Obligatory Ladybaby Post

So for reasons that aren’t particularly clear, like the entire J-whatever Internet world seems to be required to do or say something about Ladybaby. Why be left out?

Because death pop is undeniably a thing, and occasionally it’s a worthwhile thing, and Ladybaby is undeniably death pop, they’re profiled on this website. I also did it because SEO BITCHES!

But I’d be lying if I said that I’m particularly supportive of Ladybaby. I’d also be lying if I said that I just don’t like Ladybaby.

I don’t. There’s really no reason to. No reason to like them, honestly, but also no reason to hate them. I’ll just toss out some thoughts that I think are kind of important.

  1. Ladybaby is real. When “Nippon Manjyu” and those intro videos were first making the rounds, I mostly didn’t believe that it was anything more than an absolute flash in the pan, but they just kind of kept going and pretty soon were doing shows in Europe and the USA.
  2. Ladybaby is not worth your strong feelings. Little Brother has commented that the music is lazy, and it is, but it’s also inoffensively so (how many legitimate hits have consisted of like three chords just kind of thrown together?). The clean/death verse/chorus thing is done to death at this point, but that’s not an issue. It’s just, overall, lowest common denominator music. It’s not groundbreaking or challenging or threatening.
  3. Ladybaby is not going to last for very long. I’m amending this position: Because more idol groups are being given time to breathe, and because there’s international interest, Ladybaby won’t exhaust itself for a while yet.
  4. If you’re a Babymetal fan, you should be bothered by Ladybaby. Not because Ladybaby is any kind of a threat to Babymetal, but because Ladybaby is everything that idiotic tr00 metal fans have always accused Babymetal of being; by dint of being idol units, they’re both agency creations, and they’re both doing heavy music … and that’s it. It does feel weird to say that an idol unit put together by one of the biggest talent agencies in Japan paid its dues, but Babymetal worked their asses off for years to get to where they are, and Ladybaby … just kind of showed up and rode the wave that Babymetal (and Fruitpochette and Mugen Regina and Necronomidol and Party Rockets and Deathrabbits and etc.) built. This has happened innumerable times in the history of popular music, yes. But the little Ladybaby surge, crassly and unfairly (to everybody, honestly), just fuels the dismissal of idols who’ve done the work and built their success.
  5. I do applaud the effort. It’s not Rei or Rie or Ladybeard’s fault that they got thrown into this; the girls are looking at being idols, both won MissID and both have real-deal careers outside of this; and Ladybeard is interested in making money being Ladybeard. And good for Ladybeard for finding a career with it, at least so far. The group’s official motto is about smashing boundaries, and Ladybeard does that in spades.
  6. Most of what’s easily objectionable about Ladybaby isn’t really all that objectionable, but, this being a resource for Westerners, there is one thing that I didn’t know about at first and now kind of wish that I didn’t.

    Thanks to New School Kaidan, I learned that 14-year-old Kuromiya Rei, who I knew was a “gravure model,” was in fact the kind of gravure model that would (probably deservedly) get somebody thrown in jail in the United States. I can make a lot of cross-cultural allowances about certain things (obviously), but gross sexual exploitation of pre-teens isn’t one of them. The girl’s been exploited as an object of lust for as long as she could tie her shoes. That’s disgusting.

    Even just leaving that alone and giving Clearstone and Ladybaby management the benefit of the doubt, here’s video from the group’s NYC appearance:

    Now, lots of homicidols do stage diving. Stage diving isn’t an issue. Having a 14-year-old in a tiny skirt stage dive is an issue: As just about any woman who’s ever crowd surfed can tell you, it’s a pretty gropey environment. That isn’t a secret. Throwing Rei (and Rie, who I think was 17 at the time) into that is poor judgment at best and ongoing sexual exploitation of a teen at worst, basically setting her up for assault even if nobody actually did anything.

    Idols of all ages deal with sexualization. That’s not a secret. Ladybaby isn’t doing anything that’s all that out of the ordinary. But the whole setup with Rei stinks. It doesn’t matter if she loves every second of it.

So, in short, it’s probably most appropriate to just kind of let Ladybaby go. As is ethically* required of me by virtue of their being profiled on this website, they will appear as appropriate on the blog, and that’s that. They’ll float around for a little while, get some niche attention in the West, and that’s about it.

