It’s way too easy to repeat that video. Don’t. Megumi will wind up with your soul.
One of the really fun things about this project has been combing through fan sites and forums and finding out about these groups. A significant proportion of them are about as exciting as being hit by a car. And then you get to find groups like Mugen Regina.
That name is about as on-the-nose accurate as it gets: In a fun Japanese/Latin mashup, it literally means “Fantasy Queen,” and, well, just listen to that song.
I’m not going to pretend to know all that much about them right now except to say that I really want to get my hands on their At the Threshold of a Dream album, their first, which came out in October 2015; their previous releases include some EPs. Getting through the jumbled Google translation of their website reveals that they’ve been at it since October 2013, and, like others, they’re deliberately out to challenge and change the notion of what an idol can be.
That’s cool. That’s metal.
I’ll go ahead and alert fellow YouTube hounds that their original catalog is a little bit all over the place. It includes a summer single, for bob’s sake. That’s not bad, just kind of confusing when you consider that the above is the lead track off of their first full album release.
Otherwise, even allowing for the recent roster update, they cut an impressive profile on stage and don’t shy away from either the beauty or the brutality, as befits their style of music.
Where they’re going now, though, remains to be seen. Their center, Haruno Megumi, graduated in May 2016, and her striking stage presence and powerful voice will be hard to replace.
What they sound like
Proggy melodic metal. It’s incorrect to say “no frills” when so much of the sound is about frills, but this isn’t one of those trying-too-hard groups. They do what they do well. But let me just say that my personal hope is that they run with this whole ghostly/ethereal/”from hell” thing and forget about the summer singles.
You’ll like them if
Nightwish is your thing, or you really, really like RPGs.
What happens when you take idols and add them to a thrash band?
This is what happens.
What you see before you is actually the second iteration of Haloperi Doll — and unlike the typical roster overturn of most idol units, this was a complete revamp: A few months after launching in 2014, the original group was completely disbanded, with a totally new lineup announced after a few more months of stasis.
So this is actually a pretty new unit, not even a year old as of this writing, and a sister group to Mugen Regina (same management and label). I really enjoy the songs done by the original trio, and I like what I’ve heard from the new lineup, so I have to say that the future is bright.
I’m also a metalhead with a definite weakness for thrash, so Haloperi Doll is kind of right in my wheelhouse. They’re also quite nice to interact with on Twitter.
I want to have more to say about Haloperi Doll, but their newness and relative obscurity to Anglophone fans means that I don’t have a whole lot of information, but I’m rooting for them, and let me say that I hope that Babymetal’s influence on Western metal festivals opens the door to more idol metal units, and that the next wave includes Haloperi Doll.
What they sound like
This isn’t dressed up at all. They’re idols singing to (primarily) thrash tracks. That’s a-okay.
You’ll like them if
You wished that Megadeth had a better (female) vocalist; you like Nervosa but prefer clean voices.
Idols are diverse. If I’ve learned anything from the process that began with “what else is like Babymetal?”, it’s that there’s no one way to look at idols, and an idol can be a punk just as readily as she can be pop star in a weirdly cut pastel-colored dress.
So with an idol being capable of any kind of music and any kind of performance, it makes sense that there’d be someone out there occupying that permanent middle space — far from a typical pop group, but safe enough to introduce to your parents. Like Nickelback, only, like, good.
And that, for me, is Himekyun Fruit Can.
I don’t think that it makes a whole lot of sense to pretend that they’re anything that they aren’t. They’re an agency creation in the purest sense, with auditions held in 2010 leading to the creation of two different groups, one of which no longer exists (but may have been spun off to make the small army of sister groups — Fruitpochette, nanoCUNE and AiCune). After scoring big sales as independents, they eventually got signed to a major label and assumed what seems to me to be the dominant position in the rock side of the idol scene.
Of course, as idols, they’re required to have a weird gimmick (in this case, every member has their own fruit), but that stuff’s actually pretty understated. Instead, the focus is on the rock.
