Open Your Hearts (and Wallets) For an Idol Group Like You’ve Never Seen Before!
On July 24th, at Pony Canyon headquarters, there was a press conference to announce an idol group that the world has never seen before! Tentatively named “Debt Repayment Idol” (Shakkin Hensai Aidoru), the project aims to put together an idol group composed of women aged 18 to 35 that have been forced to give up their dreams due to crippling debts. The concept of the group is “I will pay off my debts with my dreams!!”(Shakkin wa yume de kaese!).
Comedian Kayoko Okubo, the appointed general manager of this yet unnamed group, conducted the press conference, reading a letter from TV producer Makkoi Saito that laid out the guidelines for this unprecedented endeavor. Despite having just dissolved a similarly unconventional idol group in Ebisu Muscats (composed of gravure and AV idols) only a year and a half ago, Saito said in the letter that people would beg him to do something to shake up the idol world again. Saito continued on to tell the story of how he found a “raw diamond” in a Fukuoka hostess bar and realized that there were probably many others out there who had to give up their dreams and work those kinds of jobs to pay off their debts.
Okubo was joined on stage by a masked figure that identified himself as “The Masked Man of Naniwa (the former name of Osaka)” (Naniwa no Masukuman) and it was announced that he would be the manager of the project. Tapping the resources of Okubo and Saito, who are fairly active in Japanese television, the group would be allowed to promote themselves in an attempt to gain supporters. Given the relative success of Ebisu Muscats under the Okubo/Saito/Pony Canyon partnership, could this group also manage to carve out a niche for themselves in the increasingly crowded idol marketplace?
With auditions currently being held, the first batch of members as well as the name of the group will be announced in September, with a major label debut on Pony Canyon in November, and the first performance in December. Regarding the criteria for selection, The Masked Man of Naniwa remarked, “more important than someone cute, someone with 5-10 million yen ($50,000-100,000) of debt would be better”. He explained that someone with that much debt would cling to their dream with more tenacity, and through the process of paying off her debts, would become increasingly more attractive. Auditions would even be open to women that were married, and regardless of the circumstances of how they got into debt, all eligible applicants would be considered. However, citing problems in managing a large group with Ebisu Muscats, Saito imagines that the ideal number of members would be around 7 to 8.
Being able to watch an idol group take shape is one of the charming points of the Japanese entertainment industry, whether it was watching Morning Musume fight to sell 50,000 copies of their demo single “Ai No Tane” in 5 days (1997), auditions for the first generation of NMB48 on Hime Sagashi Taro (2010), or Babyraids endeavoring to get 10,000 signatures in order to secure their Budokan solo concert (2014). Is the world ready to witness the drama of an idol group made up of women struggling furiously to get out of debt?
Official website: http://www.rhinopro.net/
written by おっくん
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