Idols and the idol community

I haven’t posted in a few weeks. I think I’m still suffering from Idol Withdrawal Symptoms. Japan Expo was great. I’m not saying Japan is an amazing place to live because I’ve never been there and nowhere is perfect but living there must have one benefit…idols! If you lived in Tokyo you’d have idols all over the place. Although of course Japan Expo makes us Europeans lucky in one way. We have good access to the idols when they do come. I think it was someone in C-ute who was saying they’d never done a signing session before. Plus we get handshakes. I think in Japan there are opportunities too but I know of people who have travelled from Japan to France partly because of the easier access.

Anyway as well as idols the other good thing about the Expo is meeting other fans. I met plenty of people I knew online some of whom I’d met before (Ptom, Mico, Ryu, Angelique) and some of whom I’d spoken to for years but never met (Tea) and also some sort of new people (Nyuchandesu) and some completely new people (Lizzie). The great thing about the Expo is how happy everyone is. No matter what your interest, idols, anime, visual kei, err…wrestling, whatever, everyone just mingles around in such a happy mood. It’s a chance to just lose the boring ordinary world for a while and live in Narnia. Its a wonderland. (Wonderland is the name of an Orange Port song by the way. You should check them out. They have some good songs, cute and talented members and are fantastic live). That’s the other great thing about the Expo. It gives you the chance to see new up and coming groups. There’s so much live music on offer.

So for five days it’s Paradise. A crowded somewhat physically tiring Paradise but Paradise nonetheless. Then as soon as it’s started suddenly you are back to normal life and wondering why you can’t see Nacky, Maimi, Airi and Chinami anymore. Where are they? Why’d they go? For those of us not living in Paris there’s also the question of when will we be back. After all there’s no Autumn Expo these days so it’s a once a year event. Even then though for those of us having to come by plane and book hotels it’s an expensive once a year event. Yet it’s also the best way to recharge the batteries of the soul. It washes away a year’s worth of real-life flotsam and jetsam and leaves you feeling like you should be in a commercial for Bodyform.
Anyway the great thing about seeing the idols live and even getting to meet them is that you get to see things you can’t online. Like Chinami’s constant smiling and her fooling around with a camera shooting the audience. Also in the handshake you get to see how they are with fans. It’s the kind of thing that can make your favourites even more favourited and can make idols you previously didn’t pay too much attention to become favourites or at least held in high regard.

Last year and this I have to say Maimi was amazing in person. She shines. Like I said in a previous post she’s like super 3D. So friendly, such a big smile, she leans in close when meeting you and is just pure beauty. Nacky also shines to me although I am of course 100% completely biased. She’s lovely! Last year Maimai really jumped in my ranking after meeting her. This year it’s Airi’s turn. Like Maimi and Nacky she smiles so much, is really charming and just leaves you with this impression of a beautiful spirit. What more could you want? The other person who really stood out though is Chinami. Chinami was just perfect throughout the two days. Again it’s that feeling of a beautiful spirit. The best idols give you that. She seems so approachable. Full of energy and happiness. Like the C-ute trio she seems really comfortable meeting fans. A charming pro. Not all the idols seem so comfortable or happy (hello Risako). It was a privilege to meet them all though and I must give a special mention to Captain. She’s such a sweet soul.

