Despair Not for the Dissolution of our Dearest Dots

Before dashing off this article too briskly, I took in the last evening to ponder yesterday’s announcement that the dot-chans have scheduled what will be their final live, do a little research to understand what I could, and also to reflect on where we go in a world without the beloved shoegaze idols we’ve come to know.

I know that most all of you who follow the group are already aware of the impending closure, because I heard from a number of you about it, some in personal messages, and others from reading your reactions online. It speaks to the unique specialness of this group in the way many of you expressed your thoughts with a feeling of personal loss and perhaps a sense of disappointment. Oshi-loss, as Kerrie refers to it, is a very real emotional reaction when you’ve connected to an idol who’s graduating or a group that’s dissolving. And although these dot-chans have largely maintained a sort of aloof anonymity, they still touched a part of each of us fans. It’s also very notable to point out, as this article from Matt Bedford of Muso Japan demonstrates, that the group succeeded in gaining followers outside of idol circles.

I did reach out to Japanese fans, and I also read the group’s blog entry containing the chan’s statements. I can tell you that amongst the fans, the announcement was a surprise, and there is no obvious tangible reason for the dissolution that’s been given. I can also tell you that the dot girls of Tokyo are going to remain just as mysterious as they’ve been right up to the end. Everyone is very much remaining in character, and I not only appreciate that, but I love that that’s how they’re going out. The more I think about it, I’m less interested in finding out the “why”, and more interested in celebrating what we knew. In their blog statements, the members of the group seem to be upbeat and positive to travel into their futures. I get no sense of sadness.

The group’s primary manager/producer/visionary also kept the mythology going, explaining that the ethereal manifestations that took the shape of girls will inhabit those forms for only a limited amount of remaining time, and then the end of that time on Earth is here. The dot-chans were always meant to be impermanent, and so they move on to new planes of existence.

If you really want my non-mythology theory, I believe the dots are disbanding for the very best of reasons: Because they’ve largely achieved what they set out to do. Now they can go explore new things in their lives which may or may not include obsessive fans and metaphysical concepts. (There’s also the matter of this being a nearly no-profit industry, but I think that’s a given with most art-driven projects.) Some time ago, it was hinted that there was a new project underway that I thought was going to be a sister-group to the Dot-chans. That project is still happening. So far, almost nothing has been revealed about it except that it’s continuing the innovative high art concepts that Dots have broken ground with. I believe a torch is being passed, and it’ll be exciting to see what’s coming as this new project takes a tangible shape.

I want to tell you dear people reading this: Do not anticipate this event with despair, but rather look forward to the new things to come. Don’t miss the Dots with sadness, but remember them fondly with affection. This is the way of things, and like a passing satellite in the sky, it’s something you should cherish for simply having seen it.

The dot-chans will have their final live on March 24. They will also have additional activities building up to the last show. And since they still have unreleased recorded material and more songs, including another great tune written by Azusa Suga of For Tracy Hyde, (The video posted above!) I also suspect that they’ll have some more musical output to be consumed as well. I know the fans will support the group to the fullest and send them off in celebratory style, because they deserve it.

Now let’s thank Dots for what they gave us and wish them the very best.

NaNoMoRaL Grace Us With an MV, a New Song, & Lots of Feeling…

The power duo NaNoMoRaL have been charming us with some really terrific music since last year, with their debut EP “Nisan ka Tanso” being one of my personal favorite releases of 2018. When you combine Amamiya Miku‘s raw, emotional vocals, and terrific stage presence with Kajiwara Paseli‘s tech wizardry and secondary vocals, you have a group that’s proven themselves to be a unit worth watching.

I feel like 2019 could be a highly eventful year for these two, so it’s welcome news to see their first true “MV” finally released, and it’s for a new song at that!

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Meet avandoned…

The idol world doesn’t slow down for a second, does it?  And especially so if you’re one of the busiest bees in this bustling business, that is Beni Usakura. In a relatively short span, (especially in idol years), she’s gone from an abandoned audition candidate to group member to group leader, organizer, producer, marketer, and all-around DIY master of a hearty never-say-die group that is a breathing manifestation of her creative energy.

During the entire taxing process of preparing for Kotao’s departure, she’s been holding auditions for new members to keep her beloved group’s legacy going. Beni decided to tease us a bit for a couple of days, but at last, we’ve been introduced to her first officially inducted member… Continue reading

There She Goes: Beni and The Childish Tones!

