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Gachikoi : Is it Abnormal Love or Normal Love?

「ガチ恋」とは異常な恋なのか?
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Gachikoi : Is it Abnormal Love or Normal Love?

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In Japan, there are idol fans that are called “gachikoi” (“truly in love”). This is what happens when an idol fan really falls in love with an idol.

Additionally, in Japan there is a theory that, “Idols are the subjects of a pseudo-love relationship.” However, should you venture out to see a show, you may actually hear rumors along the lines of, “That idol and her fan are in a relationship,” or, “That retired idol married one of her fans.” Wouldn’t that then make them the targets of real love rather than pseudo-love?! As far as the possibility of idols and true love going hand and hand is concerned, I can only wonder, “Is it worth it?” and feel that it’s a personal issue.

While pondering this kind of true love, I also couldn’t help but think about feeling true love toward an AV (adult video) idol, and here’s my conclusion. Instead of worrying about it, I decided to seek out the truth.

So this time, I decided to interview Takashi Noguchi (pseudonym), who is 51 years of age. He was known as one of the “four guardians” of Ayaka Obu, or ayaka, who withdrew from the idol group lyrical school on February 26, 2017. Even throughout this interview, he would tweet, “I’m home, Ayaka!” daily, and many of his tweets ended with asking Ayaka for her contact info. A certain percentage of them also contained the word “marriage”.

Of course Mr. Noguchi’s tweets are part of a unique idol fan trend, but I can’t help but feel that to some extent, they’re also serious. Now that Ayaka Obu has quit working as an entertainer, what is it exactly that motivates him to continue on like this?

Mr. Noguchi and I were fans of Kaori Somoto from Maison book girl, and we concert buddies who would go out and see them until her withdrawal from the group on March 27, 2015. As we rehashed a few old memories, I began the interview.

– Mr. Noguchi, could you tell me the first idol you really fell in love with?

Noguchi: It’s kind of embarrassing. (laughs) I was part of a different scene, and things felt tense between other fans with the same favorite idol as me, so I thought, “If stay here I’ll break,” and ran away from it.

– What made you really fall in love with Kaorinta (Kaori Somoto)?

Noguchi: I wasn’t truly in love with Kaorinta, but I felt connected to her in many ways and supported her. If I hadn’t seen Nijitoma (Gakusai Heroine☆Nijiiro Tomato, mainly a Momoiro Clover Z cover unit, that Kaori Somoto and minan from lyrical school were a part of) in the fall of 2012, I wouldn’t have become an idol fan. When I saw Nijitoma I thought, “I’ve never seen a world of freedom like this before,” and I began going to see other idols as well. At Nijitoma’s last concert, two other fans and I bought glow sticks for the first time and gave them out to strangers. Then, I attended TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL 2013, where lyrical school performed minan’s debut live, and among a group of us Nijitoma fans, I keep repeating, “We’re drinking the best tasting beer in the entire world!” (laughs) I feel like we were connected in a lot of ways.

– So did you go see lyrical school perform, and then become a fan of Ayaka Obu?

Noguchi: I went and saw lyrical school in December 2012, but with Ayaka it wasn’t love at first sight, and it took me about two months to decide to make her my favorite.

– What characteristics about Ayaka made you like her?

Noguchi: Well, for instance, in lyrical school’s case there were bus tours, and there a close distance between them, and so because there were many moments to talk with them and get a glimpse of their real selves, it made me think that, “This person really cares about us fans.” This might have been my own misunderstanding as an idol fan (laugh), but I thought, “She treated us like we were humans.” From there I started half-jokingly, half-seriously bringing up their word “marriage”. I was half-serious, though. (laughs)

– Did anything change after you really fell for her?

Noguchi: For a period of time I stopped caring about getting anything in return from her. I began to think of Ayaka as a leader but not really leader-like. Rather, I made an effort to give her whatever she wanted, like when her rolling suitcase broke during a tour, I gave her a new one. That way none of the other fans would be jealous.

– You said that you didn’t want to make them jealous, so how was the relationship between the “four guardians”, then?

Noguchi: One was already married so he would be like, “I’m not really in love with her.” (laughs) Because I’m narrow-minded I tend to think of other fans with the same favorite as me to be enemies, but the four of us were close. And because the other three had been fans of Ayaka longer than me, I respected that.

