The Team Homicidols Best of 2018

Aw, come on Maniac, you can’t possibly make me write my own Best-Of List when my opinions are about as relevant as Peter Andre’s bathwater? Oh, fine.

So, what would the best list look like if I took complete control over Best Of? Probably something like this:

/record scratch

Hold on! Kerrie, I love and value you, but there’s a whole lot of Team! Let’s see what kinds of wildness we can conjure up by seeing where everybody lands. For instance, what about Daemon?

It may be because life just seems more precious after surviving an interview with Hanako-san but, looking back, I’ve had a pretty stellar 2018.  I got to debrief Candye Syrup (version1.0) after their last live, talk to NECRONOMIDOL on their second conquest of the States, spend some joyous moments with a caffeine-fueled SENANAN, and converse with an incarnation of perfection in Yanakoto Sotto Mute.

I was also fortunate enough to see some stellar live shows including East Meets West Fest, a Yui-less BABYMETAL, the BiSH PiL tour, some 2018 favorites like Kaqriyo Terror Architect and Minna Kodomo-chan, and newcomers NaNoMoRaL and GUGU LuLu.

My favorite idol-live moment of the year though  BY FAR goes to Zero-chan pulling me into the pit at Burst Girl. I would believe it only happened in a dream if it hadn’t been caught on video.


Debut Of The Year (Groups)

Community: BURST GIRL, 45%; Gu-Gu LULU, 16%; ZOC, 15%; NaNoMoRaL, 11%; Toricago, 8%; wyenra, 4%

It feels really good to finally have more polished material to explain to people why DenSho is the most exciting group to debut in a while. Yes, it’s absolutely because of its concept and execution. I really hope to see them live (maybe in 2019?) in order to ascend to a higher plane of existence.

Come on, you know BURST GIRL had to be on this list. After how devastated I was over Guso Drop disbanding? Only for my oshis of that group to try this whole thing again, self-produced, making official merchandise of a Friday Fun that’s since been adopted by the whole fandom and its members, I had to include BURST GIRL. It helps that their debut single was also a banger that different enough from their older forms to be fresh, while not straying so far from their Guso Drop roots to be alienating to old fans. I hope we see more of them in 2019.

Daemon: NaNoMoRaL
Back in April, I was very lucky to be at Shibuya Milkyway for the crowning of the Tokyo Idol Queen which Sari was competing for. During the preceding show featuring 969, Candye Syrup and NECROMA, I was also fortunate enough to witness a late addition to the line-up: the newly formed NaNoMoRaL. While it was only their third of fourth appearance and they were still refining their show, their set stands out as one of the most energetic and memorable live performances of my 2018. The duo possess a ton of talent and, as a coed unit with a live digital manipulator, a unique dynamic with unforeseen potential. I am hopeful that, in 2019, they can find their audience and the support they need to share that unique energy with the world.

Maniac: Toricago
Did you actually expect anything else? I’ve been on 2018’s debutantes like white on rice, amazed at the depth of creativity and quality, but this stalwart-from-nowhere group and their very OG BiS-like take on pop and rock has me thinking that they have an enormous future ahead of them.

Debut of the Year (Individuals)

Community: Pour Lui to BILLIE IDLE, 35%; New faces in Ladybaby, 25%; SAKA-SAMA Army, 19%; Yoneko, 13%; Lein, 9%

Those new SAKA-SAMAs, they’re all fantastic!

Kerrie: Yoneko
Yoneko’s solo career was a weird one. Having been both my Bellheart and MIGMA SHELTER oshi, I was hyped as all hell when she announced that she would debut as a soloist under Trash-Up!! Then I heard her debut offering and was… underwhelmed. Sure, it was cute, but I was expecting something more? And yet, I had her single playing on repeat every day for about a month. I’d go to bed with the squeaky vocals of “Hibikiri no Kiss” still stuck in my head. I found myself getting addicted to those songs that at first listen were only “Okay” but were now like an aural equivalent to narcotics. Was it just because she was my oshi in two groups I liked and now I naturally had to follow her solo efforts in the same way? Or was it something more subtle, sneakier? I think that tale of how she crept into my most played songs of the year unexpectedly deserves my appreciation.