I’ve always said Idols should be prescribed by doctors to fight depression or used as a placebo for a variety of illnesses. Idols and exercise! In fact concerts are exercise. A perfect marriage between body and soul! Some people look at idol fans with suspicion. Yet if you go to an idol event what you see is happiness. You don’t see old men in raincoats you see people of all ages in happy bright clothing all fanboy/girling together. Nobody has their hands in their trousers. That’s not to say that idols can’t be sexy. Of course they can be but I truly believe that the majority of those fans who do fancy an idol do so through the heart first. It’s not like someone looking at porn and just seeing a body. People who like idols (in any way at all) tend to like them for their whole being. It’s the personality and the looks. It’s not “phwooar she’s young. Mmmmm.” It’s more “she’s amazing. Beautiful, talented, charming, funny. Just so full of life”. That’s beautiful no matter what your own age, gender or sexuality. In other words fans of all ages and both genders and any sexuality ultimately still like the same things in idols. Idols are effing amazing. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise. So much positivity and happiness is given to fans by them. You don’t get that in any sport. You don’t get that in many tv shows (although I’d state a claim for Doctor Who). You don’t get that in almost any of the “normal” forms of entertainment. So ultimately us idol fans are lucky and also damn cool. We know where it’s at. :p Also if you ignore some people on forums there are so many good people around. A real international community. My Twitter list is full of such people (Twitter name is Morningtimeblog by the way. Feel free to pop by and say hi). So yeah, idols = happiness. A friendly community, great music, great idols. What’s not to like…I mean LOVE? ♥

This post has been brought to you by the words “random” and rambling.”

17 responses to “Idols and the idol community

  1. Pingback: Recommended Community Reading: August 1, 2014 | Idolminded·

  2. “Some sort of new people” 😃 that’s a great way to put it 🙂 Again, I agree with every single sentence. If you’re okay with it, I’d love to use your thoughts (link to your blog included) for my H!P related panel (or an idol panel if they allow me two). Reading this entry made me understand my feelings more. Happines derived from idol experience is truly unique. Could you write more about that? Maybe you have written about it already? I have some additional questions if you’re willing to talk a bit more extensively on the topic of idols and hp in general

  3. Day 30 answered pretty all of my questions 🙂 Great post btw! Ok, but I stillhave some things that I’d like to ask: How would you reply to the ever present arguments like
    1. “this is a bunch of lollis and that makes you a pedo”
    2. “their music and videos is of very low quality.Why not support some talented musicians out there?”
    3. “It’s just about milking your wallet. You don’t support the girls but the greedy manegement.”

    • I’d reply with.
      1. To give an example C-ute are ages 18-22. They started off as young girls but actually they are selling more than three times as many singles now as they ever did when the members were underaged. Their popularity is actually growing now. If fans were just pedos you’d expect the opposite.

      I’m sure there are some dodgy people out there that are just interested in the girls due to their ages but that’s the same with many other forms of entertainment too. There are people who will watch soaps because of a young girl or will watch Harry Potter movies due to Hermione. The majority of idol fans I have come across seem to love the energy, the enthusiasm, the talent and the happy, funny and smart personalities (delete as applicable) of the girls. If you watch something happy, positive and fun you feel happier, more positive and indeed you feel like you too are having fun.

      It’s actually sort of insulting not just to the fans but to the girls themselves to suggest that the only reason someone likes them is their ages. The amount of work that goes into being an idol is immense. All that dance practice, singing practice, two live concerts a day during tours, tv show appearances, acting both on tv and on stage, radio show presenting, PV filming and of course all the press engagements they do and people then say “of course the only reason they are liked is because the fans are pedos”. Their talent and their personalities is totally overlooked. Not to mention the amount of hard work they have given. I think most idol fans know what these girls go through in order to entertain. Most know their personalities really well. Most will follow the careers of their favourite idols long into adulthood. Mostly until the idols marry (normally a comedian) and disappear. >.> Most fans just love the life these girls bring. The sunshine. Watching an idol is like watching a brand new dawn. It’s inspiring and beautiful. Any idol I’ve liked who was underage has been equally if not even more beautiful and inspiring when legal aged. I can’t think of any fans I know who have abandoned someone because they are too old at, say, 16. I know a lot of fans due to this blog, Twitter, Facebook groups and concerts in Paris. Favourites never seem to change. Nobody looks at a group then decides to check ages on Wikipedia before they decide whether to like the group or not. Fans generally aren’t pedos. They are lovers of happiness and talent and energy and positivity. Something partly or wholly missing from most other forms of music.

