Tis the season you’ve all been waiting for! The end of the year. Another one for the books. While you all have nominated and will soon be voting mercilessly on who deserves to be hailed as the number 1 in each category for 2022 (and take home a lovely photoshopped illustration as trophy), Team Homicidols has compiled their personal highlights of the year.
We’ve accomplished some big things 2022. We had a wonderful meeting with MELON BATAKE A GO GO, Cal and I tag-teamed on a deep dive into the boys of chika idol, plus we hit a major milestone with Weekender #400. That’s 400 (and counting) consecutive Saturdays of chika idol updates from this old idol blog. Homicidols’ coverage of overseas idols continues to expand with FarFromSleep keeping us informed of the South Korean scene and scoring us interviews, including with the notorious C.LiTZ. We also welcomed correspondent Halien who introduced us to the idols building the burgeoning indie idol scene in Vietnam. And all of this was accomplished by a Team Homicidols that is more overwhelmed by Real Life® than ever.
All that said, I really need to thank Team for continuing to keep Homicidols filled with content despite the fact that I pay them exactly $0 and steal all of their tips to buy rancheki. Without them, Homicidols would be nothing more than a collection of my questionable opinions, and who wants that?
So, thank you Team! Here’s what we thought were the Best of 2022 (note: as always, our “Best of” years go December – November, hence why I’m still gushing about “I would prefer not to”).
Surprise of the Year
Daemon: We should have known that it was going to be a crazy year full of shockingly unexpected and unlikely reboots when THE SPUNKY re-appeared out of nowhere and kicked off 2022 with a New Years Eve reunion show.
Farfromsleep: It won’t have been a year in Idol without some unexpected plot twists but SONOKI announcing their disbandment and final concert seemingly out of nowhere with only a couple of days’ warning took some beating.
Papermaiden: Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da announcing their show at Budokan and Seisei from Migma Shelter reappearing as the KAQRIYOTERROR queen of demonic screams Arlya both take the cake for me.
Cal: New year’s day, GANG PARADE reformed. They didn’t actually tell the members this was happening, they just sent them into a room in the office and gave them 24 hours to prepare for a performance. Their resurrection was a surprise enough but the fact the members found out when we did too was a moment.
Letdown of the Year
Daemon: One of my biggest letdowns of 2021 was when KANARIA was required to sell out their first one-man live to get their debut album released only to fall four tickets short. That album was finally released in 2022… the day after their disbandment.
Papermaiden: I was really sad that Buddha TOKYO existed for a short period of exactly one year, they showed so much promise and really delivered musically.
Cal: Leaving your contributions to a best of article until last minute is actually very smart, given the amount of fuckery that just happened in the last few days. KAQRIYOTERROR announcing their tour then immediately after announcing that everyone except Komari Yuu is leaving was um… a choice. The office’s ambiguity with Sumomo’s status was also a choice. Lots of choices being made! Lovely album though.
Farfromsleep: And speaking of last-minute letdowns, waiting most of the year for the stars to align enough to allow BiS to return to full strength only for 2 of the 3 remaining original members to decide that actually they’d had enough antics for one lifetime wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but it did feel like a particularly cruel blow.
Funniest (non-PLANCK STARS) Moment
Note: About half-way through the year we noticed that the majority of the potential “Funniest Moment” nominations we were tracking involved the PLANCK STARS. Instead of letting a single unit dominate a category, we created an award just for them.
Daemon: I was immensely entertained by the whole saga of Ling Ling inadvertently winning a pro wrestling belt and then losing it to an apple.
🔴 #wrestleUNIVERSE で生配信中！
DDT FREE -February- Ultimate Tag League 2022 in SHINJUKU!!
— DDT ProWrestling (@ddtpro) February 14, 2022
Farfromsleep: If I’ve learned anything in 2022, it’s that sending Hanako-san an unsolicited pic of your intimate area probably isn’t the smartest move you could make, but it might just be the funniest.
