From Home Video to Smartphone Streaming, Looking Back at Idols on Video

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From Home Video to Smartphone Streaming, Looking Back at Idols on Video

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Though it might be out of the blue, I started an event called the Showa Idol Archives at the Gakki Cafe in Jimbocho. It’s an event where idols fans exchange their memories about each volume’s featured idol. Candies was featured at the first volume, while ribbon was chosen for the second.

It was because of these two featured idol groups that I decided to name these events the Showa Idol Archives. Candies debuted in 1973, while ribbon made their debut in 1989. My idea is to feature Showa idols who debuted between this 16-year time period.


Showa Idol Archives is an event that features Showa-era idols, introducing their music and memorabilia. Here Haruka Tachiba, from current idol group Ange☆Reve, appears on stage as an MC and sing several cover songs of featured Showa Idol. Photo by Kenji Harada 「昭和アイドルアーカイブス」は、ピックアップする昭和アイドルのテーマを決めて、その人の楽曲やグッズなどを紹介していくイベント。現役アイドルのAnge☆Reve 橘はるかが進行役として登壇するだけでなく、テーマとなるアイドルの楽曲カバーのコーナーもある。写真/原田健司

While putting together the event, I went looking for material to use for both groups, and what l found was that video had left me with the biggest impression of them both. What struck me the most was how different their videos were.

When I watched videos of their concerts and TV appearances from back then uploaded on the net, ribbon had an overwhelmingly real quality about the in comparison. Candies were like the national idol group of their time, and a large amount of videos of them have been uploaded online. However, most of these images are from memorial TV specials and DVDs released after they disbanded. This material also includes program liners and sponsorships, but finding real-time footage of them performing is quite rare.

One reason why is that home video recording became popular from the 80s onward. Although it’s common to record TV programs now, at the time it was a somewhat strenuous process. Now, being able to catch a program you missed or watch the same program and over and over again feels like a dream come true.

Back then, if there was a program you wanted to see, you had to go home and wait in front of the TV for it to start, and if you wanted to record the audio from it, it was normal to do so using cassette tapes. With the introduction of home video cassettes, you could record programs and then lend them to your friends.


Here’s an example of a VHS tape deck that you’d find at many households during that time. I expect that there are many people now who have tapes that were recorded back then, but no player to play them on.一般家庭に広く普及したVHSビデオデッキ。当時の番組などが録画されたテープはあるが、再生できるデッキがない──なんて人もいまは多いだろう。

With the introduction of video tapes and VCDs came big changes to the idol scene. It became more and more popular to include bundles of video content. It had a multitude of uses, from image videos to concert videos and other project designs. Likewise, artists started making music videos, and these were often distributed as promotional content.

Additionally, much of these content included making-of footage as well, and with it an exciting opportunity to see idols being their real selves. In that way, it gave idols a sense of realness to their viewers.

Both idols in the 70s and 80s are given the Showa idol moniker, but in reality there were tremendous differences between these two generations. With the introduction of video content, content that you couldn’t see unless you owned it became irresistible for fans.


Noriko Sakai made the world’s first VHD video appearance with her idol debut in “YUPPIE”. A VHS version was also available. In the home video market scene VHS and β (Beta), as well as VHD and LD VCDs, were fighting to expand their consumer appeal. 酒井法子は世界初のVHD映像ソフト「YUPPIE」でデビューしたアイドル。このVHS版も用意されていた。家庭用ビデオは、VHSとβというビデオテープと、VHDとLDというビデオディスクが登場して市場拡大を争っていた

With the 90s came the enjoyment of sharing the content you owned. This happened with the arrival of the internet.

This was especially the case from 1995, when the nighttime unlimited internet service Tele-Hodai began, and it became common for people to exchange their video content online. During this period I would use Hotline to make a group server for sharing files. But even compressing a three-minute video was terribly time-consuming back then. During the day I’d use my Mac to compress video footage into files, and at night my video upload and download operation would be in full swing. In the chat people would ask, “Do you have so-and-so video?” and I’d respond, “Yeah, I’ll upload it at night,” and like that people would share content.

However, during this period, this was a way of exchanging pre-existing video content. Since there were no video streaming services like YouTube, music videos and Space Shower TV footage were digitalized onto PCs, and many fans would then share this video content. (Despite the illegality of it…) For example, Ryoko Hirosue, by working as NTT’s image personality, became well-known and well-loved online, and though online sharing, as an idol her popularity increased.


As the internet becomes more widely used, cell phones start allowing people to connect to it. NTT DoCoMo creates iMode, the world’s first mobile phone IP connection service. Ryoko Hirosue was selected to be the service’s image personality and her merchandise goods were also available. On a side note, the first press conference I ever visited on the job was a CF production presentation for iMode, where Ryoko made an appearance. インターネットの普及にともない、携帯電話でもインターネット接続が可能になっていく。この世界初の携帯電話IP接続サービスを実現したのが、NTTドコモの「iモード」だ。広末涼子がイメージキャラクターを務めており、グッズなども展開されていた。ちなみに筆者が初めて仕事で訪れた記者会見は、広末涼子が登壇した「iモード」のCF制作発表会だった

Entering the year 2000, with the arrival of various video streaming platforms like YouTube, which we previously discussed, all at once, the accessibility of video content increased.