*Not really.

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21 thoughts on “Obligatory Ladybaby Post

  1. I don’t think you should boycott ladybeard because of Rei’s past. She is and was a child and any thing that happened to her was exploitation. If it’s as bad as you hint at then she wasn’t in a position to understand what anything she did meant, or what consequences they had. The blame lies squarely at her parents and whoever produced the material and not at the child.

    I just don’t like the idea that anything she does in the future is overshadowed by dodgy things that were surely out of her control. That doesn’t seem fair.

    Of course, at face value, and once you get over the whole dynamic of a 30+ year old man in drag and two teenage girls, she seems to be in a safer place and enjoying herself (or is a superb actress).

    It could be that she is still being exploited, but if so it’s no more than any other idol, and actually the Ladybeard videos seem more innocent than some others.

    In the end I hope that whoever exploited Rei and her parents, who would have consented, are held responsible, but not the girl herself who is undoubtably a victim.

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    • I really don’t want it to seem like I’m blaming Rei for any of that — you’re the second person to comment that way, so maybe I wasn’t as clear as I would’ve liked to have been. You have the right word, “exploitation.” Yeah, all idol all labor is inherently exploitative, but there are obvious “that’s the way it is” and “why would you do that to another person?” differences. Cultural acceptability or not, her guardians did that child wrong, and it’s probably extremely fortunate that Rei grew up to love performing or this story could have a much sadder end.

      I also wrote that what feels like ages ago. I’ve warmed up to Ladybaby somewhat, but to the individuals involved a lot. That thing from the other day, I shared that because Rei and Rie were clearly having a blast, and it generated a nice fact-finding chat on Twitter that actually put Ladybaby writ large in a much different light for me.

      That’s the trouble with all this distance — spatial, linguistic, cultural: When all you have is what’s right in front of you, being able to understand that thing well is glossed by your own prejudices and biases that are informed by where you are and where you’re from, rather than fitting into the frameworks that developed that thing. Tough, you know?

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      • You do say: “So, in short, it’s probably most appropriate to just kind of let Ladybaby go.” because of the issues with Rei. So you’re advocating ignoring them because Rei was/is a victim, although you are still covering them.

        Sexualisation of children is a problem the world over, it’s probably more mainstream in Japan, but only just.

        Brooke Shields is an example of someone who was a victim of sexualisation as a child but still had a very good career, people didn’t stop seeing her movies because she posed fully nude for playboy as a child, or played a prostitute with full frontal nudity as a 12 year old. Yes mainstream outfits like playboy and Hollywood actively had child pornography, and whats more they didn’t get in trouble for it. Later as a 14 year old Brooke Shields was the face of Calvin Kline Jeans where the whole campaign was based around the fact that she wasn’t wearing any underwear under her skin tights.

        So the thing is that the western media doesn’t hold this sort of thing against a young performer, in fact it garners them sympathy. They may hold it against her care givers and management (which they should). The only questions that will be asked is why an adult male is performing with someone who has that history and how appropriate that is, but there is no evidence that anything untoward is going on there.

        I think give them the benefit of the doubt.

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        • I should also add that Brooke Shields said that she was ruined mentally until well into her Adult Years and had self image problems.

          You’re probably right, best thing for Rei could be to ignore her, I’m assuming her income as an idol goes to those who have been taking advantage of her her whole life. And cutting off that income may do something, or it may drive them back into seedier ways of gaining an income from her. I’m assuming that it’s stopped now that she’s in the mainstream?

          It’s very sickening, but she is obviously talented and seems to be enjoying herself. And the best thing is probably to cover her, and expose the issues so that the Japanese government is forced to take a harder line.

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          • And from what I’ve heard, the national government is making efforts to clamp down on the worst of it. Things in some of the prefectures are a little less stringent, but at least the top level is aiming to clean up.

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    • I don’t think anyone is blaming Rei, but the fact is that Ladybaby has not in any way tried to distance themselves from that sort of gravure and in fact she has continued to do it even after she became a member of the group.
      That combined with a bunch of other stuff like for example the stagediving and the “wrestling” makes me think that Rei was chosen for Ladybaby BECAUSE of her work in gravure, intending to use her and the fans she had from that world to sell.
      This is why i personally don’t feel comfortable supporting the group. Honestly, it’s a relief that i don’t like their music and live performances.