And rock they do! Their sound is nicely on the harder end of the rock spectrum, with more than a few songs definitely qualifying as metal and most utilizing a pretty nice hard rock/J-pop hybrid sound. In fact, the songs included here and on the Ultimate Homicidol Playlist are mostly included for demonstration purposes; you could make an argument for any of a number.
HKFC have basically become mainstays at this point, with slick pro production and a seriously heavy discography. And, just for what it’s worth, between their look and their organization (the sister groups are technically part of Himekyun Fruit Can), they’re sort of arch-idol as far as the heavy side of things goes.
They’re pretty successful so far, and they may have the highest ceiling of anybody in the game.
What they sound like
Like the apotheosis of idols doing hard rock. And this is hard rock, too, with quite a bit of their music technically qualifying as metal. Hence the Van Halen comparison — for a pretty long stretch, was anybody doing radio-ready hard rock better than Van Halen?
You’ll like them if
If you’re coming at this from a purely Western perspective, you’re good if you can dig everything from Halestorm to Maroon 5 and also kind of had a Pussycat Dolls thing for a while. If you’re already acquainted with idols, the nearest approximation is probably Kamen Joshi or Osaka Shunkashuto. If you’re into J-rock at all, more Doll$Boxx than Gachapin, but you know what I mean.
I’m not much of one for self-importance, but maybe a little bit of personal context will help people get what this is all about:
I go by Homicidol Maniac, Maniac around these parts. I maintain a few different online personas, so I won’t cross the streams and say what the others are.
Like a lot of people in the West, I was introduced to Babymetal in 2014; unlike most of those people in the West, it wasn’t through “Gimme Choco!!”. I saw something cool and new and interesting happening, got a little bit interested in what this whole “idol” thing was about, was introduced to BiS … and let’s just say that it’s been a really fun time since.
I believe that J-music in general has a lot of potential to catch on even in the closed-minded United States, and because I believe in culture moving in cycles, I believe that the time for that catching on is right about now.
I started this site partly just to give myself some creative space to explore more in the alt-idol world, but I also wanted to give something back to the people who keep my work days tolerable by pumping them full of vibrant, creative music. Because my professional work is in digital media and promotion, and because I have a small pile of credentials to back that up, I thought that an English-language website — that is, more than a blog and more than just a collection of profile information — that has professional skill behind it would be the best gift that I could give.
That’s me in a nutshell. Contrary to what may seem apparent, I’m neither a lonely shut-in nor a weeaboo or the like. I have a family, I have a house, I have pets, I have a job, I have friends. Homicidols.com is all about love.
There are comment fields on just about every page on this site, and I’m working on adding some forums for after there’s a regular sort of readership, but the best way to get directly in touch is to email me: email@example.com.
Not every group of homicidols that comes out ever goes very far or does very much. Like, remember Gekidol? Exactly. But then someone basically comes shooting out of the gate, and you’re left with the feeling that they’re going to matter.
Enter Dissenter Dolls, who I think are still clinging to that as their official name despite now mostly going by the shortened DisDol. They came to attention in the Great Homicidol Discovery of 2015 (like a two-week period in May), and they were metaphorically throwing that gauntlet down pretty hard.
Man, what a throwback. A little NWOBHM, a little thrash, toss in those pop melodies … delicious. This literally could have played on the Sunset Strip once upon a time.
And they’re so (kind of) new! Their exact date of birth is probably a little before that, but their first live performance was in March 2015:
Literally, what’s not to love about this? It’s metal as hell, they seem to embrace the whole “dark idol” thing, they get these crowds whipped up like nobody’s business, they’re so seriously underground (for now) that their schedule consists of like a show a day … yes. DisDol, thank you for existing.
Of course, this being an idol group, exactly who’s a member and how many there are and what the actual timeline of anything even is is clear as mud, so yes, they’ve been through a bit of membership flux, starting as a quartet before ebbing and flowing and as of this moment sitting at six according to photos but seven according to the website, with two members who may or may not have been promoted from another group. Oh yeah, and there’s some gravure modeling going on (because of course there is), which you’ll find out within a minute of following them on Twitter.
