Just Who Exactly Was Momoe Yamaguchi, the Popular Idol Who “Sang” Realistic Stories About Everyday People? —— The “Kawaii Theory 2.0” #7

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Just Who Exactly Was Momoe Yamaguchi, the Popular Idol Who “Sang” Realistic Stories About Everyday People? —— The “Kawaii Theory 2.0”  #7

We’ve finally reached the point in this series related to discussing idols. With the arrival of Japan’s consumerist society in the 70s came the first wave of the “kawaii” (“cute”) revolution. Following the explosive hit of character-themed items from Sanrio and the like during this time, girls everywhere had a desire for “cuteness”, which turned into a commodity to be consumed, with women’s magazine an・an at the forefront of “kawaii” culture. “Cute” became a symbol, and with it, the creation of “kawaii” culture followed.

Read the previous volume/

The Magazine “Olive” Made Japanese Girls Aware of The Rare Value of Girlhood and Maidenhood : The “Kawaii 2.0” Theory vol.6

Read older posts
vol.1 : Finding Where “Cuteness” Currently Lies
vol.2 : What is the Exact Origin of “Kawaii”?
vol.3 : Kawaii Culture Didn’t Exist at the Beginning of the Modern Age?!
vol.4 : Consumerist Society and the Birth of “Kawaii” Culture
vol.5 : The Word “Kawaii” Becomes Just for Girls, to Re-affirm Their Girliness

And then, as “kawaii” started appearing in television, it finally began to break out from the girls’ culture frame surrounding it, and became a dwelling place for idols. As a result, the nature of idols began to change. You can see this when comparing Momoe Yamaguchi from the 70s and Seiko Matsuda from the 80s, the stars of their decade.

Seiko Matsuda

Seiko Matsuda

In fact, comparing the two was one of the central issues of 80s idol theory, and one that appeared in countless works and articles. Critic Masaaki Hiraoka sought to elevate Momoe Yaguchi to a god-like status in his essay called “Bosatsu Irai – Idol wo Sagase” / “Finding Idols After Buddha (and book titled Yamaguchi Momoe wa Bosatsu de Aru / Momoe Yamaguchi is Buddha), and feminist Chikako Ogura, who positively affirmed the life of Seiko Matsuda, garnered major attention for her “Seiko Matsuda Theory”. Additionally, Tatsuo Inamasu, discussed why each one embodied their era by comparing them side-by-side in Idol Kogaku (Idol Engineering). According to Inamasu, “They both embodied the spirit of the 70s and 80s, respectively, highlighting each era’s differences, in addition to their extremely effective subject matter.” So why don’t we first take a look at Momoe Yamaguchi.


Momoe Yamaguchi

…Momoe Yamaguchi was idol, but not "kawaii" icon. Why?

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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