Maniac: Lein
I’m sorry, were you somehow under the impression that the strangest thing to debut all year on perhaps any continent would be anything less than my favorite?

Surprise Of The Year

Community: Sari’s graduation, 33%; Pour Lui to BILLIE IDLE, 30%; Mizuho to THERE THERE THERES, 19%; FRUITPOCHETTE Reunites, 12%; THE BANANA MONKEYS anything, 5%

Papermaiden: Pour Lui Idle
Seeing Viz Major’s and company’s theory become true made me really happy.

Kerrie: Miru getting fired from THE BANANA MONKEYS and why
Look, there was a reason why one of the nomination categories for Surprise AND Letdown this year was just THE BANANA MONKEYS in general. It’s because my mind (and yours, judging from your responses!) gets boggled every time something new about them happens! But if I had to pick one stand-out moment from Banamon’s eventful year, it would have to be Miru’s shock firing. In any idol group, a girl getting fired after only a week of activity would be a huge eyebrow-raiser. But especially a group like Banamon, who, especially at this point, seem eager to just have anybody join. Then word of her side-job came out. To an outsider like me, it damn near made me drop my imaginary popcorn. And if that wasn’t insane enough, just a couple of months later, recent history would repeat itself with Minmin! Who needs soap operas when you’ve got THE BANANA MONKEYS?

Brian: Melon Batake a go go
Melon Batake a go go getting a major label deal made me do a cartoon character “WHAT?!” double-take.

Saddest Departure

Community: Hina and Sari, 45%; MIGMA SHELTER, 21%; Yuimetal, 19%; Tsuyame, 9%; PASSPO 4%

Maniac: Original PiGU
I’m sad to see Sari go, but she’s an icon; she’ll live on forever, literally as well as figuratively, as she is also a reanimated corpse powered by infernal powers beyond human comprehension. My cosplay cafe punk rock-and-stuff girls in PiGU, though, especially Keikarin, that’s a graduation that gave me legitimate sads. “PiGU live” was a phrase that I always wanted to type, because it meant having their balls-to-the-wall energy and infectious music. Yeah, No Surprises is a thing, and Keikarin and Rino are getting back together under the PiGU banner, but it’s just not the same.

Brian: Vanilla Beans
I don’t want to live in a world without Vanilla Beans.

Kerrie: Everyone
I’m just gonna say it; Fuck 2018. Almost every single idol I oshihened to announced their graduation this year in some way or another. To the point where it’s earned me the title of “Cursed Wota”, people actually fear when I become attached to one of their favourites, because that usually means she’s next on the chopping block! I don’t know what it is. Even Sari, who I called my “blessed oshi” for so long because, there’s no way something bad would happen to her, called it quits this year and shattered my heart into a million pieces! It got so bad that I almost gave up on my first and longest-running idol fandom, Hello! Project, because in the span of roughly a year and a half my ENTIRE TOP 20 got wiped out. Even Inoue Hikaru, who had the potential to become the first actual Hello! Project idol to be regularly featured on Homicidols, called it quits right when I was resting my hopes on her to make HelloPro great again. Even the first day of the year sucked, with my then main oshi, Aikawa Maho, leaving and Yoneko announcing her own graduation the very same day! And it only got worse from there! You know I’m having a rough time when the least cursed oshi is the girl whose previous group formed out of pity for her losing an audition gets disbanded a day after debuting, gets given a dick joke as a stage name, and performed with an injured leg for a good part of the year. Fuck 2018.

Letdown of the Year

Community: Yuimetal-mageddon, 33%; MIGMA SHELTER, 20%; BiS.League, 20%; Candye Syrup’s Implosion, 15%; WACK Auditions, 9%; Banamon, 2%

Papermaiden: WACK
Let’s just say that WACK doesn’t have that high a bar to make 2019 better than 2018 in my book. However, I loved “Stereo Future” and look forward to loop it when God Eater 3 drops stateside.