Thus it’s worth pointing out that DisDol is actually an agency group like a number of others of the more metal-aligned variety; unlike Babymetal and Fruitpochette, though, Bell Agency has the feel of being rather indie itself, kind of like Necronomidol’s Ricky Wilson just doing as well and as much as possible to make the group work. Bell does have a little bit of a roster, though, as you can see on their YouTube channel, so it’s possible that we’ll see some other good stuff come out of that stable in time.
Anyway, back to DisDol: With one EP out and a vigorous tour schedule, they’re already on the right path. Keep an eye on them. They’re going to be making some significantly more noise.
What they sound like
“Heavy metal,” writ large, blended up with distinctly Japanese pop vocal melodies. You feel kind of like you’re in one of those glorified dive bars that’s half filled with bikers and half with college radio kids.
You’ll like them if
If you’re a metalhead first, you’ll like them if Babymetal caught your ear and opened you up to this nutty Japanese stuff; if you’re less about the metal and more about the idol, you’ll like them if you were able to get into Fruitpochette. This stuff is nicely straightforward.
I don’t know when the idol underground first really started to make figurative noise (as opposed to literal), but there is a backwards throughline from the present day to 2010 and the foundation of BiS.
Forgive me just the second of indulgence; this is Screaming Sixties’ profile, after all. But I’m digging into history for illustrative purposes. BiS made the scene start to blow up, and Babymetal (simultaneously) showed the actual versatility of idols to audiences that might not have wanted to have anything to do with hard music or idols. Time went on, and while the indies were populated with everything from dance-and-DJ units to rock units to hardcore units and on and on, agencies large and small started to experiment with the harder sound, too.
Not everything was successful. That’s impossible. But plenty of it was and is successful, and while more and more live bands were being added to live idol performances, it stood to reason that some band at some point would flip the switch — rather than be called up to support idols, why not create and work with idols of their own?
So insert 6% Is Mine, a pretty good punk band in their own rights. I don’t know their reasoning, but they made the connection and decided to put together an idol unit that would front their own band. After a bit of a search, they settled on Miss Kai and Miss Montero, dubbed the Screaming Sixties, or Zekkyousuru 60do, after the powerfully windy latitudes in the southern ocean.
That video was released in August 2015, and the subsequent months have seen the Sixties tear up the scene with high-energy punk rock shows bolstered by one of the most un-idol looks going and a complete embrace of pure punk fury.
For independent and small agency idols, there is a pressure to record and get CDs and merchandise out there for the fans quickly, so it’s not terribly surprising that Screaming Sixties put out a live DVD (with 6% Is Mine), plus their official debut single and EP, in December 2015. But, thanks to working with a well-established band that is absolutely no joke, they got to release serious quality.
This is a very good song, is the thing.
That’s what an upward trajectory sounds like.
It’s going to be interesting to see what lies ahead for Zekkyousuru 60do. Other tracks on their debut are quite good …
… so it stands to reason that they’ll be able to keep cranking out high-quality punk rock that just so happens to have idols as singers, similarly to how Babymetal has evolved into being a heavy metal idol-singing dance unit and left their J-poppier side more in the margins. To be honest, this Maniac thinks that’s the model for the future, and the more, the merrier.
Because I was an idiot who hadn’t yet gone deep into the bowels of idol metal, I LOL’ed about a Babymetal knockoff (I also am not a big nu-metal fan) and just kind of put it away.
See: Idiot, above.
Note: Teratani Mina’s personal info as a member has been pre-emptively “formered” on this profile just because I know that I’ll forget. She is currently still a member of Fruitpochette, but is graduating on March 26. See more.
I can’t remember which of these two songs made me give Fruitpochette a real chance, but I do know that “CleverDick” wound up being a regular in my rotation. I was a lot more mature (ha) in my idol appreciation by then, and I had to appreciate the fact that this was basically a jazz song rendered in metalcore tones.