It’s been proposed that the recent idol boom started due to this new kind of accessibility. With so many content uploads introducing different idols on the net, in no time you can find an idol artist you’ve recently become interested in. For instance, music videos and other content are available on official YouTube channels, and we’re now in an era where anyone with a smart phone can immediately view them.

I honestly think that this trend is what influenced the K-pop boom. Many K-pop group music videos and TV programs broadcast on Korea’s MBC and KBS stations were quick to adopt HD picture quality, and then these high quality videos were increasingly shared online. Until then, video content on the net was somewhat grainy, but now you can see online images even more beautiful than on your TV at home, and I think this is where the idea of the internet = videos originated from.


Shoujo Jidai’s (Girl’s Generation’s) music video for their single “Genie” was shot with a single lens reflex digital camera, the Canon Eos 5D Mark II. The MV was screened at the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2010 representing Korea in 2009, and one might say Korean content, rather than domestically created content, has influenced Japanese video content more. 少女時代(Girl’s Generation)の楽曲「Genie」のMVは、デジタル一眼レフカメラ「Canon Eos 5D Mark II」によって撮影されたもの。同MVは2009年を代表する韓国のMVとして、「Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2010」にて上映された。映像の解像度において、日本よりも進んでいた韓国のコンテンツは、日本の映像コンテンツに影響を与えたといえる。 「Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2010」韓国ミュージック クリップ


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And now, we’ve reached an era where anyone can create video content. There are many spots were shooting is permitted, like during performances, and there are fans who will upload footage they’ve taken at concerts with their smartphones, as-is. Using video services like TwitCast, idols can stream their video in real time.

Moreover, this period is amazing because not only can fans can see videos in real time, but leave comments and the like in real time, too. I wonder how idol fans in the 80s and 90s would have reacted had they known that their favorite idols could broadcast themselves live at home before going to bed.

In this way, even idols groups that aren’t currently popular can remain featured in video content, as long as there is someone to record it. Also, compared to pictures and the like, video is so much easier when it comes to understanding and conveying a certain environment. For this reason, content like this may become important documents in 20 or 30 years time.


Like iDOL Street’s Idol Wa-Suta, an increasing number of idol groups are allowing fans to take video with their smartphones. With more fans taking videos and uploading them to YouTube, groups have a better chance at getting noticed by more people. iDOL Streetのアイドルわーすたのように、ライブ中のスマホでの映像撮影をOKにしているグループも増えてきている。こうしたファンが撮影した映像の多くがYouTubeなどにアップされ、グループの知名度拡散に役立っているのだ



If you have a smartphone, you can easily stream yourself live using TwitCasting. By linking it to Twitter, you can also display comments from other users. This is a screen cap from Natsumi Ishikawa (Akishibu project) TwitCast. スマホがあれば、手軽にライブ配信を行える「TwitCasting」(ツイキャス)。Twitterと連携させることで、ユーザーからのコメントを表示することができる。画面は石川夏海(アキシブproject)さんのツイキャスより


From the perspective of 80s and 90s idol fans, the enormity of how much content is available is quite enviable. When I’m talking about the idol scene in 20 or 30 years from now, I’ll be able to show people in detail.

Now, when I try to tell people about the 80s and 90s scene, there isn’t much video material to make myself easily understood. That’s why the videos that have been burned into fans’ vision at that time have often become their main source.

But to bring things back to the beginning, part of the purpose of Showa Idol Archives is to fill in the memory fragments left behind with each featured idol through fans whose memories of the scene are still fresh in their mind. At these events, stories, songs, and memorabilia- not video- are the main part. However, through this event, when a new aspect about an idol is remembered decades later, a video image of that idol quickly comes to mind.

※Featured song: Ryoko Hirosue – “Maji de Koi Suru 5byou Mae”

Translated by Jamie Koide


【昭和アイドルアーカイブスレポート記事/Showa Idol Archives Event report】

Showa Idol Archives Vol.1 at Jimbocho’s Gakki Cafe, Featuring Legendary Showa Idol “Candies”!

【過去記事一覧/See the author’s past articles】

In the Past Distance Between Idols and Fans Didn’t Matter, but Now They Provide Support to Each Other

From Nippon Broadcasting System to Radio Nippon, The Charm of Getting to Really Know Idols Through Radio, and What Hasn’t Changed Between Then and Now

The Evolution from “Actress→Idol” During the Solo Idol Era, and Now “Idol→Actress” During the Current Group Idol Era

Three Things that Would Surprise You if You Were to Go Back in Time to the 80s and 90s – Idol Support, Merchandising, and SNS

Fans Happy to Meet Idols in the Past and in the Present! Special Idol Event Stories From Then and Now

25-Year Old Promises Kept! 80s and 90s Idols Who Fulfill the Dreams of Their Fans Through Mutual Trust!

[Editorial] 80s and 90s Songs Covered by Current Idols are Nostalgic with a Fresh Feel

Even Though Times and Selling Practices Have Changed, the Love of CDs Lives on with 80s idols Turning Their Records into Albums and Current Idols Continuing to Sell CDs

The Internet Community That Makes Fan’s Dream of “Knowing the Private Life of Idols” Come True

Idols as Love Interests, or the Magic Power of “Gachikoi” Love Born from a Mutual “Awareness”

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Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

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