      A friend of mine who follows Ladybaby more closely told me that Rei has been making references to suicide on social media and has also been self-cutting so her being “safe” and “enjoying herself” is very much in question…
      I certainly hope that she is or that she will be able to be.

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  2. I don’t think anyone is blaming Rei, but the fact is that Ladybaby has not in any way tried to distance themselves from that sort of gravure and in fact she has continued to do it even after she became a member of the group.
    That combined with a bunch of other stuff like for example the stagediving and the “wrestling” makes me think that Rei was chosen for Ladybaby BECAUSE of her work in gravure, intending to use her “skills” and the fans she had from that world to sell.
    This is why i personally don’t feel comfortable supporting the group. Honestly, it’s a relief that i don’t like their music and live performances.

    A friend of mine who follows Ladybaby more closely told me that Rei has been making references to suicide on social media and has also been self-cutting so her being “safe” and “enjoying herself” is very much in question…
    I certainly hope that she is or that she will be able to be.

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    • Oh cripes, I had no idea about that other stuff. That’s ragingly unfortunate.

      And fwiw, I have no idea why you weren’t able to comment before. This thing gets janky as hell sometimes. That’s what I get for building straight out of the box …

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  3. God, just read this stuff about Rei, it does put me off, but the thing that initially put me off Ladybaby was how desperate they come off to try and go viral and how they had YouTube react videos in mind when forming the band and making the videos, which ended up being more then happy to take the bate. When I see them mentioned in the same articles as Babymetal here in the west, I just think to myself the journalist has not really bothered to look deep into what’s actully going on over in Japan. It also pisses my off to see K Pop and Gangnam Style referenced in nearly every article I read about Kyary Pamyu Pamyu recently, but that’s a little off topic, sorry.

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    • No need to apologize — the more you learn about these artists, the more the half-assed journalism starts to sting. Like Momoiro Clover Z is doing a three-date U.S. tour in a couple of months, and that’s probably the closest thing to Babymetal that we’re going to get in venues of that size, and I don’t know yet if I’m going to approve of or hate the inevitable comparisons that have little to do with music and everything to do with “Japanese idols who sing and dance in big rock shows!”, but I’m getting ready for it.

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      • Quote of the Year : HM 7/26/2016 5:58 pm
        “The more you learn about these artists, the more the half-assed journalism starts to sting”

        Reply of the Year : JX 7/26/2016 7:40 PM
        “Tell me about it”

        Seriously, tell me about it.
        Do you get slightly irked when you read a description or conclusion of a topic that seems ill informed due to the lack of in depth knowledge or understanding that you possess?
        Do you sometimes feel the need to enlighten someone by providing some additional, pertinent information that may help to draw a better, more informed conclusion?
        Many people have predetermined biases based on hearsay, and rarely reflect to a moment of clarity and reconsideration.
        These days it appears that the good ol’ internet keeps many “willfully ignorant”, despite the wealth of info available at our fingertips.
        However, it would make for a very boring world if everyone liked the same things.

        Care to discuss? We be here.

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        • Oh sure. It’s the Official Policy of Homicidols.com to take any and all additional information and/or corrections seriously. This is a place for discovery, not authority.

          I’m also not paid and am openly just a fan doing fan stuff. Nobody cares if I do or don’t do this. I’ll still put an hour into looking through forums, parsing automatic translations and asking questions on Twitter to try to get some degree of accuracy, OR, if there’s no time, just up and admit that I have no idea what’s going on and just present what’s evident. It’s not a perfect approach, but it’s an honest one.

          On the other hand, you have paid journos who can’t be bothered to spend any appreciable time getting to know their subject or the environment around it. There’s a person who has a site of their own and whose work appears in some significant outlets, a person who I respect and who was among the first to promote many idols and other J acts to non-weeaboos, a person to whom many of us can look for some original inspiration … and I get the cringes from that person sometimes because their breadth of knowledge isn’t very good. By dint of appearing in some big outlets, that person’s work gets treated seriously by newbies, and the counterfactuals gets legs and become very difficult to dislodge.

          That’s just objectively factual stuff, though, or reliance on bad information that paints a very inaccurate picture of reality. Opinions, people can and will have those; as long as their reasonably informed, nbd. Stuff that pertains to opinion, I like when people argue about it. Lively!