You have to be an asshole to not like that.
I was also happy to learn that Fruitpochette isn’t just another kitsune-chasing flash in the pan; they’ve been at it since 2012, and they have the same competitive advantage as Babymetal in that they’re an agency group, with their sisters nanoCUNE and Himekyun Fruit Can likewise in this site’s wheelhouse.
So what’s Fruitpochette’s deal? Well, if you actually take some time to get through their full-length album (The Crest of Evil, released in 2015), there’s plenty of good in it. Honestly, one of the best things about them is that they’re a straight-up idol metal band, with no frills or pretense; they just kick ass. They also apparently tour constantly (which is kind of a thing in the underground), so there’s a lot of dues-paying there for you tr00 jagoffs.
I’d love to learn more about Fruitpochette, including just what their plans are going forward. Especially now, because Teratani Mina, half of the duo, is retiring from idoling for health reasons, but current indications are that Fruitpochette will continue in some configuration or another with the continued inclusion of Azuma Shiori.
What they sound like
A blend of metal styles sung by a big-voiced women with a top range just slightly lower than Ronnie James Dio’s.
You’ll like them if
Do you like metal? That’s pretty much it. Thrash-y, core-y, sometimes brutal, sometimes event dispensing with easy hooks. Unless you’re one of those weird people who only listen to obscure Eastern European grindcore bands, if you like anything from Sabbath to, I dunno, Behemoth to Mastodon, you’ll find something in Fruitpochette to like.
When I first started to really pay attention to who was doing what in the alt-idol scene, I kept overlooking Guso Drop. The sad thing is that I can’t remember why — this track right here, “Hirari Hirahira”, is absolutely legit.
Dare you to not get that guitar stuck in your head.
Guso Drop is totally straightforward in their presentation: They’re idols doing hardcore. The choruses fit within the normal bounds of idol pop, but would you listen to that song and try to make a cogent argument that it isn’t hardcore? You would not, because you are reading this website and clearly have good taste. You probably think that Rei’s very good growl is very good, and that Saki is a perfectly good screamer, and you are correct.
This is unfortunately a group with a pretty limited discography so far (they’re just over a year old, ffs), so “best track” options are pretty limited to the above. I’m looking forward to a full album.
Nonetheless, Guso Drop has one of those don’t-miss-this presences on stage and in the scene, and, presuming that they keep it together, they look to make some pretty big noise down the road.
What they sound like
Most of Guso Drop’s sound is hardcore or hardcore-based, but they also roll out some more traditional punk rock and, of course, throw in their share of synths. So, basically, they sound like hardcore and/or punk with a little bit of a pop feel, with vocals (including harsh!) by idols.
You’ll like them if
For such a straightforward group, I honestly can’t think of very many analogs for what Guso Drop is doing. If you liked BiS / like BiSH or have a pretty general positive feeling for crunchier riffs and the strategic employ of harsh vocals, you’ll probably dig on Guso Drop.
Brand-new Idol Society (hence the acronym) was founded in 2010-11 by Pour Lui, an indie rock singer who saw what a lot of people observed at the same time — that the previously flourishing J-rock scene, plus a whole hell of a lot else, was being pushed aside by the relentless tide of idol.
Pour Lui had a choice. She could accept a mostly anonymous career with a very long shot at success as a musician doing what she already was doing; she could go idol; or she could do something radical.
Fortunately for the world, the only choice that she didn’t make was the first one.
Yep, Pour Lui decided to form an idol group of her own. But this wasn’t going to be your average underground outfit, nor would it pander to convention for the sake of success. No, the mission of BiS was to destroy idol. From the inside.
The first iteration of the group was a four-piece: Pour Lui, Hirano Nozomi, Yokoyama Rina and Nakayama Yukiko. They quickly recorded a self-titled album (which included an eponymous song — how meta is that?), and just as quickly began to fall apart.
