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Avandoned and The Current State of Self-Produced Idols

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Avandoned and The Current State of Self-Produced Idols

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The “Idol Warring States Period”, which has been thought of as a transition period, is still in progress, to the point where changes in the Japanese idol scene have been accelerating at a pace that defies comprehension with every passing year. It seems as if every day the cycle of a new group being born and another group disbanding repeats itself. It’s not uncommon for there to be idols that withdraw from a group, only to reappear in a different group reborn (reincarnated) with a new name. In an era where it seems all those eligible are participants in the present state of so many idols being born, it can be difficult to take in the big picture. Previously, having a major debut and popularity on social media were strong indicators but, are no longer required conditions for one to gain popularity and sell. There are also “self-produced idols”, those who do so to pursue their own interests or take control of their sales on their own. Here I will discuss self-produced idols, those who among a flood of audition candidates, forge a path for themselves with their own abilities and through trial and error.

Even if one is to mention “self-produced idols”, there are several varieties within that category. It is considered that they can be separated into several major types such as: 1) DIY 2) Individual Specialist and 3) Producers.

A Banquet of Merrymaking and Song at Akasaka BLITZ! Nama Ham and Yaki Udon Live Report

1) The DIY type is an idol that does not belong to an agency and from top to bottom creates everything on their own. The unit known as Nama Ham & Yaki Udon was a perfect example of this type. They were completely self-sufficient, doing everything from designing their stage outfits and merchandise, composing songs, and even booking venues and negotiating appearances, handling everything on their own. Although they are currently on hiatus, they can be considered as having a deep impact on the idol industry as an example of someone who exemplified the concept of “self-produced idol”.


Perorin Sensei (Rin Kaname) from Niji no Conquistador Yellow Group “Beboga!” Interview

2) An Individual Specialist is someone who produces their own projects while concurrently belonging to a group. They are someone who is considered an icon in certain aspects of the media, such as Nemu Yumemi from Dempagumi.inc or Rin Kaname of Beboga! (Niji no Conquistador Yellow Group), who has amassed over 100,000 followers on Twitter with her illustrations, earning them the reputation of being “self-produced idols”. In addition to having their position within a group, they also have a place that they have created with their individual skills.

3) Producers, are self-produced idols that belong to an agency while also taking on the roles of a producer and planning the activities of the group. This does not necessarily mean that they are wholly responsible for creating the music or other works, rather while understanding the direction of the group, they seek out creators to enlist in order to carry out that vision, keeping in mind questions like, “Who should we ask to compose music for us?”, “What kind of concept should we use for these outfits?”, or “How should the set list be arranged?”. A group that does things in that manner is also considered to be “self-produced”.

Beni Usakura

Beni Usakura

Kotao Kotori

Kotao Kotori

Here I will introduce a group of interest which fits into that category. Avandonded, their name which derives from their catch phrase phrase “idol that was abandoned”, was formed from former participants in the audition for PIP (Platonics Idol Platform), having failed on the basis that they, “were not typically suited to be idols”. They began their journey on July 8, 2014 (On that same day, BiS held their disbandment live at Yokohama Arena, making it a particularly auspicious date). Having assembled together an an idol group, without the guidance of a producer or vocal/dance teachers, it became difficult for them to keep going, but they persisted on their own. Because they felt overlooked, they adopted the name Avandonded, a variation on the English word “abandonded”. Some time later, with them joining an agency the members were able to calm down and shoulder the responsibility of producing the group. Starting out with 6 members, many of whom left via graduations and withdrawals, the group is currently made up of 2 members: Beni Usakura and Kotao Kotori. Their most recent single “Hello!!” (release date: May 31) which features music and lyrics by singer-songwriter Hana Tsuruuchi is definitely worth a listen! Combining a sparkling piano melody with the strong yet gentle vocals of the 2 members, this song is a “killer tune” forging a clear path towards the group’s future.

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The attraction of Avandonded is their creativity in the absence of a producer. From their beginning days, Beni Usakura was in charge of their original songs and choreography while publishing their original zine, and DJing, covering a wide range of activities not normally done by idols. On the other hand, Kotao Kotori is not just a “half beauty”, she unexpectedly is a big fan of professional wrestling (She particularly seems to love “death matches”). In addition to her mother being the popular manga artist Mimiyo Tomazawa, Kotao is specializing in the arts at school and has created the cover art for other idols’ CDs as well as showing off her talents when drawing on cheki (instant photographs). When it comes to Avandonded’s self-production, it ranges from the tickets for their lives, merchandise design/production, and lyricism, all according to their own planning. As for their outfits and music, they enlist creators that they have great affinity with and are conscious of the group’s intentions, directing them in accordance to the trend of the group.A group full of creativity where the members are also the producers, a group like Avandonded, is my recommendation.

Avandonded is a group that was discarded by a producer and became self-produced, pushing their way through adversity and yet advancing down their own path. There may be many self-produced idols but, is it possible that they are the most conspicuous of them all. Please give them your attention!

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Author
Ena
Ena

live in Tokyo and like music, movie, Sento and beer.

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