Kerrie: WACK Audition/Trivagogate
If your audition brought so much salt that the official documentary of the event has to be called “The Saddest Audition In The World,” you’ve done something wrong. Where do I begin? From the near-bullying levels of shit Watanabe put Hirano “Trivago” Nozomu through, which ultimately meant nothing in the end, singling out Mimiland, who had gradually built up her own fanbase out of sheer determination and niceness, as the only person to not be picked to debut at WACK Exhibition, a whole bunch of announcements nobody wanted (particularly in the direction of BiS), I’m still bitter about this even now. Sure, it brought us lots of great talent to WACK too, but its hard to shake off just how infuriating the whole situation unrolled, and I’m honestly dreading the next audition out of what levels of trolling Watanabe will pull.

Brian: False advertising
Whatever happened to that all-male THERE THERE THERE’s tribute group that AQBI was gonna do? I’m pretty disappointed to have not seen that yet.

Most Poised to Break Through in 2019

Community: Gu-Gu LULU, 34%; NaNoMoRaL, 25%; Toricago, 19%; THE BANANA MONKEYS, 16%; Owaranaide Yoru, 6%

Maniac: wyenra
I came really close to putting mishmash into this spot, personally, because I think they have the right mix of sound and look and support to take their already-burgeoning chunk of the scene to big places in the coming year, but I immediately stopped when I remembered that wyenra exists, and that they’ve been nothing but great since rising from drop’s ashes and forging ahead as the rare-but-ever-beloved true indie, and the rarer still with a baked-in fan base. If they aren’t at every major event next year and topping Oricon charts, I’ll be shocked.

Brian: NaNoMoRaL
NaNoMoRaL could be superstars. SUPERSTARS.

B-Side of the Year

Community: “Burnable Garbage”, 34%; “Okaeri Sayonara”, 21%; “Dahlia”, 15%; “SHA!!HA!!NUA!!Ah.SH!!ITE”, 13%; Toro Ikura Uni Tabetai, 9%; “Bakuhatsu Suru Romance” 7%

Brian: “A Birthday Song” — RYUTist
Go look that up and give it a listen!

Papermaiden: “Minimal Rondo” — Yukueshirezutsurezure/Not Secured, Loose Ends; “Bakuhatsu Romance” — Avandoned
Single of the Year and B-side of the Year have the same winners in my heart. Yukueshirezutsurezure’s “Paradise Lost” came ahead with Avandoned’s “After School”. While I was extremely happy to welcome new material from Tsurezure, I was a bit underwhelmed by the title song. The B-sides, however, shot up my list of top songs from the group, especially “Minimal Rondo”, which earned a spot approximately as my third favourite from their whole catalogue. The latter, “After School/Bakuhatsu Romance”, is a great offering from Avandoned. Few records are so good at creating the mood of a season, in this case summer. It makes the decision of buying a turntable mostly for their releases feel like a less foolish decision.

Kerrie: “Okaeri Sayonara” — Maison book girl
Granted, I was still on a post-UK tour high when Maison book girl brought us “elude”, but this is still a solid track months later. Emotional without being over the top, strangely addictive, the music video was great too. If MBG return to the UK in 2019, this is the song I want to see them perform the most.

Song of the Year

Community: “Original Satire”, 26%; “Nakunaruwatashi”, 23%; “Stain”, 19%; “ZZ ALLIN”, 17%; “Owarikara”, 15%

I recently talked to the other Homicidols contributors about how my tastes have gradually changed since discovering alt-idols. When I first began digging into the rabbit hole, around 2015-ish, I was in the midst of a delayed teen emo phase and was all about the edge. BiS, Necroma, the darker, the better. But this past year or so, I’ve been all about the more cheerful side of alt. I don’t know, maybe the doom and gloom of the real world has made me crave something more uplifting. And it doesn’t get much cheerier than this offering from O’CHAWANZ, who have quickly taken over my life and playlist in 2018. Even though the song is all about those “Oh, no!” moments, they’re presented in such a way that is fun, even happy. It’s one of my most-played songs of the year. As for “SAMHAIN”, it’s a song about Halloween. That’s all that needs to be said. Next.

Brian: “Caution” — Gu-Gu LuLu
This is the most infectious feel-good pop song I’ve heard in a long time. You put some slinky guitar and handclaps in a song, and you’ve got GOLD!

Maniac: “hate!hate!hate!” — Pikarin/Hikari Shiina
I had no idea what to put here, nor even really to vote for out of the official finalists, but then I remembered that I hadn’t had such a strong pull toward a single track this year other than “ZZ ALLIN” by DAIDAIDAI, and that I had another honor in mind for them, so ex-Pikarin’s completely mindfuck of a composition takes this one.

