The multimedia franchise Love Live! about school idols has been a juggernaut in the world of anime pop culture since 2010 and the Philippines was no exception. Love Live’s booming popularity took the Philippines by storm with merchandise in every anime store, cosplayers in every anime convention, and even a Tagalog dub of the anime on Hero TV. Cosplaymania knew this and prepared a major treat for Pinoy Love Livers – Pile, voice actor (seiyuu) of the beloved, red-headed Maki Nishikino.
For those who are more familiar with Maki than Pile, please check out the What’s a Geek Guide to Pile.
Cosmania organizers invited Pile to participate in the annual Japanese Anime Music (JAM) concert. Not only that, they arranged, not one, but two Meet & Greets with the popular singer and seiyuu. To put it bluntly, fans were ecstatic at the chance to breath the same air as “Pile-sama.” Despite being a highly controlled event, fans waited and listened with awe as she answered, via translator, several pre-screened questions that were prepared for her.
Pile started with several Philippine-centric questions. Amusingly, Pile’s initial image of the Philippines was that of a banana. She also didn’t know that the Philippines was warm all year long, describing it as “good weather.” She tried several local specialties and her personal favorite was Sinigang. “It’s a healthy food and a little sour.”
Her favorite gift (omiyage/pasalubong) was dried green mangos and openly invited her audience to give some at the Nihonsei booth handling her gifts. She visited a church in Manila and inquired if Filipinos sang gospel music. The audience could only reply with an unsure “sort of” while Pile expressed her desire to hear live gospel music the next time she was in the Philippines.
Pile admitted to being very nervous about coming to the Philippines by herself. She knew she was more famous as part of the Love Live idol group, μ’s. She thought very deeply about her set list for the concert later that evening. Nevertheless, she was very excited about the concert and the fan meet-and-greets. “It’s a good experience to meet fans up close.” Being very busy, Pile’s lost track of the places she’s visited and recalled having gone to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. She dreams of travelling to France and Spain.
Pile wasn’t only here to experience sunny Philippines. She was here to perform for her adoring fans. She enjoyed making her newest album, Jewel Vox. Her previous songs were usually high tempo songs, so it was a nice change of pace to record slower and more mid-tempo songs.
“It was fun singing ballad-type songs,” she said about her album.
When asked what her favorite song was, she declared that it was Itsuka Kimi ni Todokeru Sekai. It had a particular place in her heart, seeing it as a special tribute from her to her fans.
Pile counted Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce among her favorite Western artists. In addition, she enjoyed Jazz music very much. “It’s cool but very difficult to sing,” Pile commented. She tried to learn the style when she was young but found it very difficult to execute properly. On that matter, she said, “I look up to jazz singers a lot.”
Pile also has an upcoming single, “Dream Trigger,” the third theme song for the World Trigger anime series. Pile laughed because this music video was different from the previous ones.
“I’m finally able to dance in my own music video.”
Pile invited everyone to come watch her solo live shows, starting in November. The crowd enthusiastically shouted, “Yes!” She smiled at the resounding support and encouraged them to look forward to her new single. Pile’s method for preparing for her solo shows was certainly unique. “I don’t listen to any of the songs I will sing.” Unlike many other artists, she prefers to listen to something different in order to boost herself up.
Sometimes, life as a solo artist and life as a member of an idol group can get confusing, even for Pile. During the last summer Love Live concert, Pile had to practice her solo performance first then practice with the rest of μ’s afterwards. However, during the actual show, the order was reversed. She was amused at how panicked she was trying to remember her solo routines. Despite all that, she always had great fun with μ’s. Before concerts, she would always talk to everyone and wish them good luck. “We hold each other’s hands and make each other strong.”
In the meantime, Pile had no specific plans for future collaborations. She did enjoy her previous ones like the recent collaboration with the Idolm@sters group. It was fun despite having only a day to practice together. “It was a very small stage we were on.”
Pile started out as a singer first, then became a seiyuu after joining Love Live. “When I see the performance of other voice actors, I realize I’m not quite there yet,” she said. She added that she would love to do more anime voice work, though.
With the Love Live School Idol Movie premiering all over the world, Pile opened up about being in the grand finale of this iteration of the franchise. “I’m looking forward to seeing the μ’s on the big screen.” She encouraged fans to watch it several times. Each viewing allowed for different realizations with every viewing. She said to look forward to the scene where Maki buys a smoothie in New York as well as scenes of each μ’s with their “special person.”
This inaugural meet and greet capped off a group picture with Pile. The back portion of the room all crammed together to try to make sure everyone gets seen with their idol. Afterward, Pile handed each attendee an autographed picture of herself. It worked with typical Japanese efficiency. One by one, everyone approached Pile, was handed the photo, and promptly ushered out the door. Even though we weren’t allowed to shake her hand or take a selfie, being face to face with Pile was more than any of us could have dreamed of prior to this moment.
Thank you, Cosplaymania for this first-of-its-kind event. We, at What’s A Geek, look forward to more surprises in the years to come! Hope to see you again soon, Pile!