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          • Cool.We understand the time and effort you devote here, and we have thanked and complimented you for your efforts on many occasions. We have also devoted a significant amount of time to add information to the cause. You and I have more in common than not, however, we only differ in the angle of approach. Mainly from an age perspective.That being said, it appears that, as referenced above, that a certain lack of understanding and in depth knowledge regarding one particular, completely unconventional, unorthodox artist and their Method of Operation is being regarded as “inactive”, or “doesn’t put out enough stuff”. We are all aware of your opinion on said artist, and it does seem to reflect in their visibility factor here, and that’s perfectly fine, after all, it’s your home. The danger as a whole, is when information is obtained from a singular source, like Twiiter or Bookface. This is the Orwellian technocracy we were warned about decades ago. Very dangerous indeed.We don’t mean this as a critique on you, but as society as a whole.When one source controls information, any and all biases might come into play and may paint a very different picture regardless of reality. We too have certain biases that we choose to keep to ourselves and never have made comments about an artists lack of talent or appearance etc.. In fact, isn’t that against the rules of the site as a whole? We read that page and chose to follow the parameters, it seems as others did not. I understand an opinion one has , but that other conversation that’s occurring right now seems a bit over the top. We will continue to add content unless otherwise instructed.We wish it was an artist you shared our passion for, but who knows maybe one day you’ll join us Through the Looking Glass.
            We’ve got a mask and a slightly bloodstained chainsaw with your name on it. LoL

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          • Hey, I’m cool with the Mask. I share a desire for them to put more “regular” stuff out there — songs and official MVs and the like — while understanding that their way of doing business is a very different animal from what most get involved in. And that’s fine. Takes all kinds, and all that.

            You’re a valuable contributor ’round these parts, Jaxson. The Alice Project whole would probably seem like a sideshow to most if you and friends weren’t providing updates that are, frankly, tiring to try to keep up with sans the assistance (so much video!). Thanks for being one of the people that I lovingly refer to as the resident weirdos.

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  4. Thanks for the recognition.Believe me when we say it took us quite a long time to grasp their approach, and the terms “regular” or “normal” will never be applied to them. Albums and videos for them are apparently antiquated notions.As most artists, as we have come to expect, drop an album and a video or two a year, and then go live, leaving us with a bit of a distant relationship with perhaps only some seasick inducing, dreadful audio fan cams to keep our interest. As odd as it may seem at first glance, we have come to really appreciate their “slow drip” of song material that ultimately, by years end, equals a complete albums worth of songs. It keeps us on the hook so to speak, never quite sure when a new song will appear. They produced 12 songs in 2015, mostly in LE cd’s available at the theater and at local Tower Records and other shops.. In 2016 they have 8 songs, definitely on pace to reach an albums worth again. Of course their mainstay is the daily theater shows.Most westerners don’t realize what an asset that is, and they produce,on average 12 to 15 Blu-Ray discs every month that are readily available for purchase on their website at a cool 5,000 yen a pop. All shows are different, with varying set lists, birthday festivals, special events etc. The content is there, just in an unorthodox fashion. We certainly don’t expect you to track every daily video,we try to only bring here what a passive lurker would find entertaining.

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  5. Well Ladybeard has left the group and Rei and Rie will continue as a duo. A “Best Of” album and DVD of their first one-man live will be released on 9/14 to close the first chapter of LADYBABY. The second chapter will begin on 9/17 with a live in Shibuya featuring Rei x Rie and Oyasumi Hologram. The news was revealed on LADYBABY’s official Twitter and quickly spread throughout the web. Ladybeard did issue a statement on his Facebook page regarding the situation.

    There’s also talk going on about the shining egg in the middle of Rei and Rie on their picture. I’m wondering if it is supposed to represent a surprise waiting to be revealed such as another member or if its just symbolism for their rebirth as a new group/duo.

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    • In the past they haven’t been sexualised at all, at least in the music videos, and now they’re naked?

      After Rei’s past?

      I feel for her.

      There’s a lot of talk that she’s not a nice person, but she’s a teenager who are naturally selfish and angsty, she’s also not had much of a childhood.

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  6. Pingback: The Tragedy and Triumph of Kuromiya Rei | Homicidols

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