Cal: The phrase “idol fyre festival” got used to describe a particular event this year, but on the bright side we got to see these guys doing the two-step while it was pissing it down with rain.
— けんせい (@Rimi_ken) July 9, 2022
Funniest PLANCK STARS Moment
Daemon: It is hard to just pick one moment with the PLANCK STARS, but I really enjoyed watch RaiRai using the stage pyrotechnics to roast marshmallows at IDOL LIVE JAPAN. It’s probably the most wholesome thing they did all year.
— プランクスターズ | 3/17豊洲PITワンマン (@planckstars) September 25, 2022
Farfromsleep: When we’re talking Plasta moments it’s a 50/50 tossup whether it’ll be one for the ages or something genuinely mortifying but RaiRai’s mallow moment definitely falls on the funnier side on the divide.
Cal: The fact the’re actually coming to England is taking me the hell out. Will I actually ask Mori about her making me one of her male girlfriends? Only time will tell! But also there was that time the group whose name is “PRANKSTERS” written in katakana said that the member who would sell the least would have to do porn, armchair Japan experts on Twitter started doing what they always do and then they announced that the dog would have to do porn.
Daemon: The end of LiLii Kaona and Yanakoto Sotto Mute were equally devastating.
Papermaiden: This year, I joined Kerrie in revving about what a neat unit Kitto Dareka no Himitsu Heiki/Kitokano were. The members, the music, the costumes, everything was utterly charming. So we were both absolutely crushed when they announced they were disbanding not long after changing their name.
Cal: EMPiRE were an emotional group for me so the 5 days of notice about their disbandment was kind of like a gut-punch. Of course, at the end of the live they immediately announced ExWHYZ, but it’s a line from another WACK group, GANG PARADE, song that comes to mind: “the glory of those days won’t return.” Fun personal fact that none of you asked for, when I moved to France for the summer one year, the thing that stopped me from having a small anxiety episode in the middle of a crowded airport was listening to “PiERCE” on repeat. So… thanks for that!
Daemon: Koyuki poured her heart and soul into LiLii Koana. I will miss her the most.
Cal: Asagi leaving RILISREVERSE was incredibly bittersweet. She graduated from Waseda university, if you don’t know basically the best university in Japan, and there’s a time limit on how long one can be considered a “new” graduate. She asked herself, should she keep being an idol in the hope that one day, they’ll sell well and run the risk of being overtaken by her school juniors, or should she get a job using her degree now? In the end, she probably made a smart choice, but seeing her dye her hair black to go to job interviews and give up part of herself that she loved so much really did sting. Whatever she’s doing now, I hope she’s doing it well.
Here is where I would link to a live performance that includes Asagi, but management decided to delist all of their old live videos for the sake of a rebrand that is totally going well. Nobody left after less than a month, not at all.
Farfromsleep: There could only be one contender here for me, and that would have to be Nyaryu’s bittersweet graduation from NEKIRU. As the sole consistent member through every previous lineup of the longest-serving Korean idol group (not forgetting her dual role as To Hermitage’s art director) it truly felt like the end of an era, and as joyous and celebratory as her graduation live was, it was truly sad to see her go. And then of course my whole case was instantly undermined by her turning up onstage at Soha’s birthday live last week for a special reunion performance but as far as problems go I can think of worse ones to have.
Papermaiden: As the honorary Codomomental correspondent, this year felt like a boxing match when it came to rolling with the punches. I managed to loose my entire top 3 in Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da, as well as some terrifying announcements for next year when it comes to my favourite groups. But I’ll wail about them when the time comes. Today, my glass is raising for Amanechi An, Yukinojo Oyatsu and Shizuku Fufu. Actually, I am using my second arm and raising two extra glasses for my girl Yamakomaro from KAQRIYOTERROR. I momentarily forgot because her abrupt disappearance left me so dismayed I might still be in partial denial. Now I have to drink three glasses at once. Great.