I’ve seen differing accounts for why first Rina, then Yukiko, quit the group, but they all boil down to Pour Lui’s raging insistence on being as un-idol as possible — the video for “Paprika,” for instance, involved headbanging with mannequin head props and sort of simulating oral sex and deliberately awkward homoeroticism; for “My Ixxx” up there, the by-then-a-trio romped nude in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous demon-haunted suicide forest.
But you apparently can’t keep a driven Pour Lui down, and she replaced the departed members with, in the end, three newbies: Terashima Yufu, Wakisaka Yurika and Michibayashi Rio.
For a lot of people, this version of BiS — the “Quintet” (or, as I like to call them, BiS 2.0) — was the definitive one. It was the lineup in place when they were signed to Avex Trax out of the indies, it was the lineup that really gained national notoriety, and it was the lineup behind BiS’s second album.
See, when I think about BiS in terms of Pour Lui’s mission and the arc of their history, I look at the Brand-new Idol Society album as a statement of purpose — we’re here, things are going to be different, look at what we’re doing. IDOL iS DEAD, on the other hand, was a declaration of war.
It’s a heavy album, musically and lyrically. This was BiS going for it. I can only imagine how reviewers felt the first time they popped in the CD and were met by that thundering title track. And maybe the coolest part was that the title, IDOL iS DEAD, was less a declaration (idol was very much alive and continues to do very well, thank you) than a threat.
Basically, it’s definitive idolcore, the standard against which all others will be measured.
It was also the beginning of the end, or at least that’s how the fragmented information available in English reads to me.
As documented in the video for “hitoribochi,” stunt-loving BiS was going to put on a show of endurance; they were going to run a 110km supermarathon over the course of 24 hours, THEN do a 24 hour performance.
That’s ridiculous, and of course it ended in disaster — Yurika, “Wacky,” was the only member to get anywhere near finishing the run, and she injured her leg along the way, but tried to power through the performance, anyway. The predictable aggravation of the injury eventually led to her withdrawal from BiS.
I don’t know if Yufu (“Yuffy”) was already contemplating a change at that point, if she’d joined with other things in mind or if it was a wakeup call for her, but she elected to leave the group, too, shortly after Wacky, and go solo.
Once again, BiS was down to three.
Pour Lui didn’t waste any time, though, in adding three new members, creating the first version of the BiS sextet (I call the final lineup BiS 3.0; but the initial sextet, with Rio [“Mitchel”] still around, I think of as BiS 2.5).
But whereas the previous members of the group were more amateur in their presentation, glad to be doing BiS but not really focused on a music career, these latest members were seriously ambitious musicians.**
First Summer Uika, Ten Tenko and Kamiya Saki, though lacking in experience, were/are talented and very serious about making quality music, and that’s what they did. This precursor-final iteration of BiS had a more refined, more mature sound, and they were sort of going for broke.
I don’t know one way or another if losing Wacky and Yuffy soured Pour Lui on the whole BiS thing, but she did start working on a new solo project around that time, and Mitchel quit, and all the signs pointed to an eventual breakup.
Which did come, unfortunately in a way but fortunately in another, because while we lost BiS, we gained the proliferation of ex-BiS and post-BiS artists as a result.
BiS announced their impending breakup for summer 2014, with a hoped-for show at Nippon Budokan following a final album. The final lineup rounded out then, too, first with the stunt casting of near-octogenarian Koshino Junko in a funny troll of their fans, then “permanently” with Koshouji Megumi. And they kicked off their final tour, a Road to Budokan in true idol fashion.
For various reasons, they never did play Budokan and instead held their final performance at Yokohama Arena. They did, however, drop a pretty great final album, WHO KiLLED IDOL?, something of a bittersweet victory lap for one of the baddest groups of women to ever record together.
In a lot of ways, it’s quintessential BiS — well-written, intense music that doesn’t skimp on tough imagery. It doesn’t have the same heft of IDOL iS DEAD, but it’s still generally a must-have for idolcore fans. And, to my knowledge, it also features the largest musical contributions from BiS members of any of the albums, which is a testament to their talent and focus.
