When the original BiS arrived at their decision to disband wayyyyy back in 2014, did they ever consider how all the tangled strands of their legacy would branch out into a dozen hydra-like directions that each evolved into their own unique entities? In the moment, I recall my own bummed out reaction to the breakup quickly turning into eager excitement for the future as each member revealed their plans. There was LUI FRONTiC, Pla2me, BILLIE IDLE®︎, Tentenko’s solo experiments, and then there was one that really especially stuck out to me…. Koshouji Megumi’s newly announced “Book House Girl”, which promptly became the enigmatically named Maison book girl.
I loved the name immediately. A French fashion/design collective of intellectual young women? Count me in! And I really-really loved their aesthetics. They had not just one, but TWO of my favorite group logos of all time. The clean, minimalist text with those crossed “o”s in “book”. Smart, lean…futuristic. Even the subtle convention of having “book girl” in lower case fascinated me. Plus that stylish cursive-shape logo that sort of resembled a heart. Classy…. and yet organic, with a hint of underlying emotion. And then there was their avant-garde conceptual fashion show outfits made for a runway show as much as a concert. There they were in promotional photos, just chilling in a bathtub and looking so freakin’ cool. I hadn’t even heard their music yet and I was already coveting their merchandise. (Which was never in stock cause it sold out so fast!)
But idols with a striking visual package still need to make music. And while it’s true that there’s a thousand idol groups out there treating music as an afterthought, this would not be one of those. With music composed by Sakurai Kenta, the songs took on a complex but highly off-kilter structure that turned into a signature sound for the group. This is where Maison book girl at times became a polarizing fixture amongst idol fandom. Some early takes were that the group’s songs were “all the same” (Even our beloved Maniac himself started out this way!) and thus rendering them predictable, but for people that loved them, that unique sound was audio comfort food for a melancholy soul.
Personally, the way I interpreted the consistent uniformity of sound and the aesthetics was that Bukuga’s body of work was a continuous art project that worked as a whole larger piece more so than the single-oriented nature of the usual idol groups. You could absolutely enjoy the individual songs as a fine cup of coffee, but the unit brought the entire cafe experience with it if you wanted to immerse yourself in a corner table for a longer stay. It worked beautifully, drawing you in, but it required a little extra reading to fully appreciate it.
And that’s not to say that the book girls didn’t experiment with new concepts, both musically and visually. They used an AI to write lyrics, sleep patterns and brainwaves to make music and MVs, and collaborated with multimedia artists that pushed to the fringes of what so many of us initially limited ourselves to in regard to the notion of what “idol” is. They were quite frankly, one of the very boldest, most adventurous, and most artful figures that pushed the envelope of what this genre has grown into.
And I’m not for one bit going to gloss over the fact that Maison book girl put on a stellar live performance. Their choreography combined movements that could be rigid and robotic for a moment, only to break way for fluid organic dancing. It was beautiful, it was theatrical, it was a promise of greatness realized that deserves to be held up as a high bar. And Bukuga saw beyond national borders, gracing Canada and the UK with overseas ventures that enthralled fans and hopefully enlightened some curious newcomers.
And as Maison book girl grew over their years, this blog grew with it! MBG’s early singles and album came out the same year as Maniac started this project. Papermaiden was a fan from the get-go and contributed some really smart pieces about them, as did Kerrie, who took on the envious and also anxiety-inducing task of interviewing them in London, and she scored some mightily insightful replies! Chris mixed this nightmarish but yet kind-of-amazing mash-up of 27 of their songs combined! And I wrote a thing one time before, but mostly I just left comments on Maniac’s twitter telling him that he was all wrong, wrong, wrong to be a Bukuga fence-sitter. * But lo and behold, the madman of loud-idol even came around to the light… like I said, GROWTH!
But let’s not overlook something more important than what we think…YOU loved them too! You made that clear back in 2016… (The first Homicidols Reader Poll!!)
Like many of you, I have at this point come to accept when idol groups come to a close. I don’t really get hung up on it and mourn so much. Oh, I most definitely miss graduated artists, but I think when a group has had a great run, it’s more important to celebrate that. But in this instance, there’s a still a lingering enigma left behind with the closure.
By now, you have likely read the story of how Maison Book Girl announced their ending. I’ll use the incredibly helpful WACK and WACK-related wiki‘s entry to summarize it:
“On May 30th, Maison book girl held their Solitude HOTEL one man live at Maihama Amphitheater in Chiba, after which papers were distributed containing a URL. The URL was a webpage stating “Maison book girl has been deleted”, announcing that the group had just disbanded.”
Seriously, isn’t that just perfect for them? It’s utterly in keeping with the unusual and mysterious nature of Bukuga. Here’s a musical artist with a highly committed fanbase that have followed and documented every detail of the group. Devoted online groups and thoughtfully-crafted blogs dedicated to the Solitude Hotel cause were created. There’s fans out there who may even know how many pairs of glasses Rin Wada owns, but yet it feels like we’ll never really know Maison book girl fully. They shared only what we needed to know. But I don’t find this frustrating, I find it beautiful. The group has ended things on their terms and owe us nothing more.
Thank you very much for everything. We’ll remember you always.
*No beef, Maniac, I swear! But if my publishing privileges are revoked later today I understand… 😀