Debut of the Year (Soloists and Members)
Daemon: I am fully behind Yurapico’s debut as a soloist which gave us one of the best songs of the year: “Magic Beat”.
Debut of the Year (Group)
Daemon: There are so many excellent new units to choose from! Buddha TOKYO would have been a slam dunk if they hadn’t imploded before their first birthday. The new unit that got the second-most replays on my playlists was Planet after the rain who had one of the best songs of 2022 with “diamond”.
Farfromsleep: “Rockstars turning idol” is one of my absolute favourite character progressions, so my vote has to go to LuciDreaM taking two lead singers and bringing their individual songwriting chops with them.
Papermaiden: Chick-flick has been a wonderful discovery for me this year. I really love the jazziness of most of their tunes and I can’t get enough of their EP “episode I”.
Cal: BOYSGROUP! We had a look into the male side of the chika idol scene that gets seldom reported on (we’re the people that report on things so that is kind of our fault), and now WACK are shoving the worst pop songs you’ve ever heard right into our faces. By “worst” I mean “I have stockholm syndrome-d myself into enjoying them” and in 2023, I will inflict that on all of you too.
Reboot of the Year
Daemon: As happy as I was to see the re-birth of BELLRING Girls Heart and BPM15Q, and the continuation of RAY and Shihatsu-Machi Underground, the unit I was happiest to see get a new lease on life was FAREWELL, MY L.u.v
Farfromsleep: As someone who missed several of their faves first time around, this has been a bumper year for me, with some truly legendary groups returning in incredible form. The pitch-perfect BELLRING reboot runs a very close second, but if I have to choose just one it’d have to be the triumphant return of the reconstituted GANG PARADE and subsequent release of a frankly intimidating amount of fantastic re-recordings with the promise of more original material to come.
Cal, who owns an unhealthy amount of Kila May from GANG PARADE merch: You know I really can’t say.
Friends of Homicidols
Daemon: I mention it every opportunity I get, so here’s your reminder that swancry is the greatest idol-adjacent project going and one of my favorite things in the world.
Papermaiden: I absolutely support the nomination of swancry. SWANCRY!!!
Cal: Kyunchi♡ is more or less an actual idol at this point but we are also friends so… Kyunchi♡. But also the Haze EP was excellent.
Collaboration of the Year
Daemon: I loved how MAD JAMIE, Caress Van End and Kimiiro Project combined forces to produce the phenomenal track, “THAT IS LOVE”.
Farfromsleep: “WORLDWIDE☆GIRL” was the idol hyperpop smash I didn’t see coming and as good a use of nonamera’s unique skills as we’ve seen all year (and boy has it been her year).
Papermaiden: Following my previous nomination of swancry, I love that Michi Shito illustrated the cover for Albireo, as well as directed an MV for the project. Friendship is beautiful.
Cal: Of course i’m extremely bias but “WORLDWIDE☆GIRL“. I feel like i’m trapped in the club in 2008 and the hallucinations from the pill that I found on the bathroom floor are Deviantart anime girls with cat ears. That’s おれのきゅん♡ちゃん！
Overseas Act of the Year
Cal: Yeah we’re still not done with this. Without a doubt I have to say Kyunchi♡. We got to know each other during the runup to “WORLDWIDE☆GIRL” and honestly, it was a true pleasure being able to become their friend. Being able to just talk about the creative process, what inspired them and why they want to make the art they make was an honest gift. Whatever they do in 2023 (not that i’ve had a taste or anything), I hope all of you love it and you’ll stay in this little digital dimension with us both.
Daemon: We see more and more chika-influenced overseas idols every year, with the Philippines being the latest country to get in on the act with the very promising Rainbow Signal. But this year I need to give a shout out to Vietnam’s POLARIS★ for their willingness to give us multiple interviews this year.
