Well, happy birthday to Homicidols Dot Com, I guess! That was yesterday, if you’re keeping score at home, but I wasn’t in the mood to finish this thing that’s been in the works for a few weeks, so let’s do it a day late and pretend it’s because the cake needed to be replaced or something.
Three years. For folks who don’t know, this whole business started with an impossibly in-depth dive into Babymetal, finding BiS along the way, thinking that it was wild that Japan had this thing called idols, discovering that like half of every high school girl in the country was apparently in some group or another, and quite a few of those groups did loud music and spit on people and stuff, and wanting to learn as much as possible, and then deciding that I had just the skill set to help other people learn better and faster than I’d been able to.
Yeah, this was originally meant to be a resource website. Hence the specific artist profiles, and also hence the overall content and promotional strategy that really hasn’t changed all that much since I first worked it up in 2015. It took a few months to get all of the right pieces aligned for launch, but Feb. 1, 2016 was it. And may the gods help us all after that.
No, I don’t believe it either. If you’d asked me in those first few months — Adopt-an-Idol, the original Corenament, the old art projects, the intense Alice Project fans in abundance — where I saw this all going, I’d have told you to the moon and back.
Realistically, by the end of the first full year, any and all expectations were hugely dialed back. It turned out that there were so many idols (and growing all the time!) that I couldn’t keep up with original plans, things like the BiS 2.0 audition really showed the community’s personality in a different way, and various failed attempts to get Phase II (i.e., the community makes itself grow) off the ground failed miserably. The only thing to do at that point is to adjust on the fly and hope that the overall objective is still being served.
I think it is. Folks are free to disagree, of course, but I still get enough messages from people who just tripped over PassCode or Zenkimi or something and went down a ridiculous rabbit hole made all the easier — and given sweet, helpful context — by the existence of Homicidols.com. Yeah, I in particular get stuff wrong sometimes, the limits of language being a barrier there and all, but I never wanted to be a resource for weebs who are at actual idol lives every other day, or people who live online with those who do; all I ever wanted was for people who’d had a taste to be able to have a full meal with dessert and have enough knowledge to be able to order from the same kind of restaurant later. In that respect, I think, mission accomplished.
This is of course only possible because of Team. You may have noticed that ol’ Maniac has, in the past year, had to dial back the posting frequency, which was frankly ridiculous and unsustainable in the first place. Team, though, has been such a potent addition to the project, and I’m incredibly thankful to have good friends who are so supportive.
Daemon was the latest to join up, and my dude’s editorial eye and impeccable taste in idoldom have made for some of the best things ever published on this site, the big feature on Western idol promoters being an all-time top 10 post already, and growing all the time. D’s ability to love idol things and also view them realistically and critically is exactly what we need. He’s currently with Papermaiden at Shidare’s graduation show and will no doubt follow up with a delicious report from the live. Also, his personal brand, the 444 hat, is so on point that I’m jealous of it.
Speaking of Papermaiden, her own personal interests speak to an audience that I could never reach — our original plan turned out to be a challenge for a grad student, but I love the periodic looks into idol outfits, street fashion, makeup, etc. that she brings to the table, as well as her great taste in chika idol. I always learn from PM’s posts, and her unique writing style adds a nice turn to the mix. She’s also sort of the ringleader in our chat group, always full of ideas and endlessly supportive of others.
Brian, the Artist Also Known as Supreme Nothing, The Most Metal Handle on Twitter, has been a co-conspirator of mine for long enough that I can’t remember if we first met over avandoned’s 2016 U.S. tour or if it just seems like that. This dude has connections and interests in a mile-wide gamut, and he leaves me in awe with how much context and parallel he can put into an intro post for some cool, quirky artist or another. I feel privileged to be able to host work that he could very easily just publish away on his own site.
Kerrie of course is the OG contributor. Her black sense of humor around something that she clearly loves to pieces is such a welcome addition to everything that we do, whether it’s talking shit on Banamon while still loving them or doing things like her Sleepy Reviews that put such a unique twist on idol media. The Friday Fun may be Kerrie’s lasting public legacy with the site, but I need to credit her with the slow redefinition of the overall look and tone, too, and for personally policing some of my worst impulses.
