Because why stop at 40 pieces when you could order 48, or just keep going into quadruple digits to really support your favorite Japanese idol singer?
Following their conquest of Japan, the high school idols of hit anime Love Live! have their eyes set on the rest of the world, with an international release for their first theatrical feature. But even that might not be a big enough stage for the animated vocalists. They’re now on their way to taking over the skies as well, since you can now watch Love Live! anime on selected flights on, of all carriers, Qatar Airways.
When it comes to celebrities and drug-use, Japan doesn’t have the same forgiving attitude that many other societies do. Last year, for example, when pop singer Aska was arrested on drug charges, the Studio Ghibli-animated video for the vocalist’s song “On Your Mark” was removed from an upcoming boxed set of Hayao Miyazaki animation.
Now there’s been another intersection of anime, music, and illegal narcotics, as idol singer and voice actress Ai Takabe has been arrested for drug possession, and the anime she most recently performed in has been pulled from online streaming as producers scrub her name from the cast.
We first discovered KBG84, Japan’s elderly idol unit, earlier this year and were impressed with their energy, particularly their live performances. The group has had a few months to get their name out there, and they even released a music video for their song “Come On and Dance Kohamajima” in July. But it wasn’t until this month that they released their first single, available now for your listening pleasure!
It’s widely known in Japan that idol singers are often contractually prohibited from engaging in romantic relationships. The reasoning goes that if word gets out that an idol singer has a boyfriend, her fans will feel betrayed that she isn’t solely devoted to her role as a musician and entertainer, and thus stop buying her CDs (there’s also the unspoken implication that openly dating someone will destroy the fantasies of individual fans that would like to date the singer themselves).
A signed contract isn’t always enough to keep young love and hormones in check, though. And when you consider that idols are almost always attractive, outgoing young women, it seems like it should be only a matter of time until they find a guy they fancy out of their swarms of would-be suitors. That’s why in addition to legal pledges not to date, the Japanese entertainment industry has a number of sneaky tactics up its sleeve to prevent its idols from falling in love or going on a single date.
The city of Dazaifu, located in Fukuoka Prefecture, has a couple of nice cultural sites, such as the Tenmangu Shinto shrine and Komyozenji Buddhist temple. It’s pretty short on modern, youth-oriented attractions, though, so many of the city’s younger residents were probably thrilled when they heard that Momoiro Clover Z, one of Japan’s most popular idol units, would be holding a concert in their relatively sleepy town.
Many of them were less thrilled, though, when it was announced that the concert would be held only for male fans, a decision that’s drawn complaints from a local women’s group.
One of the oddest and yet most popular idols in Japan is the Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku. She sings, she dances, and fans think of her more as a living, breathing person than the virtual reality project that she is. She makes a ton of money from her live concerts and merchandise and her only real competition is her other female Vocaloid friends.
But perhaps that is about to change, as a new duo of virtual reality idols hit the Internet today, launching their careers with a preview of their upcoming single along with their sultry computer-generated good looks. Introducing Kazuto and Ray from the group Eight of Triangle!
It’s been recently announced that AKB Group, the idol conglomerate responsible for AKB48, NMB48, SKE48, HKT48, NGT48, JKT48, and SNH48, will be adding another serial number to the roster in the form of MNL48, which is planned to operate out of Manila in the Philippines.
This new group will be formed through a project by the publicly funded Cool Japan initiative which, contrary to what Gackt may think, appears to be doing something tangible with all their funding after all. In fact, this is especially tangible as yet another source of revenue for Yasushi Akimoto, the head of AKB Group who also just happens to be the chairman of the Cool Japan Council.
Idol singers exist in an extremely specialized, and often contradictory, corner of the already specialized Japanese pop music industry. Successful idols are expected to walk the fine line between having a polished, attractive appearance and an approachable, unassuming aura. Even more ironic is that while their songs’ lyrics are often focused on love and devotion, it’s practically unheard of for an active idol to openly be in a romantic relationship.
Every now and again, though, word gets out that an idol secretly has a boyfriend, or had an illicit liaison with a guy. The revelation is usually followed by a solemn apology to fans, and often the offending member being removed from the group. But this time the story of an idol’s amorous activities coming to light has something we’ve never heard about before: a court-ordered fine equivalent to several thousand dollars for breach of contract.
It’s not easy to pull off dance moves with the same kind of finesse as you see in many of the most popular music videos. Whether you’ve got “the moves like Jagger” or you’re more like that pink girl in the Rebecca Black video, everyone seems to have their own style of getting their groove on.
Nevertheless, if you’ve got it, flaunt it, which is exactly what one Thai internet personality is doing in a popular video of her getting down in her room with hilarious results.
