This past weekend, our man Daemon hit up the East Meets West Music Fest; with Monsterpanda in tow as translator, he sat down with literally three of this site’s all-time favorite idols. Today, we have his report back from crossing paths — and surviving — with Hanako-san.
On the morning of the opening day of the East Meets West Music Fest, we are directed to a rehearsal studio that sits among the warehouses of industrial Anaheim. Far from Disneyland but about a mile from Chain Reaction, site of festival itself, the studio’s walls are plastered with photos of The Dickies, Agent Orange, Voodoo Glow Skulls and other indie icons of Orange County. Over a door with a hand written sign that reads “Control Room” is a doodle signed by Derek Riggs, the artist who created Iron Maiden’s mascot “Eddie”. While the place doesn’t exactly feel haunted, we are led through the door next to the control room to conduct a face-to-face interview with a blood-drenched ghost visiting all the way from Japan.
14th Generation Hanako-san of the Toilet is a 404 year-old youkai (ghost) who haunts fourth-floor bathrooms and performs as a solo punk idol. As she explains in the intro to her shows by holding up sign boards to the audience: “My head has been cut off. I cannot speak. But I can sing.” And sing she does in a brittle, child-like voice, but more significantly, she screams. Of all the harsh vocalists in chika idol, Hanako-san is perhaps the most natural screamer. Her screams are primal and ferocious and seem to come out of her more effortlessly than clean vocals.
Upon introduction to Hanako-san, she comes across as schoolgirl-cute in her signature red and white complete with a shiny red randoseru (the iconic backpack for Japanese schoolchildren). She is as unfailingly polite as any Japanese idol would be and often bursts into sincere giggles. The only indication that we are in the presence of something more ominous are her bandaged neck, blood-red eye and eyepatch, and the bloodstains patterning her white shirt and socks.
Hanako-san’s visit to America is not only the first time that she has been outside of Japan, but the first time she has ever been on a plane. My first question to her is to see how she is adjusting. Continue reading