When you mention the name RADWIMPS to me, or perhaps anyone who knows them for that matter, there’s undeniably a mixed assortment of emotions that follows. 

Sadness. Melancholy. Heartache. Joy. Hope. Love. All tinged with hints of nostalgia and images of well-animated picturesque scenes.

Personally, I’m not even gonna deny it. Like many others, I discovered RADWIMPS thanks to the hit animé movie Your Name (2016), directed by Makoto Shinkai. I remember watching that film back in high school in a nearly empty theater. I remember leaving with nothing but awe for what I had just watched and newfound interest for a group that I would soon find out are Japanese musical icons whose reputation precedes them.

Over the years, it’s been amazing to witness how a band who started learning how to compose movie scores from scratch would go on to do it over and over again, multiple times. And each time, in my humble opinion, outdoing themselves. Arguably, thanks to their music once again, they became the very reason why the Shinkai-directed movies that have followed Your Name thus far, Weathering With You (2019) and Suzume (2022), also became worldwide hits, both movies and their songs resonating with millions. Enough so that they have managed to tour Asia and the rest of the world multiple times and now, in 2024, including the Philippines for the very first time.


Courtesy of @yusuke_takeda_, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

Which is why, unsurprisingly, upon arriving at the Smart Araneta Coliseum’s perimeters last May 1, I was greeted by an overwhelming wave of, quite clearly, fans of RADWIMPS. Many were clad in mostly all-black, wearing their freshly bought band merch. Some dressed up a little extra, looking like they came straight out of some of the most fashionable districts of Tokyo. Some were even cosplaying the iconic characters from Makoto Shinkai’s beloved movies – uniforms, wigs, and all. I thought to myself, and I mean this with a sense of reverence, “It’s definitely a J-rock crowd alright.” And one could easily tell that this crowd in particular had been waiting for this day for a very, very long time. 

When talking to an acquaintance of mine I bumped into later that day, we remarked how, while it was still a rarity in the Philippines, it was amazing to see more Japanese artists take on bigger venues in the country. Undoubtedly, it was a tell-tale sign that this concert was by far from your usual one.


Courtesy of @YojiNoda1, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

Unsurprisingly, as everyone entered the Coliseum, the venue was absolutely packed. The show was completely sold-out after all. It was another feat of note and a massive indicator for the love and demand for Japanese artists in the Philippines that I rarely get to witness at this scale and in person for that matter.

Given how rare it still is for a Japanese band to hold this big of a concert in our country, I was in awe observing the entirety of the audience up close as I sat down. It was like I was in a dazed state as I was watching the crowd before the show started. So much so that it only began to sink in once again that I would finally be witnessing RADWIMPS before me as the house lights finally dimmed down. The time had finally come for everyone in attendance to be transported to a different world altogether, even just for that evening.

Courtesy of @yusuke_takeda_, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

The concert started off with a surprisingly calm opening, soundtracked by the aptly titled “Lights go out”. However, it was clearly enough to get the entire venue screaming at the top of their lungs as the silhouettes of the band finally took shape before us. “This is it. This is really it,” I remember thinking to myself, wide-eyed, amidst all the screaming, as I noticed the form of frontman Yojiro Noda take center stage. It was just the right song to properly build up the tension before the band headed into the more upbeat “NEVER EVER ENDER”. From the top floor bleachers to the packed standing pit, the song effortlessly got the Manila crowd jumping up and down in unison as colorful lasers and tasteful bright lights enveloped everyone.

Let me just say here that, throughout the night, the entirety of the band was just simply on fire, almost effortlessly showing us just how well-versed each of them were as musicians. Noda seamlessly shapeshifting from an energetic frontman with his guitar to a serene crooner behind the keyboards. Bassist Yusuke Takeda doing double duties with his synths and even bringing out a double bass at one point. Guitarist Akira Kuwahara shredding on his guitar and running across the stage without catching a breath and even playing his own set of keys. Support drummers Mizuki Mori and Masafumi Eno being perfectly in sync yet finding ways to satisfyingly implement variations in their thundering percussion. It was magical to witness how smoothly all of this flowed before our very eyes throughout the 18-song set – a true testament to their caliber as refined veteran artists of 2 decades or so.

Courtesy of @yusuke_takeda_, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

The rest of their setlist only provided further proof of how extremely talented and versatile this band was. It made me realize then and there, that watching them through videos online simply just never did nor could ever do them justice moving forward. Songs like “Darma grand prix” and “Oshakashama” were pure showcases of the band’s technical skills, providing dedicated moments for the fans to bask in the proficiency of each band member with their respective instruments. 

The curation of the setlist that night was also something I found worthy of note for so many reasons. 

First of all, the band started the night off with classics that didn’t come from any of the Makoto Shinkai films. These included songs like the aforementioned “Darma grand prix” as well as “September San” and “Nanoka”. Whether it was intentional or not, I found this to be a stroke of genius on their part. This was because, without discrediting how those songs absolutely got the crowd going, it genuinely packed an emotional punch when the band went into “Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do?” from Weathering With You and “Suzume” from Suzume. Back-to-back. The screams around me were ear-splitting and I was already wearing earplugs.

