Reflections on being a UK fan

Musume in the UK media.

I came across this article from the Observer Music Monthly dated Sunday August 21 2005 that I found an interesting read. It talks about Morning Musume as well as some of the Japanese boy band acts. The article isn’t a hatchet job but it does raise some interesting points of view. Tsunku comes out of the article quite well. It’s suggested he’d be well regarded if he was working in the west which I think is quite true. I mean here is someone who has written a phenomenal amount of songs and kept changing styles to keep things (mostly) fresh. There’s also some interesting tidbits here. I’d heard of Rika’s comments on mic about the wota’s before of course but I didn’t realise that the pv to The Peace! had such a strange (and somewhat disturbing) background to it. The article despite being 3 years old is still relevant to current fans. It’s interesting reading it as a western fan. I mean I have photobooks and pictures so I guess I could be considered a kind of wota so the deconstruction of the Japanese male fan raises some points that I’ve already considered myself. Now I am firstly a fan of the music. Without that I’d never have shown an interest in the girls. Nevertheless I am a fan of the individual members too so my post is looking at that aspect of being a fan.

The article picks up on the Japanese wota’s preoccupation (alleged or otherwise) with youth. This is something I have thought about being from a country that would look so suspiciously at such fans. I’m aware my favourite Japanese group is basically made up of young girls and sometimes they have been as young as 12. At the same time although I do like some of the current Musume (Ai and Reina in particular) in terms of lust/love and related feelings I like them as they are now. Older than when they joined. Lovely was exceptionally adorable when she joined and I love her wide-eyed nature from back then but my thoughts to girls at that age are strictly brotherly and I really don’t see anything wrong with that. The photobooks I have are all when they are at least legal aged (from a UK perspective). I can see beauty in the members from when they are younger but it’s not something where I have an interest to see them in bikinis or anything. However by the time they are 17 or so…well…the beauty can be breathtaking. Maybe I’m naive but to me it’s mostly quite an innocent thing. These girls are giving you a glimpse into an almost fairytale world, an ideal world. A world with beauty and without cynicism. Living in the UK I have to endure a country full of cynical nasty minded souls and really I find my mental release in the Neverland of JPop.

It’s been clear for years that Reina will be a hotty. If you look at her in the early days you can see here is someone who will be very sexy and indeed she now is. But back then it manifested itself in a more cute way. You could see how beautiful she would become but at the time she was still young and baby-faced and my thoughts would have been more protective. In reality my thoughts even now are quite protective due to the age gap. It’s just at the same time I can’t deny how sexy I find her. Back then she wasn’t sexy but she was going to be. You could predict it quite accurately. The type of attitude, the clothes style and the unique face were always going to come together to create an adult who was someone to be reckoned with.

Then there’s someone like Konno. Pretty much my favourite member (although Yaguchi pushes her mighty close). Konno’s favouritism has come from the past year or so. Basically since Ongaku Gatas. Prior to that when I look back I find her just the right kind of shy, sweet type I adore. But not someone I adore in any adult way. It’s more the perfect little sister type of thing. I prefer the elder Konno who has a bit more confidence. Why? Because I prefer older. I’d say my main problem with MM right now is it’s too young. Even in the old days when they had the likes of Kaori and Abe and they were only 16 they still somehow seemed older. Kaori was born middle-aged I think and I love her for it. In a way the same is true of the cool character of Maki Goto. She may have been 14 when she joined but she had the personality of someone older. I don’t really have an interest in the lolita type innocent character, for instance someone like Kusumi in her solo pv’s (although as for the music, Chance is annoyingly stick-a-hot-poker-in-your-ears catchy). Maybe that’s the difference between me and the type of wota talked about in that article. It’s not the youth that interests me so much as the ideology (oh and the catchy music of course). Konno is much more interesting to me now than several years ago because she is now an adult. Kids can be innocent and sweet I’m sure but it’s when people are adults that they shape the world. I want to buy into a fantasy of adults being beautiful human beings (and I’m not just talking physically). After all I’m an adult myself. I can’t go back in time and become a teen again (and thinking back to my teens I really, really wouldn’t want to). No, I want to escape to an adult world where there is beauty within (and of course beauty on the surface is a happy bonus). Very much a fantasy world then. This is what these girls give the fans. An image of perfection. The image can vary from girl to girl. Perhaps an image of adult innocence with some or with others a sweet non-seedy but flirty beauty, or perhaps an image of a person with a beautiful soul. There are bubbly girls, shy girls, funny girls, yankii girls and so on. All the different personalities are there on show. Many different types, but all still ultimately friendly and welcoming. A fantasy of course but one based on careful picking of the right kind of people to be in H!P. In life you will always see largely what others want you to. The sides to these girls that you see are what they and the company want you to see but they are still real. Just maybe not all that there is to that person. Who knows? Rika’s comments caught on mic show that there’s more to (at least some of) the girls than is on show but nobody is surprised by that and I can’t really say I think less of her for it. Mind you I’m not someone screaming and shouting at the front row of a concert so why should I?