BiS’s legacy is an immense one. In addition to six successor projects (including Ten Tenko’s solo career as a DJ), they created space for alt-minded idols to do more of their own thing in their own way. They made heavy music an okay thing for idols to do, and they showed that it’s possible to earn a seat at the big kids’ table by being bold and, if necessary, shocking.
Being neither a woman nor Japanese, I’m not equipped to say that BiS also made a big feminist statement in a culture and within an industry that have more than their fair share of sexism, but I do have to say that BiS’s willingness to flaunt sexuality and put on ribald displays of violence had to have made a big impression. It seems as though it’s not a BiS video without somebody winding up naked and/or bloody; they treated their very sexuality as a weapon, disarming the potential eroticism of lesbianism or nude female bodies with everything from fart noises to gore to implied rape (seriously, I have a hard time watching that DiE video).
They just didn’t care. Zero fucks were given. Live performances had more energy and intensity than a lot of metal shows I’ve been to.
Your move, Fifth Harmony.
It’s why there’s a consensus growing among fans that, as good as BiSH for instance is, you can only nail this kind of mad perfection once. It’s a shadow — blood-soaked, bruised, middle fingers poking assholes — that every other idol group that goes hard will always live under.
And for all of that, they left a huge impression on idols themselves. Their joint single with Dorothy Little Happy (as purely idol an idol unit as has ever existed), “Get You,” is a nice pop song with a typical BiS twist, and they created a genuine friendship with Dempagumi.inc that led to joint concerts and covers of each others’ songs …
… and a BiS appearance as villains in the video for “WWD II.”
If anybody can explain to me why BiS kidnapped Pinky away from the ersatz Dempagumi, please do share.
As a testament to their legacy, all you have to do is take a quick walk through the long list of dance tribute videos for “nerve” put on by idol groups great and small to see that BiS may not have killed idol, but they certainly left scars, and the industry is still adjusting to the world they left behind.
What they sound like
BiS’s signature sound is somewhere between pop-supported hard rock and irreverent pop punk. But that’s way too simple for a group that never shied away from a musical challenge and loved to bring the pain. Punk informs their sound, but it gets pretty hairy out there sometimes.
You’ll like them if
If you’re into the greater punkosphere, you’ll dig on BiS, but keep in mind that they were as much about the attitude as about the way their music sounded, so you’ll also like them if young women taking no prisoners while at times masquerading as typical idols and at times going out of their way to blow up the very concept of that sounds cool to you.
“Taiyou no Jumon” (太陽のじゅもん) (digital single) Brand-new idol Society (album)
“Interaction” (いんたああくしょん) (digital single)
“My Ixxx” (single)
“Tofu” (digital single)
“PPCC” (single) IDOL is DEAD (album)
“Get You” (single, w/ Dorothy Little Happy)
“Fly / Hi” (single)
“Denden Passion / IDOL” (split single, w/ Dempagumi.inc)
“STUPiG” (single) WHO KiLLED IDOL? (album)
“FiNAL DANCE / nerve” (single)
*I said it before, but I’ll say it again: I know that BiS wasn’t the first to do this stuff, but credit for bringing this amazing stuff out of the underground goes to them. Credit for the growth of the scene goes to them. Credit for this website goes to them. If you want to talk about predecessors, by all means, let’s do it, but RESPECT THE BIS.
**Yes, I know, Rinahamu is kind of a big deal on the alti-idol circuit these days, and I give her a lot of credit for just humping the hell out of a career to this point, but let’s not pretend that she’s a budding idol superstar no matter how cool BPM15Q is.
For starters, it must be said that I love Babymetal.* For reasons,** I can tell you exactly when I first heard them, first experienced the “Megitsune” video and first fell completely in love (it took about 30 seconds). I don’t kid around when it comes to Babymetal; if not for them, I never discover BiS, never get into the world of Japanese idols and never become obsessed to the point of starting this website.
Anyway, Babymetal. For a trio of teenagers, they’re not only delightfully awesome, but they’ve been doing this for a remarkably long time.Continue reading →