Hey, I know we’re dealing with the impending graduation of Kotao from Avandoned and of course, it’s a monumental upheaval for a very special group, but if there’s one thing I know, Beni is never ever going to slow down for a single minute. She’s gotta be hands-down one of the hardest working people on the scene, and her latest endeavor is one to really be excited over, a 45″ single collaboration with her friends and frequent stage partners, The Childish Tones!

I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced, but waited to see if maybe we’d get an MV or something to go along with the details, and now here we are! The record consists of Usabeni and The Childish Tones on two tracks, one being a cover of the classic Nick Lowe power-pop number “Cruel to be Kind”, accompanied with a cover of The La’s “There She Goes” for the b-side!

Yesterday an MV was shared for the La’s cover, and it’s a delightful trip to twee-town once again with Beni: Continue reading

Do Maison book girls Dream Of Electric Sheep?

It’s just like me to offer to write a quick-take on a topic that really has a lot more going on than just a simplified quick-take!

The MV for Maison book girl‘s recent album’s closing track “Yumea” (Dream) entered public consciousness over the weekend, and it’s a beautiful piece of visual art. If you watched it on a pure surface level with no backstory about it’s intent, it’s still a gorgeous experience in the arena of sound and vision. I’m thinking it’s reasonably safe that the highly loyal Bukuga fans out there have already seen it, but I recommend a rewatch anyway, and if you haven’t, please take a moment. There won’t be a quiz or anything, but it’s important to understand what we’re discussing, and also, it’s a great song and you just really should…

The opening scenes are a questionnaire session leading into a sleep test in a medical facility. It’s then followed with a series of dreamy visuals of girls in headphones looking all introspective. Okay fine, so girls in headphones looking introspective on bus rides isn’t terribly groundbreaking, I’ll cede you that point, but those surreal images that pulsate in time with the odd flickering sound in the song, what’s that about? Well, the end of the video is kind enough to help explain that, and that’s where one realizes the true beauty of this MV. Continue reading

We Review Things: “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World”!

SAKA-SAMA have been something of a favorite with Team Homicidols since they first formed in 2016, but at the same time, they’ve remained a perplexing enigma of an idol unit. Constantly shifting membership rosters are always part of this territory, but this group seems especially prone to changing it’s line-up with each passing season, with only Kokone and Dr. Mahiru providing consistency as it’s founding members. And the music of SAKA-SAMA, primarily billed as “Low-Fi Dream Pop”, is in truth equally unpredictable, with a wide variety of unique genres and styles that run the gamut of shoegazey indie-pop to oddball quirky country songs and spoken word pieces, making it a rather difficult task to describe what exactly the group does. Mind you, this isn’t a complaint by any means, I’m just trying to clarify why writing about TRASH-UP!!’s in-house idol group is well… quite a challenge. 

So after a couple of years of compilation tracks, EPs, singles, and one live recording, SAKA-SAMA have finally released an actual, honest-to-goodness full length album, titled, appropriately enough, “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World’! I’ve been excitedly anticipating this release since the moment it was announced, and I eagerly snatched it from OTOTOY right away. I came to realize quickly that this is an album that, just like anything related to SAKA-SAMA, has certain unique traits that can’t be summed up after a breezy listening session. This is what we call a “grower”, or a “slow-burn”, wherein one must dig in deeply to truly reap the rewards of the listening experience, and develop an opinion based on multiple takes instead of relying on easy gratification. 

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You’ll Melt More! Never Gives Up!

I love a lot of things about You’ll Melt More!, and one of those things is their sheer prolificness. While other groups take months to release a single with two songs on it, YLMM! release singles and EPs like a 24-hour factory of goodness, hardly even slowing down to catch a breath. But what’s important to mention here, is that this continuing flow of output is consistently high-quality and always a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

And then there’s the music videos! The group has gone through the effort to make MVs for practically every song on their recent EP releases. I like the way they’ll produce a couple of videos that show off a somewhat considerable (but still fairly modest) budget, and then knock out some quick ones with hardly any money spent at all, relying strictly on lo-fi charm and hooks to get the point across. The videos often present themselves as labors of love by a group of girls who are clearly enjoying what they do, and that’s far more valuable than a lavish budget shot at some fancy location.

So right now we’re basking in the hangover left behind after the rollicking fun of “Never Give Up Drunk Monkeys” with a follow-up video for their song “Dahlia”. The song itself is a nice, upbeat number giving off a positive glow, accompanied by a kinda dark, but also kinda hopeful MV with idol-zombies, existential late-night wandering, gardening, and Younapi behind the wheel of an early model Ford T-Bird: Continue reading

This Bird Has Flown: Avandoned Will Take New Form Again Next Year

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.

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. 

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