Monday Match Game: A Question of Style

Now that all of our other work is behind us, friends, and we’re firmly into 2017, it’s time to bring back the Monday Match Game. This one is … a little different.

Kawaii. It’s the foundation of the idol look, no matter how it manifests; it can be cool, creepy, goth, brutal, adorable and so on. Really, the only limits on how to express kawaii are the limits on the human imagination. And, as something of a culture unto itself, kawaii has its own subcultures, some of which become fashion-forward trends that manifest on the idol stage.

In this corner, the kawaii of illness and addiction, pale and pastel, self-loathing and society rejection; in the other, fantasies that are just a little bit off, like a dreamscape filled with wonders that melt every time you try to touch them. Two definitive trends in idol enter, but only one will survive! Continue reading


Phillter’s Christmas in Tokyo, Part II

In case you were wondering, it’s perfectly okay to think that Phillter’s a big stupid jerk after reading Part I of his long weekend of a lifetime in Tokyo that he’ll get to repeat because he lives in Japan now. But for real, go look at Part I if you haven’t.

The Christmas Day show. This one was gonna be a doozy. Four band’s whose names I had heard before: one that I knew very well; one that I was interested in learning more about; one I wanted to form an opinion about; and one that I didn’t know much about.

The show was at 1:00 p.m., rather early in the day. I arrived at the Rock Maykan Live House in Meguro a few hours early, as usual, and stood around waiting to be let in. While waiting, I caught a glimpse of a girl wearing a medical mask (a very common sight here) with slightly blue hair (a much, much less common sight) walk up to the venue, look around for a bit, then enter and head to the basement where the live house was. More to come from her later though.

Appropriate attire for the day, don’t you think?

Eventually, others I had seen before showed up, conversations happened, small friendships were started, cultural differences were shared. One thing I’ve learned about the regulars I see at these shows is that they are good people in general. They’ll show you the ropes if you’re lost, help you buy a piece of merch if you don’t quite know what to say, and pick you up off of the floor if you fall in the pits. Foreigner or native, no matter who your favorite groups are, we are all one big family … except always make sure you put your stuff in a coin locker, as you’ll see later. Continue reading


Phillter’s Christmas in Tokyo, Part I

How was everybody’s holiday? I guess Orthodox Christians and people of religious backgrounds with which I am unfamiliar have/may have seasonal holidays left to get through, but most folks have wrapped things up — extra weight! regret! the existential dread of work! Anyway, I hope you had a nice time.

You know who had a nice time? Our man in Japan, Phillter, who headed to Tokyo for a few days and went on an idol odyssey that most of us can only dream about. This is part I; it’s okay to begin to hate the man now.

Some of you may know me from the Hard Idol-verse. I do translations of interviews and reviews when I have the time. In general, I love this genre and want nothing more than to see it flourish and thrive.

For this holiday season, I decided to take a vacation from the sleepy country region of Tokushima, and go to Tokyo for a whirlwind week of Hard Idol concert after Hard Idol concert. I was in Tokyo for five days and went to five live shows, and thus there will be five of these reports. Continue reading


Update from the Front Lines of Ska Idol

This is pretty awesome: In addition to the dope solo skadol project Like, Hate, Love, the … well, the Ska Idol Project has launched a sister group, Snowdrop.

This appears to be what they sound like:

There’s ska, then there’s ska-core, and then there’s … that

Their debut live will be on Jan. 22, which just so happens to be a date of significance. Continue reading


You Don’t Even Need Japanese to Understand This Idol Documentary That’s All in Japanese

This is pretty cool; if you have a little while today or tomorrow or over the weekend or at some point before the heat death of the universe, give this documentary on the idol underground, the people performing and the people who love them a watch:

Continue reading


Help Solve This Incredible Mystery

One of the really fun parts of being a non-Japanese idol fan is trying to come to grips with something so far outside of your own cultural experience. Yes, one can always draw parallels to something familiar, but idol as cultural phenomenon is often almost incomprehensible to Western minds.

So of course the collision of two countries’ pop culture phenomena would give me a friggin’ headache.

Okay. Continue reading


Get Ready for the Classiest Friday Night You’ve Ever Had

I don’t know what’s happening in California these days, but it’s apparently infecting people’s brain waves. Those silly people at A-to-J Connections are having me on the A-to-J Talks podcast again tonight.

What’ll we be talking about? Continue reading


Idol Is Art

Here’s another one for you fine people to chew on.

Brian turned me on to this translated blog post at Babymetal Newswire, originally by anime director Yamamoto Yukata, that’s interesting in a lot of ways for its ruminations on the Tokyo Dome performances from an artistic perspective (if you missed Daemon’s Red Night and Black Night dispatches, there’s another chance).

The money quote is Babymetal being at “the forefront of contemporary art,” as the title suggests, but it’s the reason that gets me: While Babymetal may not quite hit all the right notes all the time or be quite as perfect in their stage performance as often seems to be the case, its in the commitment to this thing they’re doing, this creation of personae and acting within them, that makes them perfect idols, and attaining that level of idol is an art in and of itself.

Fascinating, and also true. Continue reading


Not Just Any Standard, the World Standard

Who’s up for another gothic shot in the arm? I know I could stand for a little gloom.

Here’s the latest from The World Standard, Wa-suta, who have actually made a cameo appearance here in the original TIF Megathread courtesy of @ramenshuriken but fell by the wayside since:

Continue reading


Let’s Mix It up a Little: When Idol Goes Hip-hop

Stop your complaining! These days, if it isn’t BiS/H, it’s Babymetal, with sprinklings of other stuff. It’s not my fault that a whole bunch of the idol world is just doing a bunch of shows and festivals right now, or having heartbreaking last one-mans; if I want to keep things moving, and ON A SUNDAY, I gotta get creative.

This post was inspired by the following message from our good friend and fellow Know Your BiStory conspirator @weeaboowitch:

Yep, we manage to include BiS in everything anymore.

That’s right. It’s time to talk hip-hop idols. Continue reading