Single of the Year

Community: “STRANGE AEONS”, 32%; “NON TiE-UP”, 18%; “Paradise Lost”, 18%; “AFTER SCHOOL”, 17%; “Like a virgin”, 15%

Brian: “Lemon Peels — Avandoned
“Lemon Peels” by Avandoned is a bona fide lazy Sunday masterpiece.

Kerrie: “Like a virgin” — Yui Ga Dockson
Going from one instance of WACK pissing me off to another of WACK bringing me total joy. The surprise “booby prize” single given to the person ranking 16th in last year’s election, “Like a virgin” was a ride from start to finish. You could argue this whole mess is why Dockson shouldn’t release any more singles; you could also argue this is exactly why Dockson needs to release more! An energetic and legitimately great eurodance track if you just ignore the lyrics about wanting “huge dick”, an insane music video and many cursed photos of GANG PARADE in full-blown gyaru gear, this was one of the most memorable idol releases of 2018 for me.

Maniac: “Humoresque #1” — Yanakoto Sotto Mute
They call it an EP, but it’s a maxi-single, which is basically an EP, and yes I’m cheating because I want to be able to celebrate all of my favorite things at once. Good lord, you guys, this is a mind-blower. I didn’t think that Yanamyu had a gear beyond the absurdly good MIRRORS album, and then they went and found it for what could be the best possible collection of three songs out of all of idol for the year, and maybe in popular music, period. I don’t even mean that as hyperbole; if you haven’t listened to this god-blessed masterpiece at least 10 times, I feel sorry for you and your children.

Performance of the Year

Community: a never ending poor soil, 31%; Black Winds Over Albion, 25%; Oyasumi Hologram 27 East, 18%; Maison book girl in the UK, 15%; WACK is DREAMLIGHTS at TIF, 11%

Maniac: Every time that Oyasumi Hologram took the stage
A lot of the very best idol performances wind up disappearing down a memory hole, attended by a relatively small number of people, some of whom are fancamming it and few of whom post it to live long enough to get hit by a takedown or, because it’s given some random-ass title, it slips beyond most people’s notice. The result: Nobody seems as many idol lives as they’d like, not even the wota who live in the gutters of Shibuya. The most reliable, always-gonna-make-me-wish-I-were-there act going right now is Oyasumi Hologram, who turned things up a few notches this year and even made it to the United States, where they missed their own official debut but made up for it by charming the ever-living hell out of every person who ventured out to see them.
*Disclosure: I helped to promote that tour, and I did so because I wanted everybody else to know how great OyaHolo is!

Kerrie: Black Winds Over Albion
I don’t care if this is biased because “But you went to those shows in person!”, this tour was the highlight of my entire year. Seeing and meeting not one, not two but THREE incredible acts, including one I’ll happily call my favourite idol group at the moment? This is a no-brainer! Besides, this tour was the tour that brought us Rei and Himari eating Greggs, and I think that alone deserves the title.

Brian: BURST GIRL like every other day
Those guerilla street shows that BURST GIRL keeps pulling off. Now that’s what I call underground idol!

Collaboration of the Year

Community tipToe. + Dots, 25%; Aina the End + MONDO GROSSO, 23%; Screaming Heana Cat, 17%; Beni + SOZELICA, 13%; BYS, 13%; Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders + URBANGARDE, 9% 25

Brian: Tokyo Sentimental — tipToe./Dots
Dots/tipToe. were the most ambitious crossover of 2018. It wasn’t even close.

Papermaiden: BYS
BYS is a fever dream come true, that lineup was my favourite ever incarnation of BiS and being able to see their dynamic and new dumb antics is delightful.

Kerrie: BYS
Again, this is my own personal bias. I kept a column going for about two months trying to explain what the hell was going on, until eventually, THE BANANA MONKEYS distracted me. But while this may not be a “true” OG BiS reunion, there’s something that just makes me so happy to see the former members, in their new careers (though in the case of Pour Lui she has a lot of the same co-workers even now) just hanging out doing stupid stuff. I may not write the YouTube Dungeon any more, but that doesn’t mean that BYS aren’t consistently churning out entertaining content.

