Hitsujibungaku Asia Tour 2024 – Manila: A Delightful Show

Hitsujibungaku delighted Pinoy fans by performing "more than words" from JJK along with their other big hits.

In what was no doubt a night to remember for many Filipino J-rock fans, Hitsujibungaku delighted the crowd as they performed live in Manila last Saturday, July 6.

Announced back in April, the Manila show was part of the second leg of the band’s Asian tour, and it happened at the Eastside Events Center near Marikina City. This was the first time that the band performed in the Philippines, and they did not disappoint!

For many anime fans, Hitsujibungaku needs no introduction as the band performed the ending theme “more than words” for Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2’s Shibuya Incident Arc. Just this season, the band performed the song “Burning” which is the ending song of Oshi no Ko Season 2.

It’s fair to say that the band’s JJK song is their breakout hit as it introduced them to many new listeners across the world. From the looks of it though, many of the fans in attendance at the Manila show were long-time fans based on how most were familiar with pretty much every song in the band’s setlist for the night.

While I can’t exactly claim to be a long-time fan, I was introduced to Hitsujibungaku back in early 2022 with their song “Hikaru Toki” — their first anime song which was used in the opening of Science SARU’s The Heike Story. After listening to that song, I was hooked, to the point that as someone who rarely attends concerts (with my last concert being way back in 2018), I made an exception for this band.

Attending the concert was something that I did not regret at all. The show kicked off with an intro, followed shortly by “Addiction” from the band’s latest album “12 hugs (like butterflies).” This was followed by a mix of older songs along with tracks for their new album.

Personally, the highlights of the set include the performance of “Burning” which was a treat for me given that I just watched Oshi no Ko Season 2 episode 1 days before the concert. Other highlights include the performance of “Hikaru Toki” which was the song that started it all for me, along with the live rendition of “Aimai de Iiyo” which is also one of my favorite tracks. Their performance that night reminded me so much of their The First Take version which is a video that I have played numerous times.

The only song that I wished was part of the setlist is “1999,” though it’s not too surprising that song was skipped as this tour focuses on their latest album. Plus, they still played plenty of tracks from their 2022 album “Our Hope.” One song from this album in particular was possibly my favorite moment of the night.

While I love Hitsujibungaku’s songs, their alternative rock sound isn’t exactly what I’d call “high energy” (or “high tension” as many Japanese would say). Of course, that’s not to say that their songs are mellow as many of their songs have shoegaze and noise-rock elements which make for, at least for me, a meditative listen. In this regard, I had a great time during the night. Though their live performance of “OOPARTS” changed my opinion of the band, or at least gave me a deeper appreciation of the breadth of their sound.

“OOPARTS” is for me a highlight song in their 2022 album, though I did not expect it to have this much energy when played live. The lead singer and guitarist Moeka Shiotsuka, bassist Yurika Kasai, and guest drummer Miku Onuki (of The Peggies fame) truly went all-out with this song. Even though I was standing near the back, the energy from the band was infectious, and I noticed how the entire crowd was hooked.

What also helped the crowd be engaged throughout is that, aside from the excellent live performance, the band members had lots of cute and fun interactions with fans. Despite the language barrier, Moeka and Yurika gave fans lots of memorable moments.

After the band’s final encore song, it was clear that Hitsujibungaku in Manila was one helluva show that delighted fans in attendance. As such, fans (myself included) no doubt hope that the band will return to the Philippines for another show sometime in the future.

Aside from Hitsujibungaku, I’m also hoping that this opens the door to even more Japanese bands to make stops in Manila. After all, there have already been several major Japanese acts that visited the PH over the past year, including big acts like ONE OK ROCK and RADWIMPS.