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Happiness According to Idol Fans Part 2 : Never-Ending TIF, Never-Ending Summer

終わらないTIF、終わらない夏
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Happiness According to Idol Fans Part 2 : Never-Ending TIF, Never-Ending Summer

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For me, TIF (TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL) is finally wrapping up on the eighth day. “What?” you’re probably thinking. “Isn’t TIF only three days long? Have you become so desperate for attention from your favorite idols that you’ve gone crazy?” Don’t worry, I’m fine, and my sanity is still in tact (barely). Even though TIF is already over, I haven’t been able to catch my breath because of all the other idol acts I’ve been catching everyday. It’s a totally crazy lifestyle, I know.

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It’s me at Tokyo Idol Festival 2016 watching GANG PARADE’s performance at Smile Garden.

After I published my first article “Getting a Response is Life or Death”, I received a lot of responses from readers around the world about the pros and cons of this opinion. According to our editing department, opinions were basically split 50-50. That means about half were negative. More than a few active idol fans told me that they thought it was pretty good. Several, actually.

Happiness According to Idol Fans Part 1: Getting a Response is a Matter of Life and Death

I also invited all of you attending TIF from abroad to give me a holler if you saw me, and included a picture of myself with the article for reference. The result was… One person said “hello” to me! This year more than 70,000 people came to TIF, but the only person I had the pleasure of meeting was Mr. Tamasaburo from Taiwan, whom our editor-in-chief Ayaya introduced to me. Well, to be honest, even though there were a lot of idol fans there, I wasn’t expecting a huge response…

I only saw three full sets at TIF, which were Yufu Terashima, GANG PARADE, and Philosophy no Dance. Watching Yufu Terashima sing her medium ballad “100kaime no First Kiss” on August 7th at the FESTIVAL STAGE with the twilight sky behind her was intensely cathartic. Philosophy no Dance’s performance of fast-paced songs at the SKY STAGE against the nighttime backdrop on August 5th was the crowning moment for me.

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Then there was GANG PARADE. Their August 7th concert on the SKY STAGE was Ao Shigusawa’s last before withdrawing from the group. Each idol only had a short time to perform at this year’s TIF, so Shigusawa’s last concert couldn’t exceed 15 minutes. Hugging each other and talking about their love and upset feelings towards Shigusawa, it appeared as if GANG PARADE weren’t ready to lose her yet. Honestly I, myself, am not sure how to process it all yet.

I watched other idol groups, and was astounded by Keyakizaka46. Noel Gallagher once described AKB48 as a “manufactured girl group”, but Keyakizaka46 should be revered as this in its ultimate, beautiful form. It was like candy for the eyes, and so overwhelming that I’m still at a loss for words.

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For instance, if communist countries from the 1980s were to boast of their national prestige for idols, instead of Olympic competitions and mass displays, they probably would have created something like Keyakizaka46. I say this with the greatest honor. But in fact Keyakizaka46 is a unique phenomenon of Japanese culture, because their foundation comes from Japanese idol culture.

Keyakizaka46’s “Silent Majority” gave me goosebumps. It was the choreography we’d seen time and time again in their music video. With everyone just lined up in a single row, they possessed an intense visual impact. Their performance was enough to make the music seem like a mere afterthought… Or at least that’s what ran though my mind. Keyakizaka46 showed me the source of idol pop, answering exactly the question of, “What is it?”

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The fourth day of TIF was dedicated to a talk event on TIF. Since Tama Himeno and Yufu Terashima made appearances, it qualifies as an idol event. It’s essentially TIF.

Then the fifth day of TIF followed, as a particularly auspicious one. Although I’ve always said, “Mimi Chigake goes beyond Keyakizaka46,” on this day I felt as if I’d finally succumbed to the epidemic.

On this fifth day, a friend who often attends Dear Stage took me along with him, and it was the first time I’d been in some time. Before they’d held a wedding ceremony-like event, and my friend had gotten “married” to a “Dear girl” (Dear Stage performer). That girl was none other than Mimi Chikage.

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Mimi Chikage

No matter what kind of wrecking ball of words anyone swung at her, she took them all with a smile, and without showing any indication of what she might really be thinking, she rejoined with clever comebacks with these and her sense of wit, she instantly she drew me in. Before I realized it, I’d bought a polaroid of her, a polaroid of the two of us, and a ticket to one of her future shows.

When I heard her sing an Acappella version of “Aishiteru.com” by Seiko Oomori, my summer, that should have ended with TIF, began once more. A never-ending summer…

Honestly speaking, recently I’ve had many chances to work with idols, so it felt somewhat uplifting supporting an idol unrelated to work, who is starting out from zero.

However there was one significant barrier, and that was response.

Mimi Chikage doesn’t respond to her fans on Twitter. Or rather, she’ll just tweet several times in one day. Due to this I had to quickly abandon (and in fact did as I was riding the train back home) any thoughts of hearing from her on Twitter. In short, I would have to visit her at Dear Stage. I was surprised at how readily I was able to give up the idea of getting any response from her on Twitter. In the end, it was because I knew that the only way to get any attention would be from interacting with her at an event.

As we approaching the third volume of this series, what exactly is happening to me? This series is turning out to be a clinical study report of sorts.

Finally, it should be noted that as I’m writing this, I’m discarding the rule I wrote before about “not replying and mentioning idols in your tweets on Twitter”. Even if she doesn’t reply, I’d like to send Mimi Chikage a mention on Twitter. Yes, even if I know she won’t respond.

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Akimasa Munekata Twitter : https://twitter.com/munekata

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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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