Seriously Cute: YANAKIKU in Manila

Yanakiku at Pop Life FanXperience, Manila
Prior to watching them perform at the ToyCon/Pop Life FanXperience, Manila, I had never heard of this group before.  I chose to watch them perform out of pure curiosity, it was one of the highlights of an otherwise terrible day --- my wallet got stolen at this event (Reminders: Please be careful with your wallets and bags in these big crowds)


Megumi Yanagi and Shoko Kikui, aka Yana and Kiku are members of Japanese pop duo, Yanakiku.  The group has been active since 2012 and their mission is to share the wonders of Japan to the world --- oh and rule the world.

What makes this group especially interesting is their combination of contemporary Japanese pop culture, such as kawaii and decora culture --- with traditional Japanese.  This shows in their costumes and music videos.  Also, their image makes them look like they leaped out from an anime.

Another thing that makes them different different from other performers I have seen are their amazing voices.  Individually, they are great singers and together they are dynamite.  Their songs aren't high-pitched nor idol-ly which I admit is what I usually associate in Japanese pop.  These girls can really sing. 


Yana, singing "Hello World"

Yana, aka Megumi Yanagi

There is something "cool" about Yana. Maybe it is her look. Despite the cute costume and energetic song, she always seems to appear so cool and beautiful. She reminds me of the vintage geishas, even without the heavy white makeup. Her eyes are just so piercing and charming.

The charm of her performance is how on point and sharp it is. Yana and Kiku may be doing the same dance, but if you look closely enough their style is a bit different.  The difference is so subtle, that you probably might not catch it unless you are looking for it especially.

I love how well she melds with Kiku. While Kiku is always smiling and playful, she is positively cool and brings a different energy to the duo.

Kiku, singing "Hello World"

Kiku, aka Shoko Kikui 

I absolutely adored Kiku and I screamed when she smiled at our direction. She has a smile that always looks like she was a little kid let loose in a candy store and it is absolute adorable to look at.

She is pretty and playful and when she smiles, it really made me jump and happy. When she waved, as silly as it is, I waved back. It is difficult not to love that kind of energy or not be excited for something she is excited about.  Her smile is infectious and it is easy to see why this would be her selling point. I can't stress enough how much I love her smile.

Live at SMX Convention Center

(From L to R) Yana and Kiku
One of my biggest regrets was not getting the VIP seats.  I was grateful though that I was near enough to enjoy their performance still.

While I admit that I probably haven't seen enough Japanese performers to make a good comparison, I think as performers in general they are really on the higher tier as they focus on the overall package.

Some groups can sing, but not excel too much with dance.  Some groups focus on image/fashion and not so much on the performance.  Some groups do dance and gymnastics, not  so much in singing.  Not surprising, as it is very difficult to have it all and very few performers get up to this level.

Yanakiku surprised me though.  They sound very polished even live, they interact with the crowd and their personalities just shine through their performances.  

(Front to Back) Yana and Kiku
I also love the high level of energy they give in their performance.  It was amazing that even though there was only two of them, they still managed to feel like they were everywhere on stage.  They took advantage of  almost every space on stage and it even got me excited.  When they weren't dancing, they were coaxing the crowd to get excited with them.

I absolutely loved that they tried to speak in Tagalog.  They introduced themselves in Tagalog and it didn't sound bad.  There was a lot of effort in it since they sound much better than most people who have spoken Tagalog for the first time.

Kiku, singing "Hello World."
In the middle of their concert, they encountered some technical difficulties so they had to entertain the crowd somehow while they fixed it.  Entertaining a crowd that doesn't speak your native language should already be scary enough, but doing this ad lib deserves a lot of credit.  They were not just performing and then disappearing, they stayed to entertain.

During this intermission, they showed that have their silly side too. They made a pun relating to Yakiniku.

Yanakiku:  Do you like Japanese food?

Crowd: "Sushi!" "Jackfruit" "Yakiniku"!

Yanakiku:  Yakiniku?  We are Yanakiku!

Signed by Yana and Kiku. 
They made me forget that I didn't know who they were and it didn't matter that I didn't.

By the end of the day, I knew who they were and I went home with their latest album, which is signed by both girls.  

I went to see them at their booth where they were selling their CDs and other merchandise.  I was so tongue-tied and I wasn't so sure if it would be allowed but I asked if they would sign my copy of the album I bought.  I know that in Japan there would be extra payment to have just one of the girls sign.  However, both girls agreed to sign and looked really happy.

Both of the girls looked sincerely happy when I told them that I became a fan the moment I saw them perform and how much I loved, "Hello World".

YANAKIKU no Enban Album.
They thanked me for supporting them and hoped that I would always do so.  The way they said it was absolutely cute and heartwarming.  Even though I went home without my wallet, this CD is my real treasure.

I really do hope that they return to the Philippines to perform.  By then, I wouldn't simply be a curious bystander I would be watching as a sincere fan who came to watch them perform.

The moment I got home, I began following their facebook page and their youtube channel.  I can't wait to hear more from them.  

She is Yana.

She is Kiku. 

... and I hope they fulfill their mission to rule the world.


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