song, wore a female high school sailor uniform and did all sorts of funny things, such as playing the melodica with his head. Despite always being the funny guy, Wac is an amazingly talented musician, as he showed later when he properly played the keyboard.
cosMo@Bousou P came on stage for a dream collaboration with Wac. cosMo@Bousou P once said that his most famous song, “Hatsune Miku no shoushitsu” was inspired by Wac’s “neu”. Today the two of them performed neu together. I had goosebumps, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
The last highlight was the first screw-up of the day. During Mad Child’s “Natsuiro Diary –Summer Dazzlin’ Vacation miX”, the track stopped for five seconds or so, and then the song “Paradission” from two tracks ago started playing again. The artists reacted quickly to this accident, and continued the live performance. The live show ended around eight minutes later than scheduled due to this, and this ate into the next segment’s time.
All matches are available for viewing on Konami's youtube channel. Click on the game titles to link to the respective games.
The first game of the day, Reflec Beat, had a special guest worth mentioning. She is Enako, a very popular cosplayer. More importantly, she is extremely good at Reflec Beat.
This year’s Reflec Beat was full of extremely close fights and several turnarounds. More importantly in the grand finals, a new brutal song was introduced. It has been a recent KAC tradition to introduce a new incredibly hard song for the players to duke it out in the grand finals. Today, “Rebellio”, the first ever level 13 song in Reflec Beat was introduced with a super badass video.
Both players struggled very much with the song, and amazingly ended with the exact same score. Sir・o・n. managed to claim the victory at the end as he won in the first song. Even though he made it to the grand finals several times, this was his first KAC victory.
For the first time in KAC, a girl’s division was introduced. It is not known why Konami picked Pop’n Music of all games to make a girl’s division for, but I guess it might be because this game is extremely popular with girls.
The girls’ matches were first, and the second screw-up happened shortly into the matches. When the mid-way results were shown on the big screen, the KAC surprise new song’s title was revealed accidentally.
Konami’s staff quickly stopped showing it but it was too late. Live Nicovideo comments mocking Konami streamed past the big screen non-stop. Mori Icchou the great MC said “let’s all be good adults here and pretend you didn’t see that”, and the audience burst out in laughter.
Right after the results’ announcement, Konami’s technical staff quickly went to fix the machine. Meanwhile, Mori Icchou told the audience they would consider doing a rematch for the girls, and entertained the audience impromptu for more than 10 minutes.
The guy division followed, and it went very smoothly from start to end. Tatsu, the God of Pop’n Music, claimed his sixth KAC winner’s plaque today. Dinosaur and Steven are forever doomed to be second and third place respectively as long as Tatsu is alive.
And finally, the girls had a rematch and as expected 8322 got a much better score and nabbed that plaque that she deserved. She came all the way from Kagawa prefecture, and she did not have to return empty-handed this time. 8322 is so good at the game that in KAC 2013 she actually qualified top 16 even when competing with male players, although she dropped out in the first round during the finals. Still, she remains the one and only girl who has ever qualified for the KAC finals for any Bemani titles other than Dance Evolution and Pop’n Music girls’ division.
Nothing much to highlight here. Everything went smoothly. There wasn’t a new KAC special song, and that was a letdown. For the second time in a row a South Korean won Jubeat.
Museca is Bemani’s latest rhythm game that only came out in December, and many people saw the game for the first time today. The reception wasn’t very positive, based on the Nicovideo comments. The fourth screw-up happened. Something to do with HO4-KETI’s machine having problems. There was a rematch, and at this point the schedule was about 45 minutes behind time. No new songs here either.
The last game of the day had plenty of upsets. Etsuya, the champion of the last two KACs, got eliminated in the first round. By the way, just two weeks ago I bumped into Etsuya in the Taito Station arcade near my place. I chatted with him for a while and realized that he lives very near me. He was really good at almost all Bemani games, not just Sound Voltex.
Trick, South Korean runner-up for the last two KACs, also got eliminated from the first group along with Etsuya.
The last upset came along with the last Konami screw-up of the day. Remilia, winner of the first KAC but was absent from the last two KACs due to South Korea’s compulsory national service in the army, was a favourite to win this KAC. In the second group, he was at first announced the winner of the group, but Konami quickly redrew that and said they had to recount the scores again. After another 10 minutes, they announced the second group’s scores and Remilia was second place and got eliminated. 1008.BOT proceeded to the grand finals instead.
As expected, Sound Voltex had a new song specially for the grand finals. The song “
Lachryma《Re:Queen’M》” featured new elements in the gameplay, and this sent the crowd into a fever pitch. Just like the last two years, Sound Voltex stirred up the crowd the most out of all Bemani titles.
1008.BOT won convincingly and got his very first KAC plaque. Meanwhile Etsuya went on crying for an hour. He’s only 17 years old, so he probably couldn’t take defeat very well.
After this, there was an awesome trailer to the upcoming new songs on Sound Voltex, and the event came to an end. KAC ended 1 hour later than scheduled, and the Makuhari Messe was empty as all other booths had already packed up and gone home.
All in all, this was a wonderful event. This was my first time watching it live instead of on the youtube stream, and it was a totally different experience. You could feel the fans’ excitement so clearly, and that gets you excited too. All the screw-ups didn’t really detract from how great KAC was. In fact, as a longtime fan I would find it weirder if KONMAI didn’t mess up anything at all.
On February 20th, the second half of KAC at JAEPO will be held in the same location. I will be there once again to watch it live and write a report about it. Look forward to it!