Farfromsleep: As overseas acts are basically my wheelhouse this is a tricky one for me, with so many highlights to choose from. Kizuna Simulation surviving a tough year and still going strong, loveable powerhouse duo C.LiTZ and the exponentially improving X!DENT are all frontrunners, but my vote has to go to NEKIRU for taking a comprehensive reboot in their stride while releasing strong material on either side.
Performance of the Year
Daemon: Call me biased because it was the show I was present for: MELON BATAKE A GO GO at Saboten Con was fabulous.
Papermaiden: It’s past the window of nominations, but Akugi‘s Beginning of the End was a sight to behold.
Cal: RILISREVERSE’s “Best Wishes” commemarative performance. It was a celebration of the group but also as a longtime fan, there only being two members at the time felt like an unintentional callback to the end of HAMIDASYSTEM. However this time, the message was one of hope instead of the melancholic pit that HMDS dragged you down into. Will this live performance actually stay on their YouTube channel now that Natori has also left? God willing.
Farfromsleep: I never thought I’d get to experience a BELLRING live as it happened (even if it was via the medium of zaiko), but I’ve rarely been so happy to be proven wrong. Exceeding even my ridiculously high expectations, BABEL ‘22 was one of those singular moments I think I’ll remember as long as I live.
「BABEL '22」ご来場の皆さま、配信をご覧の皆さま、本日はBELLRING少女ハート '22を楽しんでいただきありがとうございました！
— BELLRING少女ハート：公式 (@BRGHead) April 24, 2022
EP of the Year
Daemon: This category was full of great stuff as usual this year but, for once, the decision was clear: I would prefer not to by situasion is one of the greatest works of musical art in years.
Papermaiden: It’s Chick-Flick‘s Episode I for me! Strawberry Thorn Heart all the way, baby!
Cal: Avex management are known for making horrendous choices, so the final EMPiRE songs being thrown onto an EP, called “THE FiNAL EMPiRE” no less, did feel a little like a haphazard consolation prize. However, “LET US FREE” is one of my favourite songs this year, so thanks bitch. Also shoutout to “∞” (Mugen) by LYSM! It’s just simply fun idol rock.
Farfromsleep: Sometimes all you need is a set of gently catchy tracks that drift by like a refreshing summer breeze, so my vote goes to the delightful “NEW” from the always reliable Usakura Beni.
Single of the Year
Daemon: This category was dominated by situasion this year. Take your pick: “I would prefer not to”, “All Girls Movement”, “Punk Doll.” All phenomenal tunes that I would be happy to call Single of the Year.
Farfromsleep: MIGMA SHELTER might not have released much this year, but “Redo” is as good an encapsulation of everything that makes them so captivating as anyone could possibly want, and for my money it’s their best single so far.
Cal: Worldwi-*the other team members drag me away from the keyboard*
But also, “Email from Pluto” by Nekiru was a very emotional and satisfying end to that incarnation of the group. There’s also “DA DA DA DANCE SONG” by BiS, which is just plain fun.
Daemon: As much as I like to pretend that I have a fairly sophisticated musical palette, I have to be honest with you: one of my most-frequently played songs this past year was MAD JAMIE’s cheeky, obscenity-laced B-side to “Jamie’s Flag”, “Kawaii is Fuck!!”
Farfromsleep: Some seriously strong contenders this time around, but it’s going to have to go to DEATHDATE’s strikingly creative waltzing gothic masterpiece “Moondom Come”.
Daemon: My favorite piece of art this year was KaGaMi’s design for MAZE and Asagi’s birthday show.
『Asagi BirthDay-BreakDown- Live』
OPEN 12:00 / START 12:30
ADV ¥2,500- / DOOR ¥3,000-
— MAZE(メイズ)🎙️ (@maze_idol) September 13, 2022
Papermaiden: I love collage-like art, so from my perspective, it’s a tie between Kinopo‘s “Theater (of envy)” and I to U $creaming‘s “Miroir Monde”. Both are promotional posters for live shows.
