Underground Idol Graduations, the Desire for Recognition, and the Secrets They Can’t Tell- Bookdol Union Vol. 3: Tama Himeno’s “Senkou”

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Underground Idol Graduations, the Desire for Recognition, and the Secrets They Can’t Tell- Bookdol Union Vol. 3: Tama Himeno’s “Senkou”

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The third volume of the Bookdol Union, the idol, music, and book collaborative event put on by TGU regular and expert idol writer Shinshi Okajima, was held on November 20th. Thanks to the support of book Union, which specializes in music and subculture publications, it’s been so well received that tickets sold out this time too during the pre-sale period. On the day of the event, dues Shinjuku was packed with idol fans.

Since the purpose of the event was to commemorate underground idol and writer, Tama Himeno, on her first published work, Senkou~ Chika Idol no Hito ni Ienai Seikatsu (Incognito: The Lifestyle You Can’t Talk About to Underground Idols), feature guests included Tama Himeno, and the top-class and promiment Moe Usami (Moechi) from BELLRING Shoujo Heart. Just the day before, Moechi had announced her graduation from the group next February. Tama Himeno has continued to brave the deep underground idol waters for more than six years. With one idol reluctant to leave and another who has been observing underground idols firsthand for over such a long period of time, it made for a good contrast between speakers, presenting topics with a kind of frankness that you wouldn’t be able to hear elsewhere, and leaving the crowd abuzz.

Although I previously talked about in my book review here on TGU, Tama Himeno’s Senkou casts a light on the darkness underground idols can’t talk about very openly, while reflecting on the mentality of these idols seeking recognition and approval from fans. With her sharp analytical skills, her it reads like a great literary work, and in the book her clever prose shines. However this isn’t Tama Himeno’s only charm. Both her wonderful writing and speaking skills are the secret to her popularity as an underground idol.

And during this event as well, her speaking magic was just as brilliant. Even while talking about the dark truths featured in Senko, her witty comments filled the venue with laughter, and both she and Moechi seemed so amicable you wouldn’t have guessed this was their first time meeting. On Twitter as well, Moechi nervously wrote, “Today nothing is off limits; ask me anything!” to which Tama Himeno casually replied, “Well in that case, I guess I’ll ask about boyfriends first~!”


Eventually the topic of Moechi’s graduation came up. In her book, Tama Himeno proposed her “3 Year Underground Idol Lifespan Theory”. (Year 1: Just don’t know what to do and work hard. Year 2: Try to put all your focus into it and do your best. 3: Give up.) Coincidentally, as Moechi is graduating after three years it seems this theory would apply to her, although her circumstances are a little different.

Moechi: “If I were to stay in Bellheart any longer, eventually I’d feel like giving up. But I love Bellheart, and I want to finish my time in the group with that kind of feeling. Right now I’m both a university student and an idol. Because I’m doing both, I have time away from Bellheart. But if I was only doing Bellheart, it would be like Bellheart = my career. When I imagined that kind of life, I couldn’t help but feel I’d begin to hate Bellheart someday. But I haven’t completely decided yet. 90% of me wants to keep doing Bellheart.”


Moe Usami from BELLRING Shoujo Heart

Okajima: “Will you do something else related to entertainment after you graduate?”

Moechi: “More than wanting to pursue a career in entertainment (and working as an idol for that reason), I just wanted to be a part of Bellheart, so besides Bellheart there isn’t anything entertainment-related that I want to do.”

Here Tama Himeno’s eye for analysis shines.


Tama Himeno

Himeno: “I think the issue Moechi was talking about just now has to do with Moechi being and idol that is true to herself. Many underground idols have a part of themselves that they don’t want to show. They try to push the parts of themselves they want people to see as their real selves, and as a result they suffer. But Moechi is different, because her real self and her idol self are the same, so if she didn’t have university, she wouldn’t be able to separate her private life from Bellheart, which would cause her stress.”


At Himeno’s perceptive words, Moechi nods in earnest, “You’re right! That’s exactly right!” Additionally, when Okajima asked Moechi about her thoughts after finishing Senko, she remarked, “It’s embarrassing! All this time I was thinking the same things unconsciously, but I didn’t realize it until it was pointed out to me like that.” Senko talks about how idols seek approval. It also talks about how they seek recognition from fans. This is something that happens unconsciously without idols realizing it. Because it’s a work that plainly spells out these matters, it’s not wonder it’s become a hot topic.

But apparently seeking recognition from Bellheart fans was a little different.

Moechi: “More that earning everyone’s recognition, many were able to use me to recognize their fellow fans as people, too. (laugh)”

Himeno: “How strange! (laugh)”

Moechi: “There were many who were really into using my solo parts to try and stand out, so I felt like I can’t let myself lose. (laugh)”

But this kind of back-and-forth between Moechi and her fans can only be seen until February 1st next year. Especially their solo concert on January 2nd at Zepp Tokyo is a must-see, and Moechi commented, “I would hate to see more people suddenly start coming after I’m gone, so I hope a lot of you will come out.”


During the last part of the talk, the audience was excited to hear stories about why Bellheart’s wings have such a wild smell and other underground idol “event-only secrets”. Afterward, it was time for Tama Himeno’s concert. Like Shinshi Okajima commented, Himeno’s songs were all great with a sleek poppy and cute sound reminiscent of Shibuya-style. For those who read Senko, I definitely recommend giving Boku to Georges a listen!

Read our book review of Tama Himeno’s Senkou

Read the past reports of Bookdol Union 
Part 1 featuring “Million Doll”:
Part 2 featuring ” Short cut girls’ photobook :

Related links
Tama Himeno Twitter :
Moe Usami Twitter :
BELLRING Shoujo Heart official site :
Shinshi Okajima Twitter :

Photo by Fuchizaki
Translated by Jamie Koide

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Writer, Book Reviewer. Having the degree of MA. (Japanese Literature) I love Japanese Girl's Popular Music, such as YUKI, Chara, Makoto Kawamoto, and Seiko Oomori.

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