Radwimps Toaka

Courtesy of @toaka_desu, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

Speaking of “Suzume”, I really have to highlight their special guest Toaka and her performance of the mesmerizing viral track. Despite only performing one song with the band, it was amazing to witness the hold she had on the entirety of the Smart Araneta Coliseum the moment they started playing the iconic hit. From the track’s first syllables causing frenzied screams from everyone to her angelic chorus rendering the audience silent in awe, there was clearly something special about this young artist. Aside from the fact that pretty much everyone in attendance knew how one-of-a-kind this moment was, her voice was just beautifully haunting to experience in a live setting. It was a voice that naturally demanded absolute attention without asking for it, a definite sign of a bright future for the up-and-coming singer.

I noted how the other songs from the Shinkai films, such as “Katawaredoki”, “Sparkle”, “Zenzenzense”, and “Nandemonaiya”, were positioned towards the much latter part of the night. It was as if the band was playfully stating, “We know you’re waiting for this. It’ll be worth the wait.” And worth the wait it was indeed. Because, unsurprisingly, it was those songs that had the entire arena singing in unison the most. These were the tracks that had everyone lighting up the Big Dome with glints of white and blue with their phones, almost akin to the beautifully animated starry skies from Your Name. “Sparkle” even saw Noda letting the audience take the lead in singing at times, with him touching his hands to his chest after playing the song’s iconic piano outro, as if to express a heartfelt thanks.


Courtesy of @kuwakuwakuwakuwa0404, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

The setlist also served as a showcase of two things in relation to the band’s discography: how extensive it is and how diverse in sound it is. From their unmistakable, straightforward J-rock sound found in tracks like “Yuushinron”, “Oshakashama”, and “05410-(n)” to the aforementioned tracks from the Shinkai films, the band dished out the best of their best, playing tracks from as early as 2006 up to the aforementioned “Suzume” which was released in 2022. It was quite fascinating observing how often drastically different a lot of the songs they performed were from each other and yet, undeniably, they all distinctly felt RADWIMPS. Another marker of the band’s mastery of their craft.

As the evening went on, it was amazing seeing how flawlessly the band had the audience members under their spell. As Noda effortlessly commanded the crowd like a famed conductor while Takeda and Kuwahara energetically kept them hyped up and clapping their hands off, I kept thinking to myself, “This. This is what and how a band of 20 years should be. This is RADWIMPS.”


Courtesy of @YojiNoda1, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

On top of it all, the Manila crowd was undoubtedly a deserving audience of this legendary group, constantly reciprocating whatever energy the band threw at them. So much so that it even had Noda gleefully remarking, “This is so incredible! You guys are amazing!” and proclaiming later on, “This is way more than what we expected. This is our very first time coming here and it sold out really, really fast.” At other points in the night, the crowd even earned a “Yoku dekimashita! [Well done!]”, and a very loud “Aishiteru yo! [I love you!]” from the frontman. It’s no wonder why the band, right then and there, vowed to return soon before the concert even reached its end.

Noda actually kept greeting those on the top floors (“We see you guys! We see you guys!”) and even made the dreams of a fan in the front row come true by happily signing their CD with the aid of a bouncer. The band even prepared very well-written spiels of thanks and greetings in Tagalog, which, of course, had everyone supportively cheering for them. “Ang tindi ng Pilipinas! [The Philippines is so intense!]” Kuwahara exclaimed. Noda even expressed the band’s joy from how much the fans were screaming for the music they created, calling it “incredible”.


Courtesy of @yusuke_takeda_, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

However, what stood out the most was when Noda shared a short story before performing their last song for the evening. He shared how, the day before, he went around and got to visit historical, World War II-related sites in Manila. He explained that, because of this, he remembered how the Japanese army came to occupy the Philippines, acknowledging what they did to the Filipino people during that time in history. “I just wanna say that, this tour[‘s] title is called ‘The way you yawn, and the outcry of Peace’. And we don’t want to forget what the people did,” he stated. “I truly feel grateful to be here and stand in front of you guys and perform the music. And you guys cheer [with] the music. This means so much to us. So, we would like to keep this peace, moving on, with our music.”

RADWIMPS’ first ever concert in the Philippines serves as definite proof as to why they’re internationally renowned by countless as one of the best modern bands to shine forth from Japan.

While the band’s 18-song performance honestly still felt way too short, it didn’t take away from the fact that clearly everyone in that venue felt like we had just gone through one emotional audio-visual experience spanning time and space. All around me, I see quite a few who had clearly just finished crying their eyes out, friends still jittery from the closing song, exclaiming how they can’t believe they just witnessed all of that, or even just the vividly wide smiles on everyone’s faces as they took their souvenir selfies before heading out of the venue and back into the real world. 

In the end, without a doubt in my mind, what we had just witnessed was one, long-awaited grand escape of a lifetime.

Courtesy of @RADWIMPS, photographed by Takeshi Yao.

Check out the setlist for the Manila stop of RADWIMPS’ The way you yawn, and the outcry of Peace world tour below:

  • “Lights go out”
  • “Darma grand prix” 
  • “September San”
  • “Nanoka”
  • “Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do?”
  • “Suzume” (featuring Toaka)
  • “DADA”
  • “G-Koui”
  • “Oshakashama”
  • “Katawaredoki”
  • “Sparkle”
  • “Zenzenzense”
  • “Yuushinron”
  • “Iindesuka?”
  • “Kimi To Hitsuji To Ao” 
  • “Nandemonaiya”
  • “05410-(n)”