Though Fall is my favorite season, there’s always a hint of trepidation it’s arrival. The sky gets a little gray, the days get colder and shorter, and naturally, we all know the Winter is approaching by the year’s end. And additionally for us idol fans, we find ourselves anticipating the upcoming new year, because we know good-and-well that some of our oshimen and favorite groups won’t be around by this time in the future, cause that’s what we’ve signed up for the when we got into this subculture.
— 小鳥こたお@あヴぁんだんど (@avandoned_kotao) November 16, 2018
Last Friday, a little precursor to the change of the seasons and the new year in waiting arrived: Kotori Kotao, the other half of the duo-era of Avandoned, announced that she will be graduating in April of 2019. In a statement, she explained that quite simply it’s too difficult to balance the intensity of idol work with her personal focus on art. This is something I find terribly relatable, so I can’t possibly take issue with it. Kotao joined the group in 2016, at which point Avandoned was closing its previous era with the departures of Nayuta and Konomi and rebranding the group as a trio. At that point I knew very little about her, but she certainly won me over very quickly, to the point where it became difficult to imagine Avandoned without her. As I got to know more about her, I found her endlessly fascinating and talented.
Then in December of that same year, founding member Natsuki departed the group unexpectedly. (But eventually finding a home in NaNoMoRaL, a fantastic project in it’s own right.) Avandoned was suddenly Beni and Kotao with their management in limbo, facing an uncertain future. But the duo once again proved that they might be the most resilient idols in the game, refusing to let adversity destroy what they had already achieved. Beni stepped up to become an unstoppable, intensely focused paragon of the DIY work ethic, with Kotao as her equally hard-working fountain of creative energy and charm. Together they’ve forged new paths that other idols would do well to study and take inspiration from: Performing shows in non-traditional venues, collaborating with artists not usually associated with idols, creating their own merchandise and graphic design, self-promoting tirelessly, and steadfastly refusing to give up on building dreams. They may have never gotten wealthy and become household names, but dammit, they made it. Avandoned are the quintessential Art Idols.
“Ending is Beginning!”
To tell you the truth, while naturally she’ll be dearly missed, I’m really quite accepting of Kotao leaving. That’s because I know she’s off to do amazing things. I’m extremely confident that she’s not going to vanish. And she and Beni have both stressed that this is a positive event of personal growth, and that both will continue to flourish as they continue on. If you follow Avandoned, you probably already know that Kotao is a fantastic artist born from artistic parents. Her paintings are beautiful, technically skilled works, with aspects of realism and yet surreal all at once.
She’s got a pretty unorthodox variety of interests too, showing a fascination with horror films and extreme wrestling. Last year, she took on a new challenge, writing the lyrics to a song called “Meat Pie” for the debut album of film-themed idol duo Cinema and Boy CQ. The song’s inspiration: The groundbreaking exploitation classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Here’s a video of her discussing her collection of wrestling merch, along with a little talk about her paintings and family… (You’ll need to turn the audio all the way up.)
And as for Avandoned? Well, I’m not too worried about the group either, because Beni is a brilliant soul who knows how to rebuild it into whatever she wants it to be. She posted a heartfelt message on her Instagram account, lavishing praise for Kotao as a music partner and a friend, and stating her determination to see that Avandoned will continue. She’s announced auditions will be forthcoming and that she’ll be active in the selection. Most interesting, and perhaps fitting, Beni said that she’s envisioning the next incarnation of Avandoned to be built on anywhere to three to five new recruits! If you recall, Avandoned was once a much larger group in it’s very beginning, eventually debuting with four members, so perhaps a return to that basepoint will be the perfect route for a new start.
It’s certainly been no secret that Avandoned is a group very close to my heart. I’d even declare that they were instrumental is bringing me to truly understand the bond between fans and their idols, since they brought my mostly casual fandom to a point where my support feels like a duty that must never falter. And while I love every phase the group has gone through, the duo of Beni and Kotao was something incredibly special that’ll always mean a lot to me. I’m glad that I got to watch it unfold, and now that it’s time for a bird to fly, I will be grateful for what was, and look forward to what’s to come. Godspeed Kotao, and thank you very much.