Even among otaku, those with a fondness for anime series Love Live! are known for being particularly obsessive. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that the Love Livers, as the franchise’s fans are known, worship the show’s central characters.
And if that’s the case, one arcade figured, why not give fans a place where they can kneel down and make offerings to their anime idols?
There’s a pretty common male fantasy in Japan that goes like this: You’re sitting alone in your classroom at lunchtime, when suddenly, a cute female classmate walks up to you. With your heart fluttering and your stomach growling, you find out she’s ready to satisfy both, as she pulls out a bento lunch box filled with homemade goodies and, while smiling sweetly, asks if you’d eat lunch with her.
Now take that same scenario, but expand the cast from one girl to six. Even better, right?
Sure, at least until you find out that all six of your lady suitors have superpowers and violent streaks, like what happens to this unsuspecting guy in the craziest soda ad we’ve seen in quite a while.
If you’re into anime and you haven’t been living under a rock for the past two years, you should have at least heard of the unstoppable, indomitable multimedia force known as Love Live! School Idol Project, which first aired in early 2013. The show took off and captured the hearts of Japanese and foreign viewers alike seemingly in the blink of an eye.
In fact, fans of the series are known for being so incredibly dedicated to the teenage troupe that we wanted to find out firsthand what attracted them to the series. Consequently, we had our Japanese reporter ask one enthusiastic fan, whom we’ll call Mr. K, for his personal opinion. What do you think he had to say about the draw of the series?
Perhaps it’s not to the extent that celebrities have it in the United States, but Japanese celebs – especially pop idols of the female persuasion – are regularly accosted in public if they’re recognized. And while most stereotypically meek Japanese might be content with taking surreptitious photos from afar in the event of an idol sighting, the possibility of running across an unhinged fan or aggressive paparazzi on the streets means most Japanese pop stars will conceal their faces somehow when strolling around in public on their own.
For the typical celeb, this generally means wearing dark shades or even just wearing a fashion they’re not normally seen wearing on TV, while others still will walk around with their faces totally uncovered like the rest of the unwashed masses. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, on the other hand, wasn’t taking chances on a recent trip to Tokyo DisneySea, choosing to conceal her face entirely and looking like a total creeper in doing so.
Ever heard of SNH48, AKB48’s second sister group outside of Japan? Based in Shanghai, China, the idol unit has been active since 2012, releasing a total of eight singles to date. These singles are all Chinese-language covers of previous AKB48 singles, including their latest release on May 15–the Chinese version of “Manatsu no Sounds Good!” (盛夏好声音).
Now, I’m not someone easily swayed by the cutesy “charms” of idol singers, but a female writer on our Japanese sister site recently wrote a piece expressing her opinion that SNH48 could possibly be–dare I write it–even cuter than the veritable goddesses of the original AKB48.
Take a moment to watch their latest music video and decide who you think is the cutest!
Many Japanese idol groups, such as the mega-popular AKB48, package incentives in with their CDs to get fans to buy multiple copies of the same exact thing. In AKB48’s case, the group occasionally includes voting ballots within special “election singles” that allow fans to vote for the member that will be featured most prominently on a new song.
Like AKB48, up-and-coming rock idol unit DEEP GIRL is using a system of incentives to encourage fans to buy their debut single, which will be released this summer. However, the group is taking an even more drastic approach by using a tiered system of prizes–along with the very real threat that the group will be instantly disbanded if their song doesn’t make it into the Oricon Weekly Top Ten.
Ami Takeuchi is a beauty queen with pageant awards under her belt, legions of fans and a new idol DVD out, and boy, is it sexy. She also happens to be a “new half”, which in Japan refers to a trans female. Her catchphrase, in fact, is “the new half that’s just too cute!”
Warning: Things are about to get a little bit NSFW (unless you work at RocketNews24, in which case, congratulations! Pretty much nothing is NSFW!)
It’s pretty widely accepted that in the Japanese pop idol world, legitimate musical talent takes a back seat to the ability to project an image. So while you might not need perfect pitch or flawless rhythm, if you want to be an idol, you will need to radiate a constantly upbeat aura, right?
Well, maybe not. A new idol talent agency has just opened its doors, and the company is specifically looking for performers with a gloomy outlook, and is now accepting applications, with no experience required.
In recent years, the idol singer industry in Japan has put a lot of power in the hands of fans. Multi-vocalist units like AKB48 and its numerous tri-letter, dual-digit sister groups often hold “elections,” in which votes are tallied to see which members will get the most prominent roles in upcoming music videos, live performances, and the like.
The idol world isn’t a perfect democracy, though, in that concepts like universal suffrage and “one person, one vote” don’t exist within it. Ballots are often packed inside CDs, DVDs, or other commercial goods, and the more you buy, the more you can vote, which is leading one dedicated fan to try to corner the market on manga anthologies.