– Then on December 21, 2016, it was announced that Ayaka would be withdrawing from lyrical school. How did you feel then?

Noguchi: When her withdrawal from the group was announced, I didn’t know what I’d do after, and I stubbornly refused to accept it. From her expression it occurred to me that she might quit working in entertainment, but I kept thinking, “I hope she changes her mind,” and, “I just want things to go the way I want them to.” Her withdrawal announcement was made during their national tour (lyrical school tour 2016 “guidebook”), and I had a strange intuition about it so I went to every concert date. Everyone around me was like, “Why is Noguchi in ‘final mode’ (*a state of emotional feelings toward the end)?”

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– Then, as it turned out, Ayaka left the entertainment world after withdrawing from lyrical school. How did you handle it?

Noguchi: I thought, “I can’t judge her as a person if that’s really what she wants.” If I had only seen her as an idol it might have been different, but because she saw me as a person, I also saw her as a person. That may have just been my own assumption of her, but don’t all idol fans just assume? (laughs)

– If your favorite idol were to get into a relationship or get married and raise a family, how do you think you would feel?

Noguchi: I’ve tweeted her saying, “Ayaka, let’s get married!” half-jokingly, half-seriously, but when I consider the 25-year gap between us, the likelihood of this ever happening is pretty low. I’m sure she’ll probably get married someday… But I can’t say how I’d feel until that time comes.

– When do you think you’ll get over your true love for her?

Noguchi: During the last lyrical school tour that Ayaka was in, I told myself, “I’m going to every show,” but you can’t go and geek out if you’ve got work to do. In the past few years, I’ve done a lot of afternoon work, and then left my evenings open to follow Ayaka. From this February I began working more nights, and started thinking, “I won’t be able to follow around Ayaka like before,” but then she withdrew from lyrical school. It’s like she timed it be that way… Although I know that wasn’t really the case. (laughs) I thought, “This is it.” Ayaka will be my last true love.

– If you had the chance to form a relationship with Ayaka, would you?

Noguchi: I don’t think so. I saw her as just another person rather than a celebrity, but for the girls on stage, no matter how underground they were, I considered them to be part of a different world.

– You must respect the “idol” status a lot.

Noguchi: Well, in the end, perhaps I’m just afraid of getting hurt? Like if I were to approach her and she were to say, “What kind of nonsense are you going on about?”

– That’s love. It’s really the same as ordinarily falling in love. Even though it’s “gachikoi”, it’s just regular love.

Noguchi: If I imagine her saying something like, “What kind of nonsense are you going on about?” it just tears me apart. Love isn’t something just limited to idols, and can’t be helped. But, I’m about the same age as Ayaka’s mother. (laugh)

– What’s the last thing you and Ayaka talked about?

Noguchi: I don’t really remember. The last time we met we took three cheki (polaroids) together, and before the show I saw that she had tweeted about doing sumo in out in front of the venue, so remarked something like, “You’re doing sumo?!” and then my precious first chance was over. (laughs) After that, I should have said something clever. I once wrote her a letter about why I liked her. Then she told me, “My mom said that you write really well.” (laughs) She showed it to her! (laughs) She also showed a picture of us “four guardians” to her mom, and apparently she said, “If you get married, wouldn’t this guy do?” The person she picked wasn’t me, though. (laughs) But I felt surprised over the fact that I was a worthy enough topic for her to share with her mother. It was like a dream.

After I finished talking with Mr. Noguchi and we parted ways, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d just watched a movie. It felt like the kind that’s about young love and bittersweet.

However, in their relationship, Mr. Noguchi loved her for who she was, and recognized her as an idol, never crossing the line between them. Mr. Noguchi said that, “In the end, perhaps I was just afraid of getting hurt?” Even if that’s true, his love is a deep one.

Just as there are as many kinds of love as there are people, I think there’s as many kinds of “gachikoi” as there is of love. Whether it’s an ordinary love or “gachikoi”, there’s no telling if it will come true.

I hope that those who are “gachikoi” will find special or ordinary love. Nobody can stop someone from falling in love.

Translated by Jamie Koide

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Author
munekata
munekata

Born in 1972, Akimasa Munekata is a music critic who has written for MUSIC MAGAZINE and Record Collectors for rock in Japan after HAPPY END, pop, the flow of western rock and pop after Beach Boys, world music, and folk music. Recently, he has hopped on the bandwagon and begun writing about idols as well.

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