Homicidols Archives: The Idol Suicides #3

Welcome to Homicidols Archives, an attempt to capture and document the ephemeral and ever-changing entity that is Idol.

Here is the reprint of the first instalment of The Idol Suicides, a column originally written for now-defunct 20hz magazine by Sokichi Osada, the producer of legend-worthy disbanded group Girls Excellency International & currently the producer of Cinema and Boy CQ (Den’ei to Shounen CQ), movie soundtrackers extraordinaire duo.
The Idol Suicides #03 was originally published in March 2017, in the fourth issue of 20hz.

For an introduction to the series, click here. For the other installments, it’s this way.

The text of the article is untouched and as Osada-san sent it to me. However, considering the original layout of the article had images and video content to supplement documentary appartés. I was linked to all idols videos, they are presented as they were. All other hyperlinks have been added by the contributor posting this.

The Idol Suicides

Sokichi Osada

#03 Bande à part

I know there is nothing on this planet that could last forever, but there are those that I can’t help but to think so, and SMAP*1 was one of them.

Idols are told to ‘have their seasons,’ that it’s only profitable while they’re young. But the teens who had formed the group SMAP were all in their 40’s and, still very marketable. Nobody thought they’d ever break up.

The true reason for their breakup was never clearly stated and all we heard were the nosey gossips of ‘being on bad terms’ and ‘money problems.’ Their last work, the last screening of their regular TV show ‘SMAPxSMAP,’ also ended like a funeral where the family of the deceased was trying to hide the cause. The shining star SMAP had ceased, blankly and lonesomely.

With such a monstrous content as SMAP which involved many grown-ups and their lives, they couldn’t pull off an extravagant stunt. The best they could do was to dress up the safe and dull as something special, and I understand that their endpoint couldn’t be helped but to be a funeral.

– Formed in 1988, possibly the most selling boy-idol group in the history of Japan. In 2016, the 28th year of their formation, they had broken up. The teenagers who had debuted were all in their 40’s when they broke up, but they were still the kings of the idol industry.

It’s not just cakes and ale. Lonely, saddening things happen for both idols and their fans. Not only major idols like SMAP but many idols, including itty-bitty indie idols ― Chika Aidoru *2 ― , are recently beginning to breakup or discontinue. *3

For example, if you searched “idols, breakup” in Twitter, you’d find that there are at least one news a day of a disbandment or a leave of a member, a scandal or a dismissal from their management company that happens with idol groups so small that medias won’t cover.

Following this stream, some say that the winter years of idols *4 is yet again repeating like the 90s, but on the other hand the idol fans are, as much as they are disappointed by the news, enjoying these happenings.

I wouldn’t say it’s “flaming internet marketing” but I think the idols have the power to take the breakups, leaves of members, scandals and dismissals and turn it into an entertainment.

As someone who is involved with the indie idols, I’d like to write about the ‘way to end, with coolness, for Chika Idols’ applied only to the underground idols.

*2‘Chika Aidoru’ [Underground Idols]
– Term for the idols who do not belong to major labels. ‘Chika Aidoru’ can be taken as belittling expression, and terms ‘Live Aidoru’ [Live Idols] and ‘Indies Aidoru’ [Indie Idols] are preferred nowadays.

*3 “… many idols … are recently beginning to breakup or discontinue.”
– The list of groups who had broken up or went on hiatus, both famous and not, is so long that its exact number cannot be pointed. This trend is continuing on in 2017.

*4 ‘Winter years of idols’
– The era from late 80’s to mid 90’s when musicians could not be commercially successful even if they carried ‘idol’ as their title. Also known as ‘Idol Ice Age.’ The alleged causes include the drop of the idol status by the Onyanko Club boom in the mid 80’s, the suicide of a popular idol Yukiko Okada, and the deterioration of music TV shows.

When there’s a scandal in the major field such as SMAP, the celebrity news departments move. The celebrity news department is an outside system that turns the news into entertainment. They make a show out of celebrities and shining stars falling to the ground.

I’ve written how the Japanese underground idols are experiencing a “galapagosization” where anything and everything is carelessly done, but I think one of the biggest strength of the underground idols is that they can have an internal celebrity news system within themselves. The tabloids won’t lift a finger if a minor underground idol who nobody knows is dating someone. This means that the management team holds the biggest power in controlling how to showcase the news, however tragic or comical. They have the ability to make joy out of their own member’s love scandals. The members themselves can joke cynically about the situation they’re in, or if the member’s personality fit, they can even throw a “happy love scandal” show (topped off with memorial goods.) *5

▲(*5) Information manipulation in the underground idol scene
– Up to some scale, the idols and those involved can lie without causing any trouble to say “This is really selling!” and “Everybody loves it!” since they’re the only ones who know the exact number. Rather, there is an underlying rule to act that the fans believe them, even if they know that it’s a cute lie.