Those folks are amazing, and I love them. And they’re not the only folks who chip in! Krv’s been a big help in various ways over the years (and his posts are dope), Phillter still lurks around the corner and offers up info from time to time, Pure Idol Heart is still a mentor, folks in the community are such sustainers in sharing and updating information … the list goes on. Hell, go look at last year’s birthday post for a rundown.
And that’s just around this site — when I started, there were a mere handful of English-language assets that covered loud idol at all, and now there’s a proliferation of everything from blogs to podcasts to web series to Discord servers to the guy who saw me in my Zenkimi shirt a few months back and wound up coming to my New Year’s Eve party. Everybody who creates, everybody who holds up this crazy idol thing in one way or another, it all contributes to a growing community that sure, it has its cracks here and there, but it’s a good place filled with good people.
The point is, Homicidols.com was always meant to be a we kind of thing, and it is. I’d be even happier if it were even more we and all I did was deliver #hottakes and the Weekender … well, and various pet projects and covering Necroma and okay, so I’ll never be able to dial back that far. Still, though, if you’ve ever thought, hey, I bet I could contribute good and funny and insightful things to people who want to discover and learn about idols and I am not completely offended by Homicidols.com and I have an hour or two here and there to chip in, send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Now. I had mentioned last week, I think, that I’d wanted to do a good 2019 preview and it got away from me and I was going to combine it with something else? Yes. This is that thing now, and the couple of paragraphs on data (tl;dr: wow, things are growing all the time!) have been accordingly excised, awkward transition sentences superimposed on previously existing content … let’s look ahead now that we’re a month into the year!
We May Already Have Our Best Album
Because reasons, the Homicidols Best Of runs December-November, lest we ignore some amazing late-year thing because we followed industry standard and published Best Of during the year being adjudged. The only real downside is when a December release is just that far off the chain.
Take, for example, There There Theres and their exquisite BRICKS album, which you can and should immediately go listen to on Spotify; I maybe have it ahead of fellow Aqbi affiliate Yanakoto Sotto Mute’s MIRRORS as true-2018’s best album, and I’m not sure that anybody’s going to be able to top it in 2019.
It’s an EP War out There
I was all set to follow that up with something along the lines of “of course Yanamyu’s already got the front-running EP release thanks to Humoresque #3,” but I also came to realize that this is becoming a preferred release format all over popular music — that is, not just idol and not just Japan, but also both of those things — and that it stands to reason that we’ll get a whole mess of maxi-singles and mini-albums and proper six-song records over the course of the next year, and that they’re likely to prove more consistently solid than the full albums that more and more seem to be fluffed out. What a twist!
Is WACK Tapped?
I mean …
The former most interesting entity in idol has basically become the punchline to its own joke.
If you’d have asked me two years ago to predict a world where BiSH is a huge-and-still-growing major idol mainstay, BiS has become a sideshow, POP turned into something else and that thing went and got almost off-puttingly cool, the company launched a joint project with Avex that just hasn’t quite fully delivered and has a trainee unit of literal children, I’d have scoffed. Yet here we are!
It’s not a make-or-break thing with Watanabe, not when he’s probably already surpassed his wildest dreams, nor am I suggesting that the whole shebang’s on its way out. Rather, I can only imagine that BiSH keeps plugging away even with the inevitable impending turnover (though Aina’s still on the roster, outlasting my expectations). GANG PARADE will be the toy, as always; EMPiRE will be there to put out one solid+ release per year and participate in membership shenanigans.
Overall, though, is whether there any actual room to grow? Does Watanabe have any creative juice left? Is BiS even worth keeping alive at this point? What’s the actual point of WAgg? Will there be something, perhaps another new project, to spring from the auditions? Yes, I do expect that we’ll see BiSH arrive for U.S. and/or European dates in the near future, only fueling their powers, but that may be about it for the company that, for a little while, seemed to define this whole side of the business.
The Trend Has Inertia
I’m asking you here to think of inertia in purely scientific terms, not just the way that people mean it when something doesn’t do things. Newton got down with inertia, basically saying, hey, a thing that’s moving wants to keep moving, and a thing at rest wants to stay at rest. Pretty simple!
