Not an April Fools joke! Really! Especia are coming back for an anniversary show!
— 音楽ナタリー (@natalie_mu) April 1, 2022
Especia really are one of those once in a lifetime groups. Well, maybe twice in a lifetime on account of the reunion show, but still. On June 18th, the five founding members will return to grace the stage one last time to celebrate their 10th anniversary AND they want to livestream it too! There is one condition for that however, their official YouTube account needs to surpass a certain amount of hours of watchtime for them to be allowed to. So if you’re looking for an excuse to rewatch everything, it is now quite literally your moral imperative to do so.
Of course we could just end the article here with the very gleeful announcement, but we also can’t not talk about why Especia were so especially special. It’s easy to take the state of things for granted, but 10 years ago the idol scene was incredibly different. We can accept that idol groups can be anything now but back then, this kind of out of the box creativity was surprising. Refreshing, even.
Especia exploded onto the scene with a sparkling take on 80’s nostalgia that caught the eye of a lot of people, unique not only in the idol world but also in emerging internet subcultures. Vaporwave certainly burst into the public eye but in 2012, one year after Floral Shoppe and two after Eccojams, it was still an emerging frontier.
There are notions that “Japan caught on later” with regard to vaporwave, future funk and the general city pop nostalgia tidal wave, but Especia are proof that simply is not the case. To put things into perspective, DULCE came out a year before Macross82-99 released Sailorwave and Mariya Takeuchi went viral on YouTube five years after the group formed. Especia were making songs that fell under the afformentioned categories at the same time a lot of musicians outside of Japan were too, but somehow aren’t considered among their peers. Other than this being a period where there was a lot more malaise around idol groups from internet denizens in the anglosphere, part of it comes down to the fact that Especia zig where the majority of vaporwave zags. They’re bright and happy instead of cynical with an edgy… edge.
Not that we’re ragging on different approaches to things, art is entirely up to the artist, but it is fun to just have fun y’know?
A key element of vaporwave is the use of Japanese aesthetics to paint a dystopian retro-futurist landscape, but Especia chose to actively embrace these things. Instead of feeling melancholy looking at that bygone era on your computer screen, why not embrace it fondly? Nostalgia is meant to be a good feeling! That repetitive jazz fusion, the MIDI trumpets blaring out funk and the slight hint of technokayou topping it off: combine that with some VHS filters and simple 3D graphics and you have an aesthetic treat for the eyes and ears.
Being able to embody that in a current, active group was why they had such a dedicated international fanbase too. Again, an aspect of a lot of vaporwave is Japanese retro aesthetics being used for cynicism, but what about people outside of Japan who just earnestly love the style of the Bubble era? That era you love to look at but couldn’t be part of, you could now be part of it! You could wait for new music with baited breath instead of only having a finite amount of records to listen to! The torch had been passed and the girls holding it were sending it into a low-poly CGI rocket, soaring above a rainy Tokyo night.
We could honestly go on singing their praises all day, but we don’t want to take up more of your time when you could be streaming their music videos. Really, they need a cumulative 400 hours of watch time to be able to broadcast “Especia es una Familia ~10º aniversario~” on June 18th! It isn’t every day that good things come around a second time!