Maniac: ZOC
Yeah, it’s technically a debut, but again I get to cheat. I’m just in love with the idea of Oomori Seiko, the patron saint of idol herself, taking a bunch of young women under her wing and showing them the way of idol, and no doubt doing it better than just about anybody because, you know, it’s Seiko. ZOC didn’t do much more than have drama (of course it did!) after debuting, but I’m choosing to ignore that and focus on the positive.

Performer of the Year

Community: Hanako-san, 54%; Coco Partin Coco, 18%; Kai, 16%; Saki, 15%; Chiaki, 11%

Kerrie: Kai — Screaming Sixties
I bet you’re all thinking I’m going to pick my current oshimen, GANG PARADE’s Coco Partin Coco, right? Nope! Instead, it’s Kai from Screaming Sixties. Why? She blew me away at Black Winds Over Albion. Having lost one half of 60do due to unfortunate traveling mix-ups, Kai took it in her stride and performed for two on all three days of the tour. Even when she injured her foot from stepping on a piece of equipment, she kept going like nothing happened. She is a powerhouse and a half, and even though I didn’t get to see Screaming Sixties in its complete form, Kai’s performance was an unforgettable experience and one I would gladly recommend seeing a Screaming Sixties live from that live alone.

Brian: Usabeni — Avandoned
Beni from Avandoned’s has more heart than anybody in the game!

Papermaiden: Hanako-san
Hanako-san is definitely my performer of the year, and mostly because I feel the term is what suits her most. I love how the warring state of idols was diversified the genre enough to allow acts like Hanako-san to fall under its umbrella. The tongue-in-cheek, less institutional aspect is also A+.

Friend of Homicidols

Community: Tentenko: 53%; Togawa Jun, 19%; Wakita Monari, 11%; milcboy, 9%; URBANGARDE, 8%

Papermaiden: URBANGARDE
Urbangarde was on fire in 2018. In addition to mixing their universe with Maison Book Girl for a few lives, as well as collaborating with Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders, their vocalist Kei Ohkubo dabbled ever higher and had original shows with Jun Togawa. Much to the delight of those who couldn’t attend, this collaboration was adapted into an album. While adding a couple of new songs to add to the Togawa canon (shoutout to the Jun Togawa discord people for formulating it so well, I’m paraphrasing while using their terms), it also revisits old classics in a fresh fashion. In my lifetime, I had hoped to see Togawa return to music. Her haunting lyrics and her ravishing covers take on a new visage under the masterful keys of Ohkubo.

SOLEIL’s music is steeped in the earliest roots of what made modern idol what it is today. But yet still fresh and exciting. She’s fantastic.

Video of the Year

Community: “STRANGE AEONS”, 31%; “ZZ ALLIN”, 22%; “Raincoat to Yubi no nai Tori”, 18%; “Okoronaide”, 15%; AFTER SCHOOL, 14%

Daemon: “Owari kara” (From the End) — SAKA-SAMA
This category was brutal as there were a ton of stand out videos this year, including Non Tie-Up, which gloriously depicts a future dystopian society where BiSH doesn’t do SoftBank commercials. To arrive at my top pick among all the strong contenders, I decided to just ask myself one simple question: “Which 2018 video did you re-watch most frequently?” This made the answer perfectly clear. Toward the end of their monogamous commitment to lo-fi dream pop, SAKA-SAMA released their no-concept MV for “Owari kara”, featuring the members in formless street clothes standing, sitting and walking next to a canal while singing a beautiful song. It is a slow-burning masterpiece that I go back to view multiple times a week and has become largely responsible for my peace-of-mind during an otherwise tumultuous 2018.

Good lord, just putting this on again for purposes of reminding myself why I loved it so much is giving me a seizure.

Kerrie: Buttocks beat! beat! — EMPiRE; “Hamigaki” — THE BANANA MONKEYS; “Raincoat to Yubi no Nai Tori” — Maison book girl
I have to be real with you; my favourite kind of music video is what I like to call a “Visual Shitpost.” It stays firmly in your mind just from how much it made you go “What the hell is happening!?” And you can’t get much more shitposty than a giant, sentient disembodied ass riding a scooter. This is one of the music videos I kept going back to, I showed to friends and family outside of idol fandom for “Haha, look at this wild video I found!” amusement, it just sticks out to me as one of the most memorable music videos of recent years.