      Well that’s qustion 1. xD

    • 2. Their music is catchy and fun. There have been some great singles. There have been some very well respected guitar based groups whose lead singer didn’t write the songs. Groups like The Manic Street Preachers for instance who originally had their songs written by their guitarist (until he disappeared). The guy singing wasn’t called untalented just because he was singing someone elses words. Manufactured pop groups are often seen as somehow unworthy by the more snobbish music fans. Nothing says “I’m great” more than dismissing someone elses tastes. Well nothing says “I’m desperate to make myself feel good and the only way I can do that is to take an attitude of superiority over someone else just because of something actually not that important such as their music taste”. But anyway singing and dancing live is a talent. All the other work they do is a talent too. Also there is nothing stopping someone supporting singer-songwriters too. I personally have bought nearly every album Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have released. I also like Sakura Gakuin. Being someone who loves idols doesn’t mean you can’t love other forms of music too.

      As for the videos well some are lower quality I’ll admit. But I like the members and the songs so that’s hardly a big deal. I’d rather watch a shit Japanese idol video than a great Justin Bieber one (if such a thing exists anyway and I really doubt it does). There have been some great videos too though. Tokai no Hitorigurashi for instance. Full of neat little touches.

      3. Surely all musicians have management. All musicians release t-shirts and other merch. Idols management just take it to a whole new level. Of course management want your money. All managements do no matter what the form of entertainment. Nevertheless when you buy goods you are supporting your favourite artists. They will get a cut plus the sales show they have fans and will encourage the management to continue employing them. It’s a bit like saying you don’t support farmers by buying vegetables, you support greedy shop management. Or you don’t support an actor or writer by buying a DVD boxset you support their management. Daft isn’t it?

  4. (I’m gonna take on a different perspective for the sake of the argument. I feel every single word you’ve written and my head clears up. You put into words the way I feel. But still let’s look though the last part of counter arguments)
    Ad.1 You have to admit that all of them are made to look underage. There’s nothing innocent about a 20 year old dressing like a 12 year old while making sexual poses. That’s porn. In the Idol industry it’s called “a good photobook”. In the western culture it’s accepted to see a grown-up pornstar cosplaying a sexy schoolgirl but it’s not accepted to have an actual schoolgirl (even if 18) to pose suggestively with a flute.
    Ad.2 But somehow it’s like saying that trained monkeys have talent. Even if they show some tricks and skills, overall they’re just trained/manufactured. The level of devotion does not match the level of the trick.
    Ad.3 “The whole new level” seems to be the right word. You have to pay real cash to give an idol a high-five? You buy CDs you don’t need to have a chance to TOUCH her hand and MAYBE exchange a one-liner like “daisuki”. And ppl are crying doing that? It looks crazy! Beliebers (why Justin, oh why? XD) would rip him to pieces if they had an opportunity to get too close yet the idol fans stand in neat lines and accept their fate to pay A LOT to have 3 sec with an idol. Beliebers seem saner in this comparison.

    4. What’s your opinion on AKB48? (a link perhaps if you covered it already) It seems they perfected the idol system. They’ve got the whole package plus extra.

    • I don’t think they are made to look underage necessarily. Depends on the group most probably. Actually most photobooks have bikini shots and the like but the poses are at least not of the legs spread come and get me boys variety. The girls beauty is shown without it being overly sexualised. The outfits idols wear both in general and in PBs are often cute but that’s a fashion style all of its own anyway in Japan (take the slightly unfortunately entitled Lolita fashion for instance). In the west cute may mean childish. In Japan cute might still be childlike but when you have so many adults dressing like that then I think it becomes just adults in cute clothing. It’s been happening for so long that I personally don’t see any child connotations in it. Harajuku (spelling?) girls are generally legally aged and it’s just their fashion. Idols are pretty much in that sphere. The only way I see idols dressing as younger is the schoolgirl cosplay. I think if you have an adult doing that it’s fine. They are legal and it’s just a fun cosplay. It’s cute. I’ve seen western girl groups do the same (Girls Aloud for instance) and nobody says a word. The only difference is people’s ideas about Japan is that it’s all vending machines dispensing schoolgirl panties and 14 year olds being paid to date and bed men. It’s a western idea that Japan is some sort of bed of underage vice. So something done in the west gets no comments but if done in Japan then it’s just those pedo Japanese again. Double standards and people making false assumptions. Idol culture is caught up in that I think. There are young girls so it’s all pedo.