Idol, on the whole, is in a constant push-and-pull of intertias, which is so meta that it makes my eyes hurt. There are traditions to uphold while chasing after new trends, or new twists on otherwise contemporaneous looks and sounds.
I’m mostly concerned with the music, and specifically the loud-and-or-cool stuff, and I’ve seen a few trends come and go in the scene. It’s just that, every time I think there’s going to be a big pivot, it never quite finishes the job. Like, despite being really hard to maintain and even once seeming like the next big thing, metal units are still plodding along and even making some decent noise for themselves. Recently, more art-rock approaches came into vogue, only to lose steam. The only thing that really seems to stick is that punk-inspired sound that veers between regular ol’ Mom Rock and easycore, depending on the composer’s mood.
As a result, it feels like the groups with a real standalone sound, or at least work within a identifiable framework — PassCode, Zenkimi, BiSH, Necroma — are the ones that have the most staying power and don’t need to succumb to various flavors of the week.
What that flavor might be this year, I don’t know. Whatever it is, though, punky stuff and mainstay stuff aren’t likely to be supplanted by it.
When It Comes to Idols Venturing West, There Might Never Be a Better Year than 2019
There are already announced venues and dates for idol gigs in Europe and North America, and there’s tons of scuttlebutt about so-and-so maybe doing this-or-that thing. I don’t want to let too many cats out of the bag — very little has been unofficially confirmed, let alone made official — but I think that this might be a good time to start saving some dollars or Euros or pesos or wickets or whatever the hell they use in the UK, because chances seem good that you’ll have plenty of opportunity to travel not-terrible distances to see idols live in the flesh. They may even scream at you!
Speaking of …
People Aren’t Going to Know How to Handle Broken By The Scream
They’re whetting their skills with international audiences in Korea and Taiwan, both of which are far friendlier locales for idols in general and have seen their share of loud acts, and where BBTS undoubtedly has a good amount of fans already. Their appearance in the States, though, has the potential to rip the lid off of what had been a simmering pot. The con crowd will probably be fine, but what I’m pleading for is people — Chaotic Harmony, con staff, random attendees — to find a way to make this appearance one that breaks out in front of metal audiences. The shine has mostly worn off of Babymetal, but somebody doing “real metal” and doing it live can re-ignite that fire. Another plus: The raw stupidity of some of the negative reactions may actually provide enough fuel to light the entire Mississippi Valley.
In 2019, Watch For
Big moves from: Melon Batake a go go, SPARK SPEAKER, Toricago, Kaqriyo Terror Architect, DAIDAIDAI, wyenra, Bury, SHINGEKI
Sick releases from: Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da, PEDRO, 969, NECRONOMIDOL, PassCode, JyuJyu, GANG PARADE, 2&, Babymetal
I hope nothing bad happens but: You’ll Melt More!, Osaka Shunkashuto, Yukueshirezutsurezure, Screaming Sixties, Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen, Dots, ayumikurikamaki
Also Watch for a Ton of Graduations
Man, if you thought these first few weeks of the year were rough, I have bad news for you — at least since I started to follow this stuff in 2014, there’s been a distinct up-and-down trend of great cohorts of debuts and enormous heartbreak via disbandments and graduations. I wrote constantly about how good 2018 was as a year for debuts, so … well, was 2017 that bad? I almost ended the site! Was 2016 that good? Judge for yourself! 15? Honestly kind of middling! And so on, back at least to 2010, the year when BiS first came into being (12 being their breakout year and when the scene really first ignited because of it). It’s wild.
So yeah, folks are losing oshis left and right already, and idol started the year with a terrible story of wota and management at their worst. I don’t want it to be a precursor of things to come, but history says that we’re likely in for more pain.
What Next for Homicidols.com?
The hell if I know, man. I owe it to them (heh) to bring back the Oshi Digest and will hopefully get that moving posthaste. I’ve toyed with doing another round of the 100 Days, but as a team effort. The site needs maintenance more than ever. And there’s a particular pet project of mine that I really do need to get moving on, or it’ll never happen (hint: it involves idols!).
If you’ve enjoyed all this mess so far, I hope you keep taking the ride with us.