The Noriyuki Iwadare band plays at Japan Expo

In which we are overcome with nostalgia.

The Iwadare concert, as I like to say, was like the opposite of performance.

That doesn't mean it wasn't great, because it was. It was pitch-perfect renditions of music we love, played by charming people. It's just that one gets the impression that performing in front of an audience isn't exactly part of what he signed up for.

It's an unusual situation. Iwadare's an expert musician, and when he performed, he obviously enjoyed the music, and played it consummately. They were casual about the entire thing -- skilled and talented, with a love for their craft, and not particularly interested in playing to the audience.

In some ways that made it better. We're short on authentic experiences these days. Iwadare's style brooked no irony, no self-doubt, not a hint of anything but love for his craft. One gets the impression that he would play for free, if only he were asked.

It helped, even, that his music is actually rather ill-suited for concerts. Most of his work is for game soundtracks, so there are very few vocal tracks. After the first show, they went around and asked people what they wanted to hear at the next one, and so we got something different the next day.

And that was the crux of it. Participation. It seemed to me that the concert drew some of its power from the special place that Lunar occupies in the hearts of American fans. It was one of the first JRPGs that we had access to apart from Final Fantasy. People liked Dragon Quest, but somehow Lunar just hit all the right notes. And listening to Iwadare, hearing these songs again in a roomfull of people who felt, at that moment, exactly the same -- it's the sort of experience that we're looking for. This is why we come to these events.

—jeff