Well this turned out remarkably well, didn’t it? ZOC is … actually, I have no idea how to preface this. If you know ZOC, you know about all of the ZOC stuff most likely, and if you don’t know ZOC you may wonder why we like to talk about them. I find them an interesting between-the-lines act, as one would probably expect from a subversion-minded Oomori Seiko-led idol unit on a major label during this particular era, but it may well be the Seiko fact that keeps the whole thing from hilariously unraveling, as to say that one is a thing and then to be it are two very different things.
Anyway! New single, double A-side(?), out today but a couple of days’ existence for the two MVs in support, and as the title implies your own personal satisfaction mileage may vary depending on your a) taste and b) relationship toward the ZOC thing:
Attending the Tokyo Idol Festival has always been on my bucket list. The primary barrier for me had been, having grown up in the Sonoran desert, a complete lack of tolerance for the humidity levels of Odaiba during Japan’s late summer. Hope was kindled in my desert rat heart when it was announced that TIF 2020 would be held in October when the heat and humidity is much less gruesome. This hope was, of course, dashed completely by the COVID crisis. TIF organizer’s decision to deliver the festival entirely online for 2020 has generated a new kind of hope. This livestream format gives many of us foreigners the opportunity to check “Attended Tokyo Idol Festival” off our bucket lists, even if the accomplishment will have a COVID-shaped asterisk next to it.
Even in the idol group with the chainsmoking badgirl yankii model Katy and the ex-convict (juvenile hall counts!) Kanano, the law still applies. If you’re underage you can’t smoke or drink, so 19 year old Unagi Sayaka will be graduating from ZOC effective immediately. Both her personal account and the group’s Twitter issued the following statement explaining the situation:
Sayaka’s actions were exposed by Shukan Shincho, one of the biggest newspapers in Tokyo. See that blurry picture? That’s totally ZOC’s Sayaka and not a snap of Bigfoot wearing a lacefront wig in the forests of Midwestern America.
With a total of 6 hours between the exposé and Sayaka announcing she has to leave, despite the group’s bad girl image it’s clear that Ekoms and the literal law don’t play when it comes to underage drinking. This is ZOC’s second graduation, with the first being Kitoki Fin who left in October 2018 after alleged reports of bullying from the other members. With both underage members gone, the members of ZOC are comprised entirely of adults which thankfully leaves zero room for anymore drinking scandals.
So what happens next? Sayaka will obviously not appear at the group’s next show and the intern they underpay for their graphic design will have to very quickly edit the former idol out of the poster for their 2020 “FINAL INNOCENT ZOC” tour.
Their recent music video for b-side “A INNOCENCE” is the last depiction of the now-former lineup of ZOC, and last chance to see Sayaka on stage with her groupmates.
ZOC! So as part of the make-idol-more-manageable-for-Maniac process, I don’t have an eagle-eyed notification system from Twitter anymore, choosing instead to rely on deliberate searching and whatever YouTube deigns to tell me about. This is funny because, right after I’d officially scheduled everything on Saturday, I was heading out the door with a good feeling about having covered just about all that there was to cover, and boom, YouTube note about ZOC!
They have a single out on Oct. 9, and the title track is offered up for our viewing and listening pleasure:
Gotta work in those Namahamu to Yakiudon gang signs
First, disclosure: ZOC’s official Twitter gave me a full-on heart attack the other day when I was idly just trying to clear out the notifications and I saw … a blog post from Seiko without context! DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNN. But naw, it was nothing, no graduation announcement or a “that was fun, what next” or anything, just words of praise and encouragement from the boss behind it all. Yes, the legend herself is still part of the group she founded.
And on that note, given that their first single released yesterday, it only made sense for ZOC to release an MV for the B-side!
For almost any idol group that debuted last year, during a great-enough-to-be-noteworthy glut of new projects, to stand out after the fact was going to require unique efforts and angles. Some of them, like we saw from Toricago the other day, are all in on creative updates on familiar tropes. Others looked to up any of a series of antes — to be more something than thei r peers — while others did enough to catch the eye and now face a long road ahead.
Arguably the greatest move that anything in idol could have done last year, then, would be to be in fact the creative side project of a modern musical legend who would lend credence, gravitas and much-needed artistic credibility to the whole in addition to that all-important name recognition. Yes, of course I speak of ZOC, who may have had the most enthusiastically received debut I’ve ever seen despite being more notable for instant member drama than anything they did musically. Basically, it was super idol.
A few months in, though, ZOC has been active and working and stable, and now with a single on the way next week, it was time to really show us what they have to offer. The MV for “family name” tells the tale: