Surely, there must be other Filipino L’Arc~en~Ciel fans out there.
The L’Arc~en~Ciel Philippine Street Team was borne out of that premise, driven by the need to connect with other local fans so that together we can marvel at and show appreciation to the band whose music has inspired us. It all began via Twitter – of all places. On the 12th of April 2012, three online friends marvelled about the scarcity of fellow L’Arc~en~Ciel fans who they knew in real life. L’Arc~en~Ciel is one of Japan’s biggest imports and in a country much attuned to Japanese pop culture, it’s quite impossible for the band to not have a sizeable following. Thus the proposition: seek out fellow fans while converting non-fans along the way. It was just a simple idea resulting from a then nondescript conversation. But a Twitter account, a Facebook page and many other adventures later, the simple had bloomed into something extraordinary.
We began by posting updates about the band’s activities. The world tour had just kicked off and there was a clamour for information. In between day jobs and respective social lives, we scoured the net for whatever we can share. We would patiently wait online as a live erupted in another country, collating posts from those present and then wrapping up with a tentative setlist as soon as the night was over.
But our aim was to nurture the local fanbase. In order to do that, we must go over and beyond what we had already started. Besides, there were already other numerous sites that were dishing out updates. So then we formulated a campaign with aspirations that it would generate involvement. We were gaining ground on awareness, it was about time we take things a step further. We figured locals fans would be more invigorated if they would have an idea how it would feel to have a L’Arc~en~Ciel event in the country or at least the prospect of it happening. During the Madison Square Garden live, Twitter users came up with #LArcMSG and Jakarta had their #LarukuJKT. Why not #LArcMNL then?
With #LArcMNL as our battlecry, we encouraged our slowly growing number of followers to share their dream set list if L’Arc~en~Ciel would indeed have a live in the Philippines. In the current world tour, ken made a habit of picking up souvenirs for the other members. We then asked: which Philippine souvenir would ken get? The answers ranged from the astounding to the hilarious. And since tetsuya would shout out his trademark “Do you want to eat my banana?” in the language of the country they were currently performing, we crafted a poster of tetsuya saying it in Filipino. The response was heartwarming.
Then L’Arc~en~Ciel announced that the destinations for their next world tour would be decided by votes. It was easily one of the most emotional moments for us. #LArcMNL has a chance and we were determined to obtain it with every ounce of energy that we got. L’Arc~en~Ciel themselves had given us a platform. It shall not be put to waste.
Starting out as a spark, the #LArcMNL campaign steadily grew as it was fuelled by the voting. It was also around this time when fellow fans volunteered to help out. We got part of the involvement we were aiming for. Our little trio had finally blossomed into a full blown team. And yes, the number of L’Arc fans we know in real life had increased exponentially.
As we grew and as the campaign flourished, so did the need to define our identity and direction. We are a street team, first and foremost, thus everyone involved must be willing to stretch a muscle in order to promote the band. We then identified these two aims as our guiding principle:
- Satisfying the need of current fans for more information about the band and their solo works
- Reaching out to non-fans by exposing them to L’Arc~en~Ciel’s classic and current materials
To achieve those, we established various activities that would have mass appeal. We pioneered the holding of online parties via plug.dj.
We campaigned at various anime and jpop conventions:
- The Street Team Debuts at J-Pop Festival 2012
- JRock Represent at Asian Pop Expo 2012
- Bringing In the Noiz at Best of Anime 2012
And in September 2012, we conducted our very first fan meet. This was a cherished turning point. We met in person even more local fans who were echoing the sentiments we had just months before about the state of L’Arc~en~Ciel’s fanbase in the country. We discovered that indeed, there was a notable presence but it dwindled when the band had their hiatus. Some just moved on to either other Japanese artists or to Kpop acts while most savoured L’Arc~en~Ciel’s music in solitude. With the burgeoning interest again on the band, fans were revived from their stupor. It was also inspiring to note that L’Arc~en~Ciel’s appeal was not lost on a whole new generation. In the same fan meet, we were touched by younger fans who were so eager to celebrate L’Arc~en~Ciel’s music with fellow fans that they just brought their mothers with them so that they could attend.Buoyed by this overwhelmingly warm response, we now set our sights unto events bigger in scale and quantity.
And true to our online roots, we continue to share updates and trivia about the band and their solo activities. Given that we only do street team work during our free time and less than a handful of us actually understand Japanese, we were aware of our limitations. What we lack then in speed, we make up for in content. It was a conscious effort on our part to not just rely on the updates from other sites with faster and closer access. The last thing we want was for our Facebook and Twitter timelines to be glorified RSS feeds. It was and continues to be a laborious task but it was all for the love of L’Arc~en~Ciel and as any dedicated fan would say, it was all definitely worth it.
Now April has come again and the street team is turning a year old. We look back at what we have accomplished so far with some incredulity and with full knowledge that this is only the beginning. But we are undaunted. #LArcMNL has metamorphosed from being the street team’s battlecry to the local fanbase’s unifying creed.
Lastly, we can confirm this now with more certainty: there ARE many Filipino L’Arc~en~Ciel fans out there. And we are growing.
As such, see you soon in the Philippines L’Arc~en~Ciel!
P.S. Come celebrate our 1st birthday with us at L’Acoustic! Enjoy reinterpretations of L’Arc~en~Ciel songs by the talented members of the #LArcMNL community while chasing the heat away at an awesome pool party!