The Arrival of the Idol Mass-Production Era & The Way Underground idols Fight Against It
Kanon Fukuda, ex-ANGERME, spoke of the word “Idol Warring States Period” for the first time as an idol in August 2010. Suppose her remark was the outbreak of an idol war, more than 6 years have passed since then. The environment surrounding idols has dramatically changed and the term may not be appropriate to the situation these days anymore.
Tokyo Idol Festival 2016 was held on August 5th, 6th, and 7th and there were 301 idol groups for a total of 1492 idols in Odaiba. Compared to 45 groups in 2010, it is evident that the number of idol groups has increased tremendously. Because the interest of idol fans scatters, it can be very difficult that certain idol groups reign supreme above the masses. Rather than a war, they seem to have friendly ties with each other. I here claim the arrival of idol mass-production era.
As shown in this article, the quality of performance is viewed as more important than the previous era. Upstart groups like Idol Renaissance and Kobushi Factory could be seen at the main stage of Tokyo Idol Festival 2016. This clearly shows that such groups with a high level of performance have been gaining popularity in recent years.
However, the benefit of this era can be fully taken advantage of by only a small fraction of groups. The groups introduced above often belong to influential agencies like Idol Renaissance with Sony Music Artists and Kobushi Factory with Hello! Project. It seems almost impossible that new groups without strong support, especially underground idol groups, can acquire high quality performance skills.
To begin with, how have underground idol groups achieved successes? Here we define underground idols as those who do not belong to strong agencies and have not yet made a major label debut. Featuring Dempagumi.inc and BiS as examples, let us look back how underground groups survived the previous era.
The members of Dempagumi.inc were part of the cast of Dear Stage, a café, bar, and concert space in Akihabara when nobody yet knew who they were. Revealing their dark past until now in their famous song “W.W.D”, they won the sympathy of many and narrowed the gap between idols and fans. In addition, showing their dream achieving success in the world comes true, they showed how to make the impossible possible, which gives hope and encouragement to people. (As a result of the act, this era may have arrived.)
BiS, Brand-new idol Society, was perfectly consistent and coherent in attracting interest with their shocking image. The MV for “My Ixxx”, which shows the members running around naked in a forest, was viewed more than 150,000 times soon after its release. Those kinds of extreme tactics often caused strife among the members and agencies alike. In total, 5 members withdrew from BiS, which was used to draw attention to the group. The group disbanded at Yokohama Arena in 2014 before their former manager Junnosuke Watanabe decided to bring it back July 2016.
The two groups are quite different but have something in common at the same time. Both groups used an approach of appealing to the emotional side of fans. This does not mean that they completely ignored making great effort to achieve the high quality of performance however, the interests in their story as idols just made a stronger impression than their performance. This can be the only way to compete with idol groups that have been manufactured and trained by large agencies.
Due to the rapid increase of the number of idols, it seems difficult to focus on each idol’s story of appealing to the desires of fans. However, with strong personalities and unique approaches like Dempagumi.inc and BiS, one can be easily found by idol fans who are always looking for the next possibilities. UPUPGIRLS (KARI) are former Hello! Project Eggs who were fired from Hello! Project but now aim to hold their first solo concert at Nippon Budokan. Their story of revenge and redemption is something that can move people to cheer them on.
Essentially, underground idols do not need to change their stance. Rather it is feared that they try to gain the quality in performance by halves. The history they weave can become their strongest weapon against major idols who have superior quality on their side. It is the same here now as it was in the past that only a few underground idols have made such an interesting and compelling history. Underground idols should continue to stick to their principles and wait patiently until their time in the spotlight comes.
Idol Renaissance Official:http://idolrenaissance.com
Kobushi Factory Official:http://www.helloproject.com/kobushifactory/
UPUPGIRLS (kARI) Official:http://www.upupgirlskakkokari.com
Sponsored LinksMAGNOLIA FACTORY Idol Renaissance BiS Dempagumi.inc
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