Speaking of visual shitposts, you can’t get more shitpost than THE BANANA MONKEYS. Thank goodness too, because honestly, this music video is a near-perfect presentation of what to expect from THE BANANA MONKEYS, highlighting their questionable publicity stunts and general weirdness over one of their signature songs. If you want to introduce somebody to Banamon, just show them this MV. Sure, most of this lineup has gone now, but that’s part of the Banamon experience, don’t you think? This was the music video that first introduced me to THE BANANA MONKEYS and now look at me! I’m stuck in Banamon Hell with no way out! I knew I was in for a wild ride the moment they parodied the Logan Paul Japan controversy and its only gotten worse from here.

I’ll round off this category with a music video that’s surprisingly not a shitpost. Nope, just a few minutes of A-grade cinematography with a bit of storytelling mixed in. I can always trust Maison book girl to bring us some beautiful music videos. And a big part of the fun is seeing the fans try to connect the dots in everything that happens in this and other MBG videos, building up an entire Maison book girl lore of sorts. And Raincoat did plenty to fuel those conspiracies! I’d recommend watching this music video blind (okay, not literally), reading up on Bukugal‘s theories of the music video, then coming back to it with that extra knowledge.

Brian: “After School” — Avandoned
“After School” is the perfect low-budget lo-fi video with high hopes and positive energy. It’s how you make a 1000 yen look like a million bucks!

Papermaiden: “Tonari Kore Arata” — Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da
First of all, I just love practical effects and a good mixed media project, so the yokai played a good part of my attachment.
The storyline is a good way to display the essence of Zenkimi and the girls being cute, but a little off, playing with gigantic pills and just casually holding a human brain in the temple’s courtyard like it’s no big deal. Whereas Kaqriyo are voluntarily terrors (representing their name well), the oldest quartet of Codomomental looks adorable, even if you might leave a couple of body parts behind if they get too curious.

EP Of The Year

Community: Identity Crisis, 27%; SICKxIDOLSxSICK, 24%; Yume no Hate Made mo, 21%; zoozoosea, 18%; HIPPY MONDAYS, 10%

Daemon: Humoresque #1 — Yanakoto Sotto Mute
For those who are somehow under the delusion that the “Best Of” nominations are just Maniac’s favorites, nothing busts that myth faster than the absence of Yanamute’s Humoresque #1 from being nominated in every single category for 2018 including Best Dressed and Best Mid-Sized Sedan. Maniac and I have been rabidly singing this EP’s praises since about 3 seconds after it dropped. The reality that it didn’t garner enough votes to snag a nom for Best EP quickly garnered my nod for Biggest Letdown of the Year. Democracy can sometimes be a disappointment.

Humoresque #1 is simply three perfect songs from the perfect modern idols. I’m not a huge fan of EPs, but there is more quality here than on most full albums. The opener, “Stain”, is hands down my new favorite Yanamute song. “Uronos” picks up some of that punk BiSH has dropped, and “Nostaligia” is a grungy, shoegaze masterpiece. I went on road trip a few weekends ago and only played these three songs on repeat for the entire six hours and never once felt like listening to anything else. It’s an extraordinary set of songs.

Brian: Nisan Ka Tanso — NaNoMoRaL; Yume no Hate Made Mo — SAKA-SAMA

Kerrie: Identity Crisis — Kaqriyo Terror Architect
Kaqriyo Terror Architect have had a really good run this 2018, rounding it off with one of the loudest idol EPs of the year. A great introduction to the new members and send-off to Kotetsu, its no wonder this won your vote for Best Of too!

Maniac: zoozoosea — PEDRO
This is why I cheated before, to give Ayuni D’s outta nowhere solo debut as bassist and singer of a band the due respect. You all heard this, right? Like, it’s not just a handful of nerds who make spinning this record an event, right? Come on. I don’t always heard something and then immediately want it followed up, but that’s where I am with this gem.

