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The Love Movement That Can’t be Stopped : The Reason Why Idols who Idolize Idols are Increasing

アイドル好きアイドルが増えた理由
The Love Movement That Can’t be Stopped : The Reason Why Idols who Idolize Idols are Increasing

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There is an increasing number of idols who admit to loving idols.

During Tokyo Idol Festival 2015 (TIF) on August 1 and 2nd of this year, there were 51,481 total visitors between the two days, which exceeded last year’s attendance by 10,000 people for a record high. Just before TIF, the website LoGiRL held a special project where idols who love idols would look through the TIF timetable and announce how they would schedule their time viewing idols. 10 idols, including ayaka (lyrical school), Misa Kimura (Musubizm), Nonoka Okumura (Niji no Conquistador), Yufu Terashima announced their virtual schedules according to these timetables.

Ayaka Obu

Ayaka Obu

Misa Kimura

Misa Kimura

Nonoka Okumura

Nonoka Okumura

Yufu Terashima

Yufu Terashima

Even Gekkan Idol Shinbun, which I am an editor for, has been following Nana Asakawa (SUPER☆GiRLS) who is an idol while also being an idol otaku and in anticipation for this year’s TIF, has added Fumika Kikuchi (Party Rockets) and Mayu Okada (Otome Shinto) for a conversation about the topic.

Rina Asakawa

Nana Asakawa

Fumika Kikuchi

Fumika Kikuchi

img-idol-loves-idols-12

Mayu Ogata

While it may be obvious for someone in the rock scene to enjoy rock, and it goes the same for idols, but this is a big change for the idol genre.

Japanese singing and dancing idols started in the 70s with Saori Minami, reached the golden age in the 80s with Seiko Matsuda and Akina Nakamori, and led to the huge popularity of Onyanko Club (In 1986, Onyanko Club related songs were the weekly top for 36 of the 52 weeks on the Oricon charts). After Onyanko Club’s disbanding, it was considered the winter of the idol genre until 1997 when Morning Musume。formed, followed by AKB48 in 2005, and others such as Perfume and Momoiro Clover Z made a break leading up to the idol era once again.

When comparing the idols up until the 80s and the idols until early 2000, the biggest change was the main battlefield changed from on the TV screen to the stages performing in front of a live audience, as well as the values of the idols. The idols until the 80s were expected to be actresses, TV talents, or artists after using their idol status as a stepping stool and had a stern image of being forced into their careers by people of higher power, almost like puppets. But in comparison, idols today are positive about their careers and many wish to be idols for as long as they can. They even have self-producing skills like using social networking to promote themselves and their independence has even become a question among many.

There was something embarrassing about liking the previous idols since they were forced into doing idol things, but that impression is completely gone now. Being an idol is a proud career choice that many make on their own, and because of this change, idols have become idol fans and there has been an increase in idols proclaiming their love for other idols. I believe this is one of the reasons.

Another reason can be the anime, manga and games that Japan can boast about. It’s kind of an engraved thought that these leisurely activities are for kids, and when we grow up we will “graduate” from them, but the people who enjoyed these activities as kids have grown up. The kids who enjoyed manga and have grown up are still enjoying manga, and the kids that grew up enjoying anime and games are still enjoying anime and manga.

When Akio Nakamori coined “otaku” in the 80s, it was a discriminatory term used to talk about people who participated in Comic Markets and older people who were passionate about anime and manga, but it has changed dramatically to become a casual term without any discriminatory connotations. Comic Market was started by several hundred people in the mid 70s, growing in the 80s by more than 1 million people, and has become a major event that happens twice a year in the winter and summer bringing in more than 1 million people per year.

This wave of casual otakus have also increased in the idol world. It’s thought that once an idol fan goes through puberty, they will “graduate” from supporting idols and the fans who don’t stop are considered otakus. It must be around 2005 when AKB48’s popularity exploded and the number of younger idol fans expanded, making it a common thing to be a fan of an idol, which was followed by 2010 (the year of the Idol Battle movement) which made the younger generation of fans immune to the negative connotation of the original meaning of “otaku.” And perhaps that’s why everyone can be so open about liking idols.

Although the two mentioned reasons probably helped the increase of idols idolizing idols, everyone has different opinions and reasons as to why they like other idols. For example, the older generation of idols, the idols who have experienced the transition period,and the young idols who became idols in today’s era all have different experiences and thoughts about the idol world.

So if this becomes a continuing series, I want to delve into the situations of each individual idol who loves idols.

Translated by Misato

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Author
Yasuhiro Okada
Yasuhiro Okada

Editor/Writer – Co-author (with Shinshi Okajima) of “Group Idol Shinkaron” (Evolutionary Theory of Idol Groups), one of the first books to analyze the “Idol Warring States Period” (popular media term for the current idol boom in Japan). Author of the book “Idol no iru Kurashi”(Living With Idols), a collection of interviews talking about idols from the perspective of idol fans.

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