🌙夜の部「THEATER (OF ENVY)」
open 18:00/start 18:30
— きのホ。公式 (@kinopo_idol) June 15, 2022
— I to U $CREAMing!!(アユスク) (@ItoU_SCREAMing) July 29, 2022
Cal: The graphic design on the visuals ASP’s “Hyper Cracker” was interesting. This is what your T-cells look like after listening to too many idol songs. Or something like that.
— 音楽ナタリー (@natalie_mu) August 2, 2022
Farfromsleep: It’s kind of hard to resist art when it’s by one of your oshis, but Chaeli really outdid herself with the promo art for the debut of her new “live idol girls’ band” HiB!Ki.
Open 16:30 / Start 17:00
ADV 25.000 / At Door 30.000
— HiB!Ki☆響☆ひびき (@Idol_HiBiKi) November 15, 2022
Music Video of the Year
Farfromsleep: Words kind of fail me when it comes to “Dye in Lily”, the hyperactive, aesthetically flawless complement to one of the best singles of the year and possibly the single most nonamera artifact yet to enter our universe.
Daemon: Yes, Kinopo. ruled the category this year, taking the art form to new heights of visual creativity and sophistication, but I have to give a shout out to HUSH HUSH who went in the complete opposite direction with the ridiculously low budget, low concept, “X.”
Papermaiden: You’re telling me I need to choose a single Kinopo MV? Ok, ok. I’ll go with “Kaimaku Zibun Sengen”.
Cal: Also that Kinopo MV but as a Japanese studies student, writing it as “Zibun” instead of “Jibun” makes me want to cut my hands off so I am not going to do that.
Album of the Year
Daemon: Blood Orange by YUP YUP is just soooo good.
Cal: One one hand “circle” by Crossnoesis was a beautiful melodic electronica album, with esoteric but emotional lyrics and a song that interpolated two single b-sides proving that sayshine is one of the greatest producers alive. On the other hand, “PLACEBO” by ASP has “iTSUDEMO FUCK YOU♡” on it. Hard choice.
Farfromsleep: Short-lived as the latest incarnation of KAQRIYOTERROR may have been, the album they gave us is sure to go down as an absolute all-timer. Ensemble Berserk delivers an absolute masterclass in the art of the maximalist idol racket, refining their distinctive style to such a perfect sheer edge it feels hard to imagine how it could be bettered. Incredible.
Song of the Year
Daemon: Hands down, my favorite song this year was, “I would prefer not to” by situasion, by I also need to give an honorable mention to CYCLONISTA’s “ASITA GA KOWAKUTE NANIGA WARUI” which I can’t stop playing.
Farfromsleep: As both a fitting end to their Pluto trilogy and a heartfelt anthem that proudly wears its idol influences on its sleeve, for me it has to be NEKIRU’s “From. PLUTO”.
Cal: I am also choosing the end of a trilogy of single releases that is very heartfelt and emotional, but it’s “Priority” by GANG PARADE!
Idol of the Year
Daemon: I have to give it to situasion. They released so much high quality material in a diversity of styles, almost all of it phenomenal.
Cal: For me it was PLANCK STARS. Shocking that the group that does a bunch of edgy shit for fun got some English language attention for doing a bunch of edgy shit for fun.
Farfromsleep: Whether it was as part of the re-energized KAQRIYOTERROR, teaming up with Kyunchi or releasing one of the best solo EPs of the year, nonamera has been absolutely unstoppable.
Most Expected to Break Through in 2023
Daemon: Since whoever I pick for this category each year almost always immediately implodes, I will not pick situasion. I will instead give the nod to BOYSGROUP.
Cal: I can’t believe you’re a misandrist Dae! But for me I think Kinopo will take the world by storm.
Farfromsleep: I’ve been banging on about this since the very first time I stumbled across a certain stylish-yet-friendly cursed doll on twitter, but with every year that passes it seems more likely that X!DENT will break through in a big way, and with the group holding strong and the material just getting better I think that time might finally come in 2023.