Anyway that’s why someone like Konno interests me. That sweet personality could really grow into something (even more) wonderful. As well as listening to good music you get fed a beautiful slice of Konno. A vision of beauty that makes the world seem somehow not so cold. I recently saw this Ongaku Gatas promotional pic…

Check out Konno the woman. That picture excites me more than any young teenage girl could because a young teenage girl is still to bloom. The journey is only just starting. This picture shows someone coming into her peak years (and we’re talking decades here). I would love to see Konno’s journey just like people have seen Yuko’s.

What is the perfect age? There isn’t one but I find a photobook of an 18 year old Reina very sexy. Likewise I find a picture of 30-something Yuko just as exciting. A picture of someone like Kusumi dressed all in pink isn’t. Oh and I happen to like Kusumi. I think she will turn out quite beautiful. But I find nothing of interest in that peculiar brand of lolita that the Japanese create. Seeing the happiness and innocence of young girls does make you feel good in your heart but I can’t say the same for that bizarre ‘whatever happened to baby Jane’ style of enforced girlishness that Kusumi is enduring through her pv’s.

So in terms of my being a fan of the girls (rather than the other area which is of course being a fan of the music) I’m quite happy. I have no concerns about it. Although knowing the suspicion the west has towards Japan and the suspicion towards anyone showing an interest in young girls I still find I have the urge to do what I just have…vindicate myself for having an interest in something that is actually quite a beautiful and life affirming thing.

For the record my favourite members are Konno, Yaguchi, Kaori, Lovely, Reina, Yuko, Yui and Rika. All of them beautiful in their own ways. All have something in their personalities that makes them stand out to me. All of them mixed ages. There. Now I feel justified. 😉


4 responses to “Reflections on being a UK fan

  1. I remember coming across that post quite some time ago and it’s a really interesting read. I’d only just discovered H!P when I found it so I was really excited!
    I actually stumbled across the Hidden Camera DVD mentioned in the article a few years ago, it’s a really scary watch and it took me such a long time to watch through it simply because it’s just not right. Some of the footage on it is just really worrying, like the footage of the girls asleep on a plane, I imagine it could of only been filmed by a member of staff that was with them.

    Lol, I’ve had many discussions with friends where I’ve felt the need to justify myself when it comes to liking the girls, they have a great blend of personalities and looks, but sometimes I think that people look at it from totally the wrong angle, H!P (for the most part, some of the V-u-den and Maki PVs are full of sex appeal) isn’t meant to be looked at from a perverted point of view and if you do, then well it can look very perverted, but I think it’s more to do with the culture of the UK more than anything else and the way everybody thinks.
    Great post by the way.

  2. I agree that it’s very much the culture of the UK at the moment. Well more the culture of the tabloid UK media and it’s followers really. It’s the fear of the foreign or the unknown. The suspicion of things that are different.

    As for the girls it’s definitely a mixture of personality and looks. For me thinking of Yui there’s a flirty and fun personality mixed with a great figure, Reina is sexy, cheeky and forward and has a very unique and attractive face, Takahashi has a lovely happy wide-eyed personality and such prettiness, Sayumi a cute sense of humour to go with her baby-faced beauty and so on. A fan looking at a photobook or dvd sees that. These aren’t like porn stars in a top shelf mag. You know the personality and the personality is a huge part of the appeal. It’s the personality that you buy into really.

    There’s more hidden camera footage than that article mentioned then? That must have felt so intrusive for the members.

  3. Well the UK has always been like that, although I must admit that’s it getting slightly better, with shops like Virgin (Zavvi?) selling more anime and manga, it’s slowly becoming more acceptable.

    I’ve tried explaining to friends that when it comes to PBs I’d buy them even if they featured no bikini shots, in fact I have numerous PBs which don’t feature any at all. The bikini shots are just an added bonus ;p

    Yeah, there’s quite a bit more footage on the DVD, you have the footage in the toilets, on a plane, then some stalker footage of someone following Nono (I think) to school, which is the most worrying and scary of all the footage.
    It must of been worrying for the girls seeing the footage, obviously there’s going to be the odd obsessive fan but when you look at some of the footage it can only have come from staff members and certainly the toilet footage must of made them check every inch of the toilets whenever they needed to use them. :S

  4. I suppose it must be made worse by the fact that it was made by somebody who probably actually knew them. Must make you doubt a lot of the people around you.

    The pb’s are great regardless of bikinis just for seeing the girls in different settings and seeing their personalities coming out. Plus the pb’s do make them look bloody stunning…and they didn’t look bad to start with. 😀

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