      2. Takahashi Ai has an amazing voice. Like an opera singer has an amazing voice. Would anyone say an opera singer is just a monkey? Ballet dancers don’t right their work it’s all directed for them. They are not monkeys either. I realise though that in choosing Ai-chan for an example I have made an error seeing as she does a pretty fucking awesome monkey impression.

      3. Birber’s fans would rip him to shreds. H!P fans mostly behave with great manners. Bieber’s fans are definitely the mad ones here.

      To get an autograph at most sci-go conventions you have to pay for the photo first. Handshakes needing VDs is much the same. It’s not just idols it’s any firm of entertainment that has a loyal fan base. Anything “cult” is similar. And really I don’t see a problem. If it means it’s financially viable for a group to fly halfway around the world then sell them CDs with handshake tickets!

      4. AKB. It’s taken things to a new level. I don’t like them but I don’t really care either. People are able to decide themselves whether to buy into it it not. Who are we to judge? There are millions of people watching tv shows like soaps and talking about characters like they are real. That’s seen as normal. Idol fans caressed as weird and AKB fans as perhaps the weirdest. But as long as they aren’t attacking members with knives why judge them?

      • I love this discussion! I don’t quite understand though why AKB is any more weird than H!P groups? If they had better songs, I’d be their fan (same goes for other 48 groups). The assault happened because of one nutcase, the rest of the fans are the same as H!P fans, really.

  5. Thank you so much for your extensive to the core responds 😀 Now I have a clear idea what to say. I thought I would talk about H!P in general and then introduce some PVs but without saying anything about the idea of an idol I’d either confuse them or discourage them.

    I heard the arguments I mentioned here in real life (the one about them looking childish thus appealing to pedos just today by my cousin’s husband when I showed them my Airi’s autographed Airi-al book). I had similar responses to yours but not quite, so I’m happy I can use your arguments to back myself up and now I feel a lot better. I need to be prepared. After meeting Berikyuu live I feel like the bond got so much stronger for me that I feel more vulnerable to criticism 😦 I did a H!P panel before but felt okay with providing just a shock value for the participants (seeing their faces while watching Ookina … was epic :D) but now I want something more.

    My sister’s friends will have a JPOP/KPOP dedicated block at the convention and ppl can send their ideas for the panels. I talked with the organisers and they’re into SHINE and EXO D: God, I know those kind of fans from forums :(( It’s up to them to open their heads to something different but it’s nice to have some arguments up my sleeve 🙂
    P.S. When it comes to AKB48 I don’t really know why I don’t like them 😀 It’s like they’re just overdone it. But it puzzles me still.

    • Wow. Airi looking young to appeal to pedos? Maybe it’s just that Japanese women don’t look as old as western ones. Have you ever seen the clip where Momusu are introduced to Coconuts Musume for the first time? It’s hilarious. Some of CM look in their 20’s but are about 15 while the Momusu members are the same age but look about a decade younger than the CM members. I think idols look especially young from the perspective of westerners who aren’t used to Japanese culture. That’s not because they really look young but because western teens try to look so much older than they are. Western teens want to look like adults way in advance of actually being adults. It’s all about perspective. 😉

    • And here I was thinking Airi-al is one thing that even non-fans would find nice and normal because it looks so much like a regular women’s mag. >< Perhaps I don't know what is normal to most people anymore.

      I often say I'm only a fan of idols and I don't care about the rest of Japan, but I really do love some aspects of Japanese culture. One of the best being, adults can be cute and fun and even endearing and it's okay.

      • I was surprised too! I deliberately showed them this PB because I thought it would appeal to everybody. It took them 5 sec to find the bikini shot and focused on that 🙂

      • I think some (most?) people make presumptions first then try and make the evidence fit those assumptions. Japanese people are all pervs. Bikini pics! See! Pervs!

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