Album Of The Year

Community: VOIDHYMN, 29%; A World Without Walls, 19%; ”, 17%; Cultural Mixing, 15%; MIRRORS, 13%; Mudai, 7%

Kerrie: Episode V — O’CHAWANZ
I was close, so close, to picking VOIDHYMN as my favourite album. So close. But I’m still ever so slightly salty over the one oshi graduation I thought I’d be safe from actually happening, so instead it’s Episode V. Actually, its not just salt why I picked this over VOIDHYMN. While most of you know about VOIDHYMN and its greatness, I don’t see too many O’CHAWANZ fans around these parts and I wanted to try to push this album once more. I already did a sleepy review of this, but I can assure you, the album is fantastic even while I’m awake. You see my nomination for Song Of The Year? You want a whole album of that pure fun energy? Well, you’re in luck! Listen to Episode V and prepare to feel good about the world again, just because Sugarsugar Lala exists.

Honorable mention goes to Friend Of Homicidols Tentenko, and her album ALL YOU NEED IS CAT, because well, it’s an album about cats. With guest vocals from cats! How can it not be the best release of 2018? Tentenko has won 2018 with this idea alone, everyone else can go home.

Brian: The Soundtrack of Different Dimension Travel — Cinema and Boy CQ
This is the White Album for the arthouse idol set. I love it.

Daemon: Kabe no nai sekai (A World without Walls) — Minna no Kodomo-chan
From the frenetic dissonance of “Asa o Koroshitai” to the mind-melting climax of “Futari Wa Nakayoshi”, A World Without Walls is a math-punk masterpiece melded with just the right undercurrent of electronica and perfectly timed doom metal drops. This would be the result if They Might be Giants and Black Sabbath secretly gave birth to twins who were adopted and raised by L7.

Honorable Mention: Father’s Masturbation — Hanako-san
While it can’t be counted as an official release since this CD-R is only available at Hanako-san’s live shows, this 8-track mini-album is a stunning display of her musical development since her 2016 debut album. In addition to the absolute monster of a tune, “Rose of Killer”, the album’s other tracks hint at broader influences from Marilyn Manson to Carcass and even includes the moody, punkabilly “Elevator” that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nick Cave album. Put together in honor of Hanako-san’s U.S. debut at East Meets West Fest, this CD-R has gotten more play on my music devices than almost any other album this year. It clearly demonstrates that what the world needs most desperately in 2019 is a generous record deal for Hanako-san.

Maniac: MIRRORS — Yanakoto Sotto Mute
With all apologies to the community’s winner and the other choices arrayed in this post, as well as DAIDAIDAI’s Mudai that I was originally going to write in here, this is the best album of the year and it isn’t even Yanamyu’s best release. Incredible.

Idol Of The Year

Community: NECRONOMIDOL, 24%; Yanakoto Sotto Mute, 20%; Kaqriyo Terror Architect, 15%; Hanako-san, 15%; Maison book girl, 13%; HAMIDASYSTEM, 11%

You’d think it’d be someone else, based on other individual selections, but no way, I’m giving my personal award to the most awe-inspiring project to happen this year. HAMIDASYSTEM’s whole cycle of video, music, live performance and storytelling was one-of-a-kind, and my only regret is that I didn’t get to see it in person. They get this for pulling off that.

Papermaiden: Kaqriyo Terror Architect
They lost no steam this year, even with Kotetsu’s transfer. I think their multiple wins in the Best Of this year also shows that they’ve established a space in the scene that they won’t let go, ever.

Brian: Avandoned
Everybody thinks I’m saying Avandoned … and they’re correct!

It was probably easy to guess from how often they appeared in this list, but O’CHAWANZ totally had me hooked for most of 2018. Even over Christmas, I’m listening to their very own Christmas Rap on loop. In a gloomy year, they were exactly the kind of idols we needed. I couldn’t recommend them enough. So what are you waiting for? Episode V is on Spotify, go and give them a listen!

Daemon: The Komachi/Ling Ling Singularity
If you follow my Twitter or FB you will know that, other than worshiping Hanako-san so she won’t murder me in my sleep, my long-time oshis are Komachi from Yukueshirezutsurezure and BiSH’s Ling Ling. What has added an extra element of odd to my 2018 is how they have merged into a synchronicity that has us entering 2019 with them both rockin’ mullets.