It’s been a while since the news but the idol group I was managing, ‘Shojo Kakka No International’ *6 had safely went onto their indefinite hiatus on July 8th, 2016. (We didn’t call it a ‘breakup’ and kept it as ‘indefinite hiatus’ so that we could come back if the time calls.)

There are several reasons to this hiatus. The management group, the members, the people involved, and even the fans, all took part (though the biggest cause was to us management group who couldn’t control these little causes.) But I’m not interested in telling the reasoning in detail. We just wanted to cut a fine figure ending the project. In other words, Shojo Kakka No International was indeed nothing but an idol group and I believe that idols need to be an entertainment to be cool. Even if I told the reasonings in details, my writing skills can’t turn it into a show, so I won’t.

A ‘show’ does not limit itself to fun things.

Idols are, no matter how minor or underground they are, showmen who are paid by the audience for entertainment. So, I could be taken wrongly, but as long as they turn sex scandals and breakups into shows, to some extent, it’s okay.

But I do think, the biggest fear the fans have is for their favorite group to breakup. If the news is told truthfully, it’s only going to be a tragedy. A group’s final disbandment show could turn out to be a funeral.

I just couldn’t see Shojo Kakka No International, who continued to do insensibly stupid things since their debut, drawing their curtain like that.

The underground idol’s strength is that they can have an internal celebrity news system within themselves.

If that is the case ― we acted the stupidest we could ever be for 2 months since announcing the hiatus in May. Shows were we repeated a song for 30 minutes straight, or where we basically did not perform and just talked. Stupids gotta be stupids, till the end. It was Shojo Kakka No International’s last duty to turn something so lonesome as indefinite hiatus into the biggest joke.

They were given full 2 hours for their final show, and acted out a 3 parted stupidity show in front of 300 people; non-exciting songs one after another for the first half, the not good solos that lasted forever for the second half, and partied like stupids should for the final part.

Shojo Kakka No International
– Indie idol group debuted in September, 2014. With obscure songs and strong individuality of both members and fans, they have achieved a unique status within the underground idol world. They went on an indefinite hiatus since July, 2016.
Their album ‘Satsujin Jiken’ [A Murder Case]https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B01GUUZDLE/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ZPxRybAZ3AY1P
released at almost the same time as their hiatus has been well-received.

The result wasn’t successful.

I was aiming to be laughed at, to be told “I’ve had enough of Sho-Nasho” and “Hurry up and breakup already,” but in reality I found words like “I wanna see more” and “I miss them already.” We failed to be stupid enough.

‘A way to end, with coolness, for Chika Aidoru’ is achieved by turning an incident such as breakups into good entertainment, fitting the members’ personalities.

To speak personally, the hiatus of Shojo Kakka No International is tremendously regretful and saddening. But we, the idols and the management group, are nonetheless showmen whether we’re underground or indies. Our personal feelings have to be put aside and we must bring the best entertainment with a showman’s pride.

After the hiatus of Shojo Kakka No International, I and the Sho-Nasho management group had started a different group. It is an idol group with yet another odd name ― “Denei To Shounen CQ” [Film and the Boy CQ] *7

If Sho-Nasho is a restless “dynamism” then this is the very opposite, an elegant “stillness.”

Sho-Nasho was somewhat aiming to do the main stream of “get people loud/excited,” but this time we’re aiming to present that idols can be entertainment, even if people don’t get loud or excited.

It’s only been 4 months since their debut and we’re still struggling, but I have a feeling that there’s something down the road if we continue on.

The winter years of idols may be close. But I believe that there’s limitless possibilities in the ways of expression we could do in the field of idols. I have no interest in superior intention such as prolonging the idol culture or to prosper it; I just enjoy managing them. That’s why I intend to give a little more of my effort into it.

(*7) Denei To Shounen CQ [Film and the Boy CQ]
– An unconventional idol group by a boy-girl duo, debuted in November, 2016. Calling themselves Eiga-Santoraa [Film Soundtrackers], they sing soundtracks made for imaginary films. They